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The Big Island, Kauai, and Maui: A Songdoc Trip Report

The Big Island, Kauai, and Maui: A Songdoc Trip Report

Jul 22nd, 2015, 06:39 AM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,300
Songdoc, once again I have enjoyed reading your latest Report update. It brought back many of my own memories of Kauai. Thank you!
I have watched many Hawaiian sunsets, and I am a 'green flash believer', as I have been fortunate to see the magical green flash once.... but I'll keep watching. Good luck seeing more of them, yourself.
It only took me 2 trips to the Kalalau Lookout to see the cliffs - the first time was rain-soaked and foggy, but the second time, 16 years later, we waited around for 10 or 15 minutes, when the clouds parted and the fog lifted long enough to get some beautiful (but fleeting) looks at the cliffs. Gorgeous!
Looking forward to the rest of your report.... I need some more ideas for our trip next February. Thanks again, it is appreciated!
kanunu is offline  
Jul 31st, 2015, 11:48 AM
  #22  
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Sorry it's taken me so long for the next installment. I returned to a stack of deadlines bigger than Mauna Kea ;-).

Maui …

People who know my taste and my love of Kauai told me I would HATE Maui—so I’d avoided it. But a friend moved there and wanted to show me around. So I decided to visit the Valley Island with an open mind. Actually, I had a feeling I was going to be surprised and love it.

Things did NOT get off to a good start. I rented a car through Priceline. The prepaid reservation was with Hertz and it was the most HORRIBLE rental experience I’ve ever had. While we waited and waited for the shuttle every other rental company’s shuttles went by repeatedly. Hertz only had one shuttle running—and apparently, we’d just missed it. It was exceptionally hot when we were finally delivered to the rental agency and the line was mindboggling.

We waited outside in the heat for TWO HOURS while most of the time there was only one agent handling customers! Customers who had arrived earlier reported waits exceeding three hours. When I finally got the car it reeked of cigarette smoke and there was no fluid in the windshield washer to wash the streaked windshield. When I asked about switching to a different car or getting the fluid replaced I was told, “That would be a very long wait.” It was starting to get dark, I was hungry, and was facing at least a 45-minute drive. I was not about to wait even one more minute. (FYI, almost two weeks have passed since I sent a letter of complaint and there’s been no answer so far.)

There was construction in the airport area. The detours were so poorly marked and so confusing I found myself driving head on into oncoming traffic! Agghhh!

Next: the obligatory Walmart stop. I hadn’t even gotten out of my car when a panhandler hit me up for money. It was dark before we reached the condo in Honokawai -- Kuleana 105, booked through VRBO @ $199/nt. The bedroom furniture seemed a little tired, but so was I, and it seemed fine. Thank God that bedroom was air-conditioned or we would have left immediately and checked into a hotel. Maui was in the midst of a heat wave and the condo was SWELTERING.

The next morning we saw the beautiful oceanfront views—with long white clouds crowning the islands in the distance. It reminded me of New Zealand ("Land of the Long White Cloud"). Unfortunately, there was a thick layer of vog along with those clouds. The beach was small and had lots of coral. It was better for snorkeling than swimming, but it was a very pretty setting and we were able to enjoy some time cooling off in the surf. Snorkelers reported seeing several turtles.

I’m going to cut to the chase…
Maui has some of the most stunning scenery and the bluest water I’ve seen, and I’ve now been to all the major Hawaiian Islands. But I did not like it. In fact, it took three days for me to accept Maui “as is” and stop hating it and wishing I could leave.

I felt like I was in a Southern California beach community with lots of traffic, 4-lane highways, strip malls, massive resorts, wall-to-wall condos, and beaches crammed full of tourists. I didn’t see any beaches that could even come close to Kauai’s Hanalei Bay, Ke’e, Lumahai, Tunnels, or any of my other favorites—and it felt like every inch of sand and water was occupied by tourists with shrieking children.

There’s nothing wrong with California beach towns, but that’s not what I go to Hawaii for. I felt like I was staying in a city, then traveling out of it in order to see beautiful sights. It was impossible for me to feel that magical, soothing, feeling—that sense that I’ve escaped to a tropical paradise. The fact that the heat was scorching my skin wasn’t adding to my enjoyment, either.

That said, I loved the Dragon’s Teeth, a rugged beach area with sharp shards of lava that stick up like spiky teeth. I did my best to ignore the mind-boggling number of condos that flanked it. We also thought the Nakalele blowhole area was absolutely beautiful.

The Iao Valley was stunning. It was cloudy, so my pictures don’t look very good, and it was absolutely teeming with tourists. But I still felt like I was in an extraordinary place.

We took a leisurely drive with our resident tour guide (my friend who had recently moved to Lahaina) to the top of Haleakala, timed to be there at sunset, and to stay for the stargazing. We stopped along the way in Paia and Makawao. We liked both of these little towns. It felt so good to escape the vibe of Lahaina and Kaanapali. Along the way to the summit we stopped for a picnic and did a short, pleasant hike at a camping area.

Continuing up the mountain, our friend directed us to park at Lelewiwi. I took some beautiful photos before following the path. We turned a corner and OH MY GOD!!! The view of the crater was BREATHTAKING. Absolutely magnificent! WOW, WOW, and WOW!!! I wasn’t prepared for that, and I would have missed it if our friend hadn’t told us to pull over.

Our timing was great and the sun was just beginning its descent, making it perfect for photos. We reached the summit and watched the sun illuminate the clouds that were below us. It felt like we were on another planet. It was undoubtedly one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

FYI, our friend had insisted we bring jackets. We thought that was ridiculous and probably completely unnecessary, but we dragged them around the Big Island and Kauai, just to have them this one day. Thank heavens. It was FREEZING!!! Probably in the low 40s. I wrapped a beach towel around my jacket and was still shivering. When I thought the sunset couldn’t possibly get any better my friend insisted that we wait and indeed the pink hues slowly turned in vivid fiery reds, blazing atop the clouds. Could anything possibly be more beautiful?

Being above the clouds, we could hardly wait for the stargazing. But … it suddenly began POURING! I guess we weren’t above ALL the clouds! We waited, hoping the rain would pass--not wanting to drive that long, winding road in the rain and fog. But it didn't seem to be stopping. The drive down was a mix of drizzle and mist with occasional downpours, but the lanes were clearly delineated and I felt safe.

Then the the rain and fog passed as quickly as it had come, revealing a sky filled with so many stars that I gasped aloud. We pulled over to a safe spot and did some truly amazing stargazing. We got back to the condo around 11pm, exhausted, but very happy, feeling I'd seen one of the most memorable sunsets of a lifetime, in addition to those amazing views of the volcano's crater.

Next up, Hana—and the road to get there!
Songdoc is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2015, 11:18 AM
  #23  
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Follow up: I heard from Hertz with an apology, stating that they were "understaffed." No kidding!! They refunded the $31 charge for refilling the gas.

I'm sure this was not a typical situation -- but it's still very unlikely that I would ever rent from them again.
Songdoc is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2015, 01:28 PM
  #24  
 
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Great report imo. Thank you. Leleiwi Lookout is one of the main reasons we recommend Haleakala, not for the sunrises. Sunsets are a whole lot easier on the schedule too.

Clouds are a cause for celebration in the area:

http://www.bestplaceshawaii.com/tips...i_lookout.html

PS Totally agree about Hertz in Hawaii. Not sure what their problems are, but we've used them once in the last 35 years and it was only because nobody else had any cars. Nearly every car in Hertz's inventory was dented and scratched, and a 2-hour wait to get one. Insult to injury when you're already paying double the rental rate.
fdecarlo is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2015, 01:47 PM
  #25  
 
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Pray tell, what will you think of the road to Hana?

Meanwhile Kauai is burning.

Wildfires
Dairy Farm threatening the south shore and water and coral
Homeless grow faster then the traffic of big business building while affordable housing is ignored
Vacation Rentals under fire in a moments notice disregarding the need to rent an ohana to survive
GOP's causing medical effects to the westerners
A murder happy executive of the humane society who promotes euthanasia to other methods
A bee keeper fined because a neighbor was stung by an unidentifiable bee
Lots of violent episodes in Hanalei including bullying tourists and a fire bomb
Plans to shut down open access to Heana/Kee Beach and Napali trail
and
on
and on
and
on

You should appreciate Maui mo bettah
Inakauaidavidababy is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2015, 01:50 PM
  #26  
 
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Oh I forgot

the most troubling news,

a dog found and shot and hung to a tree and dismembered, but the owners didn't call the police.

Kauai is crazy town these days
Inakauaidavidababy is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2015, 01:59 PM
  #27  
 
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> a dog found and shot and hung to a tree and dismembered, but the owners didn't call the police.

If the dog was a physical threat or noise nuisance, imo don't be too quick to judge what happened. The latter of those has been known to drive people to insanity, and most local police departments and governments put people through unjumpable hoops before they'll do anything about noise problems with animals.
fdecarlo is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2015, 02:24 PM
  #28  
 
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such a shame you haven't actually read the story and think that "IF" a dog was noisy they deserved to be hung shot and had it's tail and paws chopped off, likely from the person that thru pigs feet on the dog owners land. Do you usually defend psychopaths?
Inakauaidavidababy is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2015, 02:43 PM
  #29  
 
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That's not what I said, or meant. I simply said a noise disturbance problem that goes unresolved can lead to some pretty insane acts.

There are no bad dogs, just bad dog owners. Obviously the dog didn't deserve the treatment it got.
fdecarlo is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2015, 04:30 PM
  #30  
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I was just there for a month and didn't hear about any of this. But I did see that the affordable/low-income housing in Princeville (next to Foodland) is almost finished. Still, I'm sure that much more is needed.

I volunteer at the Humane Society so I'm aware of that awful situation.
Songdoc is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2015, 04:33 PM
  #31  
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I just read that there is an arsonist who has been responsible for 60 brushfires in Kauai. Scary!
Songdoc is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2015, 05:41 PM
  #32  
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I just read about the attacks in Hanalei. I think I was there when the one happened on the pier. There were sirens and police cars--but I didn't know what had happened. Crazy stuff happens everywhere--and I feel a lot safer on Kauai than I do most other places.
Songdoc is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2015, 04:47 AM
  #33  
 
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Seems I've distracted you from the task at hand - the road to hana
Inakauaidavidababy is offline  
Aug 5th, 2015, 05:09 PM
  #34  
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Ahh, the Road to Hana …
I’d heard horror stories about bumper-to-bumper traffic, long lines of tour buses, treacherous driving conditions, and nowhere to park. So, we set our alarm and set out at 6 AM hoping to avoid the hordes and we never encountered any traffic or difficulty parking. I felt a bit like an idiot for waking up so early!

We purchased an app from Gypsy Guides for $4.99. It was excellent, and I especially liked the history lessons on the way back.

I’ll admit that I’m jaded. I’ve done some truly spectacular drives, including Australia’s Great Ocean Road, the length of New Zealand’s West Coast, the Canadian Rockies, Norway's fjords, and California’s Hwy 1. The Road to Hana didn’t quite live up to my very high expectations. There were long stretches that were pleasant, but not “wow.” But rather than dwell on the negatives, I’ll say that there were some beautiful stops. We saw more waterfalls than I can count, and I can’t recall which was which.

I’ll mention that I’m not a nervous driver. I drive on roads that hug cliffs in Ireland and on challenging roads in New Zealand and Australia almost every year. So for me, the infamous road to Hana was not a frightening or difficult drive. But I spoke with people who found it nerve-wracking.

Our first stop was at the Garden of Eden botanic garden. It was pretty, but not worth the $15 pp admission, especially considering that there is so much scenery available for free.

The Ke'anae Peninsula offered some picture perfect views. We really liked it. A short walk at the Keanae arboretum was pleasant. The star attraction is the rainbow eucalyptus trees. I walk past rainbow eucalyptuses every day in Kauai, so it wasn’t a novelty for me, but it was a nice stop.

Wai'anapanapa State Park was my favorite stop. It was fun to explore the caves, and photograph the black sand beach. We got caught in a downpour, but it felt great because it was exceptionally hot. Just before reaching Wai'anapanapa we pulled over at a road side stand for much-needed coffee. It was a beautiful view and we enjoyed talking with the older Asian proprietor and playing with “Mama,” her sweet, very unusual looking cat, while getting re-caffeinated.

We arrived in Hana five-and-a-half hours after we’d left Honokawai. We had booked two nights at Heavenly Hana, an apartment we found on Air BnB for $165/nt. It was fine, and the hosts were pleasant and helpful. I knew the journey was the point of the trip—that there wasn’t a great deal in Hana. But I was surprised at how few restaurants and stores there were. The beach was not at all attractive, but it was packed with locals escaping the extreme heat.

We got some surprisingly good wraps and sandwiches at Hana Fresh Farm Stand. We were also pleasantly surprised by how delicious our burritos were that we bought from a taco food truck. It was the only truck still open at 5:30pm.

The next day we continued on the road past Hana to Haleakala Park to hike the Pipiwai trail. That was one of the highlights. The 4-mile (round trip), 3-hour hike took us through bamboo forest and past several beautiful waterfalls. At the end of the trail we were rewarded with views of 400-foot Waimoku Falls. Absolutely stunning. If only it hadn’t been so ungodly hot!

The last stop was at Oheo Gulch—the Seven Sacred Pools. We would have loved to cool off in the water but it was mobbed, and access to the pools (over rocks) seemed a little tricky, so we skipped it. It’s a very pretty area but I was a little overwhelmed by the number of people. It felt like being at a water park on the hottest day of summer.

The proprietor of our B&B recommended Hamoa Beach. It was nice, and we enjoyed a long walk in the surf, but honestly, I was left scratching my head as to why Michener and Hemingway would have raved about it. Michener called it the most beautiful beach in Polynesia. Clearly, they had not been to Hanalei Bay—or any of my other Kauai favorites ;-).

On our way back from Hana we revisited Wai'anapanapa State Park. This time it was early in the day and the hordes had not yet arrived. Our second stop confirmed that this was a Maui favorite. As we continued driving, our App suggested a stop at the overlook above Honomanu Bay—if there was any parking. There was—and it was such a beautiful spot.

Another memorable stop on the way back was at Ho’okipa Beach Park which is known for its windsurfing. We hung out there and watched the sunset until it was time to go to the airport and bid aloha to Hawaii.

So … my overall thoughts:
We didn’t like Maui. The overdevelopment was a mood killer and I have no desire to return. But it certainly has its share of stunning scenery and I’m glad I got to see Haleakala and the Iao Valley.

Different strokes for different folks, but for me, no other island can hold a candle to Kauai. But please don’t tell anyone!
Songdoc is offline  
Aug 6th, 2015, 11:58 AM
  #35  
 
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Thanks I have been enjoying your reports. While we enjoyed Maui (except for the traffic), Road to Hana was seriously un derwhelming especially since just 2 years earlier we had visited the North Shore of Kauai and taken a Na Pali boat trip (back in the old days when all the boats went out of Hanalei).
jamie99 is offline  
Aug 7th, 2015, 08:03 AM
  #36  
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Thanks, Jamie.
I agree. That Napali Coast and Kauai's North Shore are SO beautiful. I think two boats now go out of Hanalei.
Songdoc is offline  
Aug 7th, 2015, 09:36 AM
  #37  
 
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Thank you for your thoughts on Maui. I went to Maui and wasn't wowed either. I mentioned that on another travel forum and was practically skewered. People really take their love of Maui seriously!
AustinTraveler is offline  
Aug 7th, 2015, 12:04 PM
  #38  
 
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Songdoc, Na Pali Catamaran and Captain Sundowner both go out of Hanalei, as does the Holo Holo rigid hull inflatable. There is another I have read about that leaves from near Anini I think, Na Pali Coast Tours or something like that.
jamie99 is offline  
Aug 7th, 2015, 12:23 PM
  #39  
 
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Each of Hawaii's major islands offers its own set of attractions, infrastructure etc, and for many people Maui is a perfect mix. I've heard as many comments over the years about Kauai's relative lack of things to do, shopping, affordable decent restaurants etc, as gripes about traffic and other problems on Maui. None of the islands are or can be best for everyone.
fdecarlo is offline  
Aug 7th, 2015, 04:45 PM
  #40  
 
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This report on Maui reminds me of my husbands Nana. She told us she wouldn't like the restaurant we were taking her to, then proceeded to suck the broasted chicken bones dry, leaving not a speck on her plate and sighed that they made lousy chicken, and she didn't understand why we went there. And she meant it. Rest her soul.
Inakauaidavidababy is offline  

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