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Hawaii – The Big Island and Maui in 8 Days

Guest post by espencer

Map tips: Each color represents a different day. Click a marker to learn more about the spot, and click the star in the map header to save the entire map under Your Places in Google Maps.

Day 1

  • Rainbow Falls
  • Lava Tree State Monument

Arrived late the night before. Woke up and ate breakfast at Frenchmen’s Cafe (amazing crepes! Gluten free available). Drove Saddle Road between the mountains over to the Hilo side of the island. Stopped at Rainbow Falls, beautiful waterfalls and banyan tree. Ate lunch at Conscious Culture Cafe (great fish tacos, several kinds). Lava Tree State Monument, stopped briefly to look at the Kapoho Tide Pools and drove down Highway 137 (The red road) and stopped at several pull offs to look at the ocean before arriving at our Airbnb. I can’t say enough about how perfect our Airbnb was, our host was fantastic and made us feel right at home. We had our own little cottage with bed, bath and kitchenette and a breathtaking view of the ocean from our lanai! Drove back up to Hilo (45 mins) for dinner at the Hilo Bay Cafe.

Day 2

  • Cafe Ono
  • Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park
  • Thurston Lava Tube
  • Steam Vents

Watched the sunrise from the shore, just across the street from our Airbnb. Rented bikes and road out to Volcano National Park where the lava flows into the ocean, unfortunately it was so windy the usual plume of volcanic steam was barely visible. Drove up to Volcano and had lunch at Cafe Ono, perused the shop and grounds of this very serene and tranquil place. Then proceeded to Volcano National Park (fee is $25 per car and it’s good for 7 days, or you can get a yearly pass for $30 which covers Haleakala (Maui) and another national park. We purchased the yearly pass since we planned to visit Haleakala on Maui).

Drove the Chain of Craters Road,  beautiful views, the Thurston Lava Tube, Jagger Museum and crater viewing area, and the steam vents. It rained and was very windy most of the afternoon up in volcano, but on a sunny day you could spend the whole day, if not 2 days hiking all over Volcano National Park. Dinner at The Rim, could see the crater starting to glow from the lava as it got dark. Went back to the Jagger Museum (now permanently closed) to get better views of the crater at night.

Day 3

  • Umauma Falls Zipline & Rappel Experience
  • Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Visitor Center

Ziplining! We decided on the Umauma Falls ziplining which had a total of 9 lines with the first 4 being side by side lines over some beautiful waterfalls and trees. Stopped at the Mauna Loa macadamia nut factory and visitors center where you can see into the factory and how they package/made the various kinds of macadamia nuts. Uncle Robert’s (every Wednesday night, a must do!), located at the end of Rt 137 on the edge of lava fields, tourists and locals together enjoying a fun evening of delicious food, music and vendors.

Day 4

  • Kehena Black Sand Beach
  • Kapoho Tide Pools

Relaxed on Kahena black sand beach in the morning and went to Kapoho Tide Pools to snorkel in the afternoon. Great place to snorkel, lots of fish and sea creatures among the coral and rocks. Stopped at a park and saw so many rainbows (rained in the late afternoon).

Day 5: Panaewa Rainforest Zoo

Relaxed on the lanai in the morning then packed up and left our Airbnb. Stopped at the Pana’ewa Zoo (2 beautiful tigers, one was a white bengal) Had lunch at the Conscious Culture Cafe in Hilo and tried to view the Akaka Falls but unfortunately it was closed for maintenance the whole week. On the drive back from Akaka falls we drove down the 4 mile scenic road. Beautiful twisting, winding road, felt like you were in a rainforest. Boarded our plane to fly from Hilo to Maui and drove to our hotel in the evening. We stayed up near Kaanapali.

Day 6

  • Hanakao’o Park
  • Nakalele Blowhole

First full day on Maui. Went to Hanakao’o Park and relaxed on the beach. Drove up North to see the Nakalele blowhole. It’s a bit of a hike to get down to the blowhole, but you can see if from the top of hill if you don’t feel comfortable climbing down to get near it (although seeing it up close is a must in my opinion). Amazing natural wonder, you could see rainbows in the mist from the water.

Nakalele Blowhole

Watched the sunset from our room before enjoying dinner at the Sea House with a beautiful view of the moon over Napili Bay. After dinner we spend the evening walking along Front Street in Lahaina.

Day 7: Haleakalā National Park

Drove down to Kihei for a beach day and around 3:30 pm started our drive up to Haleakala National Park to watch the sunset from atop the volcano. It was very cold and windy (wore several layers and a jacket, I would recommend bringing hat and gloves too), but the sunset was breathtaking! The colors, clouds, landscape and view for miles was unbelievable.

Sunrise at Haleakala

Day 8: The Road to Hana

We drove the Road to Hana ourselves, made several stops to see waterfalls, ocean views, trees, nature, and a lava tube which was probably the best part of the entire drive. The lava tube is on private property so they charge to go through it, but it was worth the money. Must stop at the Halfway to Hana stand to get banana bread (some of the best banana bread I’ve ever had!) I can see why this trip would be a must do on Maui, but unfortunately we didn’t think it was that special because we had already seen a lot of what the Road to Hana had to offer on the Big Island since we stayed on the east side of the island which is very tropical. If you’re just going to Maui I would definitely recommend doing the Road to Hana and maybe even stay in Hana overnight as it was a very taxing to drive all the way to Hana and back on the same day.

We had 2 more days, but we woke up to the power being out on the entire island from bad thunderstorms during the night. Water was rough and it was cloudy with on/off rain our last 2 days on Maui. Hung out on the balcony of our hotel room and did some shopping and walking along the ocean when it wasn’t raining. Flew out of Maui in the evening and returned home to Cleveland the following afternoon.

This was an amazing trip and we loved both islands. In the future we will go back to the Big Island because there were several parts of the island we didn’t have time to visit on this trip, but we did see everything we wanted to on Maui.

Note: We opted to see the sunset on Haleakala because you need to purchase a pass ($1.50 per car) to get into the park for the sunrise and every day we were staying on Maui was sold out weeks ahead of time. If you plan on watching the sunrise atop Haleakala be sure to buy a pass way in advance or go see the sunset instead (I’m not sure how the sunrise could’ve been any more beautiful than the sunset and not having to get up at 2:30am was a plus)

Traveled in October 2017

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