Ok maybe not completely speechless, but you have taken our breath away. Going into our trip to Maui, I didn’t know what to expect. Honestly when a lot of people think about Maui they think resorts and all inclusive resorts. But during our trip, my first visit Hawaii and Maui, we didn’t step foot on a resort. And that was OK with us. Also, when people hear about going to Maui they may think, “Oh, that’s expensive.” But we are proud to say that we did Maui on a budget and had a blast!
Our Host, Helpful Guide and Friend, Tom
We arrived in Maui and headed up the mountain to meet our host for the first night, Tom. Tom is the father of one of our friends who has lived on Maui for over 10 years. His home was perched up high on the slopes of Haleakala, overlooking the beautiful island. Tom was a wealth of knowledge for us and shared how we should experience Maui. He was a kind soul who gave us maps and great ideas on what to do while on the island. We were so lucky to meet him and were honored to be his guests. Plus, he had an amazing view from his back porch!
Our first night in Maui was met with a beautiful sunset and a great well needed home cooked meal. We could not have asked for a better way to be introduced to Maui.
Driving The Road to Hana
The next morning, Tom loaned us his camping gear and we headed off to go camping in Hana for a couple of days. The only way to get to Hana was by taking the iconic Road to Hana. The Road to Hana was filled with breathtaking view after breathtaking view. We were able to pull off the highway to stretch our legs a few times by visiting the numerous waterfalls that are everywhere off the Road to Hana. Our book that Tom loaned us, Maui Revealed, was the perfect book to guide us to all the hidden waterfalls off the main road. We also used Geocaching to guide us to some waterfalls & unique sites as well.
Geocaching on Maui
Geocaching on Maui is as good as it sounds. After all, it’s Maui! We found some great caches all along the Road to Hana and all around the island. Some of our favorite caches we found lead us to gorgeous views like the beach above. Other geocaches lead us deep into the rain forest where we had to climb rocks, wade through streams, swim across lagoons, and climb (yes actually climb) a waterfall, only to find another secluded waterfall! It felt like a piece of heaven…all for a geocache!
Watch the video HERE
Geocaching on Maui was an awesome experience, and we found some awesome caches that will stick with us forever. We also discovered some amazing Earth Caches on Maui, some of our faves!
Camping in Hana, Maui
After pulling over several times to take in the beauty of Maui and the Road to Hana, we finally made it to our camping destination, Wai’ anapanapa State Park. This is a special state park for the area that is known for it’s rare black sand beach. Yes, black sand! Once we set up our tent and had a little dinner, we made our way down to the black sands to watch the sunset.
This was my first experience with black sand, and it is as cool as it sounds. Overall camping on Maui and in Hana was just perfect. We loved meeting the other campers from all over the world, and we loved falling asleep to the crashing waves. We were also able to do a bit of stargazing. We saw other campers that even pulled the covers off their tents so they could watch the stars while laying in bed.
Camping in Hawaii is one aspect that many visitors do not think about, but it is one that will save you money and you will have an awesome experience at the same time.
Black Sand to Red Sand Beaches on Maui
The next mooring we made our way out to go explore Hana and elsewhere on this side of the island. Right around the bend from our campsite and the Black Sand Beach, we found an Earth Cache that is a Red Sand Beach!
What??? Black sand is crazy enough, but now red sand?!?! This sounded so interesting, I had to see it for myself. So we made our way to this special beach. Getting to this beach is a bit more difficult because it isn’t marked, and you have to hike through an area seems like you are trespassing (but you are not) and pass the signs that say “danger” around every corner.
It was a little bit of trek within itself to get there, and the trail is not for everyone, but we’ve done much worse…so it’s doable! Once we arrived, it was some of clearest water I had seen. And that beautiful blue water with the red and black lava rock walls, made for an awesome backdrop!
The red sand felt a little funny between my toes because it wasn’t fine sand, but more like small pebbles. But it was an awesome experience, and thanks to Geocaching and Earth caches, we were able to find this little hidden gem of a beach!
National Park Hike/Swim
After a couple more miles down on the Road to Hana we made it to our destination for the day, Haleakala National Park and the seven sacred pools. The first thing we did was head up the mountain for a 4 mile roundtrip hike, which passed some smaller waterfalls, but led up to a 400 foot waterfall!
The trek to waterfall was a hot one until we arrived at the bamboo forest. Hiking through this thick bamboo forest was truly spectacular, and honestly, my favorite part of the hike. Not only was it beautiful, but walking into the forest the temperature immediately dropped 15 degrees, and cooled everything off.
After a couple of miles or so in the forest we come to the massive 400 foot waterfall. This was a great sight to see and nice to cool off after the hike. So we took a seat and had a snack, drank some water, and even took a little dip in the lagoon at the bottom of the fall.
After we made our way back down from the large waterfall, we took another path to the more swimmable pools, also known as the famous Seven Sacred Pools. This was an easy hike, and when we arrived, the bottom pools were filled with people. But we wanted to get away from the crowds, so we decided to do some serious mountain climbing to the top pool. It wasn’t a long hike, but it was tricky maneuvering up and between the rocks. Once we made it, it was truly rewarding to jump in and lay back between the rocks at the top of the falls. For several minutes we had this entire pool to ourselves. Ah, now this was just the way to end an exhausting day!
Sunrise on the Summit of Haleakala, Maui
After a full couple of days of hiking, most would probably sleep in to get their rest…but not us! On our last day on Maui we got up at 3:30am to head straight to the top of Haleakala crater (about 10,300 feet above sea level) to watch an amazing sunrise. We had heard of this experience and were hesitant, but Tom told us we had to do it while we were here.
He also mentioned to us to bundle up because it gets cold, and he was right! They say that every 1,000 foot increase in elevation in Maui it gets 3 degrees colder. So on this morning at the top of Haleakala, it was a brisk 42 degrees. Yeah, it was cold! Then throw in the wind chill you are standing in one place waiting for the sun to arrive, and it felt even more cold.
But man was it worth it. We were literally sitting above the clouds. Never have I been above the clouds like this (without flying). It feels like you can see for thousands of miles. With the curve of the earth and at our location, we could see a green tint from the sunrise. So amazing.
Words are tough to explain so I will let the pictures to it a little bit of justice.
Attending My First Luau on Maui!
How can you top a sunrise over Maui? How about attending one of the best Luaus on the island! The Old Lauhina Luau has been voted best Luau in Hawaii for 5 years running. It gives you great insight into the polynesian history of Hawaii while also entertaining you and feeding you amazing food. This is a very traditional luau, all the way from cooking a full size pig while buried in the ground. Click here to check out our full post about our experience at the Old Lahina Luau!
The whole production, including the dancing, lighting, music, and service, were first class! This Luau was an amazing experience and one that we would do again and again. The beautiful dances along with the amazing food, you can easily see why this is the best.
Maui Was An Awesome experience
Our Maui experience was just amazing. We got to experience the real Maui without having to pay a guide or take a tour. We got to experience waterfall pools, a traditional Luau, a breathtaking sunrise above the clouds, and got to walk through a Bamboo Forest. Our Maui experience is one that will rank high on our list of great places we have visited and explored. But now, we are off to the Big Island of Hawaii…and to a totally different experience. So stay tuned for the next journal about that island!