Travel Diaries

Hawaii Diaries #3 – Maha’ulepu, Hiking and Dolphins too!

The plan for day 3 was to explore the southern beaches starting with the Maha’ulepu beaches.

Our afternoon was already booked with a catamaran ride so we didn’t have a ton of time to waste. We popped Gillin’s Beach into the GPS and set off.

The Maha’ulepu area is somewhat off the beaten path. You drive down a paved road(Poipu Rd) past a hotel and suddenly find yourself on a red dirt road.

I started to see why people like to rent Jeep’s as my Hyundai bounced up and down the rocky terrain. This is an area where 4WD certainly might help. We quickly ran into an obstacle in the form of a gate sporting a road closed temporarily sign.

However, there was path to the right that seemed like it might lead somewhere so we turned and continued. The road led us past CJM Stables, a horse ranch we’ll be visiting later in our stay. There were some cars parked on the side of the road there and what looked like some trails so we parked and got out.

The road past here looked way too rocky and rough for our Hyundai so we chose to check it out on foot. The roads to here aren’t too bad as evidenced below but the red sand certainly gets the car dirty and random rocks make for a bumpy ride over.

We walked down the trail and were greeted with a sign that told us of two trails; the horse and foot trails.

The view here was already awesome as we could see the entire coastline and the beach ahead of us.


We choose to take the foot trail first. This one takes you to the right away from the beach and up some rocky terrain. The ocean is still right there near you and you can feel the spray of the water as you walk alongside the rocky cliffs.

Turning around gives you an awesome view of the coastline and the mountains behind it. The sun was right above us and it was pretty warm but the breeze and water mist helped keep us cool.

The hike on this end isn’t very long but it is quite rocky so make sure to wear nice hiking shoes. Be aware that they’ll likely stain as the red iron rich dirt tends to get everywhere.

As the trail started to turn inwards towards land again, we turned around and head back to the trail intersection, this time taking the horse trail.

The entrance to that trail was slightly foreboding. It was a nice tree canopy that was a respite from the sun above.

The path itself turned from rocky to sandy quickly. You could hear the sounds of the ocean around you as you walked on the soft sand.

I was glad to be wearing shoes as there were plenty of ants and little black slugs on this trail.

Make sure not to step on the little guys!

The trail wound around and split off into a few directions. We followed a sign that pointed us towards a cave and came up to see this below us.

It was some sort of natural cave formation and it looked pretty cool.

We kept moving along and I took a right turn following the sounds of the beach and was greeted with this.

The awesome part about Hawaii is that you’re always a few turns away from awesome views.

My wife wanted to check out the cave so we went back and found another trail. This one led to Makauwahi Cave.

The entrance of the cave was closed. The sign outside of it said it was open 9-2 Sundays so we made a plan to return.

On the way back, we found another path over a little bridge.

I normally wouldn’t post a picture of a bridge. However, this one was made by the Pirates of the Caribbean 4 crew while they shot here so that was cool.

On the other side of the bridge was a little parking lot, a fruit stand and a little tortoise area you could enter. I assume this is where the road would bring you if it wasn’t closed.

There were little stops that allowed you to climb above a fence and see some tortoises.

Here’s one! Her name was Lightning and she is 19 years young.

At least I think that’s her name. There were signs outside with names and ages but there wasn’t a lot of clarity as to which applied to which tortoise.

After that diversion, we finally walked back towards the beach.

The views here were awesome and we could see the spot where we started easily.

The beach was almost completely empty. Hard access doesn’t make for a populated beach. This is one of those spots that takes some work to get to so it’s not for everyone.

I wouldn’t call this a swimming beach as the waves were rough and the water rocky but it’s definitely a good one for people who like to walk.

The sand was extremely soft with my feet sinking into up to my ankles in spots. The coastline goes on for quite some time. I’d say we spent a good half hour walking down the soft sand. When we eventually turned around, it was after a turn where more of the land opened up to us and the wind gusts started to pelt sand against our feet; it was a bit painful.

It was breezy and sunny and a perfect day to be out on a walk.

We started to walk back but saw that there were people in the cave somehow. It wasn’t Sunday but it was after 9 now so maybe the sign lied!

The cave entrance isn’t all that welcoming but it was open now.

Yes, it’s very small. Also, yes, that is a piece of dirty carpet for you to crawl on if you’re too tall.

Also, according to a pamphlet about the cave, there are blind spiders in there. What fun!

My wife was able to shimmy her way in without crawling since she’s short. However, I had to get my knees dirty a tiny bit to get inside.

There is a suggested donation of $10 for entry which goes to support cave upkeep. The inside is quite pretty with some varied areas.

There’s still some archaeological work being done inside and there was a guide in the back of the cave if you want to learn more about it.

Again, this place only seems to be open on weekends between 9-2.

The original plan was to check a bunch of beaches. However, Maha’ulepu took a while so we just went home to shower and change as all our clothes were dirty.

This was an awesome place but definitely wear some stuff you don’t mind getting dirty.

After that, we went back home, showered and made a stop at Anake’s Juice Bar to try an acai bowl. We got a funky monkey which was acai, peanut butter and banana topped with some fruit.

I was glad we split a bowl as while the flavors were decent, the portion was rather large. We didn’t finish it as it was a bit too sweet too.

Maybe we’re just not acai bowl people as everyone seems to rave about it on the review websites. It was by no means bad but nothing I’d want to go out of my way for. There’s supposed to be another good place in the north we might try to compare once we’re there.

After the lunch pit stop, we headed west towards our cruise.

Along the way we stopped by Hanapepe, a small town which was surprisingly dead for noon on a Saturday. There were a few stores and restaurants as well as a swinging bridge that swayed as you walked on it.

We then made it to our destination and waited for our trip.

You can’t see it in the coconut weather station but it was a very windy day. According to the captain, that caused the conditions in the Na Pali coast, the original destination to be too rough.

We did have the option to reschedule or get a full refund but chose to do the trip anyway. It was windy but the sun was out and it was a beautiful day.

The boat we were on was a catamaran and while there were about 30 people with us, it didn’t feel crowded. We got going and the first part of the trip was awesome!

The action is in the front. We quickly moved up front after realizing this. Our phones quickly went back into our backpacks after we also realized it’s easy to get pretty wet up there. The boat does sway quite a bit so it’s possible your phone will fly over the rail too. Two reasons why I didn’t want to risk it.

If you ever take a tour like this one, sit in the front and especially on the trampoline like areas. The views are gorgeous and you get to see everything!

We saw some turtles first and then spotted some spinner dolphins too.

It was totally awesome; legitimately one of the best experiences of my life. The dolphins popped up near the front of the boat and started swimming with us for at least twenty minutes.

Holy crap – dolphins swimming alongside the boat ; so cool!

We were right there to catch it all since we had front row seats by moving to the front.

You could see them ride the currents of the boat and even do jumps near us when we slowed down.

It was totally fantastic. After that, we slowed down, put up the sails and turned around.

This second part of the trip; not so awesome.

Apparently I get seasick! It didn’t bother me when the engine was on and we were bouncing up and down the waves.

However, the lower speeds once the sails came down became a problem. Then we dropped anchor for dinner and I was in trouble.

The gentle swaying back and forth made me feel queasy and I couldn’t eat the steak and shrimp offered for dinner.

We started moving again after dinner and while I tried to keep my eyes on the horizon; it didn’t help.

Nausea asked my stomach to act and luckily I was standing in a spot where the wind was at my back. Spew city!

This was a sunset cruise so we saw that but at that point, I just felt like crap the entire time.

It was no fun!

Note to self, don’t take sail boats anywhere.

Still, I’d totally do it again because of the dolphins. That was an amazing experience and I wish I got some pictures of it.

The bed called our name after a quick shower when we got home at 7:30. We’re still no on Hawaii time and go to bed early and wake up well before the sun is up. However, I don’t mind that since we’re not night people and catching all of the daylight is key for our enjoyment.

Today, I was up at 3:00 A.M. still feeling a bit off but ready to go on our morning ATV tour in a few hours.

Related : Hawaii Diaries #4

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