After visiting Haleakala National Park, our tour guide Gavin drove us to lunch in the small town of Makawao. Our destination for the afternoon was the Iao Valley State Monument but it was on the other side of the island. First, we ate a buffet Italian lunch at Casanova’s. It was good, but seemed an odd choice for an excursion on Maui.
We had a little time before reboarding our bus, so Tom and I walked around Makawao. We stopped in at the Komoda Store and Bakery. This 100 year old bakery specializes in malasadas, which are Portuguese donuts. Portuguese came to work in the sugar cane fields and these delicious donuts became a part of the Hawaiian culture. Tom and I shared one and they tasted like a fresh Krispy Kreme glazed donut. Delicious! The store also sells “Poi by the Pound” but we skipped that.
When everyone was done eating, we climbed on the bus and headed for Iao Valley State Monument. The centerpiece of Iao Valley is the Iao Needle. It is a pillar of rock 1200 feet taller than the valley floor. We walked along the Needle View Trail and enjoyed the beautiful native vegetation.
My favorite part of the Monument was watching the native Hawaiians swimming in the creek running through it. Some young men were climbing on rocks and jumping in a deep pool. Several families played and splashed in the water and ate picnics along the shore.
We enjoyed our driver, Gavin, very much. He is a native of the Oahu but has lived on Maui for 20 years. He was – literally – born on the Waikiki beach, and his relatives all call him the Hawaiian word for “sandy.” One of the different things he said was “chicken skin” instead of “goose bumps.” The legends of Hawaii give him “chicken skin.” On the way down the twisty road from Haleakala, he played “I Don’t Know Where I’m Gonna Go When the Volcano Blow” by Jimmy Buffet. Pretty funny.
We drove by a closed sugar cane factory. Pineapple and sugar cane used to be big on the islands, but the main agricultural product now is coffee. The #1 business in Hawaii is tourism. We concluded our time on Maui back in Lahaina. The tour finished around 3 but we didn’t have to be back on the ship until 6. Tom and I walked through Lahaina, checking out the stores. We saw a huge banyan tree that was almost an acre in size. I also saw one of the original missionary houses. We even enjoyed a little bit of the legendary Hawaiian liquid sunshine!
Finally we got the last two seats on a tender back to the ship. Our day on Maui was interesting and full. We especially enjoyed the beautiful Iao Valley and learning more about Hawaiian traditions.