Today we will explore another part of Maui. In this post I will lead you to magnificent beaches, talk about sea mammals and reveal a „secret“ of a real spectacular sunrise.
Iao Valley, a really historical place
We will start todays tour in one of the most holy places for the Polynesians. At the end of the valley we will come to one of Maui’s natural landmarks, Kuka’emoku, or Iao Needle, a monolith of 1200 ft. completely covered with green plants. Unfortunately the valley had to be closed to the public after heavy flooding in 2016. One of the facts that make this valley so special for the Hawaiians is the fact that King Kamehameha I. has won the battle that led to the unification of all the islands into one kingdom at exactly this valley.
What I liked especially when I visited was the ethnobotanical loop that gave insights on Hawaiian plants.
Maalaea, the harbor for tour boats
We drive through the valley that unites Maui’s halfs and pass sugar cane fields. Maalaea has not much to offer, but this is the port where the boat tours start. Here in the triangle between Lanai, Moloka’i and Maui you will find THE hotspot to watch gray whales. They migrate from Alaska and between November and April this is the place where they give birth to their calves and make them fit for the long journey back to Alaska. I have done several whale watching tours, but these mammals never came closer to a boat. I was totally overwhelmed by those close sights. So if you are on the island during the season, this is a must do.
From this port you can also gon on snorkeling tours to Molokini Island. The small islet is a crater that sunk halfway into the ocean. In the calm bay you can watch a lot of different fish and sea mammals. You will also meet turtles and dolphins.
From Maalaea we continue direction south and soon reach the town of Kihei. The road runs along a beautiful bay with a small and very quiet beach. When I visited Maui there were a lot of midges and that probably explains why this beach was so deserted.
Kihei, the family town
KIhei is a contemplative small town, very down-to-earth. The accomodations are mostly condo-style, perfect for families. Depending on how long you will be staying on the island, I would recommend that you book a condo. Most of the time the final cleaning is included in the rate, if you want to have a cleaning during your stay you will have to pay for it. This way you can spend your vacation in your own rhythm and don’t have to dress up for dinner. The choice of restaurants in Kihei is not really massive.
South of Kihei lies the twon of Wailea. This is a resort town with very exclusive and luxurious hotels. The most legendary is the Fairmont Kea Lani. Apart from those resorts you will find a small shopping mall and of course several golf courts.
The last town to the south is Makena. Here you can find a romantic, sandy beach, especially popular for weddings with that typical South Pacific feeling.
The dry southwest
Here in the southwest maui is semi-desert. The mighty Haleakala keeps the trade winds and therefore clouds and rain off this side of the island. There are a few interesting sights in this region. At the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Reserve Area you will find Little Beach one of a few beaches in Hawaii where skinny dipping is accepted.
Almost to the most southern tipp of the island is La Perouse Bay. This picturesque bay has a jagged shoreline and is very popular amongst surfers. But please make sure that you know what you do, before you start surfing here. Sfrong currents and sharp riffs just under the water make it a dangerous surfing spot. When you rest ashore, you can explore a few archeological sites.
This is the end of the raod and you will have to turn around and drive back. I would suggest to spend the afternoon on the beach and to go to bed early.
Haleakala, the most spectacular sunrise
Cause for your next adventure you will have to get up very early. Depending on the location of your hotel you should start your tour between 2 and 3 a.m. You can ask the people at your hotel what is the best time. As mentioned before Haleakala means house of the rising sun. And that’s why most visitors visit the summit of this 10.000 ft. high mountain to see the most beautiful sunrise on earth. The road meanders through serpentines to the top and that’s why you need some time for the 37 miles. The summit makes part of a national park, so you will have to pay an entrance fee of USD 20 (as of January 2017 for a 3-day ticket.) And don’t forget to take some warm clothing with you. It can get very cold up there. The rangers will give you a certificate that you did survive the drive up the mountain.
Once you have reached the summit you will witness a real spectacular sunrise, which is more of a party than a romantic happening. You won’t be the only ones to know that a once-in-a-lifetime moment awaits you up here.I was really impressed to see the crater emerging slowly from the dark and see the sun come up behind the mountain. An impressive spectacle that mingles clouds, light and breathtaking scenery. And once the sun is up, you will be able to see the small houses and the beaches far below.
Should you feel fit enough, you can go hiking up here. Maps and tips can be obtained from the website of the park. But please make sure that you have enough water with you. Conspiracy theorists still claim that the landing on the moon was a fake and that the astronauts were walking in the crater of Haleakala. Fact is that the scenery up here has so much in common with the moon that the astronauts did their training here. I found the endemic silver swords very impressive. For a plant to grow in such an unfriendly environment, did fascinate me. When you drive back down take the time to stop every once in a while. From mountain pastures to rain forest, you will cross quite a number of climat zones.
Back in the valley you might wanna visit Ho’okipa Beachto watch the kite surfers do their venturesome jumps. This beach is known to surfers around the world. But again, if you want to surf yourself, be sure to now what you do. There are a lot of sharp riffs in the water.
If you are more in the mood of a leisurely stroll you can visit Paia. There are quite a few galleries, small shops with artifacts and cafés. You can easily spend a nice afternoon in this small town. Feeling hungry? Then you will find one of Maui’s best and popular restaurants. As the name implements Mamas Fishhouse mainly serves fresh fish with a cool Hawaiian flair. A fitting end for a perfect day.
So. Are you ready to pack your stuff and go on a vacation? Have you been to Maui and want to share your experiences?
Mahalo nui loa!