This is something I’ve been wanting to do since my mom and I visited Maui. The reviews said to bundle up, so Bobby and I came dressed in our Northwestern and Packers gear – though he didn’t fully believe me and decided to wear shorts (muahaha).
They weren’t kidding, as temperatures were definitely in the 30s. We also felt extra cool in our leis, which we decided to get the most out of by bringing up to the summit, as well.
Unfortunately, it appeared as though we weren’t going to get to see much of a sunrise.
6:02 (the official time) came and went, followed by 6:10 and 6:15. The wind and moisture from the clouds were chilling, and we had almost decided to head back to the car to warm up when a woman who works for the park began to sing.
As soon as she had finished the song – I kid you not – the entire crowd gasped. My attention had been on her, so I turned around to see what all the cheers were about.
Visibility wasn’t perfect, but our sunrise was still beautiful. It was a moment we will never forget.
Once we were sure the clouds weren’t going anywhere, we headed back to the car to grab a quick snack before venturing back out to the Sliding Sands trailhead.
As we began walking down the trail, we became certain of three things. First, that the clouds made an already eerie terrain a bit spookier. It felt like we were on Mars.
Second, that we were totally, utterly, completely alone on the trail. No one in front or behind us.
And third, that the silence surrounding us was one of the most beautiful things we had ever heard. Other than the sound of our own footsteps and breathing, there was literally no noise. Proof:
I am still in awe over how spectacular it all was. We hiked 2.5 miles down into the crater and although most of the time we could barely see more than 10 feet in front or behind us, every once in a while the clouds would part to reveal the remnants of the world’s largest dormant volcano.
Yep, as that link describes, the crater could hold Manhattan. It’s 3,000 feet deep, 7 1/2 miles long by 2 1/2 miles wide and encompasses 19 square miles. Oh, and even though it hasn’t rumbled since 1790, Haleakala is still officially considered active. Gulp.
The further down we went into the crater, the more we began to see Haleakala silversword, a rare and threatened plant species. Several of them were in bloom – they were like metallic cacti.
Eventually, what goes down must come back up. Let me tell you, that 2.5-mile climb out of the crater was A LOT harder than going down. The steep grade combined with high altitude made for a real challenge, especially with the cloud condensation – not rain, exactly, but more like a misty dew that coated us from head to toe. It was tough, but oh so worth it.
Eventually we made it back to the trailhead and began our drive back down the volcano.
What a difference a few hundred feet make! We had to get out of the car again to snap a few pictures and take it all in. You’ll notice the volcano looks a lot different on the outside.
When we reached sea level again, we made our way to Kihei to grab brunch from two places that came highly recommended. Melissa told me about Da Kitchen and its Hawaiian style food, which also received rave reviews on Yelp.
I had read about Cinnamon Roll Fair on Yelp, too, and since it was literally across the parking lot couldn’t help but stop in to pick up one of their gigantic specialties.
We brought the food back to our hotel to eat al fresco. The “Big Braddah” combo plate from Da Kitchen – with teriyaki chicken and Kalua pork – really hit the savory spot. It came with a couple scoops of white rice and small salad on the side.
I think the cinnamon roll speaks for itself. It was gooey, sticky sweet – and perfectly warm.
The view wasn’t too bad, either. Quite the turnaround from our morning – and it was only 11:00 am!
We spent the rest of the afternoon wading in the waves at Wailea Beach…
…walking along the beachfront paths (passing cattle egrets as we went)….
Once we had ingested a sufficient amount of salt water, we made our way to the infinity pool.
We were entitled to “free” Mai Tais as part of our resort fee, which really hit the spot.
I had told them in advance that we were celebrating our upcoming wedding anniversary, and they surprised us with a gorgeous seat right on the water! We could see the boats waiting for sunset.
I started out with a Bikini Blonde Lager from the Maui Brewing Co.
The famous carrot muffins and bread basket did not disappoint.
Bobby went with the Baked “Kimo’s Style,” which was mahi mahi roasted with a garlic, lemon and sweet basil glaze. It was out-of-this-world tasty, and I definitely grabbed as many bites as I could.
I went with the coconut-crusted swordfish, served with Thai peanut sauce and Maui Gold pineapple salsa. It was also really good – the swordfish was dense and meaty.
In honor of our anniversary, the waitress brought us out a complimentary slice of Hula Pie. It was just as fantastic as I remembered, made with macadamia nut ice cream piled high on a chocolate cookie crust and topped with chocolate fudge, whipped cream and more macadamia nuts.
As we dined, we ooh-ed and ahh-ed over another gorgeous Maui sunset.
It was a very sweet end to our second day in Maui, with one more day of adventure still to come!