Why I Don’t Like Maui That Much

I was there for a conference. By and large it’s a nice place for a conference. It’s like being at work, but with nicer weather. And yeah, I know, I can find a problem with anything. But that’s because there are, in fact, problems with everything.

I am nevertheless comfortable in asserting that Maui is the least interesting of the Hawaiian islands with which I’m familiar. I can see why someone would like it, but those antecedents of “like” would correlate strongly with that someone and I being generally incompatible as co-vacationers. FWIW. Maui would be great for someone who wants nice weather, a mega-resort, a mall with expensive boutiques and galleries, sub-par restaurants, and resort-style golfing.

Here’s a photo of sunset from the hotel pool:

I think it’s a nice photo and all, maybe even enticing. But what amount of time on your Maui vacation could staring at sunsets across pools productively take up? I’m going with eight. The second sunset you stare at is clich√©, and by the third one you’re just desperate for meaning. Um, IMHO. So then what are you going to do for the other 6 days, 23 hours, and 52 minutes?

Well, there are a couple things. Maybe even three:

  • The Hana area is genuinely nice. It’s slower paced and not dominated by mega-resorts. It seems like a place you would find on Kauai. Except that: (a) it’s a pain to get to — you can romanticize that drive all you want, but at the end of the day it’s arduous and there are only four or five places worth stopping, and (b) since it’s the only place on the island that looks anything like that, it’s necessarily crawling with escapees from all the mega-resorts. Who aren’t necessarily fun to hang out with.
  • The drive around the northern part of the western lobe is kind of nice. It’s not all that crowded, not quite as arduous as the Hana drive (I mean, it’s arduous, just not wish-I-was-dead arduous), and has at least one nice little church and a little tidal swimming pool among the rocks in one spot.
  • Haleakala is something that’s probably worth doing once, although it’s a long ways up there for maybe a couple of hours of entertainment (with thousands of your co-tourists).

So it’s got that going for it.

Here’s a photo of a bird taken from the lanai of the hotel room at the mega resort that we stayed at (because it was close to the conference):

See that little black bird in the tree? Awcute, right? Except that it’s loud, it’s everywhere, and it’s a non-native species. In a sense, it’s a type for the real problem with Maui:

*Tourists*. And there’s nothing for them to do. No way to disperse. Just sitting around the pool mutually reassuring themselves that they’re doing something interesting.

The place is dominated by the mega-resort whether in Kihei-Wailea, or the whole Lahaina-Kaanapali mega-hotel-opolis. It’s hard to break free from these places and there aren’t a lot of reasons to do so (other than the three above and to buy groceries at Wal-Mart). Maui ends up feeling like the Las Vegas strip, but without all the stuff to do.

If you have to go to a conference and cost has no meaning, it’s a nice place to have a conference. Between sessions you can hang out outside, in January, and it’s warm. Nice. OTOH, you’re still at a conference and, for the most part, there’s not a lot different about a conference session room at the Grand Wailea on Maui and a conference session room at the Will Rogers Airport Embassy Suites in Tulsa.

Then with the opportunity cost. It costs the same to go to Honolulu, only that place has better food, more stores, a “scene”, and several regions to consider exploring. It costs the same to go to Kauai, which has rivers everywhere, waterfalls everywhere, easy-in snorkeling, world-class hiking, fewer crowds, etc. It costs the same to go to the Big Island, which — I haven’t been to. I’m guessing I’d like it better so long as I wasn’t stuck in Kona.

Long story short, I’d like to go to this conference again, but probably when it’s on some other island.

Here’s a picture of water:

bkd

 

Hana Waterfalls (Two of Them)

I don’t even know the names of the waterfalls. I didn’t drive, I wasn’t the one planning, so I took very little responsibility for knowing anything. The one was at the top of a two-mile (each way) hike that was named after some gorge. There was a bamboo forest. I’ll look it up. Later.

Everything pictured here is somewhere on the other side of Hana. I like Hana better than the rest of Maui. The hippie vibe is refreshing compared to the tourist vibe of everywhere else, plus it rains more there so it looks greener.

The bridge below those falls:

The gulch is called Oheo Gulch by the way. The trail goes through a bamboo forest. The forest looks like a bamboo forest.

And the falls are the Oheo Gulch Waterfall. Clever. It’s a high waterfall. Sorry about all the portrait-orientation. Waterfalls and trees, I guess.

 

Dennis took a really sharp photo of me hanging out in the waterfall pool, but I’m afraid it’d end up on some¬† porn site somewhere. If everyone were Mormon, I wouldn’t have to worry about that. It’d just be a photo of a guy giving a thumbs up from the bottom of a waterfall. Maybe I should move to Provo. Or Saudi Arabia.

Not always a fan of the species.

Also in the gulch:

This is a view of the “forbidden part” of the Hana Highway. The part that’s beyond Oheo gulch. It’s drier there.

So there you go. I think the highway has some other name on this side of Hana also.

In January, Pittsburgh is colder than there.

bkd

Maui Red Sand Beach

Dennis had told me about this secret beach in Hana and stuff. It’s pretty. Not sure anyone would ever swim at it what with the rocks and all. There’s a journey vs. destination story here as well.

The beach is sort of on private property or requires you to cross through private property or something. There’s a hotel there that has signs posted that declaim any responsibility for you killing yourself while trying to get there. Not without reason.

A few photos I guess:

The beach itself:

Red Sand Beach, Maui

And I got about 50 more photos that are some variation on that. The tree is in all of them. Seriously, like *all* of them.

On the hike:

  • It’s not very far — maybe 3/4 mile from the place where you park.
  • But: the trail is pretty dodgy. There’s one part where the footing is poor (sandy and loose pebbles), and the trail is narrow (ca. 12 inches) and slanting off the edge of a cliff (20-foot drop). It’s about a 10-foot stretch, but that’s about all it takes.
  • I was wearing flip-flops, which did not grant me goat-like powers of ground adhesion.
  • Ended up gashing the side of my foot.
  • Alternately, there’s a trail spur that bypasses this section. It takes you off the cliff and down to the beach, then goes back up onto the ledge above. Would’ve been smart. Would have.
  • And then coming back up, we came up one trail too early. This too-early trail goes to the cemetery and is steeper than you want it to be. With loose, sandy pebbles.

Cemetery is like this:

For some reason all the stones had Japanese writing on them. On the interesting scale, I’m guessing the story behind that (unknown to me) rates a 3.

bkd

PS, This was a purely Google-driven headline. Thanks, search algorithms: you’ve destroyed blog post headlines forever.

Maui: Welcome to Compromise Island

I suppose the headline is unfair-ish. Just that:

  • If you want adventure, Kauai is way better.
  • If you want shopping and restaurants in a tropical setting, Waikiki/O’ahu is way better.
  • If you want volcanoes, the Big Island is better (I’m assuming).

But if you want B-versions of the above all in one place, well, that’s Maui I think. IMHO of course. At which point I release a big photo dump and hope for the best.

Kahakuloa Church

The church in Kahakuloa.

Blowhole Trail

This is the place where they tell you to respect the a'ina, although they don't really explain how you do that exactly.

Sailboat and Lava

Some sailboat as seen from the trail that takes you to the blowhole that does not blow (when I'm there).

Olivine Pools -- you swim in 'em!

Rental car's a-comin'!

This is what my parents look like.

Waymarker on a beach near the La Perouse light station.

Kings Highway End Beach

End of Kings Highway

Waianapanapa Beach

Waianapanapa Beach, which has black sand.

Venus Pool, which ended up being too shallow to reasonably access from the trail that day.

The beach at the bottom of the "Sacred Pools" (that didn't seem all that sacred without much water in them).

Just FYI, if there hasn't been much rain on Maui, most of the waterfalls kind of suck. This was as good as there was anywhere on the Hana side.

hana highway past hana

The Hana Highway if you take it past Hana (note: it's not a dirt road).

dragons teeth maui

The dragon's teeth. Which dragon? Difficult to say.

lahaina prison

The Lahaina Prison -- they named a road after it (in Lahaina; it's called "Prison Road").

Worthwhile photo captions seem so last-vacation.

Also went on the Pipiwai Trail up to the big ol’ waterfalls, which were barely trickling. I’m guessing that 90-percent of the time, this hike is by far the best one on Maui. It has variation in foliage (including a bamboo forest), is relatively short, has several highlights along the way (waterfalls and pools unless there’s no water) and has a massive waterfall at the end (unless there’s no water). Anyway.

I’m tired and don’t remember much from this vacation. A shame, yes.

bkd

Haleakala: Sunrise, Summit, and Sliding Sands

I figured no one had ever been to see the sunrise at Haleakala before, so I better do it and take photos. Certainly no one has ever taken photos of it before. Woke up: 3 AM. Left Kahana: 3:10 AM. Arrived at summit: 4:55 AM. Realized I should’ve slept another hour: 4:55 AM also. Nah, earlier. Probably more like 3:45 AM is when I realized it.

It’s cool that they close the pre-dawn gate once they’ve allowed enough cars into the park to fill the parking lots. Wind: strong. Dressed: warm. Slept in car while waiting in the parking lot: maybe half an hour. Sky started glowing: 6:10. Looked like:

Haleakala Summit before sunrise with Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa

This. It's Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa (the Big Island) in the distance. Well, stars also in the distance. The implied sun is also distant.

Photos taken: 450 or something like that. For the entire day, not just the sunrise. Entire photo-day: spent at Haleakala.

I’m not a connoisseur of sunrises, so I don’t really know why this one is special, or if the particular one I saw was, in fact, special. It’s interesting to note, though, that the sky starts glowing 45 minutes before the sun actually crests the horizon.

haleakala sunrise

The sun, actually cresting the horizon.

To the naked eye, it was already broad daylight, though, no matter how that photo looks (I have some much darker ones taken much later — heck, I can take an under-exposed photo *any* time of day; it’s a talent I have).

Sunrise at Haleakala Summit in January

The sun: exposed.

I don’t know much about sunrises, but watching it at Haleakala brought me to a stark, sudden realization: the sun is one big ol’ bright, fiery round thing. Seriously.

Haleakala road at sunrise

Should've just uploaded this one and not the previous one. Oh well.

They also have an observatory at the summit that looks like it’d be a cool place to work. And windy! I didn’t see anyone working there, though.

haleakala summit observatory

No one.

Once the sun got finished rising and I walked around the summit a little (there were pink clouds, and a few rocks and ridges), I headed down to the visitors’ center and the crater to go hike along the Sliding Sands trail. It’s the trail that the now too-famous Maui Revealed guidebook says is The One Trail on Maui. Like, if you only hike one trail, it should be this one.

Sliding Sands Trail

The top part of the trail.

Silver Sword

Silver sword plants along the trail -- none in bloom.

Ka Luu o ka Oo Trail

I hiked to that place out there where the trail ends, Ka Luu o ka Oo. I think.

Haleakala Crater Lava Flows

The bottom of the non-crater crater.

Haleakala Crater

The crater within the crater.

horseback riding at haleakala

Scourges of the park trails.

colored sands at haleakala

*Swirling* Sands is more like it! (Har!)

Haleakala Crater Ledge

Seriously: if you could get a big river flowing off of that ledge? Dang near perfect. Alas.

Evidence that I was there.

  • It’s like walking on Mars (I imagine).
  • Except with oxygen and reasonable temperatures.
  • It’s also sort of like being at Death Valley.
  • Only it’s in Hawaii.
  • It’s kind of a tourist hike, although the more of a tourist you are, the sooner you turn around.
  • I also wish there were a rain forest at the bottom of the crater. I’m hoping to get final edit on all future terraforming activities.

Pretty scenery, so long as you like rocks (and sand). I ended up hiking maybe five or six miles total. Thing about the hike is: the best views are at the top. So the further down the crater you go, the more repetitive it becomes and the more you’re going to have to hike back up. It was pretty and, especially for what I’m used to seeing in Hawaii, unusual. But it seemed like the more effort you exerted, the less you got back from it. Diminishing returns is what they call that.

Done typing,

bkd

Waihe’e Ridge Hike

About five miles IIRC, 1,500 feet in elevation, out-and-back, all-up then all-down. It’s about as typical a Hawaii hike as there is, where “typical” means “average”. Some nice views, distant waterfalls, a lot of green stuff, but nothing that makes you gouge your eyes out when you get to the bottom in order to ensure that no future images will crowd out the unremitting wonder of the sights you just beheld.

I’m wondering if the Valley hike is prettier. I hear it’s easier. And I can’t quite figure out if the “13 crossings” hike is just the valley hike. Probably won’t do either.

(It’s not, I checked. But for some reason it’s hard to find information on “13 crossings”, only random people saying how great it is. It turns out it’s another “great Maui hike” that’s sort of inaccessible because it’s all on private land or some nonsense. And how can anyone in good conscience close off prime hiking trails, insist that you can only access them through a certain company, and then allow people to be charged $125pp just to go on a dumb hike?)

waihee ridge hike

Most of the trail looks like this. And you don't ever make it to the top of the ridge in the distance.

waihee ridge trail on maui

It also mostly looks like this.

cook pines

They have trees like this there. Think they're "cook pines".

waihee ridge waterfall

This waterfall was in the distance -- it might be where you go if you pay $125 or trespass or whatever it is you do with the 13 thing.

waihee ridge view from the ridge

The view from (near) the top.

With jade,

bkd

Itinerary for Maui (Which Is Where I Am)

Coming to you from the cheapest hotel on all of Maui — good-sized room, kind of dark everywhere, and it smells like Herb the barber (he cut my hair when I was a kid). I’m guessing this didn’t used to be a non-smoking room. And given that I’m on Maui, I’m forced to wonder whether I am, in fact, nearly dead. Or perhaps was secretly married to someone without my knowledge. Possibly both.

Here’s a picture of me, in the room, nailing down my plans for the next eight days:

maui seaside hotel room

Me operating a computer via telekinesis.

I feel like I have to put a photo in every post now what with this new “magazine-style” theme I’m rocking.

1/1 (Friday)
Arrive
Check In
Go to Wal-Mart (or similar)
Walk Around

1/2 (Saturday)
Waihee Ridge Hike
Iao Needle?
Relocate to Snazzier Accommodations

1/3 (Sunday)
Sliding Sands Hike (Haleakala NP)

1/4 (Monday)
Drive around the Western Lobe (Honolua, Nakalele Blowhole, the 40-mi. marker view; Olivine Pools)
Try Not to Do Too Much

1/5 (Tuesday)
La Perouse Coves Hike and Snorkel

1/6 (Wednesday)
MTB Down Skyline Rd. (on Haleakala)

1/7 (Thursday)
Na’ili’ili-Haele Falls Hike

1/8 (Friday)
Hana Highway

1/9 (Saturday)
Lahaina Pali Hike
Depart

That’s it. I should probably include days/meals for the three or four restaurants that were recommended to me by my insider. Next draft.

bkd