Maui---Volcano-Polo-and Luau

Haleakala National Park
June 22, 2012          Having arrived on Maui the previous afternoon, we decided our first trip would be to the top of an ancient volcano.  Reaching the observation tower at Haleakala National Park, the temperature had dropped from 85 degrees, along our beach drive, to 55 degrees with 30-40 mph winds at 10,023 feet.  Luckily, the tower has large windows overlooking the crater.  It’s surreal and beautiful, but we had left our jackets behind and exploring was not an option in our shorts and light shirts garb.  Bike trips down the mountain start outside the park (at around 6500 feet) with numerous guided tour services.  Our more adventurous friends, Rich and Gloria, completed the trip a few months ago.  The 2-lane road is narrow and, of course, you’re sharing the curvy road with traffic.  We decided to bypass this opportunity. 

On our way back down the mountain, the Maui Polo Club was beginning a match.  Even though we live in an area that offers polo, it is not something we have ever taken advantage of experiencing.  We pulled off the road and turned around, so we could ease into the parking area to watch.  The fast-paced sport keeps you entertained as the teams move back and forth the length of the field.  Scores are made by driving the ball into the opposing teams goal with a long handled mallet by a rider, atop specially trained horses.  The finesse of the riders was impressive.

About 1 mile from the polo match we found the funky, yet sophisticated town of Makawao.  Hitching posts in front of some of the wooden stores along the main road, shows the cowboy influence.  There are several art galleries, and while we didn’t get to check out all of them, the galleries we did peruse were filled with the works of top-notch Hawaiian artists.  Veiwpoints Gallery has an outstanding collection and is one of the finest examples of local talent we have ever seen.  The eclectic mix of shops carry everything from cowboy boots to fine jewelry.

Topping off the day, we went to the Old Lahaina Luau.  Alan had booked tickets for our seats for this experience before we left Florida.  Deciding that we wanted to be in the front row, seated on pillows next to the stage, required his preplanning.  Greeted at the entrance with a lei and a mai tai, the evening continued to be special.  The extensive native Hawaiian menu gave us an opportunity to taste a little bit of everything that we had heard about in our travels, in addition to unlimited mai tai’s.  Poi, ahi poke, taro salad, kalua pua’a, and a number of other dishes were included.  And yes, now that we have tried poi, it is a very bland food, but actually helps balance the saltiness of the kalua pua’a  (pork roasted in an underground oven.)  Maybe it’s not for everyone, but it works.

Once dinner is finished, the program begins.  Overlooking the ocean, the torches are lit and the drummers begin the rhythmic beat as the dancers drift onto the stage with their hips swaying.  The next hour is filled with the stories and dances of the island.  The menu and program are both considered one of the best and most authentic luaus in the entire Hawaiian Islands.  It was a fabulous ending to a wonderful day.                                                

Enjoying a welcome cocktail

Silversword---Found only in the Haleakala National Park

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