Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Maui: Day 4 ~ Snorkeling at Honolua Bay, Nakaleke Blowhole, Haleakala, Da Kitchen

We slept in a little today, but made it down to breakfast by about 8:00. My plate at breakfast:

I found the croissants today, and would slather butter and jelly on them.

Part of My Sweetie's breakfast. He was trying the oatmeal with fixings.

The plan this morning was to head north. Another great snorkeling spot was past where we had gone on the first day, to Honolua Bay.

The parking area for this beach was pretty small, as in, only about five cars could fit, but we were early enough to get a spot. You can totally miss this place - there was a handwritten sign that we saw once we got out of the car that confirmed we were at Honolua Bay. To get to the beach you walked down this lovely path.

There were these handmade signs every now and then. They reminded us to pack out all that we brought in, and to be careful on the slippery rocks. I really loved them - SO liked seeing this instead of a formal sign.

The vegetation was so beautiful. There were a few chickens hanging around too.

Walking with my love.

We got to the beach in about 15 minutes. This was where I was so glad we had done our research. When the path dumps you on the rocky beach, your first inclination is to just start snorkeling there. But we had read that the reef is to the north, or to the right side. And instead of entering the water right at the path, the best thing to do is to walk down the beach, on the rocks, a good ways and then go in.

We went about 100 yards down and it still wasn't far enough north - we did swim out about another 100 yards. When you first go under, right by the shore you can really see nothing. And since the water was a bit churned up we really couldn't see anything, not even the bottom, just a big void. A little bit of freaky snorkeling to wake us up.

Finally we spotted some brown blobs below us. We knew we were taking our chances since there were surfers at the mouth of the bay, a sure sign that snorkeling was going to be a bust. So when we went down I was not surprised to see that it was a bit murky, but not as bad as we thought.

But when you dived down things did clear up a bit.

These red sea urchins were all over the place.

We did see quite a bit of fish, but it was harder to see.

The coral here was beautiful.

Here is what it looked like when we came up. You can see that it was a bit choppy.

There were quite a bit of these big guys here.

After snorkeling for about an hour we walked back to our car. Honolua Bay is definitely a snorkeling only spot - the beach is full of rocks and there really isn't a place to sit.

From there were headed further north, about 15 minutes, to the Nakaleke Blowhole.

This is walking right near the parking area, towards the coast. It was pretty windy here.

The path began to creep down. This was a rocky path, but definitely able to be walked down. But do take your time.

We went down above the blowhole and found a spot to sit.

About every 30 seconds the thing would pop. Sometimes it would be smallish, but other times it went up at least 40 feet.

We looked over our shoulder and I was met with the most amazing sight:

This was amazing. The blue ocean with the black volcanic rock, and the green mountains beyond..... the view was simply incredible.

So we would watch the blowhole....

and then look over and see the coast.

After a bit we decided to walk down further. There are those handwritten signs saying to stay off of any rocks that are wet. They are not kidding, people have been sucked down the blowhole, and even while we were watching a couple of idiots were on the rocks right by the ocean. They were up there for a few minutes and then they climbed back down and just a few seconds later a big wave came and crashed over right where they had been.

Down below the landscape was so interesting. Like we were on the Moon.

Such interesting shapes!

Down here, we also saw the Heart Rock. I had read about this spot but wasn't sure where it was. You have to go all the way down and then look towards the east, towards the coastline and you'll see it.

My favorite photo of the day.

We decided to head back up the rocky path.

We got back to our car and headed south to Ka'anapali. We stopped at the beach right next to the highway where there were picnic benches.

Yummy cheese and prosciutto for our lunch.

While we were eating we saw lots of these guys, right in front of us.

It was super rocky so we didn't go in to snorkel, but we did enjoy watching them float in the surf.

Our plan for the afternoon was to drive up Mount Haleakala. We started at elevation: zero.

First we hit fog. This was in upcountry Maui.

We did have to enter Haleakala National Park. There is usually a $20 per car fee to get in, but our timing for this trip was great - the weekend of April 22-23 was National Park Week so admission was free.

Coming out of the fog, and out of the treeline also.

As we got higher, it looked more and more like we were on Mars.

Finally, we got to the summit. Mount Haleakala is unique because you can literally drive all the way to the top. To get to the actual top, you only need to walk up a short path of steps and you are there.

10, 023 feet high.

Yes we were wearing sweatshirts, it had been 79 degrees at sea level and up here it was 49 degrees. We walked around the path for a bit. It was pretty windy and felt colder than 49.

Looking over the southern side, over 10,000 feet down.

Up here there is an observatory and also an Air Force research laboratory. These were off limits to tourists. Off in the distance we were even able to glimpse Mauna Loa on the Big Island.

This was the view looking west, towards the airport and Kahului.

Finally we headed down. We got in the car and turned on the heater. Hard to believe we were in Maui.

It was really cool to think that we drove up 10,000 feet and then back down again. The total trip took us about 3 1/2 hours. 

All roads in Maui lead to Kahului, so we had planned to eat dinner there tonight. We ate at Da Kitchen.

We got here around 5:00. There wasn't a wait, but we got one of the last tables available. We noticed that they were setting chairs up outside the restaurant and when we left about an hour later, they were all full with waiting patrons.

This place had real Hawaiian food. It has been on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and so we were excited to try this place.

The dish we had to get was deep fried spam musubi. This was good - lots of rice but good flavors.

We got a Plate Lunch, one of the specials. So a Plate Lunch is just not served at lunch. It dates back to the 1800's and began when the plantation workers would break for lunch, and then share the ethnic items from their lunches with each other. It always has a scoop of rice and macaroni salad, topped with some kind of meat.

This one had teriyaki beef, teriyaki chicken, fried fish, and chicken katsu.

It's a dang good thing we were splitting this. These portions were humongous.

On the menu, there was loco moco, noodle bowls, fish, pastas and sandwiches. This is one spot where I wanted to eat at a few times, just to try other items on the menu.

We headed back to our hotel and made some drinks to enjoy on our balcony.

We made it down to the beach to watch the sunset.

My dad had recently visited Cuba, and right before we had left for Maui, had given My Sweetie a Cuban cigar.

We found a designated smoking area and he lit it up. And I did take a couple of puffs so yes, I have officially smoked a Cuban.

We ended the night at the bar at Leilani's, just down from our hotel, to enjoy a couple of drinks and watch the Warriors game.

We did pack lots of stuff in today, but it was actually quite relaxing.

Maui Trip:

Day 1 ~ Arrival, Geste Shrimp Truck, Leilani's
Day 2 ~ Snorkeling, Mama's Fish House
Day 3 ~ Molikini Crater, Eskimo Candy, Coconut's Fish Cafe
Day 4: Snorkeling, Nakaleke Blowhole, Haleakala, Da Kitchen 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Maui: Day 3 ~ Molikini Crater, Eskimo Candy, Coconut's Fish Cafe

This was our one early morning of our vacay.

We love snorkeling and were planning to snorkel the Molikini Crater this morning. We had researched (as usual) and decided on going with Redline Rafting.

We chose them for a few reasons. First off, they left pretty early. This was not because we were early birds, but because we were going to be snorkeling in one of the most popular snorkeling spots in the world. And because we were leaving our dock before 7 am, we were guaranteed to get there before other groups. Another great reason we chose Redline was that this company had small groups without any time limits at snorkel spots. And, they promised to visit at least three spots, with a possible fourth.

We had to be in Kihei at 6:15 am. Which meant we had to leave our hotel at around 5:20 am. We found the spot we were to be in and signed in with our boat captain, Tim. They had coffee for everyone, which was nice.

There were about 20 people on our boat, and they all arrived on time. Some of us talked a bit - there were people from the Midwest and two couples from Australia.

At around 6:45 am it was time to board.

 We were on the southern part of Maui so the ride to Molikini took about 20 minutes.

As we got further from the island we got a great glimpse of Haleakala. The summit was clear of clouds so the people that had gotten up there for the sunrise must have had a great view.

On the way out, they served us fresh cinnamon rolls and fruit. I only ate half of mine but should have eaten the whole thing - we were going to be snorkeling all morning and by lunch I was so starved I was feeling light headed.

Molikini Crater.

Redline Rafting did provide snorkeling gear, but we had our own gear which was totally fine with them. They also did provide wet suits, which we took advantage of later in our day.  The view was beautiful as we arrived at the crater.

We were the second boat in at the crater, and immediately got into the water.

Pink snorkel equipment for me, and blue for him.

The color underwater was amazing.

Within a few minutes of getting into the water we saw one of these:

And if you can't see what it is, it is a white tipped shark. Holy moly. Just seeing these guys was incredible and we did keep our distance.

Another view of a shark, down below:

Our guides, Tim and Alex, both said that this was pretty amazing. As you could see in the first photos we saw two sharks. Later we saw a third one behind them for a total of three sharks in one day.

My Sweetie diving down.

The water was amazingly clear here. We have snorkeled in parts of the Caribbean and Mexico and this was one of the best spots we have snorkeled in.

Alex got into the water with us, and this whole time was giving us a running commentary of the things we were seeing. At one point, he offered to dive down with our GoPro and video for us.

Here is what he saw, at 30 feet deep.

And seeing us, looking up.

We loved swimming right up near the coral. There was so much life!

We were the second boat out at Molikini this morning. When I looked up after we had been in the water for about 45 minutes, I could see another boat coming.

Alex was swimming around, pointing things out and explaining what we were seeing. He had some fun and created this cool bubble:

Really, we loved this snorkeling spot, and the vast marine life we saw here.

The great thing  about Redline Rafting was that they also took you to the backside of the crater. As we were leaving there were three of these huge catamaran type boats just arriving at the front and Tim said there were at least 100 people on each one. So glad we were in a small group and were able to get to the crater so early!

So think about a crater for a minute. A crater has a bowl-like shape in the center area, but the outside is pretty steep down, even steeper than a mountain.

This is exactly how the Molikini Crater was like. The backside dropped almost straight down 300 feet.

When we got in, this is what we saw:

You had coral all along the backside, but it dropped off sharply.

What was amazing about the backside was the color of the water. The blue was an amazing shade and  I really, really cannot describe how it looked.

So on one side we had amazing coral.....

And on the other side was an abyss, with a 300+ foot drop.

Which meant I was not holding our GoPro at all.  No way. Drop that thing and it is gone forever.

Me, in the provided wet suit, because it was a bit colder out here.

This was incredible.

On the backside.

The wall of the crater was amazing too.

Tim and Alex told us about this area on the backside, called the Elevator. It was between two visible cracks and was about twelve feet long.

At the Elevator, you can go to within a foot of the backside. And since it was straight down you were guaranteed, that you could go up and down with the waves, and you wouldn't be pushed into the walls of the crater.

I could have seriously floated here, looking up at the view of the crater, for hours. It was amazing, to be lifted up and down, six to nine feet by the waves, and know the power of the ocean and tides. It was really surreal.

Out to the depths of the sea.

Moliniki was definitely worth the boat ride out here!

Finally we got back on the boat and headed away from Molikini.

Our next destination was Le Perouse, in southern Maui.

This spot has a couple of lava flows coming from it. There is lots of debate, told to us by our Captain Tim, as to the date of this last lava flow. Some feel it was as recent as the late 1700's, and others think it is 400 years earlier.

That looks like normal land on the photo below, but you would not want to be walking on that land. Seriously sharp lava out there.

We had planned to snorkel here, but it was much too rough and it would have been too murky.

We headed slightly north.

On the way to the next spot, we saw something amazing:


Not just a couple of them, but a really big pod of them.

Tim explained that they were in their sleep cycle, and so they swam in patterns together, up and down.

They were so close!

It was amazing that we saw these guys.

Our last stop was Turtle Town. This area, is known to be a turtle cleaning station. This is an spot where other fish are waiting for the turtles to come and then they clean them.

This was so much fun, swimming with the turtles.

They were so close, and unlike the turtles we swam with on St. Thomas in the Caribbean, these guys were definitely not scared of us.

We got back on the boat to a huge spread that Alex and Tim had gotten out while we were snorkeling. It was now almost noon and we had been in the water for 3+ hours and I was truly starved.

Redline Rafting was a great choice and we would totally do a trip with them again.

When we had been on the boat we had asked Alex what his favorite beach was and he said Makena Beach or Big Beach. This was very near to where we were, so we decided to head down that way.

We had a great view of Molikini.

We sat for a bit and relaxed. We also walked down the beach for a bit.

There were lifeguards on the beach and they would periodically make announcements about the beach. Makena Beach is unique in that it has a steep wave shelf. It has been nicknamed 'breakneck beach' because body surfers will get pounded by the waves and hit the sand so hard they can break their neck, or other things. There is definitely more danger if you are trying to surf here, since you are going headfirst into the shore. But even swimming can be a bit crazy.

Obviously a calm moment in that photo above.

There were people in the water and a family right near us were standing chest deep and swimming in the waves. We do like to swim but wanted to be cautious, so went in carefully. Being short, I got out past the wave shelf and was swimming. The waves weren't huge but fun to float in, After a while we decided to go sit some more and I started swimming in to where I could stand.

I got stuck. My Sweetie was able to swim fast enough between the waves to get to where it was shallow enough to walk in, but I would almost get a toe hold on the sand, look behind me and see a wave starting to curl, and not wanting to get tossed in the wave, go back under it and wait and try again. I was seriously not tall enough to get my feet on the sand, and not a fast enough swimmer to get to that point where I could stand. And because of the warnings, there was no way I was going to try to swim in with the wave.

My faithful Sweetie stayed with me and kept trying to get me in. I was starting to freak out, when finally there was enough of a break that I was able to get on my feet and walk in.

I needed to sit for a while after that. As we sat and watched others we realized that where we had chosen to go in, the wave shelf was particularly high. The family near us? They kept walking in and out and never really swam. What I should have done was swim back out and then down to where they were and try to get in there.

It was getting later so we headed to Kihei for dinner. This was the only day we were planning to be in southern Maui so we had narrowed it down to two choices. And since we only wanted to try the poke at one place, we decided to head there first for our appetizer.

Eskimo Candy.

This deli-like place was very casual. They  had different kinds of poke and also had a sampler dish. We decided to get that one.

Waiting for our poke. That smile on my face is saying yeah, I'm glad to be alive today.

It only took a few minutes and our poke bowl was ready. All four kinds were very unique. They also served it with seaweed salad and a pickled cucumber.

This was the best poke I have ever had. We did have poke on another day and this place was still the best. Underneath all that goodness was rice, which soaked up some of the flavors from the poke. And the tuna was very fresh and not streaked with any fat at all.

So amazing.

We headed to dinner, just down the street at Coconut's Fish Cafe. This place, as is many of the restaurants in Maui, was in a strip mall.

At the recommendation of the server, we split an order of fish tacos. And let me tell you, it was a good thing we split. These things were huge.

There are actually something like eight different layers in the taco. Sadly I had to take off the mango salsa - I am allergic to mangoes and forgot to ask them to take them off. These tacos were incredible. Fish tacos are really popular here (duh) and these were actually the best we had the whole trip.

And a very cool thing is that the owner is from our area and we have a Coconut's Fish Cafe in the big city near us.

So Kihei was the bomb for not only snorkeling but eating too.

We drove back to our hotel. Pretty much all the roads here are two lanes.

On the road to Ka'anapali there is a tunnel - the only one on Maui.

The reason I got to snap this photo was because we were in a bit of traffic. We did find that from about 5-7pm there was congestion on the roads.

But hey, we had an awesome view to look at.

We stopped about 20 minutes south of Ka'anapali at Leoda's.

This place was very cool inside and looked like it would have been a great stop for lunch for a sandwich. We were here for the pies.

We got a chocolate macadamia mini pie to take back for dessert.

We also had to stop in right next door at the Olowalu General Store. This store was just that, a general store for this area, and we spent a few minutes exploring it. They had bento boxes, spam musubi, and shaved ice too.

Back at our hotel, we walked out to the beach and watched the sun set.

The end to another beautiful day.

Maui Trip:

Day 1 ~ Arrival, Geste Shrimp Truck, Leilani's
Day 2 ~ Snorkeling, Mama's Fish House
Day 3 ~ Molikini Crater, Eskimo Candy, Coconut's Fish Cafe
Day 4: Snorkeling, Nakaleke Blowhole, Haleakala, Da Kitchen