Maui--Snorkeling, Lahaina, and Iao Valley State Park

Memorabilia from the Wo Hing Museum
June 27, 2012       Starting the day by seeking out a snorkel spot, we found our way to Kapalua Beach, which we had heard was a promising possibility.  Clouds moved over the beach upon our arrival and within minutes it was raining.  Since no lighting was accompanying the storm, we decided to go in the water.  I mean we’re getting wet anyway, right?
As we swam around the bay, with the pitter-patter of rain on our backs, we saw a few different fish, including the Hawaiian Damselfish.  Finger, cauliflower and lobe coral were also in the waters. So, it was a good snorkel, in spite of the rain.

Wo Hing Museum
Moving on to the historical town of Lanihua, the original capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii, there are a number of historical sites. However, the popular Front Street, which runs along the waterfront, is filled primarily with shops, galleries and restaurants.  Lunching at the Lahaina Prime Rib and Fish Company, we enjoyed an outstanding mahi mahi rice bowl and fried wahoo.  Across the street the Wo Hing Museum, displays memorabilia on the arrival and lifestyles of the early Chinese immigrants.  The museum also includes an exhibit of movies taken by Thomas Edison during his visits to Hawaii in 1898 and 1906; there have been a few changes since then!

Strolling down the street, we found galleries handling the works of Picasso, Chagall, Erte and even Rembrandt.  Finding a shop representing the works of Sir Anthony Hopkins, we were intrigued with the works of this multi-talented actor, painter and composer.  Many of his pieces have garish colors and forms and seem as though they might have been created by his best-known character, Hannibal Lecter (from Silence of the Lambs.)  However, he also paints tranquil landscape scenes.  We capped off the day by purchasing one of his prints, Texas, a fiery red landscape of a farm.

Ioa Needle and nearby extinct volcanic cliffs
Waking to a drizzly, gray morning, we opted for a drive up to the Iao Valley State Park.  Since it was raining anyway, why not visit a rain forest?  Ioa means “cloud supreme” and with almost 400 inches of rain a year the park is normally covered by clouds, as it was during our visit.  Lush vegetation covers the floor of the valley leading up to the Iao Needle, the most famous landmark in the park.  Paved trails lead to a walk along the Ioa Stream and pass a garden.  Another short path with stairs leads to a viewing area for the Needle, which functioned as a lookout point during battles.  The park is the site of King Kamehameha's I defeat of Maui’s forces in a battle that advanced his quest to unite the Hawaiian Islands under his control.

Taro plant at the Ioa garden
Aloha Mixed Plate served as our luncheon stop.  Reviewed as one of the best and the most reasonable sources of a traditional Hawaiian meal, we had to check it out.  The Hawaiian Plate includes roast pork with cabbage, poi (mashed taro root), rice, macaroni salad, lomi lomi salmon (raw, diced salmon with onions and tomatoes), and haupia (coconut pudding), all for $8.95.  The restaurant is a little on the funky side but the food is excellent, the price is right and the view overlooking the water is outstanding.  If you’re not interested in the Hawaiian Plate, they offer a varied menu, even cheeseburgers.  Alan indulged in the coconut prawn plate for $9.95, which he ranked 2nd only to mine (smart husband.)

We’ll be looking for calm seas and clear skies for the remainder of the week.

Shot from Thomas Edison's 1898 film.

Iao Valley with Needle in background

20 windmills on the western coast of Maui generate 10% of the electrical power for the island.  

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