An August 2003 trip
to Maui by ggflier
Quote: Splitting your trip to Hawaii between Maui and another island? Don't worry, this travel journal covers how you can still see some of the most popular sights in Maui with a short amount of time and money.
As for excursions; scenic coastal drives, world-class snorkeling, sunset watching, hiking, cliff jumping, wine tasting, boating and more. Believe it or not, we did it all in less than 80 hours. For even more exploring we split our stay between Napili, on the West Maui Coast, and one night in Hana, to make the most of the famous "Road to Hana."
Budget plays a key factor for our travel, so read on and see how you can enjoy oceanside accommodations, car rental, food AND activities for a lot less than you think! Of course, if you have more than 4 days, definitely use them, as the one thing you’ll need is beachside lounging time to recover after taking advantage of the abundance of activities Maui has to offer.
*Besides the cost of the hotel and car rental, most of the sights and adventures in this trip cost next to nothing!
We encountered a surprise on Maui, geckos! The Islands are said to have many but whether you’ll see one depends on location and luck. Yes, some say consider yourself lucky because these "house guardians" eat bugs and mosquitoes. They usually climb high on the walls or in ceiling rafters so you may not even notice you’re sharing your vacation with one. We got over our initial shock pretty quickly.
FOR THOSE ON A BUDGET – Book a room with kitchen facilities and go straight from Kahului airport to the nearby KMART or Costco and stock up on food and drinks. One of my favorite moments in Maui was relaxing in the hotel Jacuzzi, overlooking the ocean, exotic drink in hand. This drink was a Blue Hawaiian we mixed ourselves in the condo. Eating and drinking IN will save you lots of money.
As we stepped into our oceanfront studio, we gasped at the sight of our private ocean view, with views of neighbor islands of Molokai and Lanai. Our balcony featured a small table with two chairs and was big enough for the oceanfront dining we cooked in our room. Our stay was in the summer, but this is said to be an ideal location during whale-watching season (December – April).
There was an oceanfront pool and another pool and jacuzzi towards the back, all had views of the ocean. There was also a popular restaurant on site, which served breakfast and lunch (see more at my review of The Gazebo). Other amenities included free parking, shuffleboard, barbeques and an activities desk to assist with booking excursions.
Great snorkeling can be found on either side of Napili Shores, including Honokeana Cove, at the condos on left side of Napili Shores. If you’re in search of spotting sea turtles, you won’t be disappointed; one swam only five feet or so towards us, just minutes after we entered the water. For snorkel gear, there is a nearby shopping center with a Snorkel Bob’s. There is also a food market, and a few other shops and eateries, including an affordable little Mexican café. The tacos were quite tasty!
For a little nightlife, the "happening" Kaanapali or Lahaina are only 10-15 minutes away. Nearby, at the upscale Kapalua Resort, golf and tennis is available.
People's definition of "high end" can vary. What made this place a gem for us were the atmosphere, convenient amenities, and location. **We found the best discounts available for the Napili Shores through the Entertaiment Book.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 17, 2004
5315 Lower Honoapiilani Road
Hotel | "Hana Accommodations"
Our Hideaway cottage at Hana Accommodations was a small studio on a courtyard property located just off the Hana Highway. The grounds were well landscaped with local plants, rocks and trees. There was also a hot tub, perfect for a nice relaxing soak after a day of driving and hiking. There are four units total, varying in size to accommodate up to six persons. Our studio had a queen bed and a full bath, with a microwave, mini-fridge, coffeemaker, blender, and toaster and plenty of eating utensils. There was also a stereo and cable TV, and books and magazines. The covered lanai was good-sized with a table and chairs, including a rocking chair.
The location is ideal, very quiet and felt like the kind of area where you could venture off without locking the doors. Just cross the highway and you have instant access to a land preserve for hiking coastal trails, a short walk to the popular Waioka Pool (aka the Venus Pool), and are about a mile away from Hamoa Beach. Also, a short drive away is access to a rugged hike to a red sand beach and the property is only six miles from Oheo Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools). Restaurants and food stores are just three miles away in Hana Town. But keep in mind, because of the isolated location of Hana, grocery and restaurant prices are steep. **Try to pack some drinks and canned goods and snacks before starting your journey to Hana.
Surrounded in the beauty of nearby sights, our secluded cottage stay was very unique and memorable. This was "Heavenly Hana."
Hotel Hana Maui
5031 Hana Highway
Hana, Maui, Hawaii 96713
Restaurant | "The Gazebo"
The Gazebo restaurant is oceanfront, next to the pool on the Outrigger Napili Shores property and is a favorite among locals and tourists. Even though we were staying at the hotel, by the time we made it to the Gazebo at about 8am there was already a line. There are only about 15 or so tables so the restaurant gets filled up quickly. The line wasn’t so bad though; we just grabbed a cup of complimentary coffee and chatted with the other vacationers while we waited.
The restaurant is only open for breakfast and lunch. I had a combo with mac-nut, pineapple, and banana flavored pancakes topped off with coconut syrup and served with potatoes. There was so much food I was able to save leftovers for breakfast the next morning, and even reheated it was still pretty good! My friend enjoyed an omelet, which was also great. Their lunch menu consists of burgers, sandwiches and salads.
Operating hours are from 7:30am-2pm and there is free parking on the hotel lot. The atmosphere is casual, the views are great, and everything is offered at very reasonable prices – breakfast started at about $7.
5315 Lower Honoapi'ilani Road
Maui, Hawaii 96761
The boat departed out of Maalaea Harbor, about a 40-minute scenic drive from Napili. Parking was almost full because several snorkel boat tours operated out of the harbor. Once we boarded, we were instructed on the use of the included snorkel equipment and briefed on the boat facilities. The captain advised that due to weather conditions, we would be snorkeling at Coral Gardens rather than Molokini. We had heard that in the past few years Molokini had gotten so popular that it was usually flooded with people anyway, so we didn’t mind the change in itinerary. The boat was clean and had plenty of seating with two decks, and a small glass bottom window. The window was cloudy so it was difficult to see any sea life through it. A waterslide and fresh water showers were also available.
It was a quick ride on the 53’ catamaran. We enjoyed the buffet lunch and sodas en route to the snorkeling site. Once at Coral Gardens the staff pointed out the best snorkeling areas and recommended boundaries to stay within. We entered the water from a staircase that descended from the boat into the ocean. The snorkeling was great; we could clearly see down more than 20 feet. There were plenty of fish, including eels, tang, parrotfish, and more. Coral was everywhere in a variety of colors.
The cruise also offered a SNUBA package. SNUBA is a combination of snorkeling and scuba diving. Divers can go as deep as 20 feet underwater by use of a 20-foot air hose connected to a scuba tank. The tank is mounted on a raft on the surface of the water that follows them as they explore. The price was an additional $45. Though we didn’t try it, those who did had varying opinions. Some enjoyed it, but experienced scuba divers weren’t too impressed and others felt it wasn’t worth the cost.
On our return we enjoyed Mai Tais and beer, (no alcohol was served before snorkeling) and cookies. We spotted several sea turtles swimming along with us. The cruise was very enjoyable, the staff was knowledgeable and friendly, and we met nice people along the way.
**Be sure to bring plenty of waterproof sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses and your own towel. The boat ride can get windy, if you choose to go out on the deck you may need to bring a light over shirt. Don’t forget a waterproof disposable camera, they are available for sale on the cruise, but you can get a better deal if you buy one beforehand. Sanitized snorkeling gear is provided.
Friendly Charters Snorkel Cruise
Maalaea Harbor, Slip #76
Attraction | "Oheo Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools) and Pipiwai Trail"
We continued on, crossed a couple of bridges and entered the alien (non-native) bamboo forest. This part of the trail was about 30 minutes and the bamboo averaged 60 feet high. The area was dark giving it a spooky feel. The ground was damp and muddy in some areas, but the trail was lined with wooden planks making it an easy path. We passed other hikers who were on their way back who kept telling us, "You’re almost there" and "it’s worth it!"
Arrival - We arrived at Waimoku Falls soon after and it was truly a sight to behold. The falls tumbled 400 feet down a lava rock wall into a stream. The water was cool and came knee high, enough for a dip but not swimming. The surrounding area was rocky and helicopters buzzing high overhead could be heard. There was no way the view in that helicopter could be close to what we experienced, standing in the water at the base of the wondrous falls. The hike was indeed, well "worth it!"
**The visitor’s center does not sell food or drinking water so make sure you bring these along. If you do forget water, you may get hot and sweaty along the trail but no matter how tempting, DO NOT DRINK ANY OF THE STREAM WATER. As with any rainforest area, there are plenty of bugs and mosquitoes, be sure to pack sun block with bug repellant. And lastly, DON’T FORGET YOUR CAMERA, the area is full of beautiful, once in a lifetime photo ops.
At the end of the Hana Highway
Hana, Hawaii 96713
No phone available
Kickoff: Paia - The drive begins with the town of Paia. This is a small surf town with small shops and cafes and most importantly, the last stop for filling up the gas tank, before hitting Hana. Displayed in store windows are colorful beachwear and signs reading "picnic lunch boxes." The food choices in Hana are few making the lunches quite popular. Depending on when you leave for your drive, you may see quite a few bike riders, descending from a Haleakala sunrise tour.
Waterfalls, Waterfalls and more Waterfalls - As you leave Paia, you’ll pass Hookipa Beach Park, full of surfers and windsurfers riding the waves. Soon you’ll find the road narrowing and the curves beginning. The panoramic views are gorgeous; these are coastal, lush greenery and tropics. During the drive, you’ll see mile markers and at some spots, find points where cars have parked. This is usually a good indicator of a special sightseeing opportunity. Many of these are waterfalls, so many you couldn’t count! Short trickling ones, tall gushing ones. Though I wouldn’t recommend it, you could actually see plenty of waterfalls from your car window and never have to leave the car.
Noteworthy sights -
We didn’t make all of them, but other stops along the way included:
Hana Arrival - As we arrived into Hana (mile marker 33), we discovered a quiet, sleepy town. The town had a few restaurants and stores for food options and other necessities. After checking into our cottage we began to explore.
Hana Bay - There wasn’t much to see here, the bay mainly consisted of a wharf and port, and rest facilities. There were quite a few local families wading in the water, though the currents looked a bit strong.
Red Sand Beach – Parking can be found on Uakea near the Hotel Hana-Maui. Follow the trail towards the beach but use caution; it is a slippery dirt trail, through a woodsy area on the side of a cliff. This was a great site; the secluded red sand beach is surrounded in a lava sea wall, consisting of various shades of red and a few green trees. The water was a little rough, and better for wading. *Note: Be sure to wear old shoes and clothes for the hike, as the red sand will stain everything. Although it is illegal in Hawaii, be forewarned, you are likely to run into nude sunbathers at this beach. If you find this offensive, you may not want to visit this spot.
WAIOKA POOL (aka Venus Pool) - From our cottage, this was a short hike across the Hana Highway and field, towards the ocean. If you’re feeling adventurous you could enter the pools via cliff jumping. The water was chilly and tiny fish scattering about could be seen. For a real tropical treat, taste some coconut meat; there are plenty lying around, just crack one open.
Oheo Gulch and Waimoku Falls - With the advantage of staying in Hana for the night, we arrived before the crowds. The pools are about 10 miles past Hana and can be reached with a short, easy 20-minute hike. There are seven waterfall-fed pools, large enough for swimming and wading. We spent some time viewing the pools and taking pictures, and then began the four-mile roundtrip hike up the Pipiwai Trail. The hike is considered moderate, and can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to reach the 400 foot high Waimoku Falls, depending on how many stops you make along the way. Waterfalls, a bamboo forest, bridges and bountiful plant life can be seen along the way. Between the pools and the hike, we spent a few hours in the area. See my journal on the hike for more details.
Tedeschi Winery – Maui’s only commercial winery is located in Upcountry, at 'Ulupalakua Ranch. The winery offers tasting from 9am-5pm. (except for major holidays). They also offer free daily tours at 10:30am and 1:30pm. The wine tasting was enjoyable after such a busy day and there were several people in the tasting room. Our favorites were the Ulupalakua Red and their most popular selling Maui Splash, a fruity, pineapple and passion fruit wine. Bottles of wine start at $9 and the winery offers packaging for visitors to take back on the plane ride home.
Haleakala – Our final scenic stop was at the 10,000-foot volcanic peak of Haleakala, said to be the world’s largest dormant volcano. The winding drive up Haleakala leads through various climates, from the warm base just beginning the drive, to the chilly top of the summit, ranging between 32 and 65 degrees, depending on the time of arrival. Be sure to bring a sweater or jacket. At the top of the summit, there is a visitor’s center and observation center with lookout points. You’ll find dramatic views of valleys and caverns immersed in clouds and on a clear day you can see all of Maui. The park is open 24 hours a day. There are restroom facilities and water fountains at the visitor’s centers. There are also camping accommodations for both tent campers and those who choose to rent cabins.
Summary: The last two days of our road trip to Hana and beyond were busy and action packed. They were our favorite part of the Maui portion of our 10-day trip to Hawaii. There was an abundance of beauty to take in and many memories kept alive in our minds and in living color with the help of our camera. This was an adventure that should not be missed by anyone.
**Don’t forget: Food or drinking water, sun block with bug repellant, a jacket/sweater, hiking shoes, and a camera.
Los Angeles, California