Posts Tagged With: Maui

Iao Valley State Park, Maui

Iao (EE-ow) Valley State Park, with walking trails through the lush and verdant tropical vegetation, was a short drive from the cruise port, took just a couple hours to visit, and admission was free. The lushness is due to plentiful rainfall but luckily, we had a perfect day.

In addition to abundant natural beauty, this area possesses great historical significance. In 1790, Kamehameha the Great won a decisive and bloody battle here that eventually resulted in the unification of the islands into one kingdom for the first time under King Kamehameha I.

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Iao Needle (Kukaemoku in Hawaiian)

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View from the trail at Iao Valley State Park

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Ian Valley State Park

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Iao Valley

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Iao Needle

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Iao Stream

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Iao Valley

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Iao Stream

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Vegetation at Iao Valley

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Iao Stream

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Iao Valley

Adjacent to Iao Valley State Park we discovered a free county park, Kepaniwai Park and Heritage Gardens, which is a tribute to the various ethnic groups of Hawaii. We enjoyed the Chinese pagoda, tranquil Japanese gardens, native thatched hut, Filipino nipa hut, and a New England saltbox, among others. This would be an ideal spot for a picnic with the facilities provided on-site.

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Chinese Pagoda at Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens

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Japanese Garden at Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens

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Banyan tree at Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens

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Filipino Nipa Hut at Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens

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New England Saltbox at Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens

Post Script: Tribute to a Good Man

Jim and I visited my former boss, Allen Grooters, at Hospice prior to our departure for Hawaii in November. Allen had recently been diagnosed with ALS and the terminal disease  progressed quickly. I was hesitant to drop by Hospice but I texted him and he responded that he’d enjoy a visit. I knew Allen and his wife stayed on Maui each year so we asked him his recommendations for the island. He told us that Iao State Park was one of his favorite sites in Maui so we went there on his advice. Sadly, Allen died soon after our return from Hawaii. I will always appreciate the great advice and wise counsel he provided me over the 20+ years we worked together. His final recommendation was as much a winner as his earlier guidance.

 

Based on events from November 2015.

Categories: cruise, History, natural history, Travel, Uncategorized, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Upcountry Maui

The slopes of Mt. Haleakala, or upcountry Maui as the locals call it, is considered the most laid-back area of the island. But honestly, the entire island seemed pretty laid-back to me.

We rented a car ($50) for Day 2 of our stay in Maui and drove upcountry to Haleakala National Park first thing in the morning. Although it’s one of the top recommended sights, we decided against getting there for sunrise for two reasons. First of all, the clouds often obscure the sun and secondly, driving hairpin turns in the dark on unfamiliar roads to 10,000 feet didn’t appeal to any of us.

The soaring views on the drive to the summit were every bit as impressive as we saw on the Road to Hana. Fortunately for us, we were driving up as the bikers were headed down so we missed most of the traffic, too.

It was especially poignant to spy sugar cane growing in the fields because, after 140 years, the Hawaiian sugar industry which began in Maui, is shutting down. By the end of 2016, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar will close operations.

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Sugar cane growing in upcountry Maui

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Driving upcountry Maui

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View nearing the top of Haleakala

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Driving upcountry Maui

Tourists are advised to wear warm clothes because it’s really cold at the top of the volcano but I was unprepared for just how cold and windy it was. A down coat would have been welcome.

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Laura and Lori at Haleakala National Park

The terrain on the summit is other-worldly. I’d love to have hiked one of the over 30 miles of trails, especially the one to see Waimoku Falls, but the conditions there are dangerous and I was still fighting a virus with chills and fever. I was content with these views then got back in the car to warm up while the others did a short trail on the summit.

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Haleakala National Park view of the crater

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Haleakala National Park

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Haleakala National Park

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Haleakala National Park

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Haleakala National Park

We spent the entire morning on the drive up to Haleakala National Park and back. Afterward, we explored Iao Valley State Park but that’s the subject of my next post so check back next week. If you have to choose between Haleakala and the Road to Hana, I would choose Haleakala but if you have the time, by all means, do both.

 

Based on events from November 2015.

 

 

Categories: cruise, National Parks, Travel, Uncategorized, USA | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Road to Hana through the Back Door

Our cruise ship, the Pride of America, docked in Kahului on Maui at 8 am and remained in port until 6 pm (1800) the following day. We knew that we wanted to see the Road to Hana and Haleakala National Park but we wouldn’t have time for much beyond that.

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Rick and Jim checking out the map in the cruise port on Maui

We weighed several options for an all-day tour of the Hana Highway, a 52-mile, spectacularly scenic road featuring some 600 hairpin turns and 54 one lane bridges along the northern coast of Maui. We could take an NCL excursion for $189 per person which seemed exceedingly expensive compared to renting a car. Car rental for the day would be only about $50 for the 4 of us but we’d have to drive the car ourselves. The price was right but I wasn’t keen on having Jim or Rick drive the route and miss much of the scenery to focus on the road (sometimes one-lane) and the traffic (heavy). My brother and his wife had been to Maui recently and recommended Maui Easy Riders for a Road to Hana tour. A personal tour for the 4 of us while they did the driving would cost $600. We decided that was our best option. By the way, they also offer a Haleakala Downhill Bike Tour but I would have been a Maui uneasy rider on 4-5% grades riding a bike down the volcano. My sister-in-law, however, had a blast on the bike tour so if that’s your thing, go for it.

Kyle picked us up outside the cruise port in his SUV just after 8. Rather than driving up the Road to Hana and returning the same way, we went the back way on Highway 37 so that we could drive back on the Road to Hana. We got to see more of the island and missed some of the traffic, too. Car rentals don’t allow taking their cars on a portion of this road so we got a bonus by riding with Kyle. Our route is highlighted below in yellow. The stretch between the red arrows on the south side of the island is the area where you can’t take a rental car.

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Kyle was engaging and entertaining, telling us story after story about his customers and experiences. Every funny story about tourists behaving badly ended with, “That’ll be in the book.”  I hope nothing we said or did was book worthy.

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View from Highway 37

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View from Highway 37, Maui

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Another view of the Pacific

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Calling these roads highways is an overstatement

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Looking at the backside of Haleakala National Park from Hwy 37

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The coast behind Haleakala NP where rental cars don’t go

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My favorite photo of the rugged volcanic coastline

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More coastline views

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We stopped at St Joseph’s Church, a mission church established in 1862 to convert the natives. The area is verdant and peaceful.

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St Joseph’s Church

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The white lines on the mountains are waterfalls

Laulima Farm, featuring environmental agriculture, has a stand along the highway that was a great stop for a snack and a look around. We walked their trail through the lush tropical jungle where we enjoyed the sights and scents of flowers, fruits, and coffee growing along with other tropical plants.

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Laulima Farm Fruit Stand

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Laulima Farm Fruit Stand produce

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Fruit growing along the trail at Laulima Farm

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Tropical Paradise

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View across the road from Laulima Farm

Our next stop was the gravesite of Charles Lindbergh, the famous American aviator, who died and was buried here in 1974. The grave is located very near the Pacific ocean and I’m certain the views are incredible when not viewed through a tropical rain storm which came in just as we got there.

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Charles Lindbergh burial site

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Grave of Charles Lindbergh

We stood under the trees to wait out the rain but finally made a run for it to the vehicle through the drenching rain. I’d read to plan on rain at some point during the day when visiting the windward side of the island so we weren’t surprised by the cloudburst.

Fortunately, the rain didn’t obscure of view of Wailua Waterfall, one of the most beautiful stops along our route.

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Wailua Waterfall

By lunch time we reached Hana and Kyle sought out food trucks with local, affordable fare. We didn’t find any so instead, he took us to Hana Ranch Store where we followed his lead and ordered sausages and chili over rice which I’m told is a Maui original.

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Jim and Kyle with our take out from Hana Ranch Store

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Maui chili over rice

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Lunch, Maui style

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With a view like this at Hana Bay State Park, anything tastes good!

Leaving Hana, we began our drive along the Hana Highway through the hairpin turns and one-lane bridges. The views were every bit as spectacular as promised.

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View from Hana Highway

The Black Beach at Waianapanapa State Park was not an exaggeration or misrepresentation.

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View from the trail to Black Beach

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Black Beach

The legend of Waianapanapa Cave added a human component to the natural beauty. Hawaiian Princess Popoalaea fled and hid from her cruel husband, but the chief found and killed her. When tiny red shrimp appear in the pool, it’s a reminder of the blood of the princess.

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Waianapanapa Cave

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View from the Hana Highway

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Scene from the Road to Hana with another waterfall on that mountain

The Painted Forest at mile marker 7 is composed of rainbow eucalyptus trees that originated from the Philippines. It’s a small area and difficult to spot unless you know where to find them and fortunately for us, Kyle knew.

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The Painted Forest

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Bark of the rainbow eucalyptus

This day was an amazing experience filled with all the beauty Maui has to offer. Kyle Barfield was an excellent tour guide and we would wholeheartedly recommend him. He has since opened his own tour company called Sandy Cheeks Tours.

If you’re interested in Haleakala National Park on Maui, check back next week for my new post.

 

Based on events from November 2015.

Categories: cruise, Food, Travel, Uncategorized, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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