Hawaii - Oahu & Maui

Thursday, October 27, 2011 - En Route to Honolulu

With my friend Carla settled-in to play both house-sitter & dog-sitter, she drove me mid-afternoon to LAX for my flight to Honolulu(AA267, normally 6p-8:45p, but we were delayed about 30min leaving).  Ended-up sleeping most of the way there; once my bags were in hand I snagged my Economy Car from Budget and drove (in spotty light showers) to the Royal Grove Hotel on Waikiki:

Room #601, Royal Grove Hotel, Waikiki Room #601, Royal Grove Hotel, Waikiki Room #601, Royal Grove Hotel, Waikiki

Found out about the Honolulu-version of Motel 6 from TripAdvisor.com, and am I glad that I did!  For $64/night I was two blocks off theKuhio Beach Park, centrally-located, in a clean & comfortable air-conditioned room with kitchenette.  The one downside was parking - namely, there is none: you have to park ($10 cash every 24hrs)  a few blocks away in the garage at the Banyan Breeze and walk.  But, otherwise, for an inexpensive base of operations this place can't be beat!

 

Friday, October 28, 2011 - Oahu Touring, including The Polynesian Cultural Center

As sort of a grand orientation, for my first full day I scheduled the Circle Island Sightseeing Tour Luau Package through the Polynesian Cultural Center.  The meeting spot was just behind the Hyatt Waikiki (about a block-and-a-half walk from The Royal Grove) - when it arrived (just before 8:30) the panel van was about 2/3 full... mine was the third of four pick-ups before commencing the day.  Once underway,  we drove past the Honolulu zoo on the way to the Diamond Head & Black Point Lookout - then past Kahala before our first stop at the Hanauma Bay Lookout.

Hanauma Bay Beach Park, Oahu Hanauma Bay Beach Park, Oahu

After a few minute photo-op we re-boarded the tour bus and drove a few minutes to our next stop: the Halona Blowhole.

A Panorama of the Halona Blowhole, Oahu
Halona Blowhole, Oahu Halona Blowhole, Oahu Halona Blowhole, Oahu (recognize this beach from the film "From Here To Eternity?" Yep... one 'in the same! :)

We then headed-off to one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen: the Makapu'u Lookout & Light House.

Makapu'u Beach, Oahu Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail, Oahu Makapu'u Beach, Oahu

Having covered the far southeast corner of Oahu, we now drove for a bit - past Kailua Village - to the Pali Highway for a photo-op atop the Nu'uanu Pali Lookout (timing is everything... just as I was walking back to the bus the sky opened-up with a moderate-to-heavy rain shower).

Kailua Village, Oahu
Pali Highway, Oahu A Panorama of The Pali Lookout, Oahu The Pali Lookout, Oahu
Pali Highway, Oahu

From there we road about 15min - over the mountains to connect with H1 > H3 > H2 (gotta love the concept of "Interstate" highways in an island state! lol) - past Wheeler Army Airfield (which had some personal significance to me as my Dad flew C54s from the west coast to Wheeler in the war) and Hawaii Plantation Village - to the Dole Plantation for a 30min snack-break (EXCELLENT pineapple ice cream!)& photo-op.

The Dole Plantation, Wahiawa, Oahu The Dole Plantation, Wahiawa, Oahu The Dole Plantation, Wahiawa, Oahu

At this point we were running a little behind schedule - so without further adieu we passed the Haleiwa Pineapple Fields, North Shore Beaches and Hawaii Temple on our way to The Polynesian Cultural Center - where we received a fresh flower lei greeting, toured the seven "villages", saw the canoe pageant, enjoyed a traditional Luau dinner, then finished-off the evening with the "Ha: Breath of Life" performance (sort of a Hawaiian-version of "The Lion King").

The Polynesian Cultural Center, Laie, Oahu The Polynesian Cultural Center, Laie, Oahu The Polynesian Cultural Center, Laie, Oahu Luau at The Polynesian Cultural Center, Laie, Oahu

BTW, it's worth noting: Brigham Young University owns/runs the place - so, if you're like me and have designs on enjoying an adult beverage (or two), don't.  They're not available.  The one thing I didn't enjoy about The Polynesian Cultural Center.

Since Waikiki is on the exact opposite side of the island, we were very late returning to the hotel... as in after 11pm.  Made for a long day - but a very deep sleep that night!

 

Saturday, October 29, 2011 - Touring the North Shore, then Golf at The Palmer Course, Turtle Bay

Having been in that direction the day-before, around sunrise I was in the rent car headed north (H1 > H2 > HI99 > HI803) to Waialua - the old sugar mill town that is now home to places like Waialua Estate Coffee (yes, I bought several half-pound bags) & Waialua Soda Works.  I also clearly remember a couple of episodes of 'Lost" that were filmed on those grounds.

Waialua, Oahu Waialua, Oahu

After my little shopping-stop, I headed west (on 930) - past Dillingham Ranch - to the far northwest part of Oahu called Mokule'ia (withMokule'ia Beach Park being the location for the series premiere of 'Lost'... yeah, I was on something of a 'Lost' trek during this part of my trip!)

Mokule'ia Beach, (far northwest) Oahu A Panorama of Mokule'ia Beach, Oahu Mokule'ia Beach, (far northwest) Oahu
Mokule'ia Beach, (far northwest) Oahu Mokule'ia Beach, (far northwest) Oahu Dillingham Ranch, Mokule'ia, Oahu

I then headed easterly to the quaint paniolo town of Hale'iwa - stopping at M. Matsumoto Grocery Store for a coconut crème shave ice(SO good!) - before stopping again at Hale'iwa Ali'i Beach Park for a couple of photo-ops.  

Hale'iwa Ali'i Beach Park, Oahu Hale'iwa Ali'i Beach Park, Oahu

To the northeast was the Waimea Valley - I briefly toyed with stopping to tour the area, but thought it prudent to continue in the direction of Turtle Bay (to be sure there was no chance of missing my tee-time).  Continuing on the Kamehameha Highway, I hung a right on Pupukea Road and took the steep, windy road to the Pu'u o Mahuka Heiau State Historic Site... it's out of the way, but the views simply should NOT be missed!

Pu'u o Mahuka Heiau State Historic Site, Oahu Pu'u o Mahuka Heiau State Historic Site, Oahu Pu'u o Mahuka Heiau State Historic Site, Oahu Pu'u o Mahuka Heiau State Historic Site, Oahu

Continuing my 'Lost' trek, I did have hopes of finding Police Beach... but, it was so effectively hidden (hence why production moved there when the show became a sensation) that even the GPS shed no light on how to get there.  No worries... I continued onto Sunset Beach & Ehukai Beach Park - home of the famed Banzai Pipeline.  The day I visited was the first day of the annual Van's Triple Crown of Surfing... not super-busy yet, but in a few more weeks traffic in both directions is said to be nightmarish!

Sunset Beach Park & Ehukai Beach Park, North Shore, Oahu Sunset Beach Park & Ehukai Beach Park, North Shore, Oahu Sunset Beach Park & Ehukai Beach Park, North Shore, Oahu

My last stop - before reaching the golf course - was Kawela Bay and Pupukea Beach Park... a lovely area perfect for snorkeling & diving (which, on another visit there, I might just do!)

Pupukea Beach Park, North Shore, Oahu

I finally reached Turtle Bay, well in advance of my 2:22pm twilight time on The Palmer Course.  The place didn't look that busy for a Saturday - and they offered to let me tee-off early for the same twilight rate (playing quickly by myself, all but assuring I'd get-in a full 18 holes before nightfall).  My overall impression was that it's not an overly tough layout - what makes it hard is the wind (esp on the very open front nine - the back nine winds through trees & wetlands, which helps block a lot of the wind).  Amazing manicuring, though... gotta love the tropics :)

The First Tee of Palmer Course at the Turtle Bay Resort, Oahu The Palmer Course at the Turtle Bay Resort, Oahu The approach to the 12th on Palmer Course at the Turtle Bay Resort, Oahu The approach to the 17th on Palmer Course at the Turtle Bay Resort, Oahu The 17th green of Palmer Course at the Turtle Bay Resort, Oahu

BTW, I shot an 82 from the Blue Tees (6795 yds, 72.5 index / 140 slope)... not too shabby for somebody that hasn't been playing much of late :)

On my meandering right back towards Waikiki, I saw some paragliders coming-off the mountains near Kahana Bay Beach Park - and HAD to pull-over for a final photo-op before darkness settled-in.

near Kahana Bay Beach Park, Oahu
near Kahana Bay Beach Park, Oahu near Kahana Bay Beach Park, Oahu near Kahana Bay Beach Park, Oahu
 

Sunday, October 30, 2011 - The USS Arizona Memorial, Leeward Side Touring,
Shopping & Dining Waikiki

This Sunday was my day of remembrance and reflection, as I arrived shortly after 7:30a at the Pearl Harbor / USS Arizona Memorial.  Walking the grounds, then watching a short documentary before boating over to the Memorial itself is very sobering.  Definitely not one of the "feel good" events in your life, but if you visit Oahu you owe it to yourself to spend at least a couple of hours here.

The Pearl Harbor Memorial, Oahu The Pearl Harbor Memorial, Oahu The Pearl Harbor Memorial, Oahu
The USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Oahu The USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Oahu The USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Oahu
The USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Oahu The USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Oahu The USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Oahu The USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Oahu

From there, as a favor to my friend Ana, I bought a couple of flower leis and drove about 10min eastward to the Oahu Cemetery - to pay respect to her father (who passed 22 years ago that day) and her mother (who pass just a little over a year ago)...

ByLand-20111030-Cartwright.jpg (185123 bytes)

I then resumed my touring of the Leeward Side of the island by driving on HI93 until I ran out of road at Kaena Point State Park (hiking about another mile-or-so northward for photo-ops of the gorgeous scenery).

Kaena Point State Park, Oahu Kaena Point State Park, Oahu A Panorama of Kaena Point State Park, Oahu Kaena Point State Park, Oahu Kaena Point State Park, Oahu
Kaena Point State Park, Oahu Kaena Point State Park, Oahu Kaena Point State Park, Oahu Kaena Point Satellite Tracking Station, Oahu Kaena Point Satellite Tracking Station, Oahu

BTW, those last couple of pics - the space geek in me got all excited when I happened-upon the Kaena Point Satellite Tracking Station... where both manned and (frequently classified) unmanned military satellites have been tracked for decades :)

Back in the car, at the southern edge of the Kaena Point State Park I quickly visited the Kaneana [Makua] Cave - legendary home to Nanaue, son of the shark god.  It's an intriguing 450' long lava cavern - if you visit, you'd do well to bring a good flashlight, as it gets very dark, very quickly!  A few miles further south found me touring the Kaneaki Heiau (a well-preserved 17th century Hawaiian temple dedicated to Lono - god of harvest & fertility) - where I encountered one of the best Bird of Paradise flowers I've ever seen!

Kaena Point State Park, Oahu (just outside the Kaneana [Makua] Cave) Kaneaki Heiau, Oahu Kaneaki Heiau, Oahu Kaneaki Heiau, Oahu A Bird of Paradise Flower, on the grounds of the Kaneaki Heiau, Oahu

My original plan had me spending the next couple of hours snorkeling Pokai Bay and/or the Ko Olina Resort... but, instead, I opted to return to Waikiki to wander-about for a bit (I'd been there for 60+ hours and had yet to do so!).  After watching a really spectacular sunset(which included a wake-boarding Jack Russell Terrier to the side of the pier), I walked-across the street for dinner at Lulu's Waikiki (very excellent Ahi Poke and Mai Tais) - then wandered some more to walk-off dinner and enjoy nighttime Waikiki.

Kuhio Beach, Waikiki, Oahu Kuhio Beach, Waikiki, Oahu Kuhio Beach, Waikiki, Oahu
Sunset at Kuhio Beach, Waikiki, Oahu Sunset at Kuhio Beach, Waikiki, Oahu Sunset at Kuhio Beach, Waikiki, Oahu Sunset at Kuhio Beach, Waikiki, Oahu Sunset at Kuhio Beach, Waikiki, Oahu
Moonlight Over Waikiki
 

Monday, October 31, 2011 - Revisiting some Amazing Sites, and Golf at The Ko'olau Club

With some time to kill before my tee-time, I decided to return to the southeast part of Oahu for more photography at the Hanauma Bay Lookout, the Halona BlowholeWawamalu Beach Park and the Makapu'u Lookout & Light House.

Diamond Head, Oahu Halona Blowhole, Oahu Halona Blowhole, Oahu The Koko Head Play Ground & Wawamalu Beach Park, Oahu Wawamalu Beach Park, Oahu
Makapu'u Beach Park, Oahu Koko Crater, Oahu (as seen from Wawamalu Beach Park) A Panorama of the Makapu'u Lookout, Oahu The Makapu'u Lookout, Oahu Makapu-u Beach Park, Oahu (looking towards the Kaohikaipu Island State Bird Sanctuary)
Makapu-u Beach Park, Oahu (looking towards the Kaohikaipu Island State Bird Sanctuary) The Makapu'u Lighthouse, Oahu Makai Research Pier, Makapu'u Beach, Oahu
A Panorama of Kailua Village, Oahu

Just after noon, I teed-off (once again, as a single) at the Ko'olau Golf Club - named one of the top two golf courses in Hawaii by Golf Digest in 1997, and considered (by some) to be the toughest course in the nation. I'm not sure about that last part, but it IS very difficult... and VERY scenic!  It is, literally, carved out of the tropical rain forest on the windward side of the Ko'olau mountains... which are immediately recognizable as the backdrop in the "Jurassic Park" movies.  Amazing waterfalls, elevation changes, blind-shots into winding ravines - but the course plays very wet too (there were three heavy-duty rain showers during my round). Not at all for the faint-of-heart, but definitely worth a play if you're visiting Oahu!  From the Championship Tees (6797 yds, 73.5 index / 145 slope) I managed an 81... and that was about as good as I'm capable of playing these days.

The Par 3 Fourth at Ko'olau Golf Coub, Oahu Yes, if the mountains around this course look familiar - then you've probably seen the "Jurassic Park" movies (they were filmed nearby) The 5th Tee at Ko'olau Golf Coub, Oahu... intimidating, but (as I expected) there was a bigger landing area than it appears on this dogleg right
The 5th Green at Ko'olau Golf Coub, Oahu (looking back-down the fairway) The 15th Tee at Ko'olau Golf Coub, Oahu... and, yeah, this one was kinda narrow :) The 15th Green at Ko'olau Golf Coub, Oahu ... looking back-down the fairway (I did make that putt for my lone birdie of the day) The 16th Green at Ko'olau Golf Coub, Oahu... looking back-down the dogleg left fairway (was that a velociraptor I just heard? lol)

Once back to the hotel, I was once again getting a craving for authentic Hawaiian cuisine... so I walked (roughly) a mile to Ono Hawaiian Foods - a little hole-in-the-wall where I basically had another Luau :p  Excellent food at really great pricing (everything in the islands tends to be expensive, so this was a welcome change of pace).  Afterwards, had to get back and pack - for the second half of my Hawaiian adventure!

 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 - En Route to Maui; Helicopter Touring

A non-eventful Hotel check-out was followed by a rainy return of the rent car.  Hawaiian Airlines awaited - their 10:41a departure to Kahului (OGG) Maui - although I was dismayed to discover on arrival that the gorillas (er, uh, baggage handlers) had completely trashed the top shell of my travel golf bag. Shook it off, got my car from Alamo, then drove to the other side of the airport for my helicopter tour - only to discover that it had been postponed about three hours.  Ahem.  Gotta roll with the punches... at least it gave me time to find a local golf shop - where I bought an inexpensive travel bag that would get me back to the mainland.

After a quick bite of lunch I returned to Blue Hawaiian for weigh-in, safety briefing, and the start of our aerial tour.  As mentioned, weather wasn't too hot... I had scheduled their Complete Island Tour, but with heavy rain pouring over Haleakala & Hana our pilot strongly suggested we divert to Molokai for a look at the waterfalls along the sheer northern coast.  Sounded good to us!

Our A-Star copter with Blue Hawaiian, Maui The Kahului (OGG) Maui Airport, from Blue Hawaiian's A-Star helicopter The Kahului (OGG) Maui Airport, from Blue Hawaiian's A-Star helicopter The Kahului (OGG) Maui Airport, from Blue Hawaiian's A-Star helicopter
Aboard Blue Hawaiian's A-Star Helicopter - touring northeast Maui Aboard Blue Hawaiian's A-Star Helicopter - touring northeast Maui Aboard Blue Hawaiian's A-Star Helicopter - touring northeast Maui Aboard Blue Hawaiian's A-Star Helicopter - touring northeast Maui
Aboard Blue Hawaiian's A-Star Helicopter - touring northeast Maui Aboard Blue Hawaiian's A-Star Helicopter - a birds-eye view of Kapalua Plantation Golf Course (which I played on the last day of my vacation) We crossed the channel to Moloka'i so we could have a look at the tremendous waterfalls on the north shore Aboard Blue Hawaiian's A-Star Helicopter - touring near Halawa Beach Park, Moloka'i
Aboard Blue Hawaiian's A-Star Helicopter - touring the north shore of Moloka'i Aboard Blue Hawaiian's A-Star Helicopter - touring the north shore of Moloka'i Aboard Blue Hawaiian's A-Star Helicopter - touring the north shore of Moloka'i Aboard Blue Hawaiian's A-Star Helicopter - touring the north shore of Moloka'i
Aboard Blue Hawaiian's A-Star Helicopter - touring the north shore of Moloka'i Aboard Blue Hawaiian's A-Star Helicopter - touring the north shore of Moloka'i Aboard Blue Hawaiian's A-Star Helicopter - touring the eastern shores of Moloka'i Aboard Blue Hawaiian's A-Star Helicopter - touring the south shore of Moloka'i
Aboard Blue Hawaiian's A-Star Helicopter - heading-south from Moloka'i to West Maui Aboard Blue Hawaiian's A-Star Helicopter - near Kaanapali Beach, Maui Aboard Blue Hawaiian's A-Star Helicopter - looking-down at the Old Lahaina Luau (and Lahaina, Maui) Aboard Blue Hawaiian's A-Star Helicopter - flying into the West Maui Forest Reserve
Aboard Blue Hawaiian's A-Star Helicopter - touring the West Maui Forest Reserve (on the way back to OGG) Aboard Blue Hawaiian's A-Star Helicopter - touring the West Maui Forest Reserve Returning to OGG (Kahului Airport)... which is surprisingly busy (you can see one just took off while another is on final approach). And a nice view of the (still operating) sugar mill at the bottom of the frame.

We were aboard their A-Star helicopter.  This is NOT the one that crashed, eight-days later, on exactly the same tour route as ours.  A couple of people have asked if I ever felt unsafe, and the answer was "absolutely not" - but the asterisk there is that I know enough about aviation to where I did have a passing thought, a couple of times, where given our altitude and the rugged terrain below that an engine-out autorotation wouldn't be survivable.  But we dodged any bullets that day, and it really was a truly spectacular afternoon.

Back on the ground I drove westward for about 50min to Lahaina for check-in at the Outrigger Aina Nalu.  Basically, this is a very nicely-renovated condo complex... and I was a happy camper when I discovered that the studio plan I'd booked had maintenance issues - so they bumped me to the one-bedroom model for no additional cost (which included an in-suite washer & dryer - EXCELLENT as I was almost out of clothes and needed to do a couple of loads of laundry!)

Suite C208 of the Outrigger Aina Nalu, Lahaina, Maui Suite C208 of the Outrigger Aina Nalu, Lahaina, Maui Suite C208 of the Outrigger Aina Nalu, Lahaina, Maui
Suite C208 of the Outrigger Aina Nalu, Lahaina, Maui Suite C208 of the Outrigger Aina Nalu, Lahaina, Maui Suite C208 of the Outrigger Aina Nalu, Lahaina, Maui

While I had several first-class restaurants selected for tonight's dinner, when stocking-up on breakfast items, soft drinks & munchies I saw that the local Foodland had not only great-looking sushi but also a sale on Sake... so I bought both and chowed-down in my new Maui home (for at least the next six days :)

 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - Snorkeling Trip to Lanai, Old Lahaina Polynesian Luau

I've not gone SCUBA diving for nearly seven years... and since I didn't want to take the time to re-demonstrate basic skills, I opted for a the Maui Adventure Cruises Lanai Landing Dolphin Adventure (not so much for the snorkeling but so I could see a bit of Lanai while in the area).  And am I ever glad I did!

Lahaina, Maui (shortly after sunrise) Lahaina Harbor, Maui (not too long after sunrise)
Aboard Maui Adventure Cruises, on the way to Lana'i Aboard Maui Adventure Cruises, arriving on the southeast shores of Lana'i This was the Maui Adventure Cruises Lanai Landing Dolphin Adventure... cue the spinner dolphins! :) This was the Maui Adventure Cruises Lanai Landing Dolphin Adventure... cue the spinner dolphins! :) This was the Maui Adventure Cruises Lanai Landing Dolphin Adventure... cue the spinner dolphins! :)
Back underway, headed-towards Hulopoe Beach, Lana'i Maui Adventure Cruises - taking us to Hulopoe Beach, Lana'i
At Hulopoe Beach, Lana'i... nice place for a picnic lunch, no? At Hulopoe Beach... with the Four Seasons Resort Lana'i in the distance Hiking around Hulopoe Beach, Lana'i Hiking around Hulopoe Beach, Lana'i Hiking around Hulopoe Beach, Lana'i
Hiking around Hulopoe Beach, Lana'i A Panorama atop the hill at Hulopoe Beach, Lana'i Hiking around Hulopoe Beach, Lana'i (there is a tiny Heiau atop that rock in the distance)
Hiking around Hulopoe Beach, Lana'i Hiking around Hulopoe Beach, Lana'i Hiking around Hulopoe Beach (with the Four Seasons Resort Lana'i in the distance) Maui Adventure Cruises, safely returning-us to Lahaina Harbor

As it turned-out (what a surprise - not!), when old guys drink nearly two bottles of Sake on the previous night they're still rather buzzed the next day.  I was first-off the boat for the snorkeling, but within 20-30sec was headed-back because I was extremely light-headed... as though I might pass-out.  So it was definitely fortuitous that I didn't attempt diving! That was the only downer - otherwise, spectacular trip (not just having their tasty picnic lunch on the beach but then wandering the rocks for photo opportunities)!

Upon returning, I had time for a leisurely shower and change of clothes - at which point I walked the mile-or-so to the Old Lahaina Luau(walked because, upon entry, I started two-fisting the tasty - nevermind complimentary - Mai Tais).  I cannot more highly recommend this place... it so totally dwarfed the Luau I'd had on Oahu at The Polynesian Cultural Center that it's tough to even refer to them with the same word.  The ambiance was completely authentic (esp the traditional mat seating at my front-row table), the food was to die-for, the service throughout the night was impeccable, and the show was riveting.  Queue-up in advance of the 5:15p start - because it's crowded. With good reason. Definitely do this when you visit Maui!

Sunset, as seen from the Old Lahain Luau, Maui My view (from front-table traditional mat seating) as I began dinner - at the Old Lahaina Luau, Maui After eating, the show commences (at the Old Lahaina Luau, Maui)
Our Storyteller - at the Old Lahaina Luau, Maui
The after-dinner show at the Old Lahaina Luau, Maui The after-dinner show at the Old Lahaina Luau, Maui The after-dinner show at the Old Lahaina Luau, Maui
The after-dinner show at the Old Lahaina Luau, Maui "Downtown" Lahaina (Maui), by night Can't tell you how tempted I was to buy this... 'cept I have no place to hang it!
 

Thursday, November 3, 2011 - Golf at The Wailea Gold Course,
then Makena State Park & Beach

Slept-in a bit this morning (hey, it IS vacation!), had a leisurely breakfast, then an equally leisurely drive south for an 11:05a Tee Time at the Wailea Gold course (BTW, they considered 11:05 to be "Twilight" - I didn't argue!). Advertised as the most challenging of their three courses, I really liked not only the layout but also how the architect incorporated lava rock walls and indigenous grasses/plants into the design.  Beautiful AND challenging.  I played very well (in part because my partner sported a -1 handicap... interestingly he was an insurance claims adjuster from Ohio) - from the Blue Tees (6653 yds, 71.6 index / 132 slope) I carded an 84.

The Par 3 Eleventh Hole - at the Wailea Golf Club Gold Course Approaching the 15th at the Wailea Golf Club Gold Course - and one of only two photos where I'm actually seen during the entire trip! Hole #1 at the Wailea Golf Club Gold Course (we played the back-nine first, so this was my 10th hole of the day) The Par 3 Third Hole - at the Wailea Golf Club Gold Course

Concluding our round just a bit after 3pm, I said my goodbyes then drove south - past Makena State Park and Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve - til the road ended at La Perouse Bay.  Lovely, rugged area...

La Perouse Bay, South Maui La Perouse Bay, South Maui La Perouse Bay, South Maui Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve, South Maui
Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve, South Maui Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve, South Maui Driving northerly on Makena Rd, South Maui Driving northerly on Makena Rd, South Maui

Returning to the car, I slowly drove back to the north (to assure that I didn't hit any of the black goats that frequently crossed the roadway) - stopping at Makena State Park Big Beach to wander-about for a bit.

Makena State Park Big Beach, South Maui Makena State Park Big Beach, South Maui Makena State Park Big Beach, South Maui Makena State Park Big Beach, South Maui

In retrospect, I wish I'd brought a change of clothes (from golf attire to swim trunks) and a beach towel... would've liked to have vegged-out here til the sun set  This part of Maui really agreed with me :) Nevertheless, I was back to the Aina Nalu by nightfall - where I enjoyed a sandwich and a couple of beers in the condo, before drugging myself for a very early bedtime.

 

Friday, November 4, 2011 - Haleakala Downhill Bike Ride at Sunrise,
Touring the Upcountry & The Road To Hana (reversed)

This morning's 1:45a wake-up was the one part of my planned itinerary where my daughter said I'd lost my mind. Perhaps. But how many times in the remainder of my life will I have a chance to catch a sunrise atop the Haleakala Volcano - then bicycle-down to the town of Haiku?  Asked and answered.  As it was, the weather did NOT look promising - it was raining when myself and a dozen others arrived at the designated 3am meeting time at Bike Maui.  Nevertheless, we got all of our gear, sleepily-climbed into the van, and then listened to our driver / tourguide tell us everything we never wanted to know about the volcano and the Haleakala National Park

So, yes, it was a disappointment when the skies never cleared (i.e. we never saw any hint of a sunrise... only the clouds growing ever brighter) - although by the time we'd descended back to the 6500' level (just outside the park entrance) to begin the bicycling part of this tour the sun started to poke through the clouds.  Cool thing about Bike Maui is that, after the briefing, everyone does a self-guided bike ride down the mountain (versus traveling in packs as do the rest of the operators).  I liked that - while I didn't want to be doing a 50mph banzai down the road, I also didn't want to be creeping along at a 5mph elderly pace either... plus, this way, I could stop anywhere / anytime for snapshot photo-ops (I brought only the Lumix - didn't want the additional weight of the DSLR in my backpack).

At the Summit of the Haleakala Volcano, Haleakala National Park, Maui At the Summit of the Haleakala Volcano, Haleakala National Park, Maui The observatories at the summit of the Haleakala Volcano, Haleakala National Park, Maui At the Summit of the Haleakala Volcano, Haleakala National Park, Maui (ostensibly this trip was to see the sun rise from the top of the volcano) At the Summit of the Haleakala Volcano, Haleakala National Park, Maui (as is clear from these pics, the sun didn't get the memo that it was supposed to make an appearance)
At the Summit of the Haleakala Volcano, Haleakala National Park, Maui - the only place on earth to see the SilverSword plant! Here's how things look from the vantage of a bicycle - at about 6000' above sea level - coming-down from the Haleakala Volcano Here's how things look from the vantage of a bicycle - at about 6000' above sea level - coming-down from the Haleakala Volcano While bicycling down the Haleakala Volcano, the views tend to be pretty tremendous Another view, about halfway down the Haleakala Volcano (pics ceased not long after this when the rains returned)

At the conclusion of the downhill bike ride (which I thought would take at least two hours longer to complete), my original plans had me touring the upcountry area for the remainder of the day. However, the last quarter of the bike ride was in a steady rain (VERY happy that Bike Maui provided rain/wind gear & gloves) and that rain continued once I was back in the car... so I decided to bumble-down in the southwest part of Maui - above the Wailea / Makena areas I'd seen on the previous day - and poke my nose into the back-end ofThe Road To Hana (I only found-out after the fact that this practice is prohibited by the car rental companies... equally glad I didn't suffer a flat tire or mechanical breakdown on the extremely rough, out of the way terrain!).  And, after driving for a couple dozen miles, once I got to the point where the road really got bad (you'll know it from the one photo below) by that time I was committed to finishing the journey... which took til late afternoon.

The bike ride finished much faster than I'd planned, so I did something you're not supposed to do... took the rent car down The Road To Hana (from the western side - the formal tour the next day began on the eastern side) The west (leeward) gets only about a foot of rain ever year - hence why vegetation really doesn't take-hold on the volcanic rock/soil Driving west-to-east on The Road to Hana, Maui Driving west-to-east on The Road to Hana, Maui
Driving west-to-east on The Road to Hana, Maui Driving west-to-east on The Road to Hana, Maui Driving west-to-east on The Road to Hana, Maui Driving west-to-east on The Road to Hana, Maui
And here's where the road starts getting bad (and why the car rental companies forbid you to do this). It's rough. Seriously rough. As in 5-6mph tops. And it's two lanes... tons 'o fun when there's an oncoming tour bus! =:-O Driving west-to-east on The Road to Hana, Maui Driving west-to-east on The Road to Hana, Maui Driving west-to-east on The Road to Hana, Maui
Driving west-to-east on The Road to Hana, Maui Driving west-to-east on The Road to Hana, Maui (you can tell we're now transitioning from the side that gets 12" of rain annually to the side where rains are a regular occurrence) Driving west-to-east on The Road to Hana, Maui
Driving west-to-east on The Road to Hana, Maui Driving west-to-east on The Road to Hana, Maui Driving west-to-east on The Road to Hana, Maui Driving west-to-east on The Road to Hana, Maui
Driving west-to-east on The Road to Hana, Maui Driving west-to-east on The Road to Hana, Maui Driving west-to-east on The Road to Hana, Maui Driving west-to-east on The Road to Hana, Maui
Driving west-to-east on The Road to Hana, Maui Driving west-to-east on The Road to Hana, Maui Driving west-to-east on The Road to Hana, Maui Driving west-to-east on The Road to Hana, Maui

Once I was finally back on two-lane road (where I loudly said something like "HALLELUJAH!!!") I drove past Ho'okipa Beach (with an insane number of windsurfers offshore) to the Paia Fish Market - which came highly recommended - for a very late lunch / early dinner.  The recommendations were warranted... the fish tacos did not disappoint!  From there, a very tired David drove-back to Lahaina - arriving just after sunset - and stayed-in for the rest of the night.

 

Saturday, November 5, 2011 - The Road to Hana

Hearing what a devilish drive The Road To Hana offers, I originally booked an escorted tour with Valley Isle Excursions... which picked-me up in front of the Aina Nalu at just after 7am (I was the last pick-up, so there was one seat remaining on the 12-pax van - whereupon we headed southeasterly). Our first stop was about 30-40min into the day... for a Hawaiian Continental Breakfast at the clubhouse of The Dunes at Maui Lani (where I picked-up a scorecard, in case I return and decide to golf there one day). With our bellies full, we then drove to the far southeast side of Maui and began our Road To Hana trek towards the Ke'anae Peninsula.

The Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree (close-up of the bark in the next pic) The Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree (this photo of its bark is NOT doctored in any way... this is how it looks to the naked eye)
ByLand-20111105-03.jpg (166092 bytes) ByLand-20111105-04.jpg (199042 bytes) ByLand-20111105-05.jpg (154902 bytes) ByLand-20111105-06.jpg (146067 bytes) ByLand-20111105-07.jpg (133568 bytes)
Waterfalls seen on The Road to Hana, Maui

We slowly meandered down the Hana Highway - making frequent stops (or slow-downs) for waterfall photo opportunities - before reaching our next stop at the Wai'anapanapa Black Sand Beach.   

Waterfalls seen on The Road to Hana, Maui Waterfalls seen on The Road to Hana, Maui Wai'anapanapa State Park, Maui (the famed Black Sand Beach) Wai'anapanapa State Park, Maui (the famed Black Sand Beach)
Wai'anapanapa State Park, Maui (the famed Black Sand Beach) Wai'anapanapa State Park, Maui (the famed Black Sand Beach) Wai'anapanapa State Park, Maui (the famed Black Sand Beach) Wai'anapanapa State Park, Maui (the famed Black Sand Beach)
Wai'anapanapa State Park, Maui (the famed Black Sand Beach) A Panorama Photo of Wai'anapanapa State Park, Maui (the famed Black Sand Beach) Wai'anapanapa State Park, Maui (the famed Black Sand Beach)
The "Walking Tree"... it actually sends roots in the direction it wishes to travel while letting roots wither thaqt it'll be leaving behind. Weird, huh? (at Wai'anapanapa State Park, Maui)

After a 30min walk around the area, we hopped back into the van for a relatively short trip to "downtown" Hana, then our hour-long buffet lunch stop at Tropical Flowers & Bouquets of Hawaii (who has some amazing flower deals witth free FedEx back to the mainland - I definitely plan on ordering from them in 2012!). Once we finished our tasty (homemade?) lunch of chicken breast, chilled pasta, green salad & drinks we hit-the-road again for a visit to Wailua Falls and the Seven Sacred Pools of O'heo.

Native Flora at Tropical Flowers & Bouquets of (Hana) Hawaii Native Flora at Tropical Flowers & Bouquets of (Hana) Hawaii Native Flora at Tropical Flowers & Bouquets of (Hana) Hawaii Native Flora at Tropical Flowers & Bouquets of (Hana) Hawaii
Wailua Falls, Kapaa, Maui Wailua Falls, Kapaa, Maui
A big Banyan Tree, near the Seven Sacred Pools of O'heo (near Hana, Maui) The Seven Sacred Pools of O'heo (near Hana, Maui) The Seven Sacred Pools of O'heo (near Hana, Maui) The Seven Sacred Pools of O'heo (near Hana, Maui)

One of the quiet highlights of this tour (for me) was a visit to Charles Lindberg's gravesite, at the Palapalo Ho'omau Church Cemetery near Kipahulu, Maui (I had tried to find it the previous day by car and was unsuccessful... it is very out-of-the-way).  From there we got back onto the "highway", driving west through the Hana Ranchlands and then stopped for a tasting at the Tedeschi Winery (where I bought a bottle each of their locally-produced Ulupalakua Red [enjoyed later that night back at the Aina Nalu] & the Upcountry Gold [chardonnay blend, which came back with me to Los Angeles]).

Charles Lindberg's gravesite, at the Palapalo Ho'omau Church Cemetery near Kipahulu, Maui Charles Lindberg's gravesite, at the Palapalo Ho'omau Church Cemetery near Kipahulu, Maui A particularly scenic spot just off the Pilani Highway, Maui
And a Full Panorama of that same scenic spot, just off the Pilani Highway, Maui

Well-after dark - and our 11+ hour day of touring - I was the first to be dropped-off at my hotel... where I opened my bottle of red(enjoying it over the next couple of hours), then walked into town for a really tasty late-ish burger dinner at the Cool Cat Café (with a lovely second-story overlook of downtown Lahaina)

 

Sunday, November 6, 2011 - Golf at the Kapalua Plantation Course,
then En Route back home to Los Angeles

My final morning in Hawaii was a leisurely one... drinking the last of my Kona coffee and packing for the return trip to California.  Checked-out of the Aina Nalu about 10:30, then drove the short distance northward to my final Maui activity: a 12:30 tee-time at The Plantation Course at Kapalua... where the professionals begin their tour every year in the first week of January (at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions). This famous Ben Crenshaw design did NOT disappoint... yeah, it's pricey ($268 per golfer) but the keep it in the same condition as the pros play - and it's (at least for me) mind-numbing how they can shoot such low scores on fairways and greens as fast & undulating as these!

The First Tee... truly amazing to play the course used by the PGA Tour to start-off every season. And equally amazing that they keep it conditioned as they do for the Pros. In a word, "these guys are good." Til you play what they do, you don't realize how good!  at The Plantation Course, Kapalua. Looking back up the First fairway towards the Clubhouse  at The Plantation Course, Kapalua. The Tee to the Par 4 Sixth Hole  at The Plantation Course, Kapalua. Looking back at the 5th Green from the 6th Tee  at The Plantation Course, Kapalua.
The Tee to the Par 4 Seventh Hole  at The Plantation Course, Kapalua. And, after a big tee shot - with lots of wind-assisted roll - I had just a short iron to the 7th Green.  at The Plantation Course, Kapalua. The Par 3 Eleventh Hole  at The Plantation Course, Kapalua. Despite the course guide suggesting to play the 14th conservatively, I decided to use my driver  at The Plantation Course, Kapalua.
... which left an easy knock-down pitching wedge. I hit it pretty well, huh? And, yes, I made the birdie :)  at The Plantation Course, Kapalua. Looking back down the 15th Fairway from the Green  at The Plantation Course, Kapalua. The 17th Tee...  at The Plantation Course, Kapalua. ...and where I hit in regulation. Lag putt was so-so, but I did grease in the second for a Par (can't say the same thing for the famed 18th - after a terrific Tee shot, I proceeded to hit a pull draw for a lost ball - ending up with a Bogey)  at The Plantation Course, Kapalua.

From the 7263-yard Championship Tees (74.9 index / 138 slope) I ended-up shooting an 85. Not one of my best, but I can live with it :) 

I briefly toyed with driving "the long way" back to the airport (i.e. northward on windy roads) - but after being told the drive would take two hours (possibly longer) that's not something I wanted to be doing after nightfall.  So, instead, I went the way I knew - stopping in Wailuku for Vietnamese cuisine at A Saigon Café (wish I could provide a link, but they don't have a website... it's a small, family-owned place with a well-deserved reputation).- then returning the car rental and queued-up for the red-eye return to LAX aboard American Flight 14 (which, although scheduled for a 5:15a arrival got-us-there almost an hour sooner).  A sleepy Carla retrieved me just after 5, and - once home - my Hawaii 2011 adventure officially concluded.

   
 

| Home | Music | Golf | Travel | Family || Email Me | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Instagram | LinkedIn | Pinterest |

Copyright © 1999-2017 by David Presley, All Rights Reserved. Webspace hosted by GoDaddy.com.
Optimized for High-Speed Connectivity - Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and/or Safari - minimum 1024x768 display resolution.

Find more about Weather in Vancouver, WA