Our first stop of the day in Big Beach; actually, it's Little Beach, an adjacent beach that's a short walk away. Both beaches look like the stereotypical Hawaiian beach: creamy sands, blue waters, a little lifeguard shack one one end, and some people scattered about lounging on the sand or playing in the water. It's about 10a now and not many people are out -- there's lots of room to find some sand for our towel. We head in to the water and play there. The water's pretty warm -- much warmer than what I remember of Maui last time or of other islands. It's been in the mid-80s recently, the sun's out this morning (through the haze of clouds), and the water isn't very deep here so I guess it warms up well. Melinda and I stand in the surf at about waist-height and let the swell toss us back and forth. Several other people nearby are trying to body surf, which I think is just jumping at the right time on an incoming wave and floating in with the water. So, really, very little like surfing and much more like just playing in the water. We see some tour boats stop a hundred yards or so off the beach and dawdle for a few minutes. I doubt they're snorkeling, given that they don't stick around for very long, but I can't tell. Maybe they're just pointing out the beach. A few minutes after they're gone someone points out to the ocean and we see several dolphins jumping out of the water where the boats had been. No way I could photo them, they'd just be little dashes of dark color, but fun to see.
Rule #1 when playing at the ocean beach is to never turn your back on the ocean. Rule #2 is to never play by yourself (I think that's the right order, at least). Definitely, I understand both rules, especially #1. Where we were at, at Little Beach, was protected on two sides by a little outcropping of land, but the waves hitting the beach still had swells of maybe two or three feet. Waves came in every about 8 seconds, maybe, and if you were looking up the beach when one hit, and standing out where we were standing, it's like being hit from behind by a large dog. Not a really big deal if you're good with balance but enough to remind you of rule #1. The return waves, the water flowing back into the ocean, is also surprisingly strong. Having experienced most of my beaches on sounds, bays, or canals I'm not so used to the non-waves having strength, too. But all in all, fun stuff.
We played in the water for maybe 30 minutes then laid out on the beach for another 30 or so to dry off and enjoy laying on a beach. I was paranoid I'd get a sun burn, even having covered myself well with sun block, but nope, I didn't. (In fact I did eventually get a tan line and bit of a burn but that was the day after the honeymoon, back at work, as a result of holding my 1:1s as "sun-on-ones" walking laps around campus with my team.) It also helped that although the air was warm the sun was being filtered through clouds. When the sun started shining directly through we decamped and headed back to the resort.
This is now Friday, and we've made plans to visit Haleakala crater for sunrise Saturday morning. It'll require that we wake up at, like, 2:30 Saturday morning, so we know that we shouldn't be out all day today. So we spend the early afternoon instead heading out toward Hana. We tell the valet we're heading out there and he's surprised -- "so late!" (it's, like, noon now). We know that we're not going to make it to Hana -- it's a long drive and the usual advice is to hit the road by 8a, not by "after noon" -- so we ask for recommendations for what we should try to get to nonetheless. The valet suggests Mama's Fishhouse and a water fall along the road to Hana. Seems like a good target so we head out.
Funny thing about driving in Hawaii -- locals are more relaxed about time and so drive more slowly. The road that cuts across the island could easily handle 80 mph traffic, and in California it would. On Maui, the limit is 45 for much of that road and that's what I do and basically what everyone else does, too. So we have plenty of time to watch the scenery glide by. Also, although I had figured we'd use my phone as a nav system it turns out the roads just aren't very complicated on the island and the paper map with Melinda navigating works just fine.
We head past the airport on Hana Highway and find Mama's Fishhouse right where it's supposed to be. More valet parking (after this trip I won't ever want to park my own car again) and a short wait for a table (there's plenty free) and we're seated on the edge of the open-air restaurant, looking out over the north shore of the island. The ambiance of the restaurant is a bit over the top: there's not a polynesian or Hawaiian artifact they don't like, it seems. But that's fine. We order some tropical drinks and look through the menu. The interesting aspect of the menu is that it changes each day, because each day they list the fish that was caught yesterday that they're serving up today. They even say who caught it and from what vessel. So I had an opah caught by ... okay, I don't remember who, and Melinda had mahi mahi stuffed with lots of goodness. Delectable. I mean, amazing. The opah had a sweet maui onion glaze that was just ... too good. We also had poi, probably about three tablespoons for each of us, which was about the right amount. I like poi, although I wouldn't mind if it had some seasoning, too. And this time we had dessert: a banana macadamia nut crumble and a huge chocolate mousse pearl. Pictures will be forthcoming although extra servings won't, sorry.
Back on the road we head further clockwise around the island. We intend to stop at "Twin falls" but miss the turn off. My guidebook says there's a much more interesting trail, with four waterfalls, up the road just a bit further so we press on. We find that turnoff successfully -- it's the one with many other cars -- but struggle finding the trailhead. See, on one side of the road there's a fence and gate clearly marked "no trespassing" but on the other side is a thick bamboo forest. Turns out the right entrance is through the bamboo -- just pick any spot and push your way through until you see a trail. Okay then.
I have few experiences that compare similarly to walking through a bamboo forest. There's no underbrush, just dirt, but the bamboo grow within about 10 inches of one another. You could push your way in any direction if you chose but following the trails is much easier. Within the bamboo grove it's clearly darker than being out, and it's easy to lose your sense of direction or even distance. We were about 20' from the road but could tell only because cars would drive by occasionally. In fact also the trail was unclear, as were the directions in the guidebook, and we were heading down well the wrong path when someone called out to us. "Are you lost?" "No, I don't think so, but if you know where the water falls are I'd be happy to hear." They set us on a better path and soon we came to a stream. Cross the stream, follow another trail, cross another stream, scramble up a hillside, then find a pool of water with a waterfall. We found I think two of the four waterfalls, with one being dry and the other two sort of anemic, but I claim it a success. We weren't DEETd so we didn't want to dawdle near the creek. The water itself also was a little ... algaeish, not water that we'd enjoy swimming in (although we passed some hikers who were wearing swim gear and commented about playing in the water; dunno if they'll be itching for the rest of the day). We chose time to head out well, too, for the sun was setting and the bamboo grove got dark inside quickly, despite sunset proper not being for another two hours. (I also realized we did all sorts of un-hiking-wise things, like not bringing a jacket, or enough water, or any food, even for a short hike but into unknown territory.) We weren't even as eighth of the way toward Hana but we called it good and turned back toward the resort. We saw our waterfall or two, we drove some of the twisty roads along the Hana highway, and we knew we had an early morning in the next morning.
On the way back to the resort we stopped in Kihei, the residential town just north of Wailea. I'd remembered a Safeway being there from my last trip and sure enough it still was there. We bought some rations for the next morning (milk, orange juice, and a muffin) and headed back to the resort. We spend the balance of the evening lounging (I enjoy just laying on the beach chair on the lanai) and eventually go to bed early, skipping dinner (still full from Mama's fishhouse). We set several alarms to wake us up at our absurd hour.