After yesterday’s early start we tried to have a good long lie in this morning. I managed about half six and Kate woke around 7:30….getting better. Today’s activities would be based around the northern end of West Maui as we explored the Nakalele blowhole, complete with heart-shaped rock, and visit Honolua Bay for some snorkeling.
After a hearty pancake breakfast from the Gazebo (we shared a full stack of white choc pancakes), we headed off. We had decided not to drive the full road around West Maui this time as it’s a bit hairy and we have done it before. So we headed straight to the Blowhole to try and do the “hike” in the cooler part of the day. Which as it happened was another scorching, beautiful day.
Nakalele Blow Hole and Heart Shaped Rock.
It was fairly busy at the Blowhole and we had to park up on the verge across the road as there were no spaces in the pull-out. We could see on the headland a large congregation of people so we headed over to see what they were looking at. Turns out a pod of Whales were surfacing regularly out to sea. We watched for a while before heading down the cliffs. The Whales were pretty far out and we had seen much better displays from our Lanai.
The Path down the Hillside to the Blowhole can be challenging for some. Kate doesn’t like rough uneven loose terrain and it’s quite hard work to get down. For some, it would be impossible. For me personally, it is nothing. We all have different perceptions of what constitutes rough terrain.
The path is best described as a very loose rock path of varying size from football-sized to fine gravel. All formed from sharp Lava Rock. It is very steep in places but most of the terrain is formed into natural steps albeit very loose uneven steps. With care and Ballance it is easy but requires confidence on these sorts of surfaces. It’s not a long hike, around a third of a mile and you lose (and Gain) around 200ft. It’s the loose and technical terrain that can make it difficult.
It is really hard to suggest if you should attempt it. For me it really is nothing, I am well versed in tough offroad terrain and could almost navigate this blindfolded. A lot of people would also feel this way and really not know what the fuss is about. But For others, it really would be a very bad idea. The best advice we can give is just be honest with yourself. If the route just looks too much don’t risk it. There is no shame in not trying it but you will feel very silly if you get stuck. Again if it looks No problem at all, fine just enjoy and try and give some space and time to others who find this sort of thing more challenging.
The Path isn’t well marked and there are lots of options but the general direction you need to take is very obvious as it follows a natural route down the hillside. Once at the bottom there is a natural shelf that acts as a great viewing point for the blowhole. If it is raging this can be the closest you want to get. You will get a great view and stay safe.
Blowhole on low power setting
Today it was hardly blowing at all. Which was a shame. This does mean we could get right down and up close to the hole. The seas were fairly high but the direction of surf and the tides were just wrong and we were only getting occasional blows. At times this thing goes off like a jet engine. Today it was just hissing.
The Rock has seen better days
We also wanted to check out the heart-shaped rock for a photo op. Unfortunately, time, and saltwater, have taken their toll on the hole and it’s decidedly less heart-shaped than it used to be. The light was wrong and the helpful tourist who offered to take our photo lacked the photography skills needed so we left a bit disappointed. We made the ascent back up the cliff and headed off to Honolua to cool off and snorkel. Fingers crossed the conditions were good for that!
Note – We are very relieved to have made the Pilgrimage as this would be the last time we get to visit the rock. We first visited here on our honeymoon and have returned every time since. However, the Curse of 2020 struck at the Heart-Shaped Rock too and half of the formation fell away into the Ocean and the Rock is No More!
Honolua Bay Snorkelling
The Pullouts near the bay were all chokka with cars and there were two large catamarans moored up in the bay when we arrived so we guessed the conditions were pretty good. We strolled through the jungle entrance to the bay keeping to the path as requested and as always were amazed at the dense green foliage. It really does feel like a prehistoric world. There are plenty of modern dinosaurs roaming this jungle too…well some people think dinosaurs became birds and there are chickens roaming freely in the forest.
As we got near the shoreline got to the acid test. There is a small stream that runs through the jungle and if this is running freely you can be assured the water will be murky and no good. If it’s a mere trickle you are good to go. It was barely running so we knew we would have good water!
Honolua Bay Informmation Centre…
Kate wasn’t sure she wanted to snorkel today so we set up a camp on the rocks and I headed off to snorkel while Kate just relaxed in the sun. The beach at Honolua is almost non-existent and is in fact made up of just stones and rocks. It isn’t ideal but you can always find flat areas to “nest” and it’s possible to get pretty comfy.
As always the water closest to the shore was horrible. Dirty, smelly, and a layer of scum and detritus on top. It seems this murky water is here permanently now and it’s a question of how far out you need to swim to clear it. Sometimes it’s unreasonably far and never really clears today 50-100ft and the water began to clear. after 200ft I was swimming in crystal clear water Above a healthy colorful coral reef with plenty of fish and life in and around the corals.
Crystal Clear Waters of Honolua Bay
After a lengthy exploration, nothing particularly interesting revealed itself. There were large numbers of Tangs, Sergent majors, Idols, Butterfly Fish, Triggers, and some large schools of goatfish along with all the usual suspects and several large healthy Turtles. There were plenty of large Parrotfish along with large unicornfish and the size of most were very healthy. But overall it was just lots of the same. There were some very healthy Coral formations with pretty minimal signs of bleaching which is great to see.
Eventually after, venturing way out almost to the wave break at the edge of the bay I had seen enough and began to head back but was drawn to the Dropoff of the Navigation Channel the large boats use to get in and out. Here I found a very large school of herring-type baitfish. There were literally millions all packed very tightly on the edge of the Drop-off. This got me thinking there could be predators about stalking the shoal.
And sure enough, after a few mins observing a couple of large Bluefin Trevally cruised in looking for their lunch. They took it in turns to charge the shoal nabbing the little fish as they went. It was quite a spectacle and like watching a live nature documentary! After a while, I headed off into the blue hoping to get lucky with some other large pelagic sightings but this was about it for the day. On the other side of the bay, I found more turtles and more reef fish but nothing particularly special, and really, life was much better on the other side of the bay (right-hand side of the shore). I got back to shore and dried off on the beach before heading up to the lookout for some bay photography.
We then headed back to Napili to just relax for the afternoon before heading to Lahaina for the evening.
Lahaina – Cheeseburger in Paradise
Upon arriving in Lahaina it was very busy, it was Saturday evening. We tried our go-to parking lot and it was very full, after waiting around to see if anyone was leaving we headed off to our backup while looking out for any street parking. Our backup was equally full but after a few mins circling, we saw a family returning so waited for their space. Parking in Lahina (and most places in Maui) is pretty odd. There are loads of parking lots and most have spaces but they charge, sometimes quite astronomical fees! But there are always free public parking lots so with a little patience you can always find somewhere free to park. There are two main lots in Lahaina that you can see here: Free Parking Lahaina. One is more central than the other and less well-known so we always try there but the backup option is only a short walk and perfectly fine. There is no need to pay a penny for Parking on Maui.
Cheeseburger in Paradise View
We wandered along front St taking a look at the galleries and shops that line the street. These are mainly high-end art shops selling expensive photos, pictures, and artworks. Most of it is well out of our range and we are not even sure how we would get most of it back to the UK but we enjoy just looking at some of the works are really impressive. We find it pretty amazing this many companies can remain in business here!
Of course, these high-end shops are interspersed with a number of ABC stores where you can shop for much more affordable mementos of your trip. We know it’s junk but it’s still fun to look. We were planning on hitting Cheeseburger in Paradise for dinner so headed over to see how the queue was. There are no reservations at this popular restaurant so it’s a bit pot luck. As it happened we were offered a table instantly, we asked if we could wait for a rail seat and were told we would need to “wait 10 minutes….oh no wait one is available now!”
Cheeseburger in Paradise often gets derided as a tourist trap and a bit of a waste of time. We would like to say we don’t know where that reputation has come from… but we do (Evil Blue Book). We however really like it. The Burgers are big, Juicy, messy, and quite reasonably priced considering the location, Waterfront in Maui. The Burgers are maybe not the absolute best we have ever had but they are not that far off! The decor is fun and quirky and the drinks decent while not cheap but pretty par for the course in Maui.
It is, however, a burger joint so expectations should be set accordingly but for a Burger joint we think it’s a very good one and we have fairly big experience of Burger joints in the US. Oh, and our rail seat had a pretty damn good view to enjoy while we ate!
After a good dinner, we window-shopped some more before visiting the Christmas Decoration shop. A tradition for all our trips is to hunt out a new decoration for our tree. This is our first trip to Maui since getting our little Kitten, who we have Named Maui, after our favorite place in the world. So we needed something to honor this. When we told the lady in the shop this she went a bit funny with excitement and we had a good time choosing our decoration with her. There are Crazy cat people (us included) everywhere!
By now it was getting late (about 9:30… still Jet-lagged) so it was back to the Condo for some Mai Tais and then bed as we have another early start tomorrow. We are heading out to the Molokini Crater for a Snorkel and a bit of whale watching. All Aboard the Four Winds.