Maui’s Northwest Region and Iao

We had nearly a full day on our last day in Maui because our flight left at 10 PM.  We asked the hotel for a late checkout to give us a little more time at the resort.  But even with the late checkout we had many hours until our flight.  I had read in Maui Revealed about some cool sites along the Northwest coast and my husband really wanted to visit Iao.  Since we were staying in the Ka’anapali Beach area, we decided to take the northwest road clockwise from Maui and hit the Nakalele Blowhole, then the Olivine Pools and finally Iao.  Let’s just say that the day didn’t turn out the way we expected.

On our way up to the Nakalele Blowhole, we started hearing a clicking coming from our tire.  My husband thought that a rock may have gotten lodged in the tire, so we pulled off the road to investigate.  He did find a rock and removed it.  However, when we started moving, we continued to hear the sound.  He pulled off a second time and found a bolt (washer included) stuck in the tire!  The tire didn’t appear to be losing pressure, so we continued on.

We pulled off in the first parking area for the Nakalele Blowhole (I think we should have gone to the second one).  There were a lot of trails and absolutely no signs as to where to go.  We headed down the path that seemed the most well traveled. 

The dirt path area changed to a landscape that looked like it was from another world.  (The first picture looks scarier than it was.)

When we got to the cliff over the ocean, but weren’t sure where the blowhole was.  (I saw a little nervous being near the cliffs with the boys, so we had a rule that they had to be over 30 feet away from the edge.) We saw one blowhole that came out of the side of a rock.  Luckily I had seen pictures of the blowhole and knew it was came out of the ground and not the side of a rock.  We continued on about another 3 – 5 minutes and then found the Nakalele Blowhole.  I have to tell you that was one of my favorite parts of the entire trip!

We spent quite a while at the Nakalele Blowhole and the bolt in the tire was making us nervous so we decided to skip the Olivine Pools.  (I had also read a story on the internet of a couple that got swept out to sea when they were at the Olivine Pools and got too close to the ocean – which the guidebook discouraged.)

After passing the area for the pools, the road became very narrow.  This road already had a lot of switchbacks.  One of my coworkers told me I should skip the Road to Hana and just take this Northwest road.  I have no idea what he was thinking!  We were white-knuckling it almost the entire road.  I kid you not that the road was barely wide enough for one car in most places.  You are driving right next to a cliff with a hundreds of feet drop to the ocean with no guardrails.  I was nervous to look out the window at views because I didn’t want my husband to do the same and accidentally drive off the road.  Add on top of all that scariness that we were worried that the bolt in the tire would cause the tire to pop.  We had no idea how we would get any to help us if that happened given the road was a single lane and cell phone service was non-existent.  The picture below does not do it justice.  Trust me – do not take this road!

Luckily, we did survive!  And we headed over to Iao.  On our first trip to Maui, we asked people we encountered where they would suggest we visit.  A local told us that whenever he has people visit, he takes them to Iao.  He would take them around and they would go swimming in the streams.  We didn’t have a long time, so we just took the paved path up to the Iao Needle viewing area. 

It was a really quick trip.  The Needle is a cool sight and when you turn around you see an amazing view of the valley with the airport in the distance.

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3 Responses to Maui’s Northwest Region and Iao

  1. Allison says:

    How did you get back????

  2. Luckily the tire never popped. We drove the entire Northwest section, which is about 20ish miles but takes a long time to travel because of the switchbacks, the one lane road issues and the fact that you’re worried you’re about to fall off a cliff. Let’s just say that if the tire had popped, I would have had this trip hanging over me for a long time. After we made it through the Northwest section, I said comment to that effect and the assumption was duly confirmed. I am not kidding when I said I was worried we’d fall off the cliff.

  3. I read a story (after we got home) that a man died on his honeymoon when his car plunged off the cliff.

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