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Cruise Diary: Lahaina, Maui

Guest Sharon Johnson and her husband are cruising again with HAL, this time on Zaandam’s 21-Day Collectors’ Voyage to Mexico and Hawaii. Sharon will chronicle their cruising experience for us on the blog. Enjoy!

Feb. 22, 2013:
The Zaandam arrived early at Lahaina, Maui. Al and I signed up for the 9-hour “Adventures to Hana” tour. The first time that we were in the islands, in 1969, Al drove our rental car to Hana. That was in the days before they straightened the road and took out some of the curves. It took us so long to get to Hana that we had to turn right around and drive back to Lahaina before dark. So this time we decided to leave the driving to the experts. Our tour met in the Ocean Bar and as soon as our group was ready and the tender was available, we headed to the tender platform for our short ride to Lahaina. – Sharon and Al Johnson

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Zaandam as seen from tender in Lahaina, Maui.

Zaandam as seen from tender in Lahaina, Maui.

The first thing you see when arriving at the dock in Lahaina is the huge Banyan tree and the Pioneer Inn. We boarded a 20-passenger van. Our guide’s name was Dave and he told stories about Maui, Lahaina, Hana and all the personalities that lived in Maui from the days of the Hawaiian royalty through today. As we drove to the Hana road, Dave pointed out some of the famous buildings in Lahaina. He also drove us out to the sugar cane factory and pointed out the canal that brought water from the mountains to the sugar cane fields above Lahaina. Lahaina means “unmerciful sun”. And without the precious rain from the mountains, this area of Maui would be extremely dry. The children of the missionaries figured out how to get the water to the rich volcanic soils above Lahaina and grow sugar cane which made their families extremely rich. Sugar cane ceased production in the seventies when cheaper sugar from Brazil became available.

Sugar Cane Factory in Lahaina, Maui.

Sugar Cane Factory in Lahaina, Maui.

From Lahaina, Dave drove south on a freeway that goes to Kahului where the airport is located. We passed the Maui Ocean Center which we had visited back in 2005 on a shore excursion. Finally we reached the road to Hana. The road is about 30 miles long, but the journey can take four hours if you make several stops along the way. There are more than 600 curves and 54 one-lane bridges. We had no sooner started our drive to Hana when it began to rain. It is the winter season in Maui and they receive a lot of rain in the winter. So we saw more waterfalls flowing off the volcanic rock along side the Hana road than we would normally see. I was only able to capture a few of these waterfalls as our windows were covered with raindrops making photography impossible.

The drive to Hana is considered one of the top 5 drives in the United States. It is a beautiful drive with tropical rainforest trees, flowers, waterfalls, streams full of water rushing down the mountain to the ocean, gorges, steep cliffs and black sand beaches. We stopped at what I believe was Waikani Falls, considered one of the best waterfalls in East Maui.

Waikani Falls.

Waikani Falls.

All too soon we found ourselves at Hana. Hana is rich in Hawaiian history. King Kamehameha’s favorite wife was born here. We ate at the Hana Ranch Restaurant. The town of Hana was bought by Paul Fagan in the forties. He started ranching in the area as he wanted to get away from the busy city life of San Francisco. To get his wife to move to sleepy Hana, he had her start a hotel at Hana and she brought her friends out to their Hana Resort. One of the people who fell in love with Hana was Charles Lindbergh who asked his wife to take him back to Hana as he was dying. He is buried at the Palapala Ho’omau Congregational Church which is about 11 miles down the road from Hana.

Our guide, Dave, drove us around Hana. We saw the famous Hasegawa General Store which was started in 1910 and is one of the last of this type of stores still in the islands. We drove past the Wananalua Congregational Church that is totally made of lava rock held together with a cement made of coral. Before we reached the Seven Sacred Pools, we had a stop as it wasn’t raining, to photograph Wailua Falls. We drove by the Seven Sacred Pools, but they didn’t look like pools today as the water was just gushing down the mountain. Our guide didn’t feel it was safe to have us walk up the path to the pools.

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Shortly after photographing the Wailua Falls, we stopped at Palapala Ho’omau Church to visit Lindbergh’s grave site. It was a pretty spot beside a small country church in an area where sugar cane used to grow and now cattle and horses graze the field.

Charles Lindbergh's grave.

Charles Lindbergh’s grave.

It is from this point onward that rental cars are not allowed to be driven as there is a stretch of the road that is very bumpy. We had several more curves along dramatic sea cliffs of lava before reaching the smooth paved section of the road where we stopped to take some dramatic photos of the Maui back country where the cattle roam and there is no more rainforest with its beautiful waterfalls and lush foliage. It was such a dramatic change that even the sun was shining. We had one last stop at the Tedeschi Winery and Tasting Room to sample some of the pineapple wine and use the restrooms before our drive back to Lahaina. Our tour took us almost totally around the island of Maui.

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We arrived at the tender dock near the Pioneer Inn just in time to catch the whale watching catamaran back to the Zaandam. The sun was just setting so I was able to get one last photo of Lahaina before it started raining again.

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In front of the Pioneer Inn in Lahaina, Maui.

In front of the Pioneer Inn in Lahaina, Maui.

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