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Archive for June, 2011

The Hana Highway is one of the most popular drives on the island of Maui. We had driven all the way around during our previous trip, and knew that we wanted to do the same again this time. However we did some more planning for this trip, and decided we wanted to hike the Pipiwai Trail this time as well (trail post to follow). Since the trail is located near the Haleakala Kipahulu Visitor Center on the far southeastern shore of the island, we knew that we had a long day ahead of us. We decided to leave early in order to make sure we had enough time for all we had planned. We left our condo at the Maui Banyan at 630am, in order to take advantage of as much daylight as possible.

Since we mostly wanted to hike the trail, we decided to try and take the most direct route possible to get there – which looked on the map to be in a counter-clockwise direction. This is not the standard route that most people take, so we were not sure how it would turn out. We were concerned about the condition of the road, and whether it would even be open, but decided to take the risk and headed up towards, then past Kula. It was not long into our trip before we started stopping to enjoy the amazing views and take some photos. It was a beautiful clear morning, so we could even see the Big Island of Hawaii off in the distance.

Here is a view along the highway:

Scenic 'Highway'

This is definitely not a drive you would want to make to try and make up some time. The road is still very windy and quite bumpy – with a lot of broken pavement, and even some unpaved sections. The scenery is spectacular however, and definitely worth the trip. Although I would most likely travel in a clockwise direction next time, as most of the traffic goes that way. The main benefit would be to avoid many of the oncoming vehicles, which we always seemed to meet at the many narrow points, one lane bridges, or blind corners.

One Lane Bridge

View of the coastline looking back towards the Sea Arch:

Kipahulu Highway

It was nice that we left so early however, as we encountered much more traffic in the afternoon. This made it easier to stop and soak in all the scenery…

One of my favorite views along the coastline:

South Maui Coastline

Mile 30

One of the many pullouts:
Pullout

View from the pullout of the black sand beach below:
Rocky Beach

View of the coastline looking back towards the pullout:
Scenic Coastline Drive

One of the many signs along the way – falling rock:
Falling Rock

We eventually made it to our destination – the Haleakala Kipahulu Visitor Center. It was just before 10am when we got there, so the parking lot was mostly empty. We stopped briefly at the Visitor Center to ask about the trail conditions. She told us the trail was in good shape, and that one waterfall was flowing and one was likely not. From there we headed up the trail. It was about four hours later when we returned to the parking lot and headed back out on the road. By this time the parking lot was pretty much filled up completely.

We continued on in our counter-clockwise direction, and proceeded onwards toward Hana. By this time there was quite a bit of traffic on the road. We encountered numerous vehicles coming at us. The section of highway between Hana and the Haleakala Kipahulu Visitor Center was by far the most stressful section of the day. Very narrow, very windy, and lots of traffic. We just took it slow though, and continued enjoying the scenery. As we got closer to Hana we took the road on the right leading to Hamoa Beach. What an amazing beach it is… this might be the destination we look to spend the most time at during our next trip:

Hamoa Beach

Not far down the road from there is another scenic beach – Koki Beach. There is a small beach park here, that was quite crowded during our previous trip. This time the beach was almost empty however, with one person on shore watching the one surfer in the water. What a relaxing beach:

Koki Beach - Maui

By this time we were feeling quite tired. It was a good nine hours since we had left our condo that morning. So we didn’t even stop in the town of Hana, and carried on our way. We made a quick stop at Wainapanapa State Park to check out the amazing Black Sand Beach. There is a great trail system through the park, but we just headed down to enjoy the beach and the sea cave:

Honokalani Black Sand Beach

Wai'anapanapa State Park

By this time the weather was starting to take a turn for the worse, and the rain started to fall. However the traffic had thinned out considerably, so we were able to take advantage of the many pullouts along the way that had been full during our previous trip. Unfortunately due to the rain it was only to have a quick look or take some quick photos:

Three Bears Waterfall - Maui

Hana Coastline

Hana Highway Waterfall

It really is an amazing drive with some spectacular scenery – and definitely worth checking out. There are a LOT of one lane bridges all along the road, many of them on switchback like corners. There was quite a few times where I was looking out the rear passenger side window to see if any traffic was coming from the other side of the bridge. The amazing Maui Coastline is the only place I can recall having to check my blind spot across a valley like this. I wanted to try and get a photo, but decided I should focus on driving (the others in the car agreed as well). I did find one spot to stop and take a photo of one of the crazy corners that are quite frequent on this drive:

Hana Highway

We also stopped at one of the food stands along the way (which I will add to the post once I can track down the name). We bought some fresh coconut and possibly the best smoothies we have ever had.

Overall it was one of the best days during our entire trip. We ended up getting back to Kihei around 730pm – eleven hours after we had left that morning. Very tired, but very satisfied with the adventure we had taken and the memories we had gained. Definitely a trip to be remembered.

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A small group from our wedding trip went to Fat Daddy’s BBQ Smokehouse during our wedding trip in 2008 and said it was very good. So we decided to try it during our latest trip in April 2011. We were very happy that we did. Their restaurant is nothing fancy, and not very big inside. But they more than make up for it with the food.

View from inside, looking towards the bar area:
Fat Daddy's BBQ- Maui Restaurant

We ordered the pulled pork and the full order of ribs – they tasted amazing, possibly the best ribs we have eaten. The flavor was very strong, and the meat was nice and tender. You get to choose from a couple different side orders, we chose the baked beans. These were also very tasty, and made right in the restaurant.

Fat Daddy's Smokehouse BBQ, Maui- Ribs

If you are not a fan of strong flavors, this may not be the place for you. My mom doesnt like bbq sauce very much, so this was not her favorite place on our trip. There are a few options that did not seem to be as strong. But the rest of us really enjoyed it here. The service was good and the food was awesome. We will definitely be stopping here again on our next trip.

Fat Daddy's Smokehouse BBQ, Maui

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We had been to Palauea Beach during our previous trip – it was one of my favorite places to snorkel. Since I had bought a new underwater camera for the trip, I was really looking forward to snorkeling here again.

It is one of the many amazing and scenic beaches of Wailea, however there are no services (outhouses only – no showers), no lifeguards, and parking is along the street where you can find it. But once you walk the short path through the trees to the beach, you are treated to a pretty sweet view:

Palauea Beach, Maui

I was a bit surprised at the size of the waves this time. During our previous trip it was very calm here. We are good swimmers so we headed out into the water to check it out. But with the waves being so big it was not a huge surprise to find the visibility was very poor – we could not see much at all. We swam out quite a ways hoping that it would get better once we got out away from the shoreline. But the farther from shore we got, the water remained the same. It was not long before we decided to head back to shore.

Palauea Beach, Maui

We had come to the beach well prepared however, and had brought the boogie boards as well. (we learned our lesson from not having them at Napili). It worked quite well to go out about waist deep, wait for the right wave, and enjoy the ride. I got a few videos of my brother enjoying the boogie boarding:

Although the waves started to get bigger:

After swallowing a fair bit of water that became the last ride of the day. It was back to enjoying the sand and the scenery. The beach was not very crowded, but there were quite a few other people enjoying the boogie boarding as well. The waves were quite large near the rocky point where most of the good snorkeling is located. There was one brave/dumb couple attempting to snorkel out there. We were a bit worried about them, but they did make it back to shore safely. Definitely not a place I would be swimming though:

Big Waves at Palauea

I am definitely looking forward to checking out Palauea beach if we make it back to Maui again in the future. Even with out the amazing snorkeling we still had a lot of fun here – what a great beach.

Palauea Beach, Maui

 

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We noticed a new restaurant near our condo at the Maui Banyan – the 808 Bistro. Which was convenient, as we had also seen it on TripAdvisor as one of the top restaurants in Kihei.
808 Bistro Maui Entrance

Our first trip here was for breakfast. I had the Banana Bread French Toast, and it was some of the better banana bread I have eaten. It comes with only banana bread though, and could have used a side of something. If I were to order it again I would look for something on the menu to add with it:
808 Bistro, Maui

My mom was pretty happy with the fruit bowl as well. It had a great variety, was a good size, and came with a side of their tasty banana bread:
808 Bistro, Maui

Shauna and Kevin ordered the focaccia breakfast sandwich with egg and portugese sausage. It came with a side of delicious hashbrowns. It definitely looked and smelled the best. They both said it was awesome, and I wished I had ordered it as well:
808 Bistro, Maui

We came back the next day for dinner, after our day trip to Napili Beach. We arrived just after the opened, and were able to take advantage of the early special. You get to choose a salad, main dish, and desert all for $23. And they definitely did not hold anything back on the portions. We got a good sized cesear salad, which we paid a bit extra for since we had read on tripadvisor that it was very very good – they make the entire thing on site. It certainly lived up to the hype. The pork chop dish was very good as well. We got two full sized porkchops, and were only able to eat one. The other one made a great lunch the next day. Shauna ordered the bread pudding, while Kevin and I got the brownie. We were all very happy. Shauna said it was one of the best bread pudding’s she had eaten, while the brownie was served hot over vanilla ice cream. These were quite big as well, but we took our time and managed to eat them all.

Pork chops at the 808 Bistro:
Pork Chops @ 808 Bistro, Maui

Bread pudding at the 808 Bistro:
Hawaiian Bread Pudding @ 808 Bistro, Maui

 

The 808 Bistro is definitely one of the best restaurants we found on the island of Maui. The food was great, the portions were large, and the service was very good. Overall it is an exceptional value and we are looking forward to returning here on our next visit to Maui.

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We had been to Honolua Bay during both of our previous trips, so we knew it was one of the places we had to visit again during our most recent trip in April 2011. The first time we stopped here we were amazed at the lush green rainforest you walk through on your way to the beach. We went snorkelling that day, and were very happy with the water clarity and number of fish.

On our second trip the surf was up. There were no snorkelers and a whole lot of surfers. The waves were quite big, so we did not even bother trying to enter the water.

So this time we were not sure what to expect. We brought our snorkelling gear though, and remained hopeful the water would be calm. We got to the pullout overlooking the Bay, and were very happy to see that not only was it calm, but the charter boats were anchored and lots of people were in the water snorkelling:

Beautiful Honolua Bay

We then began to wonder whether or not we would be able to find a parking spot. There is no parking lot at Honolua Bay. You just have to find a spot along the edge of the road, which becomes rather difficult when it gets busy. One important thing to remember is that you should not leave anything in your car. When we returned to our car we found that the car directly across the road from ours had gotten its windows smashed. A police officer was there talking with them, and we overheard that they had some fairly valuable stuff stolen. Apparently break-ins are quite frequent here.

The forest you walk through on your way to the shoreline is pretty amazing, worth the trip on its own even if you dont go in the water:
Honolua Forest

Tropical Forest at Honolua Bay, Maui

Trail to the beach:
Walking down the path to Honolua Bay, Maui

We took everything we had brought along for the day down to the beach with us. Shauna wasn’t interested in snorkelling, so she sat on the beach and watched all of our stuff. She did have some company though:
Beach cat

I should also mention that the ‘beach’ at Honolua is a lot like many of the beaches we saw on the Big Island… lots of rocks and not a lot of sand…

The rocky beach at Honolua Bay

But we were not here to enjoy the sand, so we headed out into the water. Like many beaches, the water closest to shore is not very clear. But once you get out away from the shoreline it begins to get better and better. I had read that the right side of the bay has some of the best snorkelling on the island of Maui, so we headed that way to check it out. Once we got past the tour boats the water became very clear:

And this one out a bit further:
Needle-fish

I was really keeping an eye out for turtles, since this was only our second time in the water, and we had not seen any at this point in the trip. We never did see any turtles, but the variety of fish was quite impressive:

Parrotfish

Puffer Fish

After a while we decided it was time to head back to shore. It was approaching lunch time and we figured Shauna would be getting bored back on shore. It turns out she was having a great time. There were a few cats wandering the beach, one of which decided to stop and have a nap beside her.

As we were swimming back towards shore, I decided to swim along the edge of the coral where the water drops off and gets quite a bit deeper. I figured there would be a better chance of seeing turtles and other various marine life we had not seen in the shallower water. But of course I would never have imagined the sight that suddenly appeared before me:

Honolua Shark

It was about six feet long, and resting on the bottom about twenty-five to thirty feet down. I looked up to show my mom and brother, however they were a little ways ahead of me with their heads down snorkelling, and did not see or hear me. I snapped a few quick photos and continued on my way. It was resting in a crevasse among the coral, and I was happy that it did not seem interested that I was there. There was a Fish of Hawaii book back at the condo which I used to decide this was a Grey Reef Shark. The book had all the shark species that are found in Hawaiian waters, and I really enjoyed looking through it. Since the water was pretty deep, and it was sitting in a fairly dark crevasse, the photo did not turn out the clearest. But from the photo and the vision that was etched into my memory, this shark did not have any black or white tips on the fins, and the fin shape/size did not seem to fit any of the other descriptions. It was pretty amazing to see in the ocean, and not just an aquarium tank like all the sharks I had seen before.

Photo of Honolua from above:

Honolua Snorkeling

Looking at the rest of my snorkelling photos from our trip, the water at Honolua was by far the clearest of the places we tried. I still have not been out to Molokini though, and hear that it is even better. I just can’t work myself up to paying for a snorkel tour, when I have been able to have such a great time swimming from shore. My mom, brother, and I are all very good swimmers though, so I would recommend taking a snorkel charter boat if you are not comfortable swimming about the Pacific Ocean. And of course you should always check the ocean conditions before you go. As we got farther out into the bay we did notice a current pulling us out towards Molokai, which was a definite reminder we were not swimming in conditions similar to the lakes back home.

Looking back towards the rocky beach:

View of the Beach at Honolua

After we got out of the water we headed back to Napili Beach for lunch at the SeaHouse Restaurant, before heading back up the Northwest Coastline past Honolua. It was one of my favourite days of the entire trip. Here is a view of the water at Honolua looking down from the far side of the bay as we returned from the Nakalele Blowhole:

Honolua Bay

I really wanted to get back up to the water at Honolua for a second time during our trip. But since it is a good hour’s drive from our condo in Kihei we were not able to fit it into the rest of our busy plans. I would have spent the entire trip snorkelling if I could have, but there were so many other things to see and do on the island.

If you have the time, are in the area, and can pack light (don’t leave anything in the car) then I would absolutely recommend checking out the water at Honolua Bay. I should also mention that this is one place I would consider taking a charter tour, to avoid having to worry about the car being broken into. The snorkelling is definitely worth it – at least in the summer months when the water is calm. In the winter months I will stick to watching the surfers from the lookout above.

Snorkel Boat at Honolua Bay, Maui

Snorkeling at Honolua Bay, Maui

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We headed back to the island of Maui for our anniversary. So of course on our first night we headed to the beach where we got married – Secret Cove Beach. It was a cloudy night, but definitely much hotter than we were used to at home. It certainly was amazing to be back. There was a small wedding ceremony happening out on the point, despite all the fishing rods that had been set up there.

Secret Cove Destination Wedding Beach Maui Hawaii

The waves were crashing pretty good on the rocks. Such an amazing and peaceful sound.

Secret Cove Beach Maui Anniversary Photography

We were standing and enjoying the view, when I spotted a whale spouting off in the distance towards Kahoolawe. And then there was another spout, and another. It wasnt long before everyone on the beach was watching. It was really neat to have such an experience at our wedding beach on our anniversary.

But they were just getting started… all of the sudden a massive tail appeared and started slapping down onto the water, over and over and over. You can also see a whale to the left, blowing water/air:

Maui Whale Fight

Shauna took out her smaller camera with the better zoom, and took a video as well:

It must have carried on like this for a few minutes. What a sight! It appeared that the whale slapping its tail was trying to ward off another whale to the left of it. It finally ended when the whale to the left of the tail slapper gave one last spout of air and headed off in the other direction. We watched them all for a bit after that, and the one heading left seemed to be all by itself, while it looked like three or four of them heading to the right, towards Molokini.

As the whales headed off out of sight, I noticed a turtle swimming in the water about thirty feet from shore. It was riding in the waves and kept popping its head up for air. We tried getting some photos, but it was not sitting high enough in the water to get a good shot.

We would have been happy just being back at the beach and listening to the waves crashing. But seeing the whales and the turtle made it an unforgettable evening…. and definitely a great beginning to our trip.

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Napili Beach

We had stopped at Napili Beach during our 2009 trip for lunch at the SeaHouse Restaurant. So we knew we wanted to go back again during our latest trip. It was the perfect place to stop for lunch after a morning snorkel trip to Honolua Bay. It was a bit of a challenge to find some parking, but once we found a spot we headed for the Sea House Restaurant. It was not too busy, so we got a table right at the front along the edge of the beach:

SeaHouse Restaurant

The view of the beach from the restaurant is quite impressive. You can just see Lanai on the left, and part of Molokai on the right. We saw a few brochures that said you can sometimes see whales from here as well, but we didnt see any on this day – although we werent here during peak whale season either. But we had seen plenty of whales the day before on our amazing whale watch adventure . The photos above and below show the view from our table, with only a small row of plants and a walkway between us and the beach:

SeaHouse Restaurant

The waves were pretty big, and there were quite a few boogie boarders. We enjoyed watching them try and catch the big waves as we enjoyed a cold bevarage while we waited for our lunch. We had only planned to go snorkeling on this day however, and had left the boogie boards back at the condo. Too bad because it looked like a lot of fun. We definitely would have tried it out if we had the gear. They would start quite a ways out, and attempt to ride all the way up the beach. Only a few were successful, and only on the biggest of waves. There were also a number of people waiting closer to shore and taking a shorter ride up the beach. Many of the smaller kids were waiting here, and it looked like they all were having a great time. One or two of the waves even washed all the way to the top of the beach, suprising the poor sunbathers who had been laying there peacefully and dry.

But since the waves were too big for snorkeling, and we had just been to Honolua before lunch, we decided to head up the coast and do a bit of touring. We stopped at Punalau Beach and the Nakalele Blowhole, but did not make the adventure all the way around the coastline on the crazy road we had travelled in 2009.

Napili Beach, Maui

A few days later we decided to head back to Napili Beach – this time it was the destination, not just a stop along the way. We emptied the closet at the condo, loading up the car with the boogie boards, beach mats, cooler, and snorkel gear as we wanted to be prepared for anything. We were really looking forward to trying out the boogie boarding, however the waves did not cooperate for us. They were almost non-existent this time, and the water was quite calm. But since we had brought our snorkel gear… I was happy to take the opportunity to check out the marine life.

We did not get very far out at all, when I noticed my brother waving me over. He had spotted a snowflake eel swimming along. I tried a few photos, but they didnt turn out the best. So I figured I would try a video, although I thought it was a little longer than this…

We saw a few more eels throughout the reef as well, which was kind of surprising since we didnt see even one at any of the other places we snorkelled.

Napili Eel and Fish

The water was not the clearest, especially closer to shore. But I was impressed with the amount and variety of fish we saw here:
Napili Fish and Coral

Napili Fish

Napili Goatfish

Unicorn Fish

My brother and I are both good swimmers, so we ended up quite a ways out from the shore. But we did notice the current pulling us out to sea pretty good, in the direction of Lanai, so we decided it would be best to turn around and head back closer to shore. I would definitely reccomend checking out the ocean conditions before heading out. There are a lot of good websites out there with this type of information. I liked this website for checking the ocean conditions. Although it doesn’t seem to have Napili Beach listed specifically.

View looking back towards the beach:
View from the Water

Here is the view from Napili Beach looking towards the island of Molokai:
Napili Beach

Overall we had a great time, and really enjoyed this beach. I do like the central location of Kihei, and really like our room at the Maui Banyan, but if I was going to stay anywhere else this would likely be the place. Such an amazing beach, and so close to Honolua (another of my favorite spots – blog post to come shortly). This part of West Maui is a bit out of the way from the other things on the island that we enjoy though, such as Haleakala, Hana, and Wailea. But there is so much to see and do near Napili that you could definitley make an amazing vacation within this area as well.

Clear Water at Napili Beach, Maui

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