Hawaii Part Three : Maui

Happy Wednesday everyone!  Today I'm going to be sharing my third and final post on Hawaii (check out the others here!).  It's been so fun to write these recaps and relive the trip all over again.  Now that it's freezing out and snowing like crazy, I can really appreciate how incredible that trip is.  I would love to go back, PLEASE?!?

We were actually in Hawaii for Dan's work, so the entire time in O'ahu he was working.  I was working on east coast time, so I luckily had afternoons free to explore (which is how I got to see so much, but mostly alone).  When his work was done, we decided to extend our stay a bit and take a mini vacation.  Instead of staying on the same island, we decided to make the quick 45 minute flight over to Maui!  It was a very different experience from O'ahu, and we had a great time.  Here's how we spent our three days on the island:

Day One : Kihei

After landing and picking up our rental car (we decided on a Jeep which was the BEST decision!) and drove over to our Airbnb.  We found one in South Maui in the town of Kihei.  (ps- if you haven't used Airbnb yet, you can save $20 by using my link!)

We settled in for a bit, then walked along the beach (we were right on Waimahaihai Beach, which was never crowded and really beautiful).  We could actually see two other Hawaiian islands from the beach- Kahoolawe and Lanai.

To eat, we walked into town a bit and stopped in Nalu's South Shore Grill.  It was absolutely packed, and the food was great!  I had a poke bowl and a beer, and we got to slowly enjoy our food and listen to live music.  I also love the fact that the restaurant offers three flavors of infused water, rather than plain tap water!  Nice touch.

Day Two : Road to Hana

Since we had a limited time in Maui, I knew that I wanted to get a start early and do what everyone suggested- the Road To Hana!  This is a famous drive along the Hana Highway that starts in Kahului and ends in East Maui (which is where the town of Hana is).  There is also the south drive, which most rental cars don't cover since the road is unpaved and more dangerous to drive on.  Since we had a Jeep, we were able to drive on it and that ended up being my favorite part of the drive.

The drive is famous because it's absolutely beautiful- you drive through lush rainforest and along the coast for a total of 52 miles, and encounter 59 bridges and 620 curves!  Along the way are popular stops, including waterfalls, arboretums, fruit stands, beaches, a national park, and more.

I had a rough outline of stops that I wanted to make, but if something caught our eye we would just pull over and check it out.  Sometimes this was hard, because most places didn't really have a "parking lot" or place to pull over (and most of the roads were basically one-way).  It was all part of the adventure though!  Here are some highlights, going from west to east:

Started the drive at the Kuau Store.  There are lots of options for food and drinks, including a coffee bar.  I loved the fact that they had lots of vegan and vegetarian options, and I ended up picking up a tempeh pesto wrap and a fig bar.

Twin Falls (mile marker 2)
There are bathrooms and a fruit stand at the entrance.  Take a path down to the falls or wander around the park.

Waikamoi Ridge Overlook (mile marker 9.5)
Nice little trail that leads to picnic tables.  We stopped here for a while and ate our lunch that we picked up at the store.

Keanae Arboretum (mile marker 16)
One of my favorite stops.  Free park with beautiful trees and plants and a small creek.

Keane Peninsula (mile marker 17)
This is actually a little off of the "Road to Hana", but well worth the detour.  I would probably pick this as one of the most beautiful stops we made!  The crashing waves and gorgeous views made it a great stop.

Halfway to Hana (mile marker 17.3)
We stopped here for some coffee, and it was great to chat with the owner.  She had lots of suggestions on her favorite stops on the road, and showed us some local products that were sold at her store.  There was also a pizza truck here and lots of snacks if you're hungry.

Wailua Overlook (mile marker 18)
Short hike up to the overlook.  There is a great view of the ocean as well as the mountains.

Wainapanapa State Wayside Park (mile marker 32)
This was the only stop that we missed (which I think is pretty good!)  Apparently this park has black sand beaches, sea caves, and is known for their famous volcanic tubes.  We saw a sign for "camping" and figured the beach entrance was ahead, but unfortunately we were wrong.  Since it's kind of hard to turn around on the Highway, we just kept going.

pic credit

Hamoa Beach
We have now officially made it to Hana!  This beach is really beautiful!  I read somewhere that some consider this to be the most beautiful beach in the Pacific Ocean.  I'm not sure if I agree with that, but I loved how it looked so natural and was so peaceful.

Haleakala National Park
Probably my favorite stop on the trip (even though it wasn't technically on the "Road".)  Just a note that in order to enter the park you must buy a pass ($25 per car, but it is good for three days).  Most people go to the crater entrance to the park to see sunrise or sunset, so buying the pass will let you in both areas!  This park has a trail that leads through a bamboo forest to see two different waterfalls, and another trail that goes down to the Seven Sacred Pools. 

First waterfall (about halfway up the path)

Bamboo forest

Second waterfall at the end of the trail

Seven Sacred Pools (aka 'Ohe'o Gulch)

That was our last stop on the Road to Hana!  The rest of the drive around the south side of the island was gorgeous, but there were no more stops.  Instead, we were treated with amazing views like these:

and this!

Haleakala Crater
It was starting to get late, so we had to make it up to the crater to see sunset.

Most people go during sunrise, since the summit sits above the clouds, but reservations have to be made months in advance to enter the park that early.  To get up to the park, you drive up a huge hill with lots of twists and turns.  It takes a long time to drive up, so make sure you leave yourself lots of time, and pack warm clothes or blankets since the temperature drops dramatically.  

Once parked, we hiked around a bit and tried to pick the best spot to watch the sunset, then watched the stars come out for about an hour.

It was so beautiful and unlike anything I've ever seen before.  Pictures don't even do it justice!

Day Three : West Maui

It was our final day in Hawaii (boo!) so we decided to do a bit more exploring.  We decided to head over to West Maui and check out some of the parks and towns. 

Iao Valley State Monument was our first stop.  There is a short hiking trail that gives you beautiful views of the mountains and the Iao Needle (that pointy little guy in the middle of the picture).  There is a parking fee of $5, but I think it was worth it for the beautiful views.

Right outside of the park was a small botanical garden.  There were trails all over with buildings and structures that were clearly influenced by Asian design.  It was so beautiful, especially considering that the park was free to visit!

After exploring the parks, we headed to the Maui Tropical Plantation.  This place is so awesome!  It felt like a little town, with shops, a restaurant, farmer's market, coffee shop, and even zip lining on their grounds.  We actually stopped for lunch, and the restaurant was really beautiful.  Luckily, the food matched up to the surroundings and I had a delicious vegetarian feast!

After lunch, we made the quick drive over to Lahaina!  I heard a lot about this town, and it definitely lived up to the hype.  There were so many art galleries, restaurants, souvenir stores, and historic building to explore.

We wandered around for a while, then stopped at Kohola Brewery for some beer, and Lahaina Pizza Co for an AMAZING pizza and beautiful sunset!

We had to stay until it got dark to see the incredible Banyan tree that lives in front of the Old Lahaina Courthouse.  It's really an amazing sight to see, especially when it's all strung up with lights!

linking up with Amanda


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