Posts Tagged With: Maui

All the gear- no idea.

 

Today we had to be up at 5-45 for an exciting pre-booked trip. This was our day to go snorkelling in the Molokini Crater. The remains of this extinct volcano have been flooded by the sea and the crater wall has formed a protected reef. The water here is about 100 feet deep and absolutely crystal clear.

I’d been really excited about this trip and as lots of different companies offer it, I’d spent hours making sure I chose the right trip for us. Should we go on a smart yacht with just a few other people or should we chose a smaller vessel [rib?] which was able to get there faster and visit both sides of the crater wall? Or should I opt for a trip which also promised to spend time in Turtle Town? In the end I opted for a company called Four Winds which got very good write ups on trip advisor and which seemed to offer a family friendly catamaran trip for about 100 people. This trip seemed to offer the maximum time snorkelling at Molokini itself and stayed away from places where there could be strong currents.

We arrived at Maalaea Harbour at 7am and were soon boarding the tidy boat. The trip did not disappoint and yes- there were some very loud people on board but it was not overly crowded and the captain gave an informative commentary as we cruised along. the staff were also very friendly.

When we arrived at the crater there were already about 10 other boats there. As Jane and I had all our own gear we were straight in the water off the back of the boat- easy access down some steps. As soon as I put my head in the water it took my breath away- it was SO deep and blue and clear. Man- was it deep! Jane the ‘not very confident swimmer’ was also in and off- which never fails to amaze me. Brave girl!

We swam over closer to the wall where the reef was nearer the surface and its here that the greatest variety of fish were hanging out. The boat trip catered for everyone – there were boards with windows for the kids to use, there was something called ‘snuba’ which you could try and which allows you to go underwater and breath attached to a tube without all the gas tanks associated with scuba. There was also a slide off the boat and others which looked fun -but not for ladies of a certain age methinks! They also provided a good lunch and once you’d finished snorkelling, you could enjoy the free bar!

Jane and I did two snorkel sessions- one one each side of the boat. The after lunch session was on the right hand side the coral was beautiful and the variety of fish even better. In total we had about two hours here, which was much more than any of the other boats, and Jane and I made the most of it. We then enjoyed the sunshine, beer and reggae music on the return journey. They even arranged to amuse us with two dolphins swimming alongside us at the bow of the boat.

By the time we got back to our place it was only about 1-30 still and didn’t want to just waste the afternoon lazing about! So we got back in the car and drove up to a beach called Kahekili in the middle of the resort metropolis of Kanapaali. Again this is an area right in amongst the big hotels- specifically here the Westin but this being Hawaii- they have to offer beach access- hurrah! My guide book gave this beach 3 stars and said it had ‘everything’.

By now Jane and I were feeling like pro-snorkelers so we cooly walked down the beach put on our flippers and masks and got ready to dive in. What we hadn’t noticed was quite how forceful the pull and push of the wave break here is. I immediately got dragged out and then knocked off my feet. This was fine but then the next wave pushed me right up the sand sideways and I couldn’t move my legs (and flippers) fast enough to stop them hitting Jane and totally wiping her out too. It must have looked hilarious but it was highly embarrassing to be tossed about in the shallows in this way (not to mention a tiny bit scary) and so we got out asap and walked coyly back to the grassy area and hid in our deck chairs.

Jane read her book and I did a sketch of what we had now nicknamed ‘Wipeout Beach’ with some dark threatening clouds heading our way. But it wasn’t long before I heard a little boy shout ‘At last, I’ve seen a turtle’ very excitedly and a little girl going back down the beach telling her Mom she was ‘going to see the turtles again’. What?! Oh—right now I decided to brave it again. This time I chose my entry point more carefully- it was amazing – as soon as I got over the wave break I was then pulled about 10 metres out- along with all the fish. It does then push you back in again so you just need to get used to the flow. However, because of the swell the water here was a bit murky and I didn’t see anything new and certainly not any turtles. Boo.

Now all I needed to do was get out again. This involved picking a sandy channel through the reef and then just waiting for the swell to spit me out onto the beach whilst trying to look vaguely dignified. I was able to tell Jane she hadn’t missed anything.

Despite this experience at ‘Wipeout beach’ it had been a fabulous day and we celebrated with cocktails and brownies at the Air BNB before going out to dinner at the Aloha Mixed Plate. The added bonus of this restaurant is that you get to listen to the music from the Lu’au next door. Think Hula Girls and beating drums. Lovely.

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Exploring South Maui

We woke up early…I’m not sure why I even bother writing that now -but whilst my itinerary planned to have us take it easy around Lahaina today, we were eager to go abit further afield. We’d had some advice from our friend Joe, who comes regularly to Maui, that his favourite spot on island is right down on the south west coast at a place called Ahihi. specifically, there is a small offshore nature reserve called Kanahena that’s great for snorkelling…like swimming in an aquarium.

So after our lovely breakfast we headed off down the scenic coast side road. As you drive out of Lahaina there are great stretches of beach where, even this early, the dudes were out either paddle boarding or surfing, depending on the wave break. In places the waves even splash onto the road itself.

We took the road through Wailea, which is a golfing resort area with top of the range hotels. The golf courses looked lovely but the hotel’s all looked rather bland (at least from the outside). I must say I’ve been v pleased that we chose to go with Air BNBs.

Our first stopping point was a tip from our host Christian, called Makena Landing. This was a lovely spot – a little sandy cove, surrounded by lava rock, trees and with a grassy area to sit on. But first we needed to go to the end of the car park, find the fence and go round to the left of the fence. Here Christian told us to look down into the pebbly cove as often there would be turtles. So we did and OMG there were two HUGE turtles just resting up. But as we watched two more turtles swam up out of the water to join them. These turtles were all nearly two feet across! You are supposed to stay 20 feet away from turtles to respect their space but I’m afraid some dozy tourists had gone down on the beach here to take their selfies with them.

We kept our distance and then found a spot on the grass to put up our beach chairs (clever Air BNB provided these along with your choice of body/surf or paddleboards! ). We sat ┬árelaxing and watching the scene. We were surrounded here by wild chickens and roosters so we nicknamed the spot ‘Chicken Beach’. The weather was going off now abit and the waves in the cove were quite forceful but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to get in the water with my snorkel and mask and see if I could find any turtles swimming about. Jane was very sensible and decided to see how I got on first.

Well I got in ok but the water was very murky and the swell was pushing me around a lot so I didn’t stay in more than 5 mins. We’d been talking over breakfast about the rare (very) shark attacks here..which tend to happen when the water is murky with rain run off and the shark mistakes a human for a tuna fish.

I told Jane this was not the snorkelling place for us and whilst it was a lovely picturesque place for a sketch, we decided to keep moving on south. Next stop was Big Beach or Makena Beach which is as it sounds , a massive two mile stretch of beautiful sand and wild waves with a huge break onto the beach. Lifeguards here were pretty much telling people to stay out of the water but it was beautiful to stand ashore and look at the turquoise colour of the waves in the sunlight.

Now we decided to get a shift on and drive to Joe’s spot but unfortunately the weather was turning a bit wild with ominous dark clouds. The road down here is single lane as it winds through some lovely scenery in the volcanic rock. There are some lovely looking big houses down here behind closed walls too.

By the time we got to Joe’s spot it was pouring but we walked out over the trail to the black rocky beach. It’s not too bad walking about in the warm rain but the bedraggled few people coming back from this secret spot said that although the snorkelling was good , it was better to do it in the sunshine. The sea was very choppy and we decided that this wasn’t for us today. We were a little disappointed which felt wrong really after seeing four turtles, as we drove all the way back to Lahaina.

On the way back we stopped at the large Safeways just around the corner from us. This is the Waitrose of the supermarket world over here and you could tell this by the walk in, temperature controlled wine store! And the Deli was something to behold in terms of choice but all we wanted was a sandwich, Maui Potato chips and some Firerock beer (what no Lava Man? ) This was for our late lunch and to stock up our fridge.

We chilled out on the balcony with the other guests from Ohio enjoying the sunset with cocktails from Gwen and Christians Tiki Bar! Fresh home made cookies were on the menu also, what a treat.

Oops, now it was time to go out to dinner! We got ready and as we went to leave we realised that there had been and still was a massive downpour. We ended up driving down to Mala Wharf again and eating at Frida’s , the Mexican . It was very good especially the deep fried cactus.

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Moving on to Maui

 

 

 

Next day it was time to move on again. We had another late afternoon flight to the next island- Maui and we had the whole day to fill. We’d pretty much done everything I wanted to in Volcano so we had a slightly more leisurely wake up. Mind you it was this night that the rain had hammered down on the roof. Jane cooked up Janis’ chicken eggs and we said goodbye to Lil Blue.

We returned our video to the Upper store and the popped up the road to visit the Volcano Winery. They were offering tastings of their award winning wines here but it was only 9-30 and we felt it was a little early.

Next on our agenda was to nip back to the Volcanoes National Park to collect some emergency lava from the 1974 flow. You lucky people!! Then it was time to get on the road again and we drove the 45 mins straight road down to Hilo. Here we took a swing around Walmart which is always essential on a visit to the US. It’s a vast retail emporium where you’re not allowed to take your backpack in and they check your shopping against your receipt before you are allowed to leave the store. It’s full of all sorts of people and cheap tat and I soon felt the need to leave.

We then returned the rental car and went into the aiport looking for a Tiki bar. The airport was tiny and empty and we were three hours too early for our flight. There was no Tiki bar or free airport wifi so we settled into Uncle Billies bar for the duration enjoying their free wifi, snacks and of course Lava Man. We whiled away the hours and then joined our Hawaiian airlines flight to Kahului on Maui.

We landed in the dark, picked up our rental car and then drove about an hour over to Lahaina. It was quite a tense journey and I realise now that I really don’t like arriving in new places in the dark. Again, we were staying in an Air BNB, the Moana Lani, which is on Front Street. This is the main drag in Lahaina which has been described as ‘cute’. However, as we drove through it was heaving with tourists and didn’t look nice at all. We kept driving along looking for number 1440 but we’d gone about 2 miles out of town by now and over a bridge. I started thinking we’d gone wrong until finally we saw the light, and the light (above the church) said ‘Jesus is coming’ and sure enough around the next bend we found our lovely new home.

The Moana Lani is a lovely old style plantation house with big balconies upstairs and downstairs. They only have four rooms and its run by a couple, Gwen and Christian , who took over in August. The place is a traditional B and B serving lovely fresh breakfast and we had the most comfortable room here of our whole trip, with lovely lovely air conditioning.

After quick introductions we decided to go out nearby to find dinner. We walked down to Mala Wharf smelling the beautiful fragrance of flowers in the air. We went into a restaurant called ‘Honu’ (which means turtle) and when we opened the doors and walked in we were hit by what a cool and hip, friendly place we’d found. The place was covered in art and had a real buzz. After a drink at the bar we were shown to our table by the ocean where we ate, listening to the sound of the gentle surf and watching the boats bob under the moonlight. I think we are going to like it here!

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