Maui 2014: A Vacation Delayed, Day 3 (04/08/14)

Tuesday, April 8th

Today, I get to try out the snorkel gear I rented. After breakfast, we loaded up all our beach gear and head to Honolua Bay, one of the recommended sites for snorkeling. From our condo, it’s only a 10 minute drive. One of the many nice things about the Valley Isle condo is that is relatively close to everything, yet out of the hubbub of the more “touristy” places. It’s easy to just relax in peace and quiet, with the sounds of the surf as your only noise.
To get to Honolua Bay is quite the experience in and of itself. Parking lots in Maui are pretty much reserved for hotels, malls and restaurants. Beach parking mostly consists of pull-offs along the roads. We managed to get a “good” parking spot and began our “journey through the jungle”. There are only a couple of access points to this bay and the main path takes you through a very primitive place.

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Tall trees, with great canopy cover, presided over big ferns and thick vegetation. A beaten footpath was our only indication to our destination, and it really made us feel as though we had stepped back in time; maybe just as native Hawaiians found it generations ago. Announcing the fact that the land belonged to them, and not us, wild chickens and roosters sounded off as we walked along the path. Beautiful birds. Noisy, but beautiful
Since the beach of this bay consists of only rocks and boulders, the number of people wanting to make the trip is much lower than other places. The snorkel tours in western Maui count this place as one of their stops. After leaving, I decided that it would be much easier to jump in from a boat than to have to strategically navigate your steps on foot. It took as long for us to walk the 100 yards through the “jungle” as it did for us to walk 50 feet over the rocks. If you aren’t coming here to snorkel, be prepared to look for the comfiest rock.

 

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Recent rains meant runoff from the streams. Runoff from the streams meant murkier-than-normal waters. Since I have never been snorkeling, I really didn’t know the difference. I strapped on my mask and snorkel, grabbed my fins, and headed into the water. Grace & poise are 2 words that would never in a million years describe my entry. I had to go out into the water a bit to put on my fins, but those rocks on the beach continued on into the bay and were hard to navigate.
I puttered around to get my bearings and headed off to the northern side. Visibility was pretty poor; perhaps 10 feet. If it didn’t swim in front of me, I didn’t see it. I didn’t care. I was now looking into a world you can’t see above water. Another whole part of Maui was now accessible. We stayed for about an hour and decided to go back to the car and explore the rest of the NW side of Maui.

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The only other place I had on my list to see up here was the Nakalele blowhole. One word of advice for those that would come here, there is no cell phone reception past the Honolua area. Since there is no physical address for this blowhole, we had to go old school and use a map. As the roads up here are narrow and winding, we were constantly scanning the roadsides for possible signs of our destination. There were lots of lookouts and pull-offs along our route, and we got excited every time we saw a group of parked cars. It took us 3 false stops before we found the right place, but the views from each of those spots was breathtaking.

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The wind is very strong in this part of Maui and, standing on top of the cliffs, can easily push you out of your stance. The wide, white crashing waves, the black lava rock, the endless ocean of blue, turquoise and green. This is certainly one of God’s most beautiful creations.
Looking back on it now, the easiest way to know we were at the blowhole would have been where the road was closed. Construction has shut down this road, all the way over to north central Maui. As it was before construction, this road was treacherous and narrow on a good day. No guard rails, steep drops, imminent death. I had my fill going up Haleakala, so I was quite okay with not being able to travel any further than the blowhole.
From above, you can see the surf pounding into the lava rock, forcing the water through the eroded rock and straight up through the blowhole. Think Old Faithful in Yellowstone, only on a smaller scale. Signage along the paths down to the blowhole warn of getting to close, getting sucked into the hole, and being scattered along the jagged coast.

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Not wanting to win this year’s Darwin award, I opted to heed the advice.

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After grabbing a few pictures, I turned 180 degrees to see something not everyone notices. Into the middle of a lava rock wall, sand, wind and salt water have eroded a hole into it in the shape of a heart. I don’t know what the odds of that happening are, but I’m guessing the likelihood is similar to winning the lottery. I marveled at its existence for a minute and then started the 100 yard trek back up the cliff wall.

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Whew! I’m going to blame it on thin air, but the hike back up just about tapped me out. After resting for a few minutes, we headed back to the condo to rest, clean up and get ready for our Teralani sunset dinner cruise. We have been looking forward to this for days and the weather looked like it would be cooperating. Dinner, drinks, sun in our face, wind through our hair… This would be the perfect end to the day.
We were told to meet on the beach outside Leilani’s, in Ka’anapali, at 3:30. Yes, on the beach. No dock is needed for this twin-hull catamaran, as it simply backs up right onto the beach. We lined up single file and waited for our turn to board. The crew watched the surf and gave each couple the go ahead when the water was going out. Even with explicit instruction to “move with purpose”, we were amazed at the number of people who dilly-dallied and got chastised for moving too slowly.

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Once on board, our sail started. Actually, we didn’t sail; we motored. During whale season, the dinner and cocktail cruises double as a whale-watching tour. Since we were eating and drinking on the boat, we didn’t have a set destination. If a whale is spotted close by, the captain powers down the motors and everyone gets a chance to watch the whales. Being powered under full sail prohibits being able to stop as quickly, so the true “sails” will start towards the end of April.

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The crew, Matt, Emily and Kevin were perfect for the evening. I’m not sure that any of them were over the age of 35, but they performed their duties like skilled and seasoned veterans. We learned a lot about whales, their habits in Maui, and about the Maui waters in general. As soon as we got south of Ka’anapali, the winds all but disappeared. The mountains on the island really dictate the weather and it was a welcomed change for our evening. The food was okay, the drinks were good and the music playlist for the night was 70’s rock and pop.

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We were on the water for a couple hours and then we headed back to shore. I think Judy and I could have stayed on the boat all night and were very glad we went. So far in this trip, this was the highlight. With several more days still to come, we looked forward to all the challengers for this claim. We made the short trip back to the condo and watched the last of the day’s light slip down past the horizon. What a full and fun day!

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