Next up, the Wai’anapanapa State Park and Black Sand Beach over on the eastern tip.. with its lava caves and sandy beaches, blowholes and giant Jurassic-like plants.
We continued on the journey, passing by numerous vegetable fields and running creeks, waterfalls and lush greenlands.
Banana breads were quite popular on the island, likely because there were so many fresh bananas (among other fruits) available. According to our guide, Hana Farms has one of the better products, with more flavour variety to choose from.
I think that stop was the only point it rained during our tour (actually, the only time throughout our entire 7 days in Maui).
In addition to the breads, they also sell tropical hot sauces, spices and coffee, etc.. with samples laid out on all the tables.
Of course, we wanted to give it a try, and decided on the macadamia nut banana bread (partly because we also needed breakfast for our 3 am sunrise trip up Haleakalā later on that week). It was quite moist, with a heavy banana flavour. I also really liked the caramelized nut toppings, which were like little crystal sugars.
We made a pit stop at this rocky beach to take a few photos and visit the vendor stands on the side of the road. The weather was pretty mild that day, slightly windy, but the waves were just crushing up against the shore continuously.
Like many other places throughout the island, the black lava rocks there were created from lava flow that originated from the Haleakalā Crater. Often, they were jagged and dangerous to walk on.
Across the beach stood the church, the only building structure to have remarkably survived a terrible tsunami that wiped out the whole village in the area some years ago.
On everyone’s recommendations, we decided to join a tour for the Road to Hana trip, as opposed to driving up ourselves. It felt much safer that way, and we were both able to enjoy the scenery.
It’s a scenic drive through Maui’s rainforest, towards the small town of Hana. It’s not your average mountainous drive, with 600+ windy turns, some unpaved & one-lane paths, and half the time, you’re hugging the cliff edge, where there is no fencing whatsoever..
Valley Isle Excursions had pretty good reviews on Tripadvisor, so that’s the one we went with. The tour included a hotel breakfast and a BBQ lunch, and we were able to enjoy the ride in comfortable reclining seats while the local guide told us all about the special viewpoints and the history and stories that went with it.
The tour was basically all-day, where we got picked at 7 am, and returned around 6 pm. These were photos from the beginning of the trip, where the forest drive began past the Northern town of Pāʻia. We saw numerous different species of flora (so many fruit trees with juicy ripe ones!), some of which were indigenous to Hawaii.
Japanese cuisine has always been one of our favourites, so when it comes to finding a place for dinner, that’s usually our fallback.
I’d taken a couple of the food magazines from the airport when we first arrived, and was paging through for options within the Kihei area where we stayed. As hard as it was (since there were quite a few delicious-sounding possibilities), we narrowed it down to a Western fusion seafood restaurant, and Sansei. In the end, the thought of sushi and fresh sashimi won out – and it turned out to be one of the best meals we had on the entire trip.
We opted to sit at the sushi bar, since that’s usually where all the action is.
From the sashimi and rolls, to the variety of small plates, everything was fresh and well-made, with just the right amount of seasoning and sauces. I would easily go back for more, and highly recommend it to others. We tried the Kihei location, but I believe there is one near Lahaina as well.
The photos here don’t really do it justice – the lighting was a bit dim in there, and we were just too concentrated on enjoying the food that time, than taking the perfect shot.
sashimi trio - ahi tuna, hamachi, kampachi (seriously, so good! one of the freshest sashimi I’ve ever had)
ahi poke with sweet maui onions (also recommend - the vinaigrette really enhanced the tuna’s flavour)
the “69” roll - cali roll topped with unagi & masago (for someone who don’t usually eat unagi, I quite enjoyed this roll)
shrimp dynamite - crispy tempura shrimp in a garlic masago aioli & unagi glaze drizzle (had the perfect amount of crunch to it)
takah sushi special roll - shrimp, ahi tuna, crab, avocado & cucumber and crusted with masago