State Forty Five Part two – Hawaii (Maui)

We couldn’t fly half way round the world and just see one Hawaiian island. Fortunately we’d planned to stay eight nights in this magical state and after four wonderful nights in Kauai we made the short hop to Maui, just a 40 minute flight away.

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We knew from researching our trip that Maui was a bit more of a honeymoon island, a bit more built up and tourist-y than Kauai. But one thing Kauai taught us is that reading about a place and looking at photos can only give you the tiniest sense of what its really like. When we arrived on Maui the differences with Kauai were pretty stark. The area around the airport is quite dry and not especially appealing – although the nearby town, Kahului, is much more like a small American town than anything on Kauai. Once we’d picked up our very cheaply upgraded Mustang convertible we headed for our first meal on the new island.

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In a fairly anonymous shopping mall about ten minutes from the airport there’s not only a Whole Foods but also a branch of Maui Tacos. It really doesn’t look much, its just a regular mall food court outlet but the tacos and burritos are amazing. Hannah had a Vegetarian Bowl and Josh feasted on a California burrito – with chips (fries) inside! It was a substantial and very welcome snack!

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After lunch we headed to the south west of the island and the town of Kihei – where our B&B was. Now, finding accommodation on Maui can be a challenge. There are a lot of very expensive resorts offering a pretty impersonal experience – which is exactly what some people are looking for – but we wanted a slightly more affordable alternative. That led us to the Pineapple Inn. Its a small B&B just off the main highway (although you can’t really hear much of the road) with only four rooms – two on the ground floor and two upstairs, plus a pool and large gardens. However we describe this place cannot convey quite what a perfect paradise it is. As we walked into our room we could see straight out onto the lanai (Hawaiian for balcony or porch) and into the colourful gardens – complete with pineapples (of course!), palm trees and love birds feasting on the bird feeders.

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We knew the second we set foot in the Pineapple that we were going to love every second of it. It isn’t a traditional B&B in the sense that you don’t have breakfast cooked for you in a dining room every morning – they provide breakfast items in the fridge which you can eat at your leisure – perfect for us! The rooms are very comfortable and the pool area is absolutely stunning. If there is a better B&B in all the world we certainly haven’t been there yet.

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Despite having the most delightful accommodation possible we knew there was lots of Maui to see, so we headed off to check out the local area. As you might imagine there are a lot of beaches. Sometimes it can feel like one beach is pretty much the same as the next. There’s sand. There’s water. Not so in Maui (although you do always get sand and water). We stopped off at Makena beach in Makena state park and gazed at the massive wide expanse of perfect yellow sand. A little further to the south is Secret Cove (or Makena Cove) beach, a real showstopper. If you were to draw what a perfect beach looks like, Secret Cove would be pretty close. A crescent of beautiful sand, a small collection of rocks and palm trees arcing in either side. It was a wonderful place to watch our first sunset on Maui.

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For dinner we headed north to the busiest part of Kihei and a branch of Coconut’s Fish Cafe. Coconut’s is named after the owners (very cute) black and white cat, and is something of a local staple. As you can probably tell, it is pretty seafood-focused and the menu wasn’t great for vegans, however the chips were out-of-this-world good, and Josh’s coconut shrimp was super tasty. Before heading back to the B&B we stopped off at the South Shore Tiki Lounge for a cocktail. With competitive surfing on the TV in the background, we felt like we couldn’t be more Maui.

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The next morning we had an appointment at Leilani’s Animal Sanctuary. Leilani’s was set up by Laurelee Blanchard, a former commercial estate agent, who gave up her previous career to set up a sanctuary for farm animals. It really is idyllic, super lush and green with all manor of pigs, deer, cats, chicken, donkeys, ducks…all sorts! They aren’t all stroke-able, but they are all beautiful.

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From Leilani’s we headed to Baldwin beach to dip our toes in the water before lunch (we were offered some “Maui Wowie” by a very smiley man…we declined). Our lunch stop was at the Mill House (his mum says he’s cool) near Waikapu towards the very soggy interior of the island, but we stayed dry and enjoyed a delicious lunch on the terrace overlooking the plantation. After lunch we needed a rest so we retired to the lanai and pool at the Pineapple.

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We were well aware of the Hawaiian penchant for a bit of sushi so we knew we had to try a local place. We decided on Miso Phat sushi (nice punning) in Kihei and loved it. The variety of rolls on offer was great and while it wasn’t cheap, it didn’t break the bank either. The next day we had an early start so we stopped for a quick drink at the Maui Brewing Company tasting room and then headed home.

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By now we’d entered our final two days in Hawaii and boy were we going to make the most of them. First things first, we had an early morning appointment with the Haleakala volcano. Originally we’d planned to make this a sunrise trip but so popular is the volcano that you have to pre-book passes to go up for sunrise. We figured we’d go just a little later in the morning – it was still spectacular. The drive up is a little slow and at times a bit hairy, but well worth it. The view from the top is incredible, a landscape almost unlike anything we’ve seen. Later in the day we drove up to the North Shore that we could see from the top of the volcano stopping at the Nakalele “blowhole”, where the waves force water up through a hole in the rocks so it looks like a whale letting off steam. On the way back we popped into the old town of Lahaina, we couldn’t resist another shave ice at Ululani’s, and a quick pint at the local Kohola Brewery.

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Unusually for us we’d booked our dinner stop at Star Noodle in Lahaina – and its a good job we did! When we arrived for our booking there must have been 30 people waiting outside for a spot to open up. We soon found out why – it is super tasty. A little out of town so not the most convenient, but seriously good Asian food and very decent vegan options.

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It was another early start on our last full day – we had a packed schedule which began with a sunrise snorkel out to the Molokini crater. The cove created by the crater makes for a great snorkel spot, although the warming waters are steadily killing off the rich coral life. We still managed to spot millions of fishes, a shark and three beautiful turtles. An overwhelmingly beautiful experience.

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We weren’t quite done with Maui yet. How could we come all this way and not drive the Road to Hana? We knew it would be busy. We knew it would be twisty. But we also knew it would be stunning. Looking back, if we’d known quite how twisty and narrow it was going to be we might have rented something other than a Mustang, but we survived. The multitude of waterfalls and incredible plant life were breathtaking, but a real highlight was the “painted” forest of neon-barked trees alongside the road.

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Our last night in Maui, and Hawaii, was marked with an epic thunderstorm which unfortunately exploited the hole in our Mustang. What should have been a leisurely drive back to the airport turned into a mad panic trying to bail out six inches of water from the back seat! Still, not even that could put a dampener on what an incredible eight days we’d had in the Aloha State. We cannot wait to go back.

Rate the State: 10/10

Good for: beaches, scenery, nature, waterfalls, Jurassic Park fans, wildlife, food…everything!

Bad for: all of the national TV stations are at least three hours ahead so news and sports on TV aren’t ideal…that’s the only tiny bad thing about Hawaii!

 

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