Monday, January 1, 2018

Monkey see, Maui do

Visitors tend to congregate at the well-known attractions on all the Islands, but on Maui this group-think is heightened. Many tourists arrive with a punch list of scheduled must-dos, like the Hana Highway, Haleakala sunrise, and a few other Yelp faves. Of course, top attractions are that way for a good reason.

But being in a line of rental cars or rubbing elbows on a beach or trail is not always fun. Thankfully, Maui has a large number of getaways for independent travelers. One trail less-traveled is in the misty bird lands of the Waihou Springs Forest Reserve (above) near the cowboy town of Makawao on the windward (east) side.

Also on the windward side is the jungly escape on the Kapahakapao Loop Trail into the Makawao Forest Reserve. Hardly anybody sees this place.

Above busy Kapalua in West Maui is a nature walk onto a reef with a weird rock formation called Dragon's Teeth. Just south of here is Ironwoods Beach, a long stretch of sand only local surfers seem to know about.

The Honolua Marine Preserve in West Maui, located a few miles north of where coastal development ends, is a popular haunt for snorkelers. But few people head to the Lipoa Point on the north end of the bay. This is one of the best spots in Hawaii to watch surfers, and also the trailhead to remote snorkeling spots—near the site of a resort in the old days.

Baldwin Beach Park, near hip-cool Paia on the windward side, is a popular hangout. Walk down the beach (or drive in the "back way") and you get to an excellent family snorkeling cove, Baby Baldwin Beach. Locals are onto this one, but it is always mellow. If you want really mellow, head for Spreckelsville, a few miles away.

Kahakuloa Head, the "Tall Lord" is a landmark of the rugged north coast. The road is tight going by, and few visitors notice the parking and social trails. In the winter, this where to be to see whales and shorebirds.

For an otherworldly side-trip, turn off the Hana Highway well before Hana and drop down about 1,000 feet over a few miles to Nahiku. Beatle George Harrison had a place in this remote botanical wonderland.

The red sand of Koki Beach is off the main drag from Hana Town to the Pools of Oheo—a short trip not many drivers make. Hamoa Beach, the one used by the upscale Travaasa Resort in Hana, is also on this rural road.

First-time Maui visitors will want to see the headline attractions. But leave some unplanned time to explore the stuff that is off the radar. Maui Trailblazer will give you a detailed description of dozens of out-of-the-way adventures that will make for a unique vacation.