Tamanna Hossain-Kay

Thoughts and plots on AI and the human condition

Five Year Anniversary Trip to Maui

2019-12-25


My husband and I got married on Christmas Eve, 2014, and this year we decided to celebrate our fifth anniversary vacationing on the island of Maui in Hawaii. Although we live in Irvine, we flew out of San Jose In Northern California because (i) flight prices were cheaper and (ii) upon our return we could easily drive to Santa Cruz to spend some time with my in-laws. Here’s the story of our beautiful eight day journey!

Day 0: Iao Valley
Day 1: Honalua Bay
Day 2: Dragon’s Teeth
Day 3: The Road to Hana
Day 4: Hiking to Waimoku Falls
Day 5: How Many Convertibles?
Day 6: South Coast Adventures
Day 7: Haleakala Summit
Summary

Day 0: Iao Valley

After waking up at 4:30am to catch our flight, we landed in Maui around 10:45 am. The first thing on our itenarary was to visit the beautiful Iao Valley, a quick 25 minute drive in our rental car. We were really tired from just finishing up a quarter at grad school, but the lush greenery and fresh valley air immediately soothed our frayed nerves!

We then drove across the island (stopping for a coconut water, of course!) to Ka’anapali, where we would stay the next three nights at the Ocean Inn within the Royal Lahaina Resort. We spent the afternoon lounging by the beach until check-in time, absorbing the vibrant colors of the sand and ocean. Josef adventured down to the famous Black Rock Beach to go snorkelling, though the visibility wasn’t so great.

We soon found out why our room was 20% discounted - it turns out we overlooked the Luau show that ran from 6-8pm everynight. Luckily, the show was pretty good (fire dancing!) and we ended up watching parts of it from our balcony each night of our stay.

Day 1: Honalua Bay

Josef woke up early and drove in to Lahaina for some some essential breakfast items (pog!). After coffee on the beach we adventured up the coast to Honolua Bay, a marine preserve known for having some of the best snorkelling on Maui. Parking on the side of the highway, we walked the jungle path past wild chickens and Banyan trees until we reached the rocky shore. Josef went off to snorkel (turtles!) while I lounged and read an interesting paper surveying the use of NLP for fake news detection.

On the way back, we stopped at a vantage point and enjoyed a coconut while overlooking the bay. Next we visited Napili, where Josef had many a fond memory from his childhood spring break visits. Arriving back at our resort before dark, we enjoyed watching the sun set behind the neighboring island of Lana’i.

Day 2: Dragon’s Teeth

More West Coast adventures! We drove to Kapalua and checked out Dragon’s Teeth, a coastal lookout with distinctive rock outcroppings. The area had a cool primordial atmosphere, and we could feel a storm coming from across the horizon.

Later in the day Josef went back to Kapalua Bay to go snorkeling just before sunset. There was a good amount of reef activity there, including the only moray eel sighting of the trip!

Day 3: The Road to Hana

This was the longest day of travel of our trip. Josef woke up early enough to catch the 7am yoga class at the hotel resort. After breakfast, we drove back to Kahalui, returned our rental car, and caught a bus to Makawao, where we picked up the converted camper van that was to be our home for the next 5 nights. We drove into Paia and picked up groceries at Mana Foods, then set out on the famous road to Hana.

The plan we had at the time was to drive to the Kipahulu campground and camp for the next few nights. We left Paia around 3pm and made it to Kipahulu around 7:30pm. Along the way we slowed or stopped for countless beautiful views, including a stop at a smoothie stand where a friend had worked.

A storm was picking up as we parked at our campsite, apparently the only one left in the campground upon arrival. Loud bursts of rain onto the top of our uncovered van woke us up several times throughout the night, but in the morning we felt lucky not to be tent camping.

Day 4: Hiking to Waimoku Falls

Our goal for the day was to hike to Waimoku Falls, a 5 mile round trip from our campsite. It was drizzling when we woke up so we set out wearing ponchos over pants and jackets to combat the wind and rain. We discarded our ponchos pretty quickly since the light rain was refreshing, and realized later into the hike that wearing pants was a mistake. We followed the coastline to O’heo Gulch: known as a tranquil swimming hole, but unrecognizable as such due to the torrent of water flowing in from above.

The Pipiwai trail took us into the rainforest, crossing over rumbling waters by bridge, passing by ancient Banyan trees and modern bamboo forests, until we reached the the crown jewel of our vacation: Waimoku Falls, a 400 ft waterfall at peak activity. It seemed that it never stops raining here. Up close, the force of the water felt like a shower from God, removing our doubts and stresses and concerns to reveal an experience of pure bliss: we made it!

Returning to our campsite just before sunset, we enjoyed a well-earned meal cooked using the camper stove supplied with our van, and then cozied up on the queen mattress inside.

Day 5: How Many Convertibles?

Our campsite pass was set to expire later at night, so we woke up and started our drive back towards the center of the island. On the drive up we had notished an astonishing number of white convertibles - about six just in the first half an hour, mostly Mustangs. We kept noticing more convertibles on the drive, many in other colors, so we’d decided to keep a count of how many we saw on the drive back. Here are the results!

We got back to the North Shore in time to watch some big wave surfing at Ho’okipa Lookout and swim/shower at Baldwin Beach Park, then headed to Papalaua to camp right next to the beach.

Day 6: South Coast Adventures

After the near-constant adventures of the last several days, this day was more relaxed. We spent the morning at Camp Oluwalu, where Josef went snorkeling for the last time of the trip (finding another sea turtle) and we treated ourselves to warm showers and a picnic. Next, we drove down to Kihei to use a laundromat and ended up enjoying the best meal of the trip at a restaurant called Nalu’s. Finally, we made it down to Makena (Big) Beach for the sunset, then made our way back to Papalaua for another night of beachside camping.

Day 7: Haleakala Summit

Christmas Eve, and our last full day on the island, called for another adventure. After our morning picnic (this time at Launiupoko Beach Park) we set out towards Maui’s upcountry with the ultimate goal of reaching the Haleakala Summit, 10,000 feet above the ocean. Our first stop was the Kula Botanical Garden, which greeted us with a spectacular diversity of plants and flowers. We then continued our ascent until we reached Hosmer Grove Campground, where we enjoyed a beautiful short afternoon hike listening to birdsong. Finally we climbed the final 3000 feet just in time to catch sunset above the clouds. We made it back to Hosmer in time to grab a parking spot and spend our final (cold) night in the camper van.

Summary

Overall, our anniversary vacation was a success! We had a lot of fun exploring Maui, and the trip left us with plenty of memorable experiences.

We definitely planned this trip on a budget, and it’s worth comparing our planning with other ways of vacationing on Maui. In our experience, a week was the perfect amount of time to spend on the island: we travelled to nearly every part and got to spend the right amount of time in each place. Three days in a hotel was enough to settle in, but we were feeling restless by the end of our stay there, so transitioning to the van at that point was a good move. Five days in the van also felt like a good amount of time, since we got the full amount of novelty without ever having to look into camping off-the-grid. We could have spent more time around Hana if we had another campsite to explore, but we still felt like we did better than if we had only spent a day traveling there and back.

We could have done most of our activities if we had stayed in a hotel or AirBnb with a rental car for the whole stay. However, getting to van camp at the sites we stayed at made those activities seem much more like full-blown adventures instead of just day trips. Waking up and watching the sunrise, planning a spot to picnic, etc., led to a more immersive experience and was easier than picking different rentals for each night. We also would have suffered though some rough conditions if we were sleeping in a tent.