Saturday, August 27, 2011


Our trip to Maui was amazing!  The beaches, the food, the views, the snorkeling... It was all fantastic.

Here are some of the highlights:

Farmer's Market
After we got off the plane and got our rental car we did some food shopping.  The condo we rented had a full kitchen so we planned on eating some meals there.  Right by Costco was a farmer's market.  We loaded up on fresh fruit.  Andrea was crazy about the mangoes.  They were really good.

We heard that watching the sunrise on Haleakala (The big volcano on the island) was a must do.  Because of the time difference, we thought it would be easiest to get up super early on the first morning we were in Maui.  We started early and headed up there.  The parking lot was packed.  We weren't able to get to the summit for the sunrise but we were pretty close.  The views were amazing and we could definitely see why this was listed as a must do.  But since it was so popular, we had to share the view with hundreds of other tourists.  We luckily found some rocks to stand on so we could see over the sea of heads.  It was cold up there!  But after "Mr. Toasty" made his appearance, people started heading out and it started to warm up.  Once some of the cars cleared out, we got to drive up to the summit. 

Road to Hana
Hana was also on the list of things you must do it Maui.  A thoughtful guy at the car rental shop loaned us a CD that guides you along the road to Hana.  Unfortunately it was scratched and it caused more of a headache than it was worth.  We fell back on our Maui Revealed book.  The first interesting stops in the book we weren't able to find.  We pulled up to a place called "The Garden of Eden."  You had to pay to enter a private garden but it sounded pretty good.  We were shocked at how much they wanted to let us in, but we quickly forgot as we were awed by the amazing plant life.  We saw more varieties of bamboo than I knew existed.  There were plants not just from Maui but from all over the world.  We wanted to get our money's worth so we made sure to look at everything in the immense tropical garden.  They even had a view of a beautiful waterfall.

Back on the narrow winding road we made many stops to check out waterfalls, viewpoints, banana bread stands and to get a smoothie.  The Banana bread lived up to its reputation.  It was really good.  We saw lots of beautiful waterfalls, I climbed through a lava tube and we decided to take a detour to see some amazing views in Nahiku.

Almost to Hana, we stopped at a place with food stands lined up along the road.  After snacking the whole way there, I wasn't that hungry but Andrea wanted to try a fish taco from the stand there.  The fish taco was SO good.  We both agreed that it was the best fish taco we had ever tried.

We made our next stop at Waianapanapa State Park famous for the Black Sand Beach.  We found a spot on the Black Sand Beach where I could sit in the shade and Andrea could sit in the sun.  We drove by Hana Beach Park which looked very nice and family friendly.  We had taken our time so it was getting late.  We hurried over to our last must do stop on the Hana trip. 

The Seven Sacred Pools (aka Oheo Gulch) was our last stop before heading back. We parked and followed the first path we saw.  We started hiking up, and up and we weren't sure we were going the right way.  After asking a few people that were headed down we knew we had gone the wrong way but heard there was a cool area up ahead.  Andrea swam in a pool at the top of a huge waterfall.  The water was a little cold for me so I just watched.  We hiked down and found the actual Seven Sacred Pools.  They were beautiful.  We swam and took pictures.  I climbed up some rocks to the upper pool and it was equally as beautiful but much less crowded.  It was a tricky climb though.

After a long, fun day, we headed back a little damp, hungry and tired.  We heard there are two ways to get back.  Go back the way we came across one lane bridges and a winding road, or keep going around and go the back way home.  I heard the back way had a few miles of gravel roads but was a lot straighter and faster.  Our GPS agreed so we kept going around.  We hit the narrow gravel roads as it started to get dark.  Just as I expected, after a few miles, the roads were paved again.  However, the roads were so full of pot holes and so bumpy, it was worse than the gravel.  Much worse.  After about 8 miles of horribly bumpy roads, we hit a smooth paved road.  Our celebration was short lived as we soon found ourselves again on bumpy roads for a few more miles.  Once we finally were at smooth roads, Andrea fell asleep.  We cruised by Haleakala again on our way back to the condo.  It was a long, amazing day.  We definitely recommend the Road to Hana but we do not recommend going all the way around... Turn around at Oheo Gulch.

Maui has so many amazing beaches, it's difficult to pick a favorite.  When we first arrived, we got to our Condo around 3pm.  The beaches across the street from us looked pretty nice but were very windy.  The wind died down in the evening so we walked along the beach watching the sunset but we headed elsewhere to check out other beaches on the island in the mornings. 

We went to Big Beach, Maluaka Beach, Wailea Beach, Kamaole I, II, and III, Black Sand Beach, Black Rock, Honolua, and a few others we stopped by.  They all had differences and were all nice. 

Our last morning we were in Maui, we went for a run and then to the beach near our Condo.  It took us a whole week to realize that the mornings on Kamaloe II were amazing.  The water was nice and calm, the wind wasn't strong, and the snorkeling was pretty good.  We were in a rush to spend the mornings at other beaches around the island and didn't enjoy a morning at the amazing beach right in front of us until the last day.

Near Big Beach - Our first snorkeling experience on Maui was at a little rocky place recommended to us by some guy we met while floating in the ocean one evening.  A little over a mile past Big Beach, there was a yellow gate and a rocky parking lot.  We headed down to the water.  It was tough to get in the water and the water was a little rough but once we were out there, there was a lot to see.  We were impressed.  If we didn't find something better, we were sure we would return.

Black Rock - The next spot we tried was at Black Rock.  It was much sandier so it was much easier to get in the water.  It was pretty calm but we didn't see as much fish as we previously had at the first place.  We relaxed on the beach until we heard people getting all excited about some turtles they saw.  We got our gear and I expected to swim out a ways to hopefully find them.  As we got in the water, we realized they were right up almost on the beach surrounded by tons of people wading in the water.  The waves were pushing us against the rocks so it was hard to spend much time watching them.  I was able to get a video and some pictures of the 2 sea turtles there. 

Following the recommendation of the guy we met floating in the ocean, our next snorkeling spot was near Napili at a place called Honolua Bay.  It was almost 5pm when we first got there.  There were signs saying it closed at 5 so we just wanted to see it so we could decide if we would come back another time.  As we walked down, a guy introduced himself and said he was the owner.  He said it closed at 6 so we got in and were amazed at what we saw.  The water was very calm and pretty clear.  We swam out for a while chasing schools of tropical fish.  Andrea pointed out an octopus to me and I snapped a picture with our new waterproof camera.  Andrea was getting cold so she headed back to shore to warm up and I stayed out a little longer and took my time swimming back.  On the way back, I saw what looked like a snake.  Turns out it was a Morey eel. 

Moray eel

Stand up Paddle Boarders

We loved it there.  The "owner" (we found out later he was a squatter) told us to come back early the next day and we would see more.  We returned the next morning and saw more and more fish.  We didn't see any turtles but some other snorkelers said they saw a turtle and a reef shark.  (Not sure about that one because I searched the area they said they saw them at and I just saw fish). 

Tour boats and paddle boarders started to fill the bay.  They were having a stand up paddle board race to the next island.  We watched them start the race and then we headed out.

Maluaka (Turtle Town)
Since it had the nick name "Turtle Town" we thought we would check it out.  The beach was really nice but the waves were pretty rough.  It made visibility poor and it was tough to fight the waves.  Right as I swam out, 15 feet from shore, I saw a sea turtle sitting on the bottom between rocks.  I didn't last long out there though because of the rough surf and low visibility.

Kamaole II
On our last morning in Maui we wanted to enjoy every last minute.  We spent the morning at the beach and tried snorkeling at Kam II.  There were rocks on one end of the beach so I swam to the rocks.  Under the water, once you got to the rocks, you could see fish.  A little ways out, there was a reef.  I followed the reef out and 300 yards out, I saw a sea turtle.  I was floating on the top, poking its head out of the water.  I swam in to take a break.  When I headed back out, I followed the reef again and the turtle was in the same spot.

Besides the farmer's market and fish taco, there was other places with amazing food.  Our favorite breakfast spot was called "The Gazebo."  It was small and well known so there was always a line to get in.  We first went there after our early morning to Haleakala.  The pancakes are amazing.  Andrea got banana macadamia nut and I got banana, mac, and pineapple pancakes.  They top it off with the most amazing whipped cream.  They said it's whipped with a little maple syrup and butterscotch. 
The line for the Gazebo Restaurant

The Gazebo Restaurant

We had to return because it was so good.  The second trip, I got white chocolate macadamia nut and Andrea got the banana, pineapple, macadamia nut pancakes.  A guy at a table near us got something that wasn't on the menu.  It was like a french toast sandwich with Nutella and bananas in the middle and whipped cream on top of course.  He said it was the best breakfast he had ever had. 

Shave Ice
Thinking shave ice was pretty much like a snow cone was a huge mistake.  We didn't try it until shortly before we were leaving.  It was fantastic.  The ice is different than it is in a snow cone and it holds the flavor much better.  It was so good, we went on a long walk to get seconds.  It was getting late so we weren't sure if anything would be open.  We passed the place we had tried before it was closed.  Farther down we came upon a stand that was still open although she was about to close.  She said she still had ice so she was happy to make some for us but they only took cash... and we didn't have any on us.  She insisted that we just pay tomorrow and made us delicious shave ice.  We chatted and when she found out we were on our honeymoon, she insisted that the shave ice was on the house. 

That was quite the name but by the end, we learned how to say it.  We were looking for a nice restaurant to have dinner at and this one was recommended by previous guests of our condo (written in a guest book).  It looked fantastic on the website so I called and made a reservation.  The restaurant is at the Grand Wailea Resort.  They only had valet parking but the really nice valet told us that it's free if we get it validated.  We were a little early so we walked around the beautiful resort, took pictures of the sunset, and caught a peek at a Luau going on near the restaurant.  
Sunset at the Grand Wailea

In front of the sign for Humuhumunukunukuapua'a

The whole restaurant is on stilts above a lagoon and looks like huts you would see above the water in tropical village.  The staff was really nice.  We had studied the menu before so we knew what we wanted.  I had Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi and Andrea had Crab Crusted Hawaiian Hapu’upu’u (Sea Bass).  The food was nothing short of amazing and the portions were perfect.  I overheard a couple nearby tell the waiter that it was their 10 year anniversary.  I told the same waiter that we had been married one week.  He told us they would give both of us free dessert as long as we promised to come back for our 10 year anniversary.
The restaurant over the water

Our waitress gave us the dessert menu and my mouth was watering over the Tropical Fruit Sorbet Sampler while Andrea was eyeing the Chocolate Volcano Mousse.  The waiter that offered the free dessert saw us with the dessert menus and said "how about a Humu Hula Pie" as he swept the menus from our hands.  We didn't resist.  He also told us that the couple who was having their anniversary had also ordered the Mahi Mahi and See Bass.  He wished us a happy 1 week anniversary. 

Maui Tacos
With the fish tacos from the road to Hana on our minds, we stopped by Maui tacos.  They were not as good as the taco stand on the road to Hana but I did like the salsa bar.  They had salsa rated from Mild to Hot Lava.  The Pineapple salsa was my favorite and the hot lava salsa wasn't really that hot.  I could tell it was made from habaneros. 

We brought some nice clothes and made it to church on Sunday.  We were not the only visitors.  We saw lots of people who must have been tourists and Andrea recognized a couple that we had seen on the road to Hana.  It was a good experience.

Overall, we loved Maui.  We hope to return for our 10 year anniversary... or sooner.... much, much sooner...

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