Maui 2014

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Susan's last project was selected for an Excellence in Construction award.  Her project won the local nomination, then was selected nationally as the winner in her project category.  This year's award banquet just happened to be in Maui.  Due to the time and effort to get there, we decided to stay for a week.  Outside of the awards banquet, we'd have plenty of time to explore Maui and get in some R&R.  I was happy to see Susan get recognized and also grateful for the opportunity to take Colt on such a dream trip (whether he realizes it or not).  In addition, we're grateful to have parents who selfishly volunteered to spend the week with Sadie, who we owe a big Thank You!

Day One: Wailea Beach, Maluaka Beach, and Big Beach

There are two bad things about going to Hawaii: getting there and getting home.  Our flight schedule was non-optimal, to say the least.  Our flight path to Hawaii consisted of Birmingham>Detroit>Los Angeles>Maui.  That's a 3.5 hour flight, followed by a 4.5 hour flight, and capped off with a 5.5 hour flight.  That's 13.5 hours of flight time over approximately 17 hours.  We left our house just after 6am Saturday morning and arrived in Maui at 9pm local time, or around 1am Central.  We didn't do much the first night.

After finally making it and getting a good night's sleep, we were up early Sunday morning to hit the beaches. First up though, breakfast.We had a fantastic breakfast at the Chez MeMe Baquette Bistro, a French restaurant located near our condo in Kihei. The food was excellent. Susan and I had omelletes while Colt enjoyed the French Toast. It was a little on the pricey side at just under $60 for breakfast, but alas, Hawaii is expensive. For a comparison, a loaf of bread at the grocery store was around $5.

After breakfast, it was time to hit the beaches. First up, Wailea Beach.  Wailea Beach is one of the best beaches in Maui and one of the top rated beaches in the world. It's been named "America's Best Beach" in past years and still lives up to the title. Not only it is a great beach, it's also a great snorkeling spot. We broke out the snorkel gear soon after arriving and almost immediately found ourselves up close and personal with not one, not two, but THREE sea turtles. We spent the better part of an hour swimming with them. Colt joined in on the fun and was able to see them as well.

After a few hours at Wailea Beach, we headed just down the road to Maluaka Beach. Another great beach known for it's great snorkeling and a hot spot for sea turtles. It lived up to its' reputation. This time just two turtles, but again we were able to swim right up to them and get an up close and personal look. We stayed about 10 feet away from the turtles - we didn't want to get any closer for safety concerns and out of respect to the animals. They were cool enough to let us hang around, so we didn't want to push our luck.

Once we had our fill at Maluaka, it was on to Big Beach. Big Beach is one of the largest and most frequented beaches in Maui. We also visited here in 2001 when Dad, Scott, and I visited Maui. It's a fantastic beach, but we found the water too rough here to do much snorkeling, so we settled on playing in the surf and getting some beach time on the sand.

As sunset approached, we called it a day and headed to the local grocery store to pick up food and supplies for the week. On average, the groceries seemed to be almost double what they are at home. We were a little sticker-shocked but after breakfast, knew we'd still save a lot by eating in. No complaints though: After a day of fun and sun in Maui, our sandwich & chips dinner was delicious. I think we were all sound asleep by 8pm. 

Day Two: Slaughter House Beach, DT Fleming Beach, and Ka'anapali Beach

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Our plan for Day Two was to hit the best beaches along the northwest corner of Maui.  From our condo in Kehei it was about an hour drive, so we made our way north, then hit the beaches as we drove south back down the coast.

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We started out by making the drive up the northwest coast of Maiu to the far NW corner, where we stopped at Slaughter House Beach at Mokuleia Bay. The bay is part of a conservation district, so there's generally good snorkeling if conditions permit. The water was rough when we went, so we enjoyed the beach for a bit before moving on.

Our next stop DT Fleming Beach, which was named "America's Best Beach" in 2006. By whom, I'm not sure, but it was a nice big, beach. Again, the water was rough, so we enjoyed the beach and didn't venture very far out into the water. We stayed here for a couple hours before leaving for lunch.

For lunch, we drove back to Lahaina and stopped at Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop. They had an assortment of sandwiches and pies. I had the Spicy Tuna, Susan had the "Ham'N", and Colt made the bold choice of a grilled cheese. Coupled with their hand cut fries, it was a great lunch. Recommend.

After lunch, we drove a few miles back north to Ka'anapali Beach. This was one of our favorite beaches we visited. It is a major resort area, but has a long, sandy beach. There are a lot of people but it wasn't overcrowded. The water was calm here making it a great place for Colt to venture out into the water to snorkel, though we didn't really see a whole lot here.

We watched the sunset at Ka'anapali Beach and were treated to a nice surprise when, at dusk, one of the locals (from one of the resorts) climbed the rocks at the north end of the beach, torch in hand, and proceeded to light tiki torches along the ridge, before diving into the ocean. A very cool scene.

At this point, we had heard Alabama was dealing with yet another "Winter Weather Warning", so we took the opportunity to snap some pictures for our Facebook page for our friends and family back home.  It was wrap for Day Two.

Day Three: Molokini Reef, Whale Watching, and ABC Award Banquet 

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Our third day in Hawaii would be a memorable one.  We started early, departing on the 7am snorkeling excursion to Molokini Reef.  Molokini is a partially submerged volcanic crater that's just a short boat ride from Maui.  It's a popular snorkeling/dive spot.  Scott and I visited here on our 2001 Hawaii trip and enjoyed it, so I wanted Susan and Colt to experience it as well.

The snorkeling was OK, but was really subpar to what we experienced on our own.  The highlight of this trip was the humpback whales.  It's whale season in Hawaii, the time where the humpbacks migrate 3000 miles from the Alaskan coast to breed, calve, and nurse their young.  They were out in full force.  We estimate we saw 20-25 different whales on the snorkeling trip alone.  We saw them from shore often all week, but being on the boat gave us the opportunity to see them up close.  At times they were just feet from our boat.  It was just an incredible experience watching them breach (jump out) the water and splash back down.  They were all around us but you never knew where they would pop up so it was challenging to get the "perfect" picture.

After our snorkeling excursion, it was back to the condo to prepare for the ABC Banquet that evening, which was after all why we were there to begin with. Colt and I were both very proud of Susan's achievement.  After the award ceremony, we were treated to a luau.  Colt really enjoyed the show, but conked out just before the fire-twirling finale.  We tried to wake him up but he was just too tuckered out to take in any more.

Click the pic above to see our pics from the day.  

Day Four: The Hana Highway

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Day Four of Hawaii was one I have been looking forward to since we booked the trip: The Hana Highway. One of the world's best drives, I drove this back in 2001 and it was unforgettable. Since then, they've repaved the road with asphalt so it's a much tamer drive now, but still provided a great adventure for us.

Our first stop on the road to Hana was the Ho'okipa Lookout, the most famous windsurfing location in the world. We made a quick stop here to watch the surfers catch some of Maui's big waves. Windsurfing isn't permitted until after 11am, so we "settled" for the surfers. Cool stop.

Just after the lookout, we hit Mile Marker Zero, which marks the beginning of the Road to Hana. Our first stop was the Honomanu Lookout, where we stopped to get a scenic look at Honomanu Bay. From there, it was on to the lookout at the Ke'anae Peninsula, and before we knew it, we were halfway to Hana. We skipped several of the stops that weren't very highly rated so we could spend more time at the best places.

At the halfway mark, we stopped for a snow cone and banana bread and chatted with some SEC fans. I had my Auburn shirt on this day and we ran into several SEC folks and even a few Auburn folks.

Moving on, we had another scenic stop at Wailua Valley where we ran into another Auburn fan. We snapped a few pics, then headed on to Upper Waikani Falls, also known as Three Bears Falls. It was a tricky hike to get to the falls, so Colt and I made the climb down from the road and hiked to the falls. Cool stuff.

We hit a few more stops before stopping at Nahiku Martketplace for lunch. This was a Hana's version of a shopping center, with several gift shops and eateries to choose from. We ate at Up In Smoke BBQ and had the Pig Sandwich. I was impressed with the BBQ in Hawaii - we outdo them in sauce around here but the meat was tender and well cooked. This was a fine lunch spot.

After lunch, it was on to Waianapanapa State Park. This was the highlight of the day by far, and one of our favorite spots on the whole trip. The black sand beach and scenery rivaled any scenic beach Susan and I have been to. It's up there with The Baths on Virgin Gorda and the Tobago Cays in the Grenadines as one of the most awesome places we've seen. The turqoise waters against the black sand and lava rock made this a must-see beach. It was incredible.

From there, we headed on to Haleakala National Park, where we took in Oheo Gulch, more commonly known as the Seven Sacred Pools. The water was low, but it was still an awesome visit.
At this point, most folks turn back and head back down the Road to Hana. We travelled on, going over the backside of Haleakala Mountain. It's the road less travelled, as the asphalt gave way to gravel and dirt roads that hugged the coastline. In spots, in turned single lane with no guard rails and steep cliffs, so of course I was right at home in the Jeep. Simply an incredible drive - take a peek at the video below.

By the time we made it home, everyone was pooped. Colt even gave out before making it to the bed and crashed in the floor. It was a good day.

Day Five: Ahihi-Kinau Natural Reserve, Secret Cove, and Kapalua Beach

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On Thursday, it was back to the beaches. We kicked off the day at the Ahihi Kinau Natural Preserve. This was another spot where fishing was prohibited, which coupled with the lava rock mixed in with the coral, made this one of the best snorkeling spots in Maui. We saw more species here than anywhere else on the island. We could have easily spent the entire day here.

Next, we hopped over to Paako Beach, or Secret Cove. It's a beatiful little spot hidden in between 2 homes and while not really secret, you have to know where to find it as it isn't marked. We stayed here an hour or so and enjoyed the scenic views.

With the morning complete, we stopped by Coconut's Fish Cafe for lunch. This place was very highly rated on TripAdvisor and is locally owned, so we tried it out. I had the Fish Tacos, which had 17 different ingredients. The tacos were incredible. If you're in Maui, stop here. It was awesome.

After lunch, we headed back up the northwest coast to Kapalua Beach. This ended up being a great beach...good snorkeling with a light surf, so we spent the remainder of the day here, snorkeling, swimming, and watching the sunset.

It was a nice wrap-up to our beach time in Maui. 

Click the pic to see our pics!

Day Six: Maui Ocean Center, Lahaina, and Aloha

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The weather must have known it was our final day in Maui as the rain clouds rolled in for the first time all week. We appreciated the effort from Mother Nature, but it didn't make leaving any easier!

We started the day with a visit to the Maui Ocean Center. An aquarium complete with sharks, stingrays, turtles, and just about every fish you'll find on the Hawaii reefs, it was a fun and fitting goodbye to the islands. Colt enjoyed seeing the sharks up close and even had a couple of questions he asked the staffers during a couple of the presentations we saw. He asked if sharks would bother you and later asked if what he should do if he ever saw a shark. I think he learned a lot!

Our "plan" had us spending the afternoon atop Haleakala Mountain watching the sunset. Unfortunately the weather ruled that out – with the heavy cloud cover it would have spoiled the spectacular views. Maybe next time.

Our Plan B took us to Front Street in the town of Lahaina. This is popular tourist spot with blocks and blocks of souvenir shops and restaurants. We spent the afternoon here checking out the various trinkets and settled on the Lahaina Fish House for our final dinner on the island.

The drive to the airport was all too short for our long flight home. 18 hours later, we'd be walking back into our house and back into reality.

It was maybe the best trip ever.



0 #2 SS 2016-08-26 01:58
That was a 2 lane road believe it or not!
0 #1 Kmac 2016-04-05 19:37
Sounds like you guys had a blast!! Great writing too!! Felt like I was there, except for the Jeep ride, as I would have been headed down the hill. Maybe you should start writing for an ocean blog or maybe a shark website. I am sure you would do great at it.

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