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Hawaii 2008
Oahu Big Island Kauai

Wednesday, 27 Feb.: Flight to Maui (Kahului); Big Beach
Total miles: 40
Weather: sunny but hazy, 28 °C

At 10:30 a.m. we drove to Kona Airport a few miles north of the town and returned our car at Alamo Rent A Car. In the open-air boarding area we were greeted with Hawaiian music, a Hula band and dancers! Aloha had open seating but the plane was less than half full, so it was no problem to obtain a window seat. We took off on schedule at 1:35 p.m.. On the right we saw the Mauna Kea and the Haleakala fringed with clouds. I could even see some whales from above.

At 2 p.m. we landed in Kahului. Waiting for our luggage and getting the rental car took almost an hour. This time we had a Pontiac Torrent in dark grey. It was 9 miles to Kihei where we had booked a condo at the Maui Vista Resort. Each apartment has a different owner, so the quality can differ. Ours could have been more nicely furnished but it was big and clean and included a kitchenette, dishwasher, washing machine and dryer. The bedroom had a Queen Bed. It was priced at $120 plus tax.

After checking in we drove to Makena Big Beach at the end of the road south of Kihei. There's a dirt road that leads to La Perouse Bay which is said to be a great snorkelling location. From Big Beach we saw whales breaching in the distance. Then the sun set in a big red ball.

Thursday, 28 Feb.: Road to Hana, Pipiwai Trail to
Waimoku Falls

Total miles: 163
Weather: partly cloudy, partly sunny, 23 °C

We started early as this was supposed to be a long day and traffic on the Road to Hana can be heavy later in the day. The Hana Road winds along the east coast of Maui in more than 600 curves and over a number of one-lane bridges. First we stopped in Paia, an old surfer's town. We passed by Garden of Eden, a "Drive through Botanical Garden" and the Keanae Arboretum but turned off towards the Keanae Peninsula, and later to Wailua with its Coral Miracle Church made out of corals. We stopped for a coffee and banana bread at at roadside café. At Waianapanapa State Park we looked at the sea arch and walked a short trail to a cave. Waianapanapa-Hana Trail is supposed to be a beautiful coastal trail.

But we continued to Hana and took a short trail that leads to a red sand beach. After a short stop at Hasegawa General Store we reached Seven Pools / Oheo Gulch, part of Haleakala National Park. Volker was still suffering from his injured foot, but nevertheless we hiked the 3.8 miles to Waimoku Falls (Pipiwai Trail). The 270m elevation is moderate. We passed through a spectacular bamboo forest and at the end of an hour we had reached the waterfall which drops 120m off a cliff.

Our final stop was at Palapala Ho’omau Church with the grave of Charles Lindbergh. We couldn't find Lindbergh's house though which is supposed to be in the area. We turned back at the point where the Piilani Highway is closed due to a recent earthquake. Otherwise it would have been possible to do a round trip (though officially not allowed for rental cars). So it was back onto the winding Hana Road. We ware back in Paia around 6 p.m and did some shopping in Kihei to cook our own dinner.

Friday, 29 Feb.: Sunrise at Haleakala, Sliding Sands Trail, Makawao
Total miles
: 125
Weather: mostly sunny, 28 °C

Our alarm clock was set to 3:30 a.m. We wanted to watch the sunrise from the Haleakala (3055m), supposedly the largest dormant volcano in the world. With our National Parks Pass we didn't have to pay the $10 fee. It took 1.5 hours to drive to the top of the volcano. It was 5:45 a.m. when we got there. Temperatures were 6 °C with a clear sky. Already we could see the first red streaks on the horizon and a colourful display was about to begin. There were some clouds below us, but this made for even better pictures. The sun rose 20 minutes earlier than down below at the coast: 6:40 a.m. With the first light we realized we were standing at the rim of a huge crater. With bad luck, you will stand in the clouds up here and see nothing. Today you could even see the Mauna Kea on Big Island.

We started on the Sliding Sands Trail to the Ka Lu'u o Ka O'o crater. The hike covers 475m elevation, first down, then back up again. The 5 miles return trip took us 3 hours without counting the break at the crater. Luckily we didn't have any problems with the high altitude. The air was rather cool up here that early in the morning, but the sun was very intense. On the way into the heart of the Haleakala we also saw some silverswords. After a visit to the summit and another overlook we drove back down around 11:30 a.m. By now we had 12 °C.

We had lunch in Makawao, a western-style town, then we drove back to Kihei. Around 4:30 p.m. we got on the road again and drove to McGregor Point to watch out for whales. At the end of the day we watched the sun set from Charley Young Beach across the road from our accommodation.

Saturday, 1 Mar.: Whale Watching Tour, Lahaina, Snorkelling in Napili Bay, tour around West Maui, Iao Valley
Total miles: 85
Weather: a.m. sunny, p.m. partly cloudy, 28 °C

Once again we had to get up early for our whale-watching tour at 8 a.m. from Ma'alaea ($34 per person for 2 hours). The tour operator was Pacific Whale Foundation. The boat didn't have to go far. In February and March, 7000 to 10000 humpback whales arrive on the Hawaiian islands to breed, calve and nurse their young. The whales were everywhere, and the sea was absolutely calm. We saw lots of different whale behaviours: blow, peduncle arch, fluke up dive and pec slap; breaching only from a distance and just when we got back into port we even saw a peduncle throw, really impressive! We also heard whale song via hydrophones. This was really amazing!

After the boat trip we drove to historic Lahaina. We walked to the Pioneer Inn and saw the largest Banyan tree in the USA. Our next stop was in Napili. Next to Napili Beach there's Napili Bay where you can snorkel with sea turtles. We could see whales breaching in the distance.

Around 2 p.m. we were on our way to drive around West Maui on Kahekili Highway. The road is partly one lane with tight curves. Finally we drove into the Iao Valley to see the famous Iao Needle which is often covered in clouds. But we were lucky. We had dinner at Panda Express back in Kihei and watched another sunset at Charley Young Beach.

Then it was off to the next island: Kauai.

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