Travels in Maui - Road to Hana: Day 3, part 1

This is Day 3 of our Maui adventure, to read Day 1, go here.

Whales were spotted playing on our first day in Maui, and on our second day we spent the morning watching dolphins chase down their breakfast. All of this was done on dry land without having to get our feet wet.  Today was our last day staying in Wailea Makena, which  meant that we would need to be packed up and ready to head off to the Southern end of the island, Hana, before noon. It wasn't a whole lot of time, but it was enough time to get wet and explore the ocean.

It doesn't take a lot to see the underwater world at Maui. Goggles for clear visibility underwater is the main priority. Fins to help you move around quickly aren't a priority but they help, and a snorkel so you don't have to interrupt the underwater sight seeing with that pesky thing called breathing. You can rent gear are almost anywhere, but for just as cheap you can purchase it almost anywhere as well. Since we did a lot of snorkeling we had our own gear from home that we brought with us on our trip.

After some hotel coffee we threw everything in the rental jeep and headed out in the same direction we went for day two.

Halfway between the Hotel Wailea and La Perouse Bay is Makena State Park home to two of the best beaches in Maui. Big Beach and Little Beach. Big Beach is the more popular destination. Big Beach is easier to find as the gates to the parking lot are nice and big and the road is paved. We learned later that the entrance to Little Beach is right before the Big Beach parking lot, but it doesn't look like an entrance due to the smaller twisty dirt roads that seem to disappear into haunted woods. When we passed Little Beach I had thought it was one of those private roads only used for authorized personnel, but it is actually the Little Beach entrance.

Big Beach is a popular destination spot, in order to avoid the crowds and see what there was to offer we were up before the sun.

When you wake up early enough, you can have your own little slice of heaven.
Big Beach at Makena State Park. (Click picture for larger size.)

Big Beach is captivating. Soft sand and blue seas nestled into the coast. We sat at the beach and watched the sun rise, letting the beauty of it all wash over us. Pictures, words, even BBC nature documentaries really can't capture the incredible visual experience it all held. It's one of those things you just have to see for yourself.

When it was finally bright enough and warm enough it was time to head into the waters. This, of course, meant wrestling with the cold water. Do you dive right in and wait for the shock of it all to disperse or do you slowly scootch in inch by inch saying "ohh ohh" every time the waves comes and splash cold water on you? Either way, it's cold this early in the morning.

Big Beach is the best place for snorkeling as a first timer and the best beach just to play around at. We learned later on that many of the popular snorkeling destinations have very sharp rocks and sea urchins as soon as you step in the water which would make it very difficult for someone that may need to stand up to readjust their mask or just take a minute to find their bearings. Big Beach has nothing near the coast but nice soft sand. Sand you can sink your feet into and wiggle your toes around in. The waves can be a bit challenging to get around, but fun to play in.

When you venture out, you will think that there isn't much to see, just sand, but a little ways out the reefs start popping up. As soon as you see the reeds the most colorful schools of fish start to appear. An amazing assortment of colors on the ocean floor, fish dancing and rocking to the waves, little strands of algae dancing back and forth with the current. Not just a bunch of one kind of fish but many different variations. It is a sight to behold. I wish I had a camera that could take pictures under water. If I had, this post would would be filled with nothing but fish. It was like a personal up close adventure through a national geographic magazine.

The ocean water changes temperature quickly as well as the direction of the ocean waters. It's hard to explain to people that have never been in the ocean what the current is. It's a natural force and one not meant to taken lightly. The best choice of action is not to fight it. Float, let it take you. There were many moments when we didn't do anything at all, and watched as the fish moved back and force to the time of the waves. You think you might be swept away, but in truth everything moves with you. The waves, the fish, the seaweed, even the grains of sand. A gentle current tossing you back and forth like a roll of pizza dough going from hand to hand.

Snorkeling is an easy task. You just have to remember to breath. Swimming in the ocean, however, can be exhausting work. If you are not careful, the ocean currents can easily move you a very long ways in a very short time. It can also be an uphill battle if you are trying to stay put. Just remember to stay calm and always be aware of your surroundings.

Hours can be spent in the oceans off the coast of Hawaii. When the waters are calm, Big Beach can be a great place to test out your newly learned skills. A lot of companies provide a complete snorkeling experience, but if you have experience and a companion there is a lot to see on your own.

The sun eventually was overhead and the waters much warmer than when we had started. Pulling ourselves out of the water, we sat on the beach exhausted and yet exhilarated. I would hope that what we were able to experience on Big Beach, everyone would eventually have the opportunity to see it, as this is what we are fighting for when we work to preserve the earth. Recycle. Conserve. This life in the ocean is what needs to be saved.

Now comes the fun part. Getting all that sand out of your hair and bathing suit. The majority of our day was now going to spent in a car driving across Maui and the only way to enjoy a long drive is in fresh clothes after a shower. We headed back to the hotel to shower and clean up and pack up the rest of our belongings.

We headed back to our hotel to load up the rest of our items and get cleaned up before our 2 and a half hour drive to Hana. Wailea Makena was nice and had a lot to see, but we were ready to head out. Hana awaited. The drive to Hana is long and full of twisty roads. The popular route to Hana is via Hana Hwy 360 on the western side of Maui, but as travelers, we weren't looking for the popular route and wanted to explore all that Maui had to offer. We had decided to take Hwy 37 and 31 on the Eastern side on the way to Hana.

Everything we read about getting to Hana warned that there would be no restaurants, no gas stations, and very few people on the way. We checked out of Hotel Wailea and headed off to Eskimo Candy in Kihei for an early lunch before our road trip started.

Eskimo Candy is a seafood market and cafe that serves fresh fish and other seafood dishes.
Eskimo Candy
Top left: World Famous Seafood Chowder
Top right: Davey Jones Fish 'n Chips - Ono
Bottom left: Fried Oysters
Bottom right: Home Made Crab Cakes

Eskimo Candy is definitely worth a stop if you enjoy fish and chips. Their Ono was extremely tasty and we couldn't get enough of the World Famous seafood chowder. The crab cakes and fried oysters were delightful, but it was a bit too much fried food after polishing off the fish 'n chips.

After the food, we stopped to top off our gas then we set out. Getting to the road that would lead us to Hana was no easy drive and required a few looks at our maps to make sure we were going the right way, but thankfully there are not too many roads in Maui to get mixed up with. As we drove further away from the Beach and into the mountains the scenery changed.
And halfway to our destination it changed again.
Out here was secluded, we were on the side of the island uninhabited. A local car would fly by sometimes, besides that it was very obvious we were the only tourist out here and just like the reefs beneath the ocean, the land above was full of colors.
The drive is an amazing experience but is not for the lighthearted. You will be very far from any assistance. There is no cell phone signal. There are no gas stations. No homes. Just you and the road. Which sometimes becomes a one lane road and eventually becomes a dirt road. I mentioned in day one that we rented a Jeep. This was the reason for it. There were many times we had to pull over on the one lane road to allow someone coming from the opposite direction to pass.
Eventually the paved road comes to an end, but Hana is still a ways off. The rest has to be traveled on dirt and and as the roads get rougher nature does as well.
Because we stopped so many times to enjoy the view, our road trip took much longer than the 2.5 hours that Google Maps said it would take. Many u-turns later we arrived at Hana and were able to locate our destination, Halemano. Halemano was the first location we found on Airbnb that looked like an adventure in itself and we really didn't know much about it besides what we read on Airbnb. Halemano would be out home for the next 4 days.

"Halemano is a budding alternative lifestyle & organic farming mecca. One mile down the coast from Haleakala National Park & the 7 Sacred Pools, this uniquely intimate sanctuary is a rich garden tapestry, carved out of the jungle beside the sea.

An inspired global fusion of natural elements woven from wood, fibre, mosaic, shell, ceramic & stone. Originally dedicated as a spiritual community to care for the land in a conscious way, Halemano has been evolving slowly for 21 years. Now it is available to share with people drawn to enter into a more conscious relationship with the natural realms.

Immerse yourself in a quality lifestyle of refined simplicity, artistry & tranquility, tap into the profound & sacred. Participate in co-creating sustainability."
Into the unknown we went...

To continue to Day 3 continued, go here.