Our airBnB condo was another great success-- ocean views from each room, and this time, sunset views!
Randy and Karen have been to Maui a number of times and even have some good friends who live on the island. But since I was here for the first time, they graciously allowed me to indulge in some typical tourist activities. Day 1 was driving the famous "Road to Hana" which is a 64-mile drive along the northeast coast that features 600 turns and 54 bridges.
Our first stop was to look at these Eucalyptus trees. The bark is so colorful!
Thankfully, Randy did the driving on this trip. It helped that he managed to score a 4-door Jeep Wrangler with removable sunroof!
Max speed was usually about 20 mph due to all the twists and turns (and in some spots, only one lane for traffic to squeeze by each other).
Perhaps the most interesting spot was where we stopped for lunch-- the black sand beach at Waianapanapa State Park near Hana.
It actually wasn't too sandy. The beach is more made up of black rock pebbles.
In Hana, we stopped at the Hana Bay Beach Park to admire the views.
Some residents of Hana have quite a sense of humor!
As we drove back the way we came, we stopped to photograph the numerous waterfalls along the way. So pretty!
The next day, we hung out at Makena Beach at the far south end of the island. Randy was eager to do more snorkeling.
That evening, it was time to get back into tourist mode with a visit to a traditional luau. We booked with the Feast at Lele in Lahaina and it was fantastic! Open air seating on the beach, with a multi-course Polynesian dinner, unlimited drinks, and lots of music and dancing!
Yes, I even bought a new dress for the occasion! Don't think I've worn a dress in over a decade!
Soon, the dancers arrived via outrigger canoe to begin the show --
Having a great time and really liking my new curly locks!
I forgot to get a video of the excellent singers and musicians, but did get this quick video of the dancers and drummers--
By the end of the night, I was crying "uncle" from all the food and drinks they served us. So much food, but oh, so delicious!
The next day, Randy and I headed to Haleakala National Park. Haleakala is the 10,000 foot mountain that dominates the eastern half of the island. What's amazing is to think that this mountain is actually taller than Denali (at over 29,000 feet) if you count the portion of it that resides underwater!
As we climbed the mountain, we began to reach the bottoms of the clouds drifting across the hillside.
Then, we were actually driving thru the clouds--
and finally, now above the clouds, the views were surreal-- as if we were in an airplane looking out over the clouds, yet we were still on the ground!
At the very top of the summit is a scientific observatory (off limits to the public)--
Peering ever so carefully over the rim to look at Haleakala's crater (thankfully, still dormant!)--
Here's the trailhead for a hike you can take down into the crater. The east side of the crater wall is missing, so this leads to a long, continuous multi-day hike that you can do all the way down to Hana at sea level!
There's also a small visitor center at the summit. Couldn't see much on this day!
Clouds rolling in over the observatory--
On our way back down the mountain, we stopped at this alternate overlook into the crater. Randy hiked up to the rim to get these shots--
An interesting pine tree about mid-way down the mountain--
and great views of Maui as we descended--
A very popular activity is to rent bicycles, get shuttled up to the summit, and then ride all the way back down. We didn't do it on this day, but this guy did! The bikes go so fast, the tour operators make you wear a motorcycle helmet!
In the afternoon, we headed over to Kanaha Beach Park to check out the windsurfer and kiteboarders. These guys were both using a new innovation on their boards-- a carbon fiber hydrofoil, that lets the surfboard actually glide above the water surface for faster and smoother sailing. Pretty wild looking!
After watching the action, we drove to a few nearby surf shops so Randy could check out rental gear. He was jazzed up and ready for some windsurfing, but it'd have to wait until tomorrow. It was now time for another lovely sunset view from our condo balcony!
The next day, Randy met his buddy Lyle at Kahana Beach to take to the waves. Randy hadn't windsurfed in over a year and was a bit rusty, but once he got up on the board, he was flying in the 20 mph winds!
Off he goes into the wild blue sea!
Pretty soon, Randy was looking like a pro again (even if sailing on rental gear!)--
One of the locals who is friends with Lyle and Randy is a 70-year-old lady with this really cool butterfly sail!
More Randy runs (I really have tried to cull these photos down, really!)--
The pro surfer at the front of the pack is Dave Ezzy, legendary designer of windsurf sails (including the one Randy had rented on this day)--
Dave was riding a shorter board on a hydrofoil. Pretty cool stuff!
After coming in to swap our sails, Randy and Lyle were back out on the water and ready for stronger winds--
Lyle coming in for a landing--
While Lyle and Randy are good windsurfers, they're no match for some of the young pro guys that live in Maui and surf every day. This guy was practicing his 360-degree spins. Pretty incredible that he could land upright after twisting his board like this!
The next day, Randy and I headed over to Ho'okipa Beach where only those good enough to be professionals dare to surf (due to the size of the waves and rocky shoreline). Winds were blowing nearly 30 mph on this day to give lots of great action on the water. Randy could only sit on the shore and admire the pros!
But even pro windsurfers aren't perfect. This guy got separated from his board in rough seas. We watched him for a few minutes as he treaded water, but when he finally raised his arm up, we knew he might need help. Karen called 911, and within less than 5 minutes, a lifeguard was heading out on a jetski to pick him up.
After ensuring the guy could sail his board again, the lifeguard headed back to shore.
In the evening, we headed out for a sunset boat cruise on the Alii Nui catamaran. Great food and drinks!
As we got out on the water, looking east, the clouds parted just enough to see the observatory domes at the top of Mt. Haleakala!
The lovebirds enjoying the sunset!
For our final day on Maui, our flight was scheduled to depart around 8:30pm, so we still had nearly a full day to sightsee. Randy and I headed up to the northwest shore of the island. We made it as far as the town of Kahakuloa before road construction would not let us proceed any further. Still, it was a fun little drive.
Afterwards, we still had some time to kill before dinner. Since the winds were blowing even stronger than the days before, we decided to head back to Ho'okipa to watch the pro windsurfers again. They're simply amazing!
As we headed to dinner, a slight rainbow poked down to the sugar cane fields in central Maui.
The long red-eye flight home was uneventful, except for getting to see the sunrise beneath the Moon and Jupiter. The end of an amazing bucket list trip!