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Hawaii – Sliding Sands & Halemau’u Trail, Haleakala

April 22, 2014

After our ‘rest day‘, we made one last attempt to do a hike on the Haleakala. It was also our last day on Maui. Wanting to trek the longest day trail at 11.2 miles (18 km)- Sliding Sands Trail in, Halemau’u Trail Out, we got up at 4am to make the drive up.


Right before sunrise we saw the clouds move in and soon diminished all visibility. We parked our car at 8000ft and hitch hiked up to the summit to start.

Up at the top, we can see clouds bellowing in the crater.

Sliding Sands got its name from the fine cinder cones that are on the floor, every step is like walking on a beach.


The clouds were moving in & out constantly. One minute it would be sunshine and the next we would be engulfed in fog.



Cloud rolling over a ridge, looks like a waterfall.

The Haleakalā Silversword is unique to this mountain in the high-altitude regions. It has an interesting life cycle, capable of living for up to 90 years in the harsh, desert-like climate.

Typically in the bulb form (above), the plant produces a tall stalk when the conditions are right and relies on the wind to scatter the seed. After that the plant withers and dies.

The Silverswords are protected as they can easily be destroyed when trampled on.

Hiking across a crater, about 6miles into the hike.


Turning a corner we cross into old lava flow and vegetation.

On the last two miles we have to hike up a 1,000 foot cliff.


Near the top, it is amazing to see clouds forming on one side of the ridge and not able to cross over to the other side. We finally finished the 11mile hike in 6hr30min.

We rewarded ourselves with some delicious seafood dinner at the Fish Market in Paia, then ice-cream!

After dinner we rush to the airport, return our car, and catch the 8pm flight to hop over to the Big Island.

I have never been on a 9-seater plane before. They had to weight every passenger (with their luggage) so they can distribute the weight evenly.

No waiting for luggage either!

We arrived at the Big Island at 9:30pm, we had to pick-up our rental car and drive to the guesthouse. It was a tiring day but well worth it!

Posted on April 22nd, 2014 at 8:14 pm and is filed under Hawaii> Outdoors> Travel
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Hawaii – One Relaxing Day

April 11, 2014

Taking a break after the trek across the ancient lava fields, we decided to enjoy a rest day to unwind…or so we thought.


We stopped at Grandma’s Coffee House in Kula for a hearty breakfast & locally grown coffee.

The row of stores along the highway provide a nice rest stop for drivers/bikers.

We drove uphill towards the Polipoli Springs State Recreational Area for hikes into the redwood forest.

Overlooking the Northern shore. There are several paragliding schools along the way.

It has been raining for the past few days and the road conditions got progressively worse, so we decided to turn around.

However, with our 2WD compact we got stuck in a big puddle. I got out to spot for Carmen and told her to step hard on the gas!
Mud went spraying everywhere and we watched as thick globs of mud splashed through the open window into the passenger side….

Driving down the mountain, we headed straight to the nearest department store to buy cleaning supplies. Carmen felt so embarrassed to be driving such a dirty car!

Many people gave us the thumbs up or came to find out what happened while we were cleaning the interior. One local gave us directions to a self service car wash nearby.

All better! I think in the end the passenger seat had a slight brown tint to it….

Since it was such a sunny day we decided to go to the beach to swim and relax. We drove along Hwy 31 and parked near Kamaole Beach Park in Kihei. Got changed and all ready to go!

Just as we waded into waist level, the life guards made the announcement for everyone to step out of the water. Turns out they could see a shark swimming in the very shallow areas. So no swimming…

We did walk around the area, play some frisbee, and spot sea turtles swimming near the shoreline.

Heading up north, we stopped at Makawao, a thriving/artistic town around dusk for dinner.

So our rest days didn’t exactly pan out, but it made for some good stories :)

Posted on April 11th, 2014 at 1:16 pm and is filed under Hawaii> Outdoors> Travel
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Hawaii – Haleakalā & King’s Highway

April 5, 2014

To see the sunrise from the top of Haleakalā (“House of the Sun”), we started driving up along Crater Road (Route 378) in the upcountry region at 5am, it was pitch black as we navigate along the 22 miles course towards the summit. Occasionally we can see other cars’ headlights snaking along the curves.

Here is a view from Puʻu ʻUlaʻula (Red Hill) – the tallest peak of Haleakalā at 10,023 feet (3,055 m).


It was really foggy when we arrived at the summit but the wind pushed the clouds aside just in time for the sunrise, however short lived.

You can see the outline of Big Island in the distance!


We wanted some hiking but the conditions were foggy and rainy so we decided to try again.

Conditions improved as we descended to below 7000ft.


We picked up some fresh produce from a farmer’s market just before entering Kihei.

Driving past some rocky roads over old lava flow, we reached the south western corner of the island (Makena Coast) for the King’s Highway.

Commissioned by King Piʻilani, the King’s Highway is 138 miles long to encircle the island and connected all the villages along the coast.

Hiking down some rock outcrops just past La Perouse Bay, where sometimes Dolphins go there to rest in the early mornings (we didn’t see any though).


At the southern tip of the island.

Part of the trail heading inland. You can see the old lava flow in this distance.

After completing the trail we drove along the western shoreline to Lahaina.

We had fun walking along the main street of the town with a good mix of shops, restaurants, and history.

In the evening we attended a dinner performance at the Old Lahaina Luau. In this traditional Hawaiian party there was a variety of traditional Hawaiian dishes such as kalua pig, poi, poke, and haupia.

Dancing is a big part of the celebration and in the stage the performers showed off different styles and eras.


Posted on April 5th, 2014 at 10:29 am and is filed under Hawaii> Outdoors> Travel
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Hawaii – Road to Hāna & Back Side of Haleakalā

March 25, 2014

The next day, after the loop along the Honoapiilani Highway, we headed towards the Eastern tip of Maui.


We embarked onto Hwy 36 – Road to Hāna, through lush, tropical rainforest.

Starting from Paia, the distance to Hana is about 42miles (68km) with approximately 620 curves and crosses over 59 bridges – 46 of which are only one-lane wide.

Being a tropical rainforest means there are a lot of rain. And we happened to pick a particularly rainy day to make the drive.


Hiking through some redwood forest.

There are quite a few fruit stands along the way, it is a great way to try fresh, ripe produce. Just drop some money in the jars provided!

Making a detour into Keanae, it was really windy that day and we stood for about half an hour just watching the waves.


Keanae from above, you can see the grid of taro fields below.

Lots of beautiful curves/lookouts along the way, but it is often difficult to find a safe spot to pull-over.

Coconut Glen’s Ice cream made with coconut milk. Bowls and spoons are made with coconut shells. It was delicious!

Arriving at Hana we wandered around town and bought some groceries. Then we went to Koki beach to watch the waves.


Next day we continued on towards Haleakala National Park.

Hiking the Pīpīwai Trail (4-mile round trip) in the Kipahulu Forest Reserve.

At the base of the Waimoku Falls watching the water tumble for 400ft.

A lush bamboo forest, you can hear the leaves rustling and the bamboo creaking in the wind.

After the hike, the typical route is to turn back and take the same route, but we decided to try the trail on the back side of the Haleakala.

For the first 12 miles the road is unpaved and often only wide enough for 1 car. We were worried how the heavy rain would affect the road conditions.

But it is a spectacular drive winding along the coast and overall much less traffic.

Farms of the local Hawaiians. They all drive pick-up trucks and 4x4s.




Finally arriving at the Upcountry region for our next stay!

Enjoying a meal at Kula Bistro, a very popular local restaurant. Highly recommended!

Posted on March 25th, 2014 at 9:07 pm and is filed under Hawaii> Outdoors> Travel
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All images Copyrighted by Samuel Cheng.