Maui Beckoned! Pride of America departed Oahu Saturday afternoon – as it does every week – and docked at Maui Sunday morning, where we enjoyed 2 days to explore and experience a typical Hawaii micro-climate. Each island has its own flavor and personality. Here, I will share my best moments of Maui; for a more comprehensive overview, check out the official Maui travel site www.gohawaii.com/en/maui/
My favorite images first…
The first day, I booked the Road to Hana tour; I’d heard it was a maniacal step-child of Pacific Coast Highway, the Scottish Highlands, and Amalfi Coast = true. My aunt, Norma, had endured it years ago; she said they drove, and drove, and drove, seeing nothing, going nowhere, that it was a day of her life she’ll never get back = also true.
I was happy to have Sam, an experienced Maui resident, as driver, who knew where to stop and what we needed to see; it made all the difference. I booked it through Pride of America, because I had shore excursion credit, but the actual company used was http://www.polyadhawaiitours.com/hana_tour.html The tour offered by the website looks like it offers more time to stop off, maybe swim; my tour keep going beyond Hana and took us to the desolate, inhospitable, rugged back side of the island, reminded me of Scotland, opposed to the lush green Hana side.
It was a long, exhausting day, but worth it, crammed full of dramatic views and ever-changing weather; it was so rainy when we started that I didn’t bother with sunblock and found my neck/arms quite burnt by the end of the day! Bring a hat, sunglasses, sun block and umbrella!
We set off in a minibus for a circle loop around the island, in thick rain, which morphed into overcast clouds, then magical sunshine, and kept flipping back and forth, it seemed, with every sharp bend. The road was equally unpredictable with wide, flat, well-marked roads interspersed with narrow 2 lane roads, which devolved into a single lane in places, because there was no room between ocean and steep lava cliffs or the other lane had eroded with water, surrendered to gravity, and just fell off = gravity will always win.
Sam told us many drivers, due to impatience, poor driving skills, being drunk or careless, die on a regular basis – especially at night, where there are no street lights, many blind curves, and other idiot drivers who are not respectful of the weather, terrain or other vehicles. The locals despair of most rental car drivers; having seen what I saw, I don’t blame them! Flowers are left on side of the road where people have met Death on Maui!
If you do drive yourself, have great insurance, exceptional reflexes, be brave but cautious – expect to (almost) run into UPS vans, convertibles, bicyclists and slow-moving work trucks, at the very least. Talk to locals/research where to stop off, bring a map, and be prepared – we witnessed people jumping off mad rocks, swimming in the pools below waterfalls, picnicking on the black sandy beaches, surfing in treacherous conditions, and hiking, where there are signs saying DANGER – do not enter – just because you are on holiday does not make you immune to death – use common sense…
The next morning, after 2 hour nap, I was collected from Pride of America at 3 15 AM to do the Haleakala Sunrise Tour – there is a sunset tour available as well. After watching the sky light up as a sugar cane field was in flames, I napped as we drove up 10, 000 feet to almost the summit of the volcano, to gather, with a few hundred under people, to watch the dawn sky emerge from blackness.
For the best views, stay to the lower observation point, and move to the right of the tourist building, by the wall, and dress in layers – I wished I’d brought a hat and finger-less gloves – there was frost on the ground – some stupid people had shorts and flip-flops, others opted for wrapping themselves in sleeping bags. Note: it’s pure luck whether you witness magic or are encased in fog with no view. I was lucky!
First whispers of light crept into the sky above Haleakala Volcano. Every second, new light gleamed and flashed through the black clouds, impregnated with ash and smoke from the active Kilauea Volcano on Hawaii, the Big Island, just across the water. It was awe-inspiring in simplicity and beauty.
The sun finally burst through the clouds and gave life to the island – that was worth waiting for! If you’re driving yourself, get there early, about an hour before actual sunrise time.
If you do a tour, you have a choice to go up to absolute summit for views across Maui, or can bicycle down, for the truly mad/brave. Different tour companies looked like they had different starting points, and some bikes looked more professional than others. So, take your life in your hands, choose your company well, and fly down the side of a volcano on 2 wheels for over 20 miles! Here is link that may help you with planning a visit to Haleakala: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g143033-Activities-Haleakala_National_Park_Maui_Hawaii.html
I wish I’d time/chosen a company that allowed me to do some hiking into the crater – I thought I had, but I was wrong! Glen, our driver said it is spectacular – that one descends from light into shadow, from life into death, where the only sounds are your footsteps and your breath – take water and wear sturdy shoes! I did a crater hike on Hawaii – see other article for that information/photos.
Every Hawaii island has its own feel, for me, Maui is more gentrified, the most touristy after Oahu. Many have chosen to live here; it has a stronger infrastructure than Hawaii or Kauai. It was fun having 2 days to scratch the surface of the joys of Maui; it was enough to make me want to go back! Here is real estate/celebrity information for Maui – http://www.buyorsellmauirealestate.com/famous-celebrities-maui/
For my subscribers, if you want to see the photos, you’ll have to click on the link to get to my website – sorry for the inconvenience, but I think it will be worth it to see my shots of Maui!
This is the first of 5 articles on Hawaii – after Maui will be Hawaii itself, Kauai, Oahu, then one on Pride of America – NCL cruise ship – https://www.ncl.com/ – the only one which lives in Hawaii – year round, Saturday to Saturday, it just keeps going. I met a few people, from Australia, who had booked 2 weeks back to back!
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The photos below are the ones I entered into the 2015 Visual Story Telling Awards competition https://www.lensculture.com