Updated 2/11 - Maui Christmas - a TR of Our Return to Aulani and First Visit to Maui

Discussion in 'Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa' started by pepperandchips, Jan 14, 2019.

  1. poohgirl6

    poohgirl6 I dream of Stormalong Bay

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    Love your trip reports. Always great pics and lots of interesting, helpful info. Thanks for sharing.
     
  2. ct7878

    ct7878 Mouseketeer

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    Loving your trip report- we are doing a week in Oahu and a week in Maui in May/June this year and this is getting me excited for our trip!
     
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  4. pepperandchips

    pepperandchips [melinda]

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    Thank you so much! I binge on reports when planning so I always hope mine are helpful too!

    WOO HOO! That would be fantastic. I always wish we had more time. Thanks for the kind words and for saying hi!!!
     
  5. pepperandchips

    pepperandchips [melinda]

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    Road to Hana Continued...

    The next point of interest as we continued our drive was the Waianapanapa State Park. Famous for its black sand beach, there are bathrooms and picnic tables here, and we'd plan to get at least this far before enjoying the sandwiches we'd packed for our picnic lunch.

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    One of Hawaii's historic legends is based here. The legend is that a Hawaiian princess fled here to escape her cruel husband, who brutally murdered her in one of the sea caves. Romantic huh? :crazy2: Well it gets even better, as each year tiny red shrimp appear in the pools, reminding visitors of the blood of the princess shed here.

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    Sounds like a perfect stop for newlyweds to me! :love:

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    There's also a seriously incredible traditional family cemetery located within the park, where this beautiful plumeria was planted. Unfortunately the guide app didn't share anything about these cemeteries and I could only find little information regarding them online - it was neat to look at them but I didn't take any photos thinking it seemed a little disrespectful. I did find this description on the web - "Within the park are three private cemeteries dating from the early 1920s to the present. These cemeteries are delineated by stack rock wall enclosures and are maintained by the lineal descendants." There were indeed newish graves there marking lives lost in the last few years. It was touching to see the tributes left by loved ones.

    Speaking of romance and nothing macabre, here's my husband exploring some of the caves made by the lashing of the incredible waves. He invited me to come take a look and I tried not to be too suspicious... :rotfl:

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    After our picnic and use of the comfort facilities, we headed further on, through the little blip of Hana town itself, which is nothing much to speak of, and on to the Hamoa Beach area.

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    There are a lot of Maui's famous beef farms in this area.

    The beach itself is famous for being postcard-perfect and popular with surfers.

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    The red cliffs were stunning but the overcast weather put a damper on the picturesque little beach. We did see some surfers there waiting for the perfect swell.

    Our next stop was the highly-lauded (in Maui Revealed at least) Venus Pool at Waioka Pond just beyond Hamoa. Unfortunately, I left my phone in the car and my gopro battery had died without my knowing. :headache: So this stop is largely documented only in my mind. Just as well, as we found ourselves frustrated. I was looking forward to taking a dip in what was touted as a wonderful oasis of a hidden gem swimming hole. Of course, DH wasn't in his swimsuit, though he'd brought it along in the car. Then it was a bit of an excursion through some fencing, around liability signs, over a cow pasture, to a steep trail leading to some overlooking cliffs that yielded a cumbersome trek down to the pool. So due to our miscommunication about swimming and failure to lug our towels along, I really didn't want to fool with getting in. :confused3

    We got a little cranky here. Also, it wasn't very nice weather still and there were more other people there than I thought there'd be. This isn't my photo, but it's a fairly good depiction of our conditions, versus what the pool looks like in beautiful sunny conditions:

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    Womp womp.

    We moved along and stopped once more for some beautiful, lacy waterfalls. These were the Wailua Falls. It seems so weird to say it now but we were starting to get burnt out on amazing waterfalls, so we snapped a couple photos and moved along. We knew Kipahulu was just ahead and we were really looking forward to that last stop.

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    As further background, we were in the beginning days of the US government shutdown when we were traveling. We didn't know what this would mean for the facilities and resources at the Kipahulu portion of Haleakala National Park. It turns out that the sole impact on us was that we didn't have to pay the entry fee (woo hoo?) as the restrooms were well stocked with toilet paper, soap, and even paper towels. Signs warned us at entry that there would be no emergency response in the event of trouble. We'd also read online that the pools at the Oheo Gulch, the main attraction here, had been closed for quite some time due to mudslides and dangerous conditions. I also read a lot of opinion-type pieces basically accusing the "powers that be" of using these bad storms as an excuse to close the pools for swimming permanently. I agree that it is a real shame that you can't swim there. The stairs down to the pools remain there, albeit behind a gate and padlock. That was disappointing, but our visit to the park surely was not!

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    It's a short walk from the parking area to the overlook of the gulch and pools.

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    Waterfalls spill down multiple layers of rock, creating these multiple pools on the stream's way to meet the ocean.

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    It was incredibly difficult to narrow down my photos to share of this stop. It was gorgeous! (and windy...)

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    We sat for a while on the rocks overlooking the gulch and just soaked in the rushing water and sound of waves.

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    While we were there, we noticed a couple with their dog ignoring the closure signs, walking along the stream and pools. I sort of wished I knew how they made it down, but I'm a rule follower at heart so we stayed atop the cliff.

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    We finally had our fill and took our leave. We discussed our choices for returning back to Kahului and "civilization" - we could either retrace our route back through Hana and the hairpin turns the way we'd come, or ignore the advice of the GyPSy Guide and take the more risky path back over the "back side" of Haleakala. We knew there was a scaryish patch of road that was one lane, unpaved, and bordering sea cliffs. We ultimately decided you only live once, we'd seen the other direction already, and our car seemed in good shape. We decided to go for it and took the scary way back! It was a little nerve-wracking, all told. I didn't take any pictures as I was probably clutching a handle in the car for a good bit, but here's our approximate location on the map during the "oh shoot" phase of the drive, on a one-lane road just inches from the ocean, with rocks on the cliff held back by an imposing netting system miraculously keeping us from a rockslide.

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    After the worst of the road, the single-lane gravel road yielded to gloriously smooth pavement that traversed Maui's farmland

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    It was really neat to see an as-yet unseen terrain - Maui seems to have every kind you could think of!

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    And they were all beautiful. Some little goats ran across the road just in front of us! I was enjoying our potentially foolish decision to take the road less traveled.

    What did we do as soon as we got back to town? Why, stop at Home Maid Bakery again for the second time that day! We had malasadas to acquire.

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    This time we met success! We ordered 3 plain sugar coated and 3 custard filled. I wasted no time tucking into a custard one.

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    How can fresh fried dough ever be bad? This certainly did not let me down. But I still prefer Leonard's on Oahu. We also picked up a few other pastries to enjoy in our condo, as we'd managed to polish off what we'd acquired that morning.

    Upon returning to Maalaea, I convinced R to drive a bit past the harbor to see what was there. We found the sunset:

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    Exhausted, we returned to our condo and the comfort of our hot tub and some delicious homemade dinner.



    Road to Hana Wrap-up and Thoughts...

    Overall, both DH and I are glad that we didn't miss out on the famous Road to Hana. I will say that we're not likely to do it again if we return to Maui. I think we had just heard too much hype and the experience didn't live up to our expectations. :duck:

    Now, I understand that this is going to sound bratty, but we've had the incredible fortune of seeing dramatic views, amazing waterfalls, volcanic climates, rainforest gulches, and rapidly changing ecosystems - mainly because we'd been to Hawaii together just a year prior and specifically the Na Pali coast of Kauai is the most amazing thing I've ever seen. We've also visited Costa Rica and travelled there fairly extensively - and I kept remarking that the road to Hana experience reminded me of Costa Rica. So perhaps our experience was a product of our own expectations. In addition, it was fairly grey and overcast while we were doing the drive, casting a literal shadow over many of our most anticipated photo ops. And, as far as I know, the pools at the Oheo Gulch remain closed - not as a part of the government shutdown, but "just because". I think if we had been able to swim there our experience would have been much more worthwhile. It was definitely my favorite stop.

    We read so much on both sides of the argument regarding doing the "full loop" tour, including the harrowing unpaved cliffside road on the trip back from Hana to Kahului. I was nervous about making the drive in a small sedan, but I really needn't have been so concerned. Yes, it is true that if you experience a breakdown or flat tire, you are going to be up the creek without a paddle, but I felt that way about the entire drive, not just the "backside" portion. Overall I was glad to see something else and not backtrack the exact route back that we'd taken to get to Kipahulu.

    My biggest regret is that we somehow missed the turnoff to get to visit the Charles Lindberg gravesite, and my biggest "thank goodness we did this" reflection is regarding the GyPSy Guide. It was so useful having the extra narrative and real-time directions for some of the points of interest. We saw a lot of tour buses/vans along the route - I am not sure if we would have liked being part of a guided excursion as much as we liked the freedom to come and go at our own pace, but we did see some of the same groups at our stops, so maybe the amount of time you'd spend per point of interest is standard enough that a guided tour is worth it. Ultimately, it wasn't in the budget for us, so that was a non-starter. If we wanted to do the drive, we'd be going it alone, and the GyPSy Guide was just enough narrative so that the importance of our stops wasn't lost on us.

    I also suffer from pretty severe motion sickness, and with the scopolamine patch on I really wasn't too bothered by this experience - it was much worse coming down Haleakala behind a bad driver than it was making the hairpin turns (so long as I didn't try to read the guidebook too much).

    I guess my parting wisdom is that everyone should do their own research and read counterpoints to the many "OMG YOU MUST DO THIS" reports of the experience. It's not for everyone and I wouldn't want to do it without the motion sickness patches or if I had kids traveling with me.

    December 30, 2018

    This day was a pool/beach day for us, so there's not much to say other than we enjoyed our downtime in the sun.

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    Does it get better than having access to this view just steps away from your condo?

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    Only if you are also in convenient driving distance to awesome food options! We had a little aloha hour in our condo and enjoyed the beautiful pink sunset.

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    And then we headed off to dinner, once again at Coconuts in Kihei! I was craving some kind of delicious fish dinner and the macadamia crusted mahi mahi caught my eye from their menu online. We knew it wasn't far and that we would enjoy our dinner, so we headed over that way.

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    Here's my mac nut mahi served with homemade mango sauce and coleslaw. Holy cow, it was SOOOOOoooooo good, especially with that tasty sauce! The $20.99 price was very fair for such a great dinner. The piece of fish was huge and amazingly delicious.

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    DH went with the seafood pasta alfredo, which had ono, mahi mahi, shrimp, onions, mushrooms, garlic, and tons of parmesan cheese in it, served with garlic bread for $22.99. This was decadent and heavenly! We shared both entrees and loved both of them. We ate as much as we could and left some pasta behind. It was so rich!

    I can't recommend Coconuts highly enough. The prices are reasonable and the food was fabulous. It's such a great little casual place and can be equally suitable for a quick light lunch or a decadent casual date night.

    Coming up: we visit East Maui's famous beaches! and another dining review.
     
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  6. ErinF

    ErinF Mouseketeer

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    Love all your pictures!!! Even the ones from the road to Hana when it was overcast. :-)

    I can totally relate to this idea. When I went to Europe in college, it was so cool to see a big old beautiful church...but then we'd go visit another one, and then another one, and then another....you get the idea. All the beautiful old churches started to run together in my brain! They're so common over there, just like waterfalls on the road to Hana.

    We got the GyPSy Guide to Yellowstone on our trip there last summer. We loved it! I wonder if it would be worth getting for our trip to Maui this summer even though we're not planning to drive the road to Hana?

    We were told to do the road to Hana on our honeymoon, but never got around to it. We did Haleakala instead. So when we went back to Maui in 2006, we decided to do it. I remember getting a little motion sickness, which is unusual for me, but it is a lot of twisting and winding roads. I think I felt the same way as you, but I also put in little to no research. That is so not me now, I consider planning and researching vacations my favorite hobby! But I did have a 1-yr old and 3-yr old at that time, so that probably explains. I think I would like to try the road to Hana again some time, with proper preparation and research, but that time will not be this summer. My kids would hate being in the car most of the day to do something like that, so perhaps on a kid-free vacation or when they're much older!
     
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  7. DCLfam

    DCLfam Earning My Ears

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    Your pictures are so amazing! Can't wait for our trip to Maui next year. Thank you for taking the time to share.
     
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  8. cgattis

    cgattis DIS Veteran

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    Omg I sound like a fangirl but you guys are adorable! How you both eat like that and look so good is amazing to me LOL (I like to eat too!!!)

    I totally agree with your whole assessment of the road to Hana. I was (and still am) more obsessed with the black beaches than the waterfalls, but yes, I’m thrilled to have done it but probably won’t do it again next trip. I think DH and my teens agree.

    I love all your pics—you have a great eye—but I LOVE the one looking along the top of the concrete guardrail! I took a dozen pics of those cool old things, but I never really captured how neat they looked. You totally nailed it. I absolutely adore the photo book I made and love to look at it and dream of going back in 2022!!
     
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  9. pepperandchips

    pepperandchips [melinda]

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    :flower3: Thank you! It was still beautiful. I think we were both just crabby, honestly. I am glad I at least took lots of photos to look back on!

    I totally understand! That happened to me too. Once you're totally immersed in the beauty of whatever it is - be it churches, historical sites, waterfalls, whatever, the novelty wears off and you really have to center yourself.

    I was shocked at how affordable it was - I think the app for the whole island was only $10 or $15 and I would consider it money well spent even if you only use it a few times. If you're like us, you also might have some iTunes gift cards sitting around collecting dust and it's a great way to use those up!

    planning and researching are half the fun, I think!

    I was afraid I was going to catch flack for this opinion so I am glad I am not totally alone!

    Thank you! Thanks for reading along as well.

    :rotfl: I told R you said this and he was shocked. We didn't do a good job of staying on the diet wagon after our wedding, but in general we diet at home so we can eat like crazy on vacation!!! Actually I guess that is our whole life approach, we live like paupers at home so we can spend all our money on vacation too, haha.

    Thank goodness! I was afraid I'd lose everyone by having a lukewarm opinion of it. It was a bucket list thing so I am glad we did it overall but I guess I just wasn't prepared fully.

    Okay the check I promised for saying all these sweet things will be in the mail, haha. :flower3::flower3::flower3:
     
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