#3.Take a dip in the waters of Iao Valley State Park
As mentioned in the article’s introduction, Maui is called the “Valley Isle” and Iao Valley is mostly responsible for that! Very close to Wailuku, the valley is a must-see and is very accessible to anyone by car. The entrance fee is $5 per vehicle and will allow you to walk up a few stairs and check a very tall mountain called “The Needle”. The 1200 feet (400m) high peak was created by erosion and is quite unique. If you’d like to do extended hiking, this is not the place to do it. The trail is very touristy, short and easy. It basically consists of a few stairs up to an overlooking point.
But the real treat at Iao Valley State Park is to go down the Iao water streams and sit your butt in the cold water on a warm day. Maybe bring your picnic and spend some time there. It is very safe (kid-friendly!) and once you’re past the cold water temperatures, it’s certainly enjoyable. But be careful, as the park is the second wettest place in Hawaii, you might experience sudden rains.
#4. Visit a pineapple farm and grab dinner at a farm-to-table gem
Welcome to Maui Tropical Plantation.. This farm is genuinely different from the other plantations we visited. In the middle of the mountains, you will find a lagoon, trails to zip-line, tons of fruits, a coffee shop and a farm-to-table restaurant. Instead of booking a guided tour, we visited the grounds on our own. We grabbed coffee and delicious cookies at the café and ended up having dinner at The Mill House. Their gift shop is also really great to bring some souvenirs to your family and friends!
Their fantastic restaurant has an outside seating area and incredible fusion food. All I can say is, if you’d like to fine-dine in Maui and are looking for extra fresh ingredients and original recipes, then you should head for this place. We shared a few plates including chickpea cakes, pork pâté, a fish crudo and a taro leaves risotto – which really was the best dish. Taro is a root plant grown in Hawaii and is believed to be one of of the oldest cultivated plants in the world.
We told the staff it was our honeymoon upon arrival and they offered us a couple of lilikoi macarons for dessert which I thought was a really nice touch…
#5. Snorkel at Molokini Crater and Turtle Town
We took a tour with Malolo Catamaran to go snorkel early in the morning and see some exotic fishes and hopefully turtles. The company was great and the staff very friendly. The excursion is delightful. We got breakfast on the boat and left for the crater at 6am. We spotted a few whales from far during the ride, which was really wonderful and special. After snorkeling for an hour at Molokini Crater, we changed location to swim with turtles at Turtle Town and then finished with a deli lunch. It’s a 6-hour excursion that costed us 70 dollars per person + taxes. The crew also lent us snorkeling gear so no need to worry about bringing your own! Breakfast and lunch are basic but they did the job. When you swim for so long, it’s better to eat light anyway. The maximum number of guests on the boat is 66 so it’s not too bad but you can probably find other tours a bit more pricey and with less people.
Molokini Crater is a small underwater volcano, located just south of Maui. It is a marine sanctuary but also a bird watching spot. The quality of the water at the crater is like no other. We were happy to spot morrish idols (Kihikihi or Gill, in Finding Nemo) and yellow tangs as well as black triggerfishes. Our underwater pictures are poor quality, sorry about it but the videos are fun!
Turtle Town is located close to Makena Point. It is a long stretch of thin sand and transparent waters where you can observe a few turtles, locally called Honu. We mostly saw them cleaning themselves on a cleaning station (which is a big rock against which they rub) and come back up to breathe. As they came back up the water surface, we were lucky to have them really close to us. It was a fascinating experience :).
#6. Ride the Road to Hana
Road to Hana is absolutely a must-do while on the island. You cannot miss it or you won’t have seen the heart of Maui. That being said it’s probably a 6- hour drive if you decide to do the whole loop around Haleakala (which I suggest you do) so plan to wake up a bit early to beat the crowds and enjoy some spots alone. You will see our itinerary below :).
We started Road to Hana by visiting twin falls a day before really going on our Hana adventures. I’ll lay out all of our stops below but if you want to read a bit more about each one, you should go read my article dedicated to it HERE.
- Twin falls
- Ke’anae Arboretum
- Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside
- 3 bears Falls (quick stop from the road only)
- Black Sand Beach (Honokalani)
- Hana for lunch – great spot to grab a poke and a piece of banana bread
- Red Sand Beach (Kaihalulu Beach)
- Haleakala National Park – Pipiwai Trail Hike
- Go back through Kaupo (tough roads) but totally worth it if you have a good car
Now, most people, when they reach Hana, turn around and go back through the same road. I truly believe this is tremendous but I would push and go through the beaten roads on the side of Kaupo. A stretch of the road is unpaved and rough on the car but if you have a RAV4 or a SUV, you won’t have any issues. The best part about it is that it is not crowded at all and you can spot tons of animals in a volcanic landscape.
Read more about it in this article…