Our final week in Maui was marked by our long day driving to Hana, hiking in the lava fields, sitting at Makena Beach, and taking care of Covid testing for our flight to our next island paradise, etc. We also made a small trip to the Iao Valley to complete our very thorough exploration of Maui. A little pool time and a few restaurants that we had missed were also enjoyed.
Drive to Hana
In all of the times I have been to Maui, I have never done “the Road to Hana.” Probably because it is a full-day commitment and when I only had a week in Maui it just wasn’t a high enough priority. But this time I had no excuse. Mike has a vague memory of doing the drive when he was a kid, so we were both new to this trip.
The road to Hana is more about the drive and the scenery along the way than the destination. Our GyPSy guide also kept us entertained with stories of Hawaiian history and the sugar business on Maui.
The uniqueness of this drive is both in the hundreds of curves and the 59 one-lane bridges you have to cross. There had been lots of rain during our trip so the waterfalls were really running and the trails were muddy. That limited my ability to visit all of the roadside hikes but we did stop at a few waterfalls and the Keanae Arboretum.
The Waiʻānapanapa State park that we were supposed to visit on the way is now by reservation only and you can’t book the day of. The park is known for its views and a black sand beach. So if you’re planning to visit, make a reservation at least one day before you plan to go.
According to a few articles I read, the best banana bread on the island is at Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread in the small and picturesque town of Ka’anae. So of course we had to stop and buy some. Banana bread is a big deal in Hawaii, you find it homemade everywhere. I must admit that the banana bread we bought was pretty awesome.
When we finally arrived in Hana we were surprised by how big it was. There was some really nice real estate, too. We headed to the old pier and harbor first, which was really pretty. But this drive isn’t about Hana, it is about the journey to get there.
Seven Sacred Pools
It turns out that the name was made up to promote tourism, but if you’ve already made it to Hana it certainly makes sense to go the extra 1/2 hour to see the pools that are actually in the Haleakala National Park. There was so much water flowing while we were there that all we saw was a rushing river flowing into the ocean and not the different pools. So we hiked around for a bit while listening to the rushing water.
We chose not to keep going to see the grave of Charles Lindbergh. It is apparently a little further down the road and we knew we had a long ride back.
LaPeruse Bay, Lava Fields and Makena Beach
We drove past Makena Beach to the lava fields at the southern end of the island on our first drive in Maui. We had always intended to return when I was more up for a walk in the lava fields. So we drove to LaPeruse Bay, donned our hiking boots, and set off through the lava fields that skirt the shoreline. The walk was level and mostly pretty smooth, which was good for me. The scenery here is beautiful and very rugged. If you want to, you can walk all the way down to a very secluded beach, but we turned around before that.
After our little walk, we decided to stop at Makena beach. I should mention that we rented beach chairs when we first got to Maui and we didn’t use them until the last week of our trip to Makena Beach. It was beautiful and not too crowded. Best of all, we found shade under a little tree. Shade is admittedly the most important beach attribute to Mike so he was happy to sit there for a while.
The Iao Valley
It got to be a few days before we were planning to leave and the only point of interest we hadn’t seen yet was the Needle in the Iao Valley. This area was the scene of King Kamehameha’s final battle for control of Maui. The area and the needle are picturesque and the drive is short, but we weren’t blown away. Go if you have time but if not, you haven’t missed much.
Wrapping up Maui
Maui is the most popular vacation destination in Hawaii judging from the way we had to get up early to find a chair in the shade and stake our claim. We also had more recommendations from our friends for activities and dining in Maui than for the other islands. We were barely able to get to most of them in the three weeks we were on the island given that we were also looking forward to some pool time. There are many great dining options and a multitude of ways to enjoy the water.
In this time of Covid, reduced capacities in restaurants and activities make advanced reservations essential if you want to enjoy most activities and restaurants. Still, Maui provided the tropical vibe we sought and we were happy to partake.
We finally got to try Star Noodle on our last week in Maui. We ordered a pork belly bun, Adobo-style pork ribs, Saimin with spam, and a Lahaina fried soup. The fried soup and the pork buns were awesome.
The most unique and memorable thing about Monkeypod Kitchen is their MaiTai. There is a Lilikoi foam float on top that is really yummy. They were so good, we each had two of them. Otherwise, this restaurant didn’t stand out. The first order of Mike’s fish had to be sent back because it was overdone. The second try was delicious. But the Mai Tais made it worth the trip.
In normal times when you can just walk into a place and grab a seat at the bar, I would probably be here all the time drinking Mai Tais.
Who serves your favorite Maui Mai Tai?