Thursday, May 26, 2011


The view from the plane as we came in to land at Kahului -
that's Kanaha beach park down there -
great for viewing the kitesurfing action!

A couple of days ago, Paul and I arrived home after almost 3 weeks on the wonderful island of Maui, Hawaii. We've been several times before, but this time ... I don't know why ... it was particularly excellent! Perhaps because we hadn't been in about five years.

Needless to say, my new Canon 7D and glass got a great workout! (Thank you to Gavin for lending me his 2x converter when the one I ordered didn't arrive in time!) I tried to choose about 10 favourite photo's to show in this post, but couldn't narrow it down, so here are links to the sets in my flickr gallery that might interest you:

Panoramic views
Ahihi Bay & Big Beach
Haleakala sunrise
Maui sun/moon rise/set

Be sure to look soon because as I add photo's to my account, the older ones get "bumped" out of the gallery! Update (May 31): Windsurfing, surfing and kitesurfing photo's, as well as some others, have been moved to Smugmug.

For anyone who's interested, here's more info about where we stayed, what we did, etc:

As usual, we stayed in Kihei in South Maui. This time our accommodation was in the Kihei Kai Nani complex, which is across the street from Kameole II beach park. Our ground floor unit was fully equipped (it included a washer/dryer, which most units in this complex do not) and very comfortable, and the pool is large enough to swim laps if you feel so inclined! The only drawback was that this unit was in a bit of a noisy location within the complex - almost any other unit would've been quieter, though, so don't let this put you off staying in this complex. We rented our unit directly from the owner via - way cheaper than an hotel or renting a condo or townhome via a property manager! Just under U$1500 for 19 nights all in.

We departed from our usual multi-national rental car company and got a vehicle via a small local business. The car wasn't shiny and new. In fact, it looked like a long-time local's car - at least 10 years old, rusty and dinged up - but it ran reliably and the lights, wipers, windows, and radio worked fine! We will definitely go with Maui Cruisers again. Huge perk: If your car looks like a local, you'll be treated like a local on the roads: They'll "give you a gap" - awesome! Beware, though, you'll also be expected to be more forgiving of other locals, including service vehicles (garbage trucks, delivery trucks, service vehicles, etc). U$408 all in (except gas, of course) for 20 days.

We went snorkeling quite a bit, several different locations: Kameole II, Ulua, Ahihi, and Honolua Bay. The latter had by far the best visibility and a great variety of aquatic life - particularly on the right-hand side as you leave the beach. Honolua is just north of Kapalua, in West Maui, 30-60 minutes' drive (sorry to be so vague: who's counting minutes when you're on holiday?!) from Kihei. If you go, arrive early as there's limited parking and it gets crowded - even one of the snorkeling cruises stops here, so it gets busy quickly! Remember that at this is a marine preserve and that you are not allowed to wear sunblock when you're in the water (another reason to get there early): It's a very sheltered bay and doesn't get "flushed" much by the current, so the coral gets gunked up if there's too much grease in the water. It has a rocky beach and the rocks at the water's edge are very slippery, so be prepared! DO NOT leave anything in your car (even the trunk) as there have been a lot of break-ins recently at this particular spot. It is safer to leave your valuables on the shore here as the local residents who caretake the beach/bay can keep an eye on goings-on.

We have done the Road To Hana (a must-do for any first-time visitor) before, so didn't do it again this year. We did, however, drive clockwise around the north half of the island (ie: northwards through West Maui, Lahaina-Ka'anapali-Kapalua, across the top and southwards into Wailuku-Kahului). After you've passed Honolua and the pull-off to the blowhole, the state highway ends and it becomes a challenging and much less-traveled single-lane road. The larger your vehicle, the more difficult it will be. Take is slowly and note passing areas when you drive by them - you might end up reversing back into one to let someone pass!

We spent time at the Kealia Ponds bird sanctuary (entrance off the four-lane highway between Kihei and Kahului), which is only open from 7am on weekdays, would you believe. You can, however, get onto the boardwalk on the west side of the main road between Kihei and Ma'alaea at any time, although this area is dry during the summer so you won't see much wildlife. Pedestrian access to the berms between the ponds in the main viewing area is also sometimes limited to protect the different species as they go through their nesting process. Definitely worth a stop for birders and photographers.

We visited the lovely Kula Botanical Gardens, although most of their over 100 species of proteas (that I REALLY wanted to photograph) weren't in flower! On the same trip, we drove up Waipoli Road in Kula - outstanding views of the central island from here. Again, go early to avoid traffic - it's a narrow, steep, winding mountain road (literally!). Here we saw the rarest goose in the world and Hawaii's state bird, the nene.

We drove up Haleakala to watch the sunrise - another must-do for your itinerary. Even if it's cloudy down below, most of the time the summit's above the mist! For the trip up the extinct volcano, you need to leave Kihei by 3am. We left at 3.30am and only just made it. And dress warmly (long pants, closed shoes, toque, warm windproof jacket, gloves) - during winter it snows up there, and even in May it was sub-freezing at the summit at dawn!

We also went to Ho'okipa to watch the surfers and windsurfers, and Kanaha to watch the kitesurfers. Great action when the wind's pumping and the surf's up!

Oh, and we flew Hawaiian Air out of Seattle. Excellent airline - they charge for checked baggage but their crews are very friendly (aloha!) and they still serve free meals and snacks!

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