Live Blog – Day 9 – Hana – Backside of Hana – Maui Wine Tasting – Ekahi Village Wailea

November 2nd, 2022

Another Busy day lay in wait today, a long and challenging drive, a hefty hike and lots of stops and photo-ops, and finally checking into our new base of operations after a brief winery tour! All go, so we adopted a divide-and-conquer strategy. Kate had a lie-in to sustain her power while I rose extra early to pack some more time into the day.

This started with me watching the stunning Hana Sunrise from the room. Most of Maui is afflicted with less-than-brilliant sunrise. Haleakala is, for the most part, in the way. So instead of stunning Sunrises it just kind of gets light. As Hana is on the opposite side of the mountain, then you get the opposite effect. Sunset is a bit rubbish, but the sunrise is glorious!

Hana Inn SUNRISE

After the color faded and the light grew, I headed out to the car and off searching for adventure. My Target…The Venus Pools.

Venus Pool – Waioka Pond

The Venus Pool is a really unique and stunning location. Here the Waiohono Stream enters the Ocean. The large heavy breakers have pilled up a large bank of pebbles that keeps the River water from entering the Ocean and instead forms a large pool of semi-salty water. This creates a large perfectly still pool, backed by pounding ocean breakers with jungle-lined cliffs and a rolling mountain backdrop. It’s hard to describe and best visualized!

At the ocean end, the Beach is split in two by a large Black Volcanic rock, topped with bright green Beach Cabbage and Hala trees further adding to the dramatic scene. The whole setting feels very Jurassic, and especially this early in the morning well before anyone else is awake, it’s hard not to worry about being stalked by a velociraptor!

There are two ways down to the water, a scramble over slippy rocks to a low, or not so low, cliff jump, or a longer scramble down equally steep and slippy rocks to the pebble beach. This area is really remote and much care must be taken to navigate these rocks. For someone nimble and fleet-of-foot such as myself, this is no big issue, but even pretty adventurous hikers would struggle with this kind of scrambling. This is not a rough trail, it’s a scramble, which is one or two steps from being a rock climb, and the surface is slick mud, on smooth rock, which is only slightly more grippy than ICE!

Once down, while the location is really stunning, it’s not actually very good for swimming The sea is right out. Powerful breakers pound the pebble beach and strong currents tear around the rocky headlands. This is no place for a squishy tourist. The pool is much more inviting and pretty warm, but there is often a large amount of debris in the pool and it has more than a whiff of Leptospirosis about it. I certainly do not allow myself to get any in my mouth.

It really is not the place for pleasant swimming and while I kind of know there are no dinosaurs here or alligators, it just feels like there might be, the constant knocking of underwater debris on your legs is pretty unnerving. For many, the main reason to head here is for cliff jumping. But alone and with no one around to help if I got into trouble I figured that would be foolish. So I just floated around the pool for a while, then rinsed off in the shallow water to remove any residual fresh water just in case there were any parasites. Even in the very shallow part of the sea, the waves were fierce enough to drag me out, and really care was needed not to end up in Kona!

Venus Pool Hana
I didn’t even want to think about what lived in that cave!

To compound the many dangers here, I was also noticing some pretty dark clouds forming up in the mountains. These are classic Flash flood conditions and while things were calm and dry down at the river mouth, heavy rain many miles away can cause a cascade of water to change conditions lower down in flash. Hence the name. So I took this as a cue to end my time at the pools. It had been pretty remarkable to get the whole magical area all to myself. It’s not often this is the case.

Back at the car, the rain higher up the mountain decided to pay me a more personal visit. Luckily it was very quiet and I could just stop in the road to put the roof back up, which I had foolishly put down. Then Headed back to the Hana Inn to pick up Kate. We headed down to Hana Beach to grab brekkie at the Barefoot Cafe only to find out it had closed down! Damn you, covid!

Beach Hopping

This left us in a little pickle as there really wasn’t anywhere else to grab breakfast and we would be leaving Hana, and anywhere to get food, well before lunch! Luckily the Inn was offering free fruit from its own trees and we grabbed a few items to tide us over.

We then headed off down the coast to check out the Beaches surrounding Hana. The first stop was Koki Beach. Here the Huli Huli Chicken huts were just firing up, and god did they smell good. When all you have had for breakfast was a Banana and an Orange, the smell of smokey coal-fired Chicken smells mighty fine. Unfortunately, this cook was for the lunch trade and it would be several hours away from being ready!

Koki Beach Huli Huli Chicken

Instead, we just headed for a stroll on the beach. Koki beach is wild and rugged and there are horrific currents just offshore that can quickly whip you out to sea. There are several signs erected by locales fed up with dealing with the aftermath of tourists taking on more than they can chew. As such we leave this one well alone and especially today when the surf really was pounding. It is still a beautiful spot to stop and take a barefoot stroll in the sand.

Just around the corner is Hamoa Beach, which is more suited to those wanting to swim or play around in the water. But we had a long drive and were again happy just taking a stroll. And looking at the Spiders…there were a lot of spiders in the trees surrounding the beach!

It was a stunningly clear day and the morning rains had largely shifted away. This meant we got stunning views over the channel of the top of the Big Island Volcanoes! All four of the Ilands peaks were poking out river the horizon. It’s not often so clear you can see the islands this clearly from Maui

Waterfalls

We pushed on from here with a quick stop at the pretty St Peters Church, and then on the rugged and wild road past Hana. The road really takes a turn for the worse past Hana and is a single lane, barely wide enough for two cars to pass so turns must be taken with the assumption there is someone coming the other way.

We had hit the road early and it was incredibly quiet, barely another person in sight. We stopped a couple of times for some shots of the rugged, wild and beautiful landscape.

We stopped at Wailua falls and were ecstatic that we were the only people there. Staying in Hana and getting an early start had really paid off…Almost. Wailua is one of the prettiest falls along the highway and in the morning light was throwing up a stunning rainbow in the spray.

I opened the boot of the car and needed to rummage around to get the tripod out and in the 30 seconds I was not paying attention, 500 cars and 2 million people descended on the falls! Obviously an exaggeration but it was horrifying how it went from us being the only people to being completely rammed in just a few seconds! Tour vans pulled up and chains of people started pouring out. Where the hell had they all come from, it was like they were waiting for us!

We hiked down to the pool below the falls to get away from the crowd and grab some photos before heading off to try and lose the crowds.

Pipiwai Trail

The last real stop of this Hana trip was the Pipiwai Trial. It is a bit hauling to pay the $30 entrance fee just for this location. Sure it covers the Whole national park too, and for three days you can head up to the summit of Haleakala too. But we hadn’t planned for that trip so we were paying the full $30 for one hike.

It has been several years since we hiked the Pipiwai and were eager to get back up there. It’s a really beautiful hike through some of the most remarkable scenery imaginable. We were power hiking up the trail and heading past a lot of other day hikers. We were getting some funny looks as the power hiking was not really conducive to the spectacular scenery. Our plan was to hike fast and hard to the top and then relax on the way down and take lots of pics.

As we got into the Bamboo Forest, we came across a little family of Feral Pigs. There was a lady there who claimed they were Cross-bred between wild Boars and Domestic Pigs due to the spots? They were not Wild Boar size, but certainly no longer just pigs. As there were little ones we needed to keep a good distance as mothers can be protective and are Strong, essentially huge bags of pure muscle! Never mess with Momma Pig! It is nice to see even if they may be a threat to the native Flora and fauna, however, if they are eating the Bamboo that can only be good!

Further up we eventually got to Waimoku Falls. These are now closed off to Tourists, however, it seems not many people are willing to take heed of the signs. We arrived at the closure sign with a gentleman leaning on it. We thought at least he is obeying the rules as everyone else files past. However, we soon realized he was flying a drone! This is a big no-no, and in national parks can incur a $5,000 fine and up to 6 months in prison. I am an amateur drone pilot and would love to take to the skies here but it’s just not cricket.

He didn’t look pleased when I asked him if he didn’t know it was illegal, or if he just didn’t care.

As we stood by the sign setting up the Camera, as you get a lovely view of the Falls from the closure point without violating the law, group after group of people filed past us, crossing the river and heading to the base of the falls. The closure was brought in after a flash flood killed a man at the base of the falls and repeated injuries from rockfalls. But some people just do not care and need their Instagram Selfies. We could tell from the awkward and clumsy way they fumbled across the river these were the people LEAST likely to react well if a flash flood did occur!

We were pretty irked by that flagrant rule-breaking and kind of hoped a ranger would show up and start issuing fines. But there were no actions at this time. So we headed back and along the way, there was a ranger team heading up so hopefully, they started issuing fines!

on the way back we took our time a little more and grabbed some photos of the Makahiku Falls and various beauty spots along the way. This really is one of the most beautiful hikes on the planet!

Back at the Visitors Center, we took another quick hike around the Oheo Gulch, which seems to be permanently closed still. The views from the trail are pretty poor as the bushes are not properly trimmed and you really cannot see the Seven Sacred Falls at all. We think this location needs some work. If they are going to keep the pools closed, then maybe some proper overlooks are needed so we can all enjoy the falls in all their glory. We have braved the infamous Hana Highway, so at least we could get a little payoff!

The Back Side Of Hana

From here on we did a naughty thing. We took a left out of the park and headed along the Back Side of Hana. This is not a recommended excursion and we mainly did it to show you all how BAD the road is and how you really should avoid it! We had assured ourselves our insurance DID cover us, as 99.9% of the time it does not cover any Rentals. If your rental agreement says you cannot come here, which they mostly do then your insurance is INVALID!

This leaves you in a real pickle if you have a problem as you are uninsured and recovery will cost you $1000’s and will take hours, at a minimum. We did it this one time to document the journey and really drill home to everyone what a stupid risk you are taking!

It is also not really that great. As far as the road to Hana Goes, it’s easily the worst portion of the road as far as scenery goes. There is a good reason this part of the island has not been developed! There are no waterfalls, no jungle, no…anything really.

The road itself can be pretty cool, with long straight sections vanishing to the horizon, and nice vistas out over the ocean. However, if you really want to drive this section then you can do it from the other direction and spin around before the road gets bad.

It’s not that much quicker either. From Hana, it is actually 10 miles further back to Kahului this way, and even from Oheo Gulch it is still only a few miles shorter, and with the really rough section reducing you to a crawl, it’s just not a lot quicker.

That said it actually normally works out MUCH quicker as we just can’t bring ourselves to just drive the road to Hana, instead we always end up stopping multiple times as there is just SO much to see. On the Back Side, there is little reason to stop so it’s all just driving. This means it takes around 3 hours where as it’s 5-6 with stops along the main Hana Highway. But honestly, that works in the Main highway’s favor, if you could actually do the highway without stopping, it’s pretty close in terms of elapsed time!

The one thing that this stretch of highway does have for it is the weather. This stretch of road is in the rain shadow of Haleakala, hence why it is so dry and barren, nothing much grows here apart from brush grass due to the near-permanent blue skies! It was a truly stunning day with clear views right up to the summit of the volcano.

The Tarmac ends at Mile Marker 39 and from here on its rough dirt trail. But these are not the nice graded dirt tracks you find on the mainland. It’s narrow, barely wide enough for two passing cars, and not even nearly wide enough in many places. There are large potholes, loose rocks, and worst of all partially buried rocks that just beg to slice open a tire!

It really is pretty bad and seems to have deteriorated quite badly since our last time here. There were several moments where we just winced and thought long and hard about our poor decision-making. We really were relieved when we arrived in Kaupo some 4 miles later still intact. It’s only 4 miles but, trust us, it is a LONG 4 miles at 5mph average!

The remaining sections of the road are much nicer and as you start to get back to the real world the surface is actually really nice. The decision to leave the middle section unpaved is clearly an intentional one to keep this highway and part of the island quiet. After a long drive, we arrived at ut only real stop on this part of the trip.

Maui Wine

A visit to a winery is always a highlight of any trip. With today being pretty incredible in terms of locale and scenery Maui Wine had a lot to do to be today’s highlight, but it pretty much managed it. After a few days in the real wilds, some of the most remote places in the world, this really felt like rejoining the human race once more!

We brought a change of clothes and some wet wipes to freshen up which felt great as we were still pretty sticky from the hike. And we headed in. We had a 4 pm reservation, but we had been pretty unsure how long we would be on the drive and had arrived a couple of hours early. This is no real problem as they operate a waitlist for walk-ins and we just relaxed in the stunning grounds as we waited for a Table. We got a bit of a jump on the queue as we had at least tried to reserve a table.

When we did get a table we got a lovely seat on the terrace overlooking the grounds and the ocean scenery down below. It all just felt so refined and civilized after the days spent trekking through the remote jungle. There are two wine-tasting options. Maui Wines Pineapple Wine selections and a Rose Ranch tasting as well. We opted for both and shared the 6 small 2oz glasses between us.

We already had a bit of a taste for the Pineapple Blanc, and nice dry white that has an intense pineapple nose, but does not really taste pineappley and is more just a nice white. The Maui Splash was really sweet and not really that great. It was nice to taste but you would struggle to drink a full bottle, even between two. The Hula-O-Maui was much better, a semi-dry white sparkling wine that was very drinkable.

The Rose Ranch tasting offered some more traditional wines, made from grapes, not pineapple, and started with a lovely Sparkling Rose. The Kula was again really nice and refreshing. The Mele was the only red on the list and while nice just didn’t quite fit the mood and ambiance of the ranch, we just don’t really drink reds in Maui or anywhere where it’s too warm.

The food menu is pretty limited, just bar nibbles, which would be perfect for most but we were properly ravenous at this point having missed breakfast and now well past lunch. The Artisan Board board was really good and the Truffle Chips were amazing but we just wanted a lot more food.

Maui Wine Winery

After the tasting, we really were not ready to leave this stunning location so Kate ordered another glass of the Maui Blanc, unfortunately, I had more driving to do, and we just chilled in the Sun in a seriously stunning location.

Wailea Ekahi Village

Eventually, we had to drag ourselves away from the Winery, we headed down the hill and then took a left towards Wailea where we would be spending the second week in Maui. We were pretty bare in terms of food and drink so stopped off at Safeway in Kehei before heading to our new Condo. This was possibly a mistake as they say never shop when hungry and boy were we hungry!

Loaded up with groceries and still stinging from another heartstopping grocery bill we headed to the Condo. Situated in the Ekahi Village. This is one of the more cost-effective locations in Wailea (we can’t bring ourselves to say cheap!). It is situated on the ocean side of Wailea Aulani drive and right on Keawakapu Beach on of South Maui’s finest beaches. The resort is quite long, and our condo was near the top (and as such quite a bargain) but it was still only a short walk to the beach.

We had high hopes for our unit as the photo’s on the net really looked perfect. But we all know how these can be deceiving. And it REALLY was the case here, the unit looked large, modern, and well-appointed with a great view…in reality…it was HUGE! It looked like it had been renovated last week and had everything we could possibly want, including dual AC. And the view from the huge Lanai was stunning. We really could not have been happier!

It had been a really tough couple of days and we were at the condo just before the sun went down so we took the evening as total downtime! We cooked a HUGE family pizza and gorged on that after a day of nearly no food, and just enjoyed some Lanai drinks and took advantage of our wonderful new living space!

We would be back on it tomorrow of course.

Live Blog – Trip Report

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Day 10 – Lahaina Divers – Waikiki Brewing Company Happy Hour – Sunset >>>

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