As a newbie to Maui, I typically wake up and go to bed way earlier than normal due to the sun and its crazy early island schedule. I’m sure that will pass, but if I sleep past 9:00am, my brain goes “Aww crap! Get up! You’re sleepin’ the day away, lazy buns!” My brain has essentially become my Grandmother.
Regardless of whether I’m on vacation or living somewhere, getting out and being active is important to me, especially when it means a fun physical challenge or exploring new places. Luckily, there are some great Maui day adventures that will still get you home in time for a sunset cocktail, even if you sleep past 9:00am.
If you’re staying anywhere in West Maui, this is a great day trip that doesn’t require lots of driving. To get there, head up Highway 30 past Napili and Kapalua. You’ll see the swanky, gorgeous Ritz Carlton Kapalua as well as lots of houses that will make you regret not going into the medical or accounting fields. You’ll drive through a few miles of lush, winding roads that are a short preview of what the Road to Hana is like. Go slow and stop at one of the fruit stands you see on the side of the road. When you reach mile marker 38, there will be a dirt lot on your left hand side where you can park.
If you’ve ever heard about this spot, you know that it can be surprisingly dangerous. People have died from getting too close to the blowhole, so keep in mind that this is not a place to play around. Don’t let your curiosity get the best of you. Stay on the dry rocks only and you’ll be just fine.
You can see the blowhole from the top of the hill, but there is a short hike down that I highly recommend. It takes about 15 minutes and although it’s a little steep and rocky, keep your center of gravity close to the ground and you’ve got it covered. Once you get down, watch the blowhole in action, which is best when there is strong surf and high tide. Having never been to a blowhole before, I found the water shooting up out of nowhere a really cool thing to watch. When you get ready to leave, find the heart shaped hole in the rock for a lovely photo-op.
Iao Valley State Park
Being the avid instagrammer that I am, I kept seeing photos of a place called the Iao Needle and knew it was somewhere I wanted to visit. It turns out that the Needle, a lava remnant that reaches taller than the Eiffel Tower, was used as a lookout point during the famous 1790 Battle of Kepaniwai, when King Kamehameha I fought against the Maui army in his effort to unify the Hawaiian islands. The park is truly beautiful and gives you a nice view of the Maui mountains up close and personal.
To get there, take a left on Main Street in Wailuku, go straight for about 3 miles and take the downhill road to the right when you see the sign for Iao Valley. If you’re a Hawaiian resident, entry is free. The parking attendant took one look at our beat up 4Runner and knew we weren’t paying to rent that car. If you’re visiting, entry is $5.
If you take only the concrete lined trails around the park, which is fine too, you probably won’t be here for more than 30-45 minutes. We decided to jump the fence onto a very well worn dirt path and take the hiking trail up for a better view. We didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into, but it ended up being a nice, long walk through fairly easy trails, somewhat thick brush, and yummy smelling guava trees. At the end of the trail, probably about an hour hike one way, it gets pretty steep, but if you can make it mostly to the top, you’ll get a great view of the mountains and the valley below. And you’ll probably have it all to yourself.
After hiking back, make sure you stop to swim in the stream, where you can walk two minutes off the trail to the right and find yet another beautiful spot to enjoy the afternoon. The water is freezing, crystal clear and the perfect end to a short day adventure.
Having lived in Austin for most of the last 7 years, I have a soft spot for things, people and places that are weird. Little Beach in Makena on Sundays (and everyday, actually) is one of those places. Located on Maui’s South side in Makena, take the road past Wailea and park in the lot for Big Beach. Walk to your right, up over the rock hill, and be prepared for ultimate and awesome weirdness.
I absolutely must mention that this is a “clothing optional” beach on Maui. By no means do you have to be naked to come here, but just know that you’re going to see lots of things either way. Sunday evenings around sunset are especially fun because there is a big drum circle and really talented fire dancers. It’s like going to a luau, except everyone is naked and there is no buffet. If that sounds like fun, go check it out. If that sounds like a nightmare to you, it will be.
Steven Tyler apparently led a drum circle there last January, so you never know what you’re going to see. Besides a lot of naked… you will see that.
One of my favorite things about living here is that it’s an island full of people who enjoy being outside. Whether it’s surfing, throwing beach barbecues, hiking to waterfalls, enjoying the sunrise at Haleakala, or simply taking a sunset walk, it’s refreshing to see people who consistently take advantage of living in an outdoor paradise. So the next time you’re here, remember to get outside, go exploring, have an adventure, and don’t be afraid to get a little weird.