Friday, April 8, 2011

Hiking in Maui on the Kapalua Resort Trails

Getting on the Shuttle at Kapalua Resort
We had heard about the hiking trails over at the Kapalua Resort in West Maui and were determined that before returning home to Canada we would experience what my hiker friend calls, the most awesome hike she has ever been on! She had told me that it was just like being in Jurassic Park.

Belle and Gordon were enthusiastic about the idea so we all piled in Gordon’s silver caddie, and drove to the Kapalua Adventure Center where we had to catch a free shuttle to the trail start.

Cook Pine
The ride took us through a beautiful private residential neighborhood, with pricey, extravagant homes and sweeping views through the golf course and down to the ocean. The streets on either side were lined with Cook Pines from Australia, apparently brought over so that sailors would have replacement wood in case a ship mast needed repairing. In about 10 minutes we reached the trail head and we were on our own to explore the trails.

Starting the hike
Years ago, back in the 1920s this area was all part of the Honolua Ranch and the plantation manager was a man named D.T. Fleming. You may have heard of the popular Kapalua beach that was named after him. Fleming was a man with vision and took it upon himself to search the world for various plants and trees that would flourish in Maui’s tropical environment. As a result the Maunalei Arboretum was born, with the plantings encircling the mountain top like a lei.

Well sign posted trail

We were armed with a map and the trails were safe and well marked, so we made our way upward into an amazing jungle setting of vines, ferns, gigantic trees, and plants both familiar and unique.

Bird's Nest Fern
Belle, who used to own a flower shop, pointed out a bird’s nest fern, so named because of its resemblance to a bird’s nest. Most of the trees had identifying plaques and came from faraway places such as India, New Zealand and Australia.

Some of the most impressive were the huge Rubber tree from India, a New Zealand Kauri tree, the Hoop Pine from Eastern Australia and a Banyan tree forest with ginormous specimens.

A giant plant that looked like a banana tree turned out to be something called a Traveler's Palm.

Traveler's Palm
Rubber Tree from India

New Zealand Kauri Tree

Pu'ukukui Watershed Preserve
There were loops you could take which always brought you back to the main Honolua Ridge trail and once we had made our way up to the summit we were treated with an awesome view of the Pu’ukukui Watershed Preserve, a rainforest area and one of the wettest places on the planet.

From here people had a choice to do an additional six mile hike down which would take them back to the resort center. We decided to walk back the same way we had come, do a few loops and take the shuttle back to the resort.

Banyan Tree

Once back at the resort we were hungry from our adventure so enjoyed a nice lunch in the deli/restaurant. Another great place for a nearby lunch is the popular Honolua Store, a historic area landmark, where they have a full service Expresso Bar and Deli offering breakfast and lunch.

Shuttle Schedule
One the way home we all agreed, that the hike was amazing and we are so proud that Maui has its very own Jurassic Park, thanks to the hard work of D.T. Fleming some 80 years ago. We will definitely tell our friends about this unique Maui activitiy, and we'll be back next year to experience it again.

Kapalua Resort also offers zipline tours and is home to some great beaches and a fantastic walkway along the ocean. For more information visit their website at Kapalua Resort Adventure Center.

You may want to consider staying in a vacation rental on the west side of Maui so you will be closer to these great activities. Try Ideal Vacation Rentals for some lovely condos in the area and the rest of Maui.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a fantastic day-trip. Your description and
    pictures are great, Julie...thanks for whetting my appetite to
    strap on the walkin' shoes and check this out. Joyce