Maui: Sun And Fun Finally

More vacation meanderings – again, this post will go live about the time we return.

Wednesday, 19FEB 2014

The tradewinds dropped the last couple of days, and today, finally, it dawned clear and sunny. After some essential sitting-around-the-condo-drinking-coffee time, we packed ourselves up and went a few miles north to Kapalua Bay to snorkel for the first time this trip.

I own a snorkeling guide and also found a copy of Maui Revealed in the bookshelves, so was able to identify a good first snorkel spot quickly. We’ve been to Kapalua before, and although there’s a parking lot it usually fills early and people park all down the side of the road, even where it’s quite ditch-y. However we hit it lucky and nabbed a spot just as someone else was leaving.

The public access at Kapalua is easy to find – it’s at the end of the parking lot marked “welcome to Kapalua, beach access parking” near the northern end of Lower Honoapi’ilani Road. There’s restrooms with flush toilets and sinks, and two public showers outside and again right by the beach steps. Take the stairs down and through the access tunnel, and you come out at one of the most beautiful little beaches (and bays) anywhere.

According to the guide, there would be good snorkeling on both left hand and right hand as you face the water, along the rocky and coralhead-strewn verges. There’s also a rocky shelf along the middle so you can actually see sea life if you cross from one side to the other, although I went across a little seaward of that line.

There was certainly a lot of fish, and even small schools of certain ones. I even found a wrasse cleaning station, where larger fish wait patiently for their turn to have tiny purple-and-yellow wrasse “clean” them of annoying clinging parasites and algae. I saw a lot of big ulua, a very colorful fish, along with the state fish of Hawaii, the “humu” or “humuhumunukunukuapua’a” and some big angelfish or Moorish idols. I even saw an eel – a dark one with bright white speckles, so I think it was a snowflake eel – sheltering under the eaves of a healthy looking yellow coralhead that had fanlike extensions all around, like a shingled roof with a lot of angles.

After crossing toward the right hand side (as you look out to see, it’s on the side farthest from the public access) I encountered a juvenile sea turtle coming up for air. It was about 2 1/2 feet across, relatively clean of algae, and very healthy looking. I backed off, as it was headed my way, and circled around to give him a better look from a bit farther away. As I came around, he was doing the same – giving me the once-over as he circled warily upwards. I reached towards him, but he veered away, got his breath, and then took a leisurely corkscrew course down to where he would shelter from the crowds of tourists for a while. He had a nice deep overhang on a coralhead covered with bright yellow lumpy coral and couldn’t be seen from above unless you dove down and knew where to look.

I hadn’t seen David in a while, and he usually comes out before I do because he gets cold quicker. So I made my way back along the west side, and then struck out across the middle to approximately where I originally entered the water. There were plenty of people there at Kapalua, enjoying the sun and the beach, and there were certainly plenty of people in the water, yet except for one encounter I never felt crowded.

David was waiting for me as I galumphed out of the water – entry and exit is never my most graceful time – and we gradually rinsed stuff off in the nearby shower and packed up.

On the way back we stopped at Napili Market – near where we stayed on our last trip to Maui – to pick up deli sandwiches and a few odds and ends. They have some really impressive looking seafood pokes (pronounced “pokey,” it’s usually finely chopped raw tuna, octopus, or a combination, with seaweed and teriyaki and sometimes hot pepper) so must remember that for a time when we have a taste for poke again. We got some pretty decent sandwiches, with very generous portions of turkey or ham and a “protein kit” of vegetables, onions, garlic, olive oil, and some other goodies to saute some shrimp with – we’ll make a salad tonight and take it easy, as last night’s dinner was kind of a blowout as far as price is concerned.

I should say that the sushi at Miso Phat Sushi is DELICIOUS and served with plenty of friendly aloha, but the big specialty rolls are VERY BIG and they’re $20 each, while some of the other non-specialty stuff was more reasonable. David did well with his combination, I had 2 rolls, soup, and a bowl of rice. It was all very good but tonight we’ll take it easy and stay in.

Yesterday was a “no plan” day; since it was still cloudy, we decided against going all the way up Haleakala. So we went to Makawao after the obligatory lazing around drinking coffee, and browsed in the galleries, gift shops, and glass blowing studio before stopping into the Makawao Garden Bistro for lunch. We both had the “blackened fish special” sandwich, and it was delicious, very delicate, yet with a beautiful crust and plenty of flavor and a bit of heat.

We wandered up a VERY BUMPY Olinda Road, and came down a different road – I think it was Piiholo Ranch Road, as we passed a zipline place on the way down. Then we turned down Baldwin Avenue for the run down into Paia, pretty much following the route the Haleakala downhill bike rides take. Then we found a handy parking spot (traffic is horrible in Paia, owing to the high volume and the one lone stoplight) and mooched around for a bit. There were even more dangerous galleries and gift shops, including one really eclectic one called Indigo, owned by a photographer who actually prints or etches his work on aluminum and then laminates it. it makes for very shiny, very color-saturated large-format images, very striking. Anyway, after a tasty shave ice, we navigated homeward.

We’ve noticed the main highways are well paved and striped now, and they were doing more road work. Not-main highways are still a little.. unkempt (that is, anything off the “main tourist track” ). Found a good bypass to get around a lot of the congestion at Kahului where Dairy Road meets the Haleakala Highway – not the sugar road on Hansen, but the next big left, which seems to be slated to serve a business park yet to be built. Nice and wide, smooth and slick, no congestion, and it comes out just up from the big church on Dairy where the Kihei cutoff comes in.

David picks up his rental bike tomorrow, so I’ll drive him in to Lahaina and bring the car back. Will probably do some snorkeling on my own at either Airport Beach (Kahekili) or at Honokeana Cove to see my turtles (we stayed at Napili Shores last time, so I know the way in and the rock-shelf entry point).

Friday morning we have a whale-watching cruise set up, and that night we’re going to Warren and Annabell’s on our “free pass” that we got from Warren way back in 2002.

The Next Day, and The Next, and the Next

David picked up his bike at West Maui Cycles, which meant that I had the use of the car, and some time to fill in, while he took off riding southward towards Ma’alaea. I had a vague plan to go shopping for a new swimsuit or two, as the one I’d brought with me had lost all its stretch (I have other options, such as board shorts and tanks). So hooked around Lahaina, decided against trying to find parking, and headed for the Lahaina Cannery Mall, where I’d heard there was a Water Wear outlet.

Much, MUCH to my surprise, I found 2 suits, very quickly, in my size that I liked. One is a one-piece that I needed for those times when I’m in a wetsuit, and the other is a cute tankini (2 pieces, bought separately) that is pretty flattering (the bottom is like a little miniskirt).

Then just as I got back to the car, got the expected call from David that he’d made it to Ma’alaea and was ready for lunch, so I got down there and we went to the one place that’s right on the harbor (not Buzz’s Wharf, the other one). And got the sad news that the Waterfront had closed, or had never really re-opened at the new location in the Ocean Center complex. SAD!

Not exactly sure of the timeline here, it’s already starting to moosh into vague impressions.

I had snorkel stuff with me so I stopped off at Airport Beach/Kahekili Beach to try it out, but decided to just get in the water instead. It’s not a great place to snorkel when there’s not a lot of clearance over the shelf of rocks right at the surf/wave zone as you enter.

Then I went back to our condo and tried it again and snorkeled right off our beach – again, a shelf of rock just as the water gets about thigh-deep makes for tricky entries and exits. Not much to see, and very little coral, but some fish… and one REALLY BIG turtle that was worth seeing! But the whole time, I was worrying about finding a decent exit channel over the rocks, and picked up some bruises on the way out as it was. At least I did it.

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