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Published: August 6th 2007
Jumping on the plane to Maui
was the shortest flight of my life, no sooner had we climbed into the sky and reached cruising altitude than we began to descend. I think the flight was officially scheduled for just under half and hour.
I was staying at a little hostel called the Banana Bungalow
, it is not in the best area but it does run FREE tours everyday (repeated weekly) to different parts of the island, you only have to tip the driver at the end of the day. It is easily the cheapest way to see the island and by the time I left a few days later I wanted to stay so that I could do all of them.
Haleakala Vocano Hike
Beginning early on Saturday morning we all jumped into one of the hostel's big vans and began the hour drive up the Haleakala Volcano, approximately 10 023ft (3 055m) at its summit. The drive begins down in the valley and slowly ascends the slopes passing through the wet, grey cloud level and finally emerging into bright sunlight near the top. As we all tumbled out of the van and into the fresh, clean
air we immediately noticed the temperature drop from the flatlands below. As I looked around my eyes set upon the white fluffy clouds and deep blue sky, as I turned I took in the deep red colour of the dirt, the blinding white of the observatory buildings and the black of all the volcanic rock. It was incredibly beautiful.
There was a lot of cloud in the crater itself so there was some doubt about whether we would actually do the hike but luckily as we were looking around the info centre the weather broke, the clouds began to disperse and we set out on our way. The first section of the hike was down into the crater along a sandy track that wound its way down the sides of the volcano providing a break in the seemingly endless vista of grey/red volcanic dirt. On our way down we saw a plant called the Silversword
, it lives from between 8-25 years, blooms once and then dies. It grows only in Haleakala and on one place on the Big Island, they are quite majestic old things and give off a distinctive odour.
Once we hit the crater floor it
was hard not to be awed by the shear size of the volcano and the forces that must have been required to make it, I really felt quite small walking along. We soon stopped for lunch under the only bush I could see and ate surrounded by horses from another tour. After everyone had finished and we'd had a rest we walked across the length of the crater to the other side where the weather was completely different. Where we'd had lunch was dry and hot and looked like it hadn't rained in years, dark red dust was covering my legs and shoes, the other side though seemed to sit permanently in the shadow of cloud and we got a little damp just walking in the cloud. Halfway across we walked up one of the minor cones and got a stunning panoramic view of the crater. None of my photos capture the grandeur in anyway, you really have to experience it for yourself. That view will stay with me for a longtime.
After another break at a little hut we started the long hike out of the crater and to the waiting vans. All of this was in the
cloud and as we slowly climbed up the endless switchbacks we could begin to see the blue sky poking through until we finally broke out and once again we were in the brilliant sunshine. The hike up was really nice at the top when it wasn't as steep and there was lots of dew on all of the plants and bushes.
Once everyone had arrived at the top (it took over an hour from after I arrived) we drove back up to the summit to watch the sunset above the clouds. The sun lit up the clouds and sky in brilliant shades of orange and red and then slowly dumped them into shadow and darkness as it set on another great day in Hawaii.
The next day, Sunday, was much more relaxed and not nearly as stressful as the day before. The tour left at about midday to Makena Beach which is in two parts, Big Beach and Little Beach. We set up shop at Big Beach and I got some great boogie boarding and body surfing in on the huge waves, great fun. We played some volleyball, ate, drank and generally just chilled out
and had a good time.
As the afternoon wore on we relocated to Little Beach, did I mention that it was clothing optional, I reckon about 30%!o(MISSING)f people we in various states on undress! It was interesting, again we didn't do much here but just relaxed and played a little frisbee. As the sun set some firedancers got going and the crowds gathered around to watch that. It was really cool in the evening light just to watch the blurs of flame flying around. All too soon though it was time to head back to the hostel.
This was probably the least interesting of the tours that I went on, we headed up to the Iao Valley to see the Iao Needle; a spiritual place to the local Hawaiians. Though it is a beautiful sight, a solid mass of rock protruding from the valley floor and covered in green plants, there is not really a very good viewpoint of it. You don't really appreciate the grandeur when you can't see it properly.
Before we got to the needle we stopped at a little cultural centre celebrating the influences of Asian immigrants on local
culture. There were little Japanese pagoa'a, statues from Seoul and things like that. At the needle we went on a hike through the rainforest and got all sweaty on our way to a little viewpoint. Then we turned around and went back the same way, which I really dislike doing. Afterwards though we went for a refreshing swim in a nice river to cool off and relax before heading back to the hostel.
The Road to Hana
My last full day in Maui and I went on yet another tour, but I had planned this as the two best tours are on Saturday and Tuesday, the days which bookended my stay. Daniel you genius😊 Today we headed out to the far side of the island to the little town of Hana. The Road to Hana is famous for its tight and twisting turns and dangerous blind corners. There are often sections were you can only see about 5m in front of the van with a steep cliff onto jagged rocks on one side and a rock wall on the other, exciting stuff but I'm glad I wasn't driving. It reminded me of the Amalfi Coast in Italy but
instead of crazy Italian drivers it was crazy Hawaiian drivers, but no scooters😊
Our first stop of the day was at a freshwater cave and black sand beach, volcanic rocks that have been slowly turned into sand by the action of waves over the millenia, bit of a geology lesson going on. We went into this cool freshwater cave where we were able to do a little caving, climb over this rock, drop through a little hole into a pitch black cave, swim across to the exit and finally scrabble out into the light again; great fun. After we chilled on the beach for half an hour before we were back on the road.
We passed through Hana which was more of a place rather than a town and stopped to go on a hike to a waterfall, the name escapes me. We had to hike up through this amazing bamboo forest, it was slightly surreal to have these green poles on either side of you stretching upwards into the sky and at some points almost completely blocking the sun. I kept expecting to see a ninja battle going on a la "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." Unfortunately I
didn't see any battles but I heard loads. We got to the waterfall which was probably about 300m tall but with not much water going over the top. This was great as it meant we could stand right beneath it and get an all natural shower.
Our last stop of the day was in the late evening at a red sand beach, there was lots of iron oxide in the ground which causes the colour. Again we just relaxed and did a bit of rock jumping off these sharp volcanic rocks, we saw a sea turtle up close as well which was cool. Soon though it was time to leave and we were back on the winding and twisting road home.
Maui is an incredibly beautiful place and I would have loved to have spent a few extra days there. Anyone going to Hawaii should really make the effort to get off Oahu and see what the other islands have to offer.
Next time, the Big Island
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