Biking Over the Rainbows
There are few memories we will treasure for a lifetime. Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to seek them out one by one. A motorcycle trip on the island of Maui is definitely one that is hard to beat.
Mid last year we sat in a backyard party in Ossington, Toronto. A friend mentioned Maui and Motorcycling in the same sentence. The rest was history. Before you could say “Humuhumunukunukuapua’a” (which is a local fish in Hawaii) we were on our way to the famed island in the middle of the Pacific with a Motorcycle booked to our names.
When we got there the rental shop didn’t have my bike in stock so they gave me a free upgrade: A Honda Shadow 750. I have never ridden a cruising bike before in my life, let alone one that weighs three times as much as me. So of course I threw cautions into the warm tropical breeze and put a check mark under “More than one year riding experience.” As I rode away from the parking lot I didn’t know what was louder, the bike’s muffler or my pounding heart that is about to jump out of my chest.
Maui is a medium sized island with mostly good roads. Speed limit goes from 15mile/hr to 55mile/hr. Most importantly people are super chill here so there are no crazy drivers talking to their ex-wife’s lawyer while trying to merge on to the expressway. So as bikers, our life-expectancy is surprisingly high. Which is a good thing.
For you bikers out there here are the low downs. For non-bikers feel free to skip to Maui Highlights below. Riders, get a motorcycle not a moped or scooter. Preferably one with a backrest for your passenger and saddlebags. A motorcycle with at least 600cc will give you way more access to all the beautiful places on the island. It will be much safer too because you won’t lose power on the many climbs. A cruising bike is very loud which is also a great way to let other vehicles know you are there. This is especially important on blind curves and pedestrian heavy streets. I would use a full face helmet. It helps to reduce the wind in your face. If you wear glasses, consider wearing contact lens due to the unpredictable rain situation. You see a lot of people without any protective gear but don’t be that guy. Wear at least a good pair of shoes, a pair of gloves and a helmet. Take it slow. “No Rush” (this is the Maui Motto, I like it and practise it often.) There are at least two bike rental companies on Maui. I used Eagle Riders. They are very nice and stored our luggages while we went riding. Mark and Donovan were super cool guys. Their link: http://www.eaglerider.com/maui
Kihei – Beaches, beaches and more beaches. If you like beaches this is the place to start your day. Kihei is a cute little resort town with just enough amenities. We took our very first morning walk on the sand and spotted two Greenback Sea Turtles. The bike ride south is amazing and easy. We packed our swimwears and towels and just beach hopped like bunnies. The motorcycle was great for finding parking spots. Remember to put something over the seats so you don’t burn your bums when you come back to the parking lot.
Lahaina – Old Town, Wind and Sun. This bike ride is not for the faint of heart. I only dared to take this on after 1.5 days of riding on the island. Your main challenge is dealing with high gusts of wind from all directions. It feels like you are punched with left-right-left combos at 50 miles/hr. The old town has lots of history and good places to snack. The town center has an amazing Banyan tree that reminded me of the tree of life in Avatar. Shave Ice (not Shaved Ice) is one of our favourite. Do try the salted plum flavour.
We rode past Lahaina to the blow hole (which is a natural water jet that shoots up to 30-40 feet sometimes) at the northmost point of the island. This ride has loads of curves and great beaches, though somewhat windy for swimming. On the way to the blow hole, Toby got really nauseous from all the curves of the road. I was too busy negotiating tight turns to feel sick.
Hana – Now that you are comfortable with the bike and the roads and the geography you are ready for the world famous Road to Hana. The Tagline for this road is “53 Miles, 617 Curves, 56 Bridges, Discover Paradise.” They ain’t kidding!
Our trip started on a cloudy day which soon turned into a downpour. We had to turn back to Paia to get out of the rain for a bit. After that we attempted again. The rain kept on and off on our trek so I drove very conservatively. The roads are very well marked. Some curves ask you to drive at 10miles/hr and also honk your horn. If you see the curves you will understand why. All the bridges are shared one lane traffic so honk your horn and yield to oncoming traffic. Obey traffic signs and you will do just fine.
There are many, many, many attractions along the road. They range from waterfalls, ponds, arboretums, lookouts, towns and trees that look like rainbows. The guidebook recommends 2.5hrs. – 5 hrs oneway for this trip and it recommends you to stay one night in Hana.
Make sure you pack snacks and water as well as rain gear. The view will be great and the traffic will be slow and it is definitely worth the drive. The only downside is you will be so addicted to the curves that driving anywhere else is a bit, how do I put it mildly, Boring. The locals say we don’t need rollercoasters, we have the road to Hana.
Kula – We did not get up to Kula ourselves this time. This area is famous for the amazing views and sunrises (which you need to reserve online for). It is next to a gigantic volcano crater called Haleakala crater (which you can camp in). The roads should be great from what I hear. We plan to get up there next time for sure.
Last but not least, here is a list of our favourite foods/snacks on Maui:
Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice (Salted Plum flavour with Macadamia Nuts Ice cream)
Paia Fish Market (Calamaries size of your thumb)
808 Cafe (Banana Bread French toast, Crab cake eggs benedict)
Leoda’s Kitchen (Homemade pies, savory and sweet)
Coconut’s Fish Cafe (Coconut Shrimp to die for)
Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread (Well d’uh!)
Overall, we absolutely love our epic biking adventures on Maui. It was the perfect balance between technical riding and relaxing cruising. When asked to describe the experience in one word, both of us shouted: “Freedom!” Mel Gibson would have been proud.
Oh did I mention that during whale season you can spot them while you are riding along the coast? Sorry, no photos to show those magical moments. You just have to come and get it yourself. Hang Loose my friends.
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