Maui, Hawaii

After our time in Honolulu and exploring Oahu, we hopped a short flight over to Maui, Hawaii. The flight itself is incredibly short – about 35 minutes – and takes you above the absolutely gorgeous geography of the Hawaiian islands with their vibrant greens, oranges, and reds.

Once in Maui, we drove to our resort located in the northern part of the island in an area called Kapalua. Since we had limited time, we had only booked a couple activities up front – we knew for sure that we wanted to go whale watching, and we also wanted to drive the Road to Hana (which would take us west to east across the island along its beautiful coast, ultimately landing us in Hana, a town on the eastern side of Maui). Outside of those two items, we decided to relax and enjoy the beautiful resort.

We discovered that our resort was home to many, many chickens – who loved getting leftovers at lunch!

On our second morning, we woke up bright and early for our whale watching tour. The receptionist at the front desk had told us that it was like “humpback soup” in the water surrounding Maui, so we were hopeful we’d see some whales. We drove a couple miles down to the beach where our catamaran would depart from, and immediately upon entering the blue waters surrounding Maui were treated with some incredible views!

While we saw several whales, the most exciting was a mama and baby whale swimming together – its mating season, so many of the whales had babies with them or had male escorts vying for their attention.

The baby whales were just learning how to breach, so we were treated to many instances where they’d come out of the water and flop back down with varying levels of success.

After about two hours of watching the whales frolic, we headed back in to shore and spent the remainder of the day enjoying the resort amenities.

The following day, we set out on the Road to Hana. We ended up leaving slightly later than expected around 10am. Unfortunately that meant that we wouldn’t be able to complete the whole drive, as the Road to Hana typically takes ~8-9 hours if you go roundtrip and make the expected number of stops. Because the road is not a straightforward highway, traveling it after dark is also not recommended (and we would quickly discover why, as much of it is hairpin switchbacks followed by single-lane bridges along the coast). That being said, we made it a little over halfway, which still gave us plenty of time to see many of the sites in central and northern Maui.

First, you have to drive back through the main town which has the airport, so we stopped along the way for lunch. We tried a couple Hawaiian specialties, including mochiko chicken (similar to fried chicken, but with an incredibly crunchy crust made of glutinous rice flour), more poke (of course!) as well as a traditional noodle soup dish called saipan. It was much like ramen with a very rich broth.

After our lunch stop, we continued onward, making our way from populated Maui to truly wild Maui. As I mentioned, the road is essentially hairpin switchbacks the whole way – you will occasionally pass through a casual beach town, but otherwise you’re mostly seeing the beautiful jungle or coast.

One thing we did have the opportunity to stop at was the “Garden of Eden” botanical garden, which is about at the halfway mark on the Road to Hana. The garden is essentially a swatch of reclaimed jungle with labels on the various plants and a couple attractions, including a rock that was featured prominently in the Jurassic Park film and a couple waterfalls. It was absolutely lush, fertile, and beautiful.

All told, we probably spent an hour or so wandering around the botanic garden before we turned back towards the resort.

On the way back, we stopped off to view the beach one more time – overall, it was a gorgeous drive (although I would allocate plenty of time, leave as early as possible, and pack some dramamine for motion sickness!).

We ended up loving Maui so much we booked an extra day, so we enjoyed the resort and all the local food for the remainder of our time before briefly stopping back in Honolulu for our flight home!

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