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Posts Tagged ‘hana’

We have been to Maui a number of times now, and always enjoy our day-trips to hana. But after our last trip we said we weren’t going to travel the Hana Highway again for a while. It’s such a beautiful drive but it always makes for a very long day. So we decided the best way to have more time to relax and enjoy the sights and scenery would be to spend a few nights in Hana. After doing quite a bit of research online with VRBO and TripAdvisor, we came across the Hana Oceanfront Cottages. Right away we knew it was the place we had to stay. They have two options – the Cottage or the Suite – but the Cottage was the one we really wanted. What a beautiful place – exactly like the photos on their website. Here are some of our favorite photos taken during our stay…

Hana Oceanfront Cottage - Hana By The Sea

View from the Hana Oceanfront Cottage, Maui

View from the Hana Oceanfront Cottage, Maui

The Living Room - Hana Oceanfront Cottage

Kitchen - Hana Oceanfront Cottage

Bathroom - Hana Oceanfront Cottage

Hana Oceanfront Cottage Bedroom

Since we haven’t spent a night without A/C during our time on the Hawaiian Islands we were a bit hesitant to spend too many nights there, since we weren’t sure how it would go. So we only booked a one night stay, which worked out well as it filled a small gap in their calendar. There are windows on all four sides of the cottage, so it was very well ventilated and cool throughout the night. It wasn’t quiet however as you could hear the ocean crashing below, and the frogs chirping from time to time. I found it quite relaxing and got a great sleep. Shauna didn’t sleep as well, although I did wake her up a few times throughout the night as I woke up a few times to check out the skies… Our one night stay coincided with the peak of the annual Lyrids Meteor Shower. Unfortunately the clouds blocked the view for most of the night and the moon was already starting to rise. I did find a break in the clouds around 2am and was able to get a few photos in, however didn’t see any meteors this time. I did get a couple nice night photos though.

Hamoa Beach, Maui

We woke up to a beautiful morning, and of course headed across the road with our cameras to take some photos. It was amazing to hear and watch the waves below as the light changed and go brighter. We ate our breakfast out on the patio watching the waves and the surfers. We could definitely spend a lot more time here. Before we checked out we headed down to Hamoa Beach. The surfers were enjoying the waves, but we didn’t want to test them so stayed on the shore. Maybe next time we will give it a try if things are a bit calmer. Here are some of our favorites from the morning…

Hana Sunrise

Beautiful morning at Hamoa Beach

Hamoa Beach, Maui

Hamoa Beach Surfing

Hamoa Beach Maui

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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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Here is a top ten list of my favorite Maui Beaches. They are slightly biased towards south Maui since we stayed in Kihei. Each person might have a different view depending where they stay. But you will find some amazing beaches no matter where you are on the Island of Maui. Anyhow here is my list of Maui beaches…

#1 – Secret Cove Beach:

Secret Cove Maui SunsetProbably not the number one Maui beach for many people – except for those who were married there. But this is my list, so Secret Cove Beach gets bumped to the top.  Although you probably won’t spend much time there without the whole wedding thing. It is rather small, and not a great swimming beach. But it is definitely a great beach for weddings and for photography. If you would like to read more you can check out my post here.

#2 – Maluaka Beach:

Maluaka Beach, MauiAs far as swimming beaches go, Maluaka one was definitely my favorite on the island. If we did not get married at Secret Cove Beach, this would likely be at the top of the list. Great scenery, great sand, great water, and the snorkeling is amazing. Lots of turtles and fish – it is one of the Turtle Town’s the charter boats take you to. If cost was not an issue, there is good chance we would stay at the Makena Resort just to stay at this beach. But I don’t see the point of spending all that extra cash to stay in Wailea, when it is just a short drive down the road from Kihei. If you would like to read more you can check out my post here.

#3 – Palauea Beach:

Palauea Beach, Maui

Yet another amazing South Maui beach. Palauea Beach has great scenery, sand, water, and snorkeling – similar to Maluaka beach above. I saw a lot of turtles here as well – it is known as Turtle Town as well. The visibility wasn’t as good on the days we were here as it was at Maluaka, but I am sure that changes a lot depending on the time of year and season. But it is pretty hard to go wrong with either one of Maui’s Turtle Town’s. If you would like to read more you can check out my post here.

#4 – Big Beach:

Big Beach, MauiBig beach is another of the great South Maui beaches. Would probably be higher on my list if it wasn’t for the dangerous shorebreak that makes it nearly impossible to swim here. Although the day I took the photo above the waves were pretty calm. There were a few people swimming and even some snorkelers as well. I even saw a few turtles from up where the photo was taken. (which also doubles as the trail to Little Beach) The waves at Big Beach were crashing loudly most other days we were here; it was impressive to see. If you would like to read more you can check out my post here.

#5 – Kamaole II Beach:
Kamaole II Beach Panoramic

Kamaole II Beach is another beach that might not be near the top of many people’s lists. But since we stayed across the street at the Maui Banyan, we spent a lot of time here. So we have a lot of great memories from this beach. We did a lot of swimming, and the snorkeling was pretty good too – especially around the rocky point shown above. And we got a bit of boogie boarding in as well. There was one day we even saw some whales leaping out of the water off in the distance. If you would like to read more you can check out my post here.

#6 – Napili Beach:

Napili Beach, MauiNapili Beach just seems like a great place to spend the day. The water looks so clear, and everyone there was having a great time. If we ever stay in West Maui, it will be at one of the resorts along Napili Beach. It was one of my first choices when we were researching for our wedding trip of 2008. But we just couldn’t justify spending twice the amount to stay here compared to sunny Kihei – especially with the wedding to pay for. But it was certainly worth the drive to check it out. We plan to visit again on our next trip.

#7 – Honolua Bay:

Honolua Bay, MauiHonolua Bay is another great Maui snorkeling location. When we visited in 2008 this was one of the few calm snorkel locations on the island. But in 2009 only the surfers were there. There is no sand along the shoreline, but we were there to snorkel, and you can always find more fish along the rocky areas anyhow. The visibility along the shoreline wasn’t the best. But once you get out a bit things get much better – especially along either side of the bay. We saw lots of fish here, and an octopus too. No turtles though, but apparently there are some in the area. During our visit in 2008 there were even a few charter boats there, which seemed like a great way to see the West Maui coast, and might be worth looking into for next time.

#8 – Black Sand Beach at Wainapanapa State Park:

Black Sand Beach, Maui This Black Sand Beach is a long way from where most people spend most of their time, but a black lava sand beach really is worth the drive, especially along the scenic Hana Highway. I look forward to spending more time here on our next trip. Although I don’t think it is a very good swimming beach – it looked pretty rough. But what a great beach for taking photos. And there are some trails on either side that I am hoping to explore next time as well.

#9 – Ho’okipa Beach:

Ho'okipa Beach, MauiHo’okipa Beach doesn’t seem to be a great swimming beach, but it is known as one of the best windsurfing beaches in the world. The lookout above the beach makes for a great place to watch and take some photos. Definitely worth checking out. We even saw some turtles popping up for air amongst the surfers.

#10 – Ka’anapali Beach:

I will have to get a photo for Ka’anapali Beach during our next trip. We only stopped here briefly on our 2008 wedding trip. But what an scenic beach it is. The sand just seems to keep going and going. Definitely another one we plan to spend more time at on our next trip to Maui. It is very popular, and usually ranked a lot higher on most people’s lists. But since we didn’t spend much time there it will have to be lower on this list – at least until next time.

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A few days after our adventure along the Northwest Coastline, we decided we were ready to drive the Hana Highway. We decided we would pass through Paia without stopping in order to make sure we would get as far as we could go in one day.

One of the first stops we made this day was at Keanae, just before the 17 mile marker. It was a very nice place to stop, even though it was raining pretty hard when we were there. I would definitely recommend checking it out. The color variety is a sight to see, with the black lava against the blue ocean, and green vegetation in the background. We had packed food for the day, so we ate a snack here.  There is a lot of room to park, so we just ate lunch in our car while watching the waves crash on the rocks…

20090409_277Another of the must see attractions along the Hana Highway is the Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach. It was very busy here, but well worth the stop. It is unlike any beach I have ever seen. I can only imagine the color that would show up there on a sunny day. 

20090409_443There is a small cave once you get down to the beach, which was one of my favorites as well.

Wainapanapa State Park, Maui

We didn’t explore the town of Hana for too long. It is certainly not a big place by any means, although you could probably spend a fair bit of time looking around there. But we wanted to carry on and see if we could make it all the way around the south side of the island.

We did stop to have a look at Hamoa Beach though. The only trail down to the beach we saw was quite steep, but we didn’t look to hard as we were not planning on swimming…

20090409_515And on the way to Hamoa Beach, we found another small beach, which I believe is called Koki Beach. It was quite stormy and the ocean was very rough, so it did not look like a good place for swimming. There seemed to be a lot of locals at the bbq area here. It was a good beach for photos though…

20090409_504The highway was paved for much of the trip around the south coast of Maui, but not the entire way. Although there were spots where the pavement was definitely not in the best of shape. We weren’t sure if it was possible to get all the way around, but once in a while when we were stopped to take some photos a tour bus would pass heading in the direction of Kula. So we figured if the buses were going that way then we could too.

20090409_647The scenery was certainly worth the drive though, and it was much less crowded than the drive to Hana. We decided not to stop at the Seven Sacred Pools. There was no parking when we got there, and we wanted to carry on. Also, it was still raining and we weren’t into swimming at that time. We wanted to keep going and find out what we could see past the point where most people turn around. And we were happy we did…

20090409_603There definitely were some narrow sections and blind corners. But we were used to them by now having driven along the Northwest Maui Coast as I mentioned in a previous post. Just drive cautiously and you should be alright.

Not sure what the rental car companies think about this trip past Hana. There are a few areas on Maui where they do not like you to go. Not sure what that means exactly, but we figured we would be on our own if something happened to the car outside the areas where you are allowed to go. So you might want to check with your car company, or at least keep it in mind. I have a post on rental cars here.

There were a few small churches along the way as well. They looked very old, and often appeared to be made from lava. They seemed like very interesting places to stop, check out, and take some photos. But we weren’t sure if that was an option or not, so we just took some photos from the road and carried on our way. This one was one of our favorites, out on a windy point.

20090409_608Eventually we started getting back into the drier side of the island again. Although we still very much enjoyed the scenery. It is also another good shot of the road conditions, as well as the usual amount of traffic we saw out there…

20090409_664Once in a while we would meet someone heading the other way, but there was always room for them to pass. More often though, we found ourselves pulling over for traffic that had caught up behind us. We wanted to take our time and enjoy the trip. It certainly helped that we packed a lot of food for the day. I think we actually ended up with some left over because we packed too much. But we didn’t want to go hungry with so much distance between towns out there. And we were not sure if we would be in Hana for lunch or not, and did not want that to limit where we could go or what we could do.

The Maui Revealed Guidebook was especially helpful on this trip. Although as I mentioned in previous posts, you have to watch where they tell you to go. Sometimes the locals are not as friendly now that the book has given out so many secrets. It just depends how adventurous you want to be and how much risk you are willing to take.

Their website is very good with lots of links, aerial resort views, resort reviews, and much more. They also post many updates to the book, which is a great way to get the latest news before you head out. Check it out at:

http://www.wizardpub.com/maui/maui.html

Overall I would highly recommend driving the Hana Highway. Just plan for an entire day, pack some food even if you plan to eat in Hana, and of course have your camera ready. Some ginger or gravol might be needed as well if you get motion sickness. The road is very windy. We made so many stops to get out and enjoy the breeze and the scenery that we didn’t notice all the curves in the road. It was actually quite fun to drive.

It was not always possible to stop where we wanted to, so quite often Shauna was taking the photo as I drove by slowly. And of course, if there is a lineup behind you it is much easier to just move out of the way so you can all enjoy things better. We will definitely be driving the Hana Highway on our next trip. There is so much to see and do that we might even stay at Hana for a few nights.

I hope you enjoyed reading, and as always please ask questions or leave comments if you have them.

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