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Published: April 18th 2010
Maui is the island that draws the most visitors of all the Hawaiian islands. We have heard and read so much about the beauty of Maui, with its endless beaches, extinct volcanoes and scenic roadways. Yet, our first impression was of a hot, dusty, windy flat plain. That is because Maui was formed by two volcanoes whose lava flows overlapped, forming one island with a flat central plain. Consequently, each end is a mountainous peak, with the flat, fertile valley between them becoming a wind tunnel due to the strong trade winds.
Narrow, twisty roads hug the sides of both the mountains, with the famous ‘Road to Hana’ winding round the west side, and an even narrower (scary!) road traveling high above the roiling ocean on the east side. The most densely populated areas are along the coast on either side of the island in the flat windy middle part of the island. The dirt is red here, and this red dirt blows into every crevice in faces, nose, ears, cars, houses, and gives the tops of white socks (and everything else) a reddish hue.
Flying in, we got a great view of both mountains, the populous western side
of Maui where the historic (and now touristy) town of Lahaina is located, and south of there, Kihei where we were staying. We also got a nice view of the partly submerged crater of Molokini, which is supposed to be a great snorkeling spot.
The airport is on the northern, windward side of the middle part of the island, and when we got off the little 6-seater plane that brought us here, we could hardly stand up straight due to the force of the wind.
We couldn’t believe that there were actually beaches on this side of the island, but these are the windsurfing and kiteboarding beaches that draw the athletically inclined adrenaline junkies, and also where the famous ‘Jaws’ waves occur in December when surfing competitions are held.
We stayed at a B&B on the leeward side if the island in a town called Kihei, and the folks running the place remarked that although it is always windy, the “trades” were a lot stronger lately than usual. So, the whole week we were there, we were buffeted by the winds and coated with red dust. One the bright side, we came to be
grateful for the wind since our room was not air conditioned, and so the only way to cool off the room was to open up the windows and doors and let the wind blow through. It seemed to work quite well to keep us cool enough to sleep at night.
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