The ocean is to Maui as the sky is to a cloud—it surrounds us, supports us, defines us. We play in it, paddle on it, draw food from it and explore its depths. Because of this all-consuming relationship, it’s easy to forget that the land, the ‘aina, has a lot to offer as well. Sustenance and beauty, sure, but also a wide array of activities to fill the long, lazy summer months. In the following pages we present some options; it’s not meant to be an exhaustive list by any means, just a sampling to whet your appetite for land-lubbing fun (augmented, as usual, by extensive listings for camps, classes and other keiki-on-vacation diversions). Don’t worry—when you’re finished, the ocean will always be waiting.
Skyline Eco Adventures
Soaring above the trees…and learning about them, too
by Sabrina Dreyer
Man’s yen to fly has led him to do some extreme things, from the incredible (the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk) to the incredibly stupid (Icarus and his wax wings). Ziplining—a craze that has taken off on Maui and elsewhere in the last several years—is a bit less intense, but no less intriguing.
We first covered this popular activity in the Summer Guide a couple years ago. But this year, we decided to seek out another company, one that offers not just aerial thrills but also an environmentally conscious experience. In its mission statement, Skyline Eco Adventures promises to “provide a safe and exciting means for seeing and experiencing the natural wonder of the Hawaiian Islands while always aiding in the preservation and perpetuation of the island’s unique land and culture.” To that end, Skyline donates a percentage of its revenue to various environmental nonprofits and, since 2007, has been a carbon neutral company.
That’s all well and good, but, thrill-seekers want to know, what’s the experience like? It starts with a greeting from some expressive—and impressively perky, given how early our tour started—guides. A brisk half-mile hike through lush Haleakala vegetation gets the blood pumping, and then its time to zipline.
First, you’re strapped into a harness that Skyline says “boasts more mechanical redundancy than any other zipline harness in use today” and is “statistically…over four times safer than all ‘paragliding style’ zipline harnesses on the market.” In short, you’re not going to fall. For those whose vertigo still has them weak in the knees, the first two lines are manini, hardly enough to raise your pulse.
The third and fourth lines are a little faster, enough to feel the fresh wind blowing in your face. There were about a dozen people in our group so there was a fair amount of waiting, but the guides made it worth it with their informative, entertaining banter. The trail to the fourth line includes a swinging bridge—adding to the element of excitement—and the drop is exhilarating.
But nothing like the final line. That’s the Big Kahuna, large enough to give the more timid members of our tour pause. But, once again, the guides quickly put everyone at ease and soon enough we were taking turns sailing above the expansive greenery and towering eucalyptus trees (lovely, but a harmful invasive species, by the way). The last line features a platform big enough to get a running start; this is the jump where you really get the sensation of flying. My only complaint? I wish it could have lasted longer.
Since its founding in 2002—by Maui father-and-son team Buck and Danny Boren—Skyline Eco Adventures has expanded its reach across the island and to the Mainland, with a location in the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. It’s a testament both to the company’s laudable enviro ethic and our never-ending yearning to soar, unencumbered, through the air.
Skyline Eco Adventures offers tours in Haleakala and Ka’anapali. For info and reservations, call 878-8400 or visit www.zipline.com
Bike Around Maui
Whatever you do this summer, do it on two wheels
by Ynez Tongson
According to Philippe Delerm, “You’re either born a bicyclist or a cyclist. The distinction is almost political.” Cyclists can be found clothed in tight-fitting synthetics, streamlined all the way to their helmets, wheels as thin as paper. But they’re most obviously identified by their tendency to go, go, go. Frantic, they drink their organic, pro-biotic, protein-enriched shakes, every molecule wanting the wind flying past their reflective goggles. They talk about climbing up Omaopio Road, just to get a latte at Grandma’s.
Bicyclists, meanwhile, stand in line waiting for their coffee, bicycles laden with books or maybe groceries, casually leaning against a pole, patiently waiting to begin the journey to the next destination. Bicyclists happily munch on fried rice and cream puffs, not carbo-loading for their next race but for the sheer joy of eating.
With that said, I’m definitely a bicyclist. Sure, I feel the need for speed, but after that, I’m going to need to catch my breath. Not content with my bicycler status, I sought to up the ante, plotting a course from Waihee Elementary to Camp Maluhia. On the way, I saw beautiful coastlines and verdant hills—and my heart rate shot up. In fact, I’m surprised it didn’t burst out of my chest after the umpteenth incline.
Planning a trip is easy if you grab a copy the Maui County Bicycle Map, sold in most bicycle shops. It covers roads on the islands of Maui, Lanai and Molokai and indicates which are most suitable and least suitable for bicycling. The map also lets you know the average climate of different regions as well as the direction and strength of trade winds. That way, if you’re a cycler deciding to go from Kahului to Lahaina via the pali, you’re gonna know that’s 23 miles on very bike-friendly roads, in a hot, dry area. Translation: Bring lots of water and slather on the sunscreen (though that’s good advice whever you go: this is Maui in the summer we’re talking about). Or maybe you’re a Wailuku bicycler looking to pick up some grinds from the Paia Fish Market. That’s 10 miles on fairly friendly roads traveling against the wind, in a high-wind area. Translation: hard work.
Before Donnie of Go Cycling Maui in Paia corrected me, I thought there were two types of bikes: road and off-road. But these days, more and more people are using hybrid bikes, or bikes that are designed for both road and off-road use, a definite plus since Maui is a melting pot of terrain as well as people. Bob of Island Biker in Kahului offers bike-fitting, making sure a rider and bike are well-matched and thus ensuring an enjoyable ride. Talk about speed dating.
But wherever I went, the experts stressed safety, meaning obeying traffic laws, as well as taking precautions like wearing a helmet.
I could go on forever about the merits of bicycling. It’s gaining popularity and you can buy, rent or repair your wheels at several locations islandwide (see sidebar). Not only is it eco-friendly and a solid work-out, you can enjoy Maui’s beautiful scenery and get a tan without getting sand in your nether regions. So whichever of Delerm’s categories you fit into, this summer, put your feet to the pedals and go.
Some options for buying, renting, repairing and advice…
Maui Cyclery/Go Cycling Maui
99 Hana Hwy., Paia
The Island Biker
415 Dairy Rd. Ste. C, Kahului
South Maui Bicycles
1993 S Kihei Rd. Ste. 5, Kihei
West Maui Cycles
1087 Limahana Pl. Ste. 6, Lahaina
A rustic getaway and a gateway to Hana’s many wonders
by Jen Russo
Heading out to Hana should be on your annual staycation list. And if you’re planning to drive in and out on the same day, you need a change of plan. There is no way to enjoy everything Hana has to offer from the seat of your car.
There are home and bed-and-breakfast rentals or you can even stay at Hotel Hana Maui, but camping offers a uniquely rich experience. In the Kipahulu Park area you can obtain permits from the ranger on the same day; this is a National Park, in the federal system. This park sits right next to Oheo gulch with lots of waterfalls, fresh water pools and trail hikes.
Wainapanapa State Park is another great camping area where you can get permits for tent camping, but can also rent cabins. Permits can be obtained at the State Department of Land and Natural Resouces office at the state building in Wailuku. Tent camping is an experience that everyone should have, but expect to get wet and rained on. A good alternative is getting a cabin; it’s still rustic enough to be considered roughing it, but a way to stay dry and cozy. Word to the wise: the cabins are popular, meaning you should give yourself at least a two-month window if you’re flexible with the time and up to a year if you’re looking for a very specific date. Holiday weekends are always busier. Your permit will cost you per person and you can have up to six people in a cabin (no pets). The prices recently increased as of March 2010, so if you’ve rented them before expect to pay a bit more, though it’s still considerably less than other accomodations (starting at $60 a night for residents, $90 for non-residents).
The Wainapanapa cabins are modest but fully functional and outfitted with some amenities. All cabins feature a lanai with a picnic table, a kitchen with sink, fridge and two-burner hot plate. The bathrooms have a hot-water shower, plus sink and flush toilet. The cabins are outfitted with pots, plates, mugs and cutlery, but don’t expect to find everything you need; if you’re planning to cook a very specific meal, you may need to bring some of your own items. They do have old fire pits outside for grilling, which are usable but tricky. Better to bring your own grill if possible.
The cabins were renovated in the last year but not much has changed. During my recent stay I noticed repaired vinyl tiles, new plastic-covered mattresses (sheets are not provided so bring your own) and the four-burner cooktops were replace by the hot plates. The hot plates don’t put out as much heat as the cooktops do; it took a while to cook pancakes on high heat, so we vowed to bring waffle irons next year. Cabins one through seven have ocean-front views; the coast line is rocky and comprised of sharp lava, good for fishing. The area around the cabins is hilly. Cabins seven through 12 are perched up on the hill behind the first seven cabins, where you’ll find more grass, good for lawn games like bocci ball.
The views from all the cabins are absolutely gorgeous. The access to the nearby caves formed by lava tubes is walking distance (see following story for details) and you can swim in freshwater pools or go down to the beach. The park is very kid friendly, as are the cabins. Meanwhile, botanical gardens and waterfalls, the harbor, Hana Bay and Hana town are all about ten minutes away. So what are you waiting for?
For permits and info, go to the DLNR office at 200 S. High St., Wailuku, call 984-8109 or visit www.hawaii.gov/dlnr
Wainapanapa Caves Hike
A short trek that’s long on intrigue
by Jacob Shafer
Few things bring out your inner 12-year-old like the phrase “underwater caves.” So it was with giddiness and a dash of adolescent abandon that I embarked on the Wainapanapa cave trail loop. Of course, I’m not 12 anymore and I’ve got two kids to prove it. Fortunately, though the hike promises exciting sights, it’s short—a mile if that—and despite a few slippery stretches is easily navigable even while giving a shoulder ride to a squirming toddler.
A paved path hugs the water’s edge and passes a blow hole and black-sand beach. It ends at an informational sign that outlines the legend of the caves: “Once upon a time a princess named Popoalaea fled from her cruel husband, the chief Kakae. She hid on a ledge just inside the underwater entrance to this cave. A faithful serving maid sat across from her fanning the princess with a feather, kahili, symbol of royalty. Noticing the reflection of the kahili in the water, the chief Kakae discovered Popoalaea’s hiding place and killed her. At certain times of the year tiny red shrimp appear in the pool, turning the water red. Some say it is a reminder of the blood of the slain princess.”
The trail descends through a dense thicket before curving past the first set of caves, fronted by shallow, stagnant water filled with bugs and sticks and not suitable for anything more than a quick wade-in. It’s a fine place to stop and cool your feet, but the real prize comes a bit further along, when you reach the cave where the unlucky princess met her fate. Here the water—which can be entered either by a short jump or by picking your way down some slippery rocks—is deeper and crystal clear, cool enough to be refreshing but not cold enough to prevent you from swimming around.
That’s a good thing, because there are three caves to explore. Two of them are pitch black and one, a lava tube, winds deep into the rock. This is where a waterproof flashlight or head-lamp would have been handy. Without one, I wasn’t able to swim more than a few feet in (OK, I was also a little bit chicken). The third cave, meanwhile, is shallow and wide and, though the light is dim, you can clearly see the multi-colored, jagged rocks above and Popoalaea’s ledge (for full effect, picture a feather’s reflection).
After that it’s a short walk back to where you started, a second chance to read about the legend if you’re one of those people who tend to skip informational signs. The whole thing can be done in less than an hour, depending on how long you hang out at the caves. While some of East Maui’s most rewarding sights involve arduous, even treacherous treks, this is a hike for everyone—my inner 12-year-old decidedly included.
For more info, visit www.hawaiistateparks.org
For camps, classes and other listings, see Calendar