This past December of 2016, I was lucky enough to take a week long trip to the island of Maui, Hawaii with my boyfriend. We travelled from December 6 to 13 - which also happens to be the humpback whale nursing season on the island. This trip left me with an overwhelming sense of awe with the mountainous jungles and landscapes which I tried to capture in my photography despite the overcast conditions. I hope you feel as immersed as I was through my photos, and for the readers that are thinking of travelling there, I have included the little details just for you.
Day 1: Departing for our 6AM flight to Chicago was tough to wake for, however we were excited to be going from the deep freeze of Toronto to the balmy tropics of Hawaii. We flew with United Airlines for both connecting flights between Toronto to Honolulu and was very surprised to have not been given a meal for our 9 hour transit between Chicago and Honolulu - Perhaps that is one of the sacrifices you make for a killer flight deal. We payed about $475CAD per person, round trip so we decided to pick our battles. We flew about a total of 11.5 hours to Maui from Toronto and were happy to stretch our legs and get going on our adventure. Starting with our car rental at Rent-A-Car, we picked up our little Hyundai for $11USD/day to get us through for the first few days and made our way to our reserved hostel, the Banana Bungalow. The hostel had good vibes and the people there were really nice. I wouldn't say it is worth the $110USD/night stay but it seemed that the other hostels on the island were going for about the same price and it included day trips to the hot spots around the island each day.
Our first impression of the island was quite comparable with how welcoming and kind people were to our fellow Canadians. The streets are very well maintained and the immense mountainous terrain surrounding us was something we couldn't get used to seeing. With a car, it was much easier to get around, as the grocery stores and restaurants are quite distant from each other. After we settled into the hostel, we made our exploration to get some groceries and visited the Queen Ka'ahumanu Mall that was celebrating the holidays with fake snow!
Day 2: Our first sleep was hard to get through with the humidity but managed to wake at a decent hour to join in on the daily tour (the tours are free, however the drivers are expected to be tipped at least $10USD for their time); Black Rock Beach in Kaanapali and Whaler's Village in Lahaina where I tried my first taste of shave ice at a local ice cream shop; ice topped with a variety of syrup flavouring and condensed milk on top of a bed of ice cream for about $8USD. Yes, it was as good as it sounds! Definitely a must try. I didn't get a chance to try Uluani's Shave Ice, but have heard that is one of the best places to try one. Whaler's Village is a quaint little town lined with souvenir shops and lots of independent art galleries of people showcasing their work, unlike the galleries you may find in places like Mexico. Every shop is unique in their own way, however, on the much higher end of price ranges. Black Rock Beach is located near the Sheraton Resort so the beach was relatively busy, but we were able to bring our own snorkels along the rock side where we saw our first Green Sea Turtle of the trip! This area is filled with species like little Toby Pufferfish, Trumpetfish, Green and Zebra Moray Eels, and many more.
Day 3: The weather was definitely not on our side this day, and rained out our daily tour. After long debate, we decided to make the best of our day and take the drive to the Nakalele Blowhole on the north-west side of the island. We made the drive in about 1hr45min, despite our GPS telling us that it was only 17km away. The roads on this side are practically one lane 'U' turns in and out of the cliff side. Despite the risky drive, the views on this side were breath taking. Upon arrival to the blowhole, I was in complete awe at the strange formations of lava rock I was standing on. The muddy hike down to the blowhole was filled with lush greens in contrast of the black lava rock. The blowhole would shoot up about 30-40ft every few minutes or so as the waves created enough pressure in the rock to create this beautiful display. Also, to our surprise, a lovely humpback whale decided to come up for air just off the cliff side as we were admiring the landscape. On our drive back, we stopped at Julia's Banana Bread stand to try her self-proclaimed amazing banana bread, and it was definitely worth it for the $10USD loaf.
Day 4: The rain held off with a little overcast enough for us to make our daily hostel tour to Ho'okipa Beach, Paia and Makena Beach. We spent a bit of time exploring and playing volleyball at Ho'okipa Beach while admiring the Green Sea Turtles that would pop up for air. Paia was very similar to Lahaina, except it is home to the famous Flatbread Company Restaurant that serves wood oven flatbread pizzas. We wanted to make our selection as authentic to Hawaiian culture as possible, so naturally, we tried the Mopsy's Kalua Pork for $16USD. We then made our way to Makena Beach where the local surfers would come together to hang out or catch some waves. This beach is also where Green Sea Turtles come up to shore to rest at dawn. There were probably upwards of 20 turtles all resting! I was also happy to see that there was an attendant monitoring them and ensuring that they aren't being disturbed by the tourists coming to see them.
Day 5: Our last day at the hostel was also rained out, so we decided to trade our Hyundai for a Jeep ($35/day) to embark on our journey on the Road to Hana. The famous road is packed with side roads leading to beautiful waterfalls and views. We stopped to see the Twin Falls, the Three Bear Falls, the Black Sand Beach in the Waianapanapa State Park, and the Red Sand Beach. By the time we reached the Haleakala National Park at 5pm, it had become too dark to do any hikes so we continued south on the Hana Highway to our next hotel, the Marriott Residence Inn in Wailea. The road was unpaved until we reached the Piilani Highway through the country side. The drive was an adventure on its own in the dark but surprisingly made it easier to watch out for on-coming cars on the one-lane cliffside roads. Once we finally arrived at the Marriott, we were kindly greeted and settled in and enjoyed some more wood-oven pizzas and Mai Tais at the Monkeypod Restaurant just down the road.
Day 6: We woke with the excitement of finally being able to view some of Hawaii's underwater spectacles with our two-tank Manta Ray dive with Maui Dive Shop. Unfortunately, upon arriving at the dive shop, we were informed that our dive got cancelled, but we were not scheduled to dive on this day anyways. Due to a scheduling error, we were unable to dive and the dive shop workers were not much help to resolve the issue. Disappointed, we knew that there was not much else we could do so we decided to head back up the curvy roads to do the 2km round trip Bamboo Forest hike. We paid $20USD for the park pass, which included parking. The hike was everything we hoped for, except for the mosquito attacks. This hike leads to a 400ft tall waterfall called Waimoku Falls. At this time, half of the bamboo trail was closed off leading to the falls, but being the daring people we are, we decided to cross the signs and continue on and was well worth the view. We weren't sure why the trail was closed, but we assumed that the recent rainfall put some of the trail at risk for falling bamboo. Because we only stayed one night in the Marriott, we had already packed our bags and were en route for about 2hrs to our next hotel, the Ritz Carlton back in Lahaina.
Day 7: The Ritz Carlton was a beautiful luxury in contrast to our sub-par hostel experience earlier in the week. The price tags were also ridiculously inflated but we felt particularly posh paying $40USD each for a buffet breakfast. The weather had finally cleared up and spent the day catching up on our tan and watching humpback whales breaching along the cliff front before we had to pack our bags for our flight back home.
Overall, Maui definitely lives up to the Jurassic Park landscapes. From beach to rainforest, you can enjoy many different micro biomes in a matter of hours.