Exploring Hawaii: From Maui to Oahu
Leaving the Mainland: Hawaii Bound
We spent 13 incredible days in Hawaii. Although I captured 190 GB’s of video while on the trip, I took only a few dozen pictures. As I don’t have pictures of every location we went to, this article will be expanding on the most important landmarks I captured with photos.
It was the last week of school. Finals week was in full flux and escaping our educational priorities was front-of-mind. Maria and I were set on traveling once school let out. Nonetheless, we didn’t have a single destination in mind. On April 20th (4 days before school let out), we quickly decided on Hawaii – more specifically, Maui. Within an hour of making the decision, we had our Airbnb booked, our car rented, plane tickets purchased, and a new GoPro to complement the trip. This fast-paced last-minute planning happens to me quite often. Sometimes I get the traveling bug and the only way to quench that thirst is with instant gratification.
Shortly after school let out, Maria and I found ourselves on a Boeing 737-900. Our flight to Maui connected in San Francisco, where we had a layover for 4 hours. To kill some time, we had some drinks in our terminal, grabbed a few dinners, and bought a week’s worth of munchies for the flight. Neither of us can sleep on a plane so we planned accordingly. Five movies and three in-flight meals later, multiple islets began piercing our peripherals. We landed on Hawaii’s Maui as the sunset was approaching.
Road to Hana: Reversed
Our Airbnb was nestled deep in Haiku-Pauwela – a region east of the island’s primary city in the Central Valley: Kahului. We had quite a bit planned for the first day. We wanted to explore the Leeward Haleakala and the Windward Haleakala (pictured to the right). The route we took that day was in the reverse direction of the iconic Road to Hana. Traditionally, people exploring the Road to Hana start in Kahului and take the coastal highway clockwise until they reach the Central Valley.
The Seven Sacred Pools
We actually took this route inadvertently. After leaving our Airbnb, we put “The Seven Sacred Pools” into our Apple Maps. This landmark is a few miles north of where the bottom of the Windward Haleakala is. Its name effectively explains what it is. They are 7 swimming holes connected by waterfalls. These swimming holes are hidden in the dense bamboo forest of Ohe’o Gulch. The pools were incredible despite them becoming muddied by recent mudslides. The holes lie at the bottom of the Pīpīwai Stream, right before it bleeds into the ocean. We took the Kuloa Point Trail towards the location. Once arriving there, we found many people taking pictures of the pools from afar. Maria and I eagerly traversed and waded through the water. We eventually found a boulder to climb upon, exposing the first of the falls to us. We both took turns standing under the natural shower.
At that point, we decided to backtrack Kuloa Point Trail and head north on the Pīpīwai Trail. This trail is a 4-mile round trip. Nonetheless, there are numerous waterfalls on the trail. A little more than half a mile into the trek, you see the Falls at Makahiku. Makahiku Falls is a 200-foot horsetail waterfall. Until reaching the final falls, we certainly thought Makahiku was the biggest in Haleakalā National Park. We stood in awe for a few moments, then decided to continue on the hike.
Bamboo walls lined the whole trail on the right and the left. This was one of my favorite parts of the trail. We were welcomed by Waimoku Falls about an hour later. This daunting giant is 400-feet tall! Being under this mammoth of a waterfall, with a precipice 400-feet up, made me feel like a minute ant. Although the GoPro (mounted on my backpack) was rolling most of the hike, I took no pictures. I guess my videography mindset remained when I got back to the car to drone. I didn’t snap any pictures, but below is a screenshot from a video taken at the lower falls near the pools.
Red Sand Beach
Right in the heart of Hana lies the Red Sand Beach. One of the most beautiful beaches in Maui. It’s covered in red/orange sand, piercing blue water, green trees, and the black lava sea wall makes it unique and attractive. It is located south of Hana Bay. Reaching the red sand beach is not exactly easy. The trail is thin, narrow, steep and slippery. Fortunately, when we arrived, it was only slightly drizzling. Accessing the beach took a few minutes on the natural trail.
Once arriving, we couldn’t help ourselves from instantly jumping into the body of water that lied relatively dormant due to the reef that blocked most of the current. We felt invigorated after swimming in the water. The Red Sands Beach (pictured at the top of this article) was one of the coolest landmarks on the Road to Hana. We had a little more than an hour until sundown. While it was nice taking in the moment and absorbing the environment, leaving was a must.
Both ways on the Road to Hana are extremely treacherous to drive on. Especially at night. Both ways back home entailed us driving on the dangerous road for more than 2 hours. Nonetheless, maintaining the “reversed route” seemed the safest; as the road gradually became wider going that direction. The Road to Hana was definitely one of our favorite parts regarding our trip to Hawaii.
Expanding our Hawaii Adventures: From Maui to Oahu
After a week of exploring the incredible and secluded island of Maui, we took a $26 cheap Southwest flight to Honolulu. Coincidentally, Southwest started their in-between island program 2 days before we arrived in Maui. Typically, this flight with Hawaiian Airlines or Alaska Airlines was $115. Clearly for promotional purposes, Southwest was setting some competitive pricing. We were more than happy to pocket the remaining $80.
Once landing in Honolulu, we took an Uber to where our car rental was. Following that, we ventured out an hour to our Airbnb in Waianae. Waianae is on the Leeward side of Oahu. While we do enjoy how Airbnb gives tourists the opportunity to stay distant from tourist hubs like Waikiki in downtown Honolulu, we were unaware of the statistics on that area. In an article written by Carol Forsloff (realviews.com) she writes…”There’s a saying that if you drive to Waianae, Hawaii don’t drive too slow or someone will steal your tires. Well, that’s no joke these days…”
Meth addiction is a serious blight on the Waianae Coast. The Hawaii Meth Project, a statewide program aimed at reducing first-time meth use throug
h public service messages, public policy and community outreach is working hard to combat the use of meth among youth. They do not offer treatment for addicts. Nonetheless, after coming upon this research, we experienced no issues while staying in Waianae.
Kayaking from Lanikai Beach to Nā Mokulua
Nā Mokulua are two islets off the windward coast of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands. They are also commonly known as “The Mokes” or the “Twin Islands”. One of the islets is known as Moku Nui. It’s a popular island to explore & go cliff diving at. Kayaking to Moku Nui was incredible. The water between the island and Oahu was straight jet blue.
Every 100-yards, we would stop to take in the moment. Although we were eager to get to the island, getting from Point A to Point B wasn’t the only goal, here. On the way over, we passed a man paddle-boarding back from the island. This is quite the feat, as he remained balanced the whole way back to Oahu.
Unfortunately, once getting over there, the tides at the cliff diving spot were too rough & getting sucked into the cave that goes under the island (cave at the bottom right corner of the picture below to the right) seemed too real. Apparently this jump is feasible only 10% of the year.
Fortunately, because of this, no one was there. Sitting here and relaxing was one of the few slow-paced moments we had while in Hawaii. When we come back, we’ll definitely be checking this spot again to see if it’s doable.
Stairway to Heaven
While still in Maui, Maria and I came to the conclusion that we wanted to climb the Stairway to Heaven despite the $6,000 in court costs/flights back to Honolulu/housing that could result. The security used to be extremely lax until more and more individuals started calling the cops for helicopter rescue – not to mention half the visitors up there don’t respect the land and tend to litter on the trek up. After an excessive amount of research and over-analyzing, we realized the repercussions just were not worth it. So, for our last day in Honolulu, we were planning on just snorkeling all day.
Nonetheless, we did know of a 10-mile trek through the Moanalua Ridge that goes up 3,000 feet to the top. In the future, I will have a detailed description of how to conquer this trail. While 80% of the hike is self-explanatory, the first few miles make it easy to get lost. Spontaneously, the night before our last day, we impulse decided to climb the Ridge. While this route is extremely dangerous as well, it’s legal. For several miles going up the ridge, you are exposed to drop-offs of 1,000 feet on both your left & right. Any misstep, and you could easily go tumbling to your death.
Three miles into the hike up, we were in absolute amazement of the scenery around us. The euphoric runners-high intensified this feeling. This hike taught me a lot about myself, as well as Maria. It projected our determination, perseverance, stamina, and – most of all – that we work quite well as a team.
Once Maria and I got to the top, we were in absolute awe! Whether it be the trek going up, the INSANE views at the top, or the journey back down, this was the greatest thing we’ve ever done in our lives. This expedition really put things in perspective. Going up the Moanalua Ridge, you feel like a little ant going up a massive hill. I highly recommend fitting this trip into your Hawaii itinerary and next time we can be your guide!
We plan to adventure to Hawaii again. Based on our research, the Big Island is the best for hiking and camping. There’s even a 30-mile trail on the Big Island. Look forward to more posts from Hawaii in the future!
Stairway to Heaven pictures below!