(link back to Part 1)
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Day 3 - Monday, Feb 13
The Hang and I are breakfast junkies on the weekend, so we continued our quest for a decent place. In Portland, we're kind of hooked on places that are less genteel and a little rough'n'funky, like Stepping Stone, Helser's, and Gravy, and we were kind of hoping to find a place in Maui along those lines. The concierge's suggestion was the Big Wave Cafe, which was not genteel, nor was it funky or rough. Our quest would continue.
It was a sunny morning, so after breakfast we decided to try finding a decent beach. Our curiosity got the better of us, so we headed south, past the huge resorts in Wailea, toward Makena, to check out ...
... yes ...
... the nude beach! DUN-DUN-DUN!!!
Grabbed the sunblock, some towels, a few snacks, and the iPod; loaded up Turq ... and hit the road. The drive down was relaxing, and, when we neared the resort area of Wailea, quite beautiful.
The drive, on the map:
Our target destination was Pu'u Ola'i Beach, or "Little Beach." You get there by driving about a mile south of the Maui Prince Hotel, and turning into the bumpy dirt path at the "Makena State Park" sign. The pathway leads to the 1/2-mile long "Big Beach," at the northern terminus of which is a rocky lava flow separating the two beaches. A path leads up one side and down the other, and hello, you're there:
Here's a much more detailed photo of the surrounding topography, and some pretty detailed directions (and photos) ... as the linked website implies, it's a popular spot for the gay crowd.
The beach is less than 500' long, and can get a little crowded because it's pretty popular with both first-timers and regulars. There were probably about 50 people there already, and yeah, all nekkid. Plenty of older folks, some thirtysomethings like us, some families with young kids, and almost none in the teen-to-twenties category. All the same, there was a decent amount of eye candy (both scenery and humans), and of course, this being a rather new experience for me to begin with, lots of people-watching.
Welp, we set up our towels ... and I guess I'm a little more reserved than I thought, since it took me about 40 minutes to finally lose my inhibitions and drop trou. The Hang, I discovered, has a more "when in Rome" attitude than me, and didn't have any problems stripping down.
This being my first time sans clothes in public, I was confronted by a host of new social etiquette challenges, the most immediate one being: um, how best to apply sunblock to my ... area?
(Eventually I got things figured out.)
My sweetie wanted to go for a swim, it was pretty hot out and the surf looked really inviting (despite the attraction its clothing-optional status offers, Little Beach is also popular among bodysurfers because of the great wave action) ... however, sitting in public, naked, is quite different from getting up and walking out to the ocean, naked.
Hey, some people have hang-ups and some don't. I did ... but now I don't. :)
Unfortunately, even though I got plenty of pictures on the rest of the trip, the camera mysteriously broke when The Hang attempted to take a shot of me; I think it was the blinding reflection of light off my fishbelly white flesh. So, for a shot of either of us in the buff, you'll need to either use your imagination or check the exhibitionist websites.
We packed up about 3 and headed back, and on my folks' recommendation called Kimo's in Lahaina to set up reservations for dinner. Right away I got a weird feeling ... we asked for somewhere to sit to watch the sunset, and were told that they really don't have anywhere in the restaurant you can sit and see the ocean. Odd, considering it's an open, tri-level oceanfront restaurant, facing due west. I'm thinking they misunderstood? Ah well, worth a try.
Saw a rainbow on the drive up - the first of many we'd see, in fact. Pictures of it weren't so good, taken while driving:
I don't know what I was aiming at when I caught this one, but I like it:
We arrived in Lahaina just as the sun was setting, walked to the restaurant and checked to see if we could get in prior to our reservation time, and then strolled around the mega-touristy shops and "art" galleries to kill time till dinner. The sunset was subdued tonight, since it was kind of hazy out on the ocean.
Dinner unfortunately wasn't that impressive ... they stuck us in a corner table despite several open tables with a nice ocean view, and although our server was energetic, the food kind of lacked ... taste. Or maybe I just lack the palate to appreciate good fish? I had mahimahi baked "Kimo's style," but all I could really taste (everything on the plate tasted the same) was some lemon and salt. Even the famed hula pie was really not much different from any of several "mud pie"-like desserts pretty readily available at, say, your local Red Robin. I got the sense that this place survives on a self-perpetuating reputation and a loyal following, but maybe I'm being too harsh.
Over dinner, we decided to try the Road to Hana next morning. Back at the condo, we had a late night soak before bedtime.
Day 4 - Tuesday, Feb 14
I think we just decided at this point to scrap the list of restaurant recommendations we'd accumulated, because they just didn't seem to be working out for us ... but I was getting over a cold during our first few days, so maybe my taste buds were off. We had one more to try, though: The Hang had made reservations, a few weeks previous, at Mama's Fish House in Paia for Valentine's Day (today). We figured we'd take all day to drive to Hana and back, change, then head back up to Paia for a nice dinner.
As for breakfast, I was kind of intrigued by the Lonely Planet guidebook's entry on a place called Kihei Caffe in South Kihei, so we gave it a try and LOVED IT. It's a teeny little hole-in-the-wall place across S. Kihei Street from Kalama Park, with mostly outdoor seating, and the food is exactly the type we were looking for. The menu has something for every taste, whether it's high-carb, high-grease, veggie-only, super healthy, whatev. It was raining that morning, and all of the outside tables on the covered deck were taken, so we ate inside the cramped interior, then headed out. Later in the week, we'd return there several times.
On the advice of one of the condo guests we'd met in the hot tub, we picked up a CD guide and map for the Hana journey, and that helped immensely once I stopped stressing and figured out how to match the narration tracks to the mile markers on the road (to the great relief of The Hang, who'd graciously insisted upon driving).
Here's the route we drove ... I think it took us about 5-6 hours to get to the Ohe'o Gulch Pools (a.k.a. the Seven Sacred Pools) at Hale'akala National Park at Kipahulu, but this is with a bunch of stops.
The Road to Hana hugs the (north)eastern coastline and is a 50+ mile maze of hairpin curves and one-lane bridges that leads through one of the rainiest places in the world, with parts of the area receiving a few hundred inches of precipitation per year. Needless to say, it rained that day, at least on that side of the island.
I can't recall all of the place names in the pictures, but they're in roughly the same order we came across them on the road. I think this is Haipua'ena Falls, around mile marker 11:
We quickly learned that if we stopped the car to get out and snap a photo of every waterfall we came across, it would take us forever to get there ... and most of them looked like the one above, anyway, except with more people also snapping shots of it.
These were taken from the top of one of the hundreds of coastal valleys along the road, you can see the stream as it heads out to the ocean:
My attempt at a panoramic view from a nice outlook:
Although there really wasn't much traffic on the road today, we had to slow down several times because there were people parking at every little bridge to take shots of the waterfalls. Our guidebook mentioned that on weekends, especially late mornings, the traffic can be bumper-to-bumper ... which was one of the reasons we chose to try going relatively early on a weekday. Even so, I often had to angle my camera or wait a few minutes in order to avoid including someone else in the pic.
These are looking down into another coastal valley across the top of a bamboo grove (the road is immediately above and behind the grove):
Another nice lookout, I guess this little bay (Honomanu Bay?) is popular with surfers, although a little treacherous:
A couple shots of one of my favorite lookouts on the road (it's raining out there), this is looking southeast toward the Ke'anae Peninsula:
Around mile marker 16, we stopped at the Ke'anae Arboretum and stretched our legs a little big on a well-maintained trail. I took this shot while in the parking turnout:
Before sugar and pineapple became Hawaii's chief crops, the indigenous folks here cultivated taro for centuries. The leaves on these plants were 4-5 feet long. The Hang wanted me to get shots of one with a bunch of drops of rain on it:
Passed a small grove of painted eucalyptus:
Most of these, unfortunately, have been vandalized for several years with knife cut graffiti, but I managed to find a relatively unblemished one for a close-up of the texture:
Don't know what kind of flower this is, but the bloom was about 6" in diameter ... we'd gathered by this time that the scale of the vegetation on the island was almost always quite a bit larger than what we were used to seeing in the States.
We got about a half-mile into the arboretum before the path kind of dwindled out, so we decided to head back to the car. Got absolutely drenched in a rain shower on the way back which, even by Portland standards, was quite a downpour. The rationale behind all of the signs advising that "flash floods may occur suddenly and at any time" became very clear.
As we jogged back to the car, wearing our quick-drying, moisture-wicking, space-age synthetic outdoorsy fabrics, we passed an unfortunate couple, dressed in now-soggy white cotton, huddled underneath a tree ... I hoped they'd at least packed some towels back in their car.
Back on the road, we discovered that we should have applied the mosquito repellant a little more liberally. :/
Around mile marker 18, we stopped at an elevated lookout where we could see the Wailea Peninsula, looking east toward the ocean:
These shots are hazy in the distance because it was raining, but a ray of light is shining down on the area around the church in the left pic. A sign? I zoomed a bit:
Looking west, inland, we could see a waterfall (Waikani Falls?) a ways off:
Got a better shot once the clouds/fog cleared a bit:
Hopped back in the car!
Next stop: the black sand beach at Pa'iloa Bay in Wai'napanapa State Park. Another attempt at a panoramic triptych, after hiking out a bit and turning inland (the beach is most visible in the second shot):
We really liked the contrast among the black rocks, the bright green ground cover, and the blue (or gray, depending) sky:
Welp, at this point, at least half of us (i.e., me) were getting a little cranky and anxious to reach something like, you know, a destination, so we drove on to Hana Town without any further stops. It's another teeny little town, with a lot of cultural history we were actually a little too hungry and road-weary to take in. So we looked for a retaurant.
If we do this again, we'll heed the advice urged on a bunch of signs waaaay back in Paia to buy a boxed lunch to take with us, as the dining options here are really limited to one or two restaurants ... which, being so remote, were quite content to charge premium prices for standard offerings.
We sat outside, munching our $9 burgers, and gazing eastward to the ocean, we happened to spot a few whales. :)
Our options at this point were to continue on the road, or head back. The Hang had shown me a picture in on of the tour books we'd grabbed of the "Seven Sacred Pools," so we pressed on toward Kipahulu after finishing lunch.
Many more pictures to follow!
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Coming up next in Part 3: a beautiful hike, an insane drive, and a crappy dinner!
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