As I’ve mentioned before, I am totally spoiled rotten. My dad had an opportunity to go to Maui for work and decided to make a vacation of it. And he had me tag along.
There is no way I could have afforded to have this kind of vacation on my own. As is, we couldn’t really stretch ourselves to foot the bill for my husband to come so it was just the two of us.
Dad has a hard time being still so we had a really active vacation – it was really fun but not super relaxing, but I’m not complaining! Between the two of us and our 5 cameras, we had over 1,500 pictures. A lot of them are crap, a lot of them don’t really do Maui justice, but there are some gems in there.
This was my first time ever going to Hawaii, so obviously it was my first time on Maui. I spearheaded the planning and navigating part of the trip and had done a fair amount of research so I felt really prepared and think that we definitely hit all the highlights of the island.
We arrived on Saturday afternoon and made our way to a condo in Kihei (booked via HomeAway.com) and got settled in. We were a block away from the beach, a couple miles from a strip of restaurants, state parks, and shopping, and short drive from the airport, resorts, and marina. It was actually a really great, centralized location.
Haleakala National Park
We woke up at 3am the first day (so only 6am our time) and drove up 10,000’ to the top of Haleakala for the sunrise. It was freezing and windy and a ton of people were there but it was really gorgeous to see.
We took our time coming down the mountain and made multiple pit stops and hiked a couple of very rocky miles.
Old Lahaina Luau
On Monday, we spent the day around town, doing a little shopping and getting acquainted. We spent the afternoon in Lahaina, about 45 minutes away from our condo. It was a cute little beach town with a totally different atmosphere from Kihei.
That evening, we did a luau. From the research I had done, Old Lahaina appeared to be the favorite. Obviously, I have nothing to compare it to but we had a decent time.
The open bar drinks were a little weak and there were long lines, the food was buffet style but tasty and full of traditional Hawaiian dishes, and the dances were fun. It was slow to start, though, and that was my only complaint. We were told to be there at 5:15 and they didn’t really start anything until after 6:30. There was no entertainment during dinner, only after.
Pacific Whale Foundation Eco-Cruise
We elected to go with a non-profit, eco-friendly boat + snorkeling tour and it was the highlight of the trip! The Pacific Whale Foundation was highly knowledgeable and had great equipment. We rented wet suit tops and an underwater digital camera which proved to be a fantastic idea.
We did the long tour that included two snorkel stops: Molokini, a small island and marine sanctuary, and off of Lanai. On the way back from Lanai, we saw a young humpback whale with a pod of bottlenose dolphins! I hadn’t anticipated seeing a whale as it is a little early in the season but I had my fingers crossed for dolphins.
The whale was very active – 5 or 6 consecutive breeches, lots of tail flaps and pectoral fin waves. We were all riveted. Check out their facebook page for more pictures and a video!
Wednesday was the one day that my dad had to work so I hung out on the beach and pools of the Grand Wailea, where his convention was at.
The Road to Hana
On Thursday, we headed out in our rental car for a day of driving.
Hana is on the northeastern part of Maui and is tropical rainforest – vastly different from the rocky, arid tundra on the south side of Haleakala. It’s been featured in many films, namely Jurassic Park.
Hana, the actual town, isn’t much of anything – it’s all about the journey, here! 50 miles of winding, narrow roads, littered with gorgeous views, waterfalls, and gardens. With a few pit stops, it took us over 4 hours to go the full 50+ miles.
Black Sand Beach:
The road “ends” at the Seven Sacred Pools.
Apparently, you can keep going all the way around but we weren’t sure so we headed back the way we came and made a stop at a lava tube that goes a quarter mile! I couldn’t help but keep thinking about the movie The Descent.
On Friday, our last full day in Maui, we decided we hadn’t gotten our fill of snorkeling yet so we booked a small morning kayaking tour around the Turtle Arches of Maui. We ended up kayaking around the south shore for 4-5 miles and taking a couple of snorkeling breaks – we were fortunate enough to have a very small group, the guide and only one other girl. For this trip, we had disposable underwater cameras so these are pictures of pictures because I’m lame and don’t own a scanner.
We saw a ton of turtles – and they are so cool! Big ones, small ones, girls, boys, and even one missing a back fin.
Our last night, we made sure to catch the sunset – it seemed like the whole time we were there we kept missing it!
My dad’s camera picked up more of the orange:
Our flight home wasn’t until 3 the following day so we took advantage of the free morning and got in one last snorkel session on our own and spotted more turtles and sharks! Little reef sharks. No pictures though. And I didn’t hang around long. We also swung into the Maui Ocean Center on our way to the airport to see some critters in tanks that we didn’t get a chance to see in the water, like octopus and rays.
And that was all she wrote! The week flew right on by and I can’t wait to go back to Hawaii and check out the other islands. I’m eternally grateful to my father for giving me the opportunity to mooch off of him for the week. Hopefully one day I can repay him with a fabulous vacation.