A Journey to Maui Photography Workshop with Mark Buckler of the Outer Banks, NC

Jennifer and I left for Maui on December 4, 2016 for two weeks on the island. The first week to be a photography workshop with leader Mark Buckler of the Outer Banks, NC, along with Barbara Whitney another workshop attendee, and the second week to be at one of the island's resorts the Montage at Kapalua Bay.

Legends say the demigod Maui pulled the Hawaiian Islands from the sea and lassoed the sun atop Haleakala, the island’s highest peak. The island of Maui was named after this mythological being, perhaps because the shape of the island is said to resemble his head and body.

King Piilani was the first ruler to unite all of Maui under a single family of alii (royalty) in the early 15th century. In 1790, King Kamehameha I defeated Kahekili, Maui’s last king, after a fierce battle in the iconic Iao Valley. Kamehameha took control of Maui and made Lahaina the new capital of the unified Hawaiian Kingdom. For nearly five decades, Lahaina served as the center of government for Hawaii. Simultaneously, the town experienced a surge in its whaling industry. At the height of the whaling era (1840-1865) as many as 500 ships anchored in Lahaina’s port.

Maui’s first sugar mill began operations in 1828. As the sugar industry in the islands grew, an influx of plantation workers from China, Japan, Puerto Rico, Korea, the Philippines, Portugal and Europe arrived in Hawaii. These immigrants became the foundation of the multi-ethnic culture of Hawaii today. You can experience these influences at places like the Lahaina Jodo Mission and in the fusion of flavors found in Hawaii Regional Cuisine.

The Lahaina Historic Trail and other notable attractions allow you to explore Maui’s rich past today, adding a fascinating new dimension to your visit. (from the gohawaii.com website.)

A stop along the East Maui to West Maui Highway. Ma’alaea to Lahaina Beaches

These first two images are taken at the same location. Sunset on the beach. The only difference is that the second is taken facing away from the sun and the first is towards the sun.

Maui Map

Hawaii's beaches belong to the people.

All beaches, even those in front of exclusive resorts, are public property, and you are welcome to visit. Hawaii state law requires all resorts and hotels to offer public right-of-way access to the beach, along with public parking. So just because a beach fronts a hotel doesn't mean that you can't enjoy the water. Generally, hotels welcome non-guests to their facilities. They frown on non-guests using the beach chairs reserved for guests, but if a non-guest has money and wants to rent gear, buy a drink, or eat a sandwich, well, money is money, and they will gladly accept it from anyone. (from the Frommer's Guide)

Beach Scenes

La Perouse Bay: The Last Lava Flow on Maui

Located on the far south end of the island, La Perouse Bay is the site of the last lava flow on Maui, dating back to 1790. As part of the 'Ahihi Kina'u Natural Area Reserve, the north area, Moanakala, more commonly called "Dumps", remains an excellent choice for snorkeling when conditions are favorable.

Named after the first European to set foot on Maui - Jean-François de La Pérouse in 1786 - La Perouse is an excellent place to catch an early-morning view of resting Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins, and in later hours, a scenic Maui sunset. It's also the take-off point for avid hikers who wish to challenge themselves along King's Highway, a barren, challenging trail with stellar views.

Whatever reason you choose to visit, the stark black lava rock paired with the continually green areas of Upcountry Maui and rolling clouds over Haleakala is something you have to see to appreciate. And you'll be glad you did. (from mauiinformationguide.com website)

La Perouse Bay
La Perouse Bay
La Perouse Bay
La Perouse Bay
La Perouse Bay
La Perouse Bay
La Perouse Bay

The Road to Hana

The Hana Highway is a 64.4-mile (103.6 km) long stretch of Hawaii Routes 36 and 360 which connects Kahului with the town of Hana in east Maui. On the east after Kalepa Bridge, the highway continues to Kīpahulu as Hawaii Route 31 (the Piilani Highway). Although Hana is only about 52 miles (84 km) from Kahului, it takes about 2.5 hours to drive when no stops are made as the highway is very winding and narrow and passes over 59 bridges, 46 of which are only one lane wide. There are approximately 620 curves along Route 360 from just east of Kahului to Hana, virtually all of it through lush, tropical rain forest. Many of the concrete and steel bridges date back to 1910 and all but one are still in use. That one bridge, badly damaged by erosion, has been replaced by a portable steel bridge erected by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. (from Wikipedia)

While the Road to Hana is well known and is prominent on the tourist circuit, we felt the West Maui road provided better views and more photographic opportunities.

Waterfalls and Ocean Views along the Road to Hana
Rainbow Eucalyptus
Flowers and Flower Stands were Common along the Road to Hana
These were taken at a small florist shop near a restaurant

Whale Watching Tour with the Pacific Whale Foundation

Returning to Maui after the Tour out of Lahaina

Without a doubt, one of the most amazing marine wildlife adventures you’ll ever have the opportunity to partake in is a chance to witness the majesty of the North Pacific Humpback Whales in their natural environment. Year, after year, these magical mammals grace Hawaiian waters and shorelines for their annual Winter migration through the North Pacific Ocean (roughly November-May).

First, it’s important to know that there are in fact 3 separate populations of the North Pacific Humpback Whale. These populations are scientifically referred to as “stocks.” The California/Oregon/Washington stock migrates from British Columbia to Central America. The Western North Pacific stock migrates from the Alaskan Kodiak Archipelago to Japan waters. Finally, Hawaii’s Kohola (whales in the ancient Hawaiian language), also known as the Central North Pacific stock, migrate between Alaska and the Hawaiian Islands.

The exact number of Humpback whales that visit Hawaii every year is unknown, but marine biologists have speculated that an even number of whales make up each stock. Some speculate that 1/3 of the total population of North Pacific Humpback Whales arrive in Hawaii every year, others stating that it could be 1/2 of the total population. But, it is also a fact that the majority of Humpback calves born each year are also born in Hawaii. With all of that information in mind, biologists overall believe that concerning stock populations migrational locations, Humpback Whale presence in Hawaii is the largest. Although each stock is distinct in migration habits, there is an intermixing of stocks, which happens in Alaskan waters during the Summer months.

Due to the efforts of North Pacific Humpback Whale conservation, the whale population has been steadily increasing over the past 50 years. In 1966, the North Pacific Humpback Whale population was believed to be approximately 1,400. In 1993, marine conservationists estimated 6,000, and in 2014, the population of North Pacific Humpback Whales is believed to be 21,000. (from mauiwhalewatching.com website)

Early Season Humpback Whale

Driving the West Maui loop

West Maui Loop Scene

Past Kapalua: As you leave Lahaina and Ka’anapali you start to see something you haven’t seen in a while: clouds! That is because you’re traveling from the dry leeward side of West Maui into the wet windward side. Clouds usually build as the day progresses.

After you’ve put Kapalua behind you, you’ll come to Honolua Bay. We’ve done a separate article on this beach and bay, so I’ll just say it is a protected cove with rocky beach that is usually a spectacular place to snorkel, dive or surf. For more info see the Honolua Bay article.

A great vantage point for Honolua Bay, with dirt road and trail access to the shoreline for the explorer. There are many rough paths leading down to the shoreline tidepools, caves, surfing and snorkeling access. 106 acres of the point’s headlands are in conservation. This area was an ancient Hawaiian fishing ground and the headlands contain many archeological sites that have not yet been preserved, marked or maintained. Please be very respectful of the fact that this is an important cultural area deserving of respect – if you see rocks piled as a wall or foundation, look and imagine what they once were – but do not disturb them. Most of the trails down to the shoreline are rough (and some are downright dangerous) – so use your head before you decide to adventure down any of these.

Punalau Beach is a rugged sand beach, the last sandy beach for quite a while, in fact. This isn’t the best place to lay out or go for a swim, but it is a spectacular place to take a quiet and secluded walk. When the surf is up in the winter months it may become crowded as surfers use this beach to access the popular “Windmills” surf break offshore.

Honokohau Bay has a rocky beach and is used for kayak launching and is another surf spot during winter months. The small village of Honokohau is also just uphill, but is not a place for tourism. Please respect their privacy and right to quiet country life by avoiding a spontaneous drive up their dead-end country road.

Most frequently visitors come here to see the blowhole (below.) There is also a short hike past tidepools and interesting rock formations caused by the effect of countless years of the corrosive effects of the blowhole’s salt spray. Part of this area is called the fantastic name of “acid war zone” by more than one popular guidebook. For those interested in geology, it is definitely a sight you won’t want to miss.

The prime attraction of the Nakalele Point is the blowhole. A blowhole’s effect is much like that of a geyser, a hole in the ground with a jet of water shooting periodically into the air. This blowhole has a manhole sized opening and can be very impressive during high tide and high surf. (tide forecast) Some jets can approach 50+ feet and literally shake the ground beneath your feet.

Nakalele Point Blowhole

The Olivine Pools are a handful of nice tidepools at the end of rugged lava jutting into the ocean. Pretty spectacular when you have them to yourself, these days they’re sometimes pretty crowded. Olivine Pools Page

Kahakuloa is a small isolated village nestled along the shoreline. Called the most isolated village on Maui, most of the folks who live here work here, too. The old and simple missionary founded church (1892) is the subject of many paintings and photographs because it is idyllically situated against both mountain and ocean backdrops. Taro lo'i and modest homes dot the tiny village inside this scenic cove. There are a couple of roadside stands here – one inside the village, and one on the main road. Both have plenty of Aloha and great treats and fruits and are definitely worth a stop. There is also an art gallery called Kaukini Gallery as you ascend out of the valley – they have some very high quality pieces by Hawaiian artists (with price tags to match) plus jewelery as well.

Kahakuloa: Missionary Founded Church in the Background

Kahakuloa Head is visible from quite a distance, distinctive twin hills Pu‘u Koa‘e at over 636′ and Pu’u Kahuli’anapa at just under 550′. King Kahekili, father of the better known King Kamehameha lived in this area for part of the year. Legend has it that he would climb to a ledge around 200′ from the ocean, leap in, then climb back up for his morning routine. Kahekili was defeated by his son (who did not know of his relation) Kamehameha who unified the Hawaiian Islands.

There are a few patchy trails, one that leads between the two hills, another that leads off-and-on to the top of Pu’u Kahuli’anapa, and for very experienced hikers there is a trail (and I use that word loosely) you can climb to the top of Pu‘u Koa‘e. I’m going to leave all these routes unmarked; attempts to reach the summit of Pu‘u Koa‘e would be a life-threatening endeavor for most.

This is a wonderful steep hike along a mountain ridge. Spectacular views of the Waihe’e Valley and coastline, plenty of birds, and you can get a good cardio workout going up the steep incline. I wrote a dedicated article about this hike here: Waihe’e Ridge Trail

Don’t believe the other guidebooks that say you need to hire a tour guide because it is difficult to secure access to this valley. This is a less steep hike than Waihe’e Ridge, into the Waihe’e Valley. This is the valley that you see so spectacularly from the ridge hike above. It is a 1 mile hike on a wide defined path to the bridges, and an additional mile along a narrowing path to the end of the trail. (from the mauiguidebook.com website)

Kahakuloa Village: Most Isolated Village in Maui
Nakalele Blowhole

Haleakala National Park

Inside the Cone of Haleakala

We arrived at Haleakala before dawn to take advantage of the sunrise. The upper parking was full but we found a place at the lower level. There is a trail that leads away from the crowd to a higher level. Unfortunately, the altitude got me and I didn't go all the way up. After sunrise, the crows thinned out and I was able to take photos without much trouble.

Assorted images from Haleakala

Stretching across Maui’s southern and eastern coastline, Haleakala National Park is home to Maui's highest peak. Rising 10,023 feet above sea level, Haleakala's graceful slopes can be seen from just about any point on the island. Haleakala means "house of the sun" in Hawaiian, and legend has it that the demigod Maui lassoed the sun from its journey across the sky as he stood on the volcano’s summit, slowing its descent to make the day last even longer.

The park is comprised of over 30,000 acres of public land, has three separate visitors centers and covers a range of natural environments. You can travel atop the highest peaks of Haleakala, hiking above the clouds and horseback riding across otherworldly deserts. As the park stretches out to the coast towards sea level you can even visit lush tropical areas full of waterfalls and streams.

Many visitors and locals wake up early to drive up to the Haleakala Visitor Center (9,740 feet), the best spot to watch the sunrise. On a clear morning, seeing the sunrise from the summit of Haleakala is an unforgettable experience. Even those who’ve witnessed the event many times say they’ve never seen the same sunrise twice. Perhaps just as spectacular are Haleakala's sunsets and the bright, starry skies revealed at night.

The long, winding road to the summit of Haleakala takes some time to drive up, but is well worth the effort. There are numerous hiking trails that offer solitude and scenic vistas, while guided hikes provide an expert's guidance and insight. You’ll discover more endangered species here than any other park in the National Park Service. You may even spot a Nene (Hawaiian goose) or a blooming ahinahina plant (silversword) on your visit. Visitors can also camp here, with two separate campgrounds and cabins available.

For more information, visit the Park Headquarters Visitor Center at 7,000 feet above sea level. The Haleakala Visitor Center is at 9,740 feet atop its summit. At sea level, the Kipahulu Visitor Center is past Hana on the southeastern coast and is near the beautiful Pools of Oheo. See why Haleakala National Park is one of Maui's most popular visitor attractions.

The top of Haleakala just at Sunrise

Grand Wailea Resort

Christmas at Grand Wailea Resort
Christmas at Grand Wailea Resort
Luau at the Fairmont Kea Lani
Luau at the Fairmont Kea Lani
Sunset at the Fairmont Luau

The Montage at Kapalua Bay and the Maui Land and Pineapple Company

Maui Land & Pineapple Company’s origins are intimately connected to Maui’s Baldwin family. Reverend Dr. Dwight Baldwin and his wife Charlotte came to Lahaina in the mid-1830s as missionaries and lived in what remains today as the Baldwin Home Museum. Their sons, Henry Perrine Baldwin and David Dwight Baldwin, laid the foundation for the company in the late 1800s through the acquisition of land.

The Baldwin family’s experimentation with hala kahiki, or pineapple, began in 1890, when the first fruit was planted in Ha‘iku on Maui’s northeastern shore. In 1903 the Baldwin brothers formed Haiku Fruit & Packing Company, launching the pineapple industry on Maui.

In 1909 Keahua Ranch Company was established. The company’s name was later changed to Haleakala Pineapple Company and eventually to Maui Pineapple Company, Ltd. in 1932. In West Maui, the Baldwin Family holdings dedicated to raising cattle and food crops was called Honolua Ranch. Manager David T. Fleming added pineapple to the operations in 1912 and by 1920 the name was changed to Baldwin Packers, which canned and sold pineapple under its own labels, while growing it at Honolua Plantation.

By 1923, Baldwin Packers owned and managed over 22,000 acres of agricultural land in West Maui. The Baldwins’ east and west Maui holdings and pineapple operations were united in 1962, when Baldwin Packers merged with Maui Pineapple Company. In 1969, Maui Land & Pineapple Company, Inc. (ML&P) was created and went public.

Kapalua Bay with Molokai in the Distance

ML&P’s first president and CEO, Colin Cameron, set about making his vision of a master planned resort community a reality when Kapalua Land Company (KLC) was formed in 1974 and some of the company’s agricultural land was rezoned for resort development. He envisioned a resort that co-existed in harmony with its natural environment as a sanctuary for both man and nature.

KLC helped ML&P diversify its business with the successful operation of the Kapalua Resort community. By 1978, the resort was welcoming guests and Honolua and Mokule‘ia Bays were declared a Marine Life Conservation District. In the late 70s, KLC also began the development and sale of luxury condominiums in conjunction with its renowned golf courses and tennis club.

ML&P further formalized its commitment to the environment with the 1988 dedication of 8,304 acres of land, including Pu‘u Kukui, summit of Mauna Kahalawai (West Maui mountains), to conservation. The Pu‘u Kukui Watershed Preserve remains the largest privately owned nature preserve in the state.

In 1992, The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua opened, having been moved inland after initial excavation unearthed an ancient Hawaiian burial ground. The area fronting the hotel and ocean is now a perpetual easement known as the Honokahua Preservation Site. This wahi pana (sacred site) serves as a reminder of the host culture and long history in the area now called Kapalua.

Throughout the 90s, luxury homesites were developed within Kapalua Resort, including the Plantation Estates, Coconut Grove and Pineapple Hill Estates. With the arrival of the 21st century came the renaissance of Kapalua Resort during which new amenities were added to enhance the active, eco-sensitive lifestyles of its guests and residents. As ML&P enters its second century of business on Maui, it remains dedicated to the people and places of Hawai‘i Nei. (from the mauiland.com website)

The Montage at Kapalua Bay
Gardens at the Montage at Kapalua Bay
Kapalua Bay
Cook Pines on the Skyline
The Montage at Kapalua Bay
Public Beach Access
The Montage at Kapalua Bay

Ocean Surf in Maui

In all parts of the world, waves are simply the effect of wind acting upon water, and the stronger the wind blows, the larger the waves are. Other factors such as the speed at which the storm moves and the distance from a given point of land are also complicit in a wave’s eventual size, but for the most part, it’s the strength of a storm which determines the size of the resulting wave.

Kapalua Bay

Since waves are simply columns of energy moving through the water this energy will continue unabated until some outside force (such as a reef or an island) gets in its way to slow it down. Like a stone dropped into a placid pond, the waves emanate out from a storm source in concentric ripples which can last for days.

What can sometimes be confusing for Hawaii’s visitors, however, is that there can be no wind at all and the waves are still 20 ft high. How is that possible?

The answer lies in the fact that, in the majority of circumstances, Hawaii’s waves are formed by storms which spin thousands of miles away, and thus are simply too far away from the islands for us to feel the winds. Nevertheless, the islands are still directly in the path of the resulting waves which pass unobstructed across thousands of miles. On occasion the tradewinds can be so strong in the islands they can create their own waves in an effect known as “windswell”, but this is not what generates the gargantuan waves that Hawaii is famous for.

Instead, the majority of Hawaii’s waves are formed by large storms spinning in the outer reaches of the Pacific, most of which occur during winter. When—and where—these waves show up, however, forms a crucial part of Hawaii’s recreational calendar.

Kapalua Bay
Kapalua Bay
Kapalua Bay
Ke'anae Pennisula
Ke'anae Pennisula
Ke'anae Pennisula

This finishes another vacation trip and photography workshop. Jenny and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and the time with Barbara and Mark. Hopefully we will get to do it again. My only regret is that we didn't try to get back over to the Big Island for the lava flows. Images on the internet are truely impressive.

The End

La Perouse Bay: Site of the Last Lava Flow on Maui


All photography by JohnRgerman

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