Part I of our trip can be found here.
Day 6: Learning to Surf
Maui is considered one of the best places in the world to surf. So it seemed fitting to learn to surf while on vacation here. We signed up for a surf lesson with Maui Surfer Girls, which offers beginner to intermediate surf lessons at Ukumehame Beach Park, located between Kihei and Lahaina. Maui Surfer Girls boast of offering a 4:1 student to instructor ratio for group lessons, allowing for more personalized attention. Plus, they are a female-owned surf school. Girl power.
We arrived at Ukumehame Beach Park a few minutes prior to our lesson at 8a.m. After signing a waiver, they gave us a rash guard and booties. We then split up into our two groups and got started with our lesson on dry ground. Our instructor ran through the basics of where to lie on your surfboard, paddle, how to sit, stand up and get back down on your board.
We were then ready to hit the water. It was a bit of a struggle to walk the (very large) surfboard down to the beach and make it past the surf. We then paddled along the channel to the buoy. Our instructor took two of us at a time out from the channel and into the waves. We then patiently waited for her to spot a decent wave to ride. It was great because she told us when to paddle and get up on our board.
It was quite tiring paddling back and forth, but I managed to get up on my board for every single wave. There were some struggles staying on the board though and once I even flipped over while trying to sit up (also referred to as a huli huli).
After our surf lesson we returned home for an early lunch and to relax. We then headed back out a couple hours later to go for a hike. We first went to the Iao Valley State Park, a lush valley covered in dense rainforest in West Maui.
We hiked along the short path leading up to an overlook of the Iao Needle – a prominent landmark in the park that is an extension of the West Maui Mountains and covered in vegetation. The needle is often covered in clouds as the summit area in the valley receives an average of 9.8m of rainfall per year, making it the second wettest location in Hawaii. (We actually came here the day before, but it was pouring rain, so we decided to leave and try again on another day).
After our hike we returned home for another break. Later in the afternoon we ventured out again and drove to the southern part of Maui to hike along the Hoapili Trail (8.9km), also known as King’s Highway. The hike begins along the jagged coastline of LaPerouse Bay and weaves through volcanic rock from one of the last eruptions on Maui in the late 1790s.
From the lava fields along the shoreline, the path makes a short detour through a small forest, providing momentarily relief from the sun. We saw some remnants of the structures made from volcanic rocks hundreds of years ago and a bunch of feral goats.
After leaving the forest, the path leads through a barren expanse of a lava field. We hiked along the lava sea cliffs up to Cape Hanamanioa and turned around at the lighthouse.
We’re glad we hiked this trail later in the day as there wasn’t much protection from the sun. After wrapping up our hike, we drove back to our accommodations to make some dinner and relax for the rest of the evening.
Day 7: Scuba Diving in the Morning; Hiking in the Afternoon
We woke up bright and early this morning for another day of scuba diving with Mike Severns Diving. We met up at the boat ramp at 5:45a.m and eagerly waited to hop aboard the boat.
For our first dive we went back to Molokini, a marine preserve in a small crescent-shaped volcanic crater that is partially submerged and is reputed to offer the best snorkelling and scuba diving in Maui. We were the first boat to arrive at Molokini and had our pick of the mooring lines.
As we were suiting up, someone in our dive group mentioned that a tiger shark bit into an inflatable stand-up paddle board in Kihei yesterday. The man was with a group of other paddlers and managed to climb up on one of their boards. Not exactly what you want to discuss right before jumping into the water.
We were divided into two groups based on skill level. We dove in the advanced group with two other divers and Pauline (the owner of the dive shop) as our guide. The nice thing about diving in the advanced group was that we were the first to jump into the water and the last to come out. The visibility was excellent and the crater was brimming with beautiful coral and an abundance of tropical fish and eels (so many eels).
Prior to our dive Pauline provided an in-depth overview of some of the fish or attractions we could expect to see on our dive. One of which was a cleaning station, an area where fish congregate to be cleaned by Hawaiian cleaner wrasse (the small purple and yellow fish below).
After a brief surface interval we headed over to The St Anthony, a fishing boat that was sunk in 60 feet of water to create an artificial reef off the coast of South Maui. Initially, 150 old cars were sunk here to create an artificial reef, but within 25 years the salt eroded the metal. Instead the state sank a bunch of concrete blocks embedded with rows of tires. The St. Anthony was also added to expand the artificial reef.
We started the dive at the wreck before exploring the concrete tire blocks.
After our dives, the boat dropped us off at the boat ramp shortly before noon. We rinsed off the salt from our gear and drove back home to eat some lunch.
We headed out later in the afternoon to drive along the Road to Hana, which is reputed to be one of the top attractions in Maui due to its breathtaking scenery. We drove along the Road to Hana a few days earlier when we visited Haleakalā National Park, but most of the drive was in the dark. So we decided to repeat part of the drive to get the full experience.
The Hana Highway (is thankfully paved and) twists and turns along the northeast coastline, offering uninterrupted views of the ocean, lush valleys, beautiful gardens, and waterfalls. We first stopped at the Twin Falls Maui Waterfall (mile marker 2.1 on the Hana Highway). The main path down to the waterfall was closed during our visit, but there were a number of other paths that provided a good viewpoint of the waterfall below.
We continued along our drive, stopping along the broad shoulder of the road to hike along the Waikamoi Nature Trail (mile marker 9.5 on the Hana Highway). The trail starts with a steady incline, leading up a number of steps through a dense canopy of greenery. Along the trail are various outlooks, providing great views of the rainforest below.
After finishing our hike, we drove a bit further along the Road to Hana, and turned around near the Garden of Eden.
Day 8: Scuba Diving and a Luau
We initially planned to go scuba diving three times while in Maui, but since we’ve had such a fantastic time under the sea, we decided to sign up for another morning of diving. We met up at the boat ramp at 5:45a.m again and headed out on the open water.
For our first dive we went to the 85 ft Pinnacle, an area that consists of several rock pinnacles and was once a fishing area. It was a bit of a swim to get out to the pinnacle, but as soon as we got there we saw a white tipped reef shark. This was probably our shortest dive ever (33min) due to the depth of the site, which was around 75 to 85ft.
I also tested the limits of my waterproof camera, which is reputed to maintain its waterproof performance to a depth of 82 feet (something I didn’t pay attention to on the dive). This explains why most of my pictures at this site turned out blurry, but I’m happy that it’s still fully functioning even after taking it deeper than the recommended limit.
For our second dive we went to a much shallower dive site at Wailea Point, located in front of the Grand Wailea and Four Seasons resort. There was no current here, making for a very relaxing dive, until the end where we ended up swimming around for a bit as our guide became a bit disoriented and couldn’t find the boat.
After diving we didn’t get up to a whole lot in the afternoon as we were feeling pretty exhausted (maybe it was from all the swimming around on our last dive). I was also still battling a cold. Instead we lounged around until the evening when we went to the Old Lahaina Luau, which is reputed to offer an authentic Hawaiian Luau. The Luau included a buffet style dinner of traditional Hawaiian cuisine, live music, cultural dances and various demonstrations.
As soon as we entered the Luau we were presented with a beautiful lei and (very strong) Mai Tai. Cheers. Our server then took us to our seats.
We were seated at a table in a prime location near the front of the stage with six other Canadians. Prior to the start of the show, we wandered around and watched some of the various demonstrations (e.g. how to cut a coconut, authentic Hawaiian dance lessons, tasting of some local cuisine). We then headed back to our table, waiting for our turn to be called up for the buffet. After everyone had an opportunity to fill-up their plates, the performance began.
As soon as the Luau ended, we headed back to our accommodations and went to bed. We had to wake up early again for another morning of diving.
Day 9: Diving in the Rain; Hiking in the Sun
It was pouring rain when we got up this morning. And it was cold. We reluctantly got ready and headed out to the boat ramp for another day of diving. We were a bit concerned that we’d be night diving as it was still pretty dark by the time we headed out on the water. And it was still raining.
The nice thing about scuba diving in the rain is that you can’t tell that it’s raining when you’re underwater. I was eager to put on my wetsuit and jump in the water as soon as I could. It was actually warmer in the water than up on the boat in the rain.
We went back to Molokini for the third time. I’m not complaining as this was probably my favourite dive site in Maui. Once again, we were the first boat on the scene. Because there was such a strong current, we stayed within the inner crater for the entire dive.
Along the dive I spotted an octopus, which was pretty exciting. Towards the end of the dive, we had a nice safety top in a shallow section of the reef, which meant we could continue looking around at all the coral and fish. The other divers in our group ascended before we did as they were getting low on air. But we got to spend some bonus time underwater with our guide (maybe it was because it was our last day of diving).
When we surfaced, we were pleasantly surprised to see that it had stopped raining and the sun was out. For our second dive we went back to The St Anthony as there wasn’t much of a current at this dive site. Even though we’ve been here before, there was still lots to see and explore, including seeing the resident frogfish again along with some sea slugs.
After returning to dry land, we gave our gear a good rinse for the final time. We then headed back to our accommodations for a long lunch. We set out later in the afternoon for an ambitious hike along the Kahakapao Loop Trail (8.7km). The trail weaves through the Makawao Forest Reserve and is nearly 4000ft above sea level, creating cooler temperatures compared to sea level.
By the time we finished up we were getting pretty hungry, so we returned home to eat some dinner. We spent the remainder of the evening packing our suitcase.
Day 10: Goodbye (for now)
We woke up and went for a leisurely stroll along the beach across from our accommodations before it became too hot and sunny outside. When we returned we ate some breakfast and packed the last of our stuff away. We then headed out and drove along the coast, stopping to check out the waves and watch some surfers.
We reluctantly headed to the airport and returned our car. Now for the journey to get back home to Toronto, which includes two flights and 13+ hours of travel time.
Despite the distance, Maui was well worth the visit. How many other tropical islands have a Costco?! There is such a variety of things to do on land and in the water. The hiking was fantastic and there were trails scattered all over the island through all the different terrains and climates. The diving was also phenomenal and it was quite the experience learning to surf. Just wish we could have spent more time here.