Further north from Dragon’s Teeth you round the northern tip of the island. Here the coastline is very rocky and dramatic. While there are visitors, it seems that a lot less people come this far around the coast. However, there is something to bring up the visitors and that is a blowhole. You can stand higher up on the cliffs and watch the blowhole do its thing or you can walk further down.
A few people did get closer in but I decided to stay further out. With the violence of the waves crashing up on the shore and the occasional eruption from the blowhole plus the wind buffeting you, the senses were getting plenty to work with. Getting dragged in by the water was not necessary for me to enhance the experience!
Head north from Lahaina on Maui and you come to a headland that is an interesting formation. The way the rock was formed and has since eroded has created some curved shapes that seem to bend over backwards. The area is known as Dragon’s Teeth and the formations certainly do resemble some evil gnashers! The area was supposed to have been redeveloped but discovery of some historic remains resulted in the hotel being moved further back up the hill. A lucky break for those of us that get to visit, even if we do have to walk through a golf course to get there.
The banyan tree is a pretty amazing form of life. The way the branches drop to the ground and form new roots (at least that is what it looks like they do) is pretty amazing. The town of Lahaina has a banyan tree that is amazing, even by banyan tree standards. It seems to have taken over a whole square in the town. We were there while an art fair was on display under its branches. Everyone could be well spread out and still under the tree.
I took a few pictures of it but also took a panorama shot with an app on my phone which I discussed previously here. The resulting pano is below.
While the northeast side of Maui is well traveled by visitors and is quite lush, the opposite side of the island is the polar opposite. Since the prevailing wind brings the moist air from the northeast and the rising land results in that moisture being dumped on the land, once the air continues on across the island it is denuded of water and drops to lower altitudes. Consequently, there is very little rainfall on this side of the island. The landscape is more like a desert and, while very different, is quite striking.
The other aspect of this side of the island is that it is lightly populated and little traversed. There is a discontinuity in the road around the island so it is not a finished road for a few miles. The condition of the road is often made to sound far worse than it is so many tourists get to Hana and then turn back. We were intent on continuing on the full way having heard the road was not a problem and, more importantly, being aware of how twisting the road back from Hana was and that more and more cars would be coming the other way as the day wore on.
The trip around was not terribly difficult and the condition of the road soon improved to be something very good and quite fast. As we rose above the water, the views continued to be stunning. This is a great part of the island and one that more people should experience.
One of the lesser known parts of Maui is the grave of Charles Lindbergh. I find his aviation feats to be impressive but there are other aspects to his personality that are often glossed over which are less sympathetic. However, we shall leave that to others to debate in other places. He spent the later years of his life on Maui and, when he became sick with cancer and could not be treated any further, he made sure to get back to Maui for his remaining days.
He is buried in a small churchyard on the south side of the island at the top of a cliff. It is a very picturesque location and quite different to what you might expect for someone who was so famous in his day. It is a very relaxing spot to stop off at if you are passing by. The story behind some of the others buried nearby is equally interesting…
If you continue past Hana south you will come to a national park area. Here there are some trails that can take you into the wilds but the main attraction for most people – let’s face it, not too many people want to walk very far from a parking lot – was the Seven Sacred Pools. This was were one of the rivers ran down to the sea via a series of waterfalls and pools at the head of each.
The waves were crashing up on the shore at the bottom of the pools and the water was flowing well so the falls were all looking pretty impressive. Apparently, there can be quite a deluge through here at times but we were certainly not lacking for water. I suspect many people get as far as Hana and then turn around and head back the way they came. This area was very attractive and certainly worth coming further around. You could still go back but carrying on was another option…
As we drove along the south side of Maui, we passed through a small settlement. At the side of the road was an old London cab. This was of the vintage of Austin built cabs where there was an open space beside the driver where trunks could be stored. These are a rarity anywhere but to find one so far from London was a surprise. I guess you can always get a London cab if you need one!
One of the more famous things to do on Maui is drive the road to Hana. We were advised that an early start was a good idea before the road got filled with tourists and you stopped seeing the sights and instead watched the rear of the car in front of you. I don’t know how busy it got later since we followed the advice but we certainly had a quiet road to drive.
The terrain is undulating so the road twists and turns as it makes its way around the coast. You never go very fast and the odd straight sections feel very unusual when you come upon one. There are plenty of spots along the route to take note of and lots of waterfalls to see. Some are more impressive than others and our guidebook was very effective at making sure we saw the best of the bunch but didn’t lose too much time at those that were less worthwhile.
It was certainly a nice drive and quite pretty. Whether I would agree that it is one of the most beautiful drives in the world is a very different story. Worth doing if you have the time but not unmissable. I am glad to have done it but won’t feel compelled to do it again if we should return. There certainly isn’t too much in Hana to do once you get there! However, it does provide access to some of the nice features of the south side of the island which I actually found more appealing.
Up near the near side of Maui is the little town of Paia. We checked Paia out on our way to get lunch. There isn’t a huge amount to see in the town – a selection of shops and places to eat as you might expect – but its claim to fame is that it is populated by some of the more out there members of society.
Going there is as much about seeing unusual people as it is about seeing the town itself. How long this reputation has been in place and whether it is still valid I couldn’t say. Certainly there were a few people wandering around who looked like they fitted the bill. There were far more people visiting, though, and maybe they were all there looking for the strange folk. By coming in such numbers, maybe we are driving away what we came to see. Despite all of this, we did see a few cool looking places and some signs that the community is not totally conformist!
If you head inland from the airport on Maui, you can travel up a narrow route called the Iao Valley. It is a pretty valley to travel up but the main attraction is at the head of the valley where there is a visitor center. Here is a place that has much historical significance for the people who populated the islands in years gone by. Battles were fought here and the interesting shapes of the hills have significance as well.
The variation in climate was noticeable. Looking up into the hills, you could see a lot fo cloud moving through and the foliage was green and dense. Look the other way and you could see the warmer drier areas appearing in quite a short distance. There was a river running through the valley which was feeding a lot of cultivated garden areas. A lot of people visited although not many seemed to stay too long. If you took your time, it was actually a very nice place to be.