Topic Wiki

While I proudly was able to put out the trip report in its entirety this time, I figured I'd break it up by day into different posts so you have a natural pause if you need a break. See below for each individual section.

Introduction: Flight/hotel bookings
Shabbos in Denver: Shabbos at the in-laws
Day 1: Getting to Maui, checking in to Hyatt Regency Maui
Day 2: Sunrise at Haleakala, Acid War Zone Hike, Nakalele Blowhole, Olivine Pools
Day 3: Asarah b'Teves
Day 4: Road to Hana
Day 5 - End of Trip: Checking out and a week in DEN
« Last edited by @Yehuda on February 15, 2016, 10:10:01 AM »

Author Topic: @Yehuda's Road to Hana: From the Rockies and Back  (Read 4685 times)

Offline @Yehuda

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Oct 2013
  • Posts: 8843
  • Total likes: 52
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 5
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
@Yehuda's Road to Hana: From the Rockies and Back
« on: February 15, 2016, 09:54:50 AM »
Introduction:
With my firm in its 2nd year of closing the offices during the Christmas and New Year’s weeks, it was time to plan another getaway. My wife's schedule only gave her off for the week between Christmas and New Years, and I figured it would be difficult to find any miles/hotels options during that most busy of weeks. So back in September, I *just* booked a SW trip to Denver to get in some good ol' in-law time. Gotta love the availability, cancellation policy, and how cheap SW can be when booked a few months in advance.

Fast forward a month or two, and I found out that my wife will actually be off for the entire week before Christmas as well! With both of us off for the same 2 week timeframe, my mind started racing for additional travel possibilities. Since I had already promised her we'd visit her family, I wasn't going to remove the Denver part of the trip. With that in mind and with having already planned an itinerary in the past, going back to Hawaii (!) just made the most sense. Having been to Kauai just 4 months prior to this trip (b"h!), I decided it was time to "try out" Maui as those are the 2 most talked about islands on DDF(besides for PBaruch standing up for the Big Island). On our last trip, I wasn’t sure where availability would land us, so I had planned out itineraries for both Kauai and Maui. So now, I had a whole trip already laid out. With the Shabbos issue that I'm known for avoiding, we would have to once again fly on Sunday and leave on Thursday afternoon. Since we were now talking about the less-busy week before the holidays, I was able to find availability at the Hyatt Regency (the Andaz unfortunately never opened up) and a flight out of Maui, but it would be a long time till I would find the flights to start the trip.


Paradise awaits!

While I find award searching stressful yet exciting, I’m going to leave out the details this time. After searching relentlessly for weeks, I eventually gave up on finding the ideal EWR-HNL in J. I then realized that it made the most sense to actually go to Denver for Shabbos, then go to Hawaii for a week and then go back to Denver for the final week! Going to Hawaii from the West Coast would mean we would actually get to our destination island much earlier than had we left from EWR, which was a nice plus, and trust me, despite not detailing every second of my flight searching, I was pretty excited when I found lie-flat J for 1 leg. I was still changing legs until the week before our trip, but the final routing of 6 flights on 6 separate tickets looked like this:

Flights:
Friday, December 19
EWR-DEN on UA (12,500 UA)
Shabbos in Denver
Motzai Shabbos, December 20
DEN-SFO on SW (6,924 SW)
Sunday, December 21
SFO-OGG on UA J (35,000 LH)
4 days in Maui
Thursday, December 24
OGG-LAX on AA (12,500 BA)
Friday, December 25
LAX-DEN on SW (4,299 SW)
9 days in Denver
Sunday, January 3
DEN-EWR on SW (9,574 SW)

Hotels:
As I said, we stayed at the Hyatt Regency Maui. I did some research ahead of time and learned that the hotel has 3 towers and that we would want to be in the Atrium Tower since that's the most centrally-located as it has the lobby, Regency Club and closest walk to the pool.


Courtesy of Google Images and Maui Revealed.

It took a few calls in advance, but we slowly got upgraded from a "parking lot view" :P to a Deluxe Ocean View Room (in the Lahaina Tower) and finally to an Oceanfront room (all rooms of this room type are in the Atrium Tower) actually on the same floor as the Regency Club!

Hyatt Regency SFO (8,000 HGP)
Hyatt Regency Maui (20,000 HGP/night)
Courtyard LAX/EL Segundo (Marriott Category 1-5 Anniversary Certificate)
     Total cost for flights+hotels:
     249,593 miles + $67.20
     I love this game.

I also bought Travel Guard's Gold trip insurance plan for $81 and b"h didn't need it.

Car Rental:
After learning last trip that the Hawaii Bar AWD was the cheapest way to get a convertible in Hawaii, I used it to rent a Mustang from Avis for $248 for 4 days. I used Arrival points to cover the cost at about 22,500. Since then, my notion of the cheapest way to book a convertible here was challenged, so perhaps there are cheaper ways to get it. Going with a convertible in Hawaii is a DansDeals “must,” but we really didn’t think it was such an awesome experience the first time and only got it the second time for the Road the Hana “must-ness.” In my opinion after having done it, if you're not a car fanatic, the convertible can be skipped.

Food:
Classicly, we ordered travel meals from Pomegranate for the flights and dinners. 12 meals plus $25 delivery came out to $225. Some of the meals were great (Penne Vodka, Sesame Chicken), while others that were good the last time we had them (BBQ Chicken Nuggets, Fire Poppers Chicken Nuggets), were only ‘eh’ this time. I’ll admit part of that was due to not being patient and letting them heat up for the 45 minutes to an hour they really need, but a bunch of them were soggier than on our previous trip (especially the side dishes). For lunches and snacks, we brought bread, peanut butter and other foodstuff with us, which saved the trip to Walmart on the island (which we did last time) and allowed us to go straight to our hotel.

One last point about food. The Hyatt Regency is known to have frozen Kosher food from Oahu Kosher (the Chabad on Oahu) that is available for Diamond members. I confirmed that they had food available and they sent me this menu and confirmed, incredibly, that it would all be free.



Once I saw that menu, we almost didn’t buy POM meals. I sent one last follow up email asking who the supervision was under and was told it was Rabbi Sholom, the Chabad Rabbi on Maui. I happened to call him up to ask about Minyanim and as an aside, thanked him for preparing Kosher food at the Hyatt, to which he replied, “What are you talking about?” My jaw dropped, and many back-and-forths later, we ordered our POM meals and found out (only once at the hotel) that the food was prepared by a cook from a local temple and the Hyatt chef "didn’t know" we were asking about Glatt Kosher food (“Oh, why didn’t you say so?”). B”h we looked into it in advance and ordered POM.

Okay, on to the trip!!
« Last Edit: February 15, 2016, 10:02:09 AM by @Yehuda »

Offline @Yehuda

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Oct 2013
  • Posts: 8843
  • Total likes: 52
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 5
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: @Yehuda's Road to Hana: From the Rockies and Back
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2016, 09:54:58 AM »
Thursday-Shabbos, December 17-19
On Thursday night, we headed out to my mother's house in Jersey, where we stored the POM meals in her freezer and crashed for the night. At 5:50AM I was up and at 'em at the Elmora Hills Minyan for the earliest Shacharis in town. After grabbing the POM meals and packing up the car, we were off to EWR courtesy of my mother who kindly left our car in her driveway for the next two weeks.

Travelling with POM meals forced us to check bags (free on this flight with the UA CC), but we were quickly off to security. We're so used to flying SW out of EWR, that we were caught off guard with how checking in and security worked by UA. The regular security line was insane, Premier Access wasn't much better, and TSA Precheck also had a line, but we were through in 5 minutes. Then it was off to the United Club with 2 passes...







... for some Kosher breakfast.




After having flown NYC-DEN so many times on SW, flying UA was really a step down. Choosing your seats next to each other in the back of the plane ahead of time just feels worse than boarding and hoping to find the first 2 seats next to each other even if you might end up just as far back in the plane anyway. It's a good ploy by SW because you don't realize your row number by the time you sit down. Having to pay for snacks was also a bummer. One nice thing was that the plane wasn't full and the guy next to us kindly moved to another row (without us asking... do we smell that bad?) to give us more room.



While it was cool to have TVs on the back of the seat, even the supposedly free options weren't free, and we much preferred the actually free DirectTV on SW.

As we started to descend, we were treated to some beautiful snow sights.



And, upon landing in DEN, G-d's glory was out in full force.



We followed the paper airplanes off the train to baggage claim.





We got our bags and jumped in an Uber with an awesomely-Coloradan driver to the east side Jewish community for a surprisingly cheap rate of only $35 - $20 FB Messenger Credit = $15. The views on the way to town didn't disappoint.



Upon unpacking, we unfortunately found the TSA Letter of Doom™ in our POM suitcase.



Two of the plastic bags containing POM meals were opened with the double seal broken, but very fortunately, both happened to be dairy pasta dishes. We double checked that all was good with a Rabbi and took a sigh of relief. Oh, how we love TSA, eh?

After a wonderful Shabbos with family and Minyanim at EDOS (nice to see Mountain Man who stopped in to say hi), we left half our clothing including all our Shabbos stuff (which was really convenient) at my in-laws and headed back to DEN right after Shabbos. There were literally 0 people online at TSA Precheck, we were on our way in no time. For the first time, I had paid for SW Early Bird Checkin for our flight to SFO (since checkin was Friday night and not even an Australian could have gotten us A seating), and we quickly fell asleep for the entire flight on an old-school SW plane, the likes of which we had never flown before. BEfore we knew it, we landed in the supposedly warm West Coast where we were abruptly met by harsher weather than "cold" Colorado. Boy, we did not realize how cold San Francisco is. We jumped in the shuttle for the Hyatt Regency SFO and, within a few minutes, pulled up to the apparently under-construction hotel. This sign didn't do us any good since the man standing behind it was on the phone.



The room was standard and perfect for the few hours of shut eye we would get before heading off in the morning. I decided there's no point in taking pictures of standard hotel rooms, so use your imagination or Google if you're that desperate to know what an airport hotel room looks like. :P


Could have even fit more :P

Offline @Yehuda

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Oct 2013
  • Posts: 8843
  • Total likes: 52
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 5
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: @Yehuda's Road to Hana: From the Rockies and Back
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2016, 09:55:09 AM »
Sunday, December 20
At the ghastly hour of 5:30AM we woke up and caught the shuttle to SFO, where we quickly checked our bag (free for flying J) and flew through security that happened to let us off right next to the Centurion Lounge where we were greeted with some holiday gifts!




Portable phone charger and non-Kosher chocolates, courtesy of AMEX Centurion Lounge













While Centurions are generally newer/nicer and emptier than UA Clubs, I'm not really sure why everyone makes such a big deal about them over UA. You still can't really eat anything, alcohol isn't free and, if anything, it's easier to find a private cubicle to Daven in at UA than at Centurion. Nonetheless, I was able to find a somewhat private area.



We then headed for the gate and passed by SFO's preparation for Superbowl 50.



Go, Peyton! (In Superbowl 50, but with the Broncos!)
Ha, I wrote that before the Superbowl. :)

Boarding and turning to the left still had that same magical feeling. Despite not really sleeping, 5 hours in real J was very nice.



However, the entertainment system was quite glitchy and had to be restarted several times after giving us the Black Screen of Death™, each time resetting our movies to the beginning and taking 10 minutes to fast forward to where we were up to.



The Kosher meal was breakfast, and the danish (yum!) and slushy orange juice were the only things I touched from this course.



Next came a cheese blintz with some "stay-away" fruit on the side. The blintz tasted even better than when I pop a frozen one into the toaster at home! I had DW's as well since she doesn't like cheese blintzes.



Preparing for not liking the meal, we had brought our first POM meals on the plane with us, however, the flight attendant said it was against policy to warm up food. He agreed to check with the lead attendant and came back shortly with the positive news that he could warm them up! You'll have to forgive me not having a picture, but the Penne Vodka was as flavorful as always.

This sign in the bathroom was a bit confusing.



As we neared our destination, we passed over several islands. We must have take an unusal flight path, since Maui should be reachable from California without passing over other islands. Nonetheless, the views got us excited for our descent.


I believe this is West Maui Mountain.

Upon landing, we welcomed the humidity that was surprisingly less than in Kauai (could be the winter vs. the summer has something to do with that), enjoyed the similarly open style of the airport without real walls and grabbed our bag happy that it didn't get lost this time. As opposed to our trip to Kauai where we flew EWR-HNL-LIH, this time we flew DEN-SFO-OGG, connecting in the US48 as opposed to in Hawaii. Having tried both ways, we much preferred the connection on the mainland (even considering it was overnight) than in HNL. After the 10+ hour flight to HNL, it wasn't fun waiting around just to grab our 30 minute flight to Kauai. It was, however, really nice this time to actually be where we wanted to be upon landing in Hawaii. We found our way to the Avis shuttle, and the 2 minute drive brought us to a PACKED Avis pickup location, where, without Avis Preferred, we had to way on a long line. Not a fun way to start your trip in Hawaii, but after about 20 minutes, it was our turn. The Mustang wasn't ready yet, so he offered us a Camaro, which we gladly took.



Because we had bought our lunch food and snacks before we left, our own snorkel gear from Amazon and even ordered our toaster oven from Amazon to be shipped to the hotel (thanks AMEX/MPX!), we were able to skip the customary trip to Walmart and head straight for the hotel. That was really nice and got us to the hotel around 1PM as opposed to our 7PM arrival when we went to Kauai. Waze/Gmaps worked fine throughout almost the whole trip (just not in parts of the Road to Hana), and about 40 minutes later, we pulled into the Lahaina/Ka'anapali area with Bathing Suit Santa and his Dolphins.



We then pulled into what we thought was the hotel, but the valet made it clear that we were in the wrong place and were actually in the "fancy" Hyatt Residence Club, of which we would see many attempts at selling us a residence over the rest of the day, yet interestingly not at all during the rest of our stay. Just one door over (really, the end of the road), we found our hotel.





There's not supposed to be a way around the parking fee here, so I let the valet take the car and went to checkin. There was no one behind the Diamond counter, so we waited shortly in the regular line. As we checked in, someone came out to deck us with our leis (woohoo!) and the agent informed us that the parking, which is normally $28/day and reduced to $18/day for Diamond members, would be comp'd for us! Awesome. He then said to hold on a minute as someone wanted to talk to us and then Kelci, the VIP Manager (who was our main point of contact during the Kosher food fiasco) came out to introduce herself and apologize about the food situation. Perhaps that's why they comp'd parking?

Anyway, time to take a tour of the hotel. The islandy, open-roof lobby was really well done and came close to rivaling the Grand Hyatt Kauai, but it was missing the luxurious feel that the GHK was able to combine with the islandy feel.




Lobby, from our floor.

The only negative I would say with this lobby/hotel layout was that it kinda looked a bit like a motel on the inside. Either way, we made our way up to the room, which was nice, with a small lanai/porch.






The shower was one of a few places where it was evident that the hotel, unfortunately,
didn't sweat the details.


Leaving the hotel aside, the room aside, the bathroom aside... once we opened up that porch, we were blown away. That view, just wow.



Looking straight out into the ocean, you could see Lana'i in the distance. If you notice the greenish color of the ocean towards the center/right near the beach, that's where we found a super sandy ocean bottom for great swimming. Just off to the right of it was the best snorkeling we found on the beach.



It was still early, so after moving our POM meals into the fridge (which we learned last trip was fine for 4 days), we took a stroll around the grounds. While they don't compare to the vastness or beauty of the GHK (I just keep comparing because I know it helps people who are debating which island to visit and the hotel definitely impacts that decision), they were still beautiful in their own right. Best of all, there were penguins!!




My wife made sure we stopped by here every time we went to/from the pool and beach.

I learned that, surprisingly, most species of penguin live in warm weather climates. Who knew? Of course, there was also a fair share of parrots to go around, as well as other animals.














Baby pineapples growing on premises!

A bit creepy, but there were Buddha statues littered throughout the hotel. I guess that's part of the island-feel?



After finishing our tour, we went back to the room and changed to go swimming. As opposed to the pool area at the Grand Hyatt Kauai, there were actually a lot of people at this pool, unfortunately. While I wrote that Tznius was barely an issue at the GHK, here there was a concern everywhere you looked. There actually weren't too many people in the water, but plenty sitting on the lounge chairs all around. Additionally, the water was freezing. In fact, the ocean water was actually warmer! Listen, the pool looked nice and, fairly or not, I'm comparing it to an incredible pool, but yeah, it didn't come close to the GHK's ginormous pool, with all its twists and turns of the (kinda of) lazy river. You've already seen the general shape of the pool from the views from my room, and here are some close ups.


Despite my critique, it's still a nice pool. Here, a waterfall and basketball hoop.

Around the basketball hoop is a cave that leads to a really cool bar (not swim-up, you have to step out of the water).





The other end of the cave leads into the pool for the Hyatt Residence Club (which Hyatt Regency guests can access). That pool was much smaller, with most of it being a kiddie pool of a 1 foot depth. It also has a water slide that obviously drops off into a deeper area. Because of the cold water, we only spent a few minutes exploring and then ran out to the beach.

The hotel's beach is at the end of the long Ka'anapali Beach, and despite getting medium reviews, we really liked it (and, of course, it was much better than the GHK's unsafe-to-swim Shipwreck Beach). There was plenty of room to find our own area to set up shop and there were very few people in the ocean. The water is no more than 4 feet deep for at least 50 feet out, which was really nice. The ocean floor wasn't incredibly sandy, except for the area I mentioned earlier, but we didn't find that spot until our last morning.



After a little while, we headed back upstairs and stopped by to check out the Regency Club, which was literally 2 doors down from our room, and had the juiciest, freshest pineapple we've ever had in our lives.







In an effort to conserve plastic bottles, they gave us reusable bottles.



Learning from our Kauai itinerary, I put most of our planned activities as "maybes," so I wouldn't be disappointed if we skipped anything. Today's possibilities included a few West Maui options like going to the Two-Tiered Pools of Honolua, snorkeling at Oneloa Beach, seeing the Warren & Annabelle Magic Show (if it was even possible to book it the day of), and sunset at Ka'anapali Beach Boardwalk. Since the hotel's beach is the end of Ka'anapali Beach, we decided to just hang out there. We never made it to the other activities, and proudly, it didn't faze the "gotta do everything on the DansDeals/Maui Revealed list" part of me. I'm not really sure why you would walk on the boardwalk when you could be walking barefoot in the sand just steps away, but we walked from the Hyatt down for a short while past a bunch of other hotels, just listening to the waves, letting our feet get wet, and soaking in the most gorgeous of sunsets over Lana'i...











Turns out there was an on-the-beach Starbucks at one of the neighboring hotels.



We first thought this sandman was impressive...



...until we saw this O-M-G sandcastle built by this young boy.



After sunset, we went back to our room to warm up our POM meals. This was when we learned of my mistake - the toaster oven was not large enough for two meals at a time. In Kauai, the toaster *just* fit two meals if we squished them, but this time, there was no chance. So, we warmed them up separately, and it really took so long (even though they were just in a fridge and not frozen). Because we were hungry, we didn't give them their proper amount of time and ate them a bit warmer than room temperature. Unfortunately, I didn't take pictures of the POM meals at all on this trip, so you'll have to forgive me. My wife had the Buffalo Chicken Wings, and I had the BBQ Chicken Nuggets. For all our Fleishig meals, we went with the only 2 side dishes we liked last time - Popcorn Cauliflower and Roasted Potatoes. While the chicken's taste was fine, the coldness wasn't great which compounded with the fact that they were kind of soggy. The cauliflower was fine, but not as good as I remembered it last time. The potatoes were a real disappointment, though. Every time we had them they were bland and very soggy. As the trip went on, we learned our lesson and let the food warm up for longer.

Well, after a jam-packed Thursday-Sunday, we were finally in Hawaii ready for the week ahead!
« Last Edit: February 15, 2016, 09:59:51 AM by @Yehuda »

Offline @Yehuda

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Oct 2013
  • Posts: 8843
  • Total likes: 52
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 5
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: @Yehuda's Road to Hana: From the Rockies and Back
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2016, 09:55:19 AM »
Monday, December 21
If I told you we were in the car by 4:45AM, could you guess where we were heading? Off to Haleakala for sunrise!

Talk about waking up early, but the jetlag worked in our favor. The ride in almost complete darkness took 1:45 hours, and if I thought it wasn't fun driving the curves along the edge of the mountain in the current state of darkness, I was in for a rude awakening for the last 15 minutes of the drive when either the fog came out of nowhere or we were high enough to be up in the clouds. Everyone was driving literally 10 mph and you couldn't see more than 5 feet in front of you. The most incredible thing to me was how many cars were driving down the mountain 1-2 hours before sunrise. While I'm sure some people live in the scattered houses we saw along the road, it was sure surprising to see probably about a dozen cars heading away from the summit that early in the morning.



After paying the national park entrance fee - which, by the way, went up to $15 - we made it to the Upper Visitor Center 20 minutes before sunrise (45 is suggested, but in our case as you'll soon see, 20 was plenty). There were people there directing you where to park in the pitch blackness, and it was as crowded as one could imagine.



We were thankful for how we dressed - underlayers as well as down coats, hats, gloves and scarves - because it was as freezing as everyone warns. The wind whipping at your face is painful, and we couldn't understand how some people were up there with just a sweatshirt on.

At last, the sky started to lighten up, and the selfie sticks came out in full blast, but the place was still so crowded. I knew SomethingFishy had talked a lot about going from here to White Hill, but we couldn't figure out where it was until it got a bit lighter and we realized the sign was literally right behind us.


Taken after sunrise.

The trail to White Hill is really a walk in our opinion, as the path is cut out with steps and not too hard to handle.



After less than 5 minutes, we got to the clearing where there were some people - far fewer than there were at the Upper Visitor Center. Unfortunately for us, it was a very cloudy/foggy morning. I didn't get a single shot that had the sun lighting up the crater below, as others here have been able to capture. Nonetheless, we had a great time and still got some cool shots. My wife would like to thank SF for pointing out White Hill. :)

What it first looked like when we got there:



Slowly, but surely, the sun started peeking out.










Finally, above the clouds, but we still couldn't see the crater below.

After about a half hour, we made our way back down to the Upper Visitor Center. The view from there was just as cloudy. I found it very interesting when I just read IsraelGuy's recent Maui TR where he said that cloudy weather is supposed to be ideal here. Can't exactly understand why that would be. Maybe some clouds, but definitely not what we had.




That elevation sign (9,740 ft.) was kinda funny when, after descending the Rockies a week later, we realized we were still 8,000 ft. above sea level.

After taking advantage of the facilities way up here, we went back to the car where I put on my Tallis and Tefillin and Davened Shacharis. It was still bitter cold at 7:30AM, so I tried to stand outside only for the bare minimum. After a quick bite of breakfast, we headed back down the mountain and boy, was it so much nicer to drive in the daytime. Not too long into our trip, we stopped at Leleiwi Lookout based on Yehoshua's suggestion of getting another angle of the crater.



Less than a minute into the trail, we bumped into people returning who warned us that it was just one big cloud over there too. We turned back to the car and were met by, undoubtedly, the largest rainbow I'd ever seen.



The views heading down, were quite "Wow" the entire way.



As forewarned, there were plenty of bikers on the road down. With only 1 lane in each direction, it was a bit stressful at times trying to pass them (of course, I'm sure it was much scarier for the bikers who constantly had to watch out for cars as well as the cliff).



Our next stop was to hit up the activities around West Maui. Taking basically everyone on DDF's advice, we headed counterclockwise around West Maui. This route is not just 15-30 minutes faster, but is also supposed to provide for quite an adventurous driving experience with it's at-the-edge curves and 1 lane road.



However, for myself and my wife, we regretted taking this route. I'm sure plenty here will disagree, and they're entitled to their opinion, but this road was not a fun ride at all. But before we got to the trickier section of road, we were greeted by a crowd of roosters and kittens playing on the street.



That was fun, but what we were about to experience was not. Because of all the curves and blind turns, you can't drive faster than 10-15MPH, and the stretch that was just 1 lane (yes, 1 lane for both directions to share) was not something we want to experience again. 1 lane is fine until you meet oncoming traffic. While there were cutouts on the side of the road sporadically throughout the journey (yes, somehow there were cutouts when you're already at the edge of a cliff :o), there were several times when we hit oncoming traffic when there was no cutout in sight. Thankfully, we were among 10-20 other cars whenever that happened, so we were all in the same boat.


One of the rougher jams we hit. If you can see the cars at the top right stuck around the bend... they were backed up all the way to where our car was.

Trying to figure out who should back up, who should go where, who could squish by and how close to the edge a car can physically go proved to be quite the challenge when 30 cars were stuck. People rolled down windows, got out of cars, and were - for the most part - friendly and helpful. This road has similarities to driving the "back side of the Road to Hana," which we'll get to on another day, but in our opinion, it was much worse despite having much better pavement. Putting this towards the end of an approximately 2 hour drive from Haleakala didn't add to the fun either.

Finally, finally, we saw a double yellow line and were back on a normal road. Just a few minutes later, we pulled off the road for the Olivine Pools. Maui Revealed was great for helping with mile markers and for always having a turnout wherever they suggest to pullover so there's room to leave your car. As soon as we stepped out of the car, 5 other cars pulled over with us, and we realized we wouldn't have the pools to ourselves. Nu nu, we started following the semi-beaten path down towards the ocean with the help of the GPS location of the Maui Revealed app. Less than 5 minutes into the path, we knew we were going the right way because someone else had clearly been there before.



We then turned towards the ocean and saw the pools down below!



Unfortunately, 1 second later, they looked like this:



Everyone who had been walking near us agreed that if the 2 guys down at the pools weren't going in, we weren't either. Being that Queen's Bath was my wife's favorite activity in Kauai, she was really hoping to go into the Olivine Pools, but alas, it was not meant to be. I thought we might also try to visit the Two-Tiered Pools of Honolua a little further down the road, but after seeing the raging waters here, we decided not to even attempt to go. We'll just have to come back in the summer season. :) Before heading back to the car, I grabbed a few shots of the gorgeous blue ocean and the white foam crashing against the land.





We got back in the car and, a few miles later, reached the turnout for the Nakelele Blowhole. This turnout was full of cars and is for those who want to take the "easy" route to the blowhole. We continued a half mile down the road to another turnout that had a few cars in it and is the beginning of the Acid War Zone Hike, which is a longer route to the blowhole. I know I've been careful with using the term "hike" versus "walk" in my trip report so far, but this was definitely a hike. The whole thing took about 30 minutes, and there is literally no trail at all. The Maui Revealed app came in handy once again as we were able to follow our little red dot moving along the trail on the screen. But, the actual "trail" looked like this:



After 15 minutes of hiking along the coastline, we found the light beacon, just as the book describes.



The book warns of a second, much less exciting blowhole in the area that normally fools the unaware who assume it to be Nakalele and then turn around after seeing it, but we couldn't find it despite trying, haha. It was kind of exciting not knowing 100% whether you were actually going in the right direction, but we kept venturing along the shore, up and down the rocks.



20 minutes into the hike, we finally found the "alien landscape" that the book refers to.







For those not familiar, the saltwater has bashed this area over the years so hard that the salt has actually eaten away at the lava rocks to create what looks to be some foreign/alien rocks/landscape. We wore watershoes, which did the job especially when I slipped and ripped up the top of the shoe (thankfully instead of my bare foot had I been in something like flip-flops), but you might be more comfortable in sneakers.

After 30 tiring minutes, we made it to the blowhole where a man was walking precariously close to the hole.



The book warns not to get too close and especially not to stand on the lava between the hole and the ocean because boy does that water suck right out after the wave passes. We hung around for about 10 minutes to see how high it could get.





Kauai has its own geyser - Spouting Horn - that you basically drive up to and view from high above on a concrete platform with a fence, but here you could really be right up and close with nature. It was very cool to see, and with adding in the hike, it was a more enjoyable experience than Spouting Horn. Instead of hiking back through the Acid War Zone to the car, we decided to return the "easy" way up to that first turnout on the highway and then walk down the highway for the half a mile. But not before grabbing another shot of the beautiful blue and white crashing against the coast.



As you might be able to see from some of those pictures, there's actually a decent amount of the "alien rocks/landscape" near the blowhole. And, while the return trip takes just 5 minutes, it's not exactly a stroll in the park. So, if you just want to see the blowhole and some of the alien landscape, I wouldn't say it's bad thing for you to go the short, "easy" way. But, if you specifically wanted to go on a hike, then it's nice to be able to combine the blowhole with the hike.


The "easy" way down to the blowhole.

A final, comforting message (that we only saw once we were back up at the road):



Walking on the side of the highway (no shoulder) was an interesting experience, and fortunately, not too many cars drove by. 30 minutes from the time we left the blowhole, we were back at the car, and 30 minutes after that (of smooth driving on 2 lanes, I might add), we were back at the hotel and back in the water.

The pool was once again very cold and busy, so we went straight for the beach where we got in our first - albeit not too exciting - snorkeling. (It got much better on our last morning when we found a better spot.)



Around 6PM, we were exhausted from the extremely long day, so we put up our POM meals and way too long later (reminder: get a toaster oven that can definitely hold both meals at once), my wife had Penne Vodka and I had Fire Poppers Chicken Nuggets. The penne was good once again, while the poppers were similar to the other Fleishig meals we had so far - kinda soggy. We decided to then go for a night time stroll around the hotel - there's 1 shop that sells snacks/souvenirs, which were decently priced - and soon after called it a night. Wow, what a day!

Offline @Yehuda

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Oct 2013
  • Posts: 8843
  • Total likes: 52
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 5
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: @Yehuda's Road to Hana: From the Rockies and Back
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2016, 09:55:28 AM »
Tuesday, December 22 - Asarah b'Teves
While I normally try to check the Jewish calendar before planning a trip, I forgot this time and didn't realize that Asarah b'Teves fell out during our stay. I'm kind of glad I didn't check, as I might have just forgotten about the idea to go to Hawaii and just stayed in Denver for the full 2+ weeks. For today, we had booked a snorkeling trip to Molokini Crater with Pacific Whale Foundation. While the Four Winds company is rated #1 by Maui Revealed, I wasn't ready to commit to booking far in advance (and choosing which day would be our snorkeling day), so by the time I booked just a few days before our trip, they were already sold out. Truth is, at $85/person, PCF is $15 cheaper than Four Winds, and the only negative thing the book says about them is that their boats are much bigger than Four Winds, which means you'll be in the water with many more people. I've heard that the odds are several tour companies will be at Molokini at the same time anyway, so I'm not really sure why going with 100 people specifically on your boat versus 40 people is such a big difference. I paid for the tour by booking through the Hyatt's concierge so that the charge would post to my Arrival+ card as "travel," and therefore, I'd be able to use points to cover the cost. The $173.70 charge came out to 15,633 points.

Now that you have some background info... we cancelled our reservations the night before. :-[

As we were winding down our awesome, action-packed day in Hawaii, we realized that waking up again at a super early hour (tour starts at 6:15AM and is 30 minutes away from the Hyatt) and snorkeling in saltwater with sun beating down on us while fasting would probably not be a very smart idea. I checked with some friends that have more water-activity experience than us, and they all agreed that we would be extremely thirsty and suggested against going. As the cancellation policy was 2 days in advance, we unfortunately had to cancel and lose the points. I tried explaining that it was a religious issue that we weren't able to go, but that didn't help. The concierge and PWF both offered to rebook on another day for free, but with Wednesday scheduled for the Road to Hana and Thursday's flight at 2:30PM, there was no time available to go. The concierge also told me that if anyone else tries to book the tour, she would sell them our tickets, but alas, that didn't happen either. Nu nu.

Sunrise Tuesday morning from the room gave a very clear view of Lana'i.



Once we were spending the day at the hotel, we made sure to get to the daily penguin feeding at 9:30AM. The penguins, unsurprisingly, were on their most active behavior we'd seen them.





We spent most of the day relaxing in the room, and then went out to sit and read by the pool and beach.



Look at all those freakin' blues!!



Finally, the fast began winding down. It ended not too much later than back in NY.


Hey, if R' Tukaccinsky is the reason we can't stay in Hawaii for Shabbos, then we should be able to rely on him for the Zman for ending the fast, right!?

We warmed up our POM meals as the night began to fall, and when the fast was over, we dined on scrumptious Penne Vodka.



Not too much of an exciting day, but still nice and relaxing!

Offline @Yehuda

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Oct 2013
  • Posts: 8843
  • Total likes: 52
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 5
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: @Yehuda's Road to Hana: From the Rockies and Back
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2016, 09:55:42 AM »
Wednesday - December, 23
Wow. Wow. Wow, wow. Wow. The Road to Hana.

Hands down my favorite activity that I've done in Hawaii. (Yes, I know I only visited Kauai and Maui, and I know I missed the Kalalau Trail.)


Hana ---> thatta way!

To plan what activities to do on the RTH, I suggest (as others have as well) to read through the RTH section in Maui Revealed as well as TRs here and write down each activity that seems interesting to you. I also wrote down what page they were on in the book, what mile marker they were at (so I could list them in travel order), and a 2-3 word description to jog my memory later. (e.g. "Waterfall to see" or "Waterfall to go in"). My total list had about 23 stops on it. I didn't think there was any chance we'd get close to doing that many, but it was crucial to know as we made each stop what was coming up next to decide whether to go for it or skip it. We ended up getting to 12 of the stops on my list, which actually surprised me.

Shall we begin?

We left the hotel a bit later than we had hoped to at around 7:45AM, but still made it to the beginning of the RTH by 9AM, which was our real goal. We didn't get back to the hotel till after 7PM. Boy, was it a long, but awesome, day. Unfortunately, the weather was ominous as we faced cloudy skies for most of the day, but thank G-d, the rain never made it too difficult to drive nor did it hamper our activities or fun. 



Per the book's recommendation we drove right past the PACKED parking lot of Twin Falls, a stop that most people make, despite it supposedly being not nearly as impressive as many of the other falls on the road. Our first stop was one that I didn't notice in Maui Revealed, but made sure to do after seeing SomethingFishy's TR. The Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees sit just at the side of the highway and are easy to speed past. They are around mile marker 7.





Taking a page out of SF's book, I just ordered a canvas to be made out of this picture:



As we continued on our drive, I quickly realized that I wasn't sure why I thought we would be snaking our way down the curvy road alongside the ocean, as we were actually driving just a drop inland and were covered entirely by greenery on both sides. It felt like what I imagine driving through a rainforest must feel like. The greens were so green and lush, often overhanging the road to entirely surround our car. I had hoped to pull over to see the Lower Puohokamoa Falls but was so distracted by the scenery that I totally overshot it. Nu nu, there would be many more falls to see. I also had Wahinepe'e on my list of stops to hike through the bamboo forest, but decided we would just do the bamboo forest hike on the Pipiwai Trail towards the end of the day. So, our next actual stop was Haipua'ena Falls. Just like in West Maui, there were convenient, small pullouts by the side of the road wherever Maui Revealed suggested to stop. Definitely seeing people return from the falls right before we headed out of the car gave us the confidence for our first hike through the woods (jungle, if you will). After a 3 minute walk/slight hike through the wet forest, we came to the falls, completely secluded.



Wow, our first waterfall/pool. We just stood there admiring its quaint beauty. As you can see, the water wasn't too clear, and it was actually quite freezing - which makes sense as it's fresh water tucked away in the forest with literally zero sunshine. We didn't get more than our toes into the water before deciding to wait for the next pool to go swimming in, heh. Within a few minutes, a group of people arrived, and we decided to head out anyway.

Back in the car, we decided to skip our next stop, Punalau Falls, due to it requiring a hike on boulders (per the book), and went for the next stop, Ching's Pond. This one required a 2-3 moderate climb down to the water. Unfortunately, there were a few people there, and it started raining.


Before the rain

While getting ready to go in, we suddenly noticed 2 guys climbing over the bridge. I was about to call out to them that there's a path just down the road, but then I realized what they were about to do...



Interestingly and fortunately, the jumpers and the other people around us spent MAYBE 5 minutes in the freezing water, and then ran out - leaving this haven to ourselves. The rain didn't get too wild, so we stayed in the water. The water was once again freezing, but my wife mustered up the courage and swam all the way out to the waterfall. We made sure not too get too close to the back end of the pond, because this is how it drained out:



We probably spent 20-30 minutes there and then headed back up to the car while it was still raining. We got to spend the first little while of the RTH with the roof down, but for the rest of the day we kept it closed since the rain was steady for most of the day and it just wasn't worth opening and closing the roof every time we stopped since we were driving for no more than 10 minutes at a time before our next destination. After not being in love with a convertible in Kauai, the only reason we got one here was for the Road to Hana, and having done part of it with the roof open and closed, I really don't think you miss much by having a roof. I'm not a big sports car guy (and my wife doesn't care for it either), but yeah, I wouldn't recommend paying extra for a convertible - not in Kauai or Maui. Which leads me to believe, I probably wouldn't rather have a convertible on any trip we go on. I know people swear by a Mustang on their trips to Hawaii, Key West, Great Ocean Road, etc., but it just didn't do it for us. Anyway, to each their own.

Soon into our next drive, we passed by the Halfway to Hana stand. Not needing anything, we continued on right past it. The book claims it's really 2/3 of the way to Hana, but either way, it sure felt like we hadn't yet done 1/2 or 2/3 of the road and activities yet. I'm very glad there was still much more to come.



We quickly stopped at the Spring-Fed Gusher, which is supposed to be a colorful floral growth coming out of a pipe that drains spring water under the highway, but it was simply more greenery like we saw everywhere else. It's literally right on the road, so it didn't hurt to stop for 30 seconds just to see if it was anything special to look at.



Our next stop was at the Upper Waikani Falls (aka Three Bears Falls). Despite the book's warning that cops hand out a lot of parking tickets here, there were plenty of cars parked and since we had decided not to hike to the falls, we were standing right near the car the whole time. (For those interested in hiking to the falls, the people who did it said it wasn't a strenuous hike.)


Yet another beautiful view of G-d's glory.

Our next stop was supposed to be Wailua Iki waterfall and view of the valley, but this gate and sign kept us away:



We continued to our next stop, Pua'a Ka'a State Park, where we found actual parking spots, restrooms and picnic tables. There are 2 falls here. The first one was only really visible from the road as you pass by, but it was the second one, slightly upstream where people were hanging out. You had to cross a small stream to get there.



There were only 2 people in the water, and they left as soon as we got there. Again, the water was freezing, but we still enjoyed 20 minutes in the dream-like setting.



The book speaks of a hike from here to an even more secluded waterfall, but the only thing that slightly resembled a path through the brush was right next to this sign, so we headed back to the car.



So far, we had only driven a dozen miles, so there was plenty to still see. Next up was Hanawi Falls. From the road, the falls were not as pumping as they are in the Maui Revealed book. But when you went up closer to the right one, it provided yet another stunning view. I'm not sure if there is a way to hike down to this one, but even just stopping by was worth the stop.




Close-up infront of the right falls

Next up was Makapipi Falls. From the road, you simply walk onto the bridge and look down. The water is just absolutely pumping into a huge drop. Perhaps you could get down there to get a picture of the actual falls, but looking down from the bridge was pretty awesome, too.



Nahiku Road was our next diversion. It's a few mile road off of the RTH that ends with a waterfall and pond and that Maui Revealed describes as, "When plants go to heaven, Nahiku must be their destination." However, we kind of disagreed. While it was still very pretty, we didn't think it was any greener than the rest of the RTH. Anyway, the road is not paved as well as the main highway, and it's mostly just wide enough for 1 lane. We drove slowly, had to squish to the side to let oncoming traffic pass us a few times, and passed by some very shabby dwellings that people somehow live in.







Unfortunately, about 15 minutes into the drive, we hit a dead end. :'(



So, we wouldn't get to see another waterfall, and instead drove back to the highway. When we got back to the RTH, we saw this sign facing - incredibly - not in the direction of most cars who would care to know (driving towards Hana), but instead in the direction of people heading away from Hana.



We were able to catch another car turning onto Nahiku and pointed out the sign to them. They were quite thankful that we saved them the half hour roundtrip. Soon after, we had officially made it to Hana for what it's worth.



Next up was Wai'anapnapa State Park - Black Sand Beach.



Here, we found an actual parking lot, but couldn't find a parking spot. It's funny how on the middle of the highway, we had no problem with just pulling off to the side of the road anywhere, yet here, we waited a few minutes until someone pulled out of an official spot. Apparently there was a blowhole here also, but we went with the crowd towards the beach. The view on the 5 minute walk was one of the best on our trip.



We brought our snorkel stuff out of the car with us, but that was a joke once we saw the waves. It was clear that this beach was just for gawking and not sunbathing or swimming. There were a lot of people at the water, but everyone just stood with their feet in the water for a few minutes and then headed out. The black sand was really cool and looked just absolutely gorgeous against the blue water and white foam of the crashing waves.





As it was now after 2PM, we went back to the car and ate some PB&J sandwiches we had brought with us. Continuing on our journey, we decided to skip Hana Bay, which is known for it's black sand beach and red sand beach, since we had just seen a black one and were starting to get tired and not overly excited about red sand. I believe Hana Bay is also known for snorkeling, but we weren't going to check it out especially due to the surf we had seen at Wai'anapanapa. We then also skipped the Unnamed Red Sand Beach (not the one at Hana Bay), due to the same reason above plus the fact that in SomethingFishy's TR he sure made it seem a bit dangerous to try to hike to it. The mile markers definitely did not match up with the book in this area of the road (this is in the general area where the markers start counting down), so we overshot Venus Pool and, with the fatigue of the day kicking in, decided not to turn around to try to find it. I had also researched what would have been our most adventurous stop of the day, Kanahuali'i Falls, which requires a hike in a stream to get to the secluded falls, but we decided to nix the idea before we even started the RTH. Maybe next time.

Having skipped a few stops on our list (which is totally fine!), we stopped next at Wailua Falls. This was a quick stop just to get a picture as you can't go into the water.


Check out the people who climbed down to get a closer shot of the falls.

Next up was what would be our final stop for the day - Seven Sacred Pools. Since this is part of Haleakala National Park, you can use your receipt from parking at Haleakala for sunrise within the past 3 days to get free parking here. As I mentioned before, the parking has gone up from $10 to $15. Unfortunately, this sign greeted us as we pulled in.



With the pools closed for swimming due to the surf, we knew this stop wouldn't be as fun as it could be, but we decided to park and head out to the water anyway. The lot was completely full, so we parked on a "temporary lot" (aka the grass). We followed the crowd along the easy trail down to the water, passing by a banyan tree, similar to what we've seen in Legoland in Orlando.




As you can see, the path was not strenuous at all.

When we got to the water, we were faced with a gate blocking the way down to get anywhere close to the falls/pools, and instead, we had to stand way up high facing the pools from the side. We didn't get the frontal view that the book has a picture of, but it was still pretty nonetheless. Unfortunately, it was impossible to get a picture without someone in the way.



I'm not sure why exactly the water was deemed too dangerous to swim, since the falls didn't look like they were particularly powerful today, nor did the pools seem to be draining our extremely fast, but perhaps the look of the ocean just below is what kept the gate up.



Instead of turning back on the path we came with, we continued to follow the path to circle our way back to the car. That was a mistake as this section was extremely muddy and gross. It did let us get a picture of one of the upper pools, though (again from the side).



I had planned on taking the Pipiwai Trail here at least until the bamboo forest hike (which from the book seemed to be 1-2 hours each way), but my wife didn't even have to convince me this time - we were simply too tired. Perhaps skipping the Wahinepe'e bamboo hike was a mistake at the start of the day, but I imagine that had we hiked that one, we would have been tired earlier in the day and possibly missed something else. What can ya do?

Leaving Seven Sacred Pools, we turned left - contrary to almost every other car - to take the "backside" of the RTH on our way to the hotel instead of just turning around and going back the way we came. We tried to make what would have been the last stop on my list, Alele Falls, but we couldn't find the pullover, so we skipped it, which didn't really upset us since we definitely had our fill of gorgeous waterfalls throughout the day. Once past this point, we had no more stops planned and were ready to head back to the hotel. Taking the back road is highly recommended by basically everyone on DDF, but boy, we really didn't enjoy it. I can't say for sure that going back the "normal" way would've been better, but this back road wasn't for us. After a few minutes of regular road, the paving disappears and you're driving on dirt/gravel for probably 20-30 minutes. Other than that stretch, it would alternate for a few minutes of semi-paved road to a few minutes of cracked up road. The road was bumpy and extremely narrow, which led to uncomfortable squeezing-by situations when cars came towards us. Even without too many cars on this road, you can't really drive faster than you would on the busier Road to Hana because you need to watch out for blind curves, 1 lane stretches of road and the generally safety of your car on an unpaved surface. One of the attractions of going this way is that the dry landscape is supposed to be an extremely stark contrast from the lushness of the RTH. However, as you might have seen in some TRs that came out recently, it turns out that in the winter, the backside is not nearly as dry as those who went in the summer experienced. It's mostly just driving with the ocean on one side and fields on the other with mountains in the background. Don't get me wrong, it's beautiful, and we stopped - along with a few other cars - several times to get out and take pictures, but my wife and I didn't think the beauty was worth the road. Sunglasses were crucial for this road (thankfully I had with me) as we were literally driving towards the sun for almost the entire journey until the sun set. I hadn't been driving with the GPS for most of the day since the book's map and the app were more helpful than a GPS for finding where to pull over, so it wasn't until a decent ways into this return journey that we realized we had no cell service and no idea how long the trip would be. It's all one straight road, so I wasn't concerned about getting lost, but after having driven for over an hour and finally getting reception (see map below for when the GPS reception picked up), it was annoying to find out we still had over 2 hours to go till we'd be back at the hotel. Leaving Seven Sacred Pools at around 4PM kept us in the daylight for most of the journey, and gave us some nice sunset views. It turns out that by the time we got back to Central Maui, it was rush hour, so the last :45 - 1 hour of the trip was sitting in traffic. :( Anyway, I am clearly in the minority here about my opinion on this road, but I thought I would share my experience in case anyone else is concerned. So, we're not into super cool cars or bumpy dirt roads - nothing wrong with that. :) Here are some pictures from the return trip.


Here you can see the quality of the road. It was even worse than it looks, in my opinion.


Pokawai Sea Arch in the distance.




Sunset over Kaho'olawe (I believe).


It wasn't until we hit Highway 37 (bottom left) that we got GPS reception.


Finally back on normal road :).

Finally, we made it back into Central Maui, where we hit traffic almost until the Lahaina/Ka'anapali area. We got back to the hotel around 7:30PM and heated up our POM meals. My wife had the BBQ Chicken Nuggets, which again, didn't warm up well. I had ordered General Tso, but received Sesame Chicken. I found out after the trip that they no longer make The General, but either way, the Sesame Chicken was great! It was the best Fleishig dish we had on the trip. Despite all our issues with the meals not warming up well and getting soggy, the Sesame Chicken came out super tasty. After an extremely long and incredible day, we called it a night.

Offline @Yehuda

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Oct 2013
  • Posts: 8843
  • Total likes: 52
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 5
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: @Yehuda's Road to Hana: From the Rockies and Back
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2016, 09:55:53 AM »
Thursday, December 24 (and the rest of the trip)
Having been in touch with the Chabad Rabbi several times before our trip, I learned that he tries to get a Minyan together on Mon/Thurs. Knowing that mornings in Hawaii tend to start very early, I knew that Thursday was the only day we had nothing planned and that I could try to make it to Shacharis. Chabad is near the airport, which meant at 6:15AM, I started the 45 minute drive. I inputted the address into my GPS incorrectly, so I got lost for a few minutes at the end of the trip, but I was only a few minutes late for 7AM Shacharis and was still only the second one there after the Rabbi.



He promised me he had 10 coming, so I found a seat and waited around. It would be quite disappointing if I schlepped all the way here for no Minyan, but I held out hope. At 7:20 our 3rd person showed up... and at 7:40, we had 7 people when the Rabbi announced we should start Davening alone. He said that by Laining he would call some local non-religious Jews to come over for 10 minutes so we could Lain. I'm not quite sure why he made sure to have a Minyan for Laining and not for Shemonah Esrei, but perhaps he could convince them to come hear the reading from the Torah, and not just to sit there while everyone else stands still and shakes for 5 minutes. At 8:15, the real Minyan Man walked in, and we Lained.

I drove back to the hotel with the roof down for one last convertible-hurrah, then we packed up the room and headed down to the beach for the rest of the morning. It was this morning that we noticed the sandy-bottomed area of the beach from our porch and went straight for that area. We got used to the water quickly and with the help of some other people found where the great snorkeling was. I really loved this beach because the water was only 3-5 feet deep so far out, which meant snorkeling was really easy and comfortable. I once again tried using my phone's camera in one of those waterproof bags, but even with using the volume buttons as the shutter, not a single picture came out clear. In fact, I barely got any pictures to even "take." I held my camera under water and clicked the volume button 20 times, and there was not a single new picture on my phone. But if I did the same thing above water, the picture captured properly. Beats me. Sorry there are no fish pictures to share, but the memories are etched in my brain. We saw schools of fish and an assortment of varied colored fish, including the rainbow fish we saw in Kauai. It was an awesome morning. We then sat out in the sun for a bit until it was time to finish packing up and head out.





A little after 12PM, we checked out of the hotel and left for the airport. 45 minutes later, I was about to pull into the airport when I remembered we had to fill up with gas. We spun around, filled up the half tank for $40 and drove to Avis. We were getting a bit close to our flight time, so when the agent said I would be charged $50 for returning the car an hour late, I didn't have time to fight it then. After our trip, I emailed Avis and was able to get back most of the late fee. We then hopped on the shuttle, and checked in for our flight to LAX. With Alaska MVP Gold 75K status, we had free bags and were able to choose exit row seats for free.


Talk about legroom.

Our plane felt like it was very new, with very sleek interior, seats, outlets and entertainment system, and because it was Christmas Eve, they made some of the movie channels free.





We had quite a fiasco getting our POM meals warmed up on the plane. The stewardess said she'd ask the lead steward to come by after he finished the service in first class, but in the meanwhile, another coach steward came up to us and rudely said it's against policy to warm up food and to "not even waste" the lead's time. He really made us feel terrible, but then magically about a 1/2 hour later, the lead came to us, looked at our food, I explained that United had no problem heating it up on our outbound flight, and he said, "Sure, but I won't warm it up for too long because our ovens are much better than United's." ;D After our trip, I complained about the rude steward to AA, but of course, wasn't offered any compensation for it. We both had Penne Vodka, and once again, it was super delish.

The flight went by quickly and we soon picked up our bags and headed to the shuttle to the Courtyard LAX/EL Segundo where a family member met up with us with some food and we hung out for a while. The hotel was a standard airport hotel (so you know the drill - you don't get any pictures :P) and did the job for the overnight. On Christmas morning, we took the shuttle back to the airport, where we caught our SW flight to DEN. While Hawaii was over, it was really nice to still have over a week of vacation. I hope to cover the full Denver trip in my DEN TR thread, but for now, I'll just bring the TR full circle with some more snow pictures from when we went snow tubing in Winter Park, CO.





On the way to the airport we said our goodbyes to the Bronco, standing proud for his SuperBowl team!



Mahalo from Hawaii and goodbye from Denver!



ETA: I meant to put in a little piece about which of the 2 islands I visited I liked more. You can read my little comparison between Kauai and Maui that hopefully will help people decide where to go, but I'll tell you here that I liked Maui better. The Road to Hana was so incredible, and while the Hyatt Regency was nothing like the GHK (I imagine some other hotels in Maui come somewhat closer), I'd still choose Maui for the RTH. B"H I had the fortune to check out both, and I hope you have that chance one day too. :)
« Last Edit: February 15, 2016, 10:51:53 AM by @Yehuda »

Offline benjie1305

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Dec 2013
  • Posts: 6142
  • Total likes: 11
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 15
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: NY Area
Re: @Yehuda's Road to Hana: From the Rockies and Back
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2016, 10:11:09 AM »

Quote
While Centurions are generally newer/nicer and emptier than UA Clubs, I'm not really sure why everyone makes such a big deal about them over UA. You still can't really eat anything, alcohol isn't free and, if anything, it's easier to find a private cubicle to Daven in at UA than at Centurion. Nonetheless, I was able to find a somewhat private area.

At the bar? It's all free.
Work hard, Play harder!

Offline @Yehuda

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Oct 2013
  • Posts: 8843
  • Total likes: 52
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 5
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: @Yehuda's Road to Hana: From the Rockies and Back
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2016, 10:13:55 AM »
At the bar? It's all free.
Oops. Didn't know that... :-[ Although the bar was closed when we were there that early anyway.

Offline benjie1305

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Dec 2013
  • Posts: 6142
  • Total likes: 11
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 15
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: NY Area
Re: @Yehuda's Road to Hana: From the Rockies and Back
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2016, 10:35:17 AM »
Oops. Didn't know that... :-[ Although the bar was closed when we were there that early anyway.

Can't pass up on an early morning cocktail! ;)

So besides for you loving to say Nu-Nu this is a great TR and it seems that you are the first person to openly *bash* RTH a bit which I actually get. From reading TRs and just googling about it seems fun but not only fun from many comments about the road itself and some of the spots.

So, which Hawaii trip did you enjoy more? And why?
Work hard, Play harder!

Online EJB

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Sep 2012
  • Posts: 3832
  • Total likes: 34
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 13
    • View Profile
Re: @Yehuda's Road to Hana: From the Rockies and Back
« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2016, 10:35:48 AM »
Oops. Didn't know that... :-[ Although the bar was closed when we were there that early anyway.

lol

Online TimT

  • Dansdeals Lifetime 10K Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Dec 2013
  • Posts: 16046
  • Total likes: 220
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 3
    • View Profile
Re: @Yehuda's Road to Hana: From the Rockies and Back
« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2016, 10:38:50 AM »
Great TR & photos @Yehuda, as usual! Thanks for taking the time.

Offline @Yehuda

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Oct 2013
  • Posts: 8843
  • Total likes: 52
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 5
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: @Yehuda's Road to Hana: From the Rockies and Back
« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2016, 10:50:57 AM »
Can't pass up on an early morning cocktail! ;)

So besides for you loving to say Nu-Nu this is a great TR and it seems that you are the first person to openly *bash* RTH a bit which I actually get. From reading TRs and just googling about it seems fun but not only fun from many comments about the road itself and some of the spots.

So, which Hawaii trip did you enjoy more? And why?
Wait, what?? I LOVED the RTH. I also don't think you're comment reads properly, so I'm a bit confused about what you were trying to say. Did I give the impression that I didn't like the RTH? I didn't like the backside of the road, but that's not nearly the whole trip! That's just the return when you're not doing any activities anyway.

I meant to include a piece about which island I liked better - thanks for the reminder, I just added it.

Offline benjie1305

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Dec 2013
  • Posts: 6142
  • Total likes: 11
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 15
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: NY Area
Re: @Yehuda's Road to Hana: From the Rockies and Back
« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2016, 11:04:12 AM »
Wait, what?? I LOVED the RTH. I also don't think you're comment reads properly, so I'm a bit confused about what you were trying to say. Did I give the impression that I didn't like the RTH? I didn't like the backside of the road, but that's not nearly the whole trip! That's just the return when you're not doing any activities anyway.

I meant to include a piece about which island I liked better - thanks for the reminder, I just added it.

I did indeed mean the back end trip back that people rave about but I read many *not so amazing things about*.
Work hard, Play harder!

Offline E R K

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite + Lifetime Gold Elite
  • ******
  • Join Date: Dec 2011
  • Posts: 869
  • Total likes: 3
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 7
    • View Profile
Re: @Yehuda's Road to Hana: From the Rockies and Back
« Reply #14 on: February 15, 2016, 11:24:31 AM »
What an amazing TR with all the details! While I'm not going out there anytime soon, your TR and PBaruchs TR sure will be helpful (along with all the others).