Monday: We left for Hana about 9 in the morning and took the famed "Road to Hana" along the northern side of the island. The scenery was gorgeous! So much greenery everywhere and a number of small waterfalls along the way. For anyone who doesn't know, the Road to Hana is windy as in it has lots of hairpin turns. LOTS OF THEM. They make the road to Virginia City look straight. That, combined with a driver who only seemed to know stop and go and my sitting in the backseat, made me feel sick partway through. And yes, I was taking dramamine! I suggest either being the driver yourself or sitting front seat. Ouf!
We stopped at a black-sand beach in a small cove to stretch our legs and do some sightseeing. I've never seen water THAT blue! I'd always thought the pictures I'd seen had been shopped into being brighter. We went down to the beach and I got to explore a tunnel that ended at a different part of the cove. Found out that the tunnel used to be a lava tube which I thought was pretty amazing! Once I learned that I started seeing some of the other formations in and around the water differently, better recognizing what they were. We even went into the water and let me tell you, there was a LOT of sand adrift in that water near the shore! I was very glad to have bought goggles. Even if you aren't putting your head down in the water, the water can still splash up on you and get in your eyes, especially at the break. Out at a depth of 7 feet or so, I wanted to try to touch the bottom. It's a thing I do. I managed to get down and grab a rock to prove I'd touched and got an extra bonus. The rock had an abandoned seashell on it! Best beach visit ever!
We took the southern road back to Lahaina, a bit less extreme in its twistyness, and got to see some of the old lava flows. Much more grassy vegetation and much less tree and shrub vegetation. I also could see why the road was anti-tourist in the past. Before it was paved you would have mudslides and dustslides that would take you straight down to the ocean (ok, maybe a 10 degree slant to the ocean). Back to Lahaina for a good night's sleep!
Tuesday: Found out early in the morning that we would be snorkeling on Wednesday! Our host had set up a snorkeling trip for all of us who wanted to come and I was so excited!
Dee, Kit and I decided to use today for the purpose of touristing the town and getting our souvenirs. I went out in the dress I'd gotten the first day with the straps slightly adjusted for better stability. I found gifts for mom (earrings) and dad (some good hot pads for the kitchen!) and myself of course. Got some new batteries for the camera since it had died the day before. We even stopped by the local Barnes and Noble, me and my friend being bookworms. I found a small book on the Hawaiian language and a book of one of my favorite blogs, Hyperbole and a Half. Kit satiated her thirst for Titanic with a couple of books on the history of the ship. We both managed to keep from buying half the store so we were pretty proud of ourselves. We finished our day watching a dog-show competition on tv and trying to avoid the heat indoors under the fan.
Wednesday: I woke up early, around 530, and found out that while I would be going on the boat, I was not going to be going in the water for the snorkeling trip. I firmly believed in not being Nemo (Sharkbait! Oo-ha-ha!). Ah well. We all got together and our host drove us out to the beach where we met Dave, our guide. He took us in a dingy out to his ship, the Sanity.
I was in Sanity. Awesome.
He gave us the safety rules and introductions, my friend's family and I not being the only ones on the boat. We were going to circle Lanai for our tour. We had breakfast while we sped across the water, fresh pineapple and other fruits! And I mean FRESH pineapple! That stuff was the nectar of the gods! About halfway between Maui and Lanai, we come across our first pod of whales. Based on what we saw of their size and dorsal fins, I thought they were false killer whales (oh, we had all been given a little "guide to the animals you may see" handout). We continued to the NNW shore of Lanai and Shipwreck Cove. It turns out that most anything that cuts loose between Maui, Lanai and Monokai ends up here due to the currents. There were two different boats there, well rusted and degraded. Very interesting to see them!
We hit three different dive spots where most of the passengers went snorkeling. I was asked at the first one why I wasn't prepping to go in and answered that I would be shark bait right now. Immediately knew what I meant. I heard reports of turtles, pufferfish, angelfish and "lots of little black/white ones" depending on our spot. Between the second and third spot we were surrounded by a pod of dolphins and everyone got lots of great memories and pictures of them.
We also enjoyed the view of Lanai's shoreline and very pronounced cliff-line. Some spots looked like someone had cut the land with a knife. You could even follow where some of the waterfalls were during the wet season!. There were gorgeous striations in the rock and the water was absolutely crystal in some places with colors I've never seen in water, colors I'd swear were faked if I hadn't been there myself. On the way back to Maui we saw a pair of humpback whales, probably a mother and her calf based on size, go right past our bow not more than 50 yards off! At the end of the trip I "shook hands" with Dave and thanked him for the wonderful trip. The trip had been set up as free so I made sure to thank him properly. Dingy back to shore and then one last truck ride back to the house.
I put my shoes on and went took an evening walk into town to grab some pictures of the Banyan tree. Amazing tree that is HUGE. Wandered a bit up and down the main walkway and listened to a talented fiddler and a rooftop bagpiper. Both made very nice music. Saw a couple getting their picture taken with some macaws and a cockatoo. The birds were quite well behaved and the photographer/bird-keeper was cheerful and a bit silly, adding to the fun. After I returned to the house we watched Prince of Persia (it was the best thing on tv at the time) before gathering all our things and heading back to the airport to return home.
The plane ride from Maui to LAX was the best of the four flights being the smoothest and most comfortable yet. A big thanks to the crew for it! And as the flight was from about midnight Maui to six am LAX and I didn't sleep all that well on the flight, I was dog tired when I did eventually get home. Even with that, I had an absolute blast while I was on the island! That was an opportunity I was glad I reached out and took and I will never forget the fun and friends I made while there!