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Maui: Makena Point, Iao Valley, and Kanapali

This morning, we woke up to the rolling of the sea swells as we anchored out in the harbor of Lahaina, Maui.  Today is a tender port and we will be renting a car to see the island of Maui for the very first time.  Though we made good time into the port, the tender process was slowed significantly as the differential between the ship and the tenders varied by up to 8 feet, making the process of getting into and out of the tenders a very “interesting” process for some passengers.

Once we finally made it to the tender pier in Lahaina, we were picked up by our Hertz driver (a very courteous fellow) and we took the short 5 minute drive to the rental facility.  Lahaina’s Hertz location is a “Local Edition”, so it is little more than a trailer, but it is staffed with very professional and courteous staff members.  We were into our White Toyota Corolla in no time and headed East and South towards our first destination.

Along Highway 30, we wrapped ourselves around the beautiful coastline on the right, with the mountains shooting upwards on the left as we took in the sights of Maui making our way to the central valley of the island.  The wind was very strong (cause of the swells in the harbor) as we made our first stop at a scenic overlook, where the wind literally blew your car into the parking spots.  After a very brief stop, just for a few pictures, we were back on the road and connecting with Highway 310 to begin our drive south on Highway 31 towards the south coast.

After a few more miles of driving, we arrived in the town of Kihei, which is the central “real people” town before getting into the high rent resort district a few more miles down the road.  Kihei is a cute little town where everyone seems to come to from the resorts to get the sunblock, snorkels, and snacks that cost 5x more at the St. Regis or the Four Seasons.

Here, we found a Safeway and headed to the floral department for a special stop we would make in about an hour.  We found a beautiful tiny white flower lei and headed back to the car to complete our journey.  We continued down S. Kihei Road and wound our way through the major resorts and continued into a smaller town that would bring us to the end of the road to the town of Makena.

In a strange roundabout sort of way, this town and the beautiful white sand beach with its shared name was the inspiration for the naming of our daughter and we felt that there was no more fitting way to remember her than to release a lei in her honor at the point on the southern edge of the beach.

We walked the 1/3 mile white sand beach, enjoying the blue skies, the sun, and the waves and just admiring what a truly beautiful place this is and made our way to Makena Point, an outcropping of lava rocks just off shore from a towering shade tree over a bluff of beautiful green grass on the edge of the shoreline.

We took some time to ourselves and with a little help from an angel, the remaining 5-6 people on the point all left and gave us the place just for us.  In a fine line between peace, joy, smiles, and tears, we placed the lei into the water and it began its journey, wherever the tides and the currents may take it.  There was comfort in knowing that wherever life’s journey may take us, we always have an angel watching over us.

It was a beautiful morning and we slowly made our way back up the beach and to our car where we would continue our trip around Maui.  We headed back into Kihei town, where we enjoyed another excellent Mexican lunch at Taqueria Cruz (Natalie sure does miss her Mexican food!) and headed back north on Highway 31 to the main city of Maui, Kahului.

Didn’t spend long here as we made a left turn and headed into the rugged and lush Iao Valley on Highway 32, about 6 miles inland from Kahului and spent some time in this area.

The main sight to see here is the Iao Needle, but with the cloud cover and the viciously howling winds, it just wasn’t as spectacular as we expected it to be.  Not to worry though, the remainder of the Iao Valley State Park site was filled with lots of walking paths, a botanical garden, and a babbling brook that cut through the valley.  It was a really nice stop and we were glad we had made the trip.

From here, it was back down Highway 30 to travel back through Laihaina, and to continue north to the Kanapali Coast.  Along the way, the weather had broken up a bit and we were able to get some great pictures of the mountains and farms on the interior side of the highway.

As we arrived into Kanapali, we found a hugely built up set of highrise hotels and lots and lots of people everywhere.  We found a small parking area for public beach access, and walked out to the beach, where we were able to take a beach-side path and traverse between the resorts, as long as we didn’t set foot onto property that wasn’t ours.  =)

As we walked, the weather changed again and on the beach a blazing sun and blue skies made the sand warm, while on the resort side (read:  the other side of the sidewalk) a rain shower began to fall.  It was a little strange, but no one seemed to care too much as it was there and gone in less than 20 minutes.

In the meantime, it did create some beautiful rainbows and while we made our short drive back to Lahaina, we got to see several in the distance as we made our way back to the Rental Car drop-off.

As we dropped the car off after closing time, we had to walk back into downtown, which was a short 15 minute walk.  As we approached our tender pier to head back to the ship, Darin made a stop at Local Boys West, a well known Shave Ice place, and immediately he knew he found the right place since the line was snaked out the door.

Here, the shave ice is light, fluffy, and piled very, very high with chilled syrup and a nice chunk of vanilla ice cream in the bottom.  It was an amazing sight, overflowing with cherry and pineapple syrup and covered in Kauai Cream.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t time for a picture as it was consumed in just under 10 minutes time on the Tender ride back to the ship.

Back on-board, we enjoyed a nice afternoon with a few more pictures of Maui from the ship (the rainbows are real in the pictures!) and headed down to dinner.  As we had left port, the ship was moving again, as we made our way towards Nawiliwili, Kauai, and the dining room was showing a dwindling show of passengers as the movement of the ship had really started taking its toll on the passengers.  Thankfully, we did okay and called it a night as we would be in Kauai tomorrow!

Tomorrow — Kauai!

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