A highlight of my Hawaiian vacation was the week my husband Ken and I spent at an oceanfront home in Makena, Maui, with my sister Jessica and brother-in-law Adam. We rented a lovely, quiet cottage built in 1969 by the current owner’s parents. Everyday we watched humpback whales and sea turtles from the backyard. The magnificent views from the black, rocky beach included the West Maui Mountains to the right, the island of Lanai off in the distance and the island of Kaho’olawe and Molokini Crater (a great snorkeling destination) to our left.
The house was perfectly located a minute’s walk from Makena Landing, where we met up with Griff from Aloha Kayaks Maui, who took us on an amazing adventure paddling among North Pacific humpback whale mothers and calves and snorkeling with Hawaiian green sea turtles. He had a “hands off, hands on” approach, which meant that our small group of eight learned a lot about the creatures we encountered while remaining respectful and protecting their fragile ocean environment.
Just a five-minute walk in the other direction was beautiful, uncrowded Maluaka Beach, which fronts the Makena Beach and Golf Resort. The sand here is thick and soft, and there’s good snorkeling near the rocks at the right and left sides of the beach. From Maluaka we boarded a large sailing catamaran, the Kai Kanani, for a snorkeling trip to Molokini Crater. Their departure point is fabulous, only 15 minutes to the crater, and it’s really fun to wade through the waves to board the boat at the beach rather than at a dock. We were also a short drive (or long walk) from Black Sand Beach, where the sand resembles salt (crushed shells and coral) and pepper (lava rock), and the 2/3-mile-long Big Beach, where there was a rumored shark sighting one afternoon.
Despite all the great things to do in Makena, we explored the island a bit, too. We drove along the West Maui coast to Honolua Bay and the Nakalele blowhole. We visited the other-worldly, 10,023-foot summit of Haleakala National Park and saw two Hawaiian geese, called Nene, along the way. They are only found in the wild on the islands of Maui, Kauai and Hawaii. We also visited the hippie, surf town of Paia where we had a celebrity sighting while eating curry in the Café Des Amis courtyard – Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson! And we had a great time watching windsurfers and sea turtles in the waves at Ho’opika beach, just outside of Paia and near Mama’s Fish House (where we saw Owen Wilson again).
The week passed quickly, but luckily our vacation wasn’t over. Ken and I were going to heavenly Hana for 5 nights and then to Kauai. Be sure to check back next week to see photographs of Hana, or look at last week’s post about Kauai.