A Honeymoon of Lava Tubes and Sea Turtles
by Kathy Richardier, photos by Doug Proctor
My friend Doug and I have been together about 13 years, living together about nine and it’s not like we wanted to have children – been dare, done dat. But, he decided he wanted to make us official, so he gave me a necklace with a beautiful raw diamond engagement pendant. He’s a geologist and into rocks. We were married last July.
His sons and my daughter were happy and my daughter, Chloé, said we needed a holiday (first in two years), so she “cashed in” Avion points and sent us off to Maui for a honeymoon. Such a good daughter. Our idea was to stay here and there, seeing and doing whatever we could find, so I scooped good places for us to stay as we circumnavigated the island. First stop was in Paia, not far from the airport, then further east at Hana, then ending up back west at Kihei.
DAY 1 TO 5: PAIA
When we arrived, we picked up our car and headed east to Paia, north shore, and a bit beyond to the Kuau Inn Bed and Breakfast, a charming yellow house at the end of a sugar cane field. Comfortable room, good supplies for breakfast – coffee, tea, juices, cereal, yogurt, bagels, muffins, toast – and nice other people who were staying there. For a couple of days we shared a bathroom upstairs, not a big deal at all. Then, they left and it was all ours until we left a couple days later.
Kuau didn’t provide stretches of beach, although Paia did. We found great rocky beaches near us and explored them, finding lots of rocks with faces on them. We almost always see rocks that look like faces.
While at the Kuau Inn, we walked to the Kuau store just a bit east of the Inn, a great place to get wine, beer and tasty meals, salads, sandwiches made fresh at the deli, and great bread too. That was what we brought back to the B & B for some of our meals – we didn’t cook, though the others did. We went into Paia, too, and ate at some good places, like Milagros and Café Mambo, on the main street. Good food and fun people.
We discovered that what seems to be the most famous and popular restaurant in Maui – Mama’s Fish House – was just a short walk east of the Kuau store. When we first noticed it, we were driving and pulled into the parking lot to see what was up. The dudes who park your car told us that no way we could get in if we didn’t have a reservation, that people reserve months in advance. It was that popular. It looked great, situated on a small beach, and we figured if we walked back we could get in and see what was really up.
The evening before we left Kuau, we walked to Mama’s and heard the same “full up, can’t get in” story from the outside people, but we went in anyway and the inside people were more agreeable. We wandered past the first bar in the dining room to a second bar behind the dining room. Very busy indeed, no room at the bar, even. However, we noticed that against the room divider between bar and dining room, there were three tall lounge-style tables for two people, one of which was empty. One of the barkeeps walked by and said it was ours.
We ate very well, which might explain Mama’s popularity. Doug had a Pau Hana cocktail made with lime, guava and Bombay Gin and we loved it. We shared a selection of perfectly prepared appetizers – shrimp wonton with macadamia nut dipping sauce, macadamia nut crab cakes, crisp mahimahi rolls and a baby romaine salad with blue cheese, Maui onion ranch dressing and grilled focaccia.
So, Mama’s isn’t necessarily out of reach if you haven’t reserved months or years in advance. We were rather pleased with ourselves.
We explored the beaches in Paia, then took the road to the Haleakala volcano’s crater and stopped at a lavender farm on the way – we always stop if something interesting presents itself. You can hike the volcano crater, but we didn’t because it’s very long and we weren’t prepared. If we go back, we for sure will.
DAY 6 AND 7: HANA
We bid farewell to the people we were sharing the B& B with and headed to Hana on the Hana Highway. While cruising along we passed a big sign that said Jungle Zipline, so we turned around and went in to investigate and I discovered how breath-taking and fun ziplining is. We did all seven ziplines for about two hours, through and above the jungle, feet hitting the occasional banana in a tree, good guide dudes talking about the jungle flora as we walked from one zipline to the next. An exciting and fun adventure. When I first stepped off the platforms and flung myself into space – woooooooooooosh! – it definitely took my breath away, but it was exciting flying to the next platform.
The ziplines vary in length and you can do however many you want. After we finished, we retired to the “bar” for juices and snacks and a yak with the nice guide dudes. Then on to Hana again.
We stayed at the Hana Kai Maui in the harbour area of Hana in a comfortable apartment with kitchenette and two lanais (balconies), one off the bedroom and one off the livingroom area overlooking the ocean. Perfect.
We were only there two days, but in our usual fashion we were off on adventures and good dining, packing the two days with lots of activity. The most fun adventure we had was exploring the Hana Lava Tube, deep underground and full of interesting texture – what the lava-ized ceiling and walls look like, part of it like melted chocolate in the chocolate corridor! Really interesting to walk through a lava tube and imagine it full of lava from Haleakala. And part of the story was that a slaughterhouse in the neighbourhood dumped the cattle bones into the tube. Apparently they were cleaned out, but we saw some bones at the entrance.
After this adventure, we decided to visit the Hana Ranch Restaurant just outside the “downtown” because it was up on a hill and was very inviting looking when we got there. More good food and nice people. We sat in the outdoor covered “room” along with lots of other tourist-looking people and listened to the ocean not too far away.
We were advised by one of the locals to visit some of the local beaches, specifically Koki Beach Park and Hamoa Beach, which we did by way of having good walks and looking at people. At Koki Beach locals were cooking a very Hawaiian-style chicken – huli huli chicken – you could buy and eat. Lots of surfers – not very good ones, but fun to watch anyway.
DAY 8: TO KIHEI
We bid adieu to the really nice people who ran the Hana Kai Maui and headed off to Kihei looking forward to taking a most scenic route along the ocean then north to an old, closed sugar factory then south again to Kihei. We also learned more about the roads, the unfinished bits, the one-lane treats along the cliffs where everyone, fortunately, drives very slowly and carefully – we made good use of the small pull-outs to let other traffic pass. We had a small car, we could easily do that. Lots of big Jeeps on these roads, happy to see small Elantra moving aside.
And, how convenient that the road passed Maui Wine where we stopped to have a look around. It’s where the wine is sold, not where the grapes are grown – we passed the vineyards further up the road. As with the Volcano Winery on the big island, volcanic soil grows good grapes. We bought some wine for our Kihei stay, including what turned out to be a most excellent pineapple-based sparkling wine.
DAY 8 TO 10: KIHEI
Our place in Kehei, the Waiohuli Beach Hale, was another perfect small apartment in a beautifully landscaped area right on a beautiful stretch of beach. And perfectly walking-close to a grocery store, shopping areas and good restaurants – suited our needs to perfection! We even drove to a restaurant or two, just because we were investigating the whole of Kehei that stretches itself out along many beaches.
We had a meal at Diamonds Ice Bar & Grill, a sports bar where we were very happy to get tasty wraps, one Mexican club, one shrimp wrap. The next day, across from Diamonds, we wandered into Three’s Bar & Grill where we found some of the most creative food on the island, the three dudes being friends, chefs and surfers and cooking Hawaiian, Southwestern and Pacific Rim food.
Just a little beyond Diamonds, we dinnered at the Shearwater Tavern, and not only ate well, but had a great chat with the dude who served us, a local who was in the process of changing his work so we had a good yak about the anxieties of doing such a thing – he and Doug had a lot to share (Calgary oil patch…)! That’s one thing we always do when travelling – yak with the locals.
Sounds like we did nothing but eat while we were in Kehei. We adventured, too, spent a day driving around the westernmost part of the island where Lahaina’s amazing and famous banyan tree lives. Such an interesting tree in the main gathering place, where there are also art shows on weekends, and lots of cool shops and restaurants in the neighbourhood. After I bought a really pretty dress, we headed north toward Kapalua, more narrow ocean-following roads, to a volcanic blowhole, where people were hanging around rather closer than was particularly safe. Turns out, sometimes people die when leaning over the blowhole, then it blows. We watched it blow a lot – wouldn’t want to be hanging over it when it blows, that’s for sure.
Headed back to Kihei on the road just past the blowhole that the map says, “narrow road drive at your own risk.” Again! Then headed into Iao Valley State Park just out of Wailuku and discovered that lots of fences kept people from exploring as they used to do, following the lush Iao stream-cut valley to the Iao Needle, a vegetation-covered lava remnant that rises 1,200 ft. from the valley floor. It’s a rainforest and sometimes the stream grew and flooded the valley and people died, so can’t follow the stream anymore. But pretty to hang around above the stream.
Stopped into the Beach Bum’s Bar & Grill in Wailuku for a Prime Rib Pupu and Tempura Shrimp. More good food before heading “home” to Kehei. The next day, we decided to hit the beach and water, beautiful stretch of beach and relatively calm waters, very good for a swim. A way down the beach where there was a rocky jetty, Doug noticed what looked like a head popping up. He thought it might be a turtle, so we walked down to check it out. It popped up further out into the water and seemed to disappear.
We swam back to where our beach stuff was and stood in the water talking when a turtle head popped up right beside Doug, who didn’t notice it because he was looking at something on the beach. But I saw Mr. Turtle and said “oh, you’ve come to see us now!” Then, back into the water he went and Doug and I carried on talking. A bit later, Mr. Turtle popped up beside me to say hello again – too funny! We loved it, laughed, and talked to him, but shortly he dove under and went somewhere else. One of the funnest parts of the trip, that’s for sure.
We had a flight out of Maui at 10 p.m. and were close to the airport, so we decided to spend the day driving around finding other cool stuff, like to the very south end of the island, much south of Wailea to Kanaloa where a hiking trail starts and where the geologist discovered an interesting area of lava rock called “Dumps” on the map. It’s where lava burbles up through cracks in the earth, rather than pouring through a lava tube.
Another interesting stop, heading in the general direction of the airport, but where we had not yet been, was Surfing Goat Dairy and Ocean Vodka. We bypassed the dairy and headed into the vodka distillery, located in fields of sugar cane – what the vodka is made from.
Already driving on the Makawao road, we stopped into the Stopwatch Bar & Grill for more good food! Yes, indeed, you can eat your way very happily through Maui, but don’t miss it when Mr. Turtle pops up to say “hello.”
Top of Haleakala.
Rocky beaches of Kuau.
The volcano drink at the Milagros in Paia.
Mama’s Fish House great Pau Hana cocktail.
Mama’s Fish House good food.
Entrance to Hana’s lava tube.
Ranch Restaurant fish tacos, Hana.