Exploring Maui

From day one, we knew we really liked Maui. As I mentioned in my first blog on the island, the food was really good, we had a great hostel, and we’d made some good friends. These all meant we immediately felt comfortable and were ready to see what Hawaii’s second largest island had to offer.

On our first day, we signed up for the day trip the hostel was organising, which was an afternoon snorkelling in an area known for having sea turtles. This is when we bumped into Sarah, Sammy, Rui, and Omer for the first time, and we ended up having a lot of fun with these guys. We drove to the west coast of Maui (only about 25 minutes from Paia), rented some snorkel gear, and then headed over to a beautiful white-sand beach to chill and snorkel. On our first foray, neither of us saw a sea turtle, but on our second trip out, we came across one feeding on the rocks. He/she wasn’t remotely bothered by us, so it was a pretty magical experience swimming alongside him/her for ten or so minutes. Little did we know that this wouldn’t be the last turtle we saw on our time in Hawaii. We reckon that we saw turtles most days after this; either swimming with us, sleeping on the beach, or just bobbing along 10ft waves making surfing look easy. We even had one swim in close to us as we were paddling along a beach, which made for a good opportunity to test out Samsung’s water-resistance claims…and I wouldn’t say I was very impressed. After a two-second dip in the water to take a video, my phone spent the next week telling me there was moisture in the charging port, which meant it refused to charge (although it still worked perfectly, just with a limited life span). Useful. Anyway, leaving the phone in rice did the trick in the end. 

We spent the rest of the day getting to know people in our hostel who’d gone on the trip as well, drinking mai tais and beers, eating fish tacos in a cheap bar on the beach (Life’s A Beach—great happy hour for both food and drink), and playing volleyball as the sun set. Work was starting to feel a long way away on day one already! 

On day two we decided to have a more chilled day checking out a few of the beaches near Paia. This was less of a swimming sort of day, and more of a day for sitting on the beach reading/watching surfers have fun on the waves. This is because Paia is on Maui’s north shore, which is world-renowned for its big waves and great surf—they even say that in “winter” the waves can reach over 30ft! Our favourite beach this day was Ho’okipa, not only because it’s reputed to be one of Hawaii’s best beaches to watch surfers on, but also because it’s home to a dole of sea turtles that come onto the beach in the afternoon every day to sleep and avoid their biggest predators—tiger sharks—which feed in the late afternoon and evenings. 

On our third day, we did the Road to Hana, which is a famous 52-mile road that consists of 59 one-lane bridges and 620 hairpin turns. It weaves through lush jungle, passes by raging waterfalls (most of which you can swim in), and dangles you perilously close to dramatic cliffs on Maui’s east and south-east coast. Many websites claim that this is America’s most famous road trip and that it’s something everyone has to do at some point in their life, and while we agree that everyone who visits Maui should do it, we ended up with mixed feelings about it. While we had a brilliant day, we wouldn’t necessarily say that the road trip was the best part. Rather, the beaches and waterfalls that we stopped at along the way were what defined it. The hairpin bends, single lane bridges, and general slowness of the journey became a bit tiring after an hour or so, although we think this may have been because we were in the hostel’s 14-seater van rather than driving the road ourselves. We imagine that driving the road yourself probably makes the road trip part of the day way more enjoyable.

After some super fresh ahi tacos for lunch, we stopped at Wailua falls for swimming and photos, before heading to the stunning Hamoa beach. With its extremely soft sand, lush and overhanging vegetation, and fun waves to mess around in, this was one of our favourite beaches on Maui. Another few hours of winding roads and spectacular views followed, before ending the trip watching the sunset above Maui’s west coast. 

On Friday, Sarah, Sammy, Omer, and the two of us decided to rent a car for the day to explore the northernmost part of the island. This turned out to be a better road trip in our eyes (but maybe this is because we were the ones driving), with plenty more hairpin bends, but a much nicer road surface and great views on both sides. We stopped at a massive blowhole near the sea that has been known to take people’s lives if they get too close, and spent a bit of time on some beaches. On the second half of the drive, we drove through the resort part of the island, as well as through Lahaina town, neither of which had the same feel of Maui that we’d fallen in love with on previous days. While we can see why people would love to come and sit in these resorts on Maui’s beautiful and calmer west coast for a week or two, they did feel detached from the chilled, healthy, beautiful, and more original other parts of the island.

On Saturday, we caught a mid-morning flight to Kauai with Sammy, Sarah, and Omer—who happened to be going to Kauai on the same flight as us, and for the same length of time—to check out what Hawaii’s northernmost isle had to offer. But more on that in our next blog…

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