Three months into our move to Hawaii from Germany, we ventured off the island of Oahu for the first time. So far there has been no feeling of being trapped on an island, rock fever, or anything like that, and we have enjoyed exploring the many diverse parts of Oahu on the weekends. But as the holiday weekend approached we decided to check out a neighboring island and decided on Maui…and why not?
Flights are quick and easy between the islands with flight times around 30 minutes and multiple flights per day between Honolulu and Kahului, Maui. They aren’t the cheapest given the flight time (about $130 roundtrip per ticket) but the prices fall in line with just about everything else here in Hawaii. The price is totally worth it and besides there are just no other ways to get there besides swimming. There used to be a ferry but it was closed in 2009 because of an incomplete environmental impact assessment which was really the doing of Hawaiian Airlines and Matson, the main shipping company on the island. Kahului is a small and practical airport which they are adding onto now and building a new parking garage. The downfall is having to take a shuttle to the rental car area which hopefully will improve with the new garage.
Maui is essentially two mountains formed by now dormant volcanos with a large valley running down the center between them. We decided to stay in Maalaea, in south central Maui, given that it was close to beaches, boating options, and nice areas to explore. Our VRBO apartment looked over the ocean with a spectacular view of Haleakala, Molokini crater, and the island of Kaho’olawe. It was the weekend of king tides and the waves were pounding the shore and even coming up over the marina in some places, an awesome sight! Maalaea is known for the Maui Ocean Center which has a nice restaurant, Seascape, with great views of the harbor. There is also a BBQ grill we ate at and also a general store to get basic supplies. The prices are high and even a little more than Oahu in some cases.
The highlight of our trip was a charter boat ride which took us out past Kihei, Wailea, and towards Molokini crater. The girls had a great time on the boat! We were fortunate to have rare southerly winds that day which allowed our captain to take us around and into the crater which was simply amazing! It was afternoon and no other boats were around, all having packed up from the morning snorkel excursions. We saw many kinds of fish and birds, some of which had an over 6 foot wingspan! Along the way back we could also see the islands of Kaho’olawe, Lanai, Moloka’i, and even a small part of the big island….and with Maui that made 5 of the 8 at once! Kaho’olawe is perhaps the most striking and interesting of all of the islands given it’s history of goat and cattle raising, deforestation, and finally bombing by the DoD which has left the island uninhabitable.
Sunday we drove 30 minutes west and around the Maui Forest reserve and to the pretty town of Lahaina. An old and historic whaling town and former capital of the region, the town was a great day trip for shopping and a nice lunch with a view. There are outlet stores within walking distance to the historic downtown which has several local stops to choose from. The restaurants have rooftop decks with amazing views of Lanai. There is also a ferry to Lanai which we didn’t take but is on our list for our next trip.
Stargazing was another highlight of the trip and our vacation apartment even had a telescope in it. After much trial and error, we were able to find both Jupiter and Saturn and these were incredible sights with the moons and rings in view!
Certainly the takeaway I had about Maui was just how different the islands are on many levels. Geologically, they are all different ages which is reflected in the landscape (the big island is the youngest island while Kauai is the oldest due to their volcanic creation and shifting of the earth’s plates over time). Maui also has a much different and relaxed feeling from Oahu. And though there are still some tourists, there are just less people living on a much larger island, so it feels less crowded.
Much more to see like the road to Hana, drive up Haleakala, Kapalua, etc…until next time!