Tuesday, November 7, 2006

2006 Magical Maui

Oct. 30-Nov. 6, 2006:
Another wonderful father/daughter trip. This one was to use his companion flight coupon on Hawaiian Airlines for getting a Hawaiian Airlines credit card. We were only there a week, which wasn't nearly enough time!
Here's Dad getting right into the Hawaiian spirit with a new tiki friend.

We stayed in our Worldmark resort in Kihei and loved it. Even managed to get the week on bonus time so only paid about $450 for the whole week there in a 2 bedroom condo. 

A few pictures of the Worldmark Kihei 2 bedroom condo we were in:

murphy bed to my immediate right, 2nd bedroom to my immediate left.  Left in the picture is the 2nd bathroom.  Washer and drier behind sliding wood doors.  Kitchen to the left of the dining table (behind the little bar with the 2 bar chairs.  Master bedroom behind the tv in the livingroom.

 The small but adequate kitchen
 Master bedroom

Loved the pool there, too.  One of the nicest ones I've seen at a WM resort.
One of the really unique places to go on Maui is the volcano Haleakala which forms more than 75% of Maui. The crater is 7 miles across and 2 miles wide and almost 2,600 ft deep. At a summit altitude of over 10,000 ft, it can get pretty cool up there. There is a $10 per vehicle entrance fee to the park, but it is well worth it. Public transportation does not go through the park so the only way to get there is by tour bus or rental car. Haleakala is popular with tourists and locals, many whom like to go to its summit to watch the sunrise. There are also miles of walking trails within the park.

One of the first things we did was head up Haleakala. Not for sunrise, but it's even impressive in the middle of the day. Although this day we hit quite a few clouds at the top of the mountain. Even so, it made for some neat views.

Because of the clarity, dryness, stillness of the air, absence of lights of major cities, and it being above one-third of the atmosphere, the summit of Haleakala is a great locations for ground based telescopes. Experts come from all over the world to do research at "Science City".

We were just given glimpses of the terraine, but it was really neat. The crater walls are steep and the interior mostly barren.

Just past the viewing area of the crater area is another viewing area at the summit of the mountain. Due to all the clouds we didn't have much of a view from there, either.

Occassionally the clouds would move away long enough to see the expansive nothingness.

After a pretty full day travelling up and down the mountain, we came back to our resort in Kihei and walked across the main road fronting the ocean to check out the ocean.

Next day we were up and out riding around a bit. Couldn't resist stopping for scenic pictures. This were taken on the way up towards Lahaina.

Another day we heading up "the Road to Hana". With approximately 600 curve and 54 bridges it is an interesting and long ride.

We stopped at many overlooks.

Here's dad impersonating an alien at one of the overlooks.

There were many little falls along the way up to Hana. Note the almost dry waterway here.

This is the same waterway on the way back down a few hours later after lots and lots of rain. There was water over the road in lots of areas. Had we been in a small vehicle we may have been stranded up that way for a day or two. I understand it rains alot along the road to Hana, but we had an exceptional amount during our journey.

Here's one of the viewpoints along the way. The road hugs the side of the cliffs. Fortunately we don't have a problem with motion sickness, so we enjoyed the constant turns.

Another view of the road.

In the little town of Hana we were greeted by the locals.
AFter a bite to eat in a restaurant in Hana, we decided to start heading down again. A short distance from Hana we thought we'ld check out this lava tube. Maybe not a good idea in hindesight with all the rain and flash flooding, but we didn't think about that. The rain was seeping through the walls of the lava tube and we did end up pretty soaked, but it was a neat place to explore. We had hoped to go to the nearby botanical garden, but it was closed---I assume because of the rain.

Even Kihei, which was in a draught, had lots of rain that day.

Next day we were out exploring again.

We headed farther south first and checked out the beaches there. Even had a nice view of Lanai.

More beaches past Wailea.

Just like on Kauai, the south side of the island had lots of cactus growing on it.

The next day we headed around the west part of the island. First stop was at the 6.2 acres Iao Valley State Park. This is a free park which is well worth seeing.

We took a short walk along Iao Needle Lookout Trail. The Iao Needle is a famous landmark in the state park.

Just outside of Iao Valley State Park is Kepaniwai Park Heritage Gardens. It was created in 1952 to memorialized the multicultural history of Maui. Scale models of ethnic buildings and gardens representing the immigration of Hawaiian, American missionaries, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Korean, and Filipino cultures are the highlight of the park. They, too, are free and a photographer's delight.

Just another picture of Iao Valley from Kepaniwai Park Heritage Gardens.

After spending a couple hours at Iao Valley and Kepaniwai Park Heritage Gardens, we continued on our way around the West side of the island on Kahekili Highway. Highway is a very misleading name for part of the road!  It quickly became a 1 lane road with blind curves, steep drop offs, and no guard rails.  As the driver, I say it was a lot more dangerous then the road to Hana.  Fortunately not many people travel this part of the island, but we still had a few times where we had to stop and back up or wait for someone going the other way to back up before we could continue on. But the few pull-offs had amazing views.  By the time we reached somewhere we could turn around, we figured we were about halfway through, so we continued along that way.

This is one of the better sections of road with a big pull-off on the north west side of the island.

More views going around the West side of the island.

We didn't get pictures of the busiest tourist areas around Lahaina because we couldn't find anywhere to park.

The next day it looked like it was clear on Haleakala so we decided to travel up it again. Half way up we got a little concerned when we hit clouds again. But soon we were above the clouds!

Even did one of the short walking trails along the way.

Up at the viewing center near the summit we were treated to these moon-like views of cinder cones in the crater.

It was pretty awesome!

Of course I took a ton of pictures.

The landscape was so colorful and full of textures.

The next day we headed to the Maui Ocean Center just west of Kihei. It was a bit spendy at about $25/person, but I love aquariums and felt it was worth the cost. There are over 60 indoor and outdoor exhibits here.

There are over 40 exhibits in the Living Reef area. It was really neat being able to see these colorful fish so close.

It was easy for me to spend hours checking out all the exhibits. I think my Dad even enjoyed it.

This is the little marina by the Ocean Center.
On the last day, I finally got to jump in the water and check out the natural aquarium surrounding the island of Maui! We only snorkeled at this one little cove just south of Wailea, but it was really neat.

We even came across a school of these guys (blue trevelis, I think).

We also enjoyed the walking the beach near our resort again.

One final sunset before having to leave the next day.
I really didn't expect to like Maui as much as I did. I'm always reading that people who love Kauai as much as i do are disappointed with Maui. But I loved it. Maybe not as much as Kauai, but there was certainly enough here to keep me interested. I'd love to go back and do more snorkeling. If I can ever get myself to give up one of my yearly 2 weeks on Kauai, I will be back!

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