My Recommendations in Paradise...
Maui is simply a gem. I must admit for the last few years, I was under the faulty impression that Maui was simply NOT a destination for me. I was convinced that the lush rainforest and beautiful sandy beaches were simply a spot for honeymooners and not quite the pulse I was looking for. I could not have been more wrong. This place has so much to offer and the best part is it is all accessible in a rather short stint of time. Case and point...
Yesterday was Mt Halleakala, the only tour I booked on this trip as I wanted as much freedom as possible, a style of traveling I would recommend as the flexibility proves priceless. However... as tours go, this was pretty spectacular. A 2AM pickup at lodging, and after they round up all the others and you head up the mountain. To everyone's surprise, we had the first lightening storm in years up there and they recommended we all stay in the vehicle upon arrival at the summit some 11,000 feet up. I did not heed there advice and ventured off into the FREEZing misty abyss. It was well worth it. It was not the best sunrise they have ever had up there do to visibility, but it was nevertheless mesmerizing. Mt Halleakala is like mars, it is literally unbelievable -- so spectacular I am hoping I can fit one more jaunt up the Mt to hike the Sliding Sands trail... we will see, I hope I can make it happen. I will keep you informed.
Now for the real treat... Haeleakalla bike company. There are many touring companies that bike down the volcano, but most are guided. This means they have a rider in front, a van in back and you follow the leaders pace. BORING -- Haeleakala bike company is the only non-guided tour there is. After sunrise, you are given a bike, instructions on where to turn so you don't get lost and there number in case something malfunctions. I was off.... I met Nick and Chuck, my new best friends for this ride and they insisted I set the pace. It was an error on their part as I flew off at breakneck speed. I had no idea how exhilarating it would be to speed down a volcano on a gravity bike... the problem with the speed is the intense switchbacks all the way down, you are flying down the mountain which is simply unreal and then you have a blind curve/switchback to contend with... awesome! You then ride through lovely and aromatic Eucalyptus forests followed by lavendar fields... awe inspiring. I can't recommend this enough... truth: if you are an adventure junky like myself, this has the potential to be rather dangerous... I couldn't go fast enough, the boys couldn't keep up with me. SMILE! Took a little over an hour of sheer delight. This is the best $99 I have ever spent. So, folks -- don't forget, this will NOT be as exciting if you take one of the guided tours. They are boring. They stop at all the expected "viewpoints" and you pull over for all vehicles behind you. Come on... I made the vehicles go around me! If you can ride a bike, this will blow your mind.
Nick took me out for a lovely breakfast -- recommended by the locals and not found in any guidebook, North Shore cafe in Haiku is utterly amazing. Sweet people, great vibe, and the best corn beef hash I have ever had with cheesy/bacon potatos and POG (passion/orange/guava) juice. Guess what folks... $5.85. Hawaii does not have to be expensive... you have options.
I spent the rest of yesterday snorkeling ... went from beach to beach, the water was pretty choppy which makes for tough snorkeling, but tomorrow is a new day. This morning I am off to see Iao Needle hike and then part of the Hana drive. Wish me luck! Talk soon!