A January 2003 trip
to Maui by lcampbell
Quote: While spending three months on Maui, I got the chance to explore the whole island. These are the cool places and activities that I found in West Maui. There is more to West Maui than overdevelopement and tourists . . . you just need to know where to look and where not to.
Stops that I consider MUST SEE in West and Central Maui are Haleakala National Park, Maui Ocean Center, and whale watching with Pacific Whale Foundation.
One idea to truly escape the crowds into another world, try hiking or camping at PoliPoli Springs State Park. You will think that you have been lifted off of Maui and deposited in the Pacific Northwest woods due to a tree planting (mostly pine trees) project done by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the depression.
West Maui is dominated by the West Maui Mountains. Part of these lush green dramatic mountains can be seen at Iao Needle State Park. During my stay I wish I had found a way to get deeper into those mountains. I didn’t find any obvious public access, but maybe there is, or maybe you have to go through a guide service.
Here is an idea of what to budget for some West Maui activities:
Haleakala National Park - per vehicle (includes all people) for 7 days
Snorkling at Ahihi-Kinau Preserve – FREE ( to rent snorkel gear)
Hiking Waihee Ridge Trail – FREE
Lahaina Historical Walking tour - for donations to museums
Swimming and beach bumming – FREE
Whale watching with Pacific Whale Foundation - /adult
All day snorkeling trip with Pacific Whale Foundation - /adult
Maui Ocean Center - /adult
Iao Needle State Park – FREE
Driving Kahekili Highway – FREE
Watching sunset – FREE
For more information on Maui in general, visit Maui Visitor Bureau.
The best way to get around Maui is with a rental car. There are a number of choices at the Kahului airport, including Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, and National. Prices for a small car range from - per day. Local car rental companies include Maui Cruisers, Word of Mouth, or a variety of others with older cars (but makes you look local!)
There is a limited bus service on Maui called Holo Ka’u Transit. See the website for routes, schedules, and rates.
My experience with hitchhiking on Maui is that it is easy to do as long as you don’t look dirty or intimidating. I always felt safe, but hitchhiking is inherently a dangerous activity that must be done at your own risk.
Finally, day tours can be arranged, but are expensive. You can catch sunrise at Haleakala or go on the famous Hana Highway without having to touch a gas pedal, just to name a few.
Attraction | "Iao Needle State Park"
The granduer of the West Maui Mountains is not terribly accessible. One spot to get a closer look at the lush vertical walls and tumbling waterfalls is in the Iao Valley. The Iao Valley Road (also called Highway 32 turning into Highway 320) goes west for three miles out of the historic town of Wailuku.
Along the way, you will see the Tropical Gardens of Maui ($3 admission, children under 12 free, 9am-4:30pm Monday-Saturday), the Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens County Park, and the Hawaii Nature Center ($6 per adult, $3.50 children, 10am-4pm daily). I have not visited these spots, but they did look inviting. Tropical Gardens of Maui focuses on plants. The County Park has a picnic area on Iao Stream, a traditional Hawaiian hale (house), and an Asian garden with a carp pond. The Hawaii Nature Center is a non-profit center aimed at educating children about nature and culture. They also offer guided rainforest walks for $25.
In additon to these interesting stops, the scenery all along the way is breathtaking, with the best-for-last at the end of the road at Iao Needle State Park. Admission is FREE and the park is open 7am-7pm daily. This park is heavily visited, especially by the monster tour bus crowd, so I highly recommend to visit as early as possible in the morning.
The highlight of the park is Iao Needle, a 2250 foot pinnacle. The Needle is often shrouded in clouds of fog, making for interesting photos. There is a short paved trail that goes to a viewpoint, but better photos are from the bridge near the start of the trail. An additional short trails loop down along Iao Stream, which offers the best photos. This is also where I saw a REALLY inviting trail leading farther into the rainforest, unfortunately accompanied by a "No Trespassing" sign… bummer. There is also a small area planted with native plants such as taro, and an imu pit, used by local people for cooking (see my "How to Cook on an Imu" entry in this journal). Finally, also visible from the park is Puu Kukui, the highest spot in West Maui at 5788 feet, and also the wettest point.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 17, 2003
Iao Valley State Park
Iao Valley Road
Wailuku, Hawaii 96793
No phone available
Attraction | "Maui Tropical Plantation and Country Store"
Actually, the store and couple displays were nice to stop at for a few minutes, and there is free admission. The store has a good selection and decent prices, and a free coffee sample. I was able to buy some freshly grown rambutans, which I had not had since a visit last year to Thailand. They were only 20 cents each, and I was able to show my friends how to open and eat them, so that was fun. The salt water taffy was also quite yummy! There is a nursery to walk through, a few small gardens, and three small huts presenting briefly the histories of sugar cane, coffee, and pineapple in the area. There is a restaurant on site but I did not go into it or check out what their hours are.
The part that disappointed me was that I had thought that a stroll through the 60-acre plantation would also be free. In reality, you are only allowed back into the plantation part on a tram ride, which cost $9.50 per adult, $3.50 per child. I don’t think that I got a good value on this one. There are better places to see traditional and native plants growing, such as Kahanu Garden in Hana, or maybe the Hawaii Nature Center or the Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens County Park on the road to Iao Needle State Park. Also, there are more in-depth plantation tours of pineapple and sugar cane plantations where I think you would learn more about the actually processing.
The Maui Tropical Plantaton tour was just a tram ride through with the guide pointing out the different plants and maybe giving a fact or two about each. The plantation includes the 14 most popular fruit and flower crops in Hawaii, including papaya, guava, mango, coffee, taro, and macadamia nuts. There was a short stop partway through the tour so that the guide could give a demonstation on how the husk and open a coconut that was somewhat entertaining.
If you are itching for a stop on your way to Iao Needle, or driving the Kahekili Highway, maybe drop in for the free parts of the plantation, but I recommend to skip the tram ride.
Maui Tropical Plantation is open daily 9am-5pm.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on June 17, 2003
Maui Tropical Plantation & Country Store
1670 Honoapi'ilani Highway
Maui, Hawaii 96793
No, I wasn’t snorkling in the clear blue Hawaii waters; I was hanging out at the Maui Ocean Center. And the manta ray wasn’t scary, it was angelic. I was observing the manta ray safely through glass as it glided around this section of the 750,000 gallon Open Ocean tank, part of the largest tropical reef aquarium in the United States.
I am normally not a fan of seeing animals in captivity, but the Maui Ocean Center is put together so well that it is sure to benefit all of Hawaii’s underwater life with it’s pure educational bliss. There are three acres of realistic habitats based on 25 years of research and diving. I was also a fan of the Center’s policy to feed the animals only as needed – no feeding "shows."
The main tank is divided into different areas. The Surge Zone has pounding waves simulating the coastal habitat. The Living Reef is made of living shallow and middle-depth coral. The Open Ocean is alive with sharks and manta rays. Scores of fish of every shape and color swim freely throughout. There are smaller side tanks that spotlight unusual and small species. All plants and animals are from Hawaii. This is the closest you will come to the real thing. My favorite of the smaller tanks was the one filled with jellyfish. It was surreal.
In addition to the large tank, there are other interesting displays that should not be missed. I absolutely LOVED the Turtle Lagoon, where I saw my first sea turtles. It prepared me for seeing them in the wild later in my trip. The Sting Ray Cove will amaze. They really do look like angels when they swim. The nearby Discovery Pool lets kids (and big kids like me) gently touch slimy ocean animals. The Whale Discovery Center has interactive displays about Humpback Whales, Hawaii residents for almost half the year. According to the Maui Ocean Center brocure, the Hawaiians and the Sea Museum honors "native Hawaiians and their relationship with the Sea." It was great.
Throughout the Center, naturalists give programs and can answer questions. Program times are posted at various locations. Another option for maximum ocean information is to rent small audio devices that play recordings for each station explaining what you are looking at.
Finally, last and probably least, overpriced food is available at the Reef Café and Seascape Maalaea Restaurant. There are overpriced gifts at the giftshop.
The entrance fee is $19/adult and $13/child, which I think it is a decent bargain.
The Maui Ocean Center is open 9am-5pm daily and is located at Maalaea Harbor, 20 miles east of Lahaina.
Maui Ocean Center
Highway 30 at Ma'alaea Harbor Village
Maui, Hawaii 96793
I found that brochures for the walking tour were actually hard to come by. Therefore, I will give you the brochure information word for word, along with a map, so you will be sure not to miss what is truly great in Lahaina.
The brochure is called "Lahaina, A Walking Tour of Historic and Cultural Sights" and it is published by The Lahaina Restoration Foundation (LRF) for County of Maui Historic Commission. Maybe this will save them a few pennies on printing costs. . .
Use the numbered map to make your way around town, looking for the brown-colored numbered signs at each site. Some of the numbered spots are actual buildings, etc., and some are just the site of something that used to be (indicated below).
1. THE MASTERS’ READING ROOM stands at the corner of Front and Dickerson and was restored by The LRF in 1970. Originally a store-room for missionaries, whaling ship captains converted it to a downtown "officers’ club" in 1834. It now serves as the headquarters of the LRF. Its unique, coral block and and field-stone construction has been preserved exactly as originally built.
2. The two-story BALDWIN HOME was the home of the Protestant medical missionary, Dwight Baldwin, and his family from the mid-1830s to 1868. The house served as a medical office, and as a general center for missionary activity, with a seamen’s chapel and Christian reading rooms for ships’ masters and men nearby. The Baldwins had a fine garden of native and introduced plants: Kukui, kou, banana, guava, figs, and grape arbors. The home and grounds were restored by The LRF in the early 1960s, complete with many pieces of original furniture and other antiques of the period. (Museum open daily.)
3. (site only) William Richards was the first Protestant missionary to Lahaina, and the RICHARDS HOUSE was the first coral stone house in the islands, on the site of the present Campbell Park. Richards left the mission in the mid-1830s, to work directly for the kingdom as chaplain, teacher, and translator to King Kamehameha III. He helped draw up the constitution, traveled to the United States and Europe as the king’s envoy, seeking recognition of the kingdom’s independence, and served as the Minister of Education.
4. (site only) The remnants of a substantial TARO PATCH, called Kapukaiao, were visible as late as the 1950s. Kamehameha III is said to have worked there, to show his subjects the dignity of labor.
5. The HAUOLA STONE is popularily believed to have been used by the Hawaiians as a healing place.
6. (site only) The BRICK PALACE, built around the year 1800 by two ex-convicts from the British penal colony at Botany Bay, Australia, was almost certainly the first western building in the islands. It was made of locally-produced brick. Constructed at the command of Kamehameha I, it was used intermittently as a storehouse and a residence until the 1850s. The cornerstones and foundation have been excavated and a display built by the LRF for the Maui County Historic Commission.
7. The CARTHAGINIAN is a replica of a 19th century brig, typical of the small, fast freighters that brought the first commerce to the Sandwich Isles. Authentically square-rigged, the ship features an exhibit on whales and whaling with colorful audio-visual displays and an original whaleboat dicovered in Alaska and returned to Lahaina in 1973. (Museum open daily.) The OLD LAHAINA LIGHTHOUSE fronting the Pioneer Inn in Lahaina was first commissioned by Kamehameha III in 1840 as an aid to navigation for whaleboats coming ashore for R&R. It began as a nine foot wooden tower that was increased to 26 feet in 1866. The light was provided by a whale oil lamp, kept burning by a Hawaiian caretaker (who was paid $20 per year!). It was rebuilt in 1905 and the present concrete structure was dedicated by the US Coast Guard in 1916. Thus, this light was the first in the Hawaiian Islands and predates any lighthouse on the US Pacific Coast.
8. The PIONEER INN’S original section fronting the harbor dates from 1901. Additional rooms and shops were added in 1965, but this extension was carefully built to match the style of the original. It served as the only visitor accommodation in West Maui until the late 1950s. The stern old turn-of-the-century regulations for guests are still posted in the rooms.
9. The BANYAN TREE, more than sixty feet high and casting shade on two-thirds of an acre, was planted in April, 1873, to mark the fiftiesth anniversary of the beginning of Protestant missionary work in Lahaina.
10. The COURTHOUSE was built with stones from the demolished Hale Piula. It served as a custom-house as well, and was the center of anti-smuggling activity during the whaling era. Here in August, 1898, the Hawaiian flag was lowered and the American flag was raised, marking the formal annexation of the islands by the United States.
11. The reconstucted remains of part of the waterfront FORT stands in the corner of banyan park. The fort was built in the early 1830s after some sailors lobbed cannonballs at the town during an argument with Protestant missionaries over the visits of native women to ships. Visitors thought the fort looked as of it were built more for show than force. It was used mostly as a prison, and was torn down in the 1850s to supply stones for the construction of Hale Pa’ahao.
12. (site only) Lahaina had no natural harbor like Honolulu’s, only an open roadstead, and the whaler’s small "chase boats" had to come in from the deep-water offshore anchorage to trade. When the surf was up, they often had trouble beaching. In the early 1840s, the United States consular representative dug a CANAL to a basin near the market, and charged a fee for its use. After a few years, the government took over the canal and built a thatched market house with stalls – which almost immediately burned down. The canal was filled up in 1913.
13. (site only) At the GOVERNMENT MARKET, all trade between natives and ships was carried on. "These are the things which I strictly forbid," ran the edict of Princess Nahi’ena’ena in 1833, "overcharging, underselling…wrangling, breaking of bargains, enticing, pursuing, chasing a boat, greediness…I hereby forbid women from going to the market enclosure, for the purpose of sightseeing or to stand idly by . . ." Despite this, the area around the market was noted for its gamy activities, and was called Rotten Row.
14. The EPISCOPAL CHURCH in the islands was founded in 1862. The present building dated from 1927, and is notable for an alter painting depicting a Hawaiian Madonna and colorful endemic plants and birds.
15. (site only)HALE PIULA, "iron-roof house," a large two-story stone building with a surrounding piazza, was built in the late 1830s as a palace for Kamehameha III. It was not a success. In fact, it was never finished. The king preferred to sleep in a small thatch hut nearby. By the mid-1840s, the king and his advisors were spending more time at Honolulu than Lahaina, and Hale Piula fell into disrepair. It was used as a courthouse for some time, and after a gale damaged it badly in 1858, its stones were used to build the present courthouse.
16.(site only) The bland, flat surface of MALUULUOLELE PARK hides one of the most interesting parts of old Lahaina. Once there was a pond here, called Mokuhinia, home of a powerful water spirit in the form of a lizard or dragon. A tiny island in the pond, MOKUULA, was for decades a home of Maui chiefs, and then a residence of three Kamehameha kings. Several important chiefs of the early 1800s were buried there. Kamehameha III used to receive visitors at the royal tomb in the late 1830s and early 1840s, showing them the large burial chamber, with its mirrors, velvet draperies, chairs and kahili (feathered staffs), and ornate coffins. Long after the chiefs’ remains were removed, the pond was filled, the island leveled, and a ball park was created in 1918.
17. WAIOLA CHURCH was the first stone church in the islands, built between 1828 and 1832 by natives under the direction of their chiefs for the Protestant mission. It could seat 3000 Hawaiians packed together on the floor and had calabash spittoons for tobacco-chewing chiefs and ships’ masters. A whirlwind unroofed the church and blew down the belfry in 1858; the bell, once described as "non too sonorous," fell a hundred feet undamaged. In 1894, native royalists protesting the annexation of Hawaii by the U.S. burned the church. Rebuilt, it burned down again in 1947, was rebuilt, and was demolished by another whirlwind in 1951. The new church, dedicated in 1953, was renamed Waiola, "Water of Life."
18. WAIOLA CHURCHYARD – here lies history. Here are buried the great and obscure of early Lahaina – Hawaiian chiefs and commoners, seamen, missionaries. Here and there is a reminder of the old custom of marking the tomb with a glass-framed picture. Among the stones are those of Governor Hoapili and his wife Kalakua; Ke’opuolani, (first of the chiefs to be converted to Christianity, wife of Kamehameha I and mother of Kamehameha II, Kemehameha III, and Princess Nahi’ena’ena); and pioneer missionary, William Richards.
19. Members of the Buddhist HONGWANJI MISSION have been meeting here since 1910, when they put up a small temple and a language school. The present building dates from 1927.
20. (site only) DAVID MALO’S HOUSE was near the junction of Prison Road and Waine’e Street. Malo, educated at Lahainaluna Seminary as an adult, was the first renowned Hawaiian scholar and philosopher. He developed a keen sense of judgement and was a prime mover in framing the bill of rights and the constitution. His account of the ancient culture, Hawaiian Antiquities, has become a classic. Bitter about growing white control of Hawaii, he asked to be buried "above the tide of the foreign invasion" and his grave site is on the top of Mt. Ball, above the school. David Malo Day is celebrated annually at the high school in late spring.
21. HALE PA’AHAO, "stuck-in-irons-house," was Lahaina’s prison from the 1850s. Built at a leisurely pace by convict laborers, out of coral stone from the demolished waterfront Fort, it had the standard wall shackles and ball and chain restraints for difficult prisoners. Most of the inmates were there for desertion from ships, drunkenness, working on the Sabbath, or dangerous horse-riding.
22. The EPISCOPAL CEMETARY on Waine’e Street contains burial sites of many early families on Maui who joined the Anglican Church after the Archbishop of Canterbury in England was specifically requested to form a church in Hawaii by Queen Emma.
23. HALE ALOHA can be seen from the cemetary. The "House of Love" was built by native Protestants in "commemoration of God’s causing Lahaina to escape the smallpox, while it desolated Oahu in 1853, carrying off 5000-6000 of its population. Completed in 1858, it was used as a church and school for many years, but by the early 1900s it fell into ruins. The County of Maui restored the structure in 1974.
24. The BUDDHIST CHURCH OF THE SHINGON SECT, with its green paint and simple wooden architectural style, is typical of church buildings put up all over Maui in the plantation era, when Japanese laborers were imported to work in the sugar fields.
25. (site only) Along LUAKINI STREET in 1837 passed the funeral procession of the tragic Princess Nahi’ena’ena. Caught between the ancient and the modern world, she alternatively worshipped the Protestant God, and yearned after the old traditions, in which a union with her brother Kamehameha III would have preserved the purity of the royal family. She had a son by the king in August, 1836. The boy lived only a few hours, and Nahi’ena’ena herself died in December. She was 21. Along the way to her burial place, a path was made through stands of breadfruit and koa trees. It became known as Luakani Street, after the Hawaiian word for the sacrificial heiau, the state temples of the old religion.
26. MARIA LANAKILA CHURCH. The first Roman Catholic mass was celebrated on Maui in 1841, and there has been a Catholic church on this site since 1846. The present church, a concrete replica of an earlier wooden structure, dates from 1928.
27. The SEAMEN’S CEMETARY. Herman Melville’s cousin was buried here, and one of Melville’s shipmates as well, who died in the Seaman’s Hospital of a "disreputable disease." Over the years, the marked graves of sailors gradually disappeared, until now only one or two are identifiable.
28. HALE PA’I, the printing house of Lahainaluna Seminary, founded by Protestant missionaries in 1831, turned out hundreds of thousands of pages of material in the Hawaiian language. The school is the oldest educational institution west of the Rockies and now serves as the public high school for the Lahaina area. The printing shop was restored in 1980-82 by the LRF under a grant from the State of Hawaii. An exhibit features a replica of the original Ramage press and facsimiles of early printing. (Museum open Monday-Friday, 10am-3pm.)
29. The WO HING MUSEUM on Front Street is affiliated with the Chee Kung Tong, a Chinese fraternal society with branches all over the world. This one dates from early in this century, when the local society had over a hundred members. The Chinese were amond the earliest immigrants to Hawaii and became a powerful force in the commerce of Lahaina. (Museum open daily.)
30. The U.S. SEAMEN’S HOSPITAL on Front Street (1833) was once the hideaway of Kamehameha III. The building was leased to the U.S. State Department in 1844 to serve as a center for the treatment of sick and injured seamen, particularily whalers who flocked to these shores between 1820 to 1860. There was scandalous talk in those days that the doctors at the hospital collected per diem fees from the government for patients long since buried in the Seamen’s Cemetery. An investigation of these charges was made in 1859, but no official action was ever taken. The site was purchased by the Lahaina Restoration Foundation in 1973 and completely reconstructed in 1982. Next door, the Foundation also maintains an early residence, typical of the homes of the sugar plantation camps.
31. The statue of BUDDHA at the JODO MISSION near Mala wharf was erected to mark the hundredth anniversary of the arrival of the first Japanese plantation laborers in 1868. The grounds and building of the mission are open to the public.
From Lahaina, we headed east on Highway 30. We passed Maalaea Harbor along the way, the location of the Maui Ocean Center (see separate entry in this journal). We did not stop at this spot, but we did return at a later time (definitely a MUST SEE!) Highway 30 then turns north toward Wailuku. Just before reaching Wailuku, we made our first stop at the Maui Tropical Plantation (see separate entry in this journal).
After the Maui Tropical Plantation, we went into Wailuku and turned left to visit Iao Needle State Park (see separate entry in this journal). This is an essential stop, whether done now or later. If done as part of this road trip, try to visit Iao Needle early in the morning to beat the tour bus traffic.
Now we were actually going to reach the Kahekili Highway itself. Before too long we come to the small town of Waihee. This is the largest town you will find until you reach the west end resorts.
There are two hikes in the Waihee area. The first one is called the Waihee Valley Trail, which I have not done. It is reached by turning left on the Waihee Valley Road near the 5-mile marker, then turning right when you reach the T intersection. Park when the road gets to rough, then follow the road until it reached a flat trail next to the irrigation ditch. This trail is about 4 miles round-trip and is also called the Swinging Bridges Trail. Beware of flash flooding, and you should get a permit by calling Wailuku Agribusiness at (808)244-9570.
The other nearby hike is called the Waihee Ridge Trail. I did this hike on a separate day, but I highly recommend it as part of a Kahekili Road trip. There is no permit requirement to hike this trail. It is about 4.5 miles round-trip and gives great ridgetop views into the West Maui Mountains. To read about it, see my journal entry in my West Maui Ocean Fun and Hiking Adventures journal. To reach the trailhead, turn left just before the 7-mile marker (there is a small sign on the road, or follow the sign for Camp Maluhia).
Back on the highway, the road narrows. The twists and turns keep me on my toes as my friends enjoy the small waterfalls that wet the road. Just before the 14-mile marker, we stopped at the Kaukini Gallery and Gift Shop. This was a nice gallery, with a pleasant owner, and a great view! The two high points are Kahakuloa Head (636 feet) and Puu Kahulianapa (547 feet), the second of which is supposed to be able to be climbed (but I didn’t try it with my legally blind friend and her elderly mom!!!)
My friend purchased a print before we dropped down to the quaint town of Kahakuloa. The setting of the village is perfect – it is in a small valley with a beautiful bay and high dramatic cliffs. It is small and undeveloped except for one roadside smack stand.
When we came up out of Kahakuloa valley, the view only got better. This is the longest undeveloped stretch. There are numerous spots with viewpoints or short hikes down to the coast. These spots are obvious, with worn parking areas and social trails winding around the cliffs. One good place to stop is around mile marker 16 where you can walk down to some natural pools. Between mile markers 39-38 (mile numbering system gets a little messed up here) is a short hike to the Nakalele Point Light Station. I was a little disappointed because I had envisioned a lighthouse, but rather it was just a small light. Regardless, the sea cliffs were amazing and you can walk a little farther to Nakalele Blowhole.
Our next stop was at a nearly deserted beach, that I honestly cannot remember the name of. We looked down a hill at it as we drove by, then turned around and went back. We parked and went down a hill to this mostly rocky beach. There was open ocean and was too dangerous to swim. Farther down the road are a couple more beach spots: DT Fleming Beach Park, Slaughterhouse Beach, and Honolua Bay we all along this northwest stretch of West Maui.
Our last stop of the day was at one of the beach resorts on the west side. We wanted to be sure to have a west view for sunset. We stopped at the Sheraton Motel (all resorts must provide public beach access) and listened to the music from a nearby luau and watched cliff divers at Black Rock as we watch the sun go down on our long road trip.
We built this imu for a birthday party. The party-giver lived in the dry area of Kula, so he called us at our place in the lush, rainy Hana to ask us to bring over some supplies. He needed banana stump, banana leaf, and ti leaf, all of which we had plenty of. Our neighbor, who was also coming to the party, helped us gather and helped us get the proper quantities.
We arrived in Kula the night before the party. We helped our friend dig the pit that night. Then some of us prepared the food that would go into the pit. An imu is often used for pig roasts, which many folks may have seen at a luau. This was a more conventional party, so we would cook turkeys, pork butts, lau laus (chicken and vegetables wrapped in taro leaf), and taro and sweet potatoes. The food was placed into foil pans and then wrapped in aluminum foil. The meat was rubbed with sea salt and wrapped in tea leaf before going into the foil.
At 3am, some of guys woke up, and with the help of some Steinlager beer, started a huge bonfire in the pit and kept it going until the morning. They placed lava rocks, gathered weeks before, into the fire.
At about 8am on the morning of the party, all of us gathered at the bonfire pit to build the imu. First, most of the unburned wood was removed from the pit, leaving only the glowing red hot lava rocks. The lava rocks were spread out evenly over the bottom of the pit. This is a HOT job! On top of the rocks, we layered chopped up banana stump. Banana stump is mostly water and provided the steam to cook the food. The next layer is banana leaf, then ti leaf. Now comes the food. On top of the food is another layer of ti leaf, then more banana leaf. The next layer is wet burlap sacks, which was then covered by a thick plastic tarp. Finally, the dirt that we had removed to make the pit was put over the plastic in a mound.
After some more party preparations, we took a nice hike at Haleakala National Park. When we returned to the party site, people were just starting to arrive and it was almost time to dig out the food! The food was taken out about 6pm, prefectly cooked and moist. After the meat was cut, it was added to a table filled with tons of food brought by guests. The keg was tapped and the food was eaten, and it was a fantastic party! It was also so special to turn a party of a single night into a weekend event filled with friends and fun.
Port Angeles, Washington