Maui Moments

It’s this time of year that I often get the call of Hawaii. It’s not a phone call or a text, but the Aloha spirit, reaching out, whispering of the warm ease and sweet fragrance, sea breezes and lapping waves.

No trip to Hawaii this winter, it’s not a safe or wise time to travel. I’ve put that call on hold. But when it’s time, I’ll be back to Maui, one of my favorite islands in America’s 50th state.

You can google Maui activities and come up with hundreds of ways to spend your time, below are a few of my favorites.

The second-largest of the Hawaiian Islands, Maui rose up from the sea in the form of two shield volcanoes. Today the island is two mountains: West Maui and Haleakala. They are old volcanoes and dormant.

My favorite thing about Maui in winter is the humpback whales. They’re everywhere.

From December through April, up to 10,000 humpbacks migrate to Maui from Alaska, to breed. The water is warm and shallow–good conditions for birthing and avoiding deep-water predators.

You can spot whales just about anywhere, evident by the exhalation breath spraying from their blowholes.

Whales have been migrating here for centuries. Lahaina, a city on the west coast of Maui, was a lively center for the global whaling industry in the 1800s.

These days whale-watching is the big attraction on Maui, and harpooning is out. An exciting way to spend the day is on a whale-watching boat, cruising the waters looking for whales, and waiting for that special moment when they breach.

Snorkeling is great fun, too. A good map of the island (published by University of Hawaii Press) will yield hundreds of suggestions for good snorkeling beaches, and is helpful for bypassing some of the more web-linked popular tourist spots.

This bay, below, is off the radar. We had to trek through some overgrowth to get to it, and the beach is not sand, it’s rocks. But under that water we found butterflyfish, parrotfish, goatfish, tangs, triggerfish, wrasse and more. Left center in this photo are three dots. Those are the only other snorkelers. That, to me, is paradise.

Sea turtles bob around, and, if you’re lucky, you might hear the singing of the humpbacks underwater. We did.

This spotted dove joined us on the beach.

Birds on the Hawaiian Islands are either native or introduced. Natives are the prize for birders, but rare; most are introduced, they arrived on the islands in numerous ways centuries ago.

It is interesting to see the array of introduced birds in the lowlands, but it is absolutely thrilling to go to the mountains and find some of the rare, native birds.

Introduced, non-native birds in the lowlands are bright and exotic. Hotel and resort grounds, residential backyards, and parking lots are festive with them.

Introduced lizards, like this green anole, thrive in ornamental landscapes.

But if you want to see what the Real Maui looks like, you have to leave behind the warm temperatures and sea frolics of the lowlands, and head up to the higher elevations.

We never go to Maui without at least one, preferably two, day-trips to Haleakala. From the west coast, where we usually stay, it takes 2-3 hours to reach the summit.

The farther you drive away from the tourist towns, the more Hawaiian culture you will find. Fruit stands brimming with papayas and guava and homemade banana bread, school kids getting off the bus, local life.

Then, as you ascend Haleakala, you come to overlooks with views over the whole island–land and sea. If you scan the sea with binoculars, you will see a whale spout or two in the distance.

About 75% of the island of Maui is Haleakala…that’s how big the mountain is. The tallest peak: 10,023 feet (3,055 m).

One of our favorite Haleakala places to go is Hosmer Grove. We have spent many rain-drenched hours searching for rare, prized native forest birds in this thicket, below, in Haleakala National Park.

Inside that mass of tangled trees we were rewarded with sightings of several native birds, two shown here. They have the curved bills to draw nectar from flowers.

At Haleakala’s summit are incredible overviews of this sacred mountain and its cinder cones.

Only a few plants, birds, and insects live on the summit with its harsh conditions and volcanic slopes.

Just a few virtual moments in some of your favorite places are a pleasant reminder that we have a marvelously diverse planet, and many more adventures await us.

Written by Jet Eliot.

Photos by Athena Alexander.

Map of Hawaii highlighting Maui.svg
Hawaiian Islands, Maui in red. Courtesy Wikipedia.

103 thoughts on “Maui Moments

    • Yes, it’s unfortunate to not be going to Hawaii, but everything is so complicated right now, and unsafe, it’s just not a good time. But I’m glad I could share these Maui moments with you, Mike. Hey, my friend, thanks for your visit today.

    • I’m glad I could share the tropical paradise with you, today, Sreejith. And I am so glad you could share the sunbird nest-building videos with me. We have brought a bit of sunshine to each other today. Many thanks.

  1. I took a deep sigh as I read through your beautiful post Jet. As I may have mentioned, we cancelled our family trip to Maui to celebrate Dave’s 60th birthday, 8 days before departure in March. We rebooked for March 2021 and have now cancelled again. like you, I don’ think it is safe or the right time to travel now.
    so I soaked up the warmth and wonder of Maui from my computer screen this morning. when our trip comes to be one day I’ll certainly be touching base about your snorkeling locations.
    Thanks for the Maui magic this morning. A lovely change from the crisis going on in our province at the moment.

    • These are certainly the strangest of times, eh Sue? But how fortunate we have the energy and strength to hope and move forward and celebrate our loved ones. Thanks for your visit and warm words, my friend, and my best to you and Dave and your family. Mahalo.

  2. It must be fantastic doing some whale watching on this favourite spot of yours, Jet. You are presenting a beautiful array of flowers, insects and birds, none of them familiar to us where we live, not even the Spotted Dove!
    We have never been to Hawaii so please correct us; we tend to automatically link the islands with sea pollution and litter and beaches inundated with plastic (Kamilo beach). You don’t mention it with a word so obviously, they have found a way to cope with it? It looks stunningly beautiful!

    Wishing you and Anthena a lovely weekendโฃ๏ธ
    The Fab Four of Cley

    • Hi Fab Four. Your understanding of Hawaii is seriously wrong, and I am delighted to report that you can erase your “automatic link” of trashy beaches and the Hawaiian islands. Kamilo Beach is an anomaly; unfortunately close to one of the plastic patches, an environmental disaster that covers the globe. Hawaii’s beaches are beautiful and cherished, and I invite you to see for yourself someday.

    • Dear Eddie, that is such a warm and rewarding sentiment, and I thank you with all my heart. It’s such a big world, we are all lucky to have each other to share the wonder with. My thanks and smiles, dear Eddie, and wishes to you for a sweet weekend.

  3. One of my extended family members is Hawaiian and he recently went over to visit his son who was having a milestone birthday and party. Sadly, his Covid-19 test results didn’t come in in time for the party and he missed it being quarantined in his hotel. It’s not a good time to go over there, unfortunately.

    How marvelous that you have seen native birds there! They’re so beautiful and different from what we have here. I’ve never been to Maui, but it’s on my list! I hope you have a lovely week-end and are getting around really well now!

    • Interesting story about your extended family member, Deborah. Yes, with quarantining and the Covid spread and surges, it’s just easier to stay home and be safe. Meanwhile, we can share our memories, and I’m glad I could bring some of Maui to you today. I am walking better and farther with each new day, thank you. My warm thanks, Deborah.

  4. This is a wonderful description of what to see and do, including special places that look wonderful. Hopefully we’ll all be traveling again soon… ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I think that we could all use some rest and relaxation on a tropical island and, judging from your text, Jet, and Athena’s images, Maui looks like it would fit the bill nicely. I’ve had only one brief stay in Hawaii and that was in Honolulu, which had a very different vibe than the natural paradise that you described so beautifully. I love all of the colorful creatures, including some amazing birds, and the beautiful scenery. It seems like I could easily spend several weeks there and not run out of places to explore. For the immediate future, I am hunkering down and doing my best to stay safe and hope that the two of you are doing the same.

    • Wonderful to hear from you, Mike. Yes, you would like the beauty of Maui. I just looked up dragonflies, and they have them there, and even have two endemics in the higher elevations. It would be easy to spend several weeks there, I agree, but hunkering down at home right now is the best call. Today it is sunny here at home. I’m hoping you have a lovely weekend.

  6. It has been years since I’ve been to Hawaii – never to Maui, but to Kauai. I love the exotic looking birds in these tropical places. As for the humpback whales, I will have to satisfy myself with the idea that I might have seen some of the same whales that you have, but in this case, they did the traveling and I might have seen them in the Queen Charlotte Islands, years ago. They are a treat to see. It’s good that you have such beautiful photos you can reminisce with, since you can’t travel to Maui this year.

    • Oh yes, I agree, Anneli, the whales are a treat to see. I can never get enough of them, they’re such gentle and gigantic creatures. It’s so wonderful that they’re protected now in Maui and the thrill is in simply watching them. Thanks so much for your visit today, always appreciated.

  7. A warm and colourful post! Thanks, Jet, this brightened a grey morning. Looking ahead, it appears thereโ€™s some positive news about vaccines, and all being well, you could be up in the mountains of Maui this time next year?! Hereโ€™s hoping…
    Thanks again, and stay safe!

    • Oh I like the thought of being up on Haleakala this time next year, pc. I’m happy I could bring you virtually today to Maui, it’s such a beautiful place. I’m glad this brightened your day. Thanks for the bright hope, my friend. Cheers to you both.

  8. What a fabulous post – it warmed my heart to see the beauty and colour. Hopefully next year you will be able to return. Stay safe and well dear Jet….and hope you are able to enjoy some festive spirit. Janet:)X

  9. Oh, how nice to see this beautiful place… even if it’s just virtually. It’s fun for me to see Maui, too, since family on Oahu makes it our go-to island! Thanks; this was a great post.

    • Next time you’re on Oahu, Nan, consider a few days in Maui, it’s really so different from Oahu, more relaxed, and great fun. It’s a half-hour flight away. For today, for now, I’m happy I could bring you some of the luscious Aloha spirit. Thanks so much.

  10. My husband’s brother used to live on Maui … his wife owned Dot’s Pots and was a renowned potter. Every time I’ve been up to the crater it’s been too foggy to see anything! We were once silly enough to drive to Hana. Golly I wish I was in Hawaii now. I think if I ever get over again I’m not coming back!

    • I loved hearing about Dot’s Pots and your family in Maui, Jan. The crater has it’s foggy weather days a lot, we were lucky that day to have clear vistas, so I’m glad I could share them with you today…got your Aloha bug going. Mahalo, my friend.

    • I’m happy you enjoyed the Maui post today, Walt, and the off-the-beaten-track perspective I offered. I’m definitely one of those people who is always going the opposite way of the crowd no matter what. I have the feeling you are that way too. We like our peace and space. Many thanks and cheers to you.

    • It’s a great treat to share the magic of Maui with you here today, Janet. It can get busy and touristy if you do the activities that tour operators suggest. But hopefully this post helped with innovative solutions for that time when you and your husband visit there. Until then, sending my best wishes to you. Many thanks.

  11. Thank you, Jet for taking me to Maui. You should know by now that I’ve never been to Hawaii. I don’t have to go because I enjoy your company through your post. Thank you for the wonderful tour, my friend. ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ‘

    • We are fortunate in the blogging world to have our friends show us the world, aren’t we, HJ? I am like you, I virtually travel to places I know I will never get to physically, with the help of my blogging friends. It was great to have you along in the Aloha state. Many thanks and smiles for your visit.

  12. Aloha – ya gotta luv Hawaii but I don’t think that there is a dormant volcano — those volcanoes are just pretending to be asleep and then when you least expect it they are all just waiting to erupt — especially those sneaky shield volcanoes — you just can’t trust a volcano:). Loved your rocky beach.
    Stay safe

    • I’m delighted I could entice you to this secluded beach, Eilene. Here are the tricks: leave all your valuables at home, drive there in your swimming suit and hiking boots, leave your empty car at the road, and carry nothing to the beach but snorkeling gear and snacks. A great adventure, and it’s easy to see you doing it. Aloha!

  13. Dear Jet, I so enjoyed reading (and dreaming) about Maui. Never been, which amazes a lot of fellow Americans, especially Californians. But it’s high on the list and hopefully next year will be the year! Thank you Jet!

    • Well how wonderful for me, Maria, that I could share some of the beauty and grace of Maui with you here. I know you would love it, espec. for the tropical flora. Keep on dreaming and by next year, perhaps, you can make it a reality. Thanks so much for your visit.

    • You’re right, Bertie, it is so very special to see a whale, and I’m glad you have enjoyed that wonder. Thanks for your visit, I’m glad you could visit Maui with us. Aloha to you!

    • I would imagine your wife would indeed rave about Hawaii, Frank, it’s a good muscle-melter after Canadian winters. I’m delighted you enjoyed this quick visit to Maui. Thanks so much.

  14. This post is exquisite, Jet. I am getting the call for Hawaii now, too. I’ve been to Maui once but stayed in a tourist town but we did go sea kayaking to see the sea turtles (but not touch!). That was fun. My husband and I love sea turtles. We also went to Kuai and loved the Napali Coast. I had a very dangerous encounter with a poisonous centipede but the rest of that trip was amazing. Thanks for bringing some Hawaiian sunshine into my Michigan chilly December day. Aloha.

    • I sure enjoyed hearing about your Hawaii adventure, LuAnne. Kayaking to see the sea turtles sounds terrific. While Hawaii doesn’t have snakes, those centipedes can be big and the one species bites, and I hear it is very painful; so that sounds awful. That you can still think of Hawaii as wonderful, after a dangerous encounter, is a testament to the magnificence of Hawaii. Thanks so much, LuAnne – or, more appropriately, Mahalo.

  15. I’d be interested in the Geology Jet. The Volcanism has always been fascinating!
    I’ve seen on the evening news the Governor saying to Canadians to come over and If they take the test they can reduce their quarantine times! Money will be the death of us all.

  16. Thanks for this post, Jet. You’ve revived my memories of Maui. I remember taking a bus to the summit of Haleakala to watch the sunrise, then ride a mountain bike downhill. I also met Jack Nicklaus there, at a golf tournament. All in between attending a conference. I’d love to go back to see the humpback whales.

    • What happy memories you had of Maui, Draco, it’s a pleasure to revive them. I have no doubt you have an impressive repertoire of photos as well. It’s such a photogenic and magical place. The humpback whales would also be a great bonanza for you, they are one of the most awesome creatures we have on this planet. You’re an awesome creature too, my friend, thanks for your visit.

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