Wednesday, December 29, 2010

December 29, 2010: Maui - Hana Highway, Waterfall Adventure, Garden of Eden, Coconut Water, Birds - Birds - Birds, Kite Boarding, Wildlife Refuge, Flying Home

Our last day in Maui. We didn't fly out until the end of the afternoon, so we decided to drive as much of the famous Hana Highway as we could fit in. We'd read that it's the most scenic drive in Hawai'i - turns out it was yet another narrow road of one-lane bridges and hairpin turns, which I was starting to tire of. But it was beautiful, and the lush green rainforest growth was a contrast to the rest of Maui. It was also much less developed, which we liked, as it reminded us of Kaua'i. And it was a dry, sunny day on the north shore, which is not the norm.

Our first stop was to see the Na'ili'ili-haele Falls. We had a guidebook that told us where to pull over and how to navigate the trail - good thing, as it would have been completely obscure otherwise. There is a series of four small waterfalls, accessed through a bamboo forest. We scrambled along the muddy red dirt trail (addendum: my pants, which got splashed from the knee down with mud, are still stained red after four laundry washings), I took a spill on a boulder while fording the river, and we passed waterfall #1 without realizing it - no water coming down. Waterfall #2 wasn't much farther - a beautiful small fall, but the pool it emptied into was very muddy - no temptation to go swimming there. We had instructions for how to get to waterfalls #3 and #4, but it would have involved scaling a sheer stone wall and swimming up the river for some distance - more adventure than we were looking for. When we got back to the car I changed pants.

We continued our drive, pulling in at  the Garden of Eden, an arboretum and botanical garden. The name is hokey, so we were a bit sceptical, but it was the best garden I visited in Hawai'i - a great variety of interesting plants (including an enormous hundred-year-old mango tree), beautiful views of Upper and Lower Puohokamoa Falls, and a lookout to the opening shot from Jurassic Park. We also had a close encounter with a colourful gecko, and Mark got to feed the ducks. After our leisurely walk around the grounds we decided that it was time to turn back to the airport.

Along the way Mark got my camera out and snapped photos of the Hana Highway from our slowly moving car. We pulled over at a roadside stand to get a coconut water (Mark hadn't yet had one). And when we came to a pullout with a man and several colourful parrots I just had to stop to find out what was going on. Turns out for $20 you could get your photo taken with the parrots draped about you in various poses - you have never seen me grinning so wildly as in these photos.

At Ho'okipa beach we parked to eat our sandwiches and watch the surfers tackling the waves. Nearby a musician was busking - one of the songs he played was "Over the Rainbow" - we seemed to hear our wedding song played everywhere throughout Hawai'i.

Back in Kahului, not far from the airport, we spent the last of the afternoon at Kanaha Beach watching kite surfers in action. What amazing athletes - the kites are huge and when the wind and waves work together I'm sure the kitesurfers were going as fast as a speedboat. At a nearby nature preserve we did a bit of birdwatching, and then it was time to return our rental car and get on the plane.

Our flight back was fairly uneventful. There was nothing open in our terminal during our transfer at Oahu (no shops, no restaurants), but since we were flying with Delta on our long haul to Detroit we knew we'd be getting real meals, so didn't worry about it. In Detroit we ran to make our connection to our Toronto flight, needn't have bothered - the flight was overbooked and overweight, so we had a wait while the airline tried to convince people to give up their spot. But with all the recent scare stories of people stuck in airports or on planes (yes, my friend Jenn was one of those!) due to snowstorm cancellations it was a slow sell.

We landed in Toronto and found that it wasn't the brutal shock we'd been dreading - hardly any snow and not too cold - in fact we'd probably been chillier watching the sun set on top of Haleakala. Good-bye Hawai'i - you were the perfect place for our beach wedding/family vacation/Mele Kalikimaka/honeymoon!

Waterfall #2 at Na'ili'ili-haele Falls

The famous rock from the opening of Jurassic Park (although I still haven't found a shot from the movie to support this)

Our friend gecko

The Garden of Eden had an amazing collection of bamboo species - this one is striped

Ask yourself - how long has this sign read "100 Year Old Mango Tree"? I doubt someone will repaint it next year with "101" so when will it get upgraded?

The '101'-year-old mango tree - there are so many other plants living on it that it looked like a Disney idealization of a tropical tree

How perfect that the peahen shook itself up just as I shot this photo!

Mark is swarmed by a hungry flock of ducks

 Upper Puohokamoa Falls

Such a true sign...

See the two tiny schoolbuses on the switchback? The Hana Highway has some steep slopes!

Me. Parrots. Best $20 ever.

Kitesurfer - check out his wake!

Kahana Pond bird preserve

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