DAY 1 SUN 06.13.2018
This was a long anticipated trip. We booked our flights in October 2017. There was a lot of planning that went into this one so let's get started and talk about it!
We had a direct flight on United from SFO to OGG. Our flight left at 945AM which was amazing cause we usually end up on red-eyes or with flights at 630AM so it feels like a red-eye. Once we landed, we smoothly got our rental car from Maui Budget Cars and took off to go about our first day in Maui which included…
Waihee Trail [4mi out & back]
Kahakuloa Point [great spot for a photo]
Lorraine’s Shave Ice [great reviews online] CLOSED
Olivine Pools [swimming] - SKIPPED
Heart Shaped Rock & Nakalele Blowhole [park @ pull-off just before Acid War Zone Trail]
Makaluapuna Point [cool rock formation by the water]
Kapalua Coastal Trail [short, easy trail along the coast]
Napili Bay [beach with a view]
Kaanapali Beach [cliff diving @ sunset, every night] – COULDN'T FIND IT
Lahaina [Old town for walking around, food?] - REALLY COOL
Dinner @ Lahaina Cafe and Shaved Ice next door
Lodging: Airbnb – Kihei – add link
Waihee Trail: I would absolutely recommend this to anybody (who likes uphill climbs). We got up to the first lookout and enjoyed the amazing view (see pic below), however, the fog took over after that and we couldn't see any of the view past that point. It was an awesome hike. It was super muddy and slippery, which made it a little tricky, especially coming down. The hike is about 4 miles RT and I would rate it as moderate-difficult.
Just Dodged A Storm
More From Waihee Ridge
Kahakuloa Point: We pulled off at the tiny pull-off and got on and took a photo. That's about all we did here as we had a lot on the agenda!
Lorraine’s Shave Ice: I picked this place because of it's great reviews and location (we went right by it) but it was definitely closed. I didn't even see it but Leslie said she saw it. I can't tell you the hours but they were closed on a Sunday around 5pm.
Olivine Pools: I usually plan too many things and because of that, this didn't make the cut.
Heart Shaped Rock & Nakalele Blowhole: Before we even knew we were coming to Hawaii, I had seen these online. As soon as I realized they were on the island we were going to, they went on the must-see list. Parking: Use these coordinates [21.024501, -156.590367] and you will find exactly where to park. From there, walk down the trail about a 1/4 mile. We wore flip-flops but it's a little rocky and sneakers would be better but it's pretty easy to get there. The Blowhole was easier to find but just keep your eyes open and you'll find the Heart-Shaped Rock as well.
Heart-Shaped Rock (we found it)
My itinerary list above had several things that we skipped. At this point, it was getting close to 7pm. Everything was just taking a little more time than expected and we were getting pretty hungry. We didn't want to skip Kaanapali Beach as I had read it's the perfect place for sunset cliff jumping. We could not find it. The area it's in is full of resorts. We did find one parking lot that we could have used and then taken a shuttle to the beach so that may be the best option (unless you're staying at the resorts). Again, it was getting late and we were hungry so we decided to just head to Lahaina!
Lahaina: We loved Lahaina. It is an old-town with shops and restaurants and perfect for walking around, grabbing dinner, and some shaved ice!
Lahainaluna Cafe: We are so bad at choosing where to eat because we are too picky when making the decision. As we were walking around Lahaina, I was googling and yelping to find something delicious and affordable. Super glad we ended up at Lahaina Cafe. It was delicious and meals were around $12 each. I ordered the Korean beef and Les got Chicken Katsu.
Ululani's Shave Ice: With this place being right next door to Lahainaluna Cafe, it was a no-brainer to come here (they planned that pretty well). Our first shave ice experience was a success. You can get up to 3 flavors in one and it was so awesome. It really is pretty unique and is MUCH better than a sno-cone (not even a good comparison). I would say it's more like Italian ice than a sno-cone.
It was the first of many long days and we were pretty wiped out. We had an Airbnb for the night in Kihei (About 30 minutes from Lahaina) so we just went there and crashed after dinner and dessert!
One More Photo From The Day
This was the sunset we witnessed on night one from a random pull-off overlooking the island of Lanai just North of Lahaina.
DAY 2 MON 05.14.2018
We didn't realize we were jet-lagged til we got up at 4am without being tired. Fortunately for us, the Kiehi Caffe opens at 5am and it was the perfect day for an early start. It was the day to drive the Road to Hana! Here's what was on the list...
Breakfast: Kihei Caffe
Na’ Ili’Ili-Haele Stream / Waterfall
Kaumahina State Wayside Park
Upper Waikani Falls
Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside
Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach
Lodging: Airbnb, Hana (insert link)
*Paihi Falls (bonus)
*Wailua Falls (bonus)
Kihei Caffe: Part of the reason we picked it is because it opens super early. It is also highly rated and the staff were very friendly. The food was very good and Leslie loved her papaya! I went simple and got eggs, bacon, potato, and a biscuit.
Twin Falls (trail)
Twin Falls: This was a really cool spot and a great way to start off the day. It's definitely worth the stop unless you are in a big rush. At the time of our visit, the upper falls area was closed due to conditions so there wasn't a ton of area to explore. It was a pretty short and easy walk to the waterfall (which was roaring!) and then we walked around a little bit more and enjoyed the bamboo and the trees and different nature landscapes that were all new to us. There is also a food stand here (we were too early).
Bamboo Forest (Na’ili’ili Haele): We didn't explore in here as deep as we could have. I believe there are several waterfalls and a pool to dip in (you'll see waterfalls and pools to dip in are a common theme here). We were intrigued by the bamboo forest part (in the beginning) and we did take the trail to a spot on the river that looked like the end. Then, we followed a much narrower path that took us to the top of a waterfall. There a ton of very narrow trails off the main trail you can take and explore even deeper. It is a slippery area and can be dangerous so make sure to use caution. Use these coordinates [20.885169, -156.208223] to find the place. There is a narrow pull-off for parking and then just look along the side of the road for a little opening in the bamboo (believe me, it's there!). We were so early, we were the second car to park but if you go later in the day, it will get busy (so look for the cars)!
Haipua’ena Falls: Great stop. There is some legal parking where the bend in the road is (pull offs before and after the bridge). It's a very short and easy walk to a small waterfall and a pool. You can continue up the left side and there is at least one more waterfall up there but it is pretty sketchy to get to. We didn't stop in for a dip just yet. *TIP: if you skip this or just can't get any parking here, there are lots more waterfalls and pools ahead so you'll be okay!
First (Lower) Falls
Second (Upper) Falls)
Kaumahina State Wayside Park: This place is great...if you need to use the bathroom.
Honomanu Bay: Located at mile marker 14.1 Most people park on Hana Hwy but you can take the sharp turn down the rough road and it take you to a parking area alongside the beach! This is a pretty rocky beach and isn't the best beach for a swim. We hung out here for little bit before taking off for the next stop.
Upper Waikiki Falls: This one was very popular but it's very hard to find parking right at the waterfall. There is a small parking lot just up the hill past the waterfall and I recommend you take the time to do it. The photos don't do this one justice. *TIP: Don't stop right in front of the waterfall in you car. You will deservingly get honked at. You can walk down to the waterfall and swim in here (more on that tomorrow).
Upper Waikiki Falls
Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside: In my research, I thought this place was only going to be worth a stop if we needed a bathroom. It's not as exciting and mysterious as other stops but it's actually a cool spot. It's basically a little park with picnic tables, a stream, and a couple little (and scenic) waterfalls. My recommendation would be if you stop here to use the bathroom, at least cross the street and briefly check out the park. If you packed a picnic lunch, this would be a nice spot to stop and eat. If you're short on time, skip it!
Pua'a Ka'a State Wayside
Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach: We absolutely loved this place and you will too. We got here around 1pm and our Airbnb was only 5 minutes away so we were in no rush to cram anything in at this point. It was very busy here but it is a big place. We may have been lucky to find parking but there is a a large lot. We explored 2 parts of this place. First we walked over to the rocky portion with great overlooks of the beach and the waves. There is a blowhole here but we didn't see it. After that, we headed over toward the beach and that was the first beach in Hawaii I swam in!
Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach
As I mentioned before, the black sand beach was only 5 minutes from our Airbnb. We left the beach around 330pm and headed to the Airbnb for check-in. We relaxed there for about an hour before finding a super delicious place for dinner, Ae's Thai Kitchen.
Ae's Thai Kitchen: This place was so good and affordable. It's right in Hana. It's a little food truck/stand and the food was absolutely fantastic. I would highly recommend coming here to eat. The special of the day was pumpkin red curry and I got that. Leslie got the drunken noodles. The seating is outdoors just fyi.
Ae's Thai Kitchen
We finished dinner around 530p and that was everything we had planned to do that day. We had done a ton and it had been a fantastic day but what were we going to do the rest of the night??? Well, we had another super busy day planned for day 3 so we figured we'd head out a little farther on the Road to Hana (past Hana) and check out a few things from day 3's list.
Paihi Falls & Wailua Falls: These two are extremely close together and Wailua Falls is a significantly better stop. There's nowhere to park at Paihi Falls so plan on having someone in the shotgun seat snap a quick photo as you drive by! Wailua Falls is awesome. There is parking on the elft just past the waterfall. There is a pond for swimming and this is just a really nice waterfall to look at. You can see it easily from the road and you can also hike in to get a little closer.
Our Attempt at Paihi Falls
Hamoa Beach was the last stop for the day. On the way back toward the Airbnb, we came here for one last stop before crashing for the night. This is a really nice beach and was a little hidden gem for us. It wasn't busy at all, however, we got there just after sunset. The water felt nice and the sand was soft. I would definitely recommend coming here. We probably spent about 20 minutes here.
DAY 3 TUES 05.15.2018
I originally planned to drive through Hana and continue the back way to our next Airbnb. After doing further internet research, I changed my mind. Instead, we drove out as far as Wailua Falls (night 2) and then turned around to go back the way we came. Internet research described the other route back as being more barren without many views or exciting stops along the way. Also, this would give us the opportunity to see any sites we may have missed on the way up...and there were a few! Here’s what we planned for day 3…
Red Sand Beach
Upper Waikani Falls
Lunch @ Ka Haku Smoke Shack
Dinner @ that italian place
Waioka Pond: Our first stop early in the morning (before breakfast!) was to Waioka Pond for some cliff jumping! Okay, we didn't end up cliff jumping here (but we did somewhere else later in the day...). Look for mile marker 48.1 and park right by the little fruit stand on the left hand side of the road (heading away from Hana). Right past the fruit stand, there is a little path. Follow that and then take a right once you get to the fork in the path (where the sign is). Why didn't we jump? We went pretty early and it was cold and rainy!
Red Sand Beach: Yes, another beach. This is another fantastic beach, so unique with the red sand. We went very early and had no trouble getting parking on the Ukea street, however, don't park illegally because the consensus is, you will get ticketed or towed. Once you park, it's a short walk across the field at the end of Ukea St on the left to the start of the trail. The signs in the beginning read of danger, however, at the time we went, it was very safe. Maybe the conditions change?
Red Sand Beach
Makapipi Falls: You don't really see this waterfall too well from the road unless you're looking for it...because it's under the road! Well, it's under the bridge. Heading back toward Paia from Hana, the parking pull-off will be just before the bridge on your left at [20.807337, -156.095911]. Take a walk over to the bridge and you'll see this view...
Hanawi Falls: This is a really cool waterfall! It's actually a group of waterfalls right on the side of the road. We stopped and saw a couple swimming in the pond. Parking here is tricky but there are some spots you can squeeze into on the side of the road right by the falls. We just looked at this one. We considered coming back the next day for a swim (spoiler alert - we didn't).
Upper Waikani - This is an amazing triple waterfall. We drove by it on the way up and put it on the list to come back on the way down and explore it more. I had seen photos online of people swimming in the pool. When we went back, we found how to get down to it, however, in May, with the amount of rain they had this year, this waterfall was roaring! It looked nothing like it did in pictures online. It was flowing a lot! Nobody was in the water and as soon as you get close, you could feel the mist!
Ka Haku Smoke Shack: Go visit Chuy (the guy who runs the place) and get yourself some delicious Hawaiian food. He said he gets in at 7am, starts serving at about 10am and sells out by 2pm. The food is delicious and is enough for 2 people (for $20). Be prepared to eat with your hands. The parking lot is small.
Ka Haku Smoke Shack
Waikamoi Falls: This was the spot where we spent the most time this day. And it wasn't on our original plans. On our way up to Hana the day before, we saw several cars parked here just before mile marker 10 (very close to Ka Haku). We had a blast here. You'll walk a short way in and find a pool with a small waterfall which is a perfect spot for cliff jumping or just a dip.
But don't stop there! There is a trail on the right side of that waterfall that takes you to a magical place and it's only about a 5-10 minute walk further. Maybe this will help motivate you to get there...
...just past Waikamoi Falls
Once we had enough there, we were ready to check into our Airbnb. On our way, we stopped at the Huelo Lookout stand on the side of the road for a fresh fruit smoothie (we were promised it was made with fresh fruit!).
We were pretty wiped out from 2 extremely long and busy days. We were tired, hot, sticky. We were having a blast but after checking into the airbnb we passed out for a couple hours. Per Airbnb host recommendation, we went to Serpico's for a good/affordable Italian dinner.
That was it for this long day. We had to get to bed no later than 9 that night in preparation for another big day on Wednesday!
DAY 4 WED 05.16.2018
It was time for another very highly anticipated day...Haleakala National Park! I was so excited for this. *TIP: Reservations are required and are available online only, up to 60 days in advance! We got our reservations exactly 60 days in advance and the time had finally come. Other than our sunrise viewing, we had planned to visit many of the overlooks in the park and a little bit more later in the day (outside the park)...
Haleakala National Park Sunrise
Pa Ka'oao Trail (.5mi out & back)
Keonehe'ehe'e Trailhead (Sliding Sands Trail)
Lunch @ Makawao Garden Cafe
Relax @ Airbnb
La Perouse Bay / Lava Fields
Dinner @ Paia Fish Market, Kihei
Haleakala NP Sunrise: As I said, this was highly anticipated. We made sure to get here super early to ensure a good spot (and because it was my best opportunity for a little astrophotography before sunrise). After our experience, I'll share my tips with you...1. You probably don't have to arrive as early as we did. We got there at 3:45 for a 5:45 sunrise. The place was busy but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I think you'd be okay arriving 30-45 minutes before sunrise. 2. I still don't know the BEST place to view, however, we viewed from just outside the "Summit Building" and parked in the lot listed on Google Maps as "Red Hill, Haleakala", and not the Haleakala Visitor's Center. With that said, I think both would be perfectly adequate spots! 3. BRING A COAT. I don't know how much extra room you're going to have in your suitcase but I would highly advise you to bring a jacket. We have down, packable coats and were super glad to have them with us. I also had my running pants (which I didn't need for anything else on this trip) but was SUPER happy to have long pants and a jacket up there. It was about 40-45 degrees F til about an hour after the sun rose. That's 3 hours in COLD weather! Bring a jacket. Below are some photos I took from the morning!
Pa Ka'oao Trail: After the sunrise, we warmed up in the car for a bit. This trail is really short and we figured we'd "warm up" with it. It's just a 1/4 mile each way to a lookout.
Keonehe'ehe'e Trailhead (Sliding Sands Trail): On another day we may have done the full trail, but we were not up for it. I read online, it's recommended to park early at Halemau'u and hitchhike to Keonehe'ehe'e, where you will start the 11 mile hike and then finish at Halemau'u where you parked! We decided to just start from the Visitor's Center parking lot and hike out for about an hour before returning back. We just wanted to experience the trail. For us, the big event of the day was getting up early for the sunrise - I don't think either of us had the energy to go through with the whole thing. If you do what we did, here are some of the views you can expect. I imagine this would have been an extraordinary spot to watch the sunrise as well...
Sliding Sands Trail
Kalahaku Overlook: All of these overlooks coming up are amazing. This one was pretty easy to access via a short path and the reward was an incredible panoramic overlook.
Leleiwi Overlook: This one was very similar to the Kalahaku Overlook but I am still glad we came to both! If I had to pick one, I don't think I even could. They are both spectacular. As traveling physical therapists, we have a lot of phone job-interviews. Leslie happened to have one while we were here...and she got the job!!
Halemau'u Trail: I brought this one up earlier since it connects to the Sliding Sands Trail. What we decided to do is the 2.2mi RT hike to the edge of Haleakala's rim. I really can't say much about this hike because the fog had really rolled in by the time we did it. We sat in the car for a bit debating if we even should (because of the fog). We did it anyway but did not get to experience the view.