Marchh 9 - 14

Maui, Hawaii

It was time to warm up from the cool winter on the mainland. Hawaii was calling our name, and the island of Maui was our destination. It's been 18 years since my last visit on Maui and Toby's first. We flew out of San Jose via Hawaiian Airlines with a brief layover in Honolulu. On Maui we stayed north of Ka'anapali along Napili Bay in a studio condo right on the beach. So relaxing . . .

Wednesday, March 9 - San Jose to Honolulu to Maui

We arrived early at the San Jose airport for our morning flight on Hawaiian Airlines. Our flight departed on time for our 5 hour flight to Honolulu. The flight was nice and they served a warm frattata for breakfast. We watched "The King's Speech" for the free movie. We arrived in Honolulu around 12:40pm and then went to the interisland terminal to wait for our flight to Kahului, Maui. The weather was wet and cloudy in Honolulu. Our short 20 minute flight to Maui arrived on time and the weather in Maui was still cloudy but not as wet.

We soon got our Hertz rental, a well used Toyota Camry, and we were off to Napili. It took a little less than an hour to drive clockwise around western Maui past Lahaina and Ka'anapali. We easily found the Napili Bay Condo complex and our studio unit #109 located on the bottom corner of the two-story building. (I found online using Aloha Condo Hawaii). The cozy studio unit looked exactly like the online photos and was pleasantly appointed in Hawaiiana style decor. The main reason why we picked this particular unit was the location right on the beach with gorgeous ocean views of pretty Napili Bay. This was not a resort with pool, restaurants, bars, or front desk. Many ammenities were close by and who needed a pool with the ocean just steps away. The owners of the condo unit gave us a gift basket full of snacks and chocolates. Once we were settled in we took a late afternoon stroll along Napili Bay. The skies were mostly cloudy but the warm tropical breeze made us relaxed after a long day of travel. We soon witnessed our first sunset of our trip and the cloudy skies made it the most dramatic. The setting sun lit the sky ablaze in deep reds and oranges.

We then headed down to Lahaina, the quaint former historic whaling village, for our first dinner. I picked Kimo's restaurant located right on the waterfront along Front Street. I once ate here on my second trip to Maui in '93. This would be the perfect place to dine while watching the setting sun, but we arrive much later which made getting a table easier. There was a short wait so I had my first Mai Tai at the restaurant bar. We sat on the patio over looking the dark ocean with tiki torches flickering everywhere. We had great service while we savored our delicious Ono fish dishes.

After our meal we strolled Front Street before getting in the car and heading to Safeway to get some groceries for our condo. Once back at the condo we quickly called it a night.

 

Above is a Google map of Napili Bay and the location of our condo rental on the southern end of the beach on Napili Bay. Numerous smaller two story condo rentals lined the bay. The larger Napili Kai resort is on the northern end of the bay, this is where the Sea House Restaurant and Bar is located. Just a short walk across the street was a small convience store and a Snorkel Bob rental.

  • Wednesday morning at the San Jose airport waiting for our flight

  • We fly Hawaiian to Honolulu then the Kahului, Maui

  • The Napili Bay condo #109, a studio condo right on the beach.

  • The living area looking out onto Napili Bay.

  • The kitchen area.

  • We were greeted with a nice basket full of goodies!

Our first sunset on Maui. The cloudy skies made for a very dramatic sunset. Shortly after sunset we headed down to Lahaina for dinner at Kimo's. (click image to open in separate window, then double click image to view full size)

  • Eating crunchy Maui chips on our lanai

  • Looking back at our condo from the beach.

  • Toby strolling along Napili Bay

  • Alan taking a beach stroll

  • Getting sand between your toes?

  • Heading back to the condo

  • Watching the sunset from our lanai

  • Toby and his first Maui sunset

  • Our shirt colors match the sunset

  • The sky is ablase in orange as the sun sets over the horizon

  • My first Mai Tai and umbrella drink at Kimo's in Lahaina

  • We had a wonderful first Maui meal at Kimo's in Lahaina

 

Thursday, March 10 - Haleakala and Iao Valley

We both had a nice relaxing sleep in the comfy bed in our condo. I was curious why the bed was on a high platform, but soon found out it was the perfect height to see out through the blinds over the ocean toward the island of Molokai.

Today was suppose to be a bit cloudy so we decided to use this day to drive up the top of the large dormant volcano, Haleakala. This national park encompasses the top of the volcano and most of the eastern flanks of the mountain. This was our longest drive and it took almost two hours to drive up over 10,000 feet from sea level to the very summit of Maui. Along the drive up we encountered some nice views of northern Maui and stopped a few times for pictures. The drive took us from tropical lowlands to cool alpine low shrubs to barren volcanic rock. The temps at sea level was 82 degrees, it was 52 degrees at the very top of the volcano. We also went from looking up at the clouds to looking down upon them.

It was before noon when we reached the top of the Puu Ulaula Overlook at 10,023 feet. I barely remember the last time I was up here with my parents in 1987. We wore sweaters to keep the chill at bay, although most of the tourist were wearing shorts, flip flops and tshirts. We roamed the peak before heading to the visitor center on the rim of the crater. From there we hiked up to Pa Ka'oao peak which is next to the center. From the top we had great views of entire crater. We also had great views of the neighboring islands, especially the snow capped peaks of Mauna Kea on The Big Island.

It was just past noon and time to head down the volcano for lunch. We searched for a quick bite at Subway but they were closed. We had to settle for quarter pounder at McDonald's in Kahului, but it was very fresh and surprisingly good. After our burger we heading through the narrow gap in the western mountains of Maui to Iao Valley.

In the Iao Valley we strolled the trails of the narrow tropical valley made famous by the Iao Needle which raises 1,200 feet from the valley floor. The narrow valley also made it very windy at times. After visiting the Needle we drove just slighly out of the valley to the Kepaniwai Park Heritage Gardens which had scale models of ethnic buildings and gardens representing the Hawaiian immigration. We visited the Filipino gardens I once visited with my parents decades earlier.

It was mid afternoon and we hit the road back to our condo to spend some time on the beach. We spent the entire afternoon on the beach. The waves were fairly high and somewhat rough but it made it fun diving into waves and body surfing. There were numerous large turtles swimming near shore in the rocky areas on the southern end of the beach. We could often make out the shape of their bodies in the waves and see their heads pop out for air above the water. Many beachcombers were watching for these large turtles trying to get close for a better look, then all of a sudden a huge wave brought the turtle to us! Everyone was a bit surprised but the turtle quickly manouevered it's way back into the waves for safety.

That evening we went back to Lahaina for a late dinner, this time we ate at one of the nicer restaurants in town, The Lahaina Grill. We had a spectacular dinner with probably one of the best service we had for dinner anywhere. We both had fish dishes, I had sauteed mahi mahi and Toby had sesame seed crusted seared ahi. We ended the meal with a yummy triple berry pie and ice cream. We left the restaurant and headed back to the condo noticing that there were traffic jams around all the gas stations! We thought that was weird.

Morning view from our condo's lanai on Napili Bay looking out over the ocean toward Molokai (click image to open in separate window, then double click image to view full size)

  • A spectacular rainbow appears while sitting in our lanai

  • Driving over to Haleakala as seen past Maalaea Bay

  • Up on the flanks of the volcano with the western Maui valley and hills in the background.

  • Alan with the same background

  • We enter Haleakala National Park some 9,500 feet up.

  • Looking down through the clouds to northern Maui

  • At the Puu Ulaula Overlook at 10,023 feet

  • Views of the Big Island and Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa volcanos

  • Strolling the barren volcano tops above the clouds

  • Tourist taking in the marvelous heavenly views

  • Us with the visitor center and crater behind us.

  • FWEE Maui Style!

  • The rare silversword plant which only grows on this volcano

  • Toby and Maalaea Bay and western Maui in the distant background

  • The inside of the huge dormant volcano

  • At the top of Pa Ka'oao peak overlooking the crater

  • Taking in the vast view from such dizzying heights

  • Toby on Pa Ka'oao peak

This wide panorama was taken from the top of Puu Ulaula Overlook at the 10,023 foot elevation of the peak. This over 180 degree view spans from western Maui on the left of the photo, the crater, to views of the Big Island on the right edge of the photo (click image to open in separate window, then double click image to view full size)

  • A colorful view of the cinder cones which dot the crater's interior

  • FWEE high over Maui

  • Posing with the crater

  • The snow capped peak of Mauna Kea

  • In Iao Valley with the Iao Needle in the background

  • In Iao Valley with the Iao Needle in the background

  • Looking out the valley toward Kahalui

  • Looking out the lush valley toward Kahalui

  • Philodendrons lined the trails

  • Looking up the stream to the Iao Needle

  • I'm barely recognizable (in red) on the bridge.

  • The filipino hut in the Heritage Gardens

  • An old photo of myparents visiting the Heritage gardens in 1987

  • The Japanese Temple

  • Colorful detail of one of the structures in the Heritage gardens

  • Toby driving around the island back to our condo on Napili

  • Toby turns around for a photo as we head north toward the waters on the calm end of the bay

  • I take a refreshing dip. The Napili Kai resort in the background.

  • Palm trees over Napili Bay

  • Time for Toby to cool off

  • Looking south along Napili Bay back toward our condo

  • Out along the rocky area at the southern end of the beach.

  • FWEE on the beach!

  • A huge sea turtle washes up near some unexpected tourist

Walking amoungst the rocky shoreline on the southern end of the beach by the Napili Shores condos (click image to open in separate window, then double click image to view full size)

  • Our second sunset from our condo's lanai

  • The clear sky made for a slightly less dramatic sunset from day one.

  • A colorized sunset

  • Toby at dinner in Lahaina at The Lahaina Grill

  • Getting ready for dessert at The Lahaina Grill

  • Our triple berry pie and ice cream dessert!

 

Friday, March 11 - Tsunami Day and Lahaina

Thursday night into Friday morning was the most memorable time of our entire trip to Maui. We arrived back into the condo late Thursday evening and I was very sleepy since I had a few drinks. Then we heard loud air sirens going off in intervals. We were not sure what that sound was, initially we thought it was a loud car alarm. Once we turned on the television we were then aware that a huge 9.0 earthquake just hit Japan and Hawaii was expected to get hit by a 6' tsunami at around 3am. The loud siren was a tsunami alert warning, which went off in intervals throughout the night. The news said mandatory evacuations were required for all residents and tourist staying in the 'red' zone by 2am. Our obvious location and the evacuation maps in the phone book indicating we were definitely in that zone. We realize the tsunami was the reason for the gas station traffic jams in Lahaina earlier that evening. For safety we needed to head uphill less than a 1/4 mile to be safe and out of the 'red' zone.

By 1am the parking lot of our condos was practically empty. We packed our essential belonging and headed to the car. A local lady was advising her tourist friends in the car next to ours that all tsunami warnings are taken seriously and we must evacuate. She indicated to us that there was a huge parking lot at the Pineapple Grill restaurant uphill in the Kapalua resort complex. We headed up to the restaurant and by then the lot was almost full, we found a dark spot and parked the car. We could tell many tourist were just camping out in their car waiting out the tsunami. We did the same. We brought pillows, reclined the front seats and went to sleep as best we could. We had the radio playing all night to hear updates.

By early morning the air sirens were off so we assumed it was safe to head back. Cars in the parking lot were leaving as well. We were one of the first cars back to our complex. The parking lot looked normal and to our relief so was the condo. We went to the lanai to see the ocean and the sand in the entire beach was smoothed which indicated the water level was fairly high. From our lanai you can see the steps which lead down to the beach. A caretaker was washing out the debris which settled on the steps from the highest waves which were probably about 3' from the bottom of our lanai. A sole snorkeling flipper was amoungst the debris on the sand by our lanai. The news stations were advising people to stay out of the water since the tsunami pulses were still happening and strong under current would be present. The day was sunny, warm and beautiful so I'm sure people wanted to hit the water.

I sat on the lanai watching the ocean level pulse up and down every 20 minutes. The rocky shore on the southern end of the beach would be exposed and then be covered by water. Off in the distance I could see whales flapping their dorsel fins in the water, I wonder if they were aware of the tsunami.

Above is a Google map of Napili Bay and the location of our condo rental on the southern end of the beach on Napili Bay. Numerous smaller two story condo rentals lined the bay. The larger Napili Kai resort is on the northern end of the bay, this is where the Sea House Restaurant and Bar is located. Just a short walk across the street was a small convience store and a Snorkel Bob rental.

 

Once the coast was clear it was time to begin our day. We drove south along Lower Honoapiilani Road toward Ka'anapali. Along the way we saw areas where the ocean poured over low lying streets near the beach. We headed to the resort of Ka'anapali Shores where I stayed with my parents in 1987. The resort brought back memories. The tsunami did some damage to one of the pools located near the shore by dumping sand into it. A couple of the first floor ocean front rooms had water damage.

From there we drove to Whaler's Village in Ka'anapali and visited the free whaling museum before venturing out onto the expansive beach which the area is famous for. We walked along the shore over to the black rock by the Sheraton and saw a couple of teens jumping off the rocks! We then headed down to Lahaina to check out the Banyan tree, Pioneer Inn and other historic buildings as well as check out the touristy shops. We were not really in a shopping mode since we were tired and low energy due to lack of quality sleep. So we headed back to the condo to relax on the beach and get some sun.

That evening we headed down to Lahaina and had burgers at Cheeseburgers in Paradise. This restaurant is located right on the water and we had nice seats eating burgers and Mai Tai's while the sun set over the island of Lanai.

  • We've evacuated and ready to sleep in our rental Camry

  • My estimate on the highest tsunami wave based on the water mark around the building.

  • Caretaker cleaning up the mess. The lone fin by our lanai.

  • The wave knocked down the Napili Bay sign on the beach.

  • Water levels rose and fell exposing the rock below.

  • From our lanai we could see whales flapping their fins in the water

  • At the Ka'anapali Shores resort where I stayed long time ago!

  • The beach outside the Ka'anapali Shores where my mom strolled

  • Me standing in the same location by the hotel central fountain...

  • ... where I stood with my parents ages ago

  • Toby at the Whaler's Museum in Ka'anapali

  • Strolling along Ka'anapali beach.

  • Strolling along Ka'anapali beach

  • We head to the end of the beach at Black Rock.

  • Our feet in the Hawaiian sand!

  • Me and toby at the beach

  • Teens jumping off Black Rock at the end of Ka'anapali beach

  • Bones of a whale in Whaler's Village

Walking up and down the long beach at Ka'anapali. People were not suppose to go into the water after the tsunami due to strong undertow but people still did get in (tourist!). (click image to open in separate window, then double click image to view full size)

  • The large Banyan tree in the central square in Lahaina

  • Trying to get into the shopping mode in Lahaina

  • The historic Pioneer Inn next to the wharf in Lahaina

  • View of the ships anchored far out at sea.

  • Strolling along the historic whaling town

  • Along Front street which runs by the ocean

  • Remains of an old coral fort built on the square where the banyan tree is

  • Cute touristy shops and eateries lined Front street in Lahaina

  • Toby at the pier area of Lahaina. No boats were heading out this morning

  • Back at our beach to relax and get some sun

  • Toby soaking in some sun

  • So nice to just sit and relax

  • Many people tried out stand up paddleboarding

  • A perfect sunny clear afternoon, you'd never know a tsunami hit the night before

  • Having a Mai Tai at Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant in Lahaina

  • Toby at Cheeseburger in Paradise with the sun setting over the island of Lanai

  • We got a free photo of us at Cheeseburger in Paradise!

  • The sun already set but the sky was awash in reds and purples.

 

Saturday, March 12 - Little Beach in Makena and Snorkeling

We got a good nights rest and was ready the next morning to explore more of the island. That morning we went to Snorkle Bob's just down the street to rent some snorkel gear and make some whale watching plans for Sunday. The Trilogy catamarrans were sold out so we went on the Maui Adventure Whale Watching Cruise instead, apparently the next best thing and much cheaper.

We packed up the car and headed to the Wailea/Kihei side of Maui or South Maui. In Kihei we stopped at on the beaches where the water was very calm but seemed dirty so we continued south. We drove south to Wailea and by the resort I once stayed in 1993, The Stouffer's Wailea which is now closed and boarded up.

We continued our drive south on Wailea Alanui Dr where it turned into Makena Road then all the way south to Makena State Park. By this time it was mid morning and the parking lot was almost full. After we gathered our stuff we walked to the enormous beach with stunning blue water, but we walked from the 'Big' Makena beach over a small volcanic ridge to "Little" Makena beach, known primarily as a nudist beach. The far end of the beach was the 'gay' section so we headed there and layed our towels down. The beach was very full by that time but we did find a decent spot. The water was very inviting with an occasion large wave. People were snorkeling around the rocky reefs so we used this opportunity to use our snorkel rentals. From this beach you had a nice view of Molokini and Kahoolawe island. A passing whale was often spotted in this channel.

After a few hours at the beach it was time to head out and have a late lunch, we stopped in Kihei for a Subway sandwich before heading back to our condo.

Once back in Napili it was already afternoon, but we still had a couple of hours of good sun so we hit the beach. Just before sunset we walk over to the Kapaula coast path which went around charming little Kapalua Bay. From this bay we saw small wedding parties on the beach and one couple having a private dinner on a bluff with their own personal chef cooking food nearby. On the other side of the beach was a spectacular grass covered bluff with tall sweeping palm trees, this was the perfect spot to watch a tropical sunset. We waited here to watch the sun set over the ocean, it was very dramatic. Afterwards we headed back trying to plan our dinner.

We decided to stay close by and have a sushi dinner at Sensai Restaurant in Kapalua. We had a little difficult time finding the restaurant which didn't seem clearly marked. The sushi was very fresh and good tasting. I tried their signature Panko crusted ahi sashimi sushi roll which is ahi wrapped in spinach then flash fried and served with wasabi butter sauce... yum!

  • Morning along our beach in Napili Bay

  • My feet in the sand

  • Using the tree as a bench as I stare off into the ocean

  • Dressed and ready for the day!

  • Toby walking along the beach in Kihei

  • Nope, didn't go nude at the nude beach!

We bought a reusable underwater camera at Snorkel Bob's and used it while snorkeling off the coast of Little Makena Beach south of Wailea.The water here was very clear and good quality for taking pictures although it is difficult to manouver and aim a camera while wearing a mask. (click image to open in separate window, then double click image to view full size)

  • Toby snorkeling in Little Beach

  • The reef was a mix of coral rocks and white sand

  • Me swimming deep down into the reef

  • One of the better photos taken on the camera

  • Floating at the surface

  • At Little Beach... smile!

  • View of Molokini and Kahoolawe island from Little Beach.

  • On the bluff which separates Big and Little Makena Beach

  • Big Makena Beach

  • At Makena Beach

  • At Makena Beach

  • Using the snorkel gear on our beach in Napili

Toby on the bluff overlooking 'Big' Makena Beach just before heading down to 'Little' beach on the other side of the bluff. The water here was warm and clear, the snorkeling was great in the Little beach cove. We saw lots of fish ranging in size and color darting in and out of the hard corals. (click image to open in separate window, then double click image to view full size)

  • Cooling off in Napili Bay

  • Relaxing on the beach

  • Lovely Kapalua Bay just before sunset

  • Kapalua is a upscale resort and residence community

  • Colorful kayaks by the beach

  • Gorgeous sunset in Kapalua

  • Our Maui sunset photo

  • Alan and the Kapalua sunset

  • Toby and the Kapalua sunset

  • The warm glow of the setting sun in Kapalua

  • Stylized palm trees sway in the breeze above Kapalua

  • Sushi dinner at Sensai Restaurant in Kapalua

The evening sky awash in warm reds and orange as the sun set over the Hawaiian islands. (click image to open in separate window, then double click image to view full size)

Sunday, March 13 - Whale Watching

On our last full day in Maui we went on an exciting mid morning whale cruise out of Lahaina harbour. After packing a few drinks we head down to Lahaina for our 9:30am check in time.

We chose Maui Adventure Cruises which use twin engine super rafts, which sat around 40 people. The day was perfect for this adventure, it was sunny, no breeze and the water was flat. We boarded the raft and chose to sit on the pontoons near the front of the boat to be close to the action. The boat was surprisingly fast and smooth. Since the ocean was calm we didn't get much splash. On this trip we encountered two different whale groups. The first group had a very active calf which often jumped out of the water and made for some spectacular photos. The second group of whales we encountered came very close to our boat and one whale even hovered directly below of boat for a while. Everyone was staring at this whale as it was clearly visable in the water below the boat. At times it seemed to get 'larger' which meant it was rising up in the water, everyone was nervous it would raise the boat, but it then swam away. The cruise took two hours and soon we were back at the harbor in Lahaina.

Back on land there was an art and craft show under the Banyan tree. We purchased some nice note cards from a local painter. It was lunch time so we had lunch at Captain Jack's Island Grill just across the street from the Banyan Tree. The upstair restaurant had great views of the local historical park. After lunch we did a little more 'serious' tourist shopping amongst the numerous stores on Front Street. Toby purchased some new Reef sandals while I purchased t-shirts from Honolua Surf Co.

It was time for more sun, beach and sand so we headed back to the condo to relax on the beach. We spent the entire afternoon on the beach and watched our last Maui sunset sitting on the sand.

That evening we walked down the beach to the Sea House Restaurant which typically has great sunset views overlooking the bay from the Napili Kai Resort. We however arrived way past sunset so the view wasn't needed, we sat outside in the patio for our final fresh seafood dinner and Mai Tai's. It was a nice relaxing meal and perfect way to end our vacation.

  • Sipping my morning cup of coffee

  • A red hibiscus in Lahaina

  • View of the island of Lanai from the Lahaina Harbor

  • One of the 'super-rafts' coming into the harbor after their whale watching cruise

  • We're heading out the Lahaina out into open water

  • Toby sitting on a pontoon of our raft

  • Our first whale group and the elusive whale tail photo

  • The baby calf jumping out the water

  • The baby calf doing a back flip

  • Now the calf is doing a side flip

  • The second group of whales coming close to our raft

  • A faint outline of the whale under our boat!

The tail of a whale! We encountered many whale groupings while in Hawaii and came upon two family groups while on our whale cruise. It was very exciting to be out on the water getting close to these magnificent creatures. (click image to open in separate window, then double click image to view full size)

  • It was nice being at 'ocean' level on this cruise

  • Smile for the camera!

  • The green weathered hills of western Maui

  • Lunch at Captain Jack's with Pioneer Inn in the background.

  • Lunch at Captain Jack's above the park next to the Baldwin Home Museum

  • More sun at our Napili Bay beach

  • Timed photo from the camera

  • Lovely Napili Bay

  • On our lanai

  • Our last Maui sunset

  • Each evening brings such a dramatic sunset

  • FWEE!

  • Having a Mai Tai at the Sea House Restaurant.

 

Monday, March 14 - Maui to Honolulu to San Jose

It's time to head back home to the real world and leave paradise behind. We checkout early and drive to Kahului to drop off the rental car and wait for our flight to Honolulu. The flight left on time and we arrived in sunny Honolulu 20 minutes later. It was lunch time and we had a couple of hours to kill so we ate at Gordon Birsch in the airport. I had a kalua pork sandwich, it was good but probably not the best choice just before a long flight. The flight was slightly delayed but the captain made up time in the air. Hawaiian Airlines showed the latest Harry Potter Movie (Deathly Hallows Pt.1) for the free in flight movie while we munched on undescript turkey sandwiches for dinner. Soon we arrived in San Jose International at around 9:30pm picked up our luggage and car at long-term and we were driving home.

Our Maui vacation was a nice warm tropical break from the brisk cool California winter. It was also relaxing and a much slower paced than our Italy vacation last year.

Until the next time we see a golden Hawaiian sunset . . . ALOHA!

Flying to the mainland. . . view of Honolulu and Waikiki Beach (click image to open in separate window, then double click image to view full size)

  • Our last morning in paradise

  • We fly over west Maui and our condo en route to Honolulu

  • On our final leg of our journey: Honolulu to San Jose

  • Flying over Waikiki and Honolulu

  • Flying over Haunama Bay, a popular snorkeling spot on Oahu

  • Our final sunset somewhere over the Pacific . . .