Andy arrived and his luggage followed shortly thereafter.
We reunited at our hotel, the Grand Wailea, where Irene was just completing her ACOG conference. On Saturday night, after cocktails in the Grand Wailea lounge we met up with Nichole, JJ, Vanessa, Dan and Megan and walked over to Longhi’s for an Italian dinner.
We had a nice “lei”- in and then went for a hearty brunch at the Stella Blues Cafe. Next up, Andy had an overdue haircut while Irene had a pedicure.
2:00pm we went to the Ukulele festival at the Maui Arts and Culture Center. It was a free event and the performers included some of the giants of Ukulele, including Herb Ohta (“Ohta San”). Andy got a CD autographed by him. He said he felt he hadn’t played well, but we really enjoyed his take on jazz and bossa nova standards such as Black Orpheus and All The Things You Are. A surprise performer was the 9 year old Aidan. He
took the performance totally in his stride and did a rendition of the theme from Hawaii 5-0 and his youtube hit, Soul Sister. (The following week he actually appeared on Hawaii Five-O).
The performances inlcuded hula dancing and some Hawaiian choirs. It was a beautiful setting and a bright sunny afternoon.
After the festival we returned to the hotel to freshen up and later had a delicious Japanese meal of inside out veggie sushi and udon noodle soup at Sushi Paradise. The meal was prepared in front of us by the owner and award winning chef, who had operated the restaurant for 20 or so years.
In the morning we went down to the pool, and swam around the network of channels and pools. Around ten Andy had a great free tennis clinic at the nearby Wailea Tennis Club while Irene went to yoga class. In the afternoon we had cocktails poolside. Dinner was at Matteo’s Pizzeria, within walking distance of he hotel. The pizza was delicious and the atmosphere on the restaurant veranda, lit by torches, was fun and relaxing.
We set off north along the Wailea coast road and stopped at Olowalu, the 14 mile marker, for some snorkelling and beach time. There may have been another four or so people on the entire beach. Tropical fish were abundant all across the reef and the coral formations were spectacular. In the evening, we headed up to the Hawaiian art and crafts style Wailea Hotel for a sunset dinner on the balcony of Capische, overlooking the Wailea-Makena coast. Before dinner, we had the head mixologist’s unique water melon martini. We sat down to dinner just as the sun was setting and had a prime view of the intense orange sunset.
After an early breakfast of coffee and Danish in our room, we headed downstairs where we were met by the Ali’i Nui excursion minibus. With fourteen on board, we headed to pier 59 at Mahalea Harbor and boarded the Ali’i Nui, a 65 foot catamaran with a capacity of about 100. We were about forty passengers and six crew on board. We set sail a short distance outside the harbor and crusied out into the Olowalu bay towards the island of Molokai. En route the skipper spotted the first humpback whale of the season. We tried to get closer but the impressive juvenile always remained about 300 feet away. We reached the “turtle cleaning station” where turtles come to have the algae-eating fish clean them by eating the parasites that grow on their backs. At first we saw only fish, then a solitary turtle on the sea bed about twenty feet below us. We were about to move on when turtles started to appear from all directions. Ultimately there were five turtles swimming around us. We snorkelled for about an hour, and towards the end of our adventure, spotted two more young turtles. We swam alongside and behind one of them for about five minutes as it came up for air and circled around in slow, calm flight.
We got up at 3:30am and headed to Haleakala crater, the remains of a group of ancient volcanoes at an altitude of over 9,000 feet. It was a chilly 45 degrees at the summit. When we arrived, the parking lot was empty but within half an hour it was full of tour buses and private cars. At around 5:45 we ventured out towards the visitor center by the eastern rim and joined the scores of other sun worshippers waiting patiently for the sunrise. We were not disappointed. At around 6:10 am the first rays broke through the orange glow along the horizon. The ranger at the visitor began a traditional song, welcoming the sun. We watched the sunrise across the canopy of fluffy white clouds that blanketed the landscape below. As light slowly flooded the crater and surrounding valleys we drove back down the winding Haleakala Crater Road and, a few miles after a turn off on the 377, stopped for breakfast at Kula Lodge, a beautiful hotel overlooking elegant terraced gardens, with tropical blooms. After a few hours sleep back at the hotel, we went snorkelling at the far southern end of Wailea beach. We saw two turtles, and countless fish, and the beautiful white and lime green coral we had seen all over the west coast. In the evening we had our final dinner, this timeat the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a restaurant, a traditional style wooden stilt structure surrounded by coy and carp pools in thehotel grounds. We looked out towards the sea, the beach lit now only by the torches punctuating the beach fence.
Headed home. Too soon