Thursday, April 25, 2013

Waterfalls, Bamboo, and Sailing

We spent our last full day in Maui on the Road to Hana.  Jesse had fun driving the car up the winding  cliffside (driving back after dark was another story!)  Our first stop was at Upper Waikani Falls -- the first waterfall we got to see up close on our journey. 

We were also able to explore the expansive Wai'anapanapa State Park.  We started with spelunking.  We jumped into the very cold water and started to swim.  At the back of one of the caves, there was a narrow passageway (the dark spot behind me) which we went through with some locals guiding us.  We climbed up some rocks (in the dark) slid through a narrow hole in the ground to some more water below (again, in the dark), and then scaled the rocky wall on the backside to reach a hole in the back of the cave that led back outside on the cliff (that we had to climb down)!  Such an unexpected adventure!    

Our next stop was at the black sand beach, which was really quite cool looking.

Then we headed over to another blowhole which, again, failed to blow!  (Apparently the tide was low).  We did get to see some more beautiful coastline though.

A little further down the road, we stopped at Wailua Falls. 

The highlight of the Road to Hana is Oheo Gulch and the Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls.  Just past another banyan tree was the first of the many waterfalls and pools that make up Oheo Gulch.  We hiked up behind the second set of waterfalls and then jumped into the pool.  It was magical!

After our dip, we started on the four-mile Pipiwai Trail, much of which was through a gorgeous and expansive bamboo forest!

The Pipiwai Trail ends at Waimoku Falls, the most stunning waterfall I have ever seen!  We were just surrounded by incredible natural beauty.

Our final morning was spent sailing.  We got sailing lessons from Captain Gene, and while I had much more to learn than Jesse, we managed to have a lot of fun.  After hours of sailing, we jumped off the back of the boat for a dip (we couldn't believe how blue the water was there, and it would have been relaxing if I could get rid of my unwarranted fear of being shark bait -- have you seen Open Water?)

Before heading home on our long and painful flight, we were able to relax at a little beach park and say goodbye to this incredible place.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Snorkel, Surf, and Relaxation

We went snorkeling the next day as well, but we went just a tad more into the wild this time.  We trekked through a little bit of rainforest to snorkel at Honolua Bay, a secluded bay off of a rocky beach on the north side of Maui.  We saw beautiful and exotic fish, another turtle (extremely close to us) and the biggest school of fish that I have ever seen.

After snorkeling, we headed up to the Nakalele Blowhole in hopes of seeing it, well, blow.  If you look behind Jesse, you will see that the blowhole failed to blow while we were there.  We nonetheless got a fantastic view of the coastline (and you can see my wild island hair!)

After our somewhat unsuccessful excursion, we did something that I have always wanted to do -- get massages on the beach!  That was a real treat.  We had a relaxing evening too, eating lau lau at a local dive and renting a movie.  

Good thing we rested because we were much more active the next day.  We got up early for our couples surfing lesson.  I know what you are thinking.  I am not athletic (that's no secret), but turns out I can actually get up on a board and stay there (on my first try)!  And of course we already knew that Jesse can kill any water sport there is, so he looked amazing.  Despite my abilities on the board, I think I amazed our instructor with how completely useless my little arms are at paddling me out to catch a wave.  I took forever and there were many tortoise and hare jokes because Jesse took less than half the time I did to paddle back out and catch another wave (he towed me a couple times!)  

I have to admit, I am still a little sore from all of that paddling, but I am so glad that I tried surfing!  After a fabulous lunch at Star Noodle (their pork buns are really good), we relaxed on the beach outside of our hotel.  Well, this picture of Jesse laying on the beach didn't last for very long.  We decided that we would burn to a crisp being out in the sun all day and opted for covered beach chairs STAT!  Right before dinner, we were treated to a lovely sunset, the perfect end to our day. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sailing with Whales, Swimming with Turtles, and Cliff Diving

Jesse and I are jet-lagged and sunburned (just a little) but very happy after our lovely week-long trip to Maui.  It was our first time on the island and we had a lot to do and explore.  We arrived in Maui late Saturday afternoon, and after checking into our suite at the Ka'anapali Beach Club, we enjoyed dinner on the beach at Duke's Beach House.  

We started our first morning off right with a delicious breakfast (I had a banana macadamia nut pancakes) at the Gazebo, which is a cute spot on the beach.  After breakfast, we headed to the port town of Lahaina, where we walked around cute shops and restaurants.  We also snapped pictures of the biggest Banyan tree I have ever seen!

Next, we headed over to Iao Valley State Park, where we took a short hike up to see the Iao Valley Needle.  We also tested out our water-hiking shoes by standing in a stream (very cold!)

We headed back to Lahaina for our sunset whale watch sail aboard the Scotch Mist II.  We arrived in Maui at the very end of whale season.  We saw some large splashes and blowhole sprays in the distance and even saw whales jumping out of the water very far off into the horizon.  There were a couple whale sightings near our boat where they just peaked up a little bit and allowed us to take a couple pictures.

The next morning we headed to Black Rock to snorkel.  It was ah-amazing.  Black Rock itself is on a beautiful stretch of Ka'anapali Beach, and Black Rock creates a protects a reef that is full of fish!  We bought an underwater camera that Jesse used to take great pictures of the gorgeous fish, including  Humuhumunukunukuapuaa, Hawaii's state fish.

As you can see, we saw a number of beautiful fish [I am getting a Nemo vibe from that last picture -- doesn't it look like the school of fish are making a picture of another fish?!?].  We got out of the water to warm up (the water was a little cold) and rest, but decided to go back in, and I am so glad that we did.  Watch this video and you'll see why!

If you listen closely to the audio, you will hear some unusual noises.  It might sound like Jesse has bronchitis, but we are pretty sure that you are hearing whales!  

Jesse spotted this turtle underneath some coral and then we followed it until it met up with a friend!  We are so blessed to have been able to swim with turtles!

Another popular activity at Black Rock is to cliff dive.  At first, both of us said ummm no.  But after Jesse saw some teenage girls do it, I think he decided that he had to.  Not only did Jesse jump, but he did it with style:

We ended the night with a lovely seafood dinner (and macadamia nut mousse) at Black Rock Steak & Seafood and watched a lovely sunset.