With the memory of our drive up to Haleakala fresh in our minds and my new found phobia of guard rail-less roads, we decided that for my sanity and our safety we should probably do a guided trip to Hana instead. Using this board as a resource we had ideas and options, we were in between Valley Isle and Hike Maui. The deciding factor was that I really wanted to do the hike in Kipahulu and see Waimoku Falls, so we booked with Hike Maui instead.
Another day in paradise began with us waking up at 5:30 to prepare and shower since a shuttle was going to pick us up at 6am in our lobby. This time around I made sure to read the instructions (no more starving due to my expectation of free breakfast! we got banana bread, ehhh), and breakfast was included with our excursion. While waiting for the van, it was very nice of the HK staff to check up on us, they asked where we were going since they were concerned that we were left behind because a van for another tour just left 5 minutes before we came down.
The shuttle came to our lobby on time, and we picked up the remainder of the party for our trip. We met our guide Jeremy in Kahului and we began our journey to Hana. Let’s just get this out of the way, I am not shallow, however I have to admit that Jeremy was cute. Now that I have made that confession, we can go on with this trip report. We went around the backside of Haleakala first to get to Kipahulu and it was interesting to see the rugged beauty of that environment. The waves crashing on the black rock is mesmerizing, and one cannot stop staring at Haleakala. One great thing about having a guide was that I don't have to worry about driving off the cliff. On our way we had to back up a couple of times because we encountered a couple of trucks with construction equipment on the way to Kipahulu. The drive was entertaining as Jeremy was very engaged and enthusiastic. He had relentless energy and he entertained and answered most if not all of our questions.
It was about 10 am when we reached Kipahulu, we then got a backpack, water shoes, lunch and plenty of water for the hike. At first I was impressed that we each got backpacks and water shoes thinking we could keep them and bring them home. Boy, am I happy that somebody else asked that question, and I was saved from the unneeded embarrassment.
We started our long-ish hike to Waimuku, and this is when I started to feel like a kid again. I felt like I was back home in the Philippines running around our fields. During the hike I got reacquainted with plants and trees we had in our backyard and fields back home. The hike was interesting (got to eat plenty of guava) and the scenery was gorgeous.
Halfway through the hike is when you enter the bamboo forest and it feels like you have been transported to a different world. It's cooler, darker and muddier. The sound the bamboo makes as the wind blows is rhythmic and hypnotic. After the bamboo forest is a short section with where you would have to do a couple of stream crossings before you reach the falls.
I guess it has been drier in Hana lately, however this did not diminish the effect Waimoku falls had on us. It is breathtaking. We sat down close to it and enjoyed our lunch (with Maui Chips!!), after lunch with some stern words of caution from our guide we decided to wade in the water and go under the waterfall for a few seconds. The water was so refreshing after that hike. After that each group went back to the trail head at their own pace taking plenty of pictures including the required picture straddling the banyan tree.
Once everyone caught each other at the trail head we headed down to the pools of Oheo. Maybe I was tired, maybe I had overwhelming expectations, maybe Hana had less than average rainfall for that week, but I was a bit disappointed by the pools. Jeremy was pointing out to us how low the water level is that day as compared to the average. We still went to the pool, and this is when I realized, I would rather swim in the ocean than a lake. Swimming in the pools freaked me out a bit. Maui’s clear ocean water has spoiled me, and the pools not being as clear as the ocean scared me. However, scared as I may be, I'm still a tourist, and I had to go in and take pictures. I'm using my waterproof camera and I am getting my money's worth. We swam towards the small water fall and back to the entrance then we got out of the pool. We then walked towards the ocean to take more pictures and enjoy the view. This place is so gorgeous, the rough waves crashing on the rocks, it is just magical. This place transports you to a different realm, where you can imagine what the place may have looked like 300 years ago.
After the dip in Oheo, we went back to the van (learn from my mistake tip, bring extra set of clothes, nothing worse than sitting in an airconditioned van with wet underwear!) and drove the road to Hana back. The sights are beautiful and now I understand why people do it, the dichotomy of views, the beautiful ocean to your right and the rainforest to your left. It’s an experience I wanted to bottle and keep with me forever.
We got back to Kahului at about 7pm and got dropped off HK. We had Chinese delivery from China Bowl for dinner, and it was a different experience from what we're used to in NY/NJ. We were surprised by the packaging since we are used to having everything on paper tubs, and they packed our food in Styrofoam containers, not sure if that’s the norm in Maui.
One note about Hike Maui, our experience with them was wonderful. Our guide made the trip enjoyable. He was so gracious and he was willing to take our pictures, and he was a very competent driver. I would definitely recommend the HikeMaui tour especially to those who want to do the hike in Kipahulu.