For as long as I can remember, I have been infatuated with Hawaii. As a pup, I could recite every island and it’s respective location, drew the state flower (hibiscus) on everything, and even named my tortoise Maui. So when I got the chance to go to Maui with a group of friends, I jumped on it. It surpassed my expectations in every way. One thing about Hawaii is that it can be super touristy. In fact, I’m pretty sure the tourist stereotype was born there–Hawaiian shirt, camera around neck, straw hat, zinc on nose. People go to a beach resort and sip Mai Tais, maybe go on a guided tour one day, go to a luau, play golf and so forth. But there is so much more to Maui than that. It is an unbelievably raw, alive, beautiful and wild place. It has a regal energy that demands respect and awe. It is a place of exploration and adventure. A place for scraped knees, sandy butts, muddy feet and salty hair. Thankfully, while I was there I was pushed out of my comfort zone and into some of the most epic days of my life. If you want to walk on the wild side of Maui here’s what you do.
1. Commando Hike
You guys, this hike is SO epic. But it requires a little help from your friends and a lot of courage. I truly don’t think this hike is doable for a lot of people- the only reason I made it through it was because I had friends to help pull me up the cliffs/waterfall faces. But, if you have an able crew and some balls it is so worth it. If you do this hike please be mindful–there is a portion where you have to climb up waterfalls in a dark cave that has occasional flash floods. So if it has been raining a lot–or looks like it’s going to, don’t go in. You’ll start off on the Road to Hana and pull over at a fence. Once you hop the fence you’ll walk through an open field filled with cows and down a hill to a stream. First you’ll wade on the slippery rocks up the stream and probably fall and giggle a lot. Tip: Find guavas on the ground and throw them at your friends. They splatter on impact and it’s good mature fun! Then you will come to a net of thatched branches and will have a choice to climb up and over or stay on the ground. Go over!! It is so much fun to be up in the air with a net of branches to monkey climb along. Once you get down, you’ll come to the first waterfall that you have to climb up, then after that you’ll see the entrance to the cave.
You will swim through the water and climb up to enter the cave (above). Once inside the cave, you will swim through more pools, and up more waterfalls in darkness. There is a waterfall inside much higher than this photo. We went in without lights but a headlight of some sort would be helpful so you can see where you’re climbing/swimming. As you go deeper in, it gets much darker than this:
Once you near the other side of the cave, you’ll see a small opening of light, where you crawl through and out. It opens up to a beautiful oasis and more waterfalls.
There is a huge cliff jump to the right which you probably should not do. The water may not be deep enough and it is extremely dangerous. Even my lunatic friends didn’t do it. There is a more reasonable cliff jump at the swimming hole!
The hike back is an easy, beautiful, flat path through giant trees.
Commando is simultaneously the most exciting, beautiful and terrifying hike I have ever done. Getting through it was so gratifying. Over all, it is my favorite hike of all time!
2. Venus Pools Cliff Jumping
Venus Pools is an awesome cliff jumping spot on the north shore. You walk through a grass field toward the ocean and come to a cliff with rocks you can easily climb down to the water on the right, or the jump off on the left. You can also swim to these little volcanic rock islands. There are multiple heights you can jump from, so it’s perfect to play around!
3. Sea Caves Hike
We were picked up at the airport upon landing in Maui and went straight here- this hike is absolutely breathtaking. You start off walking through thick jungle completely covered by a canopy of trees, and it opens up to a panoramic view on top of a mountain overlooking the ocean. Then you keep walking down and come to a steep dirt hill that you rope climb down. At the bottom, you turn left and climb over black volcanic rocks that lead to the sea caves. There are spots to cliff jump and swim in the cave. If you swim to the other side there is an opening where you can see another hidden bay. Really dreamy stuff!
4. Black Rock Cliff Jump
Black Rock is probably the most popular cliff jumping spot in Maui and definitely worth a visit. Disclaimer: I’m pretty sure this photo is actually a different cliff near black rock that we had to hop some fences to get to. Remember to always look out for sea turtles before you send it!
5. Makena Beach: Big Beach and Little Beach
Makena Beach feels like going back in time. You sit in the golden sand with turquoise water in front of you and nothing but green jungle behind you. I was having a jolly time giggling and playing in the fun sized waves when all of the sudden, without warning, they were absolutely massive. Completely unreasonable turn of events. The current is the strongest I’ve ever felt and it’s a shore break. I got completely smashed a few times and truly thought I may die before fighting my way back to the beach. Apparently there are no swimming signs because of this haha, so be careful. It’s no joke! But definitely a good time if you’re into that sort of thing.
If not, luckily there’s a different type of thrill right around the corner! If you walk to the end of Big Beach, you can climb up a rocky outcropping and come to this view at the top: