Snorkeling & ‘Iao State Park — Jun 5

La Perouse Bay -- Snorkeling Heaven

La Perouse Bay — Snorkeling Heaven

OK – you may not believe it, but here I sit, at Sansei Sushi again. I promise you, I am not planning on getting accustomed to listening to drunk people singing while I chow down on raw tuna, but through a situation of happenstance, here I am, for the second night in a row.

I woke up bright and early today, as I was completely determined to get some quality snorkeling in. It was my last day here and I just wasn’t going to leave, without having a killer snorkeling experience. Snorkeling in Maui is best done early in the morning before the winds pick up. Also, with Hurricane Andre in the ocean, it had been creating a lot of wind and strong currents and was simply not conducive to snorkeling or swimming. Although I am sure the surfers were totally digging it.

La Perouse Bay is remote and some sources say it may have the best snorkeling on the entire island. Getting there requires driving through lava beds along a modest road and through some very interesting scenery. The coastline here is no longer sandy, but rough and rugged. Getting to the areas I thought would have the best fish involved crossing over a couple pieces of property warning you that it’s private and no trespassing. I swam across the bay and put on my gear and cautiously lowered myself into the water. And boy was I in for a treat. I slowly navigated four coves of water and lava rock, as they got progressively more awesome, the further I got from shore. I don’t know fish the way I know plants, but what I do know, is that I saw dozens and dozens of varieties of different fish, all with magnificent colors and/or designs. I saw an 8-10 foot eel swim just several feet below me. By their nature, they look scary, and I got the iby jibbies. But honestly, every second was providing me with new stimulation. Some fish traveled alone, others in schools, some moved a lot, and some preferred just hanging out. Again, the sheer variety is what was so great about this. I have found this in Hawaii, compared with other places in the world I have snorkeled, where the color may be there, but not the variety of fish. Also, something I love about snorkeling in Hawaii is that it’s not necessary to get on a boat to do so. The lava rocks that are part of the island itself and their underground extensions create a vast world that is ripe for exploration. It is as simple as throwing on some fins and a mask and jumping in. So simple, yet so, so, so amazing.

I probably swam in the bay for about two hours and started to head north, hitting one other snorkeling spot on route to whatever was next. Great variety as well, but more crowded, and having careless and loud people bump into me was irritating, so I continued further north to turtle town. I would have just loved to jump in and see loads of turtles, but by 11am, the winds had picked up and the waters were not hospitable to snorkelers. I felt remiss about knowing I would miss out on the full turtle experience this trip, but told myself it was OK and consoled myself on Secret Cove, a most stunning beach very close by. It was a small beach, surrounded by rock walls and greenery and it had a lava rock formation in the middle that forced the water up the two channels on the side. This made for the most mesmerizing experience of crashing waves. I don’t think I could ever get bored with it. The sound, the sight, the vibrancy of the place, and moment will live inside of me.

'Iao State Park

Soaking up the Rays in Makena

As much as I love the beach, there were a few more things I wanted to see on this trip and I pulled myself away and headed back toward central Maui. The visit to the Sugar Museum was pretty interesting. Although I am not a big consumer of sugar myself, I so much love learning about the role that plants, more specifically food, has played in people’s lives. It is something many of us take for granted. This same region of land has been primarily growing sugar for over a century now and the advances in machinery and methods were fascinating. The fibrous stalks that are left over from the sugar production are burned and the energy is used to power the sugar plant and the excess energy is sold back to the utility company.

Next, I was off to the I’ao needle, up I’ao valley. It was cooler there, and I realized locals like to go up there to cool off when it’s over 90 degrees in Kehei. Another place with a lot of history. Mainly related to the battles and politics of uniting the islands under Kamehameha the Great, in 1790. The needle itself is very striking but it only takes a few minutes to walk to it. A classic photo-op place. I walked down to the river and took the path leading up river. I kept going beyond the path until I found a suitable swimming hole. The water was refreshingly cool and the big round boulders made for a perfect place to lay down and simply take it all in. The sound of the water rushing over the river rock was something of a lullaby and I think I may have even dozed off.

'Iao State Park

My Private Swimming Hole at ‘Iao Valley State Park

On my way out, I met a couple who are locals and we chatted for a bit. She was born and raised on Maui. He was born in Oregon, but has lived many places, Maui for the last few years. They were having a little shindig at their home and invited me. I accepted but needed some personal time beforehand. I went back to Wailuku and had my last supper at the Main Street Bistro. Creative menu and well prepared food and it was rather odd that the service and ambiance was not on par with the food. The local Mahi hit the spot though and the black truffle risotto was fabulous as well.

I took a quick shower and did a stroll through Wailuku, which was all about its First Friday Art Walk. Old cars lined the streets, and vendors were abundant with fresh food, prepared food products, and crafts. Spirits were high and I noted what a great town this is. It’s not on the map, so to speak. It looks a bit run down, but it seems like it was quite grand in its day with the number of historical buildings that it has.

I headed over to Kihei to my new friends’ gathering and had a good time. There were other people there and it truly is a small world because one of them grew up outside Eugene and is moving back to Portland in a couple months. Good times were had by all and by about 10:30pm, I was starting to fade, although I was hungry in a modest way. Well as happenstance would have it, they lived two houses away from Sansei Sushi and most other places are closed by 10pm. And so, I find myself here again, eating fresh caught tuna and listening to karaoke (by the same exact man that I heard singing last night). It really is too funny. . . .

Pao Needle -- A Reprieve on a Scorching Day

‘Iao Needle — A Reprieve on a Scorching Day

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