Slice of Heaven
After our bumpy start on the Big Island, Maui was supposed to be different. A smaller island, more time to explore and even a rental car to cruise around. Everything was set up for good times… and Maui did not disappoint!
Island hopping with Mokulele Flights is not only the cheapest option, but also the most relaxed. At the terminal in Kona, we only have to put our luggage on a scale and show our passports. No security check. Half an hour later, our pilot picks us up personally in the lobby. Apart from us, there is only one more passenger on the flight. The two pilots and us board the small plane within minutes and before we know it, we are in mid-air. It feels like a sightseeing flight and we enjoy the views of the islands.
After landing in Kapalua, we hitch a ride to Olowalu in the southwest, to stay on the only private campground of the island. Tenting close to the beach, under constant shade of the native trees, we relax for a few days with daytrips into Lahaina. Here you can wander around fantastic art galleries all day without spending a dime!
On the fourth day we hitchhike into Kahului to get a rental car. We had received an insider tip, from a guy called Billie, who had once drummed for the punk band Blast. In Kahului, we finally find this shady polish used car dealer, who offers us a mini van for 200$ a week. It’s an old rundown car, with all kinds of dents and scratches, but it seems to run okay and so we accept.
Our first trip in the van leads us down south, to snorkel with turtles in Makena Bay. In the evening, we camp on a famous nude beach, called Little Beach. We park our car a little further up the road and hike into the park after the gates are locked. Once inside, we get to enjoy a wonderful display of stars while sleeping in a gorgeous little bay with no one around.
A neat little tree on the beach draws our attention, just sitting there in front of the ocean. One big root on each side of the tree sticks out of the sand, making the tree look like it’s anchored in the beach. We take some pictures with the stars in the background, before starting to try some really long-exposures.
By exposing for a full hour and this way letting enough light on my sensor, I turn the night into day and the colors and movements of the ocean become very soft. The final image reminds me of those typical pastel paintings, where everything is nice and smooth. And there it is, one of my best beach pictures so far:
In the next day our car breaks down and we get the chance to switch to a smaller and cheaper model instead. Its first big mission is the famed “Road to Hana”, twisting and turning along the coast for 52 miles with around 600 curves and over 50 one-way bridges. The closer to Hana we get, the more tropical the environment becomes. Surrounded by beautiful jungle, this is a car enthusiasts dream! We camp in the Wai’anapanapa State Park, close to a nice black lava sand beach, before continuing along the highway all the way around the eastern part of Maui.
While putting up our tents high above sea level on the slopes of the giant Haleakalā volcano, we get company by a group of young people. For the second time in Hawaii, they turn out to be members of “Youth With A Mission” and invite us for some nice sausages over the fire. We are truly blessed that night…
In the following days, we explore the beautiful western half of Maui, where we find some amazing coastline, a big blowhole and some nice little Hawaiian villages.
Around the end of October, the first big swell hits the north shore and we make our way to Jaws, one of the most famous big wave surf spots in the world. From the far distance, we watch a bunch of wind- and kitesurfers battle the biggest waves I have ever seen. Impressive!
We use our last days on Maui to drive up to the Haleakalā National Park, where we hike from the summit (at 10,023 foot) down to the bottom of the crater. While hiking, we feel like we are on the moon. The landscape and plants are really different to anything I have seen before. Near our camp in the crater, we find a lava tube, which we follow underground for about 10 minutes, before we reach the other exit. An amazing experience that most tourists don’t get to have.
One of the native plants here is the Haleakalā ‘Ahinahina (Silversword), which is believed to have evolved from a California tarweed millions of years ago. Nowadays it’s an endangered species, which lives only on the slopes of Haleakalā and nowhere else in the world. These plants can live up to 50 years, flowering only once, then dying and leaving behind thousands of dry seeds to reproduce. The dense silvery hairs invite me to dive into a close-up series of colors and shapes:
Maui turns out to be a place that I really like and I will probably come back one day. It’s full of nice beaches, cloudy volcanoes and relaxed people…a real slice of heaven!