Maui Week 2: Drive, Hike, Snorkel, Dive, Eat!

Our first week on Maui was spent mostly in the water, so we added a little variety into our second week.

Haleakala National Park
Some people like to get up at 3:00 a.m. to drive to the summit of Haleakala (over 10,000 feet) for sunrise. We did that once, so we didn’t feel compelled to do it again. However, sunset on Haleakala is also considered special and that seemed more doable. Of course, we waited the recommended 24 hours after scuba diving before doing this drive. We are not interested in experiencing “the bends” (decompression sickness). Some experiences we can definitely live without. It’s a two-hour drive, no matter when you go, but we enjoyed the expansive views, the cooler air, and getting above the clouds, which tend to ring around Haleakala at about 7,000 feet.

A view of Haleakala from Maalaea Harbor--As a shield volcano with sloping sides, it doesn't look as big as it is.
On the lower slopes of Haleakala looking toward the West Maui mountains

Leileiwi Overlook requires a short hike to a view of Haleakala Crater, and the variety of colors is quite stunning from the cinder cones and eroded slopes. This is a very dry area with almost no vegetation. It has the least amount of rainfall on Maui and only snows every few years.

Viewing a cinder cone in the crater from the Leileiwi Overlook

The summit shack at the end of the road is where people huddle in the freezing cold when they come up Haleakala at sunrise, but we enjoyed very comfortable temperatures in the 60s, plus clear views all the way to the Big Island.

Viewing Haleakala Crater from the summit above

The Hawaiian silversword is the iconic plant on Haleakala, growing only here and on the two big peaks of the Big Island, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. It only blooms once in its life and then dies, so we were fortunate to see one silversword in bloom, and lots of others waiting their turn.

A silversword blooming!
Not blooming yet

We had grand plans to hike a portion of the Sliding Sands Trail into the crater, but the high elevation gave us a bit of altitude sickness, so we enjoyed a few views and then turned back. I guess driving from sea level to 10,000 feet in the space of a couple of hours does something to our bodies!

A view of the visitor center from the summit

The sunset was beautiful to watch, and it was a community event with lots of other tourists gathered at the Haleakala visitor center and all down the mountain. Driving down in the dark was definitely made easier by the line of red lights from the other cars, as Hank navigated all the twists and turns of the road.

Sunset into the clouds below Haleakala summit

The Road to Hana
We have driven to Hana twice before and it is a beautiful drive. This time we decided to do it in reverse, hitting the back section first (the part that you’re not supposed to drive in your rental car because there are portions that are gravel or full of potholes). It was a little dicey in places, going around blind curves on a one-lane road, and we think the road has deteriorated since we last drove it 10 years ago. Nevertheless, there are some great sights along the way (and only a few of the miles are narrow and unpaved).

One of our first views from upcountry was of La Perouse Bay, the area of the last lava flow from Haleakala, about 400 years ago. This is also a great snorkeling spot, so it was fun to see it from up above.

A view of La Perouse Bay, the last lava flow on the island

The southern (back) side of Maui is pretty isolated, but this beautiful coastline and arch were worth stopping for.

One of our favorite hikes on Maui is the Pipiwai Trail (on the southeast corner of the island). Okay, it’s the only hike we’ve done all three times we’ve been on Maui. Okay, maybe it’s the only real hike we’ve ever done on Maui. But it’s definitely worth doing. Located within Haleakala National Park, but completely on the other side from the summit drive, the hike is 4 miles round trip and took us 2 hours. It’s a steady uphill climb for the first half, but not too steep, and there is shade most of the way. The highlight for us is the bamboo forest you hike through for at least a ½ mile each way. The sound of the bamboo creaking in the wind is otherworldly—not like any other forest sound we’ve experienced.

There is a boardwalk through much of the bamboo forest.
Lush vegetation on the hike indicates how much rain this part of the island receives.

The hike ends at pretty Waimoku Falls, though you won’t have the view to yourselves. (Don’t do this hike after it rains—it could be pretty muddy!)

An enormous banyan tree on the hike
The bamboo is shady and beautiful.
Waimoku Falls

After the hike, we drove through Hana, found some great banana bread and a cute little gecko, and then came all the way back on what is the official “Road to Hana,” with all its twists and turns, lush plants, waterfalls, and gorgeous coastal views.

Can you spot the gecko?
On the "Road to Hana"
Hairpin turns and one-lane bridges are common.

Snorkel at Black Rock (Ka’anapali):
We loved getting back in the water after our two days of driving around, and Black Rock (near the Sheraton) is a good place to snorkel. Keeltail needlefish, a turtle, Indo-Pacific sergeants, wedgetail triggerfish (humuhumunukunukuapua’a), a Christmas wrasse, and a pencil urchin all made this one-hour snorkeling trip worthwhile.

Keeltail needlefish swim just under the surface.
Indo-Pacific sergeants
Wedgetail triggerfish--humuhumu...
Christmas wrasse--so colorful!
Pencil urchin

After rinsing off and cleaning our gear, we headed to Whaler’s Village for a beachside lunch at Hula Grill, one of the sister restaurants to Duke’s. Great views of the surf and the island of Molokai made it an extra-special time—okay, the Lava Flow was pretty awesome as well!

Our lunchtime view at Hula Grill--the island of Molokai is in the background

Boat Dive to Molokini Crater (two dives inside the crater):
Though last week we dived the back wall of Molokini, this time we dived (dove?) inside the crater (where all the snorkelers are). These were our best pictures and videos because the clarity of the water is just incredible (over 100 feet of visibility). Schools of yellowfin goatfish and soldierfish hovered under ledges, while Hawaiian dascyllus protected their coral turf. A longjaw squirrelfish was a new species for us.

Maui Diamond, our dive boat for 6 dives
Yellowfin goatfish and friends
Soldierfish in formation
Hawaiian dascyllus
Longjaw squirrelfish--a new species for us

Orangespine unicornfish and rockmover wrasses are always intriguing to watch. The rockmovers literally pick up rocks or pieces of coral with their mouths, as they look for prey underneath.

Orangespine unicornfish--the colors are so cool!
Rockmover wrasse picking up a piece of dead coral

Friendly pinktail triggerfish, lei triggerfish, giant porcupinefish, and a white-mouthed moray also made these dives extra special. Nudibranchs, such as the blue dragon and others with unknown names, were big enough for our old eyes to see!

Pinktail triggerfish
Lei triggerfish
The giant porcupinefish has spines along its back and sides.
A white-mouthed moray pokes its head out.
Blue dragon

And there were more sharks—this time whitetip reef sharks (check out Hank’s 30-second video to see a whitetip reef shark—the sharks just don’t show up well in still shots because they’re too far away).

Back on land, visiting Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge gave us a chance to spot some endemic Hawaiian birds–the Hawaiian Coot and the Hawaiian Black-Necked Stilt. 

Hawaiian coot
Hawaiian black-necked stilt

We ended our time on Maui by enjoying a meal at Maui Brewing Company, just up the road from our condo in Kihei. This is a huge brewery, and they serve pretty good food in a great location overlooking the rest of Maui and the water.

Roosters are ubiquitous in Hawaii, including at Maui Brewing Company!

We were so grateful to be able to travel, dive, and snorkel again. And there was enough time to watch Dodger games (our condo had the SportsNet LA channel!), enjoy sunsets, and walk along the beach.

Here’s what we’re saving for the next trip (just in case you’re going to Maui and want some additional ideas):
• Maui Ocean Center (a wonderful aquarium)
• Driving or hiking in the West Maui mountains and Iao Valley
• Visiting Lahaina
• Snorkeling at La Perouse Bay
• Diving Cathedrals I and II at Lanai
• Getting shave ice at Ululani’s (we tried so hard, but the lines were always way too long!)

Till the next trip…Thanks for reading!

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