We arrived in Maui after a short 45 minute flight and picked up another Avis car again. We got a non-American car this time. Frist impression of Maui: Hot hot hot! Our plan for the next and last week in Hawaii was to spend the first two days in different locations to drive to far far away Hana (well, it is actually only about 80 miles but yeah, far for this tiny island) and then the following 5 days at one location for day tripping on shorter distances again. We spent the first evening in a home stay more on the country side and only had to share the place with two other guest. One Indian guy who couldn’t even say “hi” and a very odd old lady with drug and alcohol addiction. She told us weird stories about her not being able to stay at her house anymore due to a court decision, supremacies about MH370 flight that “hijacked by ISIS and the plane being hidden somewhere to be used to attack America in the future…” we guess she was hallucinating. In the morning she called Yinru in panic while we were having breakfast and asked her to get ice cubes to take medication. We wonder what the government can do to help people like her, although it is none of our business actually.
We left the place early in the morning to drive all the way on the Road to Hana to the eastern tip of Maui. The scenic drive lead us through lush rainforests with uncountable one lane bridges, waterfalls and, of course, tons of tourists. We took breaks for a few hours to either hike not very spectacular rainforest trails, cool down by swimming in one of the rivers (which was wonderfully refreshing) or to have lunch at Bradda Hutts BBQ place (a local food truck serving classics from the grill accompanied by famous mac and cheese salads). Since we pre-booked our night at Joe’s place there was no hassle about finding a bed this night. We have to say Maui is horribly expensive comparatively to Oahu or Kauai. Our place was by far the cheapest for 50 USD a night. Prices for accommodation in Maui usually start at a rate of 200 USD per night for a decent hotel which is the reason why we booked an Airbnb for the next five nights (which was still 100 USD a night).
The next day we planned to drive all the way back to the center of Maui…so so impressed with what we have seen (the road to Hana was beautiful but not as spectacular as we expected – ok, we might be spoilt from other islands but hey, in Samoa it looked like that everywhere) we went to visit another state park. Luckily we did! It was the most beautiful and special black sand beach we have ever seen. The lava formations and especially the truly black sand (which is, unsurprisingly, very very hot) where a true jaw dropper. We both had a refreshing bath in a small cave nearby before heading back to civilization and finding a proper seafood lunch at Pai’a. Half an hour drive to the south in Kihei was where we would stay for the rest of our time in Maui…if we would ever find it. After having some troubles and not being able to call anyone we found our host Garret. He and his Polish fiancé Ewa warmly welcomed us to their apartment. After a brief welcome we wanted to attend a local Hula performance at sunset on the beach but unfortunately it has been rained out by bad weather and was cancelled. We ended up enjoying the sunset on another beach further north. What sounds weird is reality on those islands (it was the same for Oahu and Kauai): all these islands have very distinctive micro climates. So it is possible to have one place raining the entire day while a 30mins drive away there’s plenty of sunshine. This is one of the reasons why Hawaiis’ landscape is so amazing to drive through. One can literally see dessert, savannah and rainforest within one day here.
The next few days were spent discovering some of Maui’s uncountable beautiful beaches and it’s tempting turquoise waters. We spent hours snorkeling in various places observing thousands of colorful fish and swam with dozens of, sometimes huge, green sea turtles. Our stay with two locals also gave us the opportunity to gain some insights in how life’s like here in Maui. We expected the aloha-spirit to be a bit more relaxing than what we know from Singapore or Switzerland but not that laid back. Rush hour on the streets was usually around 4pm. Our hosts (well one of them was unemployed) left home for work around 9am and was back by 3pm. How laid back is that?
While beaching wouldn’t fully entertain us every day (maybe we are just the type of hyper active travelers that cannot just settle for a week in an all-inclusive hotel) we added some contrast to our program. The visit and short hikes in Iao Valley, a place on west Maui where rainfall is abundant and lush rainforest dominates the scene was rather unspectacular again. Our afternoon trip the Haleakala National Park and Mauis’ highest peak, the crater summit at an altitude of over 10’000 ft (3’055m) was a unique experience. As on all other island with high peaks moisture usually gets stuck on either side of the mountain creating clouds and lots of rainfall. Since the summit was higher than the inversion weather layer once we reached the very top we were indeed above the clouds. Temperatures plummeted well down to about 15 degrees and the winds were biting. Luckily we had some appropriate attire from New Zealand with us, but wow, we were wondering how all those ladies up there with their hotpants and goosebumps all over the body must have felt…brrr. We stayed at the summit for a while and witnessed a magical sun diving into a sea of clouds at sunset. Around 45mins later an endless sky of millions of clearly visible stars opened up on our way back home around 9pm.
Maui has beautiful beaches and landscape to offer, besides some really good food too. We had lots of seafood (is there anywhere better to get seafood?) throughout our trip. We tried Cajun fish at Paia fish market, coconut shrimp at Coconut restaurant etc. Even Poke (raw fish with marinade) from supermarket were really good. One highlight dish was hot and spicy shrimp from Geste food truck. It was just a very ordinary food truck parked at road side that serves extraordinary shrimps. As our travel guides suggests, it is “to die for”. Yinru also met her old friend, Judy whom she has not met since Taiwan in 2010. It was a good reunion and we would probably meet again in LA in July.
We have been asked numerous times which of the Hawaiian Islands we like most. Well we have to disappoint you and tell you that we can’t choose one because we like all of them (diplomatic but true). Every island has its own characteristic so it is really hard to pick our favorite island. Oahu has the city vibe, glamour and welcomed us for the very first time. Kauai is more laid back and family oriented scoring with untouched nature while Maui offered a mix of both with impressive sights of the remnants of the creators of all the islands: volcanoes. We left Hawaii with mixed feelings: sad having to leave, happy having created all the memories and knowing that there’s a huge road trip coming up in the west of mainland US for the next, and last chapter of this trip, six weeks. Luckily we made one big mistake while planning our trip to Hawaii: we didn’t visit Big Island – which means: We’ll have to come back one day J until then: Mahalo and Aloha Hawaii.