We left on Friday afternoon to celebrate the 10th anniversary with a long weekend on Maui. At 3:30, we boarded the Hawaiian SuperFerry, which for now only runs between Oahu and Maui. We left Oahu...
sitting on the ferry boat
for Maui. Maui is nicknamed the Valley Isle, because it has a large dormant (but not extinct) volcano named Haleakalaa on the eastern bit and another set of mountains on the western bit with a large valley in between used for shopping strips, tourist attractions, and sugar cane farming. Our hotel was on the western side of the isle with a cliff-like coastline as the ferry goes.
The evening we arrived, I looked at the map we bought in a gas station and decided that the northern loop around the mountains to our hotel, the great "highway" 340, looked to be the shortest. Well, it was in distance but not in speed. Literally one lane roads around cliffs with 10 mph curves that sometimes go back almost the direction you came from. It took about 1 and a half hours to go the 20 miles or so. I have a feeling it was quite beautiful, but it quickly became night time, so I don't really know. The concierge at our hotel said his wife refuses to take that road and the second map we got (not the one we had for the original choice) says literally, "drive at your own risk." Needless to say, I enjoyed it immensely.
The second day was the first day of tourism. I first took B to the hotel swimming pool and then we drove south through the leeward side of Maui. Just like the other isles, there can be a vast difference in climate just a few miles apart. A point in the western mountains supposedly gets around 400 inches of rain annually. For comparison, Seattle and Louisiana get about 40-50. However, just a handful of miles over the mountains, you get brown, arid grass with few trees. However, there's a beautiful harbor once you get around the mountains towards the Valley. The islands are close together here and you can see the isles of Molikini (tiny, uninhabited, used for snorkeling trips), Kaho'olawe and Lana'i (inhabited, small, pretty isles) from the shoreline, forming an amazing deep blue blue sheltered spot that the humpbacks use for birthing. This is the main area of the Hawaiian Humpback Sanctuary. They come to Hawaii in the winter, so we didn't see them this time.
Our first major stop was the Maui Ocean Center where we met an aggressive parrot fish (about $25 in the grocery store for one of these guys, so I've never tried).
Then we walked around and saw various creatures such as surgeonfish, jellyfish, hammerhead sharks, and coral reef ecosystems.
After the Ocean Center, we went back up the coast towards our hotel and the town of Lahaina. Lahaina used to be the whaling capital of the world in the 19th century and has been preserved somewhat. Lots of little tourist shops, art galleries, and the like are there today.
The next day was "nature day" and we eventually decided to drive the Road to Hana as far as we could with stopping whenever we wanted and a 5 year old. The road to Hana is fabled for its 600 turns and 1 lane bridges and such. It was all that, but it's nothing compared to that stunning, frightening 340 the night we arrived. It's hard to scare someone after that. However, the scenery was worth a windy drive. Here's a view from a lookout still on the road to the Road to Hana-proper.
Then it was on to the Road to Hana. We didn't have any idea what we were doing. We just stopped when other people stopped or it looked interesting. The first major thing we found was Twin Falls. Here we are going into and behind the second falls. Since we were completely unprepared, we had no swimsuits and did nothing more than wade this time. B wanted to take the rope swing in to the water, but I told him he really did have to know how to swim first. Maybe it will be good motivation. Actually, I sort of told him that once he could swim across the pool and back by himself, then he could do the waterfall rope swing. Could be expensive if he remembers this. (Yes, I am in blue; B in orange.)
You can also stop and take pics of whatever nature and farmers throw at you.
Our final stop turned out to be the "Garden of Eden" Botanical Garden, because evening came as we were there. No real point in driving a waterfall-lined tropical highway if you can't see anything.
Supposedly, this valley you can see here was used for the opening shots of Jurassic Park, which was filmed all over various Hawaiian Isles.
Otherwise, you walk around, feed ducks and a peacock (I had a couple of these same hissing Moscovy ducks when I was a kid), and look over mountain ridges to waterfalls far below (again you will see a woman getting ready to jump in).
And that was a wrap. We took the ferry back this morning. One little bonus was that our hotel had a small kitchen in it, which allowed us to cook breakfast each morning and keep a half gallon of milk. I bought a little thing of ice cream the second night there, anniversary night, as a small celebration. However, since we didn't eat it all that evening and didn't want it to go to waste, I was forced to eat double brownie ice cream for breakfast this morning. Hate that.