Posts Tagged ‘turtle’

I had heard that Black Rock at Ka’anapali was one of the best snorkeling locations on the island of Maui. I wanted to check it out on a previous trip, but didn’t make it there as we always stay in Kihei. Shauna doesn’t like snorkeling, and I am not a big fan of shopping. So I made a plan where Shauna would drop me off at Black Rock for a few hours so I could snorkel while she went shopping at the Whaler’s Village. It worked out great for both of us.

The snorkeling at Black Rock was very good, with great visibility. However it was far too busy for my liking. Most of the turtles I saw were completely surrounded by people. There was one right near the shore that was pretty much getting swarmed by kids, until a large Hawaiian guy came down and shouted for them all to ‘get away from the turtle’. Overall it was a good place to snorkel, but I preferred my time at Honolua and the various Wailea beaches which were less busy with just as many fish and turtles. Here are some of my favorite photos from my day at Black Rock. It was overcast and raining while I was here, so the photos probably would have been better if it was sunny the entire time. Only one turtle photo as well, since I was trying out the video on my camera this time. However it seemed that I needed some practice as none of the video I took was usable. Fortunately I got another chance later in the trip, and got some great turtle video. More to come on that in a later post.

Kaanapali Beach - Maui

Black Rock - at Kaanapali Beach, Maui

Maui Fish

Maui Fishes

First Turtle of the Trip

Needle Fish

Beautiful Kaanapali Beach, Maui

A great day at the beach, and I was very happy to be back for another Maui vacation. Shauna had a great time with her shopping as well, so the day was a success all around. Stay tuned for more posts and photos from our latest Hawaiian Adventures!


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My second favorite spot to snorkel was Palauea Beach, also known as White Rock. It is another one of Maui’s Turtle Towns. I had to swim out a bit farther at this beach before I saw any turtles, but there was certainly plenty to see along the way with lots of fish and coral to check out.

Palauea Beach is located on Makena Road, just south of the Fairmont Kea Lani. Parking is along the roadside, and will be obvious once you see all the other cars parked. As with anywhere, make sure not to leave any valuables in your car.

I should also mention that there are no facilities or lifeguards here, so be sure to use your own facilities before you get there. And if you are not a strong swimmer, then one of the charter tours is probably a better bet.

I swam out starting from the rocks in the foreground and headed to the left. It had rained a quite a bit when we first arrived, so the water was a bit murky. But the visibility was quite good towards the end of our trip once the weather improved, with lots of fish and turtles.

Hawaii Stitch8627_editAccording to the Maui Revealed guidebook, the rocks near the top of the photo are also good snorkeling. I didn’t get the chance to compare the two sides though. I guess that will have to be a goal during my next visit as I cannot wait to check out the water here again…

And while I was snorkeling, Shauna was busy taking some great photos:
sand lines

Once again if you are not a strong swimmer, or do not like the thought of swimming at a beach with no lifeguards, then you should probably check out the charter tours as a way to experience the snorkeling at one of Maui’s Turtle Towns. Better safe than sorry when dealing with the ocean. The photo below shows the area I explored the most. Much of the best snorkeling was out closer to the charter boat.

Palauea Beach, Maui

I found a great website for checking out the ocean conditions around Maui, and the other islands as well. It has aerial photos, beach descriptions, hazard ratings, and of course surf conditions. I would recommend checking it out before heading into the water so you know what you are up against.

During our next visit to Maui, I am also hoping to check out Molokini. I want to see if it really is that much better than the snorkeling along the shoreline. I would like to find a tour that doesn’t go to Turtle Town though, since I have found how to reach two of them from shore (Palauea and Maluaka). For the price of a charter tour I would like to spend as much time at Molokini as possible, and skip the areas I can get to from shore on my own.

If you would like to check out some additional photos of Palauea beach (and other sites on Maui) Shauna has posted some on her Flickr account here.

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During our 2009 trip we spent ten nights at the Maui Banyan, and then it was off to the Big Island for three nights at the end of our trip.

On Hawaiian Airlines you get to pick your seats. We sat on the left side of the plane for our flight. It turned out to have the better views of the Big Island as we approached. But the right side had the better views of Haleakala and the Hana coastline as we left Maui.

The Kona International Airport was a sight to see. Rather than a large terminal like most other airports, this one was made up of Tiki-hut style buildings. It was a very interesting place. Like many things on the Big Island, the airport is located out on a lava field. It is about a 15 minute drive to Kona.

Based on the reviews we read on TripAdvisor, we stayed at the Hale Kona Kai. It is an ocean front condo with an amazing view of the harbor. We stayed in unit 411 on the top floor. It has a great view of the ocean, and overlooks the tide pool of the Royal Kona Resort next door:
Hale Kona Kai

We really enjoyed watching the fish from our balcony, and even saw a few eels. No turtles though, although other guests in the guestbook said they did see some.

The view was definitely our favorite part of the condo. Our room was noisy with something on the roof (the buildings ventilation system??) that made it hard for me to sleep at times. Luckily, the crashing of the waves on the rocks drowned out these noises for the most part. Which is fine as long as you like the sounds of waves crashing.

We had free wireless internet as well, which was great for surfing the net out on the balcony.
Hale Kona Kai
We might stay at the Hale Kona Kai again, but probably in a different room. As I mentioned above, the room we had was too noisy. Also, it is probably worth it to pay a bit of extra money to get a corner room to have a lanai that wraps around two sides. You can just see part of the corner balcony in the photo above.

On our first full day, we decided to go and see the volcano. Of course there were a number of stops to make along the way. The photo below shows Kahalu’u Beach Park. Like many of the beaches on the Big Island there is not a lot of sand. Instead there is very clear water and lots of fish. We could see the fish from the side of the road where we took this photo.

Kahalu'u Beach ParkWe might stay at the Keauhou Beach Resort on our next trip. It is just behind the palm trees at the upper left of this photo. I really wanted to snorkel here, but we did not get a chance on this trip. So I figure if we stay right at the beach, I will definitely get to check it out next time.

One of the other places we really wanted to check out was Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park – the Place of Refuge. It was a very good place to stop, and I would definitely recommend it. They have tried to preserve much of the area. You can walk through at your own pace, or they also do guided tours. We started out on our own, but ended up tagging along with a guided tour after a while. The guide had lots of stories and info and we were happy we joined the group. We got a lot of great photos there as well:
Pu'uhonau o HonaunauThere was quite a few snorkelers in the water here. Although you cannot enter the water in the park, there is a spot nearby that many seemed to be using.
Pu'uhonau o HonaunauYou can’t really see it in the photo above, but there were a bunch of turtles quite close to shore in the shallow waters. We got some really good photos of them:
Turtle at Pu'uhonau o HonaunauThe buildings at the place of refuge were very interesting as well:
Pu'uhonau o Honaunau

After we had completed the tour at Pu’uhonau o Honaunau, we went to check out Kealakekua Bay. I really wanted to go kayaking and snorkeling there, but we just didn’t have the time. It was very busy though and we couldn’t find anywhere to park and look around.

We also stopped at Punalu’u Black Sand Beach. There were lots of turtles here as well. We looked around for a bit and really enjoyed this beach. But as with the rest of the day, we couldn’t stay long as there was so much more to see. But of course we managed to get some photos while we were there:
Punalu'u BeachThere were turtles everywhere at this beach. I was trying to get as many turtles into one photo as possible. Often I could see four or five, but I could only get two in the photo at the same time. The others kept going under water, and I didn’t manage to time it right when they came up.

Turtles at Punalu'uThe sand here was different than the black sand beach on Maui. Shauna took a great photo of a white flower she found at the beach:
White flower, black sand

From there it was on to Volcanoes National Park. Apparently they had a 5.5 earthquake the day before, so we were a bit wary of going there. But having come all the way to the Big Island I really wanted to check it out. I was very happy we did though as it was one of the more interesting things we saw during both of our trips to Hawaii.
We also went to the Thurston Lava Tube within the park. I thought it was great, but Shauna didn’t like it as much. The lava tube is lighted, so you can walk right through, but she said it was too dark and wet. Since it was so dark I wasn’t able to get any good photos from inside. However we did get some good ones of the natural forest along the trail to the lava tube:

Hawaiian RainforestAnd from just inside the entrance:
Thurston Lava Tube Entrance
Part of the Chain of Craters Road was closed from the earthquake the day before, so we weren’t able to check it out. And we didn’t have time to get all the way around to where the lava was flowing.

By then we were getting tired anyway, as it had been a long day already. So we decided to head back as it was about a two and half hour drive back to Kona.

If you want to really explore the Big Island of Hawaii I would definitely recommend that you stay longer than three nights. There is so much to see and do that we found ourselves rushing to try and get as much in as we could. And not really taking as much time to enjoy it all as we would have liked. We bought the Big Island Revealed guidebook, and it was a great help on our trip, even though we were limited on time. We have their guidebooks for Maui, Oahu, and the Big Island, and found each of them to be among the best guidebooks we could find for the Hawaiian Islands.

Overall, we enjoyed The Big Island. It was more laid back like Maui and Kauai as well, which we really liked in comparison to our week spent on the island of Oahu. The Big Island was quite hazy though most of the time though because of the volcano. Apparently it has been that way since an eruption in March of 2008. We are hoping that it clears up before we go back to the Big Island next time, as we do plan to go back someday as there is so much more to see…

Shauna has some more photos of the Big Island on her Flickr account as well, such as this one of a plumeria tree:
Big Island Plumeria

You can also check out the other Big Island post for the rest of our trip on the Big Island.

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The day after we drove the Hana Highway, we decided to head back to Paia to see what we had missed. It was tempting to stop at Paia the first time we passed through, but we wanted to do as much exploring around Hana as we could.

Of course we had to stop at Maui Coffee Roasters as we passed through Kahului.

We could not find a parking spot in the big public parking lot near the west end of Paia, so we decided to head for Ho’okipa Beach first. It is considered to be one of the best windsurfing beaches in the world, and a great place for taking photos.
20090410_740There was a surprising lack of windsurfers the day we were here. Conditions were obviously better for surfing, because there was plenty of them out there. I found a great site for checking out the ocean conditions, although we didn’t look at it on this day since we did not plan to surf or to swim. But it has aerial photos, beach descriptions, hazard ratings, and of course surf conditions. It is definitely worth checking out before heading to the ocean for the day.

Our stop at Ho’okipa Beach made for one of my favorite photos of the entire trip… Surfing with the turtles at Ho’okipa Beach:


From there we went back to Paia to check it out better. We were able to find a parking spot this time. We ended up having lunch at the Paia Fish Market. They are one of the top rated restaurants in Paia according to TripAdvisor, and get the coveted Ono rating from Maui Revealed. We arrived right at lunch time and were surprised by how busy they were. But we figured they had to be good based upon the lineup.

Once we got inside we were surprised at the variety on the menu. They make fish in all sorts of dishes: pasta, tacos, fajitas, quesadillas, burgers, and of course grilled and deep fried. You can also get some of their dishes in chicken as well, for those who aren’t into fish. We went with the fish and chips for lunch, and were very happy with our meal.

Fish'n'Chips at Paia Fishmarket Restaurant, Maui

Our plan to explore around Paia on a separate day from driving the Hana Highway worked out quite well for us. We were able to explore what we wanted around Hana, as I have discussed in a previous post. And then we went back to Paia the next day to check it out without feeling rushed to get back on the road. It made both days much more enjoyable.

After we explored around Paia, we went up to Makawao. It was another interesting town with lots of shops. But by the time we got there, we were about ready for the beach again. So we didn’t look around too much. It was back to the Maui Banyan and Kamaole II Beach.

If you would like to look at Shauna’s photos for the Paia Fish Market you can see them on her Maui Photo Set.

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Maluaka beach is a great place to snorkel, my favorite on the island of Maui. It is just south of Wailea in front of the Makena Beach and Golf Resort (formerly the Maui Prince). Public access points are found at either end of the beach.

To get to the North end you can turn onto Honoiki Road just past the 2.5 mile marker, then left onto Makena Road. There is a parking lot with a restroom and showers across the road. Although we avoided the showers since they seemed to be a hangout for bees.

Access to the south end is just past the 3.5 mile marker on Makena Alanui Road. As with many of the popular beaches in the area, parking seems to fill up pretty fast, so it helps to get there early if possible.

Apparently Maluaka Beach is one of the turtle towns found on Maui, which explained why it was so busy. I am a good swimmer, so I had no problems with swimming this area from shore.  But of course, you should only swim where you are comfortable, and check out the ocean conditions prior to swimming, or talk to a lifeguard. If you click on the ocean conditions link it will take you to a great website with beach description, aerial photos, hazard ratings, and surf conditions.

I certainly saw a lot of turtles here, and lots of fish as well. Next time I am going to make sure to bring a waterproof camera. The water is very clear so it would be easy to get some great photos…

Looking south along Maluaka Beach

20090406_0251Southern end of the beach, where I saw many turtles. As with Palauea Beach much of the best snorkeling is out near the charter boat in the photo below:

20090411_785The photo below shows the Northern end of the beach. You can see a nice opening in the reef which makes a great access point. I swan out to the edge and went left parallel to the shoreline. I ended up coming out towards the middle of the beach, and walked back to this end where I had started.


Overall, this was one of our favorite beaches on all of Maui. It had everything we wanted: good scenery, great snorkeling, and was great for taking photos. It was fairly busy with the resort in the middle, parking lots on both ends, and charter tours stopping as part of their trip from Molokini, but that can only be expected for one of the best snorkeling beaches on Maui. It was well worth checking out, and we will certainly spend a lot of time here on our next trip.

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