We spent two weeks in Hawaii on vacation and when we weren’t just enjoying the tropical paradise, we were active with all sorts of outdoor adventures. This post will describe the hikes on Maui, and another one describe the hikes on Kauai.
Hoapili Trail – 8.4.18
We were pretty jet-lagged, so why not fill the day with activities so that maybe we’d be sleeping at the correct local time? After an early morning run, we packed up, rented snorkel equipment and headed out for a hike and snorkel. The hike for the day was the Hoapili Trail which is at the end of the road, south of the Wailea/Makena area. To get there, we drove the Makena Road to the end. The very end. The road gets narrower and narrower, the pavement ends and eventually the road does to. There is a parking lot, beach and trail head.
Actually, we hiked both on the King’s Highway and the Hoapili Trail. These trails are in lava fields. The King’s Highway at one time encircled the entire island, but today only parts of it are still visible. I’d already hiked on lava fields in Oregon earlier this summer, which was a pretty similar experience to this one. Lava fields are hot, exposed and gravelly under foot. If you are okay with and prepare for these conditions, it can be a unique experience. Pick hiking day/time wisely (preferably not in the full afternoon sun), carry plenty of water, wear good footwear and watch foot placement and you’ll have a good time.
This hike was an out and back, and at the turn around point was a nice beach with plenty of shade to hang out and just watch the waves. On the way back, we took a few detours to look at a shore beacon. This was called a lighthouse, but not the iconic white tower with a light at the top you’d imagine. It was just a pole with a signal device and some locked up equipment that serves the same purpose.
Haleakala National Park, Summit District – 8.5.18
Since we were still a bit jet-lagged, going up to Haleakala to watch the sunrise and then do some hiking seemed like a good idea. We were already awake in the middle of night, still not adjusted to the local time, so why not? Actually, if you want to drive yourself to see the sunrise from Haleakala it takes a little advance planning these days. You will need a special permit to get into the park to see it. There are only so many parking spaces and the park does not exceed the parking capacity. The cost in 2018 is $1.50 and needs to be reserved online, the link can be found on the park’s website. I had researched this a couple of months before the trip and got a permit. Believe me, the park service is just like Santa, they have a list and check it twice before letting you into the park (after paying the entrance fee, too). We saw a vehicle ahead of us turned around right at the entrance gate by the ranger because they were not on the list for the day.
That said, driving up heavily-switch backed mountain roads in the dark is quite the experience, whether you are the driver or passenger. We could see stars overhead on the way up, so that was a good sign. As with many high summits, Haleakala’s summit at 10,000 feet is often in the clouds. Once parked, we headed up a short little trail to an overlook that was a bit less crowded than the first area with a railing. We huddled in our extra condo blanket (excellent tip found online – take that spare blanket they provide you; you know, the unused one in the top of a closet) and waited. Another tip: bring a puffy, gloves and hat. I know, Hawaii, land of sunshiny tropical warmth?!? Well, at 10K feet in the dark, it will be cold. We waited and then were treated to a fabulous undercast and sunrise. It was fantastic and as a bonus, we could see Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the neighboring big island of Hawaii.
After the sunrise, it was time for a hike down off of the summit area into the crater-like area. We took the Sliding Sands Trail down about 4 miles and returned the same way. It was like hiking in a totally different place – of course, it was above tree line, but it is so dry that there is very little vegetation. Like hiking in lava fields, it can be very hot, dry, and exposed. There are no water sources, so carrying enough water was essential. There are miles of trails, but we considered how much water we had and the fact that we’d have to hike back up to the top at altitude and decided that we’d turn around at a trail junction and head back up.
A bonus to hiking this section was seeing the Haleakala silversword plants in their natural habitat. These plants grow no where else on earth. There were many in all stages of growth, from very small to 6 feet tall, some flowering and some not.
Haleakala National Park, Kipahulu District, 8.7.18
Haleakala National Park is actually divided into two parts, the summit district and the Kipahulu district which is around the island on the coast. Both are a very different from one another. Getting to the Kipahulu district involves a drive on the Road to Hana, and then driving another 6 miles or so to the park. The Road to Hana is quite the drive through dense jungle, over one-lane bridges near streams and waterfalls on a narrow road. It is slow, tedious and requires paying attention, but is very beautiful.
The Kipahulu District of the park has some short, but really beautiful and interesting trails. We first went up the Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls. This trail has one of the most interesting features I have ever seen on a trail and will not forget any time soon. The trail travels through a dense bamboo forest, which in the breeze made an unusual clacking sound as the bamboo knocked into each other. The waterfall at the end was just a cool extra.
We then hiked to the the Seven Sacred Pools, another lovely place, leading right into the Pacific Ocean. After a quick look at the trail head kiosk, we decided we might as well red line the place – might not ever be back. So we hit the coastal trail, too, which went right through the campground. The campground was very nicely kept and there were some super cool places to camp right near the ocean.
Iao Needle, 8.9.18
This wasn’t so much a true hike, but a little touristy fun and another “might as well redline it” moments. There was maybe one to two miles of trail total, but hey, we were there! The Iao Valley has historical significance as King Kamehameha I defeated the inhabitants of Maui there in 1790. The Iao Needle itself is was formed when softer rock around it eroded as the valley eroded away.
When we pulled into the parking area, there weren’t many people there, probably due to the pouring rain. We looked at our hiking shoes and certainly did not want to get them soaking wet (had to pack them to fly to another island the next day), but realized we had our sandals and rain jackets, so it would not be a total loss. It ended up being a lot of fun running around in the rain and taking silly pictures since many of the views were obscured by mists and rain.