Five Days In Paradise

ijm5012

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Back in July, my wife and I headed to Hawaii for vacation. In doing our research about the islands, many people said "only do one island, there's so much to see!". While they're not wrong, my wife and I said to hell with that, and decided to split our time between two islands: Maui and Kauai. We spent the equivalent of 5 days on Maui, and the equivalent of 6 days on Kauai. While I considered combining the entire trip in to one thread, the islands are so vastly different from one another that I decided to split the trip up, giving each island its own write up. This write up focuses on the first part of our trip, Maui.

The trip out was pretty simple. We had a short first leg from Pittsburgh to Chicago, which made for a long (~8 hour) second leg of the trip. Fortunately, we made the conscious decision and splurged for the "Economy Plus" seats for that long flight leg, and it was money well spent. I'm 6'4", and had plenty of leg room. If you can afford it, I highly recommend doing something similar to this, as it makes the long leg of the flight much more tolerable. Unfortunately, it doesn't make the flight go by any quicker, as my wife can attest to.

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After many hours, the pilot came over the intercom with the words everybody was eagerly anticipating: "Ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seat belts, as we will be beginning our descent to Maui shortly". Finally! However, when making our approach to the island, I wasn't certain if we were actually in Hawaii, or if we had accidentally taken a detour to Iceland. We connected through Iceland on our way to Switzerland last year, and the red/orange/yellow tones in the landscape immediately made me think back to our brief time spent in Reykjavik. Fortunately, the weather that greeted us as we walked off the plane confirmed that we were indeed in Hawaii.

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The rest of our first day was spent getting situated at our rental in the small surfing town of Paia on the island's north shore, and then getting a good night of sleep. The sleep was much needed, as we had an early 3:00AM start the next day to make the 90 minute drive to Haleakala for sunrise. For anybody who's done any research, it's everything you've read: dark, cold, and windy. But if the weather cooperates, you'll witness one of the most incredible sights you'll ever see, as the sun rises from beneath the clouds to illuminate the crater valley in golden light. I was shooting stills on one camera, while shooting images for a time-lapse video with the other. Once the sun was up, I made sure to grab a quick shot of my wife and I before we headed back to our car to continue our tour of the island.

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After sunrise, we made our way down to the south-east coast. When driving down to this area of the island any green vegetation quickly disappears, turning in to the dry and barren landscape reminiscent of what was seen when flying in to the island. While not what one typically thinks of when someone says "Hawaii", I actually found this region of the island to be quite beautiful. The colors and tones in this area are very rich and vibrant, especially when shooting with the vibrant blue ocean as a back drop. I should add that it's windy. VERY windy when you're down along the coast. The shot of my wife's hair was literally how it looked the entire time due to the roaring wind on the coast.

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Our plan was the continue driving on this road, which is the back road to Hana. However, the back road to Hana is only open on the weekends, and this was Friday. So we decided to adapt, and drove across the island to the north-west coast. I really wanted to see the Olivine Tide Pools. Fortunately when we got there, it was low-tide so there wasn't much risk to venture down to pools and take a swim for a bit.

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After going for a swim, we continued to drive around the west coast of the island before heading back to our condo for the evening. The next day was another early start, as we drove the road to Hana during sunrise. While the road is definitely a scenic drive, our true goal was to get down to the town of Hana and hike the Pipiwai trail. It's a pretty easy trail that exposes you to a giant Banyan tree, a Bamboo forest, and finally the Waimoku falls. In you do make the drive down to Hana, I HIGHLY recommend driving a bit further to do this hike. It's well worth it.

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After the hike, we began to make our way back to our condo. However, along the way we decided to stop at the Waianapanapa beach, more commonly referred to as "Black Sand beach". Despite its name, it is not actually sand that lines the beach, but rather black rock pebbles. Regardless of whether it is sand or not, it's an absolutely gorgeous place to relax. However, the beach tends to be extremely crowded. To beat the crowds, I recommend hiking up around the left side of the beach, which provides you with an overlook of the beach, bay, and vibrant vegetation.

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The next day, we decided to go back to Haleakala for sunrise again. Yet another 3:00 AM alarm, followed by a 90 minute drive in the pitch dark. Unfortunately, the weather was not as kind to us this time around. For the ~90 minutes we were up on the volcano, we were stuck inside of a very wet, very windy cloud for ~80 minutes. However the 10 minutes where we emerged from the cloud, we were treated to yet another spectacular, albeit different, view. No views of the valley below this time, but rather a blanket of clouds. I managed to grab a few images during this time, before another cloud consumed us. By the time we decided to leave, my wife and I were soaked, as was my camera gear.

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In an effort to explore more parts of the island and do some more hiking, we ended up at the Waihee Ridge trail. From what I had read online, people said that this was one of the best hikes on Maui, not only for the views, but also for the exercise. Having done it, I must agree with them on both counts. The views are absolutely stunning, but this trail will get your heart pumping and your legs burning. The views on the way up were magnificent. Unfortunately, by the time we reached the summit at the end of the trail, some high level clouds had rolled in and obscured our view of the valley. At the end of the day, that didn't matter much because of the views we had on the way up were stunning, and the experience was fantastic.

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By this point, our time on the island was nearly over. When trying to figure out what to do on our last morning before heading to the airport to catch our flight to Kauai, I decided that I really wanted to go back to the Olivine tide pools and shoot the sunrise there. Another day, another way-too-early alarm for vacation followed by an hour long car drive. When we got there, it was still pitch black out. Fortunately I had brought my LED headlamp with me, so we used that the navigate our way along the lava rock, doing our best not to fall on the rocks below. We finally found the perfect spot where I was before when we visited it originally (although it's much harder to find without the aid of sunlight). I got everything set up, and managed to capture the image below. In my opinion, it was a perfect way to end our time on the island of Maui. Spending time together, without anybody else around, taking in the beautiful views and power of ocean.

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From here, we headed back to town to get some breakfast, before heading to the airport to catch our flight to Kauai. We enjoyed our time on the island immensely. There's so much to see and do that I'm sure we could've spent our entire vacation on Maui, however we saw and got to experience so much during our time there. Knowing that there's more to see, I imagine that we'll be back at some point in the future, and we'll be better prepared when that time comes.

Ultimately, I'm glad that we decided to split our trip up and spend time on another island. Maui was beautiful, but Kauai was simply out of this world. If you liked these images, just wait to see the thread detailing our time spent on Kauai ;)
 
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DynaSport

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My wife and I went to Kauai a little over a year ago. We don’t travel much so it was a once in a lifetime type trip. I really wanted to go to Haleakala, but we only had a week and didn’t want to divide the time between islands. It was still a great trip though and it looks like yours was too.
 

ijm5012

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My wife and I went to Kauai a little over a year ago. We don’t travel much so it was a once in a lifetime type trip. I really wanted to go to Haleakala, but we only had a week and didn’t want to divide the time between islands. It was still a great trip though and it looks like yours was too.
Thank you Dan, yes it was a great trip. The problem with doing these trips is that once you're back in the "real world", it makes you question what the hell you're doing with your life, haha. You've got to travel more though, even if it's domestically within CONUS. There's so much to see and do out there, and being a photography enthusiast allows you to document those trips.

I'm not certain what you did when you were on Kauai, but if you did any hiking at all, then I can tell you that hands-down Kauai was the better option. Haleakala was definitely cool, but it's extremely touristy. It's packed for sunrise because it's a "drive and arrive" location. The hiking on Maui isn't bad, and there are some good trails out there, but it simply pales in comparison to what you're exposed to in Kauai. Had we done the islands reversed, I would've been disappointed in the hiking on Maui having experienced the hiking on Kauai.

However, even if you don't hike in Kauai, a helicopter tour of the island or a cruise along the Napali coast are reason enough to visit the island. Bottom line is, don't feel bad about "only" visiting Kauai. I absolutely loved it there, and hope that when I make the thread documenting that portion of our trip, it brings back some memories for you as well.
 

ijm5012

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I like the shots of the landscape poking through the clouds.

It's a very different view of Hawaii you've captured - I always thought it was a lot greener!
Haha, yeah being in a cloud sucked. Freezing cold and soaking wet, battered by constant wind. But in that brief ~10 minute window we had when it cleared, the view was awesome. I've never seen anything like that before.

As for the landscape, there are definitely lush, green regions on the island. I just never realized that there are different climates depending on where you are on the island. It makes for a much more diverse trip in my opinion.
 

ijm5012

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Absolutely gorgeous. I love the camera shot, with the water dripping. Fantastic! :thumbup:
Thank you Melissa. Cool shot, miserable conditions. Haha. It still beats being in the office though!

Beautiful. A different Hawaii than most see. Thanks, looking forward to the other island.
Thank you Tom. Yes, I too was surprised at just how different the island was in certain areas compared to what I had in my mind. As for the images from Kauai, I'll get that written up here one evening, and post a link in this thread for anyone that is interested.
 
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Haha, yeah being in a cloud sucked. Freezing cold and soaking wet, battered by constant wind. But in that brief ~10 minute window we had when it cleared, the view was awesome. I've never seen anything like that before.

As for the landscape, there are definitely lush, green regions on the island. I just never realized that there are different climates depending on where you are on the island. It makes for a much more diverse trip in my opinion.

Very true. Within a relatively short distance you can go from a hot white sandy beach to a freezing blizzard topped mountain (on the Big Island at least). As they used to say, you could ski in the morning and SCUBA dive in the afternoon (don't do the reverse sequence!). From a lava flow to a rainforest in a few miles. Take your pick. :)

BTW, that was a good point about getting soaked in a cloud. It's not only rain you want your camera weather-sealed for.
 
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