Maui, Hawaii—Arriving to upcountry Maui was a relief from the dry landscape of the southwest part of the island. We were greeted by the gentle movement of tall and fragrant eucalyptus. But, as you can expect, we were also greeted by the unmerciful uphill that we needed to overcome to reach our next goal: Wailea-Makena. Deven was pleased to enjoy the benefits of her newly acquired 27 seven speed folding bike. We pedaled for hours before we reached the top of Ulupalakua where we welcomed the downhill road towards the low-land cane fields.
(Below: The diversity of Maui upcountry landscape: dirt roads and eucalyptus forest).
The end of the downhill road showed us that not all is beauty in Maui: foul smelly air combined with views of pollution expelling sugar cane refineries. Continuing through a bike path along HWY 311 also provided a sample of clouds of mosquitoes and glimpses of what was to come in Wailea: crowded beaches and multi-million resort operations!! Unfortunately it was late and we were left with no choice but to spend the night in the circus.
(Below: Not all of Maui is draped in picturesque beauty, these pictures are of the sugar cane fields and refineries).
Next morning a plan of attack was in place. Escape to the less touristic and more remote Hawaiian island of Molokai Molokai!
After having circumnavigated about ¾ of the island of Maui, we made it to the quaint colonial fishing town of Lanai were we arranged a late afternoon departure on the ferry to Molokai. We were again thankful for our folding bikes and our minimal gear (in the form of our well packed rear panniers…got to love our Axiom panniers!) as we were able to avoid any additional charge, although this did take a little bit of coaxing. Tired after a long day of riding in hot weather we welcomed the relaxing 2 hour ride to Molokai.
Although we arrived on Molokai as darkness set in, we could immediately tell we were in a different place than the hustle and bustle of the tourist towns of Maui that we left behind. We rode around for several miles before we finally found a place to stay for the night. We were struck at the lack of traffic, quietness and darkness.We probably should have put the bike lights on as there are few street lights on the island (and no traffic lights!) but choose instead to just enjoy the peaceful night.
The next morning we rode around the main town of Kaunakakai, which took all of several minutes, and had breakfast at a local diner. Our afternoon consisted of riding east along the Southern coast on Highway 450, which despite its name was no more than a low-traffic two lane road with a generous shoulder and beautiful coastal views.
Since we were staying in the same place at night, we were able to ditch our panniers for the day and instead replaced them with snorkel gear which could easily be strapped to our rear bike racks with the help of a creatively placed bungee cord. Spiny tropical plants caused two flats along the way but otherwise it was a relaxing day of riding and snorkeling.
(Below: Many of Molokai’s dramatic landscapes: North cliffs overlooking Kalaupapa Peninsula and Maikey pushing bikes on the southern reef cliffs).
The next day, having already explored the Eastern island we went West and North along the Kalae Hwy/State Hwy 460. Our goal was to make it to the North side of the island to Pala’au State Park and its infamous Leper colony at Kalaupapa. Although this ride does not cover many miles it is all uphill, cumulating at the Pala’au State Park which overlooks the old leper colony below. The leper colony at Kalaupapa sits on a flat small peninsula which is guarded by a sheer face of sea cliff, and it was easy to see why this site was selected as it would be nearly impossible to escape. It is unfortunate that such a beautiful place has such a tragic history of sickness and despair.
(Below: Deven interacting with one of Molokai’s local inhabitants).
Although our ride to the North took the better part of the afternoon, our ride back down to the South side took a fraction of the time. The next morning we were back again on the ferry. Our time on Molokai was short and we could have stayed longer exploring some of the even less traveled back roads on this quiet laid-back truly Hawaiian island.
For more pictures visit http://www.mlopera.com
Maikey Lopera and Deven Smith