So, Connie and I just got back from a really great, 8 day trip to Maui.  I think that was just about the right amount of time for a trip like this.  It was long enough to get a nice relaxing break, but short enough that I didn’t feel like I was itching to get back home.

Part of the sunset view from Upcountry Bed and Breakfast

We stayed primarily at a place called the Upcountry Bed and Breakfast in Kula.  Michael, the owner, and his dog, Gabby, are absolutely fantastic.  They’re two of the things I think we’ll miss most from Hawaii.  The house is beautiful.  It sits on the side of the volcano, Haleakula, and has a beautiful 180 degree unobstructed view of West Maui, Lanai, KahooLawe, Molokini and Molokai, all from you bedroom window or your private Lanai (patio).  Michael bought the property back when he was a teenager and didn’t do much with it until the 90’s, when he started building his house with the intention of turning it into a B&B.  It’s pretty impressive, because he actually built the house with his own hands.  It’s a massive, 6 bedroom house with very spacious rooms and has some of the best prices you’ll find on Maui, especially considering what you get in return.  Can’t recommend it highly enough.

The first morning we were on the island, we started off with a sunrise tour up to the top of Haleakula, the highest point on Maui.  They truck everybody up to the top of the mountain to the edge of the crater where you get to watch a pretty magnificent sunrise.

Sunrise on Haleakula

After you’ve seen the sun come up, they put you back into the vans and bring you down the mountain a bit until you’re outside the state park area.  Then they put you all on bicycles and you begin the 27 mile trek back to where you started.  Fortunately, it’s a pretty fun ride and basically all downhill.  The biggest thing you have to watch out for is your speed, you can pretty easily exceed 30 mph.

Bicycling down Haleakula

After getting up at 2am in order to make it to the sunrise on time, following our flight and travel time getting to Maui, we were pretty exhausted.  We decided to take it easy the first day or so and just explore the local area.  We explored the neighboring city of Paia and the shops and beaches around there.  It’s a very quaint little town and the people are great.  We found a few neat places in the surrounding area.  We visited the local lavender farms, explored some of the botanical gardens, watched them burning some of the sugar cane fields for harvesting and found our favorite restaurant of the trip, Cafe 808.  The cafe is very basic, but it’s good food, quality ingredients and a friendly atmosphere.  Can’t ask for much more than that.

Next, we travelled over to the West side of the island and stayed in Lahaina for a few days.  Lahaina and the neighboring cities seem to be much more tourist oriented, which was okay for a couple days.  Not something I’d want to spend serious time in though.  The first thing we did when we got to Lahaina was to walk across the street and onto the beautiful beaches they have!

Connie on the beach in Lahaina

Our first full day in Lahaina, we decided to spend snorkeling.  It was a first time for both Connie and I.  The boat we ended up deciding on was called Hula Girl.  If any of you guys are ever looking for something like this, check out this boat.  It’s a little pricey, but the crew is fantastic and they have a gourmet chef on-board that makes some amazing food.  Nothing better after a couple hours of snorkeling than a plate of hot made-to-order food!

The snorkeling/sailing boat, Hula Girl

Gourmet lunch on Hula Girl, fresh Mahi Mahi with Thai curry and salad

Also, while here in Lahaina, we had to hit up a Luau, of course!  This really was great fun.  Before the meal, while the pig is still cooking, they have a bunch of vendors setup around the area.  Some of these are taking photos, some are making crafts such as tiki statues and Lei’s, others are telling history stories of Hawaii and the natives.  After exploring these for a while, it was time to unearth the pig!  It’s not as climactic as you would think it is, it’s digging a pig out of the ground, but the staff makes it pretty entertaining and keeps people laughing.  After the pig is taken care of, everybody migrates back to their tables where they will start getting access to the food.  The food was quite excellent, a lot better than I was expecting it to be.  There was also huge quantities of the food, all you can eat, and the alcohol was included in the price.  Nice.  After the meal is when the actual show starts.  Lots of good music, dancing, beautiful people and fun storytelling.

Making Lei's

Luau Band

Old Lahaina Luau

After our time in Lahaina, we decided to drive the road to Hana.  This road is well worth the drive, but don’t forget to take medicine if you get car sick.  There are a TON of curves on this road, but it also seems that there is some waterfall or pullout for something at pretty much every turn.  We stopped and checked out some of the waterfalls, hiking trails and vendors on the way.

Hiking along the road to Hana

One of the many waterfalls on the road to Hana

Once we got to Hana, we checked out a state park that is very close to the city.  This state park is along the coast and has some great scenery, a blowhole and some black sand beaches.  Pretty cool to see.

Hana Coast

The road to Hana sets some pretty big expectations of Hana.  After having dinner in the city and driving around for a bit, we weren’t terribly impressed.  It’s a very small town, the hotel is horribly expensive for what you get and the mosquitoes are just crazy.  We had dinner there and decided the town wasn’t for us, so we packed up our stuff and continued on the road back around to the Kula area and Michael’s wonderful B&B.  We headed out of Hana at around 7:30pm.  One thing that would have been good to know before we headed out was that the majority of the road past Hana isn’t paved consistently and it’s rarely more than a single lane.  I found myself driving my poor rental car like a baja vehicle along cliff faces and river beds.  Pretty exciting!  When we did stop for a minute and get out to look around, you really couldn’t see much until you looked up.  With no cities or cars around, the view of the stars was incredible.  I’d forgotten how much light pollution we get in the SoCal area.  I really miss seeing the stars.

After getting back to the Kula area for the last two days of our trip, we decided to keep it mellow.  We spent some time down at the beach enjoying the wind surfers and exploring the shops of the surrounding cities.

This trip was a really great time and one that I certainly don’t regret taking.  It’s created some cherished memories of fun places with my wife.  That kind of thing is priceless.  Vacation well worth it.

Josh and Connie

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