Posts Tagged ‘maui’

lahaina, mauii

Sometimes your dreams are just beyond the horizon! 

*Inspiration provided by this glorious Lahaina, Maui sunset.

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After spending two magical days on the east coast of Maui, it was time to say goodbye to Halemano, our unforgettable sanctuary and the mystical Haleakala National Park.

We soon discovered that the Road “from” Hana was just as scenic as the Road to Hana.

Wailua FallsWailua Falls

Wailua Falls
We left around 8:30am to ensure we had enough time to enjoy the views before our 1:00pm flight…

Road to Hana Traffic…and also in case we encountered a traffic jam!
(This one was caused when two oncoming cars encountering the same turn didn’t allow each other enough room to pass causing a stand still, so they had to back up causing each car behind them to back up as well.)

Which Way Do We Go?A reminder of all the places we have yet to explore!


Road to HanaA lush wonderland around every corner!


Road to Hana BridgeI loved the moss-laden bridges!

IMG_9860The narrow road was an adventure in itself!


Road to HanaA sobering reminder that although the Road to Hana is beautiful,
it can also be very dangerous.


Eucalyptus TreePainted Bark Eucalyptus Trees

Eucalyptus TreeTruly a masterpiece!

Eucalyptus Trees
As we exited the lush wonderland and grew closer to Kahului Airport, we stopped at the this-can’t-be-real-the-water-is-much-too-blue Paia Beach.

Paia BeachPaia Beach

Paia BeachIt’s easy to get mesmerized with this view!

Mokulele ExpressSoon we were at Kahului Airport and boarding our flight for the Big Island on Mokulele Express, Hawaii’s #1 Island Hopper Airline.

Mokulele Express   Did I mention how TINY it was?  We had to literally duck our heads when entering the plane.  And look at the pilots – they were like RIGHT THERE!  Seating around 10-12 people, it was like a flying school bus.

Mokulele ExpressAnd oh what fun it was!
I would definitely recommend Mokulele Express when island hopping!

Like two kids in a candy store, we were eager to find out what the second half of our Hawaiian adventure had in store for us!

Stay tuned…

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After a fun-filled adventure on the Road to Hana, we were glad we decided to stay two nights in the pristine town of Kipahulu in our sanctuary of Halemano.  Not only did we drive the 52 miles at our leisure and not worry about making the return trip all in one day, but the entire next day, we were able to enjoy the gorgeous Haleakala National Park located just a few minutes away!

We arrived at Haleakala National Park early and discovered an almost vacant parking lot.  YES!  The park was ALMOST all ours..for now

Out came the camera gear, snacks, water, sun screen, insect repellant, hats and sunglasses.  It was time to explore!

First up, the Seven Sacred Pools otherwise known as Oheo Gulch.

Seven Sacred Pools, Oheo GulchIt was easy to get lost in the beauty of this magical place.

Seven Sacred Pools, Oheo Gulch

Seven Sacred Pools, Oheo Gulch

From the parking lot, a one mile loop takes you to a scenic vista closer to where the Oheo Gulch spills out into the ocean, and then the trail leads you back up to the parking lot.

Swimming is a popular activity here and usually allowed in the pools, but this time, it was closed due to flash flood warnings.

Seven Sacred Pools, Oheo Gulch

Did this stop people from swimming in the pools later on that day?  HAH! Of course not!  Lucky how some people are immune to being swept out to sea!  (Which is actually what has happened in the past.)  Signs were posted around the pools telling of how unfortunate swimmers were caught up in flash flooding and taken out to sea.  So basically, enjoy the beauty, but heed the warning signs!

Next, it was time to experience the Pipiwai Trail, a 4 mile round trip hike that takes you through a wonderland of waterfalls, lush foliage, bamboo forests and the grand finale, Waimoku Falls.

Be sure to wear sturdy shoes or proper hiking sandals because of weather that can change in the blink of an eye like it did for us.  A large portion of the hike is on a boardwalk that can get quite slippery when wet. Don’t be like the young girl we saw in the middle of the hike who was struggling to gain traction in her flip flops in the rain!

About .5 miles into the hike, we came across the 185 foot Makahiku Falls.

Makahiku Falls

Makahiku FallsMakahiku Falls – Picture perfect!

I mean, this is what Maui is all about!  Lush rainforest with magnificent waterfalls appearing out of nowhere!  Even though my legs were beginning to get sore, this view was so worth it!

Makahiku FallsYep, there he is, my dare devil!

The highlights just kept coming.  Next up, one of my favorites – the gigantic Banyan tree!

Banyan TreeDid I mention it was GIGANTIC?!

Banyan Tree It’s opportunities like these when my camera gets excited!

We continued our hike until we reached this bridge leading us into the black abyss of the rainforest.

Into the great unknown...Do we dare?

But before discovering what awaited us across the bridge, we stopped midway to ooh and aww at these most gorgeous waterfalls!


After crossing the bridge, we ascended into my personal highlight of the hike…the enchanting Bamboo Forest!

Bamboo Forest

Tightly packed bamboo towered above us providing cool shelter from the sun allowing sunlight beams to flicker through small openings.  As the wind blew, the hallow bamboo swayed and struck together creating the sounds of musical chimes…our very own concert!

Bamboo Forest

Bamboo Trail
I found myself wondering what I would do if I had to quickly escape by way of the Bamboo Forest.  It would make for quite the challenge! 

(For those of you who watch The Amazing Race – wouldn’t this make for an interesting pit stop?!)

Bamboo Forest

Bamboo Forest

Bamboo Forest

Following the Bamboo Forest, the lush rainforest reappeared and so did more challenging terrain to navigate.


Before reaching the Waimoku Falls, there was one last obstacle we had to conquer – the crossing of a stream.  I read about it in the guidebooks, and it wasn’t that bad.  You can rock-hop across or do what I did and just immerse yourself and wade on through.


After what was a memorable journey thus far, we finally reached our destination – Waimoku Falls.

  Waimoku Falls

Looking up from the base of this 400 foot sheer masterpiece, it’s easy to see why so many travelers flock to this very spot!

Waimoku Falls

To get even closer to the falls, get ready to navigate through a field of rocks and boulders.

  Waimoku Falls
My husband dared me to immerse myself under the waterfalls for a photo.  Had it been a hotter day where I could have enjoyed the FREEZING water and had it not started to rain, I probably would have taken on the dare.  Alas, a photo with my hubby several feet away from the falls is what we agreed upon.  I suggested he take the plunge.  His excuse was that he didn’t bring his swimsuit.  That didn’t stop other gents from dawning their undies and striking a pose under the falls!

After enjoying the refreshing combination of mist and rain, we decided that it was time to head back before the trail became too slick.  But I spoke too soon!  This time we experienced the trail in a totally different way – wet and muddy!  Nevertheless, the Pipiwai Trail was one I will always remember with great fondness!

Haleakala National Park is a treasure trove of everything you would expect from Hawaii and something everyone should experience once in their life!

Many people have asked if we did the sunrise bike tour, one of the most popular attractions at Haleakala National Park.  Looks of “Are you completely and utterly crazy?!” shot back at me when I answered their question with “No.”

Quelle Horreur!

We already had a lot planned, and although catching a glorious sunset overlooking the clouds sounded very appealing, we decided to save it for another day…

...a day we can dream about and look forward to!

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Towering lush greenery surrounded our car as we carefully navigated down a steep, winding road covered with rocks and uneven terrain.  Wide enough for one car, we prayed for no oncoming traffic.  A sigh of relief filled the air when the parking area appeared.  After 7 hours of navigating the curvy Road to Hana, we found our evening retreat 30 minutes south of Hana in a town called Kipahulu at a sanctuary called…Halemano.

HalemanoIn Hawaiian, Halemano means “Many Houses.”

We parked our car, and per the instructions from our host, started to explore the expansive 7 acre eco-friendly grounds in search of someone to assist us.  The marked path took us by cozy cabins, an open air, shared bathroom and the outdoor, communal kitchen overlooking the ocean.

“Jennifer?”  Tanya happily emerged from the kitchen.  “Welcome to Halemano!”

Tanya, the daughter of the owner, Manju, was filling in while Manju was away.  She and her boyfriend, Stephan, were very friendly and immediately gave us a tour of the cliff side paradise.

Our accommodation for the night was called the “Ridge Cabin.”  More like a tree house, this simple, charming cabin consisted of a bed with mosquito netting, a small light, windows, an outlet, artful touches and a jaw dropping view of the tropical landscaping from the lanai.

The Ridge CabinThe Ridge Cabin

The Ridge Cabin

Ridge Cabin

The Ridge Cabin

Halemano had other sleeping accommodations to choose from consisting of a yurt or a hotel room with private bathroom.

If you require cell reception or wi-fi 24/7, this is probably not the place for you.  Part of the charm of Halemano is that you are totally disconnected from the outside world.  It gives you a chance to unwind, decompress and become immersed in nature.  Just be sure to bring insect repellent!

Before entering our cabin, Tanya explained the 2 house rules:

  1. Remove your shoes before entering the cabin to keep the rug clean.
  2. No food in the cabin because it attracts ants and bugs.

After getting settled into our cabin, I decided to experience the open air shower before dinner.  At first, I felt a little uncomfortable showering without the privacy of a door, but it’s not like I was out in the open for all to see.  You walk into the open air restroom, round a corner, and the shower is tucked away in a little nook…so if you hear water running or see clothes lying on the bench, you know it’s occupied.  For the toilet, Tanya advised that we remove our shoes and leave them out before rounding the corner to show that someone is there.  It all worked out fine, and the refreshing breeze felt wonderful as I showered.  The property operates on solar power and water catchment.  Be sure to bring a head lamp or flash light in case you need to use the restroom when it’s dark, like I did!

That evening, we enjoyed a special vegetarian Indian dish prepared by Tanya.  For $20 per person, this delicious feast, comprised of rice, beans and squash, was the perfect way to end a long day on the Road to Hana.  Since the closest restaurants were about 30 minutes away, we decided to place our order ahead so we could just relax, unwind and enjoy our dinner as the sun went down.

The kitchen is an experience in itself.  Everything you need is there!  Avocados, papayas, bananas and any other fruit you find on the grounds is yours for the taking (and enjoying!)  Everything is recycled, and leftover food is used as compost.  The kitchen is open air, so you are sharing it with little critters.



After dinner, we explored the grounds and spent a good part of the evening sitting on a small bench positioned a few feet away from the steep cliff.  The view of the ocean crashing into the rocky shore below was hypnotic.  It’s easy to fall under the spell of the magnificent view and sounds of the water.

Bliss Bench


Both mornings, I unintentionally woke up before dawn, so I grabbed my camera and headed outside to take some photos while the early morning light painted the grounds.

There is a magical garden to explore and photograph.  Secret artfully decorated paths take you through perfectly manicured tropical landscaping with exotic plants, small benches and even an open air yoga studio tucked away to sit, relax, take in the scenery or participate in a yoga class.







Yoga Studio

Surrounding Halemano is a fence, and attached to this fence is an inconspicuous little door leading to a neighboring state park.  Walk down the length of the park until you come across a cemetery that is home to the grave of the great aviator Charles Lindbergh.  Charles loved this particular part of Maui so much that he decided to be buried here.

Charles Lindbergh GraveInscribed is:  “If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uppermost parts of the sea…”
From Psalm 139

If experiencing paradise, unplugging from the digital world, and letting tranquility fill your soul sounds appealing, then Halemano is the sanctuary for you!  

Prepare to be transformed.

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Serpentine roads.  Lush foliage.  Dreamy waterfalls.  Jaw dropping cliffs.

Road to HanaThis is the Road to Hana.

52 miles of zigzagging roads taking wide-eyed vacationers on a picturesque journey with scenic treasures around every hairpin turn!

With all of the scenic stops to explore on the Road to Hana, it can take anywhere from 4-8 hours to complete.  So instead of rushing to Hana and rushing back all in one day (like many travelers do), we decided to stay in Kipahulu, a town just outside of Hana, for two nights to give us more time to explore the surrounding area.

We stocked up with water, fruit and snacks and left our Napili condo at 6:30am to avoid the tour buses and throngs of people on the road.

Instead of using a guidebook or map, we opted for an audio GPS guide called GyPSy.  It’s like having a local right in the car with you giving you advice on where to stop, sights to see and history of the island…and it’s fun too!  We never had to worry about getting lost…the GyPSy always told us exactly where we were.  For less than $5.00, it’s so worth the investment!

Here’s a handy checklist before you go on your Road to Hana journey:

  • Full tank of gas
  • Cooler for drinks and food
  • Swim suit
  • Beach towel
  • Change of clothes
  • Sun screen
  • Mosquito repellant
  • Umbrella or waterproof windbreaker
  • Sturdy, waterproof shoes or sandals
  • Toilet paper (just in case…)
  • Seasick medication

If you forget to pack something to eat for your journey, never fear!  There are dozens of stands off the side of the road with yummy treats like warm banana bread, “huli-huli” chicken, coffee, juice & fresh fruit.

And away we go…

Twin Falls
The first waterfall on the Road to Hana at mile marker 2.  A 30 minute hike takes you to a secluded waterfall surrounded by lush foliage.  Bring your swimsuit for swimming fun!

Twin FallsTwin Falls Farmstand – Stock up on fruit, smoothies or snacks beforehand.

Walking to the Twin FallsOn our way to the Twin Falls

Crossing the streamCrossing the stream is part of the fun!

Twin FallsTwin Falls

Waikamoi Nature Trail
Eucalyptus trees and gorgeous views are part of this 0.8 mile nature trail at mile marker 9.

Waikamoi Nature TrailThe Road to Hana winds around this lush wonderland.

nature hike

Aunt Sandy’s Banana Bread & the Ke’anae Beach Park
For some of the best banana bread on the Road to Hana, take the detour to Ke’anae Landing and treat yourself to Aunt Sandy’s Banana Bread!  It’s warm, it’s moist…and it just melts in your mouth…yum!   It’s also cash only, so be sure you come prepared!

Aunt Sandy's Banana Bread

Aunt Sandy's Banana Bread

Aunt Sandy's Banana BreadBehold…the banana bread!

Drive a little further until you see a lava filled coastline with large crashing waves — this is Ke’anae Beach Park!

Ke'anae Peninsula
Ke'anae Beach Park
Ke'anae Peninsula
Yes, you see correctly…this dude is fishing amongst the lava and crashing waves!

Halfway to HanaOh & by the way, we are now halfway to Hana!

Three Bears Falls
About 1/2 mile past mile marker 19 is the Three Bears Falls (Papa, Mama and baby!).  This natural beauty is right off the side of the road with limited parking.  I saw some people scramble down a questionable path to the pool.  We opted to admire it from the road.

Three Bears

Three BearsWater streamed down the side of a moss laden cliff we parked next too!  The spray was quite refreshing!

If it weren’t for our GyPSy, we wouldn’t know this place existed!  Just past mile marker 25 is the steep downhill turnoff for Nahiku.  I highly suggest you make the turn!  For three miles, you will feel like you’re in the middle of the jungle surrounded by lush greenery and rubber trees!  A gorgeous sight is waiting for you at the end of the drive.  We enjoyed our lunch of huli huli chicken on a nice patch of grass overlooking this rocky lava-filled coastline.  Did you know that George Harrison loved Nahiku so much that he even called it home?!

NahikuOpuhano Point

Coffee Break, Souvenir Shopping & Free Ranging Chickens
6 miles before reaching Hana, you will find a row of unique stores, eateries and coffee shops on your left.  We enjoyed a coffee and cafe mocha at the “Cafe”, and we did some souvenir shopping at Nahiku Ti Gallery.  Don’t forget to say hello to the free ranging roosters, hens and chicks!


Nahiku Ti Gallery

Road to Hana
Hana 6 Miles

Road to Hana Rooster

Mama HenDon’t mess with Mama!  As I tried to get a photo of her baby chick, she shreeked, unleashed her fury and chased after me pecking at my legs!  LOL!

Wai’anapanapa State Park
Our last stop of the day, Wai’anapanapa State Park has it all!  A black sand beach, lava caves, hiking trails and a blowhole!

Wai'anapanapa State Park

Lava Cave

After a fun-filled day exploring the Road to Hana, we drove about 30 more minutes until we reached our sanctuary for the night around 4:30pm in Kipahulu…a place so magical, it takes a full post to describe it!  Stay tuned…

For more Hawaiian bliss, click here!

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Twin Falls

The 52 mile Road to Hana on Maui’s east coast is full of wonder and beauty around every hairpin turn.  The first waterfall on our journey was the stunning Twin Falls located in a peaceful cove surrounded by lush foliage.  The scenic and oftentimes slippery 30 minute hike was well worth it!  To get there, you’ll need to cross a small stream and walk over other tricky, slippery surfaces, so leave your flip flops in the car, strap on a pair of sturdy waterproof shoes and be sure to bring your camera!

Twin Falls is the perfect way to kick off your Road to Hana experience!

Check out more Photo Bliss!

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I’ve had my share of delicious breakfasts in my life, but nothing could prepare me for the bliss that I would devour on day 3 of our Maui getaway.

Poolside at the neighboring Napili Shores Resort is The Gazebo Restaurant located at 5315 Lower Honoapiilani Road.

The Gazebo

After taking a brief stroll along the beach, we walked up a few stairs to the entrance of this open air restaurant.

The Gazebo relies only on word-of-mouth advertising.  In steady rain and wind was a line of about 12 people waiting in line about 30 minutes before opening time at 7:30am.

By the time they opened, the line stretched around the restaurant.

IMG_9161The Gazebo provided umbrellas and hot coffee while we waited outside.

Napili Rainbow!As we waited, the skies cleared and a perfect rainbow painted the sky!

I wondered if all the hype I heard about the Macadamia Nut Pancakes was true.  Could they really be THAT good?

I was about to find out…

Macadania Nut PancakesOh sweet nectar of the gods!

I’m not sure exactly what is in the sweet fluffy homemade whipped topping, but people have been known to bring in jars just to bottle up the heavenly concoction & take it home with them.

I don’t blame them!

Couple the macadamia nut sprinkled-on-top pancakes with the magical whipped cream and wash that down with a refreshing glass of POG (passion fruit juice, orange juice & guava juice) and that, my friends, is breakfast bliss.

And yes, the pancakes really are THAT good!

If you ever find yourself in West Maui, RUN, don’t walk to The Gazebo…and you too will experience breakfast bliss!

Speaking of sweetness, I just selected the 13 recipients of the “Super Sweet Blogger Award”.  Congrats to you all!

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Lahaina SunsetSometimes words aren’t necessary.

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Snorkeling the Molokini crater topped our agenda for day 2 of our Maui getaway.

After waking up early to capture a Napili “before sunrise” photo, we filled a backpack with sunscreen, hats, cameras, towels and our ids, enjoyed some yogurt and drove to Maalaea Harbor where our 64′ catamaran, The Trilogoy II, awaited.

The Trilogy II

After checking in with Captain Jeff, we boarded the boat and were happily greeted by the rest of the young crew.  Fresh coffee, tea, hot cocoa and pineapple juice were served along with a variety of seasick remedies including ginger tablets (which I took advantage of.)

Sailing to MolokiniAfter everyone signed in around 8:00am, we set sail to Molokini.

Breakfast nummies being servedWhile enjoying the fresh ocean breezes and gorgeous views, delicious hot cinnamon rolls (Mom Coon’s 4th generation recipe) and fresh seasonal fruit were served by the crew.

MolokiniIt didn’t take long before Molokini came into view.

Snorkel funThe crew assisted each passenger with snorkel gear…

Visitors to Molokini
…and advised us to stay clear of the other boats.

IMG_9020Once the boat anchored and we were given a safety briefing…

Snorkeling fun…the snorkelers were let loose!

SNUBA was also a popular activity.

FishColorful fish and coral were a feast for the eyes!

SnorkelingAfter 40 minutes, we sailed to our next snorkel site famous for sea turtles.

Sea Turtle and hubbyMy hubby even got to hang out with one!

About 20 minutes into our snorkeling, the wind grew stronger, and the waves became choppier making it a challenge to get back to the Trilogy.  Sensing my dilemma, one of the lifeguards (crew member) gave us a lift on his surfboard, and we kicked our way back to the boat.

A delicious lunch of BBQ’d teriyaki chicken, rice, salad and ice cream awaited us…

Sailing…along with more gorgeous views.

Us and Captain JeffOn our sail back to Maalaea Harbor, we enjoyed chatting with Captain Jeff…

Hoisting the sail…and learning more about the Trilogy.

Happy!Sailing with Trilogy was a highlight of our trip, and I highly recommend the experience!

Between the personable Captain and crew, they made sure that all of our needs were met, questions answered, stomachs happy and wonderful memories fulfilled!

They made sure everyone had a day to remember…and we did!

Thanks Trilogy!

To contact Trilogy:
Toll Free Phone: 1-888-225-MAUI
Local Phone: 1-808-874-5649
Email Address:

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Napili Bay

On day 2, before the sun, sounds of laughter and beach goers filled Napili Bay in Maui, I woke up around 5:30am with camera & tripod in tow and enjoyed a tranquil moment listening to the waves caressing the shore and watching the changing colors of the sunrise paint the sky.

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