Trying to figure it out where to go first, we looked through travel sites. I will remind you: we have never been to Maui before.
What did we see?
Ka’anapali – Wailuku – Wai’anapanapa – Nahiku – Haleakala – Molokini – Lanai…
Ah? Do these names mean anything to you? Well, they didn’t to us either. Therefore, again, we shut down the Internet and drove to Hana.
Tour operators exited us to see the tropical “utopia of Maui”: majestic waterfalls (many of them), bamboo forests, exotic flowers, Black Sand Beach, Red Sand Beach and other excitements. Very promising, don’t you agree?
The road to Hana is full of incredible scenery, but it is an adventure to drive along the curvy, serpentine, two-lane (in many parts one-lane) road for 3 hours one way. A mere 42 miles separate Paia from Hana. It’s definitely an all-day experience. Be prepared that the local drivers will stubbornly sit on your tail, regardless how fast or slow you drive. Also, all of them are possessed by a weird habit to pass your car right after the severe sign: “Do not pass!” So, if you want to visit Hana only because you would love to say to your friend “I have been there!” – don’t do it! Postpone your trip till you have enough time to enjoy your journey.
The first major sight: Twins Waterfall.
Another waterfall and happy adventurers.
We didn’t take any food with us and we found out that grabbing a bite to eat can be a challenge on the way to Hana. We missed the few cafes; we didn’t have a chance to slow down because an angry islander literally glued his car to our rear bumper. Finally, we let him pass us and stopped at a road stand. We had a tasty lunch: chicken, sausages and pork were sliced, BBQed and placed on a sugar bamboo leaf.
It was pure luck. The friendly local gentleman does not cook BBQ lunches every day, only when he is in the mood to do it. I would recommend you bring some food and refreshments and do not rely on luck.
Somewhere in the middle of our trip we stopped at the rest zone. This couple shared their lunch with homeless kitties. I don’t know who they were, but they have heart! Thank you!
There are over 1,000 wild cats on Maui. They look horrible – skinny, hungry and sick. Cats do not have enough food (birds and mice) and they have turned into scavengers. To see those miserable creatures was painful. I wish the tour operators had informed us. If we knew we would have brought cat’s food with us. Unfortunately, we had our lunch before we stopped at the rest zone. I experienced a shock: tropical island, hundreds of thousands of tourists, million-dollar hotels everywhere and… starving animals. Whatever stern veterinarians say about the danger of animal obesity I prefer to see fat cats rather than cats dying from starvation. It was very sad.
Next stop: Wai’anapanapa National Park and Black Sand Beach.
Here is another native islander, but he is in full camouflage. Can you find a cat in the picture?
The volcanic black sand. Awesome sight!
It’s really black! Never in my life have I seen such an amazing place!
Next stop: Hana Bay.
Hana is a small community town, green and full of flowers. The main attraction is the famous Red Sand Beach. By the way, there was free parking at the local middle school not far away from Red Sand Beach, but I am not sure if it was again our lucky day, or anyone may park there anytime?
Red Sand Beach looks more like a bay or tiny harbor.
You will have to walk up and down along a narrow path grabbing the tree branches to secure yourself from falling off the cliff, but the natural beauty of Red Sand Beach was worth the effort!
In the past this place was closed to the general public by the wish of the owner (because of the liability and legal issues). Now, since it is open again, be careful getting there: you are responsible for your own safety.
Here, in the bay of Red Sand Beach, our trip was over. It was time to go back. The way back took us less time – about 2 hours. Maybe we got used to the sharp curves in the road?
The red sun was half gone and most of the sky was covered with the clouds, when we reached the highway. Gradually, the sky turned from a bright-pink into gentle-lilac. Last flash; the sun disappeared.
We were overloaded with impressions of what we saw. Yes, as Maui Revealed Book promised us, Hana “doesn’t hit you, it seeps into you”.
HOTEL vs CONDO
Before purchasing our flight, I had to find the place to stay. As my husband and I were first-time visitors of Maui and were not familiar with any resort, I shall admit that it was a challenge. Hotels and travel websites have a kaleidoscope of beautiful pictures, but to my huge surprise I found too many negative reviews about the accommodations.
Usually I use TripAdvisor; from my previous experience I came to the conclusion that their visitors’ reviews are pretty close to reality. But this time even 5-star Hotels were criticized to no extent! I fully understand that to rent a nice condominium may be problematic. Each condominium has separate owner and, therefore, the standards are different. You may only hope for the owner’s honesty; to get a good condo is the same as to buy a pig in a poke.
But 5-Star Hotels?
That was something new.
Also, when I compared Mexico’s prices (we have traveled to Mexico frequently for many years) with Maui’s hotels’ prices I had to make an effort to stop my jaw hitting the floor. I had an impression that Maui hotels’ designers and builders are tricking us into believing they built palaces for pharaohs with gold and precious jewelries for hotels’ walls, otherwise how can you explain the minimum price of $500.00 per night (if you are lucky and it’s a low season)?
If I haven’t read a wonderful book “Paradox of Choices: Why More is Less” by Barry Schwartz just before our trip, I would completely forget about Maui and make a reservation to my well-known Mexico. The book gave me the straight answer why perspective tourists spend so much time shopping around instead of trusting common sense.
This is the answer.
Nowadays we depend TOO MUCH on somebody’s else opinions. It’s almost impossible to make your own decision, and – what is even more important – to be happy with it! There is so many choices that our subconscious plays a dirty trick with us. It doesn’t matter what we will choose, we already don’t like it! We hate it! Because we’ve missed the other opportunity!
I stopped “swimming” in the ocean of negative reviews, bought the book “Maui revealed” by Andrew Doughty and tried to focus on what WE want to get within our budget. Two business professionals were exhausted and ready to have a break from the office routine for 2 weeks. But on the other hand, we are too energetic to spent our entire vacations lying on the beach all day long. How to combine comfort, budget, sightseeing, snorkeling and an ocean escape?
We split out vacation into two parts. For the first week we rented a condominium at Royal Kahana Hotel in Lahaina (close to Kapalua Bay).
The other week we stayed at a 5-star Astoria Hotel in Wailea. Now, we had the opportunity to explore different parts of Maui and compare the resorts.
In general, the condominium in Lahaina was pretty good, quiet, reasonably clean with a nice front ocean lanai (balcony). We had everything we needed, but…
There is no doubt that a 5-star Hotel provided more comfort and delivered the true escape! Included in the astronomical (in my opinion) accommodation price of all the resort hotels in Wailea is their promise to the guests to relax and experience the feeling of a worry-free vacation.
I will mention pluses and minuses of staying at the condo and hotel in Maui a little bit later. I will also share some tips, you may find helpful.But now it is time to take a trip to Hana to explore Maui’s natural beauty.
My dear readers of TravellingMe Blog!
Before releasing this website and blog I was asked numerous times by different people: “Why do you want to do it? There are so many other blogs and travel sites, why waste your time?”
I think I found the answer to those sceptics:
“Wherever you travel in life, take chances, embrace the uncertainty of outcome, go with an explorer’s heart, and most importantly, share what you find with others”, Andrew Doughty, the author of Maui Revealed Book.
I took the liberty to cite Andrew Doughty’s words because that is what I believe in. Learning every day, share my knowledge and experience with others make me happy. If you like to travel, read, and learn – then, my blog is for you.
I have such a feeling that sometimes new technologies play weird tricks with the most of us. With new technologies we surely must have more time to explore the world. But it looks like that we have less and less time to do it! There is no time to read books, there is no time go to museums, there is no time to enjoy the beauty of the old canvases, architecture, monasteries, palaces, exotic faraway islands…
We are always in a rush.
Even traveling adventures seem to turn into sitting in a comfortable chair in front of your personal computer; why bother going somewhere after all? I will not be surprised if one day technology gets so refined that it will offer their clients to climb up the highest peak of Everest or dive into the ocean’s depth without even leaving their own house!
And it will not be a virtual game, it will be a reality.
But, lucky for those of us, who are interested to explore new and unknown destinations, we still have this opportunity!
Very soon many of you, I am sure, will have to think about summer vacations. As I have just come back from Maui, I decided to start my blog with videos and information about this island. Despite the fact that there is a lot of information about Maui, I still hope you will find my notes helpful. I wish you to make the right choice, go to Maui and enjoy it as much as I did.
Large property, a lot of people
Beautiful flowers’ arrangements
This time we stayed at Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Hotel, relatively close to the airport. Usually, I try to stay away from the gigantic all-inclusive properties, but this time we made an exception for our business part of a trip.
I fell in love with Mexico the moment our plane landed on the ground; it enchanted me. Mexico has always been a very popular destination for the tourists: luxurious hotels, exotic nature, mysterious pyramids…
Do you like to travel? Do you feel comfortable around people you never met before? Do you shy away from introducing yourself? Don’t get upset with yourself: it’s easy… when you know what to say!