Maui & Kauai 12/12

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Here today, gone to Maui - then Kauai...

Looking down on a bright double rainbow while ascending Haleakala, Maui

Craig's final winter break at UCLA was upon us, so off we flew for a 6 day pre-Christmas father-son vacation in Hawaii. Armed with a convertible on both islands, it was mostly top-up rainy in Maui, but top-down beautiful in Kauai. On this trip I exercised much of what I've learned in photography classes along with two new cameras: an advanced point-and-shoot and a DSLR with only my 24mm f1.4 prime lens.

Tuesday December 18 - LA to Maui, Lahaina

 

We landed at Kahalui airport around 1pm local time, picked up our rental car and drove a few minutes to the Maui Courtyard. We chose the airport area hotel instead of the tourist areas because of its more central location for our driving tours. After a quick turnaround we were off to Lahaina. We ate a late lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe and then walked the length of the town. As we left, the sun was setting over the island of Lanai (first picture below). After a stop for supplies, we returned to our hotel and retired early in preparation for our drive to Hana the next morning.

Waimea Canyon, Kauai at the 11 mile marker lookout

Sunset over Lanai

Hana highway mile 1 rainbow

Hana Hwy 1 lane bridge

Hana Hwy - 3 Bears falls

Wednesday December 19th - The Hana highway and beyond

We got a later start than planned, but were on the road to Hana at around 8:30am. Having researched the miserable lunchtime offerings in Hana ahead of time, we stopped in Paia at Anthony's for box lunches to take with us - a very good choice. The first rainbow that we saw in Maui came near mile marker 1 of the Hana Highway (second picture above) along with a rain shower, portending many more to come. We used a Hana Highway narrated CD loaned from a friend along with my GPS to navigate the 68 miles to Hana. The Hana Highway is a scenic drive with lots of history, much of which dates from its earlier days as a difficult, mostly dirt road. The road itself is much improved now, although the 15mph speed limit, 46 one-lane bridges (third picture above) and 620 sharp curves make the trip two and a half hours - and that's not counting stops for gawking and photos. It rained almost constantly on our drive, often very hard. The good news with rain was that the waterfalls were running strong (fourth picture above and first & second pictures below). The drive improved when the road left the rainforest and hugged the coast (third picture below).

Hana is truly a tiny, sleepy town, sporting its famous general store, a post office and mostly bed and breakfast hotels. We decided to extend our trip another 45 minutes beyond Hana to the Ohe'o Gulch, home of the 7 Sacred Pools, which is the south coast piece of Haleakala National Park. At Ohe'o Gulch, the rain let up for while so we ate our boxed lunches and then descended the half-mile trail to the 7 pools. Normally the pools are calm enough for swimming, but due to the heavy rain that week, they were off-limits and looked much more like waterfalls than pools. Back at the visitor's center, emboldened the lack of rain, we headed up the Pīpīwai trail toward Waimoku Falls. Shortly after we started ascending, the rain came down hard and kept coming hard for the rest of the hike. By the time we got back to the parking lot, the dirt trail was a running river and footing was very difficult (fourth picture below, making an obviously poor choice). We returned to our hotel in Kahului in the early evening and walked to a great dinner at Marco's Grill and Deli, including their outstanding signature Mai Tai - best one of the trip.

Hana Hwy - Pua'a Ka'a falls

Wailua falls

Hana Hwy coastline

No fear - Ohe'o 7 pools

Thursday December 20th - Haleakala

We woke late and walked to Maui Coffee Roasters for an early lunch. With rain threatening again, we headed out to the summit of Haleakala around noon. Haleakala is a 10,000ft. shield volcano that makes up about 75% of Maui. We got a pleasant surprise as we began to ascend the lower plains-like switchbacks toward the peak. An unusually bright double rainbow formed below us hugging the coast (large picture top of page left). As we climbed above 5000ft., the terrain changed, the rain started, the winds picked up and a heavy fog covered the scenery. At the park entrance around 7000ft, I wasn't sure it would be worth the rest of the drive, but the ranger told us to head up and wait - the weather changes fast. He was right. Although the Visitor's Center at 9000ft. was fogged in when we arrived, a few minutes later the fog lifted. We headed up to the 10,000ft. summit where the thin air and rolling fog made for a beautiful, moon-like scene (first picture below with "Science City" observatories in the background). Descending the volcano we were greeted with rainbow after rainbow (second picture below). We walked to dinner at Da Kitchen Cafe, a local sensation, before processing pictures and packing for our flight to Kauai the next day.

Haleakala summit moonscape

Rainbow descending Haleakala

Kauai room with a view

Kilauea Point & Lighthouse

Friday December 21st - Maui to Kauai, the northern route to Princeville

After a traditional Hawaiian breakfast of Portuguese sausage, rice and eggs, we headed to the airport for our short flight to Kauai, arriving around 1:30pm. The hot bright sun welcomed us after three days of rain and cold in Maui. We rented another convertible and put the top down for our 20 minute drive north to the Coconut Beach Courtyard in Kapaa, (third picture above from our balcony). After a quick turnaround in the room, we headed north toward Princeville, stopping briefly for a late lunch at Java Kai. Proceeding counterclockwise around the island, Kilauea Lighthouse's access road was closed, but the nearby overlook provided a nice view (fourth picture above). From there we continued to Princeville with a couple stops at valley overlooks along the way. Returning to our hotel in the evening, we walked to Wahooo Seafood Grill & Bar, where we had a leisurely dinner on their outside deck.

Halulu falls from above

Haena point coast from above

Halelea forest

Mamalahoa forest reserve

Saturday December 22nd - Helicopter tour & the southeast Poipu Beach area

Despite rumors to the contrary, the world didn't end that morning per the expiring Mayan calendar - good thing we made other plans. We woke mid-morning and walked to the Coconut Marketplace where we ate breakfast at Eggbert's. It's easy to get used to the Portuguese sausage, rice and eggs and pancakes with coconut syrup in Hawaii. We walked through the marketplace after breakfast. There were a lot of empty shops, just like we found in Maui, victims of a weak economy. After a turnaround at our hotel room we drove to the airport for our helicopter tour of the island. I chose Mauna Loa Helicopters among the many operators because they ran a private tour for about the same price as a group and they offered the "doors off" option, allowing for much better aerial photography. The one hour tour was the highlight of the whole trip for both of us. It's hard to describe the rush of such great scenery (four pictures above and first picture below) mixed in with a hundred mile per hour wind in your hair banking in and out of mountains, valleys and waterfalls. The video below is a 15 minute slice that offers a glimpse. I took a lot of shots from the helicopter, but made a stupid amateur photographer's mistake of not selecting shutter mode with at least a 1/500 second setting to freeze the shots against the vibration of the helicopter. Shooting as I did in program mode, about half of my shots ended up under 1/100 second and too blurry for large printing - lesson learned.

After the helicopter tour, we drove clockwise on the coast from the airport toward Poipu Beach stopping at Shipwreck Beach's wave sculpted cliffs (second picture below) before grabbing lunch on the oceanfront patio at Merriman's Downstairs Cafe. Proceeding clockwise from Merriman's, we stopped at the spouting horn (third picture below) before turning back toward our hotel. Just beyond Lihui, we took a side trip up to Wailua Falls which we caught at sunset (fourth picture below - long exposure for the silky water and mist effect). We backed-up our hundreds of pictures from the day at the hotel before walking to dinner at Bobby V's, a tiny informal Italian restaurant.

Wailua falls aerial panorama

Shipwreck beach sculpted cliffs

Spouting horn west of Poipu

Wailua falls at sunset

Press play above to ride along for a 15 minute slice of the 1 hour open door helicopter tour of Kauai

Sunday December 23rd - Waimea Canyon

Our last full day began with a coffee sunrise on our balcony, which faced east. I did some camera color settings trickery to make the sunrise resemble a sunset in the first picture below. I took a long walk along Coconut Beach before breakfast. Heading out around 11am, we drove clockwise on the coast with a first stop just a couple miles from the hotel at Opaeka'a Falls. Continuing clockwise about 45 minutes past Poipu we turned inland into Waimea Canyon. The Waimea Canyon road was very good, but steep with just a 25mph speed limit. There are four major lookout spots along the 4000ft. climb, each with outstanding views of the canyon (second through fourth pictures below). Coming back down the canyon, we pulled over at mile marker 11 and asked a passerby to take the large picture, top of page right as a fitting final snapshot of our six days in Hawaii. We ate a late lunch at Brick Oven Pizza in Kalaheo before returning to our hotel in the late afternoon. That evening neither of us felt the need for dinner, so instead we walked to Coconut Marketplace to buy souvenirs and grab a small snack at Lappert's Ice Cream & Coffee shop. We finished the day writing postcards, post-processing pictures and packing for our return to California the next day.

On Christmas Eve morning we grabbed a final Hawaiian-style breakfast at the hotel restaurant before driving to the airport - the end of a six day father-son adventure, hopefully with more to come in the future.

Coconut beach sunrise

Waimea Canyon lookout

Waimea Pu'uhinahina lookout

Waimea Kalalau lookout

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