After checking out Waikiki, on the south shore of Oahu, we headed for our flight which was scheduled to take off at 1:00 pm on Saturday. We chose to visit two islands of Hawaii on this adventure. We chose Oahu because of Pearl Harbor and the winter 50 foot waves on the North Shore and we chose Maui because of the whale watching, huge waves, and Haleakala.
Our flight to Maui on Hawaiian airlines was interesting as well…
We were a little anxious to board this plane after our last experience. Chris and I really tried to distract the girls from thinking about it by playing games and writing post cards at the gate. After boarding and taxiing, they came over the announcements and stated that there was an electrical issue so we had to turn around and go back to the gate so maintenance could investigate. They worked on it for two hours only to tell us that a simple ‘reboot’ did the trick… Hmm… not very comforting.
We took off and our short trip in the air seemed like forever. There isn’t a typical drink/snack cart that comes around, instead everyone receives a prepackaged gulp of Hawaiian juice:)
We checked into our condo and relaxed. For those of you that have been following along and read Abby’s post about eating at Fred’s Mexican restaurant, in San Diego, you’ll be happy to know we were walking distance from another Fred’s! Abby was thrilled until we actually ate our meal- it’s not as good as the one in San Diego. The server even forgot to order my fajitas so I didn’t get my food until everyone else was finished.
We are staying on the west side of the island so we can see sunsets from our condo.
We picked up Tim and Karen, my in-laws, from the airport at 7:30 pm. They have visited a few other other Hawaiian islands before but never Maui so they decided to meet us out there. We had not seen them since August when we left on this adventure. The girls made signs and had leis’s ready for them. It’s such a casual airport, Chris just pulled up to the curb and we hopped out and sat on the outside bench while we waited for them to walk out of the gate, grabbed their bags and we were off. So different than the Atlanta airport!
We stayed at Maui Banyan condos off of South Kihei Rd in Kihei. We were across from Kamaole Beach Park II and III.
I had read great reviews of this little breakfast place in Lahaina, simply called The Gazebo, about an hour north of us so we headed there Sunday morning. Well when I say little, I mean tiny! We arrived and there was an hour wait, I have NEVER waited in line for an hour for breakfast. As a girl who can’t eat eggs, breakfast isn’t my thing. I eat the same breakfast EVERY morning; greek yogurt with granola and fresh berries. BUT Karen and I stood in line for an hour just so we could try their famous pineapple, banana and macadamia nut pancakes with coconut syrup. There is not pager system or wait list, you literally just stand in line outside the gazebo and wait. Would you have waited?
Our mouths we salivating by the time we sat down. They were everything I hoped they would be but then again maybe the fact that I was starving had something to do with my clean plate.
We did get to watch whales swim by as we waited. They also have complimentary coffee outside for everyone in line and lawn checkers for the kids to entertain themselves.
On the drive to breakfast we stopped at a lookout along the coast to watch the whales. There was a representative from a non-profit organization offering binoculars for better viewing and education information about the whales. When we were in San Diego, we learned about the Gray whales and their migration, here we learned about the Humpback whales, both of which are Baleen whales and migrate from Alaska to mate and give birth. Gray whales go to Mexico which is the longest migration of any animal while Humpback whales come to Hawaii to breed. The plumes of water that we search for from the shore are formed when a whale exhales at the surface. They can look like puffs of smoke on the horizon. The shape and size of the plume is distinctive to each species. Gray whales, for example, have a double blow-hole, and their spouts are heart-shaped. Humpback whales have a tall, column-shaped plume. And orcas typically have a bushy-shaped plumes- we will see those in Alaska.
After breakfast we thought we needed to relax by the beach; waiting in line and eating a huge meal is hard work. Black Rock beach was on our way home from breakfast. This beach is famous for jumping off the high jetties. It was actually cold and rainy so we just sat bundled up in our chairs while the girls played. Then the storm looked like it was getting worse; as we were packing up it started pouring rain. On the way home we saw a water spout on the water, that’s how bad the storm was. The next day on our drive to Hana, we talked to a guy that said it was the worst storm he had see there in 26 years! I guess he doesn’t know we are the Adams Family and big storms follow us. Ha!
On Monday we got up early and started our full day road trip. We drove to Hana and back. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, huh? The road is called Hana Highway (HI-360)… this is no highway! There are over 600 sharp narrow turns and 54 one way bridges with no shoulders on this 52 mile one way trip. It is nicknamed “Heavenly road to Hana” and rightly so, it is spectacular. This part of the island looks like how I imagined Hawaii.
There are fruit stands and banana nut bread stands all along the way. We had packed food for the day but we did stop at the halfway to Hana stand and had Banana bread- which was amazing! They also sell hot dogs, sandwiches , snacks and shaved ice.
I had a mission to find the Black Sand and Red Sand beaches. The Black sand one is well know and has a park surrounding it with parking lots, bathrooms and boardwalks.
The Red sand beach is a different story, this is a hidden secret. The locals have been told not to tell tourist about it. It was definitely hidden and there are signs posted as you get close that the walk there is dangerous. With enough persistent research I found directions on how to get there and felt confident we could transverse the trail without injury. It was so much fun being on this treasure hunt and what a treasure we found.
We had so much fun swimming out to the rocks and jumping off. Abby was wishing she had a go pro but her waterproof point and shoot camera did the trick. I’ll have to post the video later. I’m so behind on this blog, I’m just trying to catch up on the pics and journaling right now. I will work on iMovie making to later.
On our drive to Hana, we stopped at the Garden of Eden. This is a privately owned property that collects an admission fee of $15 each. We wavered on the whether to dish our the cost of all 6 of us but we decided to in the end. We are so glad we did. It was a beautiful garden filled with trials and overlooks everywhere you turned.
After watching the Grey whales from the coasts of California and now the Humpback whales off the coast of Oahu and Maui, I really had to take a boat tour to get a closer look at them. I had said I was going to wait until Alaska but after we have learned so much about them over the months, I wanted to see them up close. Chris and Tim had planned to play a round of golf on Tuesday so Karen, the girls and I decided to take a whale watching tour. I didn’t make the decision to do this until the morning of and I need to find a place that would take us out after I dropped the boys off at golf at 1:00pm. It was tricky and I had to pay more than I had wanted to but it was so worth it!
We took the Alli Nui, a luxury sailing catamaran, out of west Maui, and saw so many Humpback whales. The Humpback whales leave Alaska as winter approaches around November and travel non-stop 3000 miles south to Hawaii to mate or give birth (their gestation period is about 11 months) before they return home to Alaska. It takes them about 2 months to make the trip. Their annual migration of about 6,000 miles is one of the longest of any mammal. The Grey whale is the longest at 11,000 miles long.
Gray whales start swimming south from Alaska in October, generally passing the coast off San Diego from December/January and again in February/March when they return to their feeding grounds. They’re closest to the shore when traveling south, in particular San Diego. We saw them when we visited San Diego in January so they were heading to Baja where they would be breeding and giving birth in the warmer climate.
Both the Humpback and Grey whales do not stop to sleep or eat. As a matter of fact, they don’t eat until they return home in the spring/summer. They lose 30% of their weight during this migration. The babies will drink their mother milk to grow.
The peak season to watch the Humpback whales in Hawaii is Jan-March. On our up close tour we were able to see 2 males fighting over a female. They also dropped a mic into the water so we could hear them, it was amazing. I may have had tears in my eyes the first time I saw the whale dive and show us his fluke. We saw several others on our 2 hour trip.
The guys playing golf at Wailea Gold Course. We all ate lunch together at the clubhouse and then the girls and I head to our boat trip.
One of my best friends parents, Walt and Jen Rising, live in Maui. They are such sweet people that I had met a few times before back home in Georgia. We met up with them for dinner after our adventures today. I felt like it was a little bit of home.
One thing we had really been looking forward to was seeing the sunrise at Haleakala. Well, the girls and I were, the others weren’t happy about the 3:30am wake up call. Many people suggested we do a bike ride tour where they drive you up there in a tour van and you ride down on a bike. There are many reasons we chose not to do this; the girls weren’t old enough for the one I looked into, after looking into it I realized how expensive it was, you are on someone else’s time schedule and that’s not how I like to roll especially in a national park, I get car sick in the back of vehicles, especially when they are going curvy mountain roads, I wanted to pack our own breakfast and the girls could sleep in the car on the hour and a half ride up there.
At the top of the mountain at 5:OO am is cold, 30 degrees cold. We were prepared with our winter clothes but it was still cold and windy. A storm started rolling in just as the sun was to rise. It didn’t get to see much of it but it was still a neat experience. Haleakala (House of the Sun) National Park is Maui’s main natural attraction. More than 1.3 million people a year ascend the 10,023-foot-high mountain to peer down into the crater of the world’s largest dormant volcano. Haleakala is officially considered active, even though it has not erupted since 1790.
We saw the Nene, Hawaii’s state bird, with fewer than 250, are endangered.
The girls earned their junior ranger badges at the visitors center.
We ate second breakfast (I am a big fan of second breakfast- I must be a hobbit) at the base of the mountain at a cute place called, Kula Lodge. They have a lovely art gallery below the restaurant.
It really made the trip complete to snorkel with sea turtles. We did this from the beach across the street from our hotel- free:) The water was cold but worth it. Mackenzie and Chris chose to stay on land and search from crabs. Mackenzie was sad to miss out on seeing the sea turtles so I found a place to see them on shore on our way to the airport to the last day.
Abby and I went snorkeling while Chris and Mackenzie searched for crabs in the tide pools. Snorkeling in the cold water was so worth it because of the green sea turtles (honu) we saw! One swam right by me, it was so close I had to back up because the law says you can’t be within 6-10 feet of them. I was so tempted to reach out and touch him but I didn’t, remembering I am in their habitat, it is not a touching aquarium. We saw a few more while we ventured around.
Our last night here we ate dinner at Fred’s again and then stopped to have shaved ice on the way home. Shaved ice is a must do when in Hawaii! The girls went all out and got the ones with ice cream at the bottom- so weird to have a syrupy ice-cream mixture at the end. The guy that owns the shaved ice place was working because his employee didn’t show up. His name was Chris Adam (no s on the last name) and he holds the Guinness book of world record for playing 850 rounds of golf in one year.
On our way to the airport I took everyone by a place to view resting sea turtles since Mackenzie was disappointed she didn’t see any in the water. The best place to do this on Maui is at the Ho’okipa Beach Park. There is free parking, restrooms and as a bonus you can watch the surfers. While we were there, we watched a helicopter/jet ski team practice rescues.
Is that a rock or a sea turtle?