Traversing the Head of Maui

The island of Maui has two distinct land masses…the main body and the head”. Over this past year of living on this beautiful island people told me not to try driving around the head of the island as the roads are narrow, rough and dangerous. However recently friends have assured me that the roads had been worked on and though still narrow are no longer the danger they once were. So, I decided on a Sunday road trip.

It is probably about 40 miles from Kahului to Lahaina but for me road trips are not necessarily about staying on the road, so it took me about five hours. My Hawaiian name, Ki’iheleonamokuhonua, means traveler of the island world but doesn’t say I have to stay on a chosen path and I seldom do. Just past Waiehu, the scenery immediately starts to change from industrial to bucolic, businesses give way to homes tucked away in valleys or perched high on the hillsides…a pastoral life, indeed.
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There is a crossover where one still sees the vestiges of city life. And, along the way businesses flourish…fruit stands, little country cottages selling local crafts, sculpture gardens and stands selling delicious banana bread. This adventure was like a mini-Hana trip.
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Farther up the road, which by this time has narrowed considerably, I had to pull over many times to let oncoming traffic go by. When they graded and paved the road they carved out frequent places where a car can pull off to the side. This makes the traverse so much easier than before. The vegetation becomes more lush and an occasional waterfall can be seen.
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About half way around is the community of Kahakuloa which captures the spirit of ancient Hawai’i. There are taro patches and small farms, houses dotting the valley floor. Since this is Sunday there are groups of children playing. It seems a long distance from either Kahului on the east and Kapalua on the west so I wonder if the community has a school of its own or whether the children have a long bus ride each day.
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Several miles past Kahakuloa there were about 20 cars parked on the side of the road and though there were no signs I surmised this was the “trail” to the blow-hole. I use the term trail loosely as there was no trail. The somewhat steep side of the mountain down to the sea cliff was a series of large rocks, boulders and smaller stones that I picked my way through. Going down was a lot easier than going up as you could see where to go. The hike up was more or less blind. Many times I chose a path that ended and had to go back down and around another way. I was thankful when I saw a couple ahead of me and I could follow their lead.
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Unfortunately, the waters were calm so the blow-hole wasn’t blowing, however, the trip down was worth every minute when I came across a rock formation that nature saved as a reward for the tired travelers.
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To give some dimension, here I am next to this amazing look at the ocean.
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Around the top of the head, the scenery changes once again to a slightly drier west side of the island. Someone, I guess, decided there was a need for decoration and this greenery added to the view.
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Driving toward Kapalua where the Ritz-Carlton built its sumptuous hotel there are bays which offer a shelter for low-drafted boats and for snorkelers. Next time I will be sure and bring snorkel equipment as the bays were calm, shallow, with an abundant of reefs.
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Back to civilization. Due to the wonderfully warm weather on the west side of the island the chosen landscape is that of large, luxurious hotels. I continued my journey with only one stop to the Cannery Mall to see the mid afternoon hula show. Then, home again, home again, jiggity-jog.

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