Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Hawaii Vacation - Day 10: Maluaka Beach, Haleakala, and the Day of Amazing Sights!

After stomach troubles the day before, Kai felt much better on Day 10. He was up early to use the iPad which upset me as I knew he would get tired and irritable later in the day. I told him how I felt, and he said that he gets up early because he worries about oversleeping. So, he came up with an idea to set an alarm every evening from now on. Good thinking, Kai.

But in the meantime, we had a busy day ahead.

We had planned to go to Haleakala National Park on day that the weather forecast called for clear skies because we wanted to see the sunset from the summit of the long-dormant volcano. As the outlook was for rain the rest of the week, we decided to make this the day. We would not head up there until afternoon, so we had time in the morning to do another activity.

We drove just a few miles south of our condo to Maluaka Beach. Not as well known as neighboring Makena Beach, this was said to be a great spot to snorkel and see sea turtles.

We quickly saw interesting sights including more colorful coral than we had seen in other spots, as well as sea urchins.

But what really got us excited was when we saw a large creature headed our way. It was a very large sea turtle!

It swam closer and closer to us, and we could see how big it really was. It was much larger than the turtles we saw sunning themselves on the beach on Oahu's North Shore. And it got so close to us that I was worried that we would collide. We were told that as protected species, we should not touch sea turtles and should give them some distance. But this one swam directly beneath us! The following photo was taken with a regular lens (no zoom) after the turtle passed us. Until then I was scrambling to get out of his way.

We saw other interesting creatures including this long pole-like fish.

Later, another snorkeler alerted us to a small turtle that was sleeping on the bottom of the ocean underneath a rock. I periodically kept an eye on it to see if it would move, and sure enough it eventually awoke to swim up to the surface.

We also saw another turtle, this one about halfway in size between the youngster and the king turtle.

Of course, we saw numerous fish as well.

We had been thinking of taking a snorkel boat tour but after having so much success on our own, I think we will save our money.

The following photo was taken after we got out of the water. In the distance you can see Molokini, a crescent-shaped volcanic crater which forms a small, uninhabited islet. Molokini is a popular destination for the snorkel tours.

Before driving back to our condo, we went to see the famous Makena Beach, otherwise known as Big Beach.

If time allows on one of our remaining days, we may go back there to swim.

Near the beach, we saw someone selling fresh coconut juice right out of the coconut. Kai loves coconuts and these were especially tasty and refreshing.

After showering, we headed out toward Haleakala.

As we knew we would not get to eat dinner until late, we had a late lunch in the small artsy community of Makawao. Lunch was okay but we really enjoyed the gelato we had afterward. Kai had coconut while my wife and I shared a lilikoi.

And then we continued our journey up the mountain. It got very cloudy and I was worried that our plans to see the sunset would get fogged out.

But as we drove higher and higher, we ended up above the clouds. It felt like we were on top of the world.

After driving up and up on a twisty road, we reached the point where we could see into the volcanic crater. Wow! It was an amazing sight that photos just can't adequately capture.

We then took a short hike to where we could get a better view. Kai started complaining shortly after we started the ascent. The hike was a bit steep, and the altitude made the air thin, but the hike was far less difficult than the one we did a week earlier on Oahu. Plus it was not long at all. But here is where Kai's irritability came into play. We walked slowly, took a couple long breaks, and made it to the top.

Here's one side of the crater...

And the other...

After that, we drove even higher and got to the summit. The elevation is over 10,000 feet. In one day we went from swimming in the ocean to standing 10,000 feet above sea level.

In the following photo, you can see two mountains on Hawaii's big island in the distance. If you look carefully, you will also see a very small rainbow just to the right of the nearby landmass.

And here you can see the whole crater from this farther vantage point.

We also saw these beautiful and rare silversword plants which are found only at Haleakala.

We had a little time before the sunset so we waited in the car for about 45 minutes. Then we grabbed out beach chairs and picked out a spot to wait the last 45 minutes or so before sunset.

At this point, Kai is still smiling.

But after awhile he got cold and very irritable. The temperature was in the low 40s so it was definitely cold, but I've felt much colder walking from the train station to the office in the middle of a Chicago winter so this was not so bad. But Kai doesn't tolerate things once he gets upset.

I tried to focus on the view we were seeing. Wow! Top of the world!

The parking lot filled up and people started to gather to find a spot.

With 15 minutes to go until sunset, Kai asked when we were leaving. He grumbled that we could have seen the sunset while on the beach as we had the night before.

We were all wearing several layers of clothing, but I gave him my windbreaker and got him and my wife our snorkeling vests to try to keep them warmer.

Everything was worth it when the sun started to near the horizon. For me, the best moment came a few moments before the sun set when all the clouds below us turned orange.

Did I say "Wow!" yet?

After the sunset, the look changed, but was still impressive as the clouds floated below the orange skyline.

But we didn't linger long as we had a highly irritated boy who had to get back to the warmth of our car.

But even driving down the mountain, we still saw the wondrous sight as the sun disappeared beyond the clouds.

Haleakala is most famous for its sunrises. We had chosen to go for the sunset instead as we heard that it was impressive as well and, of course, would not require us to awaken at 3 am. After seeing the place, I can now understand why seeing the sunrise is so popular. It must be an awesome sight to see the sun come out of the clouds with the crater in the foreground.

But I'd say the sunset is not so bad either. :)


  1. What a great day you had. You have so many great photos! I love the upside down sunset. I used to see them from the side of Mauna Kea on the Big Island. How are you getting those great underwater shots? Kai must have had a wonderful day, especially with the high altitude sunset to finish it off. You are really seeing some great sights during your vacation.

    1. Yes, this was a day of great photo opportunities! That "upside down" sunset was really special!

      The underwater shots are taken with a Nikon AW130, an underwater camera that I asked my wife for as a Father's Day present knowing that we would be coming to Hawaii and in the water a lot. I had forgotten to bring the battery charger but ordered one on Amazon back when we were on Oahu and paid extra for fast delivery. I'm glad I did as the shots today, especially, will bring many happy memories.

      Not sure Kai appreciates all the sights, but I think he will remember them and the fondness of his memory will grow over time.


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