East Maui is a special place. Secluded from the rest of the island, lush and tropical, it is always a treat to spend time on this side of the island. With my friends Tom and Jessica visiting from the mainland, I had an excuse to head over to Hana for a few days. We took off on a Wednesday morning for a couple of days of hiking, camping, waterfalls and beaches. The drive in itself is beautiful. The scenery becomes progressively more lush around each turn. Glimpses of the Pacific reveal an almost electric blue ocean. There are tons of distractions along the way. Waterfalls, bamboo forests, Smoothie stands, and arboretums make the drive in and of itself a worthwhile venture. We breezed through most of the drive stopping only once at one of my favorite bays on the island. A clear cool stream enters the bay at the edge of a black sand beach. Steep lush valley walls dotted with flowering trees line the bay.
After reveling in one of my favorite scenes in Maui, we headed out and made our way towards Hana town. As you enter Hana proper and pass Nahiku, the scenery begins to change a bit. The dense rainforest opens up and recedes up the slopes of the Volcano. The area around Hana itself is still lush, but more open pasture land is visible. After a long drive, I could think of nothing better than to show Tom and Jessica one of the area’s beautiful natural pools. We made a short hike through pastureland to a large pool that is seperated from the ocean, by a narrow strip of beach. During rainier times, the pool is fed by a cascading waterfall. Today, the waterfall was dry but the scenery equally spectacular. Blue skies surrounded us, as we soaked up the sun on the rocks and jumped off 15 and 25 foot cliffs into the deep pool.
Having our fill of the pool, we headed to one of my favorite beaches on the island. Hamoa Beach is spectacular. I talked about Hamoa in an article about Hana in the Coconut Chronicles recently. Tom, Jessica and I had a blast body surfing the small waves on the beach. Most of the waves were breaking right onto the shore making for a few pretty comedic scenes where we were literally beached by the waves.
After tiring ourselves out in the waves, we were ready to find our camping spot for the night. In the process, we learned one of the more valuable lessons about camping in Hana. Our initial plan was to camp at Waianapanapa State Park. We arrived at the park, and I showed Tom and Jessica some of the great scenery. The Black Sand beach and the freshwater caves being highlights. We went back to the campground to see about reserving a spot. It was a good sign that the campground was nearly empty. It was a bad sign that some friends from Haiku were packing up their camping stuff with scowls on their faces. They, like us, had hoped to reserve a campsite when they arrived at the park. With nobody around at campground caretaker’s spot, they set up camp. When a ranger came by, they were told they were prohibited from camping without a permit. They tried to obtain a permit only to be told they can only be purchased in Wailuku (about 2 hours away in Central Maui). I don’t quite understand the reasoning behind this system, but we weren’t going to argue.
We bid farewell to my Haiku friends and headed down the coast to Oheo Gulch better known as the Seven Sacred Pools in the Kipahalu district of Haleakala National Park. We had no trouble finding a beautiful campsite. The campground at Oheo Gulch is set in a meadow along the jagged shorelines of the Southeast coast of Maui, it offers great views up Haleakala and out over the Pacific. The Big Island is faintly visible in the distance. We set up tents with a line of squalls looming offshore. Dinner was cooked nervously expecting a deluge to hit us at anytime. The squalls never came and a blanket of stars soon unfolded in the night sky. A half moon rose brightly illuminating the scenery. We took advantage of the moon light to hike over to the pools. Typically, the pools can be crowded during the day. At night, it was just me, my friends and the moonlight. We spent a while taking in the scene, watching the water from the pools drain into the ocean as the waves came crashing in to the shore. It was a pretty spectacular setting. Before long, the fatigue of our full day hit us. We meandered back to camp to snuggle into our sleeping bags for a nights rest.