Our first full day in Maui was a big one. We started by waking up at 3 am to see the sunrise at Haleakala Crater, an incredible experience: driving there was a race against the sun and once at the top it was like watching a new day dawning on a different planet. Driving back down to civilization afterwards, we realized we were above the clouds.
Once we checked out of our hotel, we got started on the Road to Hana, a winding drive along a narrow road with hairpin turns and one lane bridges along the northern coast of Maui. With a couple of stops to hike through lush tropical forests and splash at the feet of jaw-dropping waterfalls, it took us a few hours and was thoroughly enjoyable (more so for me than J, probably, since he was the one tasked with making sure we didn't crash into oncoming traffic or veer off the road).
Once at the end, we continued for a bit to the Kipahulu section of Haleakala National Park to hike the Pipiwai Trail. In the late afternoon light, the forest seemed every bit an enchanted fairyland.
While the whole thing was special and gorgeous, our first point of interest was an ancient and ginormous banyan tree. Look how crazy it looks with the light filtering through its branches!
It was so still and quiet in the forest, and I could have marveled at that tree for hours, but we had other sights to see, so - onward and upward!
I look like such a nerd in these photos, but I have to give you some sense of scale.
After crossing a couple of bridges overlooking some beautiful waterfalls, we made it to the bamboo forest. That really was like being in some enchanted world - the bamboo grows so tall and thick, it blocks much of the light and is the only thing you can see for what feels like ages. It is immense and majestic and unlike anything else I've experienced.
Once out of the bamboo forest, the fairy-tale forest resumes.
Witnessing the falls in person and hearing their roar - there aren't any words. It was incredible.
But it wasn't our last stop.
When I was in third grade, I went on a family vacation to Maui. Since I was missing school, one of my assignments was to write a short story. After visiting the so-called "Seven Sacred Pools," I chose that as my subject. My teacher liked the story, but no one pointed out to me that there wasn't anything sacred about these pools (or that there's more than seven!) - it was a marketing ploy to convince tourists to travel to such a remote location.
Despite my brilliant short story, I didn't remember much about that first trip except that the pools were very cold. I'm so happy we made a return visit!
The trail leads to an overlook of the Waimoku Falls - an immense, incredible, 400 foot waterfall.
The junction between the crashing ocean and still pools was stunning. But upon arriving at the pools, I was a little dismayed to see how crowded they were.
However, if you walked past the crowds - back to where that lower waterfall is in the last picture above - there was an empty pool, totally unoccupied, and fed by a beautiful waterfall. We had it all to ourselves, and after running a good bit of the Pipiwai Trail, the cool fresh water was such a relief.
It just doesn't get any better than that.