Exploring Maui, Hawaii
Our first day in Maui should have been a highlight of our trip. We had rented a 2017 Mustang convertible to explore the island and drove to Big Beach in Makena State Park to soak up some rays at the beach. We parked on the edge of the parking lot to diminish our risk of getting hit by other people parking. We did enjoy our time on the beach and a few hours later we were ready to head back for some lunch. We arrived at the car to find the driver’s side window shattered. Bryan panicked because he had left his phone with his credit cards in the unlocked glove box. Luckily, it was still there, but I don’t think he’ll leave anything in there again without locking it first. We had to clean out the glass and call the police and file a report. We then had to drive back to the rental agency by the airport, file a claim with them, and get a new car—this time a 2016 red Camaro. It was a nice looking car, but boy was it smelly inside! Anyways, we decided to chalk it up to 4 bad hours of our honeymoon and move on. It didn’t take us long to get back to enjoying the beaut of Hawaii around us, although now with a more cautious eye.
Trying out Snuba Diving at Molokini Crater and Snorkeling in Turtle Town
The most memorable part of our trip was doing snuba diving for the first time. Snuba is different from traditional scuba diving. You don’t need a certification to do snuba in the first place. You can only go about 30 feet below the surface of the water with snuba gear, and your oxygen tank is on a sturdy boat above you, and a line from that tank extends to your mask. The first thing we learned was how to slowly descend and pop your ears. That was actually pretty easy for us, but some people did have a tough time descending. The strangest thing for me to get used to was breathing through my mouth. The first thing we noticed upon descending was how the ocean sounds! There was a constant crackling sound—if you hear it in the video, that’s not a mistake, that’s what the ocean sounds like! Our first stop was Molokini crater, where our guide led us around the crater and showed us various fish and corals. There were so many colorful corals and fish, we even saw some eels! Bryan had to deal with my flailing—I’m not used to being underwater and just floating so I kept trying to swim and ended up kicking or whacking the camera with my arm. After 30 minutes of exploring, we came back to the surface and then got another 30 minutes to snorkel around the crater.
Our next stop on our adventure was Turtle Town, which is off the coast of Maluaka Beach in Maui. Turtle Town is known for having an abundance of sea turtles swimming around. The boat we were on warned us not to crowd too closely to the turtle as they get nervous when humans crowd around them. This warning also helps keep Turtle Town full of, well, turtles. If they are constantly scared, they’ll move elsewhere leaving Turtle Town a ghost town. The sad part was though when one person would see a turtle the crowd would descend upon the turtle, and oftentimes they would get too close and the turtle would quickly swim off. The most enjoyable part was spotting a turtle before anyone else did…even Bryan! You could really observe the turtle going about its day. In the video, Bryan is obliviously taping the turtle before he even sees it. I’m trying to tell him through my snorkel mask, “Turtle! Turtle!” It doesn’t sound that clear through a snorkel mask…We got a few precious minutes of alone time watching this turtle before the crowds chased it away, and I’ll never forget that experience.
Shopping in Lahaina
We made a day trip to the town of Lahaina, and we decided if we went back to Maui again we would try and stay in that area. The streets were lined with shops, art galleries, and great restaurants—all set to the back drop of the ocean and oriented perfectly to watch the sunset. We took some time to enjoy the Banyan Tree Park, which consists of ONE banyan tree planted in 1873 that has grown to 60 feet in height and covers almost two-thirds of an acre with it’s branches. I had never seen a banyan tree before in person, so I of course took way too many pictures of it because I was in awe of how it grows laterally and grows mini tree trunks from its branches to support itself. It’s awesome how one tree let alone to grow for so many years can look like a forest. We also did some serious shopping in Lahaina, at the outlets and the local small shops. It was only going to be window shopping, but we couldn’t resist a good sale and finding some clothes we had been casually searching for. We also bought a lava photo from an art gallery that caught our eye.
The Black Rock Beach Lighting Ceremony
The next day we drove to the resort area of Maui to watch the torch lighting ceremony at Black Rock Beach. This ceremony happens every night and is free to watch by the beach. It starts with a man dressed as a Hawaiian warrior blowing a conch shell. He then lights torches along the black rock, which is the westernmost point of lava flow in Maui. Once he lights the last torch, he throws his torch and lei into the ocean before diving off the 16-foot cliff. All this during sunset makes for a fun and relaxing evening activity before dinner.
The Road to Hana
Our next adventure was navigating our camaro rental through the turns and one lane bridges and cliffs along the road to Hana. We spent an entire day stopping along the way to our AirBnb just outside the tiny town of Hana.
Our first stop was at Twin Falls. We hiked to both the Upper and Lower Falls. Online we had read the hike to the Upper Falls would be difficult, but we didn’t find it difficult at all. There is a stream crossing though that we could see being more treacherous after a significant rain event, but we were lucky enough that it was fairly easy to cross. We saw tons of people swimming in the Lower Falls, but we opted out as we had lots of stops ahead of us!
Na’ili’ili Haele aka “Bamboo Forest”
Our first real hike started with a slippery path downhill through a bamboo forest. After crossing multiple streams and manmade bridges, we came across a waterfall. Bryan and I both ventured towards the waterfall challenging each other not to slip…I very much failed that challenge, but had a blast on this hour or so pit stop. Check out the video for our hike.
Garden of Eden Arboretum
This is a must see for nature lovers! We walked along the 2.5 miles of trail through this well-kept park that features over 700 specimens, including a 100-year old mango tree. We also came across many peacocks that blocked our car on the way out. Clearly they wanted us to stay forever.
A Lookout Pit Stop on the Road to Hana
Waiʻanapanapa State Park
Our last stop of the day was Wai’anapanapa State Park. We felt like we could have spent more time there, but we hit quite a few of the highlights. We followed the trail down to the black sand beach and wandered into a lava tube where the ocean waves rushed in and out of. The trail climbed up to some natural blowholes. If we had more time we could have also seen the red tide pools, a natural arch, natural seabird colonies, and maybe even camped out at the park!
We stayed overnight just outside the town of Hana at an AirBnb. Our AirBnb was actually on an organic fruit farm where we were treated to big bowls of fresh fruit. We stayed in a tiny house, which was definitely on our list of things to try after watching plenty of Tiny House Hunters. The best part though? Being far enough away from light pollution to see the most gorgeous night sky—I have never seen so many stars! I only wish I could have captured it on camera.
Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls
The next day we got an early start in order to beat the crowds on the Pipiwai Trail. The trail is moderately steep and took us about 2.5 hours to complete with plenty of photography stops. It starts with some stair stepping and you’re rewarded early on with the roaring Falls at Makahiku. The next highlight on the trail is a giant banyan tree that you can’t help but take photos with. Cue Lauren’s favorite yoga pose. The trail continues up and you enter a giant bamboo forest that will most likely be muddy, so watch your step. Right before the first glimpse of Waimoku Falls you have to hop across a stream via slippery rocks, but the reward is a magnificent 400’ Waimoku Falls of which pictures do no justice.
Red Hill at Haleakala
After our hike we drove up to Red Hill Haleakala, Maui’s highest peak. The road was windy, but less terrifying than the road to Hana. The peak is at an elevation of 10,023 feet, and it is noticeably chilly up there, especially with the high wind gusts. I ran from the car to the observation building while chattering my teeth—Bryan of course only felt “a little cold.” He was able to capture more of the beauty the peak offered of the craters and the colorful mountainsides, while I kept warm in the car. Even through my quick and blurry phone photos though you can see just how Haleakala offers gorgeous views. Note to self—bring a jacket next time.