As I start to write this, it's Wednesday, November 14, 2018. Day 14, here on Maui. We leave tomorrow, around 2pm. So, this is our last full day here and I'm awake at 3am, trying to get re-acclimated to East Coast time. This has been a wonderful trip. The weather has been spectacular, and that isn't always the case in February, when we usually come. The ocean is warmer this time of year, too. I have found it to be just as crowded, these two weeks before the holiday rush, as it is during President's Week.
As Heidi and I are somewhat Maui travel veterans, we didn't need to do a ton of road trips this time. We only went to Keanae on the Hana Highway. No Halealaka this time. No Nakalele, Kahakuloa or Honoloa. We were able to concentrate mainly on South Maui, near our Kihei base. What's the best way to describe this area, aside from the obviously dry, sunny weather? Do you like turtles? Not those little ones we had in a fishbowl as kids. Big ones. 3 1/2 to 5 ft Green Sea Turtles. Dozens and dozens. You can see them from shore. You can see them on shore. You can snorkel no more than 15 feet from shore to be right next to one. Because of Hawaii's strict laws protecting them, and the heavy fines associated with touching them, they are accustomed to people coming near, and don't seem to mind hanging out.
Aside from turtles, South Maui is home to some of the best beaches in the entire state. Trust me when I tell you, there are more than you can explore in one two week trip here. Each with it's own personality. You can find them fronting resorts, across the road from condos, or in areas where there is no development other than the occasional sandcastle. The best part is that every beach in Hawaii, no matter where, has public access. It's the law.
So, onto the Travelogue. I'll give you a day to day of what we did this trip (if you haven't already been following us on social media, instagram @jimsmauiguide). This way, if you been here before, and covered all the touristy things, you may want to tailor your next trip around our itinerary. You'll have to read until the end, to find out why this was 2018.2.
Day 1 - I've already covered what the flight out here was like in a previous blog post. No need to belabor. Let's just say I'm not looking forward to going to the airport tomorrow.
Day 2 - The first full day always starts with a walk on the beach, coffee in hand, as we get re-acclimated with the surroundings, breathe in the fresh salt air and finally feel stress melt away. We spent part of this morning going to Kihei Caffe for breakfast. We also mustered up enough energy to do our grocery shopping at Costco and
Safeway. We would've preferred to get it out of the way when we landed, but United Airlines settled that. We spent a few hours laying poolside afterward. Nothing overly ambitious. You really need time to recover from your day traveling here. OK, we did go right next door for a couple Happy Hour drinks, before we walked across the street for our first sunset.
Day 3 - We started bright and early in search of a watery spot to put our faces into. We started at one of the closest at Kama'ole Beach Park III, in Kihei. We said hello to our first turtles within minutes. Great start. But, we thought it was just a little bit stirred up and thought we might find some better visibility further south.
Enter, Pa'ako Beach. This is my personal favorite spot on the planet. Just stunning. With the recent hurricanes, we found the sand to be slightly shifted. The channel on the right side now is filled with water almost all the way back to the lava rock wall before the road. This makes entry for swimming and snorkeling even easier. As you can see, the snorkeling did not disappoint. Following this, it was back to the condo for more pool/rest. I know, rough.
Day 4 - As I've said, we don't normally come here in November. But, since it's football season, we just couldn't resist the novelty of having breakfast while watching our Buffalo Bills kickoff live at 8am. And hey, since they suck so bad this year, we were out of the bar by 9:30. Enough of the day left for our first road trip to Lahaina. The new 3600 highway made the ride there only slightly faster, although the views up
on the Mauka are quite good. We traipsed around the gift shops as long as we could, with the overwhelming feeling of been there, done that. Until we decided it was time for a stop at a recent find, Aloha Mixed Plate. A couple cocktails and Mahi sandwiches later, we headed back to Kihei.
Here's one of the sights on the way back.
We also were passing by Maui Brewing Co. and one only gets so many opportunities in life to do that. So, we also stopped there,
and arrived back on Kam II just in time for sunset.
Day 5 - Since we wasted the previous morning watching the Bills. We felt the need to get our faces back in the water, and decided to start at one of our original favorites, Ahihi Cove. Which just happens to be next to Steven Tyler's house. Here's me, hanging out at Steve's. Following a nice snorkel there, we traversed the lava field to visit Laperouse.
This is the furthest south you can travel by car in this direction. There is a hiking trail which extends from there, if you've brought your hiking shoes a plenty of water to drink. You can also do it on horseback from a nearby stable. Both are on our to do lists.
The view from the road between Ahihi and Makena is spectacular.
On our return, we couldn't resist another stop at Pa'ako.
Ho hum, another Kihei sunset.
Day 6 - Began with a glorious sunrise over Haleakala, as you see reflected in the opposite direction on Kam II. Followed by a walk along Charley Young Beach to Kihei Cove. The area just adjacent to the cove (pictured on right) is hidden and super serene.
Mid afternoon saw us take a ride to Ho'okipa and Paiatown.
Both areas lie just at the start of the Hana Highway. We took in some surfing at Ho'okipa first, followed by some shopping in Paia. We also met the owner of Ululani's Shave Ice, who treated us to some samples of his product. In the name of research for this website, of course.
Sunset on Kam II.
Day 7 - Had us going back to Lahaina to meet our good friend Mike Wakashige for some diving. Neither of had been on a dive in 2 1/2 years. So, it was good to get back into it. Especially with the man who trained us to begin with. His vast knowledge, experience and zen attitude made getting back in easy. We dove at a spot called Mala Pier. It's advertised as a shark dive, because White Tip Reef Sharks usually hang out around the pier. No sharks today, though. Much to my disappointment. Just those pesky turtles again! Just kidding, we love them. We did see a Frogfish, shrimp and a Morey Eel. The first 3 photos were taken by Mike Wakashige. He's in the 4th pic. You can dive with him yourself, by calling Maui Diving Scuba Center at (808) 667-0633.
No sunset pics this day. Our fabulous weather here this trip, sometimes had a downside. No clouds! And no clouds make for a less than spectacular sunset.
Day 8 - Had us in the car again for what would be the only real roadtrip of this vacation. We got on the Hana Highway for a trip to the Keanae Peninsula. We had been here in February this year. But, the weather was stormy and rainy that day, and the pics were just so-so, in my opinion. So, I wanted another shot at it on a bright and sunny day. You can see Keanae in the distance here in this first pic.
Normally, this is a 12-14 hour daytrip, if you opt to go all the way to Hana or beyond. If you're prone to motion sickness, that can be torture. This road will challenge even the heartiest souls with it's insanely twisty turns. Someone once counted over 600 between Paia and Hana. A sizable portion of this road hugs cliffsides and traverses one lane bridges. On top of that,
most people get to Hana, then turn around and do it again in the opposite direction!
So, if you aren't up for that, or like us, you've done it quite a few times, take a Halfway to Hana tour. We went just beyond Keanae, to Waikane Falls. It's a good option that'll give you a good taste of what the full trip offers, and you'll reduce your time on the road to 5-6 hours.
Views from the peninsula are spectacular, especially the wave action. There are a ton of spots and angles to shoot from. Each one better than the last. The church there always makes a nice shot. You can also stop at Aunt Sandy's for a refreshment and some killer banana bread.
One bonus of returning on the same road, is the fact you'll get a chance to make some stops you skipped the first time through. You may have been more interested in others, or had trouble finding a safe place to park when you first passed it.
This was the case at the Waikamoi Ridge Trail. We've done this trail several times, but mainly wanted to visit this old sign we first found in 2000. It's looking like it's slowly being consumed by the rainforest. Who knows, it may be gone next time.
Just before our return through Paia, we made another stop at Ho'okipa. The surf action was great, and as usual, the beach was loaded with turtles.
Day 9 - Was a day of rest and recovery. Spent mainly poolside after two days of running. The sun was hot and not a cloud in the sky.
But, of course, you still need nourishment and hydration as part of your recovery.
So, after basking in the sun we walked next door to Moose McGillicuddy's for dinner and happy hour. Word of advice, don't attempt to eat the Coconut Mahi Mahi fish fry with two Lava Flows. I could've used a wheel barrow or a shopping cart for Heidi to wheel my bloated ass home from sunset afterward.
Day 10 - Started off with another trip to Pa'ako Beach in Makena. Because, why not?
Conditions were a bit rough there for snorkeling, so after we had our fill of the beautiful surroundings there, we went back to Kam III for some more turtle sightings.
The beauty of the Hawaiian sunset only rivaled by my beautiful wife as we finished off the day by celebrating our 18th wedding anniversary at Gannon's (overrated) in Wailea for dinner.
Day 11 - We had originally planned on a trip to Kapalua to check out Ironwood Beach and Dragon's Teeth. However, Heidi had mentioned a few days prior that she hadn't seen any of the feral cats roaming around Kihei as usual. She was also missing her fur babies at home. Suddenly, a story I had heard months before reoccured to me. It was about a cat sanctuary on the nearby island of Lanai. I had no idea if or how I could pull off a trip there, or if I could keep it a surprise for Heidi. After googling it, I saw that there were different tours available. The only problem being they had to be booked 48 hours in advance. I took a shot at emailing the tour and asked if they could make an exception for a cat starved lady. To my surprise, they answered within minutes and told me how to bypass the booking restriction online.
They were called www.lostonlanai.com, in case you're interested.
So, off we went on a Heid-venture. I even managed to keep it a surprise until we arrived at Lahaina Harbor, for our boat ride to Lanai.
The pics are self explanatory.
Day 12 - Was another day at around Kama'ole Point. We started off at Kam III, but realized more turtles were hanging out off of Kam II.
I had intended to do at least 4 trips to Pa'ako Beach for sunset when we were planning this trip. Even the best laid plans don't always work out. This ended up being the only day we made it there for sunset. Every scenic photographers dream, is to have a location all to themselves, with no ants (people) mucking up the view. As luck would have it, there was also a wedding vow renewal taking place this night. This severely limited the angles and shots available. It wasn't only the wedding, but about 20 other people with the same idea as me. I did my best to touch up these pics to just show the scenery. But, I need to take a closer look with some better software when we get home. Still, not bad though.
Day 13 - One more day of snorkeling off Kam II. The turtles did not disappoint.
Afterward, it was back to the condo to start packing and cleaning. We still had a few hours of pool time, also.
We had to make it back down the Kam II to take in our (always sad) last sunset here.
We are always thankful to be blessed with these trips to the islands in our lives. This one, our 12th, has been very special. Why 2018.2? the original thought was that this was our 2nd trip here of 2018. We came back this November with just us two to celebrate our 18th anniversary, and to reconnect after a particularly rough summer in our lives. Even though life still goes on, with all of it's struggles, we have found a safehaven to re-energize and reset. So, it turns out the 2018.2 is for me and Heidi. Even though there are many other places on this earth we hope to explore before our time here is over, it is certainly my wish to keep this place as a regular stop.
More to come. Mahalo.
Update: Unfortunately, our return trip was the worst journey we've ever experienced. Here's the link: United Sucks (Pt. 2).