Hana – Oheo Gulch and the Pipiwai trail

Lower pools

Lower pools

The road to Hana offers many spectacular views but much more awaits those who venture from the beaten path. If you’re going to make one long stop, consider the Pipiwai trail. The trail is a four mile round trip up the Oheo Gulch through bamboo forests past spectacular waterfalls and pools.Vertical gain to Waimoku Falls, the turn around point, is 650 feet. Allow 2+ hours – more if you like to savor the sights at a leisurely pace.

River's end

River’s end

Sometimes called The Seven Sacred Pools, the lower pools on the Oheo Gulch are a VERY popular destination about 12 miles past Hana. But there’s a lot more than seven pools and there’s nothing particularly sacred about them. The name, “Seven Sacred Pools,” is just a marketing ploy someone dreamed up a long time ago.

Shady grove

Shady grove

The well marked trail head is near the visitor center in the Kipahulu area of Haleakala National Park. A three day park pass – which is also good for the summit – is $10. Wear good shoes and carry water. Note: the river is prone to flash flooding. Don’t go if it’s raining or threatening to rain.

For the drive to Hana, see our post The Hana Highway. For driving the an alternate route to or from Hana (i.e. the south coast of Maui) see Hana – the Road Less Traveled.

Banyon tree

Banyon tree

Bamboo forest

Boardwalk through the bamboo forest

400 foot Waimoku Falls

400 foot Waimoku Falls

West Maui Snorkeling – Black Rock

Black Rock with Moloka’i in the distance

In front of the Sheraton Maui at Ka’anapoli is Black Rock, a popular and easy snorkel. Ka’anapoli Beach is a large and fabulous stretch of white sand that can be very busy in the high season when the big hotels are full. It’s worth a visit all by itself.

If the waves are calm, you can snorkel out and around the point. Strong swimmers can even snorkel north to the next beach. The best viewing, however, is on the south side and at the end of the point. There’s not much coral and, for that matter, not a lot of fish. But we’ve seen green sea turtles near the shore and multiple spotted rays at the point in beautifully clear deep water.

Black Rock with Lana’i in the distance

To get to Black Rock, take the first entrance into Ka’anapoli and continue circling to the right. Look for the small sign for Beach Access after you pass Whaler’s Village. There are two small free parking areas. The Sheraton has 20 spaces in a corner of their parking garage. Just to the south there are 10 or so outdoor parking spaces that can be reached via the next driveway to the south. Getting a parking space can be a challenge. Go early or late or around lunch when people are leaving.

Hiking La Perouse Bay – The Hoapili Trail and Cape Hanamanioa

Getting to La Perouse Bay

If you drive as far south as possible through Wailea, Makena, and beyond, you come to La Perouse Bay. The drive takes you past Big Beach, through the Ahihi Kinau Reserve, and across a long stretch of lava from the last eruption of Mount Haleakala in 1790. After the manicured beauty of Wailea, the road gets narrower. Later it gets even narrower. Finally, it gets so narrow there are pull outs so cars going in the opposite direction can pass. The last few hundred yards are so bumpy you may want to park before the last turn toward the bay. Look for the horse corral and the stone monument. You can park there or bounce over the last bumps until you get to the water’s edge. It’s about 25 minutes south of Maui Vista.

The Hoapili Trail starts a few yards from the water’s edge on your left as you face the bay. The first portion of the hike is though a lava field. This, and other parts of the trail, need real shoes, not flip flops or sandals. Tennis shoes will do, walking shoes are better.

Trail Route

There are cultural artifacts in the lava fields – the lower walls of shelters built by Hawaiians sometime after the 1790 eruption. There’s not much to see, but some people find them interesting.

Look for the a small blow hole about halfway across the lave field. If the tide is high and the surf is up it makes a good splash.

A pretty bay greats you at the end of the lava field. After that you walk under the welcome shade of mesquite trees (locally known as kiawe). Lots of feral goats here. Keep a lookout for a surfer memorial on your right after you’ve walked for 5 or 10 minutes.

As you come out from under the trees you have three choices of route. You can keep on the “road” which will take you to the next shady grove or on to your destination at the end of Cape Hanamanioa. Alternatively, you can turn off the road through the broken wire gate and follow the King’s Highway cross the second lava field until you come to a sign that tells you it was reconstructed in its present form during the first half of the 19th century. If you take this route, turn right at the sign to return to the road or to the second grove. Finally, you can walk along a very rocky beach to the second grove.

Into the woods

As indicated in the map above, once you get to the second grove, there is an easier and harder route to the end of Cape Hanamanioa. The easier route is fairly boring, with little to see but lava and views in the distance. The harder route takes you along high cliffs over sometimes rough terrain with spectacular views of the bay and beyond. The water is multi-colored shades of crystal clear blue. Sometimes the trail is hard to find. Persevere, the rough parts lead to an actual trail.

Views from the coastal trail

It’s often very windy at the end of the cape – hold onto your hat. One way distance from start to finish is about 1.25 miles. It will take you longer than you think.

From the end of the cape you can return or follow more trails (for miles) onto new coves, beaches and interesting sights. Enjoy.

Hang onto your hat at the end of the trail

West Maui Snorkeling – Honolua Bay

There’s so much good snorkeling not far from Maui Vista (see South Maui Snorkeling – 3 Favorite Spots), why drive an hour to Honolua Bay? There are plenty of reasons. First of all, Honolua Bay is a spectacular snorkeling spot. In addition, there are lots of other fun things to see and do in West Maui. For example, the Nakalele Blowhole is just another 10 minutes down the road past Honolua Bay.

Honolua Bay from the Highway 30 overlook

To get there from Kihei, head north on South Kihei Road or the Pi’ilani Highway and follow the signs to Lahaina. Continue north on Highway 30 through Lahaina, Ka’anapali, and Kapalua. When the road narrows and slows for tight, blind curves, you’re almost there.

Stop at the overlook (pictured above) and check out conditions and the best snorkeling spots. (If you click on the picture and blow it up you can see snorkelers and areas with coral – that’s where you want to be.) If the surf’s up, the snorkeling won’t be good – but there will be surfers to watch. You can watch from the overlook or, better still, drive around the bay and turn left onto the dirt road high on the other side side of the bay. Find a  parking spot and walk out for the best views (see Surfing the Big Water at Honolua Bay).

Trail to Honolua Bay

For snorkeling, drive to the bottom of the hill and look for a parking spot. If you don’t see one at first, keep driving – there are several other areas where people park. You’ll find a trail near each parking area. All trails end up at more or less the same place.

It’s a pleasant, but surprisingly long, walk to the water through a shaded grove. People do it in flip-flops, but a sturdier sandal or shoe is recommended.

The beach itself is rocky with few places to even put a beach chair. There are no restrooms, no water, no garbage cans, no nothing – except begging chickens and great snorkeling.

The wet and sometimes slimy rocks near the shore are slippery. Lots of people get in from an old broken boat ramp that the two people on the left side of the accompanying picture are standing on.

Most people snorkel on the right side of the bay, but there is plenty of coral on the other side as well. It’s a fairly long swim before the viewing gets good. If you’re not a strong swimmer, you might want to take a boogie board or a noodle. At first the coral and fish are mainly close to the shore on the right. As the coral gets denser you’ll see it expand out toward the middle of the bay. Explore this area to your heart’s content.

A word to the wise: several large snorkel boats anchor at Honolua Bay around mid day. If you want to miss the crowd in the water, go early. If they’re there when you are, just remember that they’re paying the big bucks while you’re getting the same views for free. Enjoy!

Haleakala – Into the Crater (The Halemauu Trail)

Near the trail head

Dust in our eyes from the Sliding Sands Trail blew us off the top of Haleakala. We decided to try our luck with the Halemauu Trail.

The parking lot at the trail head is clearly marked just below the 8,000 foot level. We were greeted by a couple of overly friendly Nene. The composting toilet at the parking lot was spotless the day we were there – hand sanitizer and everything.

Approaching the crater

The first part of the hike is gently downhill through native scrub. While still a little windy, it was much more pleasant than at the top of the mountain – no dust and occasionally a little shade.

The steep part

The first approach to the crater’s edge is spectacular if somewhat daunting. The switchbacks in the photo below descend almost 1,000 feet to the valley floor. Click on the photo to enlarge and zoom in on it.

While not as common as on the Sliding Sands Trail, people ride horses up and down those switchbacks.

The round trip from the parking lot to the Holua Cabin on the valley floor is an arduous 8 miles. It can easily take 4 to 5 hours. Bring food and plenty of water. As with anywhere at higher elevations on Haleakala, bring layers of clothing. It can get very cold.

You’ll also want to bring your camera. The views of the Ko’ olua Gap and crater interior are spectacular.

For an easier hike with all sorts of amazing views, take the one mile hike to the end of the ridge jutting out into Ko’ olua Gap. We stopped there for a picnic lunch.

On top of the world

Click here to see our blog on the Sliding Sands Trail.

Kite Beach – a good day to fly

Taking off

To get to Kite Beach, located on Maui’s north shore in Kahului, you drive through an industrial area and past the waste water treatment plant. It’s not your average tourist destination. (See map below.)

When there’s a steady wind, that’s where the kite boarders go. On a good day the sky is full of kites. We’re not talking flying kids kites here; these kites will fly you.

Flying high

It’s a big beach. Beginners, and those who are more tentative, work their skills at the west end of the beach. If you’re ambitious you can even take a lesson there.

Those who know what they’re doing board, and fly, at the east end of the beach – right in front of the small dirt parking lot.

Coming in for landing

The protocol for kite boarders is to travel in a big clockwise circle; sometimes coming close to shore and turning back way out at sea. This keeps lines from crossing. Since lots of boarders are skimming across the waves at speeds in excess of 20 mph, an abrupt stop would not be good.

The best kite boarders catch air. BIG AIR. The fellow in these pictures probably reached 20 feet vertical and flew 100 to 200 feet.

Touchdown

Then he stuck it. He, and several others that morning, did it over and over again.

It’s great entertainment. The best tricks are done close to shore.

To get to Kite Beach from the south, head toward the airport on Dairy Road. Turn towards the West Maui Mountains on the Hana Highway then follow the map below.

Map to Kite Beach

Haleakala – The Night Sky

The Milky Way above Mount Haleakala. Photo by Wally Pacholka as seen in mauimagazine.net

It’s said that a large percentage of the American population has never seen the Milky Way – especially young people. It’s just too bright at night in the urban/suburban areas where they live. Of all the generations of mankind that have ever lived, this is a recent, and somewhat sad, phenonmenon.

Fotunately, this is not a problem on Maui. Go anywhere on the island on a clear night where there are no bright lights shining in your eyes and, in the summer,  you can see the milky river of light of the Sagittarius arm of our spiral galaxy slicing across the sky or, in winter, the somewhat dimmer Perseus arm. (In the northern hemisphere in summer, we look toward the center of our galaxy; in winter in the opposite direction toward deep space. That’s why the Milky Way looks brighter in summer.)

In the photo above (which I wish I could say I took), Jupiter shines brightly below the arc of the galaxy disk. This is a time elapse photograph, so the Milky Way won’t look as bright to the naked eye; but it still will impress.

The best (and coldest) views of the stars on Maui are from the top of Mount Haleakala. There are serious research telescopes on top of the mountian – not like the world-class telescopes of Mauna Kea on the Big Island, but impressive nontheless. You can’t look through the big scopes, but you can look with your naked eye or, if you have them, binoculars or a small telescope. Even small binoculars will reveal a wonder of stars and (if you know where to look or are just plain lucky) other wonders of the night sky. Even people with very ordinary night vision can see the Andromeda Galaxy with their naked eye,  2.5 million light years away! With binoculars, other galaxies, ghostly nebula,  the moons of Jupiter, and brilliant star clusters await those with patience and a little knowledge or luck.

If you’re out on a clear dark night on Maui, stop somewhere dark and look up. You won’t be disappointed.

See our other posts on Haleakala titled Haleakala – The House of the SunHaleakala – Come Prepared, and Haleakala – Into the Crater.

Haleakala – Into the Crater (The Sliding Sands Trail)

Horse back riders on the Sliding Sands Trail

There are several great trails into the Haleakala erosion crater. If you click on the picture to the right you can see a line of horses and riders ascending the Sliding Sands Trail. It’s only when you see something like this that you get an idea of the scale of the place.

While this is all explained in the Maui trail book in our condo, the trail head is a short walk around the cinder cone on the south side of the parking lot. From the start of the trail it’s 2,500 vertical feet to the crater floor – so the hike down is pretty easy. The hike up is another matter. Depending on your physical condition and how you react to the thinner mountain air, it will take 1.5 to 2.0 times as long to hike out as it takes to hike in. Keep this in mind if you’re hiking later in the day. It gets dark (and cold) fast when the sun goes down. Even in summer it can be chilly in the shadow of the west rim of the crater in the late afternoon.

Haleakala Crater – Photo by Dick Morgan

As you can see from the photos, you are entirely exposed on this trail. Use sunscreen and carry water. We generally hike with a daypack with water, snacks, extra clothing and anything else we might need.

Consider adding a hike to your Haleakala experience. If you come early for the sunrise, you can hike in and out before lunch and then enjoy a meal in the Up Country. Alternatively, if you’re not into starting your day at 2 or 3 AM so you can see the sunrise, you can hike in the afternoon and time your return to see the sunset from the top of the mountain. It’s a whole lot like the sunrise, but without the busloads of tourists and people standing five deep at the best vantage points.

Speaking of sunrise and sunset, did you know that Haleakala means “house of the sun” in Hawaiian? To find out more, click here.

For another great (but harder) hike into the crater, click here to see our blog on the Halemauu Trail.

Catching a Wave at Ho’okipa

Catching a wave at Ho ‘okipa – Photo by Dick Morgan

Perhaps the most consistent surfing waves on Maui are at Ho’okipa (pronounced Hō ō key pă) on the north shore about two miles east of the Paia stoplight on the Hana Highway. There’s a great overlook with parking at the east end of the bay. The first two photos in this post were taken from that vantage point.

This is a very popular spot for locals. Spectators are fine, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, stay out of the water.

Oops – Photo by Dick Morgan

Sometimes when the surf is down the wind is up. In that case, you’ll miss the surfers but catch the windsurfers. Sometimes you’ll see both. This guy was off to a good start but not a great finish.

Catching air

For perhaps obvious reasons, the surfers and windsurfers tend to stay apart. Whenever we’ve been there the surfers were by the eastern overlook where the big rollers are and the windsurfers farther west. There’s a smaller overlook above the area most popular with the windsurfers. If there’s room, you might get a better view from there.

While you’re in the area, catch a bite to eat at one of the restaurants in Paia. So far our blog has reviewed Cafe Mambo (our favorite for island style pub food) and Mama’s Fish House. Look for other Paia restaurant reviews in the future.

Keawala’i Congregational Church in Makena

Founded in 1832, the Keawala’i Congregational Church is one of the oldest churches on Maui. The lava stone structure that still stands was built in 1855 using a mortar made of coral. It replaced the original house of worship made of pili grass. Over the years the three foot thick walls have been repaired and the wooden roof and bell tower replaced, but the bones of the 1855 church remain.

Sometimes referred to locally as “the old stone church,” the Keawala’i Congregational Church is located on a small sandy cove between Makena Landing and Maluaka Beach about six miles south of Maui Vista. From Highway 31, follow the signs pointing to “Makena Landing” and “Keawala’i Congregational Church.” Turn left as you get to the bottom of the hill. The church is just up the road on your right. You can’t miss it. Park across the street in the Maluaka Beach parking lot and look around.

If the doors are open you can look inside at the simple handsome interior. Hymnals are provided in both English and Hawaiian and the church owns an early 19th century bible written in Hawaiian. Two services are held each Sunday – one in Hawaiian.

The son of a friend of ours was married in the Keawala’i Church in 2010. If you’re interested, you don’t have to be a member to arrange for a wedding, reaffirmation of wedding vows, baptism, or funeral/memorial service. Contact the church for details.

The church’s small graveyard by the sea is worth a visit. It has old and newer headstones.

At the far end of the graveyard is a simple and dignified grave for the remains of a woman from pre-missionary times. Her bones and a comb were found with the remains of a buried canoe when one of the large hotels was constructed in Wailea.

While you’re in the area, enjoy the beaches. Both Makena Landing and Maluaka Beach are great for snorkeling, swimming, and relaxing. Check out our post on Makena Landing to learn about snorkeling with turtles.