Storypost | 2009.01.13

Hawaii Maui Molokini dive descent scuba

Somehow, some way United managed to bollocks my flight from SFO to OGG. That's normally not a problem, I'm well versed in the practice of checking flight info and I never plan to come and go as expected. But in this case my SAN to SFO flight was on schedule and so I found myself with quite a few hours to kill between my 18:30 arrival and 00:30 departure.

It has been said that crappy situations are the mother of ingenuity and indeed this was the case. I discovered that the Japanese restaurant in the food court serves bottles of sake for just five Washingtons. This compares well to the eight wingwangs I spent on Guiness while hanging out with Connie at SAN. Now I've always believed that reading books is for prisoners and vegetarians, so it was a great relief that I didn't have to occupy myself with the pages of Treason for the full twelve hours of travel.

Happily, Ted's car rental choice (Dollar?) has a policy of remaining staffed until the last flight arrives - about 03:30 in our case. I was finally able to hit the fold-out at about 0:600 Chris Standard Time after the drive from OGG to Kaanapali (in the 'resorts' zone of the map below).

Unofficial map of Maui areas Hawaii

The insider's map of Maui with several surrounding islands depicted but not labelled.

Sleeping in was the first order of business, however around noon Ted, Christine, and I headed down to meet the rest of the family at Black Rock. The ocean was a delightful 80ish with endless visibility. There were no waves, however, and this was just the first disappointment for the third of me that wanted to surf (the other thirds set upon riding and diving). Word on the streets was that the best break was at the northwest tip, near Kapalua, however I avoided the area. First, the plantation course was hosting a PGA event and, second, it's simple courtesy to leave the best waves to the locals and settle for their less aggro spots.

Hawaii Maui waves chop beach shore reading

The crew headed back to the saddle to check out the north shore, since Ryan would be flying in that afternoon anyway. We checked out Hookipa (above), which was supposed to be a pretty good surf spot. I paddled out on a bodyboard since renting would have taken more time than it was worth. The waves held up well against winds that were not insignificant, and they were consistently waist high. The break was extremely peely, even Del Mar waves would have some face at that height.

I was pleased to find that there were quite a few locals hanging out and barbecuing, although a number of them could have been east county kids both for their excess of branded apparel and obvious lack of familiarity with the water.
Posers aside, the area (above labelled 'beach towns') was the most inviting part of the island. It maintained a fair balance of Maui country club, traditional beach town, and working class. Paia even had a small downtown that served as a refreshing break from the tesselated resorts that offer lavish grounds but fail to provide any semblance of a social environment.

Hawaii Maui golfing golf view shore wind

After grabbing the cousin from the airport, the group split based on y chromosomes. The men headed to a golf course over in the seedier part of the island while the ladyfolk did... I don't know, hiked or something. The oceanfront location was unbeatable, the onshore wind was blustery, and the temperature was just right. The five of us split among two golf carts meant someone always had to ride chariot, as such the cooler and fifth golf bag were always in peril. Good fun.

Golf Hawaii swing rough cigar

Finishing 18 well after sunset, we drove back to the west end of the island to have cheeseburgers in Lahaina. The bigger, slower, older car arrived well ahead of the PT Cruiser that decided to attempt the north highway. But as we descended from the hairpins and single lane of crumbly asphault I noted the island's small import/tuner/drift community out for an event.

Lahaina is skippable. There are many pleasant blocks of shops that resemble the looped backgrounds of a cartoon. Inland some you can find useful, however unremarkable businesses. East of the highway the scenery becomes very rural.

We journeyed to Wailea Thursday morning. This area had to be on par with Kapalua for lavishness. After stopping at three different Maui Dive Shops, Jon and I managed to rent scuba gear for the reasonable price of $35 apiece. Dive people are good people, and the rep that helped us (Ben, I think) was no different.

Dive Hawaii Maui Turtle Town flag reef

Jon and I had 3100psi of fun at the Seven Caves spot in Makena. We never found the 'bubble room', but happened upon a large sea turtle in one of the three caves we navigated. We followed the lava reef quite far out but never dropped below 40 feet.

Dive underwater Hawaii Maui Molokini

The morning came early as we took the Pride of Maui boat trip to Molokini and 'Turtle Town'. The first dive was at the mostly-submerged volcanic crater. Divemaster Larry took us down 130 feet of steep reef where we saw white tipped sharks and a large lobster. Apparently there were quite a few eels, I didn't notice any because I was looking closely at the coiled sea slugs wondering if they were eels.

Hawaii Maui turtle town sea turtle underwater

The second dive was back in the Wailea area. Much like the Seven Caves dive, we were navigating a lava reef at about 30 feet. There were quite a few sea turtles, including one sleeping under a rock.

Hawaii Maui Haleakala lava rocks red rock

One of my goals for the trip was to ride a dual sport around the less accessible portions of the isle. Unfortunately, the one offroad rental company appears to have gone under. I wasn't too disappointed because I had yet to see the 10,000 foot Haleakala summit and it could be reached by common street vehicles. Island Riders in Wailea had a Ducati Monster for the renting so away I went.

Hawaii Maui Ducati Monster view Haleakala ride

The M1000 was noticeably lighter and easier to manage than my Supersport. Power comes in spurts though, I would often remark that the gears were tall and promptly bounce hard off the rev limiter just after shifting. Maybe I misjudged the bottom of each gear, stock pipes and a wet clutch tend to mute an engine's ability to communicate with the ears.

The road up to the crater is a glorious ribbon of winding tarmac. It is well maintained and hazard free, save for the unfenced cows that occasionally stray onto the road. The scenery at sea level is tall cane that quickly gives way to eucalyptus trees and large houses. A little higher up is a brief patch of rainforest followed by low shrubs that thin and disappear into red rock as you summit the dark beast. Each 15 mph cutback affords a fantastic view of the island below save for the thousand foot band of clouds swirling and parting around the shoulders of the mountain.

Hawaii Maui Haleakala hike volcano cones

I was happy to see very few cars on the road up, and even passed a couple of Yamaha riders with leathers and knee pucks. The temperature dropped from a toasty 80 to a chilly (when riding) 65. The summit was quite spectacular with terrain as colorful as it was desolate.

My penultimate day on Maui was a relaxing one. Sleeping, reading, watching football, swimming, and playing Settlers of Catan were the primary activities. I took a casual ride into Lahaina as well.

The departure was an unhurried gathering of things and drive to the airport for a 14:00 flight. Unfortunately, the United desk was an ugly mass of frantic travellers. The airline personnel spent an inordinate amount of time explaining that the situation wasn't their own fault. One industrious rep split the travellers into an LAX 14:00 group and an SFO 14:30 group with the goal of expediting the earlier flight. My SFO-bound family easily beat me to the counter. Of course the screens told me - and those behind me - that the gate was closed but miraculously the plane waited up for us and our baggage.

thumbnail Hawaii Maui golf drive ocean thumbnail Hawaii Maui Molokini lobster dive scuba thumbnail Hawaii Maui Haleakala observatory Ducati Monster parking lot thumbnail Hawaii Maui Haleakala Ducati Monster twisties
thumbnail Hawaii Maui Haleakala view lava rocks
thumbnail Hawaii Maui Haleakala twisties thumbnail Hawaii Maui turtle town sea reef thumbnail Hawaii Maui Molokini dive boat
thumbnail Hawaii Maui Molokini crater shark
thumbnail Hawaii Maui snorkel boat thumbnail Hawaii Maui Haleakala Ducati Monster ride twisties thumbnail Hawaii Maui scuba dive big breath noob
thumbnail Hawaii Maui fish Molokini thumbnail Hawaii Maui golf cart cooler incident


looks rad.

We stayed at the Four Seasons in Wailea. My brain turned into cottage cheese in a non-drug induced haze.


Kauai beats the (#*$^! out of mauai.

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