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Posts Tagged ‘tropical’

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 heard about Cafe O’Lei on TripAdvisor prior to our trip. It was one of the top rated restaurants in Kihei, so we really wanted to try it out. We ended up eating there our first night since it was relatively close to our condo at the Maui Banyan. Although it was closed when we first got there, as it was only 4:15pm local time. We were pretty hungry after the long flight and had hoped to find an early meal. We went to the coffee/smoothie bar next door and had a nice cold smoothie to help cool us down – we were struggling to adapt to the +28’C heat since it was still below zero when we left home that morning. It was actually a pretty good find, and we went back here four more times during our trip.

We went back up the stairs to Cafe O’Lei at 5pm, and were one of the first groups to be seated. The waitress actually just took our drink order and had to leave for a bit, to take part in their pre-dinner meeting to learn the specials for the night. The special was the swordfish, which sounded good to me. Shauna ordered the Asian Short Ribs and my mom ordered the jumbo prawns.

Asian Short Ribs:
Asian Shortribs at Cafe o'Lei, Maui Hawaii

Our drinks came out quickly, and we happily enjoyed the fresh baked bread that was still warm. Since we were one of the first groups there, our food came out pretty quickly. It was amazing and we were certainly very happy to be back in Hawaii once again.

Swordfish:
Swordfish at Cafe o'Lei, Maui Hawaii

This was the first place we ate during our trip, and ended up being the last place we ate as well – not that we planned it that way.
My brother and I both tried the Ahi tuna on our last night – it was amazing. I wasnt sure about all the spicy sauces that came with it, so I got them on the side, while he ordered the way it was supposed to be. I ended up adding almost all of my sauce on to my plate anyhow, so I might as well have gotten it like he did. But I liked that the waitress offered to bring it the way she did, just in case.

We will definitely be back to the Cafe O’Lei during our next trip to Maui, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good meal in Kihei.

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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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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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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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