Thursday, June 14, 2012

2012--Maui May sisters' trip

May 28-June 4, 2012:

When my sister suggested we take another sister's trip, I immediately thought of where we should go----Maui!  I had Hawaiian airlines miles which were about to expire and  I had lots of Wyndham points left over after getting our Kauai weeks this past Feb. for half off.   So I called Wyndham and had them place a Wyndham week into Trading Places for me in exchange for a 2 bedroom condo in Maui from May 28 - June 4th.   All I had to do was pay for my flights to/from STL-PDX. 
The day finally came and I was on my way to PDX.  My sister, Carolyn, picked me up and we headed back to Dallas, Oregon, for a couple days.  Then we spent the night before our Maui flight in a hotel by the airport.  On the 28th (Memorial Day), we were on our way bright and early (to me!) to catch our 10:30 flight to OGG.  Since Ken and I usually travel to Hawaii from STL all in one day with a couple stops and long layovers, this travel day seemed to go fairly quickly.  Only long part was the 2 1/2 hour layover in Honolulu.  Originally we were suppose to fly non-stop to Maui---one of the big reasons why we picked Maui over Kauai, but Hawaiian decided to eliminate that flight and keep an extra 8000 of my miles that I used to book the non-stop instead of a connector flight---I was not too happy about that, but Hawaiian was!  The only good things about it were the views of Honolulu and Maui county as we flew over them.
Not sure what part of Oahu this is, but there looks to be some great snorkeling there!
                                       This, of course, this is Waikiki Beach. 
 I believe this is Olowalu on Maui close to mile mark 14 on Hwy 30.  Great looking reef there, too!

Finally arrived in OGG about 4pm (7pm Pacific Standard Time) and Carolyn headed off to get our rental car.  Carolyn had reserved it, so she got to be my chauffeur for the week.  I did bring a Garmin, which came in very handy!  Soon we were on our way from the airport.  With Walmart on our way to the condo, we made a stop there first.
Check in at Maui Hill was a breeze.  It is in the more residential and "affordable" town of Kihei on the dry southern part of the island.  I had called and requested an oceanview room and even though I knew it wasn't too close to the ocean, we did get a bit of an ocean view.  The 2 bedroom condo was very nice.  It even had an "owner's" closet with beach chairs, snorkel gear (although I brought my own), and other "toys".  It was also nice having air conditioners in the livingroom as well as each bedroom.  Most places I've been to in Hawaii only had ac in the bedrooms, if at all.  The kitchen was small, but adequate.   I spent many mornings on the lanai waiting for Carolyn to get up.  I would definately stay here again.
Livingroom to diningroom and kitchen
 master bedroom
huge lanai
ocean view from our lanai (main office is the orange roofed building to the left)
They also had a very nice pool by the office.  I don't know if it was heated, but it felt like it.  We enjoyed it and the jacuzzi several times.  One morning we went to an orientation "breakfast" by the pool (under the big "umbrella" tree) and I even won a sunset cruise.
 We loved the landscaping around the resort.  Here's another of the many interesting trees.
 There were lots of plumeria trees blooming.  I'm so use to seeing the trees bare of leaves and with only an occasional flower on them when we go to Kauai in Feb.  It was a treat seeing them in full bloom and with lots of lush leaves.
 Always love seeing the Bird of Paradise flowers!
 What would Hawaii be without the colorful bougainvillea plants?! 
 I have no idea what these are, but they are certainly interesting, too.
 More plumeria

I was surprised to see all the sugar cane growing all over the island.  I had totally forgotten about that from my other trip to Maui with my Dad in 2006.  In addition to being Hawaii's only producer of raw and specialty sugar, today  Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company  generates enough electrical power to handle all its plantation needs and provide 7-8% of all the electric power used annually on Maui.  Probably would have been fun to tour the factory, but we didn't get around to it.  Maybe next Feb. when Ken and I return for a little over 2 weeks instead of our usual Kauai trip.
 One of the places Dad and I did go to and I thought Carolyn would enjoy was the Ioa Valley.  Located in Central Maui just west of Wailuku. It is a 4,000-acre, 10-mile long park and is home to one of Maui's most recognizable landmarks, the 1,200-foot Iao Needle. The Needle overlooks Iao stream and the park has paths for easy hiking and sightseeing.  At least I thought the hiking was easy--Carolyn had a different opinion.
There were other parts of the park that I actually found more interesting then the "needle", such as this little garden.
 This is a view back toward the parking lot from about half way into our "hike".   I also don't remember there being a charge for parking before, but there was a young man there collecting $5/car.  Hope he wasn't just a clever entrepreneur!
 Aside from its natural tropical beautiful, sacred Iao Valley has great historical significance. It was here in 1790 at the Battle of Kepaniwai that King Kamehameha I clashed with Maui's army in his quest to unite the islands. Even with Iao Needle serving as a lookout point, Kamehameha defeated Maui's forces.
 More of the lush folliage.
     The Puʻu Kukui summit area at the valley's head receives an average 386 inches of rainfall per year, making it the state's second wettest location after Mount Wai ale ale on  Kauai. Much of this rainfall ends up flowing into the Iao Stream.
After wandering around Iao Valley for awhile, we headed back to the south side and drove down past Wailea to check out that area. 

At one spot, we even stopped and dragged out the beach chairs and watched the ocean for awhile. Not sure what the name of this "beach" is, but it was a quiet peaceful place.
 As we were driving around, we came across this cute little church in Kakena---Keawalai Congregational Church.  It was founded in 1832.  The land it's on was purchased in 1864 for $80.  In the 50's, the climate of the area changed from fertile lands to the parched land it is now (global warming back then?) so many of the congregation left for easier living.  Renovations began on the church in the 70's and continued little by little even today.  Hawaiian tradition and culture are carried on here by using Hawaiian language, music, and dance in it's services.

I have no idea what kind of tree this is next to the church, but I thought it's flowers are really unique.
As we continued south, we came to vast lava beds.  An interesting change of scenery that reminded me of the landscape of much of The Big Island.
Heading back towards Kihei, we stopped at a few more places.  Here I was intrigued by the 2 types of Cardinals hanging out together.
We also saw 2 little critters run across the street in front of us.  So I followed them to try and get a better view.  We decided they must be yellow mongooses.  Here one is keeping an eye on me from a distance before it took off into the brush.
I don't even remember where we stopped to catch this sunset, but it was one of the better ones we saw this trip.
Just another view of the changing cloud colors of the sunset.
The next morning, as we walked to the pool, we were treated to a good view of Molokini (the middle island) and Maui county's unpopulated island of Kaho'olawe behind Molokini.  Kaho'olawe is the smallest of the 8 main volcanic islands in the Hawaiian Islands at about 11 miles long and 6 miles wide and already has quite a history.  Kaho'olawe gets almost no rainfall and most of it's vegetation that had been cut down years ago when early Hawaiians used it for firewood and agriculture.  Later wars between Hawaiian rulers led to more destruction there.  In the 1830s it became a penal colony but many prisoners starved or tried to swim across to Maui to find food.  Then it became a cattle ranch for a few years and finally suplet to the USArmy in 1941 where it was used for military training and bombing practice.  The bombing continued until 1990 even though in 1981 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.   In 1994 it was finally given over to the state of Hawaii who turned it into a reserve and are now trying to restore it.
By our 3rd day here and it was time to hit the water.  I had picked up a great Snorkel Maui, Lanai and Molokai book from Walmart and scoured it to decide where we should go.  First snorkel trip took us up to Kapalua Bay.  The ride up to the northwest side of the island was interesting.  Even got to go through a tunnel.
I chose Kapalua Bay because it was listed as a perfect place for beginner snorkelers and has lots of sandy beach.  Carolyn had said she was going to try snorkeling so I chose accordingly.  She ended up just sitting on the beach reading, but the bay didn't disappoint the experienced snorkeler in me!  I will be going back here next Feb.!
Just to the left of the above picture was my first snorkeling discovery---this sea turtle very close to shore. 
I'm thinking this guy is a Hawaiian knifefish or razorfish.  I've only seen 1 other knife fish and it was quite a bit smaller.
There were several varieties of triggerfish here!  Here's one I've never seen before.  I think it is a Gilded Triggerfish or possibly a filefish. 
I would guess this to be a blue-eye Damselfish.  Never seen one of these guys before, either.
These convict tangs seem to be popular on all the islands.  This school was right by the shore.
We found a little shady spot at the far left of the beach.  I took a break from snorkeling long enough to check on Carolyn.  The water was a very comfortable 78 degrees or so.
Then I headed out a 2nd time--heading back to the far right side of the beach which had much better snorkeling then the left side.  One of the first critters I saw this time was this red day octopus.
Another view of the octopus from the other side.  I hung around awhile hoping it would swim again, but it just did it's camouflage act.
So I was off to find more interesting sealife.  Here I found a Multiband Butterflyfish.

Here's another Kind of triggerfish I've never seen before.  I'm pretty sure this one is a Lei Triggerfish.
Although I've seen trumpetfish several places, not just around Hawaii, this one definately had some of the prettiest markings.
Another new species to me.  I'm guessing it would be another type of filefish?
Here's a little guy I saw for the first time last Feb. on Kauai and didn't know what it was.  My snorkel book says it's an Arc-eye Hawkfish.
I believe this is a whitemouth moray eel, but it didn't open it's mouth for me to know for sure.
And one last picture at Kapalua Beach as the sun dropped lower in the sky.
By 6 or so, we decided it was time to start heading back.   Even got treated to this tiny bit of a rainbow.  We didn't encounter any rain our whole trip (another big plus after always going to rainy Kauai in Feb./March!).  Figures, we go to Kauai when there's lots of rain and don't see many rainbows and go to Maui when there's no rain and see a rainbow!
We got into Kihei in time to head to the beach and wait for sunset.  This time we stopped at  Kamaole Beach Park I.
We noticed this outdoor roller rink at the park.  Made me want to relive my younger days and go skating.  But we just watched awhile then went and ate.
One last sunset picture from Kamaole Park I.
The next day we decided to head up Haleakala with a stop at the beautiful gardens of Ali`i (Chang) Kula Lavender.  It is home to about 55,000 lavender plants and 45 different varieties of lavender, olive trees, hydrangea and protea on 10.5 acres.  In addition to the free garden to wander around in, there's a gift shop with lots of lavendar items like lavendar tea and lavendar chocolates.
Lavender flourishes in the chronic drought conditions of Kula, which has an average annual rainfall of less than 25 inches. It sips most of the moisture it needs from the mist that often settles over the Kula mountainside in the late afternoon.  At 4000' elevation, it's a cool respit from the tropical sun.
There are even beautiful views down to the valley from the gardens.
There are plenty of chairs and benches around the garden for just sitting and enjoying the cool scenic grounds.  I understand it's a popular place for weddings.  I can see why.
Just another gorgeous view.
After spending so much time in Kauai where chickens are so common that I hardly notice them anymore, here on Maui they got my attention since I didn't see many.  Had to include this picture for the Kauai lover in me.
I believe this is a variety of protea.
There were other beautiful flowers everywhere, too.  Here's just one of them.
On our way out I took one last picture of the lower gardens.
From there, we continued on up Haleakala.  From the Visitors Center, we saw what many call the crater, but it's really just an eroded depression some 7 mi across, 2 mi wide, and nearly 2,600 ft deep with some interesting looking volcanic cones in it.  It is definately an other worldly landscape.

A short ride from the Haleakala Visitor Center is Pu'u'ula'ula summit.  At 10,023 feet elevation, the oxygen levels up there were noticeably thinner.   We could even see the Big Island off in the distance.  But probably the neatest thing here is the Silversword garden.  They're an interesting plant that is native to the island of Maui and grow at an elevation of 2,100-10,000 ft.  
On the way back down we stopped at a couple pull offs and I hiked a short distance for another view inside the "crater".

Another view of the cinder cones.

Next day it was time to hit the beach again.  This time we stayed south and went to Ulua Beach.  It was also listed as good for beginners.  Again Carolyn stayed on shore and read her book.  But that's ok, I had a great time snorkeling.  I didn't find the snorkeling as good as Kapalua, but it was still enjoyable.
I was expecting to see the long nosed butterfly fish in Maui and I finally did.  I've never seen one of these guys around Kauai.  The snorkel area here didn't seem as large as other places we went to, but the beach was certainly nice and there was plenty of shade and plenty of parking.
Here's the shady area my sister parked herself under while I snorkeled the rocky area to the left.
More of the rocky area by the beach.  Could be a little tricky for a beginner snorkeler.
As I was snorkeling around, I was greeted by this guy.  Poor guy was missing his right front flipper, but he seemed to swim ok.
Another triggerfish I've not seen on Kauai---the Pinktail Triggerfish.

After spending a couple hours at Ulua, we headed back to the condo to clean up and get ready to head up to Lahaina for the afternoon/evening.  We bought tickets to the live performance of Ulalena for that evening.  But first we figured we'd wander around Lahaina and get a bite to eat.  My sister had never been to a Bubba Gumps and we were in the mood for fish, so we went there.  Our meals of fish and chips were very good.
The views from Bubba's was really good.  We were seated by a window and even got to watch a cruise ship get ready to cruise away.  Would love to be on it someday!
And we found a Na Hoku jewelers.  Love their jewelry!  But had to pass on any of it this time.
We shopped the many shops along the way.  Even enjoyed an art gallery.  Almost made it to the marina and the big banyon tree, but we were afraid we'd be late for the show if we continued any farther.

Another view just before we turned around and headed back.
Ulalena is a Maui Theatre production about Hawaiian legend and history blending acrobatic feats, hula and modern dance, costumes and lighting.  It lasted about 90 minutes and the "cheap" seats that we were in were about $60@.  It was entertaining and I especially loved watching the small band perform in their "cage".  I'm glad we went, but I probably wouldn't go again.  Not that I was disappointed in any of it, just that I'm cheap (except when it comes to NaHoku!).

The next morning started really early for us.  As an avid snorkeler, I've heard about Molokini and have always wanted to go there.  Carolyn said she'd be happy to drop me off and entertain herself for the 5 or 6 hours I'd be gone.  So I paid my $60 and went on the early morning excursion.  If I remember correctly, we were on the road to the marina by 6:30 am.

Here's a view of Molokini from the catamaran I was on.  On our ride out, they almost had me scared into renting a wet suit.  They emphasized that the water would be much colder being so far off shore and the majority of the snorkelers paid the extra $10@ for the wet suits.  I'm glad I didn't.  The water was great!  Certainly warmer than Kauai in Feb. and it wasn't noticably colder to me then the shore snorkeling I did earlier or later.
I was disappointed in how crowded the little crater was.  By the time we got there there were probably already 8-10 boats there.  We anchored even with the rest and were told not to go farther then the boats directly on either side of us.  That pretty much limited our area to about a 10' width!  I loved snorkeling there, but not the limitations.  I probably won't do another excursion there, either. 

But the snorkeling and coral life was abundant and the water was very clear.  There to greet us as soon as we got in the water were schools of Black Triggerfish.  There were also a few Pennant Fish amoungst them, but they were so far away I couldn't get a good picture of those tiny white and yellow fish.
Don't know what this colorful fish is.
This is an Achilles Tang.  I was excited to see some of them here since I'd seen one once before (on Kauai) and didn't get a good picture of it.
Sparse on Kauai are the Yellow Tangs.  I saw lots of these guys on the Big Island, but I've heard they're being illegally fished out of the Hawaiian waters and sold to Aquarium stores.  I'm happy to say I saw quite a few of them around Maui.

I believe this is another pink tailed triggerfish.
As I was swimming back to the boat, this large eel took off across the bottom some 40-60' below. 
Our excursion also took us to "Turtle Town".  Here is one of the 3 turtles I saw there.
I was surprised how close we were to shore.  In fact the coral extended all the way to shore.
I don't really remember what we did the rest of the day.  Must have been shopping and maybe hanging out at the pool.  It may even be the day we bar b qed steaks.  But when sunset came, we headed down to Kamaole Beach III near our resort and watched the sunset.
At least I watched the sunset.  Carolyn sat with her back to the sun and wrote in her journal.
Not many clouds that night so the sunset was pretty lack luster.
Our days passed by too quickly.  We were finally on our last full day here.  I was up pretty early again, so I decided to take a walk instead of sitting on the lanai.  I decided to check out the path that leads down to Kihei road from Maui Hill and then over to the small marina in Kihei.  Along the way I enjoyed the beautifully landscaped grounds of the Aston Maui Hill Resort.  They even have a putting green.
And shuffle board!
And flowers framing amazing views.

Once I reached the marina I was surprised to find a walking path along the ocean.  I went towards the little marina and found this neat little swimming area by the marina. 

I continued south along the path.

I came up on the Kihei Surfside.  It looked like a great place to go for sunset---perhaps next Feb., since this trip we took a sunset cruise on our last night.
I walked back up through the resort from it's main entrance.
Here in front of the office was the building complex our room was in.  We had the bottom floor unit to the far left in this picture---condo 103.  Great location!

Just marveling at the plumeria some more.
By the time I got back from my walk, Carolyn was up.  We decided to hit another beach.  So we headed south again.  This time to Maluaka Beach by the Maui Prince Hotel.  The snorkel book mentioned this was another good beginner snorkeling area with excellent snorkeling.  There was also a fair amount of parking, although there was a bit of a walk getting to the beach from the parking lot.
It was another beautiful beach!  We found a shady spot to the far left and set up our beach chairs.  Then Carolyn surprised me by saying she was getting in the water.
She elected not to try snorkeling, but there was plenty of sandy ocean floor along this beach.  So we bounced in the waves for quite some time.  She even claimed to have a really good time and couldn't believe she hadn't gotten into the water sooner.  I couldn't believe it either!   
When she's had enough of the water, I headed out to check out the snorkeling here.
I thought this was a triggerfish, but my fish index shows it to be a Barred Filefish.  

 I believe this is a Bullethead Parrotfish.  I've seen juvenile ones at Anini on Kauai, but this is the first time I've seen an adult one.
 Another first for me were the Oval Butterflyfish.
 I also found a couple of these large Spotted Pufferfish.  I've seen them before, but never so puffed out.
 I spotted this unusual Zebra Moray Eel a little too late to get the whole thing.  I waited hoping it would continue it's foraging, but it remained hidden in the coral.
 And another triggerfish!  This is the kind I saw on the Big Island over 10 years ago and hadn't seen another one in my 14 Hawaii vacations since then until this Feb. on Kauai.  Now I know they're on Maui, too.  My book says this is a Lagoon Triggerfish. 

 I was really surprised at how great the snorkeling was here!  It doesn't look like there's much of a reef from the shore, but to the right of this picture is a reef that goes out to sea and is very extensive and healthy.  If I weren't out there by myself I would have stayed there a lot longer! 
In fact, I believe this is the beach we were anchored off of when I went on the Molokini/Turtle town snorkel excursion.  I think this is the catamaran that was next to us that kept going into shore (to the Maui Prince Hotel?) and picking up passengers to take out to the location in the photo (Turtle Town?).
By 3 we decided we needed to get going so we could clean up and get ready for our sunset cruise.  So by 5pm we were on our way from the condo to the Marina.  Our cruise was also a dinner cruise, but we didn't pay the extra for dinner.  We settled for appetisers and drinks.
Sunset wasn't fabulous, again a lack of clouds other then at the horizon, but we still enjoyed the cruise.
Right after the sunset, I happened to look inland and noticed the full moon rising over Haleakala.  I actually found that more fascinating then the sunset.  Even the captain announced that it is an unusual occurance to see this so well.
The next morning, June 4th, we had to get up and get out.  I don't know what was going on that day, but the airport security line was extemely long.  Good thing we were there 2 hours early!  There were quite a few people who were fretting whether or not they would make their planes.  The smart ones cut to the front.  But our flight was uneventfull and scenic.  Here is the North East side of Maui shortly after take off.
I believe this was part of Molokai, but I'm not positive.  Looks like more great snorkeling!
 And we're back at Honolulu.
 A final good bye to Hanauma Bay---one of the first places I snorkeled and would love to go back to again.  Although last time I was there it had become pretty commercialized with a required film on reefs as well as an entrance fee.  They even regulate how many people they let in there now.  All of this is good since I've seen numerous people destroy coral over the years with their careless kicking and standing on it, but it still takes away from the excitement for an experienced snorkeler.  Hopefully Hanauma Bay will return to the ourstanding beach I remember it to be on my first Hawaii trip back in 1999.
It isn't often (maybe ever), that I've left Hawaii during the daytime.  It was rather nice.  But we got into PDX about 11 pm and my flight to STL wasn't until 10:35 am the next morning.  So I used Hotwire and got a great rate on a room at the Clarion for the night (something like $58).
 It was a great trip.  Possibly the best "sisters'" trip we've done yet!


  1. lanai snorkeling
    In fact, Maui snorkeling is more popular than snorkeling on all the other Hawaiian islands. The reason Maui snorkeling is the best, is the proximity of Molokini, just 2 miles off the coast of Maui. Molokini is the most sought after snorkel location in Hawaii and certainly the most popular Maui snorkeling location.

    1. way late on replying to this, but I found Molokini over rated. There are so many great snorkel spots right off the beaches of Maui that don't restrict you to such a small area (between your boat and the next one). Glad I went once, but wouldn't pay to do it again. Last time we went to Maui (2015), we found The Dumps and were blown away by the snorkeling there!