Thursday, September 11 –
Today was the anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks, but flying in Hawaii on this day didn’t have the same feeling it did on the mainland. We left from Lihue airport at 9:30 on our flight to Kahului, the largest town on Maui, with its 26,000 inhabitants in the town.
Maui is the second-largest of the Hawaiian Islands and is the 17th largest island in the nation. Interestingly, Maui County includes four islands: Maui, Molokaʻi, the exclusive island of Lanaʻi, and the unpopulated and former Air Forcing bombing target island of Kahoʻolawe.
Agriculture and tourism make up the two major industries on Maui. In the past sugar and coffee were the two cash crops on the island, but today other significant crops include macadamia nuts, papaya, tropical flowers and fresh pineapple. As for tourism, the island has a long reputation of holiday travelers from the mainland with some of the best resorts in the nation.
Additionally, Maui is top destination for whale watching with Humpback whales wintering in the sheltered ʻAuʻau Channel between the islands of Maui County. Humpbacks migrate 3,500 miles from Alaska each autumn to mate and give birth in the warm waters off Maui. They head back north usually by the end of April. We were lucky enough to spot one on our first day!
Modern Hawaiian history when King Kamehameha I, king of the Big Island, invaded Maui in 1790 and fought the inconclusive Battle of Kepaniwai. He returned to Hawaii because of war with a rival, but he returned a few years later and took control of Maui. His descendants reigned until 1872, when they were followed by rulers from another ancient family of chiefs which included Queen Liliuokalani. She ruled until 1893 when the monarchy was overthrown and the Republic of Hawaii was established. The United States annexed the island in 1898 and made it a territory in 1900. You know the rest of the story because Hawaii became the 50th U.S. state in 1959.
After picking up our rental car, we decided to drive the world-famous “Road to Hana.” It is considered on of the most beautiful drives in the world.
Along the way we stopped at Kanaha Beach Park to watch some kite surfers on what is known as Kite Beach. Recently, it has been one of the world’s top kiteboarding destinations due to strong winds and favorable currents. They sliced through the water before being uplifted huge distances into the air before dropping down into the water. We also saw a number of windsurfers.
The Hana Highway twists and curves through a winding 68-mile route on Hawaii State Routes 36 and 360 from Kahului to Hana in east Maui. Hana is only about 52 miles from Kahului, but the journey takes about 2.5 hours to drive with no stops of the narrow and winding path. The road passes over 59 bridges, 46 of which are only one lane wide. We drove under a canopy of green, tropical rainforest. Two years earlier, the Hana Highway was added to the National Register of Historic Places
We stopped several times to view waterfalls and dramatic views of the Pacific below. Our favorite stop was Wailua Falls at mile marker 44.8. The 80-foot-high falls was beautiful, but busy with a lot of visitors. However, most didn’t venture from the road to it. We hiked a little closer, but it was treacherous and slippery. Dad and I busted a couple of times, but we didn’t do any damage.
Near the end of the Hana Highway, we arrived at Oheʻo Gulch, also known as the “Seven Sacred Pools.” We convinced Mom to join us on the hike down to the waterfalls and pools which are located inside the Haleakala National Park. The pools rest in really pretty volcanic black rock. Very peaceful area.
In Hana, we checked into the re-known Hotel Hana Maui – the nicest place I have ever stayed. We received fresh flower leis and mai tais on arrival, before porters took us by golf carts to our rooms. We stayed in our own bungalow – no air conditioning needed in this cool part of Maui. We went down to explore the beautiful beach before having a fantastic meal that evening in the restaurant. That evening Dad, Jeff and I went for a dip in the infinity pools – most beautiful I have ever seen.