Donald and I are finally back on the east coast after two amazing weeks honeymooning in Hawaii. I’m already missing the Aloha spirit of the islands – the people were super happy, the food was incredibly fresh, and the adventures were seemingly unlimited.
We had planned to sit on beach, read, and sip tiki cocktails at our resort during our honeymoon week on Maui, after our action-packed week in Kauai. But of course, I can’t sit still, and we needed to find something more exciting than watching the turtles and the surfers navigate the waves.
With only a week on the island of Maui, we needed to choose our adventures carefully, which still making time for at least a little relaxing. Here are my top 5 MUST DO adventures on Maui.
1. Snorkling Molikini Crater with Sail Trilogy. I am not a huge fan of deep water or sea critters, but this tour made it easy to relax and enjoy the tropical fish and colorful coral. The adventure starts with a 45 minute sail on the catamaran to Molokini Crater. You aren’t allowed on the actual crater, but there isn’t much to see – it’s just a half-moon shaped rock – all the interesting things are under the crystal clear waters around the crater. It was like swimming in a fish tank! I also learned that sharks prefer slightly murky water, and the clear waters around the crater deter sharks from visiting it, making it an amazing, predator-free snorkel day.
2. The Backside of the Road to Hana. We heard a lot of buzz about the Road to Hana. It’s considered a “must see” attraction by a lot of websites and travel brochures. I’m not into really touristy, overcrowded experiences and the Road to Hana is a bit of that – definitely geared toward tourists looking for a bit of danger, but not too much danger. The drive had been over-hyped, in my opinion – it wasn’t as harrowing as advertised.
We made it all the way past Hana to the Seven Sacred Pools (which, turns out, is just a kitchy marketing play – they aren’t actually sacred!), and decided to continue around the backside, even though many had warned against it, and told us to turn back. But the uncrowded, one-way road offered stunning landscapes of the arid side of Haleakela, and lead past local fruit stands, a bee sanctuary, stray livestock, and a winery. Locals, travel guides, and other tourists had told us how treacherous this road would be, but I’ve encountered more harrowing 4×4 driving in Malden and Everett.
3. Sunset + Stargazing on top of Haleakela Valcano. The backside of the Road to Hana also happens to be the quickest way to the top of the Volcano, if you’re deriving from Hana. We timed our drive to arrive on top of the Volcano about 30 minutes before sunset, which was perfect timing. Even though we didn’t get a parking spot at the crowded upper observatory lot, the larger lower parking lot also offered a great view of the sunset from a trail. it was cold after the sunset, so pack your pants and a down jacket if this is in your plans. And if you just so happen to find yourself on top of the volcano in a tank and shorts, like I did, just pop off the top of your Jeep, blast the heat, and *poof* you’ve got heated stargazing. 😉
4. Jumping off Black Rock on Kaanapali Beach. I did not do this, but Donald did. The 30-foot plunge into the wavy sea below isn’t for everyone. But Donald grew up jumping off cliffs, just like the line of fourteen year old locals diving off this rock, showing off for the tourists. At sunset, the divers’ silhouettes make for awesome photos against the colors in the sky. Donald said that he would wear footwear next time, since the black lava rocks were sharp to climb (unlike the smoother rocks on Kauai).
5. Happy Hour at Sensei Sushi. This was an under the radar piece of great advice that we heard from someone on Kauai. Sensei Sushi is a little off the beaten path, near Kaanapali. At 4:45pm, locals and tourists (mostly tourists) line up outside the door, to be seated at 5:15, for happy hour, when everything on the menu is 25% off. When we arrived at 4:45 the line was already a couple dozen deep. Five or six sushi chefs busily constructed perfect looking sushi and sashimi behind the counter, with fish that was probably swimming around the pacific earlier that day. The sushi was amazing, but the butterfish appetizer was the standout, along with the pinko-crusted deep-fried macadamia shortbread ice cream dessert, which rivals brownie sundae’s place as the best-dessert-ever. It’s shaped like a burrito, and I ate it like a burrito, which earned props from the waitstaff for avoiding the fork. 🙂
There were so many other fun things we did that didn’t make in into this list. Those will all be included in my next traveler’s guidebook, all about honeymooning and adventuring on Maui and Kauai. Stay tuned & (of course) mahalo!