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Posts Tagged ‘paradise’

As with my previous Maui Beaches top 10 list, this list may not agree with other views of beaches on the island of Maui. This list represents the beaches I have enjoyed the most, and the ones I look forward to visiting on our next visit to Maui. And as with my other blog posts, you can click on the green hyperlinks to open the previous posts.

#1 – Secret Cove Beach – this one makes it to the top of my list since it was our wedding beach. It is always the first beach we visit once we have unpacked and settled into our condo. Its a small beach, and I have only seen one or two people swimming here in all of our visits. So without the sentimental wedding memories it may not seem like the #1 beach to everyone. But it will always be our favorite.

Maui Destination Wedding Beach Northern Pixel Photography

#2 – Maluaka Beach – an amazing south Maui beach, and one of my favorite snorkeling spots. We have spent quite a bit of time here as well. Great sand, great water, scenic for photography, its our favorite beach to spend the day.

Maluaka Beach

#3 – Napili Beach – the beach I would stay at if we ever stay in West Maui. Scenic, great sand, great boogie boarding, great snorkeling. Its a 45 minute drive from our condo in Kihei, but one of our favorite day trip locations.

Napili Beach Maui Wedding

#4 – Palauea Beach – another awesome south Maui beach in Wailea. No facilities or lifeguards, but the snorkeling is awesome. Although the water was a bit cloudy on our last trip as the wind was blowing and the waves were bigger than on previous trips.

Northern Pixel Photography Destination Wedding Canadian

#5 – Honolua Bay – the beach itself is rocky and not like the other beaches on the list. But the snorkeling (in the summer months) is amazing, with the clearest water I have seen on Maui (although I still havent been out to Molokini). In the winter months it becomes a very popular surfing location. Whether you want to snorkel or not, its worth the trip to enjoy the view and walk through the forest. But dont leave anything in your car, as there seems to be a lot of break-ins out there.

Snorkeling at Honolua Bay, Maui

#6 – Kamaole II Beach. Right across the road from our condo at the Maui Banyan, so we spent quite a bit of time here, and have a lot of great memories from this beach. It has been crowded on some days, and almost empty on others. But we have walked on the beach, explored the rocky point, and enjoyed the swimming, snorkeling, and boogie boarding. And of course it makes a great spot for watching the sunsets…

Kamaole Beach Sunset

#7 – Big Beach. We didnt get to spend a lot of time here on our latest trip. But what an amazing beach. And they have lifeguards here now too (last I heard anyhow). The waves can get very big though, so we haven’t swam here at all. But the sand is great and the sunsets are awesome.

Big Beach, Maui

#8 – Po’olenalena Beach. Another beach I wanted to spend more time at. There are two sides of the beach, and it did not seem too crowded both times I was there. Just around the corner from Palauea, so the snorkeling is supposed to be great as well (although the water was rough and not clear when I was there) Will be stopping here again next time for sure.

Maui Wedding Beach Top 10 Beaches

#9 – Hamoa Beach. Might have to spend a few nights in Hana on our next trip, so we can spend some more time at this amazing beach.

Hamoa Beach

#10 – Ka’anapaali Beach. I still didnt get a chance to snorkel Black Rock, so will have to keep this on my list for next time, based on my desire to spend some time more here. One of the most famous and popular beaches on the island of Maui.

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We had heard that the Pipiwai Trail was one of the best hikes on the island of Maui. Unfortunately it is located on the far southeastern part of the island, a good distance from just about everything else on the island. It would certainly be helpful to stay in Hana. We were staying in Kihei however, and decided it was worth getting up early for.

We left our condo at 630am and headed out along the Hana Highway. We decided to go against the grain and head in a counter-clockwise direction, in the hopes of avoiding most of the traffic that is normally found along the Hana Highway each day. So we headed up through Kula and onwards towards the Haleakala Visitor Center via the Kipahulu highway. The views are very impressive as you ascend the Haleakala volcano, and we could even see the Big Island:

Looking back towards central Maui, you can just see the towns of Kihei and Wailea
Maui Panoramic

View of the lava fields and the Big Island in the distance:
Lava Field View

We arrived at the Kipahulu Visitor Center around 930am. The parking lot was pretty much empty, with only a few other cars. We stopped in at the visitor center to ask them about the trail conditions. The staff there was very helpful and gave us a good update, and directions on which trail to take. So we headed up the trail and across the highway. The first part of the trail is a bit of a climb, some of it through an open field with little shade. Within half an hour or so, we arrived at the Makahiku Falls Overlook, although as we had learned at the visitor center, the falls were pretty much dry and no water was flowing from the top. Still a pretty good overlook though into the valley below the falls. A few minutes later we arrived at a fork in the trail – to the left was the main trail, to the right was Makahiku Falls. Since we knew the falls were dry, we decided to check it out – despite the various warning signs. We definitely would not have gotten so close if the water was flowing, and looking back now might not have gotten so close regardless. I was pretty nervous while standing near the edge, as my survival instincts were telling me this was not a place I should be. I reached out with the camera and took a quick photo downwards. This one still makes me a bit nervous to look at:

Looking down the falls

I walked across to the other side, and made my way upstream, to get a better vantage point of the infinity pool at the top of the falls. What an amazing view, and a sight I will not forget:

Infinity Pool

From there it was back to the main trail. There were a few other small side trails along the way, leading to other small waterfalls and pools. We checked out most of them – some were worth it, some not so much.

One of the highlights of the trail that we had been looking forward to was the bamboo forest. We knew it was coming, but weren’t quite sure where it was on the trail. We came to a bridge, and the bamboo forest appeared before us:

Into the Bamboo Forest

It turns out it is near the mid-point of the trail, 1.2 miles from the visitor center:

Bamboo Forest

This was our favorite part of the entire trail. We could have made it this far, and turned around satisfied. There is a nice boardwalk throughout much of the bamboo forest. It definitley made for easier walking, although it seemed a bit slippery in places where the boardwalk was wet (it might be rather hard to walk on in the rain).

Pipiwai Boardwalk

Amazing Bamboo Forest

Pipiwai Trail

Pipiwai trail

We eventually made it to the end of the trail, and were treated to the view of Waimoku Falls. It had been dry for a while prior to our visit, so there was not a lot of water flowing. But with a drop of 400 feet, it was still an impressive sight:

Waimoku Falls

We stopped here for lunch, and ate while wading in the stream below the falls. There was a nice shady spot along the stream, but a large group of people had all the good spots taken. But we were quite happy to take a break and have some food and water. Bring lots of water… we barely brought enough, and were getting quite low by the time we reached made it back to the Banyan tree:

Banyan Tree

We knew that hiking in the heat would require a great deal of water however, so we had a cooler in the car full of water (as well as more food for the long drive home.

It was a great adventure, and one that I would certainly recommend. The overall grade of the trail was not that steep, and the boardwalks through the wetter areas were quite helpful (although somewhat slippery as I mentioned above)

One of the many spiders along the way (they really seemed to like the bamboo forest – stick to the trails)
Maui Spider

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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 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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Maluaka Beach was one of my favorite places to snorkel during our previous trip. So of course it was the first beach we went to swim at. The beach is located in south Wailea, on the island of Maui. The Makena Beach and Golf Resort is the only resort at this beach. Looks like an amazing place, but much like the other Wailea resorts is pretty pricey.

Maluaka Beach

The waves were a bit bigger this time, and the water was not quite as clear as it was on our last trip. But we had a great time here once again. A number of the charter snorkel tour boats bring their customers here, usually after their morning snorkel stop at Molokini. Since my brother and I are good swimmers, we had no problems with swimming out to where the boats anchor.

The first day we came here, I was really happy with all the different kinds of fish. No turtles hough, but I still had a great time in the water. This was the first time I was able to try out my new Canon D10 underwater camera as well. I was pretty nervous to put it in the water at first, but quickly learned to trust that it would be fine doing what it was made for – taking pictures while snorkeling.

Here is a large school of yellow-stripe goatfish that was swimming around. I wasnt sure if there were a few schools of them, or if I just kept seeing the same school as I swam about the reef:

School of Goatfish

I also saw a bunch of Moorish Idols, and was happy with the way the water’s surface showed up in this photo:
Moorish Idols

As you can see here, the water was not the clearest. Visibility was still quite good however, and the colors of the coral showed up quite well:
Maluaka Coral

We tried out Palauea a few days after the first trip to Maluaka, but the visibility was not good at all. So we decided to head back to Maluaka. I am not sure why, but it was still relatively clear once again. We had not gone too far out when we finally spotted a turtle lying on the bottom. It just layed there looking up at us, and had a fair bit of sand on top of it – so it must have been there for a while:

First Turtle of the Trip

We continued swimming out towards the tour boats, figuring the water would keep getting clearer as we got further from shore. It stays relatively shallow for quite a distance from the shore, providing lots of great reef to observe. As we got closer to the boats, the number of snorkelers began to increase. I heard someone about thirty feet ahead, in the direction we were swimming, say they had spotted a turtle. It was a younger child, and his siblings/parents did not seem to believe him as he was the only one in the group to spot it. All of the sudden it swam right in front of me, and only five feet away. Luckily I was swimming with my camera on, and I was able to get a quick photo:

Green Sea Turtle

I turned to try and find my brother, to make sure he was looking as well. But he was heading off in the other direction, and did not realize it was there. I got one more photo as it continued swimming off towards the bottom:

Swimming Away

By this time we were getting quite a long way from the shore where we had started. Although we did get a pretty sweet view of the black sand beach located between Maluaka Beach and Little Beach. But the current was starting to pick up a bit, as were the waves. So we figured we should start making our way back to the beach. We saw a lot of different fish along the way back to shore as well. But no more turtles. I had hoped to get back one more time before we left, but just ran out of time.
View of the black sand beach:

Makena Black Sand Beach

Overall I was very happy with the new underwater camera. I read a lot of reviews, and checked a lot of the groups on Flickr, to try and figure out which brand offered the best options. All of our other cameras are Canon, so I was searching rather hard to try and find one that might be able to top the Canon D10. In the end, I decided I really liked the photos and color produced by the D10, so decided to stick with the Canon. You definitely have to take care of the seals though. I noticed a few times when I was cleaning it that a few small sand particles were trying to stick to the seal. One thing I was worried about was the number of reviews from all of the various brands that mentioned their camera had flooded and no longer worked. But my D10 survived the trip, and I look forward to using it again in the future.

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