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TRAVEL SERIES: ADVENTURES IN MAUI (DAY 4)

TravelColleen TuohyComment

Day 4. The Bamboo Forrest and Tacos for Days

Cliff Notes Version

  • Where we stayed: Paia Inn (Paia)

  • Where we ate: Croissants and fresh fruit at Bamboo Inn, fish tacos from Island Style Tacos at Nahiku Marketplace, followed by more tacos for dinner at Milagros.  You would have thought it was Taco Tuesday or something. (Actually, it was!)

  • What we saw: A bamboo forrest, old banyan tree, waterfalls, amazing artwork in Paia and some local surfers.

  • Where we shopped: Shops in Paia


Morning

We started off the day with a walk on the beach. Ok, that sounds pretty cliche, but our hotel was a stone's throw away from the beach so we obviously had to check it out. This was definitely NOT a swimming beach - there were plenty of jagged rocks dotting the coastline. 

A few months ago on Instagram I stumbled upon the #2minutebeachclean movement which focuses on removing plastics and other harmful trash from the marine environment and beaches around the world. Some white shiney plastic caught my attention and I decided to conduct my own beach clean while in Hana. 

So while a 2 minute beach clean might seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things it is important. Every piece of plastic that you remove from the marine environment is no longer a danger to the animals that still live there. They won’t break down into micro plastics, strangle seabirds or mammals or end up being ingested.
— #2minutebeachclean

Late Morning/ Early Afternoon

We had a few more stops to make before we drove the "Road back from Hana." Some of the highlights included:

Hamoa Beach (MM #50). Quick stop on the Road back from Hana. In short, the beach is beautiful and there were a few people swimming and sunbathing. Beware: There is a bit of a steep hike to get down to the beach.

Koki Beach (MM #51).   A favorite hangout spot for surfers. Swimming is not advised due to strong rip currents and high waves.

Wailua Falls (MM #45). You can easily spot these waterfalls from the road. 

Kipahulu Haleakala National Park (MM #42). By far the highlight of the day! We hiked a total of 4 miles on the Pipiwai Trail to see the Waimoku Falls ("Flash Flood Falls.") There were plenty of freshwater pools, a massive banyan tree, a gigantic bamboo forrest, bamboo along the waterfalls and more!  Swimming was not allowed anywhere due to hazardous conditions. The hike took a total of about 2 hours and I highly recommend athletic shoes at a minimum, if not hiking boots. There are rock pavers along the path, but beware of tree roots and muddy conditions. Another piece of advice: Get here early! You will have the trails all to yourself! We finished our hike by ~12 noon.

What we skipped:
Why? Ran out of time!

Late-afternoon

After we finished our delicious tacos from Island Style Tacos at Nahiku Marketplace we continued on our journey back from Hana. We arrived in Paia around 4 pm and realized we didn't have any accommodations for the night. We grabbed a coffee and a fruit smoothie and quickly searched online for a hotel. We were able to book the Paia Inn -- just blocks away.

We explored Paia the rest of the day and unlike Lahaina the shops do not stay open very late. Most closed by 6 pm. However, they were quite unique - instead of the numerous jewelry stores and racks of souvenirs we found in Lahaina we were treated to boutique clothing shops, modern art, and trendy cafes. The proprietor of one store confessed Paia prided itself on having a more independent scene than the rest of the island and referred us to a feature from the New York Times for more information. In the evening we grabbed tacos (again!) and some Maui Brewing Company Beers before retiring to the Inn. 

Paia Inn

One of the things I loved about this charming hotel was the artwork from a local artist, Avi Kiriaty. I snapped quite a few photos to say the least. Flash was off of course! 

Did you miss our Road to Hana post? Check it out here!

TRAVEL SERIES: ADVENTURES IN MAUI (DAY 3)

TravelColleen TuohyComment

Day 3. Road to Hana

Cliff Notes Version

  • Where we stayed: Bamboo Inn (Hana)

  • Where we ate: Coffee at Badass Coffee, Smoothies at Cafe Cafe Maui, Halfway to Hana Stand for the #1 Banana Bread, and dinner at Hana Ranch Restaurant

  • What we saw: Twin Falls, Ho'okipa Lookout, Wailua Valley State Wayside, Hana Lava Tubes and more! (See post for the sites by mile marker on the Road to Hana). The Road to Hana has "52 cliff-hugging miles, 600 curves and 54 bridges. -- and all of it enveloped by sheer drops to the sea and vast glistening rainforests." (Roadtohana.com)

  • Where we shopped: Badass Coffee (T-shirt for pops); fruit stands

 

*Juicy* Highlights:


The Details

We started off the day with some iced coffee from Badass Coffee (no joke, great coffee and lots of funny t-shirts) and grabbed some fresh smoothies from Cafe Cafe Maui which was located right next to our hotel (Lahaina Inn). I tried out their "Veggie Style" bagel which was awesome -- tomato, avocado, sprouts, cucumbers, small spread of cream cheese on a toasted everything bagel.  I needed to fuel up for the big day ahead of us.

While Brian was out for his 5 mile run, I found a great website that listed out many of the "must-see stops" mile by mile on The Road to Hana. The entire trip is ~52 miles, but the speed limit is 25 mph or less due to the windy roads.

IMPORTANT! One of the big takeaways -- the mile markers are totally screwy. They actually start over after mile #16 and then after Hana Town, they jump to mile #51 and then go backwards. There is a Hana CD Guide, but we decided to wing it based on my research. The mile markers are pretty well marked (little green signs), but can be easy to miss at times due to overgrown foliage. You can also take a van or coach tour depending on your preferences.


What we saw

Paia Town. Awesome, artsy, bohemian town. Great selection of boutiques for shopping, multiple coffee shops and cafes. We will chat more about Paia in Day 4. This town essentially kicks off your journey on the Road to Hana. We stopped at the Ku'au Store to stock up on some healthy snacks. Definitely worth the stop -- located just outside the downtown. 

Ho'okipa Beach Park/ Lookout (MM #9). World-renowned windsurfing destination (who knew?). We saw a few surfers, chatted with some local vendors and admired the views from the cliff overlooking the "pavilions" (popular surfing end of the beach). 
 

Twin Falls (MM #2). We flew right by Twin Falls because of the mile markers. Remember -- the Mile Markers reset at #16. Quick and easy access with ample parking. We decided to skip the longer hike and instead opted to see the falls at the first overlook. There was a really awesome Farm stand operating out of a vintage school bus selling fresh smoothies, fruit and coconut water.

Kaumahina State Wayside Park (MM #12). Quick stop here at the park to snap a photo of Maui's north coast. Great spot to take a bathroom break and have a picnic lunch.

Halfway to Hana Stand (MM #17). Two words "Banana Bread." There was quite a line at the Bana Bread Stand as I like to call it. For $6 you can score yourself a mini loaf that is just perfect -- not too sweet! There are also plenty of other refreshments, fruit and shave ice. I have to admit we didn't have any shave ice while we were on the island. For more info on Shave Ice or Hawaiian "Ice Shave" click here.

Wailua Valley State Wayside (MM #18). Another great spot for a picnic and to take some photos of the fertile and vibrant landscape. Parking can be tight with space for about 3 cars.


Upper Waikani Falls (MM #19). These waterfalls are nicknamed "3 Bears" due to the three, parallel waterfalls of varying lengths. There really isn't a turn out to see these falls, which is not uncommon on the Road to Hana. I was able to snap a quick photo as a passenger.
 

3 Bears (Maui)

Pua'a Kaa State Wayside Park (MM #22). We stopped by this park to take a quick bathroom break. More importantly, we crossed the road and walked on a trail that leads to a waterfall and a small swimming area. There were maybe 1-2 people swimming and the weather was chilly so we passed on a quick dip. What I did notice is that there are a ton of stray cats in Maui -- we spotted more than usual at this stop in particular. 

Hanawai Falls (MM #24). By this point in the trip we had already seen a fair amount of waterfalls. There wasn't really a place to stop, but the falls are visible from the road.

Nahiku Marketplace (MM #29) -- Day 4 Stop on the Road back from Hana

Hana Lava Tube a.k.a. Ka'Eleku Cavern (MM #31). By far this was one of the best stops along the Road to Hana. There is a sign around mile marker #31 that points to the Lava Tubes. We made a quick left on 'Ula'io Road and traveled about a half mile to the site. This is a self guided tour through the Lava Tubes (~30-45 minute tour). There was ~$12.50 admission fee. Flashlights are necessary and are provided as part of the admission fee. A backup was also provided. What we learned...

  • History: Tubes were formed ~960 years ago as a result of spewing molten lava from the underground; lava slowly flowed towards the ocean.
  • Types of formations that can be seen in the tubes: Moray eel, ropey pahoehoe, lava level lines, lava stagmites, and the chocolate corridor of stalactites.
  • Atmosphere: Humidity of 70%; temperatures between 66-72 degrees F

Wai'anapanapa State Park (MM #32). Have you ever been to a beach with black sand and pebbles? If not, this is a must-see stop. The actual beach name is Pa'iloa Beach. We were crunched for time so we did a quick tour of the area. If we had more time we would have checked out the ocean cave, located on the east side of the beach. Other noteworthy mentions at the State Park include the lava arch in the water, freshwater caves, burial sites, a pictograph and ancient temples belonging to the ancient Hawaiians. 

Hana Town (MM #34). We arrived in Hana Town around 5:30-6 PM and grabbed a bite to eat at the Hana Ranch Restaurant. We also stopped at Hasegawa's General Store to pick up some wine which we enjoyed later on our lanai at The Bamboo Inn.

What we skipped:

Waikamoi Ridge Trail (MM #9.5). Skipped due to muddy conditions.

Garden of Eden Aboretum (MM #10). Skipped due to floral expedition on Day 2.

Honomanu Bay (MM #14). Given that we were driving a Ford Focus, we were advised not to travel down to the Bay due to muddy conditions; 4x4 recommended. The beach is rocky and not great for swimming or sunbathing. 

Ke'anea Aboretum (MM #16) Skipped due to floral expedition on Day 2.

Kahanu Garden (MM #31) -- CLOSED due to flooding

Check out our Day 4 stops on the "Road Back from Hana." 

 

*Additional Sources: Valley Isle Excursions (Road to Hana Van Tours)

TRAVEL SERIES: ADVENTURES IN MAUI (DAY 2)

TravelColleen TuohyComment

Day 2. Lavender Fields Forever...

Cliff Notes Version


Morning

We kicked off Day 2 of the vacation with a 5k run around Lahaina. Did you know that Lahaina Town is the second most frequently visited spot on the island of Maui? Maui's beaches are #1. The primary draw in Lahaina is Front Street (formerly known as "The King's Road"). In a nutshell, Maui Guide Book nailed it:

An oddly eclectic mix of history, T-shirt shops, fine art galleries and gold-by-the foot, Lahaina is the quintessential “old-time-sea-town-turned-tourism with uniquely Maui twist.
— Maui Guide Book

We spotted a great coffee shop Sunrise Cafe on our run which had a great waterfront location and was near the Giant Banyan Tree.  It is the island's oldest and biggest banyan tree which was imported from India and planted by the Sheriff to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first missionaries in 1873. At the time of planting, the tree was only 8 feet high and it now has a dozen plus trucks and spreads over two-thirds of an acre. You might even encounter a pop up art and craft show if you are lucky!

The tree is near the Old Courthouse which is located by the Lahaina Harbor. The Old Courthouse is an 1859 structure that was built from coral and materials salvaged from Kamehameha III"s (King of Hawaii from 1825-1854) unfinished western palace called Hale Piula which was said to be destroyed by the a strong and unruly windstorm.

If you have more time to spend in downtown Lahaina you may want to check out the Historical walking tour or check out some of the town's historical landmarks:

  • Lahaina Heritage Museum in Old Lahaina Courthouse. Located at the Banyan Tree Park, this museum offers visitors a comprehensive overview of the rich history of Lahaina from "pre-contact Hawaii to the Monarchy era, including the missionary and whaling period, and from the Plantation era to early tourism." **FREE ADMISSION.
  • Baldwin Home. The island's oldest structure and restored missionary era home. The residence contains furniture, photos and artifacts. **ADMISSION FEES APPLY.
  • Hale Pa'ahoa/Lahaina Prison.  Former jail for drunken sailors during the whaling industry peak in the 1850s. I learned that common infractions included: drunkenness, profanity, adultery, and "furious riding" (on horseback through town). **FREE ADMISSION.
  • Wo Hing Museum and CookhouseMuseum with a rich history of the impact of Chinese immigrants in Lahaina who arrived on trading and whaling ships. Some of their key contributions to the island include: East Maui's Irrigation System of bridges on the Road to Hana or their work on sugar plantations and in sugar mills. **ADMISSION FEES APPLY.

Afternoon

The majority of the day was spent driving through the outskirts of the peaks and valleys of Mauna Kahalawai (West Maui mountain range). Our Ford Focus was certainly tested driving the windy and sometimes rocky and unpaved roads on Route 30 (Honoapi'ilani Highway). After our ~3 hour scenic drive we arrived at the Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm. I have been a long-time fan of lavender, especially since I have toyed around with various Lavender scented candles over the years -- so I certainly wanted to check out this place.

We arrived at Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm around 3pm, just in time for our tour with resident lavender expert, Dustin. Before our tour began we spotted a few tiny chameleons which Dustin let us play with. They are similar to mood rings and change colors when they become stressed or relaxed. Interesting right?

I really enjoyed learning about the history of the farm so I thought I would share some of the highlights.  Agricultural artist and horticultural master Ali' Chang (now deceased) received a lavender plant as a gift and after moving to his retirement home in Kula in circa 2001. He re-planted the lavender plant and it blossomed, leading Ali' to take on the venture of developing a 13.5 acre farm. The farm now houses ~45 different types of lavender! Turns out this specific location has ideal weather conditions: Drought-like conditions with sprinkling mists from the mountainside in the afternoons. I believe Dustin compared this climate to that of Egypt.  

While we at the farm we were able to explore the Hawaiian gardens that were full of rare and unusual succulents and other native florals. We also tried out some tasty treats which included: lavender coffee, scones and cookies. The cookies were our "reward" for completing the Lavender Farm Scavenger hunt. I think the scavenger hunt was meant more for kids, but we took it VERY seriously.

Evening

After the Lavender tour we were starving so we jetted back to Lahaina and grabbed an early dinner at Aloha Mixed Plate. The prices were very reasonable and I thoroughly enjoyed my $3 mai tais and coconut shrimp. We watched a beautiful sunset as we listened to the festivities next door at the Old Lahaina Luau. Side note: Later on in the trip we found out from other travelers that this Luau is considered the top Luau on the island. 

After dinner we explored some of Lahaina's Front Street shopping - which ranged from "Made in China" trinkets to hand crafted art from local artists. Before we turned in for the night we grabbed some local beers and Pineapple Cider at Captain Jacks on Front street.  


Things to keep in mind:

Parking. Parking in Lahaina can be a bit tough on the weekends. There really is no free parking, but there are ample parking lots. Make sure you pay when you park or your car will be booted! 

What we skipped?

Pailolo Channel and various towns. We didn't really do too much exploring in Kaanapali, Kaanapali, Kahana or Kapalua on the drive through West Maui. We stopped at a few beaches such as DT Fleming Beach Park, but the majority of the beach front was dotted with beach resorts.

Historical Old Lahaina. Although we referenced some great local historical spots in Lahaina, we breezed through most of them and probably didn't give them the full attention that they deserve. Next time!

*Additional Resources: Visit LahainaMaui Guide Book


Did you miss our Day 1 Maui Adventures? Click here to read.

TRAVEL SERIES. ADVENTURES IN MAUI (DAY 1)

TravelColleen TuohyComment

Day 1. Aloha from Maui!

Cliff Notes Version

  • Where we stayed: Lahaina Inn (Lahaina)

  • Where we ate: Airport food and Carl's Jr. (Ok- we were starving and it was the first thing we saw after we landed at OGG.)

  • What we saw: Rainbows, our first Hawaiian sunset, tourists.

  • Where we shopped: Local market for some basic supplies (i.e. sunscreen, water, and local Hawaiian granola and nuts).


The Details

We arrived in Maui around 3:30 PM after a ~6 hour flight from SFO and headed over to pick up our rental car. There were several tour groups wearing fresh flower leis (I was totally jealous). I always imagined arriving in Hawaii and being greeted with a fresh flower lei. I was surprised at how the Kahului airport was so "open" -- it felt like an outdoor airport. Super laid back atmosphere with a few rainy sprinkles.

Note on Rental Cars: Definitely a "must" if you plan to explore the island, although there are bus tours that can help you navigate. Flexibility is what we wanted. We toyed around with the idea of renting a 4x4 Jeep Wrangler, but after chatting with several of my coworkers we opted out of a "convertible" due to the fact that it was Maui's rainy season. Our Ford Focus hatchback did a little "off-roading" due to some of the unpaved roads and falling rock -- but at the end of the day the Wrangler wasn't a necessity. 

Accommodations: We arrived at our first night's lodging in Lahaina at a quaint place called the Lahaina Inn. This was the one hotel we had booked ahead of the trip. Some quick history: The inn was built in 1938 and housed The Maui Trading Company which was a popular gathering place for soldiers stationed in Maui during WWII. Our room had a nice balcony/lanai with two rocking chairs.  I felt like I was staying in an old western saloon with modern amenities (i.e. WIFI, AC, private bathroom, etc.). Recommend to others: YES.

The Vibe: The town is full of touristy shops and restaurants. At first glance it reminded me of some parts of Florida, but after a two day stay I came to really like the place. There are a ton of activities -- whale watching, snorkeling, boat rides and excursions, not to mention a Luau. We opted to skip the activities in Lahaina and instead venture to the northern coastline of Maui.

Fav Photos:

SEVEN DAYS IN HEAVEN: MAUI 2017

TravelColleen TuohyComment
 

This past January we visited the beautiful island of Maui in Hawaii. When we were first planning this trip in December we explored the possibility of island hopping, but we decided to stick to one island instead. We chose Maui, thanks to our friend Jen who described the island as "very laid back and chill."  This was the exact vibe we were looking for after a busy holiday season in New York. In hindsight -- it was a great decision!

I will also admit that most of our trip was not planned ahead of time. Aside from booking plane tickets, a rental car and 2 hotel reservations... we didn't pre-book anything else. We had a general idea of the activities we wanted to do (i.e. whale watching, snorkeling, tropical libations) and the rest unfolded beautifully -- we were living on "island time."

With that said, we thought we would share with you a series of blog posts that capture our adventures across and around the island. Here is a quick run-down of of our itinerary with more details to follow: 

  • Day 1: Saturday, January 21. Greeted by beautiful rainbows as we land at Kahului Airport (OGG), pick up rental card (Ford Focus hatchback, oh yeah!) and venture west to the Lahaina Inn. 
     
  • Day 2: Sunday, January 22. Tour around Old Lahaina, drive through the West Maui Mountains and explore beaches/vistas of Kaanapali, Kapalua, Kanounou Point Kahakuloa Point. Visit to Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm in Kula.
     
  • Day 3: Monday, January 23. Depart Lahaina and drive the Road to Hana. Highlights include: Roadside fruit/smoothie stands, Lava Tubes (Maui Cave), waterfalls and windy jungle roads. 
     
  • Day 4: Tuesday, January 24. Depart Hana, visit Haleakala National Park - Kipahulu (Waimoku Falls and the Bamboo Forrest), and spin around town in Paia.
     
  • Day 5: Wednesday, January 25. Kicked off the day with a fresh tour of Maui Gold Pineapple plantation via the Pineapple Express, followed by some great whale watching with the Pacific Whale Foundation via Pac Whale Eco Adventures (and an impromptu boat rescue mission) out of Maalaea Bay. Arrive in Wailea at the Grand Wailea Resort.
     
  • Day 6: Thursday, January 26.  Lazy river, 9 pools, beach... need I say more. (Grand Wailea).
     
  • Day 7: Friday, January 27.  Express Snorkeling at the Molikini Crater with the crew of Kai Kanani, shopping at the Shops at Wailea,  refreshing beverages and pork nachos at Whale's Tale Juice and Sunset Hut. Depart Grand Wailea Resort and venture back to JFK.

Stay tuned for a closer look at Day 1 -- coming soon!

Photo: Vintage 1977 AAA Hawaii Tour Book (Found in parent's basement from my Dad's trip to Hawaii in the 70s)

Photo: Vintage 1977 AAA Hawaii Tour Book (Found in parent's basement from my Dad's trip to Hawaii in the 70s)