Warning: This is a super long post with lots of pictures -- proceed with caution!We got off to another early start to head out to tackle the long and winding "Road to Hana". This is a 33-mile stretch of road that is wound into the northeastern coastline of Maui. It typically takes about 3 hours to drive the 30 miles, due to the extreme nature of the narrow roadways and tight turns.
Maui Revealed) to help us find some of the "off-the-beaten-path" locations. Our first stop was at a small waterfall called Haipun'ea Falls with a small pool that was about 30 yards off of the highway. We had this location all to ourselves for a while, so we enjoyed swimming in the pool and goofing off. When some other swimmers arrived, we used the opportunity to have our picture taken as a group and then we decided to move on.
Our next stop was listed as an "adventure" according to the guidebook because it required a long hike up boulders. The river was dry where it crossed the highway, but we decided to hike up anyways because the hidden waterfall, called was supposed to be amazing. We hiked for about fifteen minutes up a dry river bed with 300 foot high walls on each side of us -- an amazing river valley full of beautiful plant life. Unfortunately, we weren't seeing any water. We sent Josh and Emily to hike up further as a scout to see if the waterfall was worth the continued hike and they found it to be completely dry -- the result of a 2-year drought on Maui. So we hiked back down to the highway. We may not have found Punalau Falls, but we enjoyed our little "adventure"!
Our next stop was a familiar location for us -- the waterfall and pool called Waikane Falls, or "Three Bears". Chris and I stopped here on our last Maui vacation and knew that these were beautiful falls. They are just barely visible from the road, but most drivers continue to drive because they don't know that there is an awesome pool area that is accessible with a little creative maneuvering. The falls are AWESOME and so much bigger when you're standing right next to them than you think from far away. Everyone, except for Emily, got into the pool. We stood under the waterfalls and even jumped into the largest falls and let it shoot us out underneath it. Chris and Josh spent half an hour trying to figure out how to jump through the falls for an action photo op! We had a great time and spent about an hour and a half enjoying the beauty of the falls.
After our adventurous romp in the Three Bears falls, we stopped at Kaumahina State Park to eat our picnic lunch and rest. We found a fabulous picnic shelter only a few yards from a little waterfall. Just as we began our lunch, it started to rain. It was truly an awesome meal, sitting a few yards from a waterfall and watching the misty Maui rains soak the earth.
Just before we arrived in Hana, we stopped to see the famous black sand beach at Wai'anapanapa State Park. The beach was surrounded by beautiful lava formations and lava rocks on the beach were perfectly tumbled and round. Chris and Josh bravely dove right into the huge, crashing waves to swim. Unfortunately, the waves were much stronger than they were and we all watched from the beach as they got thrown around like they were in a washing machine!
We drove right through Hana, which is a little town with not much entertainment to offer. This trip is truly a case of the journey being better than the destination. :) We continued on the road to Wailua Falls, a huge waterfall right next to the roadway. Chris and Josh decided to find a way to jump into the waterfalls. First they tried scaling directly up the waterfall, but the climb was tricky and didn't give much height. So they found a ledge on the side of the falls that provided great height and the pool was deep enough for landing. Both boys enjoyed showboating in the last waterfall of the day.
At this point, most tourists turn their cars around and drive back. But not us. We decided to continue on the road up around the eastern side of Mt. Haleakala, which is poorly maintained and considered a "challenging" drive. We pulled off the road at a great little stone beach, which produced an amazing rainbow into the ocean. We took advantage of the backdrop to take some really good pictures of each couple.
The remainder of the drive was crazy. The convertible Mustang we drove certainly didn't have the off-road capabilities to handle these crappy roads very well. I drove slowly and got my boned rattled thoroughly. We witnessed a few stray cows in the road and an awesome sunset over the neighboring island of Lanai.
By the time we finally arrived in Kahului, it was nearly 8 p.m. and we'd been on the road for 11 hours. We ate at another local hot spot called Da Kitchen. More local Hawaiian fare. Portions were HUGE and prices were fair for the huge amount of food they put in front of you. I wish we had saved room to try their deserts, but we were stuffed and exhausted. We drove back into Ka'anapali and everyone showered and went straight to bed.