Sunday, November 24, 2013

Maui: Days 7-8

Monday was our 7th and last full day in Maui. We woke up early to go snorkeling, but the place we wanted to go (called Fish Bowl, on the south end of Wailea) was closed off. Apparently too many people read about it in the travel books. That was a bummer, but we just drove up the coast a little and found a cute beach on the side of the road. There were other divers and snorkelers there, so that was a good sign. The water was pretty murky, but at least we saw turtles!

I wish the fish pictures turned out better on the GoPro. They were all so big and bright in real life, but the pictures just don't do them justice.

After we were done snorkeling, we went out to breakfast at a little bakery called Cinnamon Roll Fair. We shared one cinnamon roll, and it was plenty. It was big and gooey and dripping with cinnamon sweetness. Then we walked around some shops. We went back to the condo to change, and then we went out to lunch at Café O'lei. It was so good! The décor was very contemporary and fun, and the food was excellent. It didn't look like much from the street, so I was grateful for the recommendation from our Trilogy captain.  

After lunch we did more shopping, then we got some shaved ice at Ululani's. We LOVE Hawaiian shaved ice - it's way better than snow cones. Of all the ones we got on Maui (4), this one was our favorite! There was plenty of coconut ice cream on the bottom, and the ice was really smooth and full of flavor. I didn't like the toasted coconut so much, but Dave did, so he ate that part.

We made dinner reservations at Five Palms Restaurant, and they gave us their best table. Look at our view!

We got there right before sunset, and it was gorgeous! Our meal was a little pricey, but the location was worth it.

We didn't love the soup, but everything else was excellent. We shared the surf and turf special, and it was amazing!! We really liked our server. He had just proposed to his girlfriend the night before, and he was in a great mood.

Our last sunset in Maui. I can't think of a more romantic place to celebrate 15 wonderful years together.
After dinner we relaxed in the Jacuzzi. I almost rented a different condo, but I didn't get it because it didn't have a Jacuzzi.

Our flight wasn't supposed to leave until 12:00 the next day, so we took one last walk along the beach.

This is the view of our condo from the sidewalk.

We got to the airport in plenty of time. We even boarded our plane. Then we sat there for awhile. Then they got us all off the plane because they had to fix the bathrooms. We waited for 3 hours before they let us back onto the airplane. We arrived in San Jose around 11:30 P.M., and thankfully our luggage was one of the first ones out because we barely caught the last shuttle to the hotel to get our car. We got home around 3:00.  After just 3 hours of sleep, we had to get up and get the kids ready for school. We were tired, but it was so good to be home and hug those kids.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Maui: Days 5-6

I woke up early every single morning we were in Maui. My body really hung onto California time. At least I saw some beautiful sunrises!

This picture is a little blurry - we took it with the timer. We checked out of our hotel pretty early and headed west before the Hana Highway got busy. That made it a lot more enjoyable. It went tons faster, too.

We got to the airport in time to pick up my sister Ellen and her husband Jason. They live on Oahu and were able to meet us for the weekend. Sadly, I took very few pictures with them. I guess we were too busy visiting. First we had brunch at a fun place in Kihe (KEE-hay) called Ami Ami.  I got bananas foster pancakes - yum! Then we went to Makena Beach, which I LOVED! It's on South Maui, past Kihe, in Wailea (very beautiful resort area), and it was the prettiest swimming beach we went to all week. There was shade, gentle waves, great snorkeling, and a cabana to refill our ice water.

It's always amazing to me how the ocean can look totally normal from the sand, and then you put your head in the water and see a whole new world! 

While we were on the beach, Dave and I did Facetime with our kids. It was so fun! I loved seeing the boys and showing them how beautiful it was there. Apparently all the older people on the beach were staring at us in amazement - they couldn't believe what we were doing. Ah, technology!

Then we checked into our two bedroom condo in South Kihe. It was at Maui Kamaole, and we found it through VRBO. It was so nice! Each suite had a king size bed, bathroom and lanai. There was a full kitchen, living room and dining room. And since we went off season, we got a really good deal!
The best part was the big lanai off of the dining room, with its beautiful ocean view. We had the closest condo to the beach. It was a little hazy on Saturday - something about the trade winds changing directions and bringing ash over from Kona's volcano.  After we got cleaned up from the beach, we went to dinner at Peggy Sues for hamburgers and milkshakes. It was a very small 50's style diner, and the food was cheap and tasty. Then we walked around some shops and bought groceries.

After church on Sunday we went back to the condo to eat lunch and change clothes. Then we headed up to the top of Haleakala - Maui's big volcano.

Several people told me how much they loved going up to watch the sunrise over the crater and then biking all the way down, but we decided just to drive up and look around. That seemed like a good Sunday activity. The problem was that Jason gets very car sick, and there were tons of switchbacks! I drove slowly and pulled over a few times, but it just wasn't working out. So we dropped him off at a visitor's center halfway up. Here are some nene (nay-nay) geese - the Hawaiian state bird.
Finally we made it to the very top. It was a little chilly (upper 50's/lower 60's), but not too bad. I think it helped that we were there in the middle of the afternoon instead of early in the morning.

It was pretty foggy, so we couldn't see into the crater. Apparently the heat pushes the clouds up during the day. For that reason, I guess early morning is better. Maybe next time.

 That's an observation center behind us.

 This is the beautiful silversword plant, which only grows on Haleakala above 2100 feet.

 It's protected, since it came close to extinction. It's very soft, like lamb's ear, and it shimmers.

We picked Jason up and headed back down. It's kind of hard to see, but this is looking at West Maui (which was formed by another volcano) in the far distance. To the left is South Maui, where we were staying in Kihe. To the right is Kahului Bay, on the north side of the island. Between them is the narrow neck, where sugar cane grows. From here on it got a tad stressful. It took longer to get back than we expected (especially since I took a wrong turn - oops), and we were really pressed for time before their flight. We had to book it to our condo for them to get their luggage, and Jason got really car sick. So Ellen called the airline and had their tickets switched to a later flight. Shwew! We had such a great visit with them, and the weekend went by way too fast.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Maui: Day 4

We really enjoyed our time in Hana. There's just a different feeling there - more relaxed, more lush, more beautiful. This was the amazing view from our lanai.
We loved our hotel room. There was no T.V. and no jacuzzi, but we could hear the sound of waves from our room. It was so peaceful.

We had a full kitchen, which was great. We enjoyed our breakfast on the lanai.

Then we headed out for adventure. The great thing about staying in Hana is that very few people do, so we really had the place to ourselves for a few hours before the rest of the island showed up. We drove further on Hana Highway, stopping to admire a couple of waterfalls along the way.

We wore our swimming suits because we planned on frolicking in waterfalls and pools - which we did!
More fruit everywhere. I don't know what these were, but the air was sweet and delicious.
 I got in the water this time, but it was too cold to go into the waterfall.

After many one-lane bridges and sharp turns (we were sure glad no one was coming the other way), we arrived at Haleakala National Park. First stop was Ohe's Gulch, also known as Seven Sacred Pools. We swam in this lower pool, which was actually really big and deep.

The water was a little cold at first, but we got used to it, and it felt very refreshing. Here we are sitting under the waterfall. There were a few other people there, but not that many. When we drove by the parking lot a few hours later, it was totally packed. I'm glad we went there early!

Then we started off on our 4 mile round trip hike to Waimoku Falls. It was a gorgeous hike - lots of pretty views along the way.
 Here's another banyan tree - not nearly as big as the one in Lahaina, but cool.

We followed a creek and saw bunches of waterfalls all along the way. The only problem with this is that my arms and legs got eaten alive by mosquitos. Some nice people let me use their bug spray when we got to the big waterfall, but the damage was done. Dave didn't get any bites. I've got such sensitive skin that they all swelled up to golf ball size and bigger! It was not a pretty site.

 One of my favorite parts of the hike was the bamboo forest. It was gorgeous, and it went on forever!

 Here we are at Waimoku Falls! It's so big it was hard to fit it all in one picture.

Dave took his GoPro into the waterfall.  

 Here's a picture from the GoPro - pretty cool.
This picture looks like we're standing inside the waterfall, but we're actually standing right in front of it. The only problem with having other people take our picture is that they are either zoomed in too much or not enough, too dark or too light. Oh well, at least we have them. Spencer can take better ones next time.
After the hike we found a shady picnic table and ate lunch. Then we headed back to our hotel. This time the road was crazy because  there were so many cars. It was a little scary passing all those tour buses on those narrow roads! On the way back to Hana we bought fresh ahi from a fisherman and some fruit from a little fruit stand. We also checked out the other dinky grocery store in town, which looked like an old, dilapidated barn. This is dragon fruit - we knew our kids would love to see it!

After we rested a bit at our hotel, we headed out for some snorkeling. Dave read in the travel book about a little cove with excellent snorkeling a short hike away from Hana Bay. The whole time we were going there, we kept wondering if we were going the right way because it wasn't much of a trail. There wasn't a beach there - just a bunch of rough lava rock. The cove was calm, but the surf right next to it was really rough, so I decided not to get in. But Dave did, and he loved it! The water was clear, and he saw some things he hadn't seen anywhere else.

There's a sea cucumber. Spencer couldn't believe he didn't touch it, but Dave didn't know what it was. We've touched them at the aquarium - they feel really soft and squishy.

It started to sprinkle a little, so we headed back. Dave was done snorkeling anyway. Then the rain stopped, and we walked along the beach behind our hotel as the sun set. It's a steep, pebble beach, which made it sound really loud when the waves came in. Then when they went back out, it sounded like people clapping. It was really cool.

We loved these flowers around our hotel. Later Ellen told us it's ginger. Who knew?

That night we had coconut crusted seared ahi. Go us! We had gotten some baked coconut candy from that little fruit stand, and we chopped it up and put it on the fish. We also cooked some with just salt and pepper. It was all very tasty!

We really liked the purple sweet potatoes we had at Pineapple grill, so we got some of that at the dilapidated barn grocery store. And of course we couldn't get enough sweet pineapple while we were there. Check out that dragon fruit - it tasted sweet but a little odd. At one point I said, "I have dragon seeds in my teeth," and that just sounded cool. Sorry about the flash - it was very dark by the time we ate. We couldn't see the beach, but we enjoyed listening to the waves. Other than the mosquito bites, it was like a day in paradise.