On the Stairways to Heaven in Maui

It starts with the beaches, which are drop-dead gorgeous and stretch for miles. Maui, our next destination, boasted top-notch conditions for an oceanful of watersports. With a moonscaped national park looming from Maui’s highest peak, exploring on land was stunning as well.

After Oahu we went to the beautiful island of Maui. It felt much less crowded than Oahu and the nature on this island was overwhelming.

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But our first encounter with the island wasn’t very pleasant. We managed to get on a bus at the airport that took us to the next station where we had to change buses. So we did or at least intended to. The bus driver of the second bus insisted that our backpacks were to big to take on the bus which meant we kind of got stranded at the bus station. Maui didn’t make it easy for travelers to get around. Our only choice was to walk. So we did. We eventually reached our hostel exhausted and drenched in sweat. From that point on everything was going uphill.

The hostel we stayed in, namely the Banana Bungalow, offered amazing free tours around the island. This made it possible to see a lot of the island in a short period of time. We of course joined as many as possible.

One of the most impressive tours we ever had, was hiking through the crater of the Haleakalā volcano.

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We thought we were walking on the moon as we winded down into the belly of Haleakalā. First thing we noticed is how eerily quiet everything is; the only sound was the crunching of loose volcanic cinders beneath our feet… or Toby not being able to stop talking once again. ;-)
The path descended gently into an unearthly world, a landscape of stark lava and ever-changing clouds. Russet-colored cinder cones rose from the crater floor. Looking back toward the summit, eyes focused on the steep crater walls, it was simply impossible not to be awed by the raw beauty.

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The second part of the hike was covered in green. The last climb up to the edge of the crater was, again, breathtaking – quite literally. First because it was really exhausting and second because the view was scenic and unparalleled to any other we had so far. It was a world away from anyplace else.

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The hike ended with a wonderful view over a sea of clouds and a beautiful sunset. Only the sunset alone was so spectacular that it was cause for celebration all by itself. It is for this reason the Haleakalā crater is also known as House of the Sun.

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The other day we decided, with some friends we’ve made, to rent scooters and ride along the Road to Hana.
Of all the dramatic drives we did in Hawaii, this was the Big Kahuna. A roller coaster of a ride, the Hana Hwy winded down into jungly valleys and back up towering cliffs, curling around 600 twists and turns along the way. Fifty-four one-lane bridges crossed nearly as many waterfalls – some eye-popping torrents, others so gentle they were begging a dip.

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But the ride was only half the thrill. We stopped every now and then along the road to soak in the beauty of this island and explore the wonders along the way: Hiking trails leading us into cool forests, short paths lead to Eden-like swimming holes and side roads winded down to sleepy seaside villages. Even the little rain in the afternoon couldn’t stop us from fully enjoying the drive to Hana and back.

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But yet again, as in any other time we have rented a vehicle, one of us had problems. This time it was Chris. His scooter just died in the middle of nowhere. Thanks to Dirk the scooter was fixed and back on the road. After that it still died every now and then. Especially uphill… but since practice makes a master, the scooter was luckily back on the road in no time and we managed to get home before it got dark. Thank you Jody, Dirk and Dieter for making this trip so much fun and hence unforgettable!

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The other days were filled with beautiful beaches, snorkeling, cliff jumping, beach volleyball, standup paddling and other adventure hikes.

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All in all we had a blast on Maui. Next stop was the main land of the states where our paths split. Toby went to San Diego and Chris visited his American family in Milwaukee. We met again in Las Vegas for some gambling and crazy partaaaay…

But until then, so long…
Chris’n Toby

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