Go to the beach, drink a cocktail, and get a flower lei – doesn’t it sound boring? Luckily, there are plenty of things to do in Hawaii that you won’t see in every other photo or video from a Hawaiian vacation.
Molokini is a popular(and overcrowded) snorkeling spot on Maui. Do something different. Take a short ferry ride from Maui to Lanai and hike ½ mile from the ferry landing to magnificent Manele Bay, where you can swim with wild spinner dolphins. Head to the Bay for the day and enjoy the relative solitude and immerse yourself in the warm, clear blue waters of the mid-Pacific.
On a good day, you can see for more than 100 feet in any direction. Pods of playing spinner dolphins jump, spin, and splash in the relatively shallow waters just offshore. The water is pristine and conditions are some of the best on the planet for snorkeling. Just make sure you wear ocean-safe sunscreen. The sun can really cook you, but the chemicals in normal sunscreen burn the reef.
Rainbow Eucalyptus Forest
Maui’s road to Hana is famous for its waterfalls and one-lane bridges, but you don’t have to brave the traffic far to find a fanciful day trip. Take the winding Hana Highway past Paia, Haiku, and Twin Falls, and watch for giant trees with rainbow-colored trunks on your left. Yes, the coloring is natural. This is the only grove of rainbow eucalyptus left on Maui, and it’s protected from harvest and preserved for its beauty.
Park alongside the road, but make sure you’re pulled off completely since the road is narrow and winding. Stroll through the roadside grove, then follow a small footpath back towards the ocean for spectacular photo ops.
Bamboo Forest Hike
Once you’re finished playing Alice in Wonderland amid the rainbow eucalyptus, cross the road and walk back in the direction you drove from. Look closely, and you’ll see a small break in the roadside bamboo thicket. Pass through the opening and choose your own adventure through a thick forest of tall bamboo. There are plenty of waterfalls and swimming holes in the river hidden within. Cross the river to get to the big waterfall.
Sunrise at the crater is so popular you have to make reservations if you want to visit between 3 am and 7 am. It’s listed as one of the top ten sights to see in the world, but go a couple of hours before sunset and you could experience something even rarer – a glimpse of your soul.
Park at the Leleiwi Overlook and walk the short trail down to the edge of the crater. If conditions are just right, you could see the Brocken Spectre – Hookuakain Hawaiian. It happens when the sun behind you casts a rainbow halo around your shadow in the clouds beneath your feet. Ancient Hawaiians believed this lucky sight was a manifestation of the soul.
Continue up to the main parking lot and watch the sun sink into the clouds below, with a much smaller crowd than you’ll encounter at sunrise. Bring a hat and a warm jacket. It gets windy and cold when the sun goes down.
Dinner and Drinks at Kula Lodge
Toast to checking a couple more things off your bucket list with a glass of Maui champagne – sparkling pineapple wine – as you cozy up by the fire at the log-cabin-style Kula Lodge on Haleakala Highway. The lodge’s kitchen serves up a fantastic menu of locally sourced food until 9 pm, including pizzas from a wood-fired, outdoor brick oven.