Maui is the second-largest of the islands in the Hawaiian archipelago. With seventeen of the world's twenty climatic zones on one small island, you are going to experience an incredible range of diversity in terms of both weather and environment. Don’t be surprised if you encounter rain and showers one minute and bright sunshine the next.
On this fabulous circular road trip, you are going to enjoy many adventures that simply would not be available anywhere else in such a short space of time. From fabulous beaches to bamboo forests, from volcanic mountains to breathtaking waterfalls, Maui has it all. Top all that off with some of the world’s most amazing sunsets and you are assured of a great weekend break.
As if the geography was not enough, there is also delicious seafood and piles of mouth-watering local fruit. The island's culinary influences include Thai, Asian, American, Chinese, and Puerto Rican as well as some unusual local barbeque methods. The van you are driving ensures that you will be able to reach many places that other tourists can’t hope to get to, while at the same time offering you comfortable and convenient accommodation.
Once you have collected your van, drive the famed Hana Road toward Haleakala National Park. At mile marker 41 you can park in preparation to walking the Pipiwai Trail. This trail will lead you through amazing bamboo forests where your sense of sound will be as tantalized as your visual senses are. The gentle sound of the bamboo canes tapping against one another in the wind is almost magical.
From there you will make your way to the Makahiku Falls which will provide you with a bird’s eye view of the falls as they tumble into the valley below. Further along the trail, you will reach another waterfall called Waimoku Falls which drops 400 feet down to where you are standing. The length of the trail is a seven-mile return trip over steep terrain, so allow yourself plenty of time.
An alternative trail starting from the same place is the Kuloa Point Trail which is a half-mile loop that will take you to the Ohe’o Gulch along which lie seven sacred pools. Each of these is filled by water filtering through the rain forest. You can choose to do either trail or go for it and do them both.
Once you have completed your hike there is an RV site at Kipahulu. It offers fabulous ocean views and though primitive, you will be perfectly placed to head up to the top of the volcano before dawn the following morning.
Haleakala is the highest point on Maui and watching the sunrise from there is undoubtedly one of the highlights of a visit to the island. It rises 10 000 feet out of the ocean and makes up seventy-five percent of the island's landmass. The volcanic terrain is almost desert-like and is in total contrast to the lush conditions you will have experienced lower down. The view into the crater is unique and at dawn, the colors change as the light becomes more pronounced.
The ascent is windy and slow going even though it is only a relatively short thirty eight-mile journey. This means you need to get up really early. If that seems like it may be too painful, you could opt to catch the sunset instead. This requires less self-discipline but the rich volcanic colors are not quite as pronounced. Be prepared for temperatures much colder than those you were experiencing at the base of the volcano.
From the volcano, you can take a much less winding descent to the tiny town of Makawao. This is a great place to grab a hearty breakfast after your early morning assault on the volcano. The town is Hawaii’s cowboy town where farmers still herd their cattle on horseback and where they have rodeos and bronco riding competitions regularly. The rest of America may have its cowboys but in Hawaii, he is called Paniolo and if you hang around in town long enough you are likely to see one of these stockmen riding one of his long-horned cattle.
The town is home to many working artists and there are enough galleries, glass blowing exhibits, sculptors and painters to keep you amused for hours. The renowned local delicacy is a cream puff type pastry that was introduced by a Japanese plantation worker in 1916. These pastries are so sought after that you will probably need to queue. They were originally produced at Komoda bakery and store where they are still selling them today.
Twenty minutes down the road you will find the Ho'okipa beach which sits on the north shore of the island. This is regarded as the Mecca of windsurfing. The long white beach is often assaulted by heavy waves but at the far end, there are safe swimming sites and plenty of calm areas to snorkel in. At that part of the beach, there is also an area that is popular with green sea turtles and you are often able to spot them basking on the sand.
Less than ten minutes from Ho'okipa is Baldwin Beach Park where you will be able to spend the night and enjoy the sunset as it dips behind the West Maui Mountains. On the way, pull in at Paia Fish Market Restaurant. This restaurant is popular with locals and specializes in fish fresh from the ocean as well as local dishes. You have the choice of eating in the restaurant or grabbing an exotic takeaway to nibble on as you watch the sun go down.
On the final day of your adventure, you might like to do a more in-depth visit to Paia where you bought your meal last night. This is a typical beach surfer type of town with a super laid back feel about it.
There are plenty of colorful stores filled with local arts and crafts so this is a great site to grab a few of those souvenirs to remind you of a fabulous weekend road trip. The town has managed to keep its bohemian feel and not become too much of a tourist trap. The brightly painted shops also make for superb photographs.
In town, there is the Haiki Market Place where many of the locals shop and you will be able to find an authentic Hawaiian meal. Look out for Poke which is diced raw fish with soy sauce and sesame seed oil drizzled over it. It is then served with a variety of fresh salads and rice.
If raw fish is not to your taste, there are plenty of food trucks serving everything from fish tacos to pan-seared fish chunks called Mahi Mahi. For dessert, you may like to choose from an abundance of locally grown fruit, some of which you may never have seen before.
For a weekend road trip, Maui offers a huge assortment of things to see and do. Its diverse landscape means that you can be basking on white sands one day and wading through bamboo forests the next.
The spectacular views seem to be so prolific that you will be glad you are not still living in the era of film photography and that you can shoot away to your heart’s content. As for seafood, it simply does not come fresher or in more abundance anywhere else in the country.