Today I will write about a tour that is a bit strenuous at some points. Your reward will be breathtaking views of the Zugspitz massif. My guide book described the tour in the opposite direction, but since I wanted to end the tour at the St. Martin alpine cabin with one of their delicious blueberry pancakes, I decided to walk this tour in the other direction. Depending on wether you prefer to have the heavy duty part in the ascend or rather in the descend is your decision.
Today I want to talk about my favourite tour on Maui. You can split this tour in two for more enjoyment. After all you’ll explore one of the most spectacular coastal drives of the world. I liked the Road to Hana that much that I drove it three times. But before you go on this trip you should keep in mind that on this tour the road is the destination. Sure it can’t hurt when you check out what there is to see and make a first plan where you want to stop. 600 hairpin turns, single lane bridges, bamboo and rainforest, waterfalls and black lava beaches. Just float along.
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.
Ok, I have to admit that it`s a while since I visited Maui, but back then I have cheched out this island thoroughly and feel able to tell you something about it.
Maui`s nickname is the „Valley Isle“ and is actually divided in 2 parts that are connected through a broad and falt valley. The smaller northwestern part is where you will find most of the island. Between Lahaina and Kapalua are the best known beaches where you can go for a swim in the ocean.
Lahaina and Kaanapali, the best known towns
In Lahaina and Kaanapali you will find one resort next to the other and both towns do live from tourism. Kihei in the southwest has caught up and promotes itself as a family destination. Life is a bit more relaxed and most of the resorts offer condo style accomodation. The luxury resorts are located on the nortwestern tipp in Kapalua and in the southern district of Wailea. And as on most of the Hawaiian islands there are lots of golf courses.
The bigger southern part of Maui is dominated by the 10.000 feet high Haleakala, a dormant volcano, which names translates to house of the rising sun. I will explain why later.
You can’t make a full circle around Maui, so I will split my excursion in three parts. I will start our tour in Lahaina. In the 19th century this was the most important town in Hawaii. The first white settlers, missionairies from New England, built their new homes here. There goal was to bring Christianity to the pagans. Back in those days Lahaina had a very bad reputation, since the port was being used mainly by whalers, that landed here after months at sea and were looking for provisions and fun for the seamen. The missonairies were shocked whent hey first landed here, mainly due to the almost naked natives.
Lahaina, a town with history
Front Street still is the main street of the town and is nowadays home to art galleries and restaurants. On the makai (oceanside) side of the street you will find opportunities to drink a sundowner and have dinner with spectacular views. Front Street is the starting point of a historic walk, which will lead you to the most important points of the past. The best location to start your walk is the Baldwin Home Museum,located in one of the oldest houses in town. It was built by Dwight Baldwin who was one of the first settlers to arrive here.
We continue through a small street that leads us to Lahaina Public Library.The lawn in front of the library used to be a large taro field, before it was converted in a lawn in the 1950`s. Next stop is the Hauola Stone. This piece of rock was seen as a healing stone by the Hawaiian priests. We continue to the light house, which is actually the oldest on the islands. The Pioneer Inn is the oldest hotel on the island and had famous patrons, such as Frnak Sinatra. The Banyan Tree (pictured above) covers with its branches a bit over 40.000 square feet. Those banyan trees are traditionally the meeting point in every Hawaiian village. This one was planted in 1873. Across the street is the Courthouse where in 1898 the American flag was flown for the first time on the islands.
Back on Front Street take a right and youb will come Episcopal Church, transferred from across the street back in 1909. When you reach Maluuluolele Park take a trun into Shaw Street and then into Waineè Street. There you’ll see the oldest church on the islands built of stone. On the adjacent cemetry you can visit Queen Keopuolanis grave. She was the first Hawaiian queen that converted to Christianity. On Luakini Street you’ll see the oldes buddhist temple of Hawaii.
From we continue to Prison Street. As the name already says, you will see the old prison of Lahaina. The Hawaiian name for the building is Hale Paahao, which means house with the iron bars. You follow Waine’e Street and take a left into Hale Street. Here you can visit Hale Aloha (House of love), which was built in 1858 in memory of the almost 6.000 people that died of the smallpox. This is the last stop on our historic Lahaina tour.
North of Lahaina is the resort twon of Kaanapali. Not a grown town, but a mere collection of hotels. The few high rises of the island are to be found here. And the longest stretch of beach of the island. In ancient times this area was strictly dedicated to the royals. One attraction to be named is the Whalers Village a mall withlots of stores and a Wahlers Museum. If you want to experience a luau, you should go to the Royal Lahaina, one of the best of the islands. Kaanapaliis the best palce to be, when you plan a few days on the beach while visiting the islands. But it would be a shame, if you take the long fight just to relax on the beach. That’s why I will continue with the tour.
If you like a more quiet vacation spot and still need a beach, you will love Napili Bay. On this small bay there are only two hotels. One of them is the Napili Kai Beach Resort with the Sea House right on the beach. They offer great food and fantastic views of the neighboring island of Lanai. A dream come true.
Kapaluais home to some very exclusive hotels and with DT Fleming Beach Park alos offers a beach that is not so crowded. And you will come across this ancient school house, where it must have felt like torture, if you had to attend class. I don’t think I would have survived this.
Just beyond Kapalua the street narrows to one lane and you should be ready for adventures if you continue. Those who have the guts will be rewarded with great views of Moloka’i. The road wriggles through towering cliffs. To the right they tower above the street and ton the left they fall steeply into the sea. If you meet oncoming traffic it can happen that you will have to drive in reverse for a while before you will find a plac where they can pass. On this road the route becomes the destination. And it is not for weak nerves. On the northern most tipp of the island you can visit Nakalele Blowhole. Once you have left this spot behind the road continues still very narrow and it does lead through rolling hills where you can discover a pristine part of Maui. Todays tour ends in Kahului, the administrative capital of Maui.
Kahului is also the town where you will find the airport. Apart from that there is not much to see in this big city, Hawaiian speaking, with 26.000 inhabitants. Next to the airport you will find a few shopping center with supermarkets. This is good to know, if you have rented a Condo and want to cook your own meals.
This is the end of todays tour. I hope you did enjoy it.
And as usual, I would be happy to read your comments. And if you have any questions concerning the Hawaiian islands, fell free to contact me.
Ok, I have to admit it’s been a while since I’ve been to Maui, but during that visit I did explore as much of the island as possible and therefore will be able to tell you something about it.
One of Maui’s nicknames is the „Valley Isle“ and it actually consists of two parts that are linked by braod flat valley. It’s smaller northwestern part is the place where you will find the most hotels along the westcoast. Between Lahaina and Kapalua you will also find the best known beaches. Since the waters between the islands of Moloka’i, Lana’i and Maui are calmer than elsewhere on the islands, you can easily go for a swim here. Weiterlesen
Scenically this is one the most beautiful tours, I hiked so far. I had to stop pretty often to admire the monumental mountain scenery. And here comes the good thing about this hike: You don’t need to be shaped up for Iron Man to walk this tour. The ascent through the Laliederer valley is mostly smooth. There is just one relatively short steep ascent to the Falkenhütte and the descent to the Engalm is a bit steep too at times, but easily to walk.
This tour isn’t too exhausting, but you will need to be able to walk in uneven terrain and be free from giddiness. You will be rewarded with beautiful views and with a bit of luck you will encounter an ibex. And don’t forget to save some energy for the descent. It is not very steep and follows good walkable paths, but it is a rather long one.
As you might know, August 15 is Assumption Day and therefore a public holiday in roman-catholic Bavaria. Really in all of Bavaria? No…. There are a few heretical towns in Franconia that have lost their good faith and are mostly protestant and therefore hve to work on this day. I was looking forward to that day this year, since it was my first day of vacation. And on top the forecast had for once announced beautiful, sunny weather which hasn’t been the case this summer too often.
But already the night before I didn’t sleep too well and when I woke up in the morning I felt like being pushed through a rotary iron. And it did get worse and worse during the day. At one point I thought that Mother Mary apparently had a reservation for me in her lift and wanted to take to the top floor with her. Well, I thought it is too early and decided to let go the next lifts and give my space to others. So I did survive the day and funny enough I already felt much better the day after. Has this attack just been a cause of the dangerous Man Flu, that is only felt by men? Weiterlesen
Today we will explore the south and the west of Kauai. You can look forward to a bunch of different highlights. So make yourself comfortable and enjoy reading.
Wailua River and surroundings
The Wailua River is the only river on the Hawaiian Islands, where ships can be used. If you are more of an active person you can book a guided canoe tour. For all of you that think this is too strenuous there are boat rides that go upstream to the Fern Grotto. During this ride you will have comments about the river and it’s surroundings.
The Fern Grotto is remarkable because of the Ferns that grow on the ceiling and which are due to gravity hanging from it. What you won’t see and what you even can’t reach with your canoe are the Wailua Falls. Therefore I would suggest to spend a day hiking in Wailua State Park. Apart from a tropical rainforest you can explore quite a few sacred places of the ancient Hawaiians. The Kamokila Hawaiian Village is a good starting point to explore this natural preserve. Beginning with a temple and ending with huts where the Polynesian people lived before the Europeans came, there is a whole village to explore and you will get a good impression of life in the old days. There is a nature trail that explains everything. Once you have visited the village you can go on a tour with an Outrigger Canoe, hiking or swimming. As mentioned before Kauai is called the Garden Isle and most attractions have a nature theme.
Lihue, the capital of Kauai
Leaving Wailua you will soon arrive in Lihue. The town itself is not very interesting. Hanamaulu Bay offers a swimmable beach, but the airport is rather close here. Kalapaki Beach is also a swimmable beach and apart from a few shops and bars you will find the Kauai Beach Marriott here. The hotel is not very inviting seen from the outside, but the interior is just beautiful. The most remarkable part of the hotel is the large pool in form of a hibiscus flower.
An excursion into the world of legends
From the Nawiliwili Harbor, where you can sometimes see cruise ships, you will access the Huleia National Wildlife Refuge. Part of this Park is the Alekoko Fish Pond. The old Polynesians have a legend concerning this pond. Long before the Polynesians there were people living on the islands: the Menehune. These small people grew only to be 2,5ft. high, but possessed supernatural strenghts. They are very shy and so there aren’t many people that have actually seen them. When the chief of the Polynesians decided to built this new pond he went to the Menehune and asked them for help. They agreed to bulit it in one night, but insisted that no one would watch them doing it. The chief gladly accepted and so on the next full moon the Menehune started their task. A Hawaiian prince and his princess had a date the very same night and when they heard the noise of the construction going on they decided to sneak to the site and watch. Of course they were found and the Menehune ended their work instantly. The pond was only finished many years later by Asian plantation workers. As for the two lovers, they were punished by being transformed into rocks which can still be seen in the hills next to the pond.
When we continue we will reach Kilohana Plantation. The name of it translates to „Place not to be missed“. The plantation home can be visited and offers a good sight into the life of the rich that were living here in the old days. A part of the house is nowadays the home of one of the best restaurants on Kauai. Gaylords at Kilohana offers fine dining at its best with ingredients from Hawaii. If you are lucky enough to get a table in the courtyard you will certainly pass a memorable meal. On the grounds you can also explore a few stores, especially the Koloa Rum Company Store is not to be missed. This the only distillery on the islands that produces rum which actually tastes very good. But the highlight of the plantation is the historical train that runs around the grounds. During the ride you will get more interesting information about the work life on a plantation. If you want to go to a luau I can recommend Kalamaku. Every tuesday and friday night you can experience a great show. Not as authentic as others, but very professionell.
To reach our next stop it takes only a short drive. Koloa is a small historic village where the plantation workers used to live. You can see one of the oldest sugar mills in Hawaii. The houses are home to a few souvenir shops and galleries. It’s worth a short stroll.
Kauai’s southern coast, Poipu
Poipu on the southern coast is a resort town with a broad selection of mostly luxurious hotels and beautiful beaches. A bit inland there are two small shopping malls. On Mondays and Thursdays afternoon your shopping spree at the Poipu Shopping Village will be accompangied by a free live Hula show. On Wednesdays the Shops at Kukui’ula offer a Culinary Market with live-cooking and tasting. On Friday nights you can listen to Hawaiian musicians playing here. I want to point one shop at Kukui’ula: Lappert’s Hawaii sells very tasty ice cream made of Hawaiian ingredients. Delicious…….
Poipu has pristine beaches, where you can at least most of the time take a swim. But on certain days the currents are too strong for doing it. You have the choice between several bays. Baby Beach is suitable for kids, while Brennecke’s Beach is best for body surfing. The most popular are Poipu Beach and Shipwreck Beach. But only Poipu Beach has a lifeguard on duty. On this beach I had an encounter with a Hawaiian Monk Seal, although I first realized that a bunch of people were tying ropes and therefore cutting off a part of the beach. The conservation of flora and fauna is very important to Hawaiians and a lot of them engage in volunteering. Oh, and I found the seal most impressive.
A bit further west you will find another spouting horn. As I have told you before you will find these along the coast of the islands. When the tide is high the water is pressed through them and builds fountains.
An impressive natural sight: the Napali Coast
From Poipu we continue to Ele’ele and Hanapepe. The drive leads us through coffee plantations that have replaced the pineapple and sugar cane fields. Hawaiian coffee tastes, due to the volcanic soil, different as any other coffees. It has less acidity, but a very intense taste. My favorite is still the Kona coffee, but I will tell you more about it, when I am writing about the island of Hawaii, also known as the Big Island.
Hanapepe is the starting point for excursions to one of the most beautiful regions of Kauai, the Napali Coast. This stretch of the coast can only be reached by water or from the air but is for me one of the most stunning coast lines on this planet. I recommend that you book a snorkeling tour to explore it. You’ll have to get up rather early in the morning, but you will be part of an awesome tour. When leaving Hanapepe your catamaran will be guided by dolphins. Apparently the best time to watch those highly intelligent animals is early morning. I am always enraptured by their games. Aboard the ship you will be served breakfast which you can relish in peace, since it’ll take some time before you reach the northern coast. At the turning point you will get a climpse of Ni’ihau, the forbidden island, which can be visited by invitation only. It used to be a plantation, but today it is protected by the owners and they aim to preserve the original Hawaiian culture. On your way back you should have your camera ready. You will have the sun in your back and the perfect light for some great shots of the colorful cliffs. At different locations you can see waterfalls tumbling over high cliffs into the ocean, while on other stretches you will see romantic beaches inviting you for a swim. In my first part of the Kauai excursion I wrote about the Kalalau Trail that runs along this coast. At some point the captain will anchor and you’ll be snorkeling. I never was a big friend of this sport, since all my attempts ended with a feeling that I drank half the ocean. But after the instruction by the crew aboard this catamaran, I was able to snorkel and was delighted. The underwater world off the Hawaiian coast is colorful and offers a broad variety. And if you are lucky you might even swim with a honu (turtle). The best to describe all this is to show you pictures. So here you go:
From Hanapepe we continue a bit further west to Waimea. There is not much to be told about this small town unless you are lookign for a romantic hideaway. The Waimea Plantation Cottages used to be a plantation and the small houses for the employees were turned into vacation homes. On the grounds you will also find a small black beach without lifeguard and in it’s natural state. Something else wouldn’t fit here.
THE highlight of Kauai: Waimea Canyon
One more reason why you should go to Waimea. This is the starting point for our grande finale of our tour around the island. The road is climbing the mountains and will lead you to the rim of Waimea Canyon. It is the second largest in the US and is also called the Grand Caynon of the Pacific. It is about 10 miles long and up to 3000 feet deep. In contrast to it’s big brother you will see apart from colorful stones a lot of green, since due to the precipitation there are plants growing in niches and on ledges.
Hiking in Waimea Canyon
There are two different trails you can take to explore the canyon. The short Ililau Trail is a nature path with lots of information about the formation of the canyon plus the flora and fauna of this area. If you hike the Kukui Trail you will descend along the western side about 2000 feet towards the ground. There you can camp overnight, but you will have to get a permission in the park. Since it can get very hot in the canyon you should start your tour early in the morning. And please keep in mind that you will have to climb those 2000 feet again. You will be rewarded with pure nature and fantastic views. And don’t forget to take enough water. There are no possibilities to buy anything on your way.
If you don’t want to make the descend, there are more trails to be found that’ll bring you to the top of the cliffs of the Napali Coast. And in this part of Kauai you will realize why this island is called the Garden Island.
Before I close my post for today, one more tip. If you like helicopter flights this is the place to treat you to one. This way you will see all this beauty from above. A truly unforgettable event.
Did I give you enough reasons to go to Kauai? Have you been there before and have more recommendations for first timers? I am looking forward to your comments.
Mahalo nui loa for your attention.