Day three of our Hana camping trip was spent being shown around by Matt, who knew some pretty awesome local spots where we were able to get away from the majority of the tourist crowd.

First he brought us to Hana Bay, a picturesque bay area where we were meant to have breakfast, only we had already whipped up another batch of breakfast burritos at the campsite. The ones we hadn't already devoured were wrapped in tinfoil and baking in the hot sun on the dashboard. So instead we sat on a picnic table and admired the bay where the surf was crashing in. Things were mostly quiet, save for a tent where it looked like a party was being set up. For a tented event on the beach, they were going all out with the white linens and table settings and the whole nine yards. Molly, who grew up on Maui, explained that first birthdays are a big deal in Hawaii. And even though it is a birthday celebration for a baby who won’t remember anything, the parents take “baby’s first luau” as an excuse to party.

There are so many magical views hiding just around the corner in the Hana area.

Next we parked on the street next to a church, where choir music could be heard drifting out through the open windows and into the otherwise quiet, morning air. We cut across the church lawn, which apparently was perfectly acceptable, and found a path. In one direction, a resort was visible, with a beautiful view overlooking the foaming waves. We followed the path around in the other direction, which curved around a cliffside until we could see a red sand lagoon down below, with a wall of rocks creating a sheltered pool. Welcome to Red Sand Beach, or Kaihalulu Bay.

Red Sand Beach, Maui

The scene was picture perfect, and what an entrance too, looking down from the viewpoint on the side of the hill. We snapped our photos and descended down to enjoy the sea-level view. 

Here you can see the hillside that we hiked around to access Red Sand Beach.

We kicked off our shoes and relaxed on the beach for a while. The secluded little bay had a wonderful local vibe to it, and many of the beach-goers had brought their dogs, which were especially entertaining. 

Fletch enjoying the sun on his toes. 

This doggo, however, prefers the shade.

When we were ready to move on, Matt showed us the way to our next destination, Venus Pool, or Waioka Pond. This time the path spat us out at the top of a rocky cliff, which local boys were doing back flips off of into the clear, blue pool below. The only way to access the refreshing water would be to make the jump. So we found a dry nook in the rock to tuck away our belongings, and with a leap and a splash, all four of us jumped, one by one. I was last, but before I jumped, I grabbed our dive masks. The water was crystal clear and Matt had said that we could go treasure hunting for belongings dropped by fellow jumpers. 

Venus Pool, or Waioka Pond, Maui

The water was cool and refreshing after the morning of hiking around. Cool enough to have me content after a minute of bottom-searching, and swimming for the hot stones on the opposite side of the pool, where I warmed up like a lizard. Fletch being a fish in the water, spent a good while longer combing the bottom for any signs of small treasures like sunglasses. There was nothing to be found, but searching was half the fun.

It was growing later in the afternoon and so we eventually decided to make the drive back to Kihei. Rather than backtracking along the Road to Hana, we continued along the souther portion of the loop. It was amazing over the course of an hour to watch the lush, rainforest gradually turn into dry, desert, until it looked like we were driving through Wyoming or some parts of Colorado. How could the landscape change that drastically, so rapidly? 

Yes, this is still Maui.

We drove by a huge ravine carved out into the rock where it looked like flash floods had sculpted away the mountain over the years. The roads turned dusty enough that we wondered if we had really just been basking on humid beaches surrounded by lush mountainsides.

A pit stop on the side of the road introduced us to a happy, curly-haired dog that shared the color of Matt’s hair. They could have been brothers. 

Matt and his new friend.

We made it back into town and returned the camper Jeep that had taken such good care of us on our journey to Hana and back, and then crashed on Matt’s couch where Jurassic Park was playing on TV. How appropriate. We couldn’t ask for a more fitting end to a fantastic camping trip.