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Travel Blog #177 - Hana Bus Tour with Valley Isle Excursions


Upon arrival at the Maui Lani Golf Resort I was greeted by a man wearing an aloha shirt that was standing next to a large bus that had "Valley Isle Excursions" painted on the side. He guided us into a large room that was filled with dining tables and a large buffet. The buffet was filled with arrangements of muffins, fruits, juices, and coffee. I made myself a plate that included a blueberry muffin and some fresh fruits and a cup of POG. As I enjoyed my food I couldn't help but daydream of the spots that we would encounter on the days adventure. Being a resident of Maui I knew exactly what we could expect to see (and the weather was absolutely beautiful!). Once we finished up our food we waited for the rest of the passengers to finish enjoying their meals before we made our way back out to the busses to begin our tour out to Hana.

As we stepped on to the bus and took our seats

As we stepped on to the bus and took our seats the excitement of the trip started to sink in. We left the Maui Lani golf course and made our way towards the Hana Highway. The bus driver was equipped with a mic that let us hear everything he said over the busses speaker system. Throughout the day he narrated various fact and stories to us. It was nice to know that the driver knew so much about the island (it made the ride much more entertaining!). As we passed the sugar mill in Kahului he explained about how it got its start as well as some details on worked there during it's long history. He explained the importance of the cane industry on Maui and the history behind it as we made our way towards the town of Paia. While pointing out the beaches of Baby Beach, Baldwin, and Paia Bay he explained some history about the town of Paia. He also pointed out some nice places to eat and shop like the Mana Foods grocery store and the Flatbread Pizza Parlor. Soon after we found ourselves driving past the area known as Haiku. Our driver explained that the inhabitants of Maui first started growing sugar cane in 1869. We were making our way into forest by that time and the subject matter of the narration began to shift from history to botany. We all were in awe over the different plants and trees that lined the sides of the road. As we drove the driver would point out different vegetation like the native Koa tree and the invasive bamboo. As we made our way down Hana highway the rainforest seemed to get thicker and thicker.

About 20 minutes from the Kaenae peninsula we began starting to spot our first waterfalls. These waterfalls were fairly small compared to the ones we would see later on in the tour but they were still remarkably beautiful. We finally reached our first stop in Kaenae. We got out of the bus and had about 45 minutes to wander around and take photos. Roaming around the jagged lava rocks on the shore and gazing at the old church our tour guide explained another fact. He said that "Kaenae" means "mullet fish" in Hawaiian. After taking our pictures we made our way back in the bus.

Our next stop was at the black sand beach

Our next stop was at the black sand beach in the Waianapanapa State Park. This is one of my personal favorite beaches on the island so I was very glad that we stopped here. After taking shoreline shots of the black sand beach we were greeted with a "Classic Hana Picnic". This consisted of an incredible meal of BBQ chicken, salad, bread, and a soft drink that we ate under a private pavilion. Once we all were done eating we made our way back onto the bus to begin traveling towards our next stop.

After eating we apparently got a little V.I.P. treatment by being able to drive through Koki and Hamoa. Our bus driver made sure to make us aware that we should feel very special because apparently these sights are not normally part of the tour but if he has enough time he will ass them on. Once the special treatment bonus section of the tour was over we began to make it over towards the area that was formally known as the "Seven Sacred Pools" (but is now officially known as "Oheo Gulch"). We walked through a gorgeous trail that went under a banyan tree before it eventually ended at the lower pools. Waterfalls connect all the pools to each other and the sight is so beautiful that many of the people who go there are instantly put into a state of awe. We had some time to take some pictures but unfortunately the water was rushing too hard to be able to safely swim. We spent plenty of time checking it out before we had to begin to make our way back up to the bus.

Leaving the Oheo Gulch we continued out the Hana Highway driving towards Charles Lindbergh's grave. His grave was located in the Palapala Ho'omau Church. This is a beautiful old church that was built almost entirely from blocks of limestone coral back in 1857. Back in that time apparently about 40,000 Hawaiians lived in this area. Now only a few families remain in the area that surrounds the church. After this stop we made our way down the highway all the way back to Ulupalakua. This drive took us through the areas of Maui that are known as Kaupo and Kahikinui. This would be the bumpiest part of the dive thus far. As the rainforest slowly turns into a dry environment the road turns to dirt. Even with the bumps it's still a beautiful sight to see because the lack of vegetation allows you an open line of sight that extends all the way up to the rim of the crater on the summit of Haleakala.

The last stop of the day was located in Ulupalakua at the Tedeshi Vineyard. The purpose of the stop was to taste some of the wine that is made on Maui. Once we arrived to the Tedeschi Winery we made our way into a small room where samples of wine were given out. The winery had a selection of white and red wines to taste. Once finished with the wine samples we made our way to the Ulupalakua Ranch Store to browse around. The store was filled with souvenirs and even some local meat such as Elk or Maui Beef that was raised on the ranch that is adjacent to the winery. Once everyone finished buying things and taking pictures we boarded our bus and made our way back to the Maui Lani Golf Course where we had parked our car. The rest of the tours participants were dropped off back at their hotels. I was extremely impressed with the sheer amount of knowledge that our tour guide was able to tell us throughout the day. Throughout the tour he was able to constantly explain exactly where we were as well as the history of the area. The combination of our driver and the scenery definitely made this Hana excursion a trip to remember.

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Travel Blog - Articles #170 to #179

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As we were sitting at the Whole Foods Markey in Kahului, a large 15 seat gray van pulled up. The door opened and out stepped a couple that greeted us and invited us onboard.

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The Road to Hana is one of the most breathtaking drives on earth. It consists of 52 miles, 617 curves, 56 one lane bridges, pineapple fields, spectacular cliffs, bamboo jungles and waterfalls.

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Mike Kano

The Hana Classic Tour w/ Valley Isle Excursions was a highlight of our vacation on Maui. Debra, our driver/guide was Da Best since she was from the area. The tour was long, but made fun and interesting with scenic explanations, area history, and light-hearted humor. As a kamaaina, I recommend this as a must-go!