Maui, Hawaii 2009

Becky and I took a cruise in Hawaii during the summer of 2009. Two of those days we spent on the beautiful island of Maui. There we explored the Haleakala Crater and drove the Hana road to see the “Black Sand” beaches.

Public domain image of the Hawaiian Chain seamounts.

Deep beneath the Pacific Ocean, a part of the Earth is moving northwest. As it does, it is laying down volcanic hot spots, which act as open wounds going straight to the Earth’s core. Magma bleeds from these lesions, welling upward, where it eventually breaks the surface as volcanic islands. Along the Pacific Plate the process has developed a chain of islands from Hawaii toward Japan. One of the islands is Maui, (in the Hawaiian group), which began as two separate volcanoes that gradually merged together.

Road map of Maui, Hawaii, (public domain)

The larger volcano of the two is Haleakala, which rose 9,144 m from the ocean floor to 3,600 m above sea level.

Becky posing in the Haleakala Crater in 2009

Maui’s “sleeping” volcano last erupted around 1790, when two lava flows reached the southwest coast of Maui.

Geological Map of the volcanic flows of the Haleakala volcano, (public domain).

Today the activity of the Pacific Plate has moved on, and Haleakala is now dormant and destined to become extinct, though tremors and earthquakes are still recorded in the area.

I’m posing in the Haleakala Crater on the Maui Island of 2009

The Haleakala volcano was cool and studded with old cones traced with past flows of red, yellow, gray and black basalt, ash, and cinder cones.

Becky huddled down on the windy crest of Haleakala Crater in Maui

Years of rains have created large ampitheaters near the summit and further cleft the flanks of the mountain with deep erosional scars. Only the hardiest of shrubs survive at the top of the Haleakala Volcano at the crater. The rain is absorbed by the dry, porous volcanic rock.

Silversword plant at the Haleakala Crater

Pictured above, the silvery hairs, fleshy leaves, and low-growing rosette form of the Haleakala silversword allow it to survive in hot, dry climates like the aeolian desert cinder slopes of the Haleakala Crater. Silverswords live between 3 and 90 years or more. They flower once, sending up a spectacular flowering stalk, and then die soon afterward, scattering drying seeds to the wind.

Public domain map of the sites on Maui

Additionally, Becky and I rented a small car to explore the Highway to Hana. The Hana Highway was a 104 km-long stretch of Hawaii Routes 36 and 360 which connects Kahului to the town of Hana in east Maui. We only had the time to reach Wai’anapanapa State Park and return to the Cruise Ship.

Becky posing at the Kaumahina-State Wayside-Park along the Hana Hwy 360.

Aptly dubbed “The Divorce Highway,” the Road to Hana has an exhausting, and many times harrowing, 617 hairpin curves and 59 unforgiving one-lane bridges, not to mention an incredible number of blind spots along the way. And, since the speed limit is 25 mph or less the entire way, (with few to no stops), and that’s without encountering any traffic or other diversions.

Becky on “Black Sand Beach” in the Wai’anapanapa State Park on the Hana Hwy, (our destination).

Pictured above, the Wai’anapanapa State Park had a real Hawaiian treasure. The most immediately noticeable feature to the 120-acres that make up Wai’anapanapa State Park is the black sand beach named Pa’iloa. The “black-sand beach” was created by thousands of years of surf repeatedly pounding on a geologically fresh lava flow basalt.

I’m posing at the Wai’anapanapa State Park on the eastern shores of Maui Island, Hawaii in 2009

The translation for Wai’anapanapa is “glistening water” or “water flashing rainbow hues”, both of which are accurate in describing the powerful contrast between the black, pebble lava field and the deep blue-greens of the ocean.

Becky exploring the Sea Cave at Wai’anapanapa State Park on Maui

Pictured above, the beach was small with an ocean cave on the east side that we traveled through to the ocean. The cave was the scene of tragic legend that ended in Popo’alaea’s murder. She was the wife of Chief Ka’akea, of whom she ran away from due to his cruelty. She and her attendant hid in the cave until her reflection was seen by Ka’akea. Every spring, on the night of Ku, red shrimp cover the cave floors making it blood red. This marks the anniversary of Ka’akea’s bloody murder of his wife and friend.

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