We woke up early to enjoy fresh Kona coffee, lilikoi, starfruit, and banana bread from the farmer’s market on our balcony, and we watched as a double rainbow revealed itself over Ka’anapali Beach. For me, Maui was an island of diversity – it offered me the ability to snorkel in the most beautiful beaches around the world, while a massive shield volcano loomed miles away, and miles from that boasted a tropical jungle. Today we were visiting the last active volcano in Hawai’i outside of the Big Island, Haleakalā. Dating tests have indicated that it last erupted in the late 1700s.
We drove to the Summit District in Kula, reaching 10,000 feet. The mountainous slopes were sculpted of rich brown and red volcanic soil. According to the legend, the demigod Maui trapped the sun, promising to release it only after it agreed to move slowly across the sky, and thus, the word Haleakalā means “House of the Sun.” There was, in a sense, a relationship between the sun and the land, and the colors of the terrain changed as the sun changed. I understood why this place was held so sacred – the summit, as the highest site on Maui, is considered to be the closest to the Gods. Hawaiians, in their rich culture, are deeply connected to nature, having multiple words for “mist,” as well as hundreds of words to describe the currents between the islands, and distinct names for the various winds.
Coming down from the summit is the Kipahulu Valley, which has traditionally served as a large site for farming taro, a Hawaiian staple. Native plants with silver rosettes and a flowering stalk, called Silverswords (Ahinahina in Hawaiian), speckled the ground. They can live up to 90 years and flower only once, later scattering dry seeds in the wind.
We drove to Wailuku, to overlook the ‘Iao Valley. Kuka’emoku, known as the ‘Iao Needle, towered over us at 1200 ft. The Valley has great historical significance, being the battle site of Kepaniwai in 1790. It was here that King Kamehameha (in his quest to unite the islands) defeated Maui’s army, and his victory changed the course of Hawaiian history.
We returned back to our condo with only a couple hours of sunlight remaining. Why not snorkel in Napili Bay? Our snorkeling excursion resulted in a discovery of an angry eel (which was pretty exciting nonetheless), schools of fish, a blowfish, and a family of turtles. Happy reading!
For more information about Haleakalā National Park, Iao Valley State Monument, and Snorkeling Spots.
NOTE: All blog posts, articles, and photographs are the intellectual and creative property of Melissa J. Koziol. Thank you for reading!