Off to the next incredible island….off to Maui. Hostel options are rare on Maui and I definitely wasn’t gonna end up in a fancy hotel. I wanted to get the real experience. So I checked out the ‘Couchsurfing Community’. I was lucky enough to really find someone who wanted to host me (‘Oh Lisa, I get like 8 messages per day, yours somehow stood out!’). Lucky, lucky me!
Traveling to Maui
So there I was, waiting at Maui airport for the mid 50 surfer dude to pick me up. I kept waiting and waiting and in between wondering what I am doing here and hearing my mom’s worried voice in my head, I realized my phone wasn’t working, I didn’t have Wi-Fi, I didn’t have an address…what if he wasn’t going to show up? Well, those things would have bothered me in the past but my new relaxed self was patiently waiting. I didn’t tell my parents about this until I was back home in Germany since I didn’t want them to worry. I had only told my brother and gave him the instructions that he should worry in case he hadn’t heard from me until 6 pm. My host was great and lived in this cute place in ‘Puakalani’. Of course, there was absolutely nothing to worry about but better be safe than sorry. Holding back out of fear that something might happen will cost you truly unique moments, though it’s always advisable to be aware of potential risks. And of course, he showed up at the airport and I threw my bag in his pickup truck and we left for the beach (‘Makena Beach’) right away. Talking about locking the car or your house on Maui? Naaa, just don’t leave your stuff out and no one will care. We finished the day off with the famous ‘Twinfalls’. It’s very crowded throughout the day but since it was already dinner time no one was around – I couldn’t help it but think that I was alone with a stranger I had just met somewhere in the mountains where no one would hear me scream. Of course, those thoughts were silly in the end and my host was such an obliging person.
The famous Road to Hana
When on Maui, definitely take the infamous ‘Road to Hana’. I was lucky I got to go with my host that day. The road is just sick: there sure is a reason why people commonly say they ‘survived the road to Hana’. I tried to just trust his driving skills as he was speeding along the road. It’s a perfect day trip and you can stop along the way for the various attractions nature has to offer. We first stopped at ‘Hookipa Beach’ before heading to ‘Red Sand Beach’. From the parking lot follow a narrow trail down to the water and you will get to a beach that is named ‘Red Sand Beach’ for a reason. When you continue there will be a ‘Black Sand Beach’. Close-by to that I also found the next cliff to jump off from. After having reached Hana, for the second half of the trip, the road will take you through the ‘Haleakala National Park’. I was told you can also camp out there. We stopped at a hidden gate at the side of the road where a sign tells you ‘not to stop’. Well, when have we ever listened to that? When you enter through the gate it will take you right to the edge of the cliffs and give you a moment to really absorb the beautiful landscape you’re surrounded by. Same as all the other islands, Maui is really diverse, one moment you’re in the rainforest, the next moment you’re surrounded by never ending broad acres and you’ll feel like you’re in Scotland.
Maui Day Trip
If you’ve got some more time, try to explore the OTHER SIDE of the island as well. I rented a car for a day which I could easily just pick up from the airport by taking the bus there. The bus network is not as developed as on O’ahu but same as on Big Island you will still be able to take single buses that serve the main routes. Head towards ‘Lahaina’ and stop at the first obvious lookout point for some ‘Whale Watching’. When you continue driving and feel like you have been going straight on for quite some time, make a stop at the left for some snorkeling. By the way, a tip when you’re traveling solo, I just locked all my valuables in the car and dug a hole in the sand where I put the car keys in (inside a plastic bag). When you finally get to ‘Lahaina’ drive to the big parking lot in the city center as you can park there for free right next to the main parking lot. Take some time to walk around and enjoy the vibes of this smaller beach town. There are so many cute stores and it’s right at the beach.
Continue to ‘Kapalua Cliff House’ with the car after that. I didn’t make it all the way to the Cliff House but from the cliffs you can watch the surfers surfing those sweet Maui waves. Later on your trip, you’ll get to the ‘Olivine Pools’ (16-mile marker of Kahekili Hwy). It’s a nice hike down until you get to several swimmable tide pools located on barren lava. Make sure that the tide isn’t all the way in or bigger waves might come crashing in which can get dangerous at times. Towards the end of your round-trip, you will come across the ‘Green Treehouse’. You’ll recognize it when you see it as it is indeed green and located on your left where the road takes a sharp left turn. I treated myself with some nice fresh juice and hung around a bit to chat with the old lady who owns the place. Another traveler who came by even paid for my drink with the words ‘Just enjoy your day, it’s beautiful how you’re going through life’. I will never get over these heart-warming situations in life that catch you by surprise.
‘Kahekili Hwy’ is the main highway you will be driving and it cannot compare to any road you know. There is only enough space for one car at a time but cars do go both directions which means that you’ll always have to foresee whether another car is coming, it’s quite an adventure. Towards the end of the day I was debating whether I still had enough time to drive all the up to the ‘Haleakala Summit’ (‘Should I? Should I not? Just make a decision already’)…I gave it a try and drove up there…and I made it right in time. The ride up is so much fun as you’re constantly turning left, right, left, right and feel like you’re on a rollercoaster. I probably saw one of the most surreal sunsets up here. The sun was setting with deep orange colors over a land of cotton candy clouds. As if that wasn’t already satisfying enough, when I turned around the moon was rising with dark blue and purple colors. Those are the moments when you just feel small in this world while you admire the pure beauty of nature.
A beach that is nice for a Sunday Chill-out is ‘Paia Beach’. In Paia, you will also find this awesome organic food market ‘Mana Foods’. They have all kinds of organic food options, a choice of various trail mixes and absolutely delicious fresh-baked goods, like Ginger Lilikoi Cookies, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies or Nut Brownies. We always bought our groceries there for our home cooked dinners we always ate sitting on the floor in his one room apartment (definitely a detail that my mom didn’t necessarily need to know). It was an apartment with a view. You could see both sides of the island as it was located a bit higher. Before I left my host took me to ‘Iai Valley’. You can hike up a muddy trail and find yourself in the middle of green fern right between the mountains (of course, ignoring ‘stop’ signs to get there). Further down you can go for a swim in the ice-cold fresh spring water. Beware, at some point (around 6ish) the road gate will be closed so make sure to head back before that.
I am still grateful for all the things I got to experience on Maui, most of them I would have probably not seen within the short amount of time if it hadn’t been for my host. Besides all the memories, I also brought some food habits home with me. So here I am, still enjoying my ‘almond milk and frozen banana shakes’ in the morning and the warm lemon water or the fresh morning coffee with ghee. Thanks for a couple of truly unique days on Maui.
~ And now, I feel like doing the Kalalau Trail on Kaua’i ~