Sunday, May 26, 2019

Maui - Day 4 - Road To Hana!

Monday May 6th, was our next all day adventure, but thankfully we didn't have to get up at 1am. We did have to be out waiting by the lobby around 6:55am. I had gotten a call from the tour company and the person left a short message, but they didn't finish. I decided to call them back and they let me know that our tour driver was running a little late. 

Since we had about 15 - 20 minutes to kill we walked around the building and checked things out. 

Our driver finally got there and we could tell he was going to be a character. At first I wasn't so sure about him and I was honestly thinking that the whole day might end up being a bust. I was totally being a Debbie downer for all of about 1 minute. Then it told myself that I was in paradise and no matter what it was going to be a great day. 

We had to go pick up 3 other couples and no one had called them to say the driver was running late. It was not a great first impression at all. 

When I signed up for this all day tour it said that we were getting breakfast, a BBQ lunch and snacks. We drove for about 45 minutes and had our first stop of the day. By this time a few of us were getting hungry and our driver hadn't mentioned anything. Thankfully when we pulled into this spot he told us once we came back from looking around he would have breakfast set out for us. 

First stop...Ho'okipa Beach. This is an area where they have wind surfing competitions. The waves are awesome! 

There were also lots of turtles sunning themselves. At one point I counted 13! 

After hanging out for about 20 minutes we headed back to the van where he had all these yummy cakes and fresh fruit for us. 

The tour company I went with for our trip is Mahalo Tours. There are four reasons I booked a tour and specifically chose this company. First I wanted Michael to really enjoy the drive and not having to be focused on the road. Second I wanted to go with someone that knew what they were doing and where the best spots were. Third this particular company only takes small vans....our group was only 8 people. The fourth and final reason was this tour drives you all the way around the backtracking! 

Our tour driver's name was Lenny and honestly by the end of the trip I just loved the guy. He is a total Hawaiian. He had been driving the Road to Hana since he was 13 years old when he would drive his drunk Uncle home from the bar. He was so full of information and honestly I never felt like he was jerking my chain. He would say something that sounded crazy like....this idiot drunk driver in a Mercedes drove off this cliff over here last year. Then we'd drive around the corner and see the Mercedes down the cliff. 

He was so hilarious with this driving. He told us early on that he wasn't going to stay in the lane. If he could see that there was no oncoming traffic he was just going to try to drive in a straight line rather than follow the road. I was totally fine with that, but there was a French lady who didn't speak any English and it definitely made her nervous. Since Lenny has been driving this road for so long he knows all the good spots. He also knows what spots to avoid. There were all these super touristy places where tons of people had pulled over and he told us why it wasn't a good place to pull over and he'd take us somewhere different. 

He had us get out at one spot and walk into the bamboo forrest and we also got to see these cool Rainbow Eucalyptus trees. 

Of course there are chickens everywhere! 

One of our stops had to be at Aunt Sandy's in Haiku. I had heard about this amazing banana bread and since I make pretty amazing banana bread too I had to try it out. 

These cute little loaves were so nice and warm. I liked the bread, but Michael said mine was better. :) I also got a smoothie since at it was so refreshing! 

We drove down the road from Aunt Sandy's to a viewpoint. 

The black lava rock down in this area was so amazing! 

Michael and I both stood there listening to the waves crashing in. 

At one point I was standing on a rock and was practically surrounded by water crashing all around me. It was so cool! 

Here's the video! 

I thought it was funny that there was this one tree in amongst all this black lava rock. 

At one point Lenny was telling us about these tourists he had recently taken on a tour. They were in their 20's and they wanted to go jump off a waterfall. He is 50 years old and he just loves doing that stuff so he did this with that tour. He kept saying that if we wanted to do any of that kind of stuff he'd be all for it. No one really spoke up so I figured that was over and done with. Then we stopped at Pua'a Ka'a Falls and Lenny told us he was going to jump in and if anyone wanted to join him they were welcome too. I was not going to jump from a waterfall. 

Then I looked over and Michael is handing me his hat with his sunglasses and his phone. In my mind I was saying....what are you doing??? He hadn't even brought his trunks so he was just going to jump in his underwear and shorts. Lenny was totally prepared and had trunks under his pants. 

The trail up to the falls was super muddy. Afterwards Michael told me the trail was worse than the jump since it was so slick. 

Here's the video of his jump. I apologize for my comment about the Native I meant no disrespect! :) 

Michael told me that if a 50 year old Hawaiian was going to jump there was no way he wasn't jumping. Plus we were in Maui and he wanted to have the most full experience he could have. Now if I had had my swimsuit I might have jumped....maybe! ;) 

I have no idea what this plant is, but I just love the texture of the leaves! 

Another random place Lenny pulled over was where there was a cave we could climb all the way through. No one was stopped here. See that's why I wanted to go on a tour. I wanted to know things that only locals know! 

The cave was actually pretty large. There were a few place that we had to duck down pretty good and Lenny would be there putting his hand up so we wouldn't accidentally hit our heads. It was so nice and cool in there and we didn't see bats or any kind of animal for that matter. 

The opening on the other side was quite large and we had to climb up this trail and use the trees like a ladder. It was a fun pit stop! 

Our longest stop was at Waianapanapa State Park or better known as The Black Sand Beach! 

We watched as people were jumping off the right side of that big rock into the water. 

The beach was pretty full, but I managed to get some shots that make it look like we were the only people there. 

We didn't really stay down at the beach for long. Black Sand equals...HOT!!! There was this trail off to the left side of the beach that led up to this awesome lookout and I wanted to go check that out. 

The things you do to get a nice picture! 

I had climbed down to see this awesome inlet area where the water was really crashing in. On my way down I held onto one of the big lava rocks and then stepped down. wedding ring got caught on the lava rock and it actually put a little ding in the gold band. That lava rock is tough!! 

This just reminds me of the Pirates of the Caribbean for some reason! 

We stayed there for about 45 minutes and then we headed to get lunch. I believe by this point it was after 1pm....I was starving! Lenny got our lunch at Braddah Hutts BBQ. We had all put in our orders earlier in the day. We were going to eat there, but there was no seating so Lenny got the food and then drove us down to Hana Bay Beach Park. We were able to sit at these picnic tables right next to the water. It was an amazing location and way better than eating at picnic tables surrounded by strangers. I was so hungry I didn't even take a picture of my food. I got pulled pork and it was awesome! I loved the macaroni salad, but I didn't even come close to eating it all! Those portions are HUGE!!! 

We passed a ton of waterfalls! 

I believe this is the Seven Sacred Pools....we didn't stop there. 

We did stop at Charles Lindbergh's Grave. I wasn't super interested in his grave, but there were a couple horses there and Lenny knew how to get them to smile for the camera so that was fun! 

One of the wild Banyan trees that they don't groom. 

Charles Lindbergh's Grave.

This is one of the flowers they use to make Lei's out of. This looked just like the necklaces we got Ella except hers is pink and purple. 

The flower and plants are so pretty! 

After the crazy road we drove on the day before I was honestly a little bit worried about the Road to Hana. In fact some people had told me it was the Road to Hell and to just avoid it. I knew that we would be kicking ourselves if we didn't go once though. I just told myself that if I needed to I would close my eyes, breath and sing Let It Go in my head. :) 

In all honesty I was not scarred at all. Not even once! Lenny made us feel so at ease. He knew his vehicle and he knew he could fit and most of the time he was not going the posted speed limit. Most of the time he was going faster! Of course he was super cautious around these blinded curves and he was never reckless. He was in total control. Don't you love the guardrail in the picture above?!?!

Also one thing I hadn't thought of when we booked the trip was that because we were going all the way around the mountain we were always on the mountain side of the road. We were never out right next to the cliff. It was awesome! I never even got car sick and that road is so curvy so that's saying a lot. I did sit in the front row in the middle, but still it is a crazy road! 

Another stop we made was at the Kaupo General Store. I ended up buying Ella a coconut purse for her to have a place to keep her Lei necklace. Michael and I each got a Haagen Daz Ice Cream bar and it was just what I needed....a little sugar pick me up.  

Our second to last stop was at Manawainui Gulch. It was a nice place to get out and stretch our legs. The view was breathtaking! 

Michael and I hiked down to what we thought was going to be the edge and then it just kept going so I kept following it. After doing that a couple times Michael didn't want me to go any further so we headed back up and then Lenny took our picture together. 

After that we got in the van and we just drove. Lenny was trying to make up some time since we made so many stops. As for the road on the backside of the mountain it was great. There was about a 5 miles section that was kinda sorta paved, but after that it was fresh pavement. 

Our last stop of the day was at Rice Park. It was mainly for a potty break, but it was also a great spot to see the sun setting. 

Maui is so beautiful that pictures just don't do it justice! 

 Michael loved this big tree that was covered in purple flowers. 

After this we didn't stop until it was time to start dropping people off at their hotels. I think we ended up getting back to the condo around 7:30pm. We had not had dinner yet and I wasn't really sure I even wanted to go out. I left the decision up to Michael and he really wanted to go to Duke's. We drove over to the hotel where it was at and tried to get in, but we didn't have a reservation and it was going to be an hour wait. No thank you!!! 

We had noticed this collection of food truck near the condo so we decided to give that a try. We both got Gyros and Michael also got a salad. We brought dinner back to the condo and ate it sitting at our dining room table. It was delicious! This was the only time I was a bit grumpy during the trip though. It had been a LONG day and I was TIRED!!! 

I will say that it was an amazing experiences. Prior to our trip I was honestly contemplating canceling this tour because I was worried I would feel like we wasted a whole day on Maui, but I'm so glad I didn't. I do not feel we wasted anything. Michael even said it was one of his favorite things we did all week. Plus Lenny was great! It started out a bit bumpy, but he totally made up for it with his awesome personality.