It is said that a secret shared between two people is no longer a secret. Literally, that may be true, but if we extend the definition to include the hidden, the less visited and even the ethereal, Maui can claim to have many secrets. Named for the Polynesian god that lassoed the sun to slow its path across the sky, Maui does have exquisite beaches, world class resorts and championship golf courses. There is also a hidden Maui waiting to be explored.
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The Seven Sacred Pools near the town of Hana was once one of Maui’s secrets. The Pipiwai Stream begins its flow to the ocean two miles inland and as it makes its way, plunges over several waterfalls creating pools in between. Though the pools are a favorite spot for swimming and hiking, they can get crowded on the weekends.
The less traveled secret in this area is the Pipiwai Trail. The hike is four miles long and climbs 650 feet in elevation on its way to Waimoku Falls. Along the way you can take a dip in the Infinity Pool, framed by a row of large rocks separating it from a 200-foot waterfall. This pool takes a bit of effort to get to and the trail can be slippery in the rain. It is in a natural, secluded setting and so far remains one of Maui’s lesser known locations.
Haleakala means “house of the sun.” There is no better way to appreciate that definition than to be at the summit at sunrise. Better yet, greet the dawn and then ride a mountain bike down the 28 miles of switchback roadway through the Haleakala Ranch and the town of Kula on your way to Paia Beach Park. Yes, that does mean you will be leaving your hotel at around 3 a.m. dressed in sweaters and jackets that eventually will be peeled off in the morning sun. It also means you will be traveling with like-minded individuals perhaps a bit sleepy, but eager to begin the adventure.
The sunrise bike tour to Haleakala is a Maui staple. The secret is the self-discovery that though you are sharing the experience with new friends, the spirit of Haleakala touches each person in a special way.
Makena is located south of Kihei and the Wailea Resort area. Makena Beach, called Oneloa or Big Beach in Hawaiian, is one of the longest stretches of sand on Maui. Hidden behind a cinder cone called Pu’u Ola’i on Makena’s north end is a beach known mostly to the locals. Getting there means hiking a rocky path that leads you over a volcanic rock wall. Once on the other side, you will be at Little Beach.
The secret--or perhaps not, once you start looking around--is that this is a clothing-optional beach. Though nude sunbathing is illegal in Hawaii, the remote location means that the law is rarely, if ever, enforced. Little Beach offers great body surfing and decent board surfing during the day. On Sunday nights, the beach becomes the setting for an unusual beach party. Fire dancers and fire twirlers will put on a show. People dance around a circle of fire. Some even burn their bras and set hula hoops alight, just for the fun of it. Once the fire is out, you will need a flashlight to get back over the rock wall. There are no lights and no markers. It’s just you, happy party-goers and a million stars.
The road to Hana begins at Paia, just east of Kahului on the north shore of Maui. Best experienced in an open four-wheel drive or convertible, the road’s 600 switchbacks and 54 one-lane bridges take you past water falls, soaring cliffs and through tropical jungle. There are places to pull over and indulge in the view or just stretch your legs along a hidden bit of sand. The road to Hana is not much of a secret anymore, but one of its destinations qualifies.
Eight miles south of Hana town on the grounds of Palapala Ho’omalu Church is the grave of aviator Charles Lindbergh. Seeking beauty, solitude and relative anonymity towards the end of his life, he settled on the Hana coast. When he died in 1974, he was buried in a simple grave overlooking the ocean. It takes a bit of searching to find the church itself, let alone the grave. Located on the ocean side of the Hana highway, Palapala is accessed by a small road which is easy to miss. This was Lindbergh’s secret hideaway and he shares it with those that make the effort to find it.
The Kanaio Coast, located on the southern tip of Maui past Kihei and Makena, can only be reached from the water. Not many people venture to this uninhabited part of Maui. The safest way to visit this coastline is to join a local rafting tour. Though not promoted as heavily as the whale watching and snorkeling cruises to Molokini, rafting tours to the Kanaio Coast take you inside hidden sea caves, past arches of hardened lava and protected grottos.
Tours often include visits to La Perouse Bay, frequented by pods of spinner dolphins and La Perouse Pinnacle, a finger of land that extends beneath the waterline that teams with tropical fish. Snorkeling is encouraged at both places. These areas, at present, are not the biggest tourist draws on the island, but it won’t be long before the secret is truly out.