Climb every mountain: Sunrise at Maui’s Mount Haleakala

When it comes to guidebooks for the Hawaiian Islands, I always recommend the blue books—the Revealed series including Maui Revealed, Hawaii the Big Island Revealed, Oahu Revealed and Kauai Revealed. The Maui Revealed book includes sections on the islands of Lanai and Molokai.

Besides spot-on reviews and updates, which always seem to steer us in the right direction, they are fun to read and offer many interesting tidbits to help plan your visit. Whenever a friend says that they are planning a trip, these are the books I recommend. They also make great gifts!

So, during a visit to Maui earlier this year, I read the section on Haleakala National Park with great interest. We had not witnessed sunrise from Haleakala (gasp!) and we really weren’t certain that it would be in our itinerary for this trip. Hiking, beaches, a trip to Lanai and relaxation were calling us instead.

But then, we found ourselves thinking about this legendary pilgrimage and decided to just do it. If you read the summary on sunrise from Haleakala in the Maui Revealed sixth edition guidebook, you’ll see why we had pause to make the long trek. First, we needed to leave at 3 a.m. to make it in time for sunrise. Second, is this description from the guidebook: “The first time we came to watch the sunrise up here, we thought it was the most overrated, overhyped event we’d seen. Pleasant, yes, but hardly worth the effort. Those around us seemed to agree.”

Still, we wanted to experience it for ourselves. And we decided that with realistic expectations we would have a great time and enjoy the journey. If nothing else, this would be a unique experience.

We weren’t prepared for what we were about to experience. In a word: amazing. My husband and I were discussing our favorite experiences from 2013 and we both agreed that Haleakala was at the top of the list.

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A word of warning: It’s freezing up there. Now, we are from the Midwest where it’s a balmy and unusual 36 degrees here today, but tomorrow we are plunging into the deep freeze again with a predicted high of -1 and a low of -15. (Yes, a high of -1. Yet another reason I am obsessed with the islands of Hawaii.) The cold at 10,023 feet in Hawaii is different. It’s damp, bone-chilling cold. Hard to describe, but still so worth it. And since my husband refused to pack mittens and hats for a trip to Maui, we improvised with lots of layers.

The road, despite many twists and turns, is well maintained and fairly easy to navigate, even at 3 in the morning. Another option is to visit Haleakala in late afternoon to watch sunset. Others told us that this is also an incredible experience if the weather and clouds cooperate.

The view of dawn from above the clouds is indescribable. It gives new meaning to it’s always darkest before the dawn. It’s a miracle that the sun rises each day—and in our daily routines we don’t typically have the opportunity to pause and reflect on that.IMG_6697 IMG_6707

When a blanket of clouds formed just before the sunrise, we thought that perhaps we had picked a bad day to visit. They do happen. We met a couple right next to us who had made the trek just a day before and it was so cloudy that they couldn’t see anything through the fog. But on this morning the most glorious sunrise appeared out of the darkness. Dawn above the clouds is an experience one doesn’t forget. I could live off this memory for years.

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The drive back down is just as magical as you marvel and wonder at the world’s largest dormant volcanic crater and the majesty of the sea off in the distance. Take your time and hike to the summit. Enjoy the plants such as the silverwords that only grow here.

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Haleakala means House of the Sun. There isn’t anything else like it on earth.

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Nakalele Blowhole – West Maui

IMG_6487One-half mile past the 38-mile marker on Highway 30 heading north, you’ll find the Nakalele Blowhole. It’s about 1,200 feet from the road and 200 feet down to the ocean.

IMG_6493A more dramatic photo is possible, I am sure, but after seeing this sign I wasn’t a fan of standing too close to this wonder of nature. I admired from afar. This is a reminder of the power of the ocean—a lava shelf with a large hole the size of a grown man with pounding waves underneath. Wait, wait, wait and just when you least expect it…poof!

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Even from afar, it’s impressive. Always changing, it may seem tame at one visit and explosive, powerful at the next. Sometimes, the smallest of waves will produce a giant and furious splash and scream—a wonder to admire, from a distance.

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November 22

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“I really don’t know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it is because in addition to the fact that the sea changes and the light changes, and ships change, it is because we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have, in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch it we are going back from whence we came.”

John F. Kennedy

Kapalua Coastal Trail – West Maui

The Kapalua Coastal Trail is 1.76 miles of coastal bliss. If one could design the perfect trail for a morning, midday or sunset walk, this might just be it.

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A raised boardwalk helps to protect the unique plants and animals found in this region on Maui.

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A clearly marked, yet rustic-feeling path, guides you along the edge of the island through gardens of interesting plants and vegetation, and a striking mix of rock, sand, greens and bright ocean blues.

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White sandy beaches invite you to the shoreline—and on some days they are so sparsely populated that you feel as if you have your own private beach.

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If only every day could start with a two-mile stroll with views of Molokai to the right and Lanai to the left. Good morning, Maui.

Molokai to the right of you

Molokai to the right of you

Lanai to the left

Lanai to the left

Everything is a little bit better in Hawaii

Wishing you a healthy, happy weekend and if you happen to be lucky enough to live on Maui or are visiting this weekend, it’s good to know that care is there when you need it.

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If a medical clinic could be described as charming and inviting, well this clinic would fit that description. With three locations on Maui, Doctors on Call provides expert urgent care for illnesses and injuries, and preventive services for residents and visitors alike. This location was in West Maui near the Kapalua Trail and two fabulous golf courses, the Plantation Course and the Bay Course.

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After walking by this clinic every day for a week and commenting on how it was quite possibly the most charming medical clinic we had ever seen, my husband commented, “Look, the logo is a stethoscope in the form of a martini glass.” My reply: Smile. Happy Aloha Friday.

Honolua Bay on West Maui

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Honolua Bay, Mokuleʻia Bay and Lipoa Point are located just north of Kapalua in West Maui.

Honolua Bay is a popular snorkeling spot, for good reason, and in the winter is known as a great spot for experienced surfers. On Highway 30, there is an overlook with spectacular views of the many shades of deep blue, crystal clear water. Honolua Bay is located just after mile marker #33.

IMG_6508You could easily combine some time here with Slaughterhouse Beach, located just after mile marker #32 and down the stone steps to a private beach area perfect for relaxing in the sun or at Punalau Beach, which is located a little more than half-way in between mile markers 34 and 35 and is also the last sand beach on West Maui.

Surfing Goat Dairy in Maui’s Upcountry

IMG_0924When we discovered that there was a dairy on the island of Maui, I could hardly believe our good fortune. After all, my favorite food groups are the three Cs: chocolate, cabernet and cheese. So, after a morning of watching the sunrise at Haleakala National Park, and a tour of a lavender farm, we drove to the Surfing Goat Dairy in Upcountry Maui.
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Surfing Goat Dairy produces and sells award-winning cheeses and offers visitors on Maui a variety of tours. The people we met were welcoming and seemed to truly love their jobs.
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We took a casual tour, which for a fee of $10 included a personalized tour of the entire operation. We were able to see the goats, feed them, view the milking and cheese-making areas and taste a variety of the gourmet goat cheeses.
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The first impression of this dairy is how well these animals are lovingly cared for. The dairy is Certified Humane Raised & Handled, which means that they don’t use any pesticides or herbicides and the goats have resting areas, shelter and sufficient space to engage in natural goat behaviors. They also name each goat in the herd after birth. Plus, as a bonus these goats get to live on Maui. German expatriates Thomas and Eva Kafsack own and operate the dairy. We learned that they moved to Maui more than a decade ago after leaving their previous professions. He led a software company and she taught high-school German in Germany. They brought with them the knowledge gained from visiting dairies throughout Germany, Austria and France.
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The goats are milked twice a day, and then the milk is immediately pasteurized at a temperature designed to ensure that the vitamins are not harmed. It is then cooled down quickly for the cheese making. After adding organic cheese cultures and a vegetable rennet, they produce three types of cheeses: soft cheese, fresh chevre and quark, which is a European-style cheese also known as fromage blanc and has a consistency between yogurt and cream cheese.
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The chevre cheeses were delicious and we found these cheeses frequently on the menus of many Maui restaurants. The list of hotel customers is impressive and includes the Ritz Carlton Kapalua and the Four Seasons in Wailea on Maui, the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai on the Big Island and a number of mainland hotels such as the Peninsula Beverly Hills and the Arizona Biltmore Hotel. The best surprise was a gourmet chevre called Men’s Challenge, which won a second place National Award in 2004 and would be a perfect substitute for horseradish for a holiday meal. The fruit quark was made with fresh organic fruits such as Kula strawberries, lilikoi and apple bananas. The aged Maui gourmet goat cheese comes in tempting flavors such as Napa Wrap (fresh chevre wrapped in grape leaves), MacGoatNut, Swedish Heart (caraway seeds in black cheese wax) and French Dream (herbes de Provence, in white wax). Their feta, plain and ripened five months in brine and olive oil, won a first place National Award in 2006.
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Oh, and did I mention that they also make gourmet goat cheese truffles in flavors like toasted coconut, lychee, lilikoi, Hawaiian chili pepper and lavender?
From Kula, Surfing Goat Dairy is located 3.6 miles down Highway 37.

West Maui: The road past Kapalua

photo[3]Maui’s most famous drive may be the Road to Hana, but the drive along the top of West Maui on highway 30 heading north also has its share of sights to take your breath away. If you’re lucky, you will be in the passenger’s seat so that you are able to take a photo of the road ahead. It is narrow and curvy and you do see netting above to stop the rocks from falling, but if you take it slowly and enjoy the journey, it’s full of places to stop and admire, or even spend the day. These include Dragon’s Teeth, the unfortunately named Slaughterhouse Beach, Honolua Bay, Punalau Beach, the Nakalele Blowhole, the Olivine Pools, Kahakuloa Village and some of the best banana bread on the planet. Enjoy the view!

Fall colors in Maui?

Autumn, with its spectacular fall colors in the Midwest, is my favorite season. But I don’t particularly care for what comes next. Okay, I could handle some snow and cold for about a month, but after late December, it could all go away and I would be pleased with the return of crocuses and tulips.

So, we often wonder if we would miss the seasons in we lived in Hawaii year-round—the snow melting away in the spring and the leaves changing to brilliant yellows, reds and oranges in the fall. And the answer is probably yes. Well, maybe a bit.

However, while visiting Maui in September, we were surprised that fall colors are actually everywhere. No, it’s not a typical New England or Midwest autumn, but there are subtle changes and the colors of fall are certainly on display.

And even though a monthly average temperature chart of Maui is pretty much a straight line with a little bit of an increase in the months of May through November, some plants and flowers do show seasonal changes. Others display the colors of fall year-round in Hawaii.

Below: The colors of fall in Kula, Maui

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The colors of fall in West Maui in Kapalua

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