Christmas in Hawaii – Maui and one big jungle

Hey guys!

You already know from the last article how I actually got to Hawaii. And now I will tell you what I have experienced in these tropical islands – and there was a lot!

Hawaii consists of 8 islands – Maui, Kauai, Big Island, Oahu, Ni’ihau, Molokai’i, Lana’i and Kaho’olawe. Only 6 islands are inhabited and we managed to visit 4. Due to the extensive articles about Hawaii, I decided to divide my story into 4 parts, each from one island.

Before embarking on the Maui experience, I will write down some practical advice that could be useful to anyone going to Hawaii. Despite the fact that the individual islands are quite close to each other, ferry transport doesn’t work at all and is not even cheaper. We also traveled by plane with Southwest Airlines. I rarely praise airlines, because their services, conditions and prices have been quite tragic lately, but I was pleasantly surprised with Southwest, which not only has the cheapest tickets, but even transports 2 large pieces of luggage for free. In addition, it flies 2-3 times a day. I must also praise the service and smiling faces considering that it’s a low-cost airline 🙂 And let me not forget, the transport of surfboards is also free. We didn’t take any, but it’s still a great service. By the way, since all the islands are close to each other, the plane never rises to the full height, so it flies directly over volcanoes and beautiful mountains, so be sure to sit by the window!

And what about accommodation? The fact that Hawaii is expensive is probably a well-known fact. In order not to come home without any money, we decided to sleep in a tent for almost a month. Which was not a bad idea at all, because there are a lot of beautiful campsites in Hawaii. Some are more expensive, some cots a few dollars. For some you need a permit obtained a few weeks in advance, some are first come, first serve.

The flight from New York to Kahului took a total of about 17 hours, with a stopover in Dallas. In addition to resting, we planned everything during the flight. When leaving New York, we still had ho idea what we were going to do in Hawaii.

We rented a car, went to Walmart to get some groceries and set out for an amazing jouney.

The very first “hike” was to the Needle in Iao Valley State Park. We were so pumped up from New York and walked so fast, that we almost missed the viewpoint. The Needle was a bit disappointing, so we thought it could only get better.

Then we headed to Wailuku hike, which was wonderful. We got really soaked on the way there because it started raining, but back then it wasn’t the last time. We spent the afternoon in the beautiful fishing town of Lahaina, where you can find, among other things, the largest banyan tree in the entire United States. Its branches cover the whole square.

The next day we spent on Road to Hana, which is a road leading to the east of the island, about 85 km long. Apart from being probably Maui’s biggest point of interest, it has about 600 turns and 60 bridges, more than half of which are for just one car, so it actually took us almost all day. You can stop by many waterfalls and lakes along the way, where you can usually swim. But after heavy rains it wasn’t completely safe, so we didn’t do it and just took pictures.

We reached the black beach of Wainapanapa, which is made up of really black volcanic sand, and then we turned it around. We already had booked a camping place at Hosmer Grove, which was the starting point for Haleakala Volcano. The camp was at an altitude of 2,150 m, so we actually needed that winter clothes we brought from NYC.

Haleakala (3,055 m.n.m) is a sacred place for the natives and many legends are associated with it. We set out for the volcano – as usual – at sunrise, yet the peak was quite busy. It was cold as hell, about -4°C. People usually go to Hawaii to warm up and chill by the beach, and we were freezing our asses on the highest volcano of Maui. But it was definitely worth it.

We obtained permission from the rangers in the information center to enter the crater of the volcano, including an overnight stay in Holua. We didn’t see a single person on that trail.

We were surprised by a sharp change in temperature, we almost froze at the top, and here we were experiencing over +30°C. The crater is about 12 km long and about 4 km wide. You can easily spend two days here, but we only hiked to Kawilianau. The volcano last erupted 500 years ago, yet the crater still looks like Moon landscape. When the American astronauts were preparing to travel to the moon, the crater of Haleakala volcano was where they trained and prepared for conditions.

By the way, stargazing is pretty spectacular here since there are no lights around.

The next day we returned to Road to Hana. On the way we did the Pipiwai Trail, which led through a beautiful bamboo forest and at the end we found another waterfall called Waimoku. We slept in a beautiful camp on the coast. In the morning, we wanted to swim in the Seven Secret Pools, which is a system of mini lakes, but it rained again during the night, and so the rolling & roaring water didn’t really look inviting. We slept in Kipahulu campground that day.

We continued for another 30 km on an unpaved road, which was a bit difficult for our non-4×4 vehicle. We drove through it all because there was no place to turn. After a few hours, we got to Red Sand Beach (Kaihalulu) and back to the already mentioned black beach Wainapanapa. At Ho’okipa Beach, we found turtles just chilling on the sand.

Out of the joy of coming back to civilization safe and sound, we celebrated it with delicious coconut shrimps, banana bread and local fruit.

I could definitely write a separate article about food in Hawaii. We ate in a restaurant only about twice, because there are food trucks of various cuisines with absolutely fresh food everywhere. Most locals eat there, and we were no exception. We tasted pretty much everything. What we totally loved were poké bowls, which actually come from Hawaii. We tasted chicken huli huli which was great, but were disappointed by loco moco, which was basically a hamburger topped with some kind of a brown gravy. What surprised us were the fruit prices. For example pineapples – although they grow in every garden, they were significantly more expensive than in a supermarket back home in the Czech Republic! That doesn’t make any sense, right?

Anyways, we really enjoyed these 6 days on Maui. There are no dangerous animals in Hawaii, so we were not afraid to sleep in the rainforest, at the bottom of the crater, on the beach or in the mountains.

You can find two maps at the end of this article, so you see which roads we took and where we slept. The next island to explore was Kauai, which we liked the most, but more about Kauai in the next article! 🙂