Torch lighting ceremony at Black Rock on Maui

Each evening in Ka’anapali, as the sun begins to set in the ocean, a torch lighting ceremony followed by a cliff diver’s plunge into the sea is held at Black Rock on Maui.

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The beach near Black Rock is directly facing the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, which conveniently offers the Cliff Dive Grill and Mai Tai Bar–a great place to watch the traditional ceremony and enjoy a tropical beverage or appetizer (pupus as they are called on the Hawaiian Islands). The beach is spectacular and the sunsets here do not disappoint. This area is also known for excellent snorkeling.

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The sunsets from this viewpoint paint the sky with brilliant shades of pinks and blues. Black Rock, formed by a volcanic eruption in ancient times, was considered by ancient Hawaiians as the sacred place where souls would leave the earth and join with ancestors.

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Yes, the daily cliff dive ceremony is a tourist gimmick and yes, you should go. Watching the cliff diver reach the summit as he casts his lei into the sea and takes a magnificent dive into the sea is well worth a stop.

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Driving on an island

On a first trip to the Hawaiian Islands, the scenery may feel so different and beautiful that it almost feels overwhelming. This is especially true if you are a mainlander and especially true if you are a flatlander. This isn’t driving through North Dakota, folks. (With all due respect to North Dakotans, as some of my very favorite people in the world are from or live in North Dakota.)

On Kauai, the scenery heading from the airport to the Princeville area was so beautifully distracting that I was thankful I wasn’t in the driver’s seat and could try to take it all in.

On the Big Island, much of the scenery is so out of this world different from anything we had ever seen—and it changes so quickly. One minute you’re in the Waimea area filled with an upcountry feel, green grass and cattle ranches and you drive a bit further and you’re on the coastline with vistas of lava rock and whales breaching in the distance.

The view from Keahou to Kailua-Kona on the Big Island

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On Maui and Oahu, there are many scenic driving tours such as the 68-mile Road to Hana on Maui or a drive on the leeward, or Western, side of Oahu. You could probably make these drives dozens and dozens of times and never tire of the views and stops along the way.

The road ahead on West Maui

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A view from an upcountry road in lovely Lanai

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Once near the town of Kawaihae on the northern side of the Big Island, there were so many whales active near the shore that someone actually placed a sofa facing the ocean for people to stop and wonder and enjoy the views. It was perfect.

Time spent in Hawaii is a reminder to focus on the journey, not the destination.

Majestic Molokai

IMG_1612The island of Molokai is visible from the Kapalua area of West Maui. At 260 square miles, Molokai is the fifth largest of the main Hawaiian Islands. Its sea cliffs are majestic, awesome and immense with some towering up to 3,000 feet–the tallest on earth. If you look closely enough, there always seems to be a rainbow somewhere above Molokai. On a visit, you’ll quickly discover its natural, rugged beauty and the fact that there isn’t a single traffic light on the whole island.

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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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

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.

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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Maui sunrise

In Maui, the sunrise is often as spectacular as the sunset. Of course, there is the legendary sunrise from Haleakala, but you really can’t go wrong if you are up early to catch it on any part of the island. Here’s the sunrise in Kapalua in West Maui, rolling in from the east and making its presence known as if to kick off the weekend. It’s Aloha Friday.

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