Home Sweet Home - Maui

Flying back to Maui from Molokai was the most entertaining flight I’ve ever been on considering we flew over the sea cliffs and then past the north side of Maui which I had never seen either. Those pieces of terrain with their various valleys and jungles just inspired me to keep adventuring more, there is so much to see in nature once you start exploring. Arriving at the airport in Kahului this time just felt like any other day in paradise, I was home! My comfort with living out of a backpack on an island in the middle of the ocean had evidently moved from not only my mind but my body signals displayed my comfort with arriving back on Maui. The community is what really sets Maui apart from Molokai. There is a progressive movement on Maui representing renewable energy, respect for the land, healing and growing organic food from the land, love your people, live happy and healthy, no worries and no crime (well there is little compared to mainland, and Molokai had essentially NO CRIME).

I had no plans upon arriving, but I was hungry and Maui has incredible places to eat scattered all over. So I hopped on the bus and rode it up to Pukalani and enjoyed some fresh cane juice and an acai bowl at the Farmacy. It was nutrient dense, tasted amazing, and filled my tank. I hung out and read a book for awhile in the town square of Pukalani, its super relaxing environment, chairs and tables outside with a constant flow of locals coming to get groceries, coffee, prepared food, or go to the bank, hardware store, do laundry, drop off recycling, I was introduced to this place my very first day in Maui this past January and it has been a great place to reminisce, always running into someone that I know. There is also a pool and park across the street, where some people swim and a lot of others shower, including me on occasion. Pukalani is the main service center for upcountry Maui. Tourists have no reason to stop in Pukalani as it’s just far enough off the main highway. Travelers and locals are strewn about instead, smiles on everyones faces, each doing their own thing without complaint or interruption from anyone else. 

I had a bit more than a month left in Hawaii this trip, my plans were pretty much wide open besides helping a few friends on their farms but I did not have specific dates, it was merely a go-with-da-flow agreement. After renting the car in Molokai and getting to see so much more in less time that intrigued me for Maui as well. In February I had rented a car with friends for a week on Maui and we got to see a lot of things. So I decided at that point, sitting in the lawn at the Pukalani soccer field that I was going to get a small suv I could offroad with, sleep in, and haul friends and hitchhikers around in. I rode the bus back down to the airport, making mental notes of all the backroads we traveled on, and just before 4pm local time I was driving a brand new Jeep Cherokee off the lot.

My first stop was the SeeFarm and to no surprise, a huge pile of freshly harvested coconuts, a truck box full of the frans, and two friends processing the fruits for first the water, then the meat to be sold to a local vegan restaurant. Pure pono in action, it felt good to be home. We chatted about Molokai and the other islands before I was swept away by other fellow friends and farmers. It was great to see everyone even though I’d only been gone 8 days. The coconut processing went on throughout the night, while a big meal of fresh veggies from the farm was prepared for all to share. The next morning I was up early making coffee for the crew and discussing how grateful we all are to be in such a beautiful place with a shelter over our heads and nutritious food all around. Just another day in paradise!

Pile of coconuts under the frans

One complete rack of coconuts

Later that week I drove out to Ulupalukula to stay with a friend on his permaculture hobby farm. After catching up, foraging for fresh fruit on the ground and off the trees, and playing with the dogs, we started building a swing set playground area for his kids who were on vacation on the mainland. The playground was all packed into one box, a few hundred pieces of hardware and at least 50 boards or more, each with their own stamp. Plus a set of directions, laying out a template on how it all goes together. It was slow going but after a good day of work we had the main pieces put together and our efforts had seemed successful. The next day I had to leave as a friend was flying into Maui for a week long adventure. This was the adventure I was waiting for, lots of hiking, fresh fruit, swimming in the ocean, meeting wonderful people and my one of my favorite backpacking adventures through Haleakala’s Crater!

Haleakala (House of the rising sun) has been on my dream list to backpack ever since first visiting Maui in January 2016. Personally I wanted to see the whole crater and then descend down the back side towards Kipahulu. However this trip had to be a bit shorter so we had planned to stay in the crater one night and then hike out of the crater via switchbacks. This is where we left our vehicle, at the switchbacks and hitchhiked to the summit. Not realizing there was a hitchhiker stopping point just below were we had parked, we started walking up the road to the summit. Already at 7000 feet elevation plus the weight in our packs and plenty of extra water, it was tough to see so many people drive by without picking us up. But it's usually that unassuming car that actually stops, makes room somehow and gets you to where you want to go. That was the case here, as 2 girls stopped and ushered us into the back seat of their tiny rental car, completely understanding as they had been hitchhiking on the Big Island not too long ago. Making it to the summit we quickly headed down the trail it was 10am, sunny at first but that quickly turned into a rain mist mix for the rest of our hiking day.

Looking north from the summit

First glance at the crater filled with cinder cones

Kinda feels like mars

The sliding sands trail

We had entered Mars, silverswords in full bloom, stellar green walls amongst the cliffs and tall cinder cones dotting the crater. The vastness of the large crater that was perceived at first, slowly began to shrink in size as we trampled along the trails through cinder cones and over a’a lava. My senses were in full activation mode, there was so many new things to see and take in. Trying to visualize how the crater formed and then was slowly filled back in with more lava flows. You could still see tracks from some of the flows, lots of lava tubes poking out of the ground, and very little life at times. However the more we hiked into the crater the more life we would see. Portions of the crater have started to be converted into jungle, and green has melded with the black rocks nicely. Taking a detour off our path to the campsites, we climbed alongside 2 cinder cones and came up to a smaller cinder cone that we could peer into the depths of which the sign read 65 feet deep! My jaw could have been open the entire time I hiked, even through the full mist, as my body got soaked, I was still in full perception mode as I wandered through this precarious land.

Silverswords are unique to the craters on Maui and Big Island

There were a few silverswords in bloom

Kawilinau cinder cone

We hiked 8 miles into the crater and back around toward the switchbacks before coming up to the Holua cabin, where we were greeted by some Oahu dudes. The campsites were further up slope nestled up to the cliffs were the Nene’s lived and kept their eggs buried deep into the cliffs. We were both exhausted and decided to take a nap, this turned into a 5 hour nap followed by enough awake time to eat a snack, listen to the Nene’s and then drift back into dreamland for another 8 hours. We awoke the next morning to sunrise as it took over the crater, the colors, serene beauty and peacefulness made the entire hike worth it.

Nene cliffs 

Start of sunrise

Packing up we took the trail back towards the switchbacks and started our 5 mile journey out of the crater. The switchbacks were mellow compared to the Pali trail in Molokai or the lookout towers in Glacier National Park, but they still had their rough parts, which included a non-stop climb from 5000 to 8000 feet in elevation. The views were breathtaking around nearly every corner so lots of stops were made for both mental and physical pictures. The further we climbed the more green and alive the crater looked. Nearly reaching the top we met up with a father/son duo, which we stopped and chatted with for nearly an hour. Turns out the farther is a geologist, thus we had several great conversations regarding this crater and others including a field opportunity in Papa New Guinea. Right before we decided to keep moving, the consistent mist briefly turned into snow, it was spectacular and a moment to cherish! The car came into sight not long after, we were both soaked again and began our descent down to upcountry. First to visit the Wednesday market in Kula then to take a farm tour at SeeFarm.

Headed up the switchback, the views kept getting better

Lots of life

A Maui day wouldn't be complete without a rainbow

Way up there


The trip into Mars was amazing! The only way to follow it up was taking several trips to Hana. Having roughly 3 weeks left in Maui, I made 3 trips around the base of Haleakala thus trekking through Kipahula and Hana several times. The first trip around was filled with hikes up to several waterfalls which were flowing strong due to all the spring and summer rain. Most of these were dry when I attempted the same hikes in February, so it was even more rewarding to see the falls in full force, including the few miles up to Oheo Gulch or the “seven sacred pools”. Stopping at my favorite farm stand La Lima in Kipahulu for fresh roasted coffee that is also grown and picked right on the property, plus a small self tour of the several fruit trees that grow on this side of the island. The farm stand also has 2 big stands of bamboo, at least 30 feet in diameter, with the inner 15 feet removed thus making a bamboo canopy over a table filled with chairs. The perfect place to relax and drink coffee or even get out of the rain.

Mountain apples

Lots of waterfalls on the Hana side

The other main highlight of the Hana side was making it to the red sand beach with is actually cinder from laval flows, iron making the sand red. This is sacred place for the native Hawaiians, and rightfully so, the vibes were intense and the healing was real. Swimming in the clear blue water, clothes optional, this was a place for all friends to gather. Some were even fishing in the far reaches of the small bay as it got deeper and encapsulate a perfect spear fishing spot. There were noni trees lining the back of the beach creating a lot of nice shade, which is usually a hard thing to come by on the Maui beaches. The hike in was treacherous to those afraid of heights or exposure, keeping your feet on the cinder was not always easy, plenty of signs heed good warnings about entering at your own risk. The second time I wandered into this beach, I was rewarded by seeing at least 10 friends from Kula enjoying the day and another special friend from Hana joined us for an evening of music making on the beach. 

Camping along the ocean side in Kipahula was both peaceful and renewing. The ocean water just 20 feet below me, as I’m perched above it sleeping in my hammock just high enough to evade most of the spray from the waves. I setup my tent to get out of the rain when it comes but otherwise stick to the hammock. The strawberry moon was out in full force that night, being a Sagittarius it was meant to be for me, I could feel the extra energy and the continual push to keep adventuring alone. The waves continue to crash into the reefs, not one after another like other portions of the island but rather chaotic as the offshore reefs and lava flows change the wave direction and momentum. Add enough waves together and a large jaws-like swell crashes into the cliffs, entering deep underneath and then releasing the water through blow holes, sending a vapor mist high into the air, shaking the ground which I’m standing on as pressure is released back into the ocean. There are small tide pools along the lava filled shore that are tempting to go into, they look like little baby pools or hot tubs, but one large wave and a human would quickly be pulled out into sea, with little to no way out. 

On the road to Hana

Hammock home for a few days and nights

Hawaii time has been a good time! For the 4th of July we had a small party at SeeFarm and friends from all over upcountry showed up for the festivities. It was truly wonderful to see everyone high on life, happy and filled full of good food that had been prepared for dinner than night! With only a week to go in Maui, I had to return my rental vehicle and thus resume life on foot, the way it should be. Staying at SeeFarm and assisting with farming duties was a blast and especially rewarding to go to the markets and see all those smiling faces when they buy fresh organic food from the farm. I’ve been savoring this last week in Maui eating amazing fruits and making great stuff with breadfruit “ulu”. We had fresh bamboo shoots in our salad one night and I put a together a breakfast hash with more bamboo shoots, several varieties of potatoes and lots of kale. A few of us went back out Ulupalakula to first finish the playground and then learn and pick more fruit from the farm. Egg fruit, ice cream beans, papaya, 4 varieties of mango, mulberries, avocados, bamboo, jabodicabas, coffee beans, sapote and probably several others i’m missing all within 1.5 acres of land! On the Hana side there were even more fruits to add to the collection: bananas, more mango varieties, mountain apples, lilikoi, jackfruit, cocoa, apui, Jamaican lilikoi, white pineapple.

Playground complete

Ulu pizza

Ulu fruit pizza

Plum from the crater


Fresh habanero-watermelon salsa

The daily fruit scene at the farm

While we were picking jabodicabas off the trees, they look like big grapes and are grown right off the bark of the tree, Brazilian naturally, the jobodicabas are great to eat fresh, make into jam or even wine. Bees were all over the jabodicabas, drinking in the sweet nectar and the fermenting juices that flowed from the overripe fruits, the bees were highly intoxicated! As I was filling a bag full of the fruits, and talking about selling these at the market, a bee stung me promptly after that remark in the side of my foot. The pain was immediate, along with a trickle of blood, I could see the stinger with my naked eyes and pulled it out, only to be overwhelmed with an interesting buzz. The bee venom must have gone right into my blood stream, I was now really high on life, the pain dwindled but the buzz kept going strong for at least 15 minutes. I applied a fresh tobacco leaf to the sting area and this immediately relieved most of the pain, however it would take 2 days before completely healing. 

My last real adventure on Maui for this summer trip was a day trip out to the West Maui Mountains, the area I had flown over on my way back from Molokai about a month prior. It was a long drive out past the north end filled with tourists and high rises, past the few beaches that looked familiar and back into and up the mountain we climbed through local Hawaiian villages. Pulling into an ancient Taro “kalo” farm from 1000 years ago that been both reforested and then reclaimed back to it’s original form including taro patches with a stream and aqueduct becoming the lands boundaries, nestled into a valley with 3000 feet tall ridges on both sides completely filled with vegetation. It was beautiful, the time we arrived several others were too, local Hawaiians from down the road had come up to clean the taro pools and harvest one of the taro patches, planning to prepare the delicious root for an upcoming fund raiser. Along with taro was several other fruit trees including: breadfruit, cacao, coconuts, and bananas, one patch that I’ll never forget the banana’s were stripped green and white! The coconut trees here were really short and only needed a step ladder to harvest the fruits. The one we got to share was the size of a basketball, the coconut water was spectacular one of the best flavors I’d ever had, hydrating and full of essential nutrients. I hope to return to this sacred spot someday soon as they have project ongoing to revitalize more taro patches and build a hale for all to enjoy!

When we left the local villages, everyone gathered to wave goodbye. The people here are so welcoming and friendly it’s truly a blessing to be in their presence and to enjoy their sacred lands and the fruits they bare. We stopped at Honolua Bay on the drive back not far from the taro farm. The bay was covered in huge trees rising hundreds of feet both vertical and horizontal. Vines were all over and some were thick and long enough to swing on or climb the tree with. Some trees were loaded full of dragonfruit “pitaya” vines, more than I’d ever seen in one location. The beach is black cobbles but more sandy where a stream meets the ocean. The view was incredible, with Molokai on the horizon, it brought back several good memories that flooded my mind even as the rain started and everyone got up to move under a big tree I was mesmerized by this wonderful life lived in Hawaii.


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