Thursday, November 7, 2013

My Maui Adventure - Part 3

I hit a low spot this morning when I realized in 48 hours I would be packing up and heading for the airport.  I wish we had been able to come for more than 10 days. 3 weeks sounds just about right at this point. Hopefully sometime in the future we will be able to make that happen as I love Maui and love our condo in Kihei. All we are going to do at this point is check out a few more snorkeling sites, walk the beach and rest on the lanai.

Glen and I early on decided that after the initial excitement at being here burned out of our system we would try a day of relaxation alternated with a day of exploration. Relaxing still means snorkeling just across the street and walking on the beach - just no big drives out and about.  So Tuesday was a down day and Wednesday was a full day. I find there are a lot of smaller things to see on Maui that you don't want to commit an entire trip to on it's own. You would spend more time driving than enjoying. So we tried to group several things that we wanted to see, or was recommended to us, that were close to each other. This day it would be Paia, Ho'okipa Beach, Hali'imaile General Store and the Kula Botanical Gardens.

Before we jumped in the car, we all decided to start by snorkeling across the street at Kamaole Beach at 9 a.m. when things were quiet. The day before the water clarity wasn't that good. The wind had come up in the morning instead of early afternoon and the surf was a bit rough. On Wednesday it was back to a calm morning, low tide and no wind at all. It was the clearest water we had anywhere so far. The high point of this time out was a Zen moment with a giant sea turtle. One smaller turtle was resting on the bottom, but the larger one kept coming up for air and checking out the scene. Once it swam by me and I gently brushed it's shell - nirvana! Then my son drifted along with it and it eventually paused on the surface just to hang out. I slowly drifted over and enjoyed a moment looking at the creature eye to eye, only moving when the surface pushed me closer and closer until we were about to bump noses. What an amazing moment!

After showers and hanging up all the wet stuff to dry, we jumped in the car and headed over to Paia. When Glen was here many years ago, this was the place hippies and artisans hung out. There is still a touch of that ambiance to the area. Glen and Aaron had a walk and a gelato while I roamed the shops. There were still quite a few clothing stores - many upscale and interesting - but there were also many who had local artists creations and small gifts/decorations/jewellery I hadn't seen anywhere else. Tucked in you could also find an import store full of Indonesian goods and a board short shop that had the coolest 2 part earrings along with unique choices to use in a wide variety of body piercings. Wait until you see my wooden birds with long tails - going to need the right outfit for them.


Here are 5 stores I particularly liked.  Maui Hands Art Gallery and By the Bay Art Gallery were full of work by local artists from jewellery to fabric coasters, hand towels, a wide variety of artwork, etc. Alice in Hulaland is where I bought 2 pair of really cool 2 part earrings. They also had board shorts, gifts and more, but the earrings were what drew me in.  Paia Mercantile was one of the top 2 stores in my opinion for small gifts and stocking stuffers that you didn't see in a lot of other places. Came away with a few unusual items there which I obviously can't share here. The other top small gift store was Sand & Sea. This shop also had a nice selection of more traditional earrings.  Lots of work by local artists is also available here including woodwork and metal wall sculptures. This time of year there were also a great selection of very unique Hawaiian style Xmas ornaments. I picked up 2 colourful ones - a wooden bird of paradise flower and a cartoony metal fish.



Next on the list for today was to check out where all the experienced surfers ride the waves - Ho'okipa Beach. There were only 2 standing paddle boarders here and also a few kite boarders off in a separate area.. Waves started a good distance from shore to offer a long ride and were a larger than in Kihei, but the sheer number of people surfing meant there was competition for the best waves. Riders had to be careful not to hit someone paddling out when they were surfing a wave. Still very impressive. One of the 2 paddle boarders actually had the best ride I saw. He is actually the figure on the left at the front of the wave in the left picture above. Impressive!

Then it was off the Hali'imaile General Store. This upscale restaurant is tucked away off the beaten path in the hills above Paia, about a 20 minute drive away. 2 different people had recommended we go there for lunch (they offer dinner as well, but by then we were always back at the condo relaxing) and I'm glad we did.  Be sure you know where you're going as not all road have signs and we did struggle a bit. Dropped in the middle of nowhere, this heritage building now houses a great restaurant with excellent service. There is a catch of the day that has it's own unique dish as well as a place in several menu items. The selection of tropical drinks as well as wine, beer and some non-alcoholic options is well chosen. Glen and I had the fish tacos, but with the fish of the day - Mahi Mahi.  Aaron had the Cubawaiian Sandwich with fries. You really have to check out the menu to see what a great variety of tastes are offered. I am only sorry there's not time to go back again and there were several more I would die to try.



Our last stop of the day was only a short drive away - Kula Botanical Gardens. Two women on the beach recommended it and since we were close, we decided to give it a try. It is a small gardens, so don't know if I would go there just to see it.  It was definitely a nice final stop in a day's exploring. It's up in the hills where it's cooler and you walk a circular path full of unique flowers, coloured foliage and unusual trees. If you're a real aficionado, you could spend more time here really looking closely at each plant. For most, I expect, it's a 15 - 30 minute stroll depending on your pace and how much you enjoy gardens.


Decided instead of a final post, to finish here with our last 2 snorkeling adventures. We headed back to Ahihi Kinau Cove and were again floored by the diversity of the fish there. It was hands down the best snorkeling we experienced. The negative is that it is just a rocky cove - hard on the feet and difficult to get in and out of the water safely, but worth it. That said, one couple told us they were not impressed the first time there, so I suspect there are on and off days as every location. If it comes highly recommended, try it more than once to be sure before writing it off. 


Ahihi Kinau Cove - you enter on the far side between those 2 tall trees.
The last location we tried was Ulua Beach Park. This is one everyone raves about that we were so-so on. It had the largest and best reef we saw, but not the variety and density of fish seen at Ahihi Kinau. Next time we're in Maui we will be trying it again so see if it was an off day. We did enjoy the great coral.  Glen swam out further than I did and saw a Manta Ray where the ocean floor dropped off, so he was happy.


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