Maui in a ’88 VW

Maui in a ’88 VW

|| Maui || June 18-20, 2018 ||

We wanted to go to Maui! So I booked us a flight and Ruby, our ’88 Volkswagon Vanagan for 3 days! We found our van on Outdoorsy (a van rental website for the outdoorsy-types) from Walle and Becky, a couple who owns POME (Product Of My Environment) surf shop in Paia, Maui. Now, Ruby was a manual transmission. You know when someone introduces a new, terrifying skill/experience to you and they demand you jump in the deep end head first to learn the quick way? This was driving Ruby. Finicky, manual transmission, in the dark, on a one-lane road with over 600 hairpin turns… Imagine us stalling out at a stop going up hill – lol. Or parking arcoss 3+ parking spots for easy access out of a parking lot without having to reverse. That was us. 40 mph max (usually about 15 mph) white girls living the pinterest-van-life experience.
But, off we went! 2 bags, Ruby, and ourselves!

Our main “activity” was The Road to Hana.
I downloaded an app called GyPSy Guide that worked offline as a GPS Tour Guide – GOLD, you guys. We named the Siri-like man’s voice, Harrison. He told us all about the history of Maui, kept time for us, let us know what stop options were ahead AND when to turn. I highly recommend this app ($10.99) if you come to any of the Hawaiian Islands and don’t exactly know what you want to do.
THIS ROAD IS INSANE (look at the map below):roadtohanamap
The Road to Hana on Google Maps, with no stops, says you can get there in about 2.5 hours. Hana, the town itself, is nothing special, and we didn’t actually even stop there. We continued from where the map above says “END” around the most thrilling, intense, scary, narrow, edge-of-a-mountain, road path we have EVER experienced. Ever, ever, ever. Twice as crazy as the Road to Hana, and that was crazy.

At one point, Mara watched out her window while the car going the opposite direction watched my side to pass each other without hitting – about 5 inches to spare. The guy driving the other car and I high-fived for not pooping our pants.

A few of our stops along the Road to Hana!

Garden of Eden Arboretum
Besides the 24,587 bug bites I got on this very short, paved hike through the garden, the best plant here was the Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees. They literally look like someone painted them – AMAZING!!!

Kaumahina wayside
This stop was random, but had a wonderful view. We took a picture of a nice couple from Kentucky. The wife told us they were hysterically laughing a mile or so back at sign that said “DO NOT PASS” on a one-way part of the road. lol I liked her. She has a sense of humor.

Pua’a Ka’a Wayside
Harrison told us to bypass this stop as it was a wayside where locals like to come swim because not a lot of tourists stop. Except THESE TWO TOURISTS! (Who happened to need a shower). We parked Ruby, got our travel size shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, and headed to a little waterfall tide-pool were we had THE BEST bath we had our whole trip (compare to showers at public beaches with people around and having to press the button every 3 seconds for water to continue to spray unevenly at one-trillion fastness. This was arguably the best stop.

Hana Lava Tube Cave
“Let’s go,” Mara said, as Harrison told us about he Lava Tube Caves as I zoomed passed the turn. I swung a U-ey and $25 and two bright-ass flash lights later we were inside the Lava Tubes giving ourselves a self-led tour. They were AMAZING. Hawaii’s geographical history is mind-blowing. We don’t understand how people don’t stop to read the historical description signs… If you travel, read. Learn something! There’s NO way this trip would have been as amazing as it was if we didn’t care to learn about what we were doing!

Wai’anapanapa State Park
Okay, this bay was out of a freaking book. Every shade of blue you can imagine, crystal clear water, black sand/pebble beaches, and black lava cliffs everywhere. I was hoping to see someone just off one of the cliffs so I could convince Mara that we could do it too. But, no one did. Probably because it’s not advised??

Haneo’o Beach
I have no words – definition of paradise. There are 2 legends of the island behind us in the photos: First, the demi-god, Maui, pulled up the island with his magic hook that connected to the heavens (Moana, right? lol). The other is that Pele, the goddess of volcanoes broke the earth open from the Kaiwiopele hill and created the island. Sidenote: Hawaiians take Pele very seriously and believe the current volcano on the big island in erupting because Pele is angry. Mara won’t let me take a lava rock home because we cannot be held responsible for volcano activity. lol

Ohe’o Gulch / Seven Sacred Pools
We took the short loop. By this point we were exhausted so a two mile each way hike didn’t sound appealing. We chose the bang-for-your-buck trail that lead us to a look out point without a railing – giving Mara anxiety the naturally brings her hands to the earth for stability. lol It was fine, there’s no way we would’ve fallen. Her eyes thought otherwise.

Ke’anae Peninsula
“Ke’anae’s Old Stone Church, called “Ihi’ihio Iehowa o na Kaua” in Hawaiian, was built in 1856 and is the sole surviving building of the April 1st, 1946 killer tsunami which wiped out the entire village. There was an 8.6 monster earthquake that originated in the Aleutian Islands chain off the coast of Alaska that caused a 100 ft. high, devastating tsunami near the epicenter in the Aleutians, but had lost most of their energy and were maxed out at 35 feet by the time they hit the Ke’anae Peninsula.”
Church in Ke'anae

We had one small hiccup after the Road to Hana on Piilani Highway around “The Backside of Haleakala (mountain)” 

We came to a stop close to the top of a dirt/rock road following 5+ cars because (God forbid) traffic was coming the opposite direction. Like I said before, the roads are TIGHT so stopping to let traffic through is more than common. Except this time, Ruby quit. And wouldn’t start again. We started to lose our cool (Mara). We knew Ruby was hot and needed a breather from the rough terrain and hills, but she would. not. start. again. It would cost thousands of dollars and HOURS to get help out here. We thought, battery. Okay, let’s wave one of the trillion cars passing us down to ask for jumper cables. So we did. about a dozen times. Turns out, rental cars are not equip with jumper cables (something to consider Enterprise/Hertz/Alamo). Finally a nice man with his family stops and says, “have you tried pop-starting it?” We both yell, “NO!” in the most hopeful voices we’ve ever had. He pulled over, recruited two more guys, and before you know it, they were pushing Ruby around the bend and after a couple attempts of different combinations of clutch and gas, Ruby was running. Walter, our angel from heaven who stopped to help us, was shouting, “Pump the gas! Go! And don’t stop!” SO WE DID. This, atop the anxiety from driving a manual along the side of a mountain all day, about gave me an ulcer and Mara a panic attack. Off we went! What’s a road trip in a VW without a little mechanical problem? ;) As we drove along the 50+ mile road back to where we started, we felt as if the long line of cars following the slow VW became our cheering squad and they chose not to pass us just  to see us make it to the end of the road. We passed Walter and his family many times as they stopped and on the highway – hooting, hollering, and honking at him every time, yelling, “Mahalo!!!!”

We showered at the Maui Planet Fitness, had Mexican for dinner, and camped out in the Home Depot parking lot. :)

‘Iao Valley State Park
The next day we went to ‘Iao Valley which was AMAZING. Home of The Battle of Kepaniwai, fought in 1790 between Hawaiʻi Island and Maui. See for yourself:

D.T. Fleming Beach Park
Our last stop of our trip to Maui was at a white sand beach near Honolua Bay. We bought a pink raft at an ABC store who blew it up for us!!!! We spent an hour in the water, scrubbed up at the public beach showers, and headed back to the POME shop. Ruby died on us one more time on the way home – this time while going 35 mph down hill through a stop light. 25 minutes later, she started up! You know what I always say – what’s a road trip in a VW without a little mechanical problem? ;)

Thanks for sharing our journey!!!