my trip to Maui – 2012

Hawaii vacation – August 2012

Some of you may recall my blog post last year from the wonderful wedding of Adrienne and Trent in Maui. Having always wanted to go and having never been, I treated myself to a weeks trip BEFORE their wedding to give me time to relax and explore the Island. What better time than a cold, February day than to revisit this incredible trip? I ended driving hundred of miles , as I pretty much completely circled the island by car – some areas multiple times! For me when visiting any beautifully scenic spot, the challenge as a photographer is to not only capture what it looks like, but what it FEELS like to me as well. I am also very conscious of trying to not take the ‘standard’ tourist shots (but that’s not easy, let me tell you!) Traveling with a large, heavy camera can really get cumbersome, so I actually tried to ‘let go’ and a number of times only had my iPhone for photos. Oddly, I think some of those shots are better than the ‘real’ photographs! I’ll let you be the judge, as they’re included in this series as well…

So the fun started on my not-so-great United flight. So old and ghetto – they still had these gigantic phones aboard!


Finally in Maui- what was neat about the baggage claim, is that it’s totally open air to the outside – so you get your first Hawaiian breeze while waiting for your bags (iPhone photo)

the view from the back of my hotel – and my first Hawaiian evening


evening cocktail to get the week started right—



So the next morning was really my first full day, and I was just SO excited to be there, I started with the obligatory shots of the hotel grounds! –TOURIST alert…


say that 10 times fast… I did eat here one evening (…alone, very sad) and it cost about a billion dollars.


beware of blow holes!

a beautiful spot at the end of a dead end road, LaPerouse-Bay. Full-size image here for download: LINK


Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve – driving through this at first, I though it was HUGE chunks of tore up ground and mud–but it turns out it’s humongous lava rocks!


the Komoda store (iPhone photo)



I completely stumbled across the Hanakao’o Cemetery – Lahaina, Maui, HI , where the cemetery has remains of Asian and Filipino immigrants who made their way to Hawaii to work on the sugar and pineapple plantations. A strange little place that reminded me of cemeteries i’d seen in New Orleans with the gifts and offerings. When I left, I was COVERED in tiny, black prickly thorns in the bottom of my shoes – A sure sign I should not have been trespassing… I was certain i’d left with spooky Hawaiian Mojo!!!

Hanakao'o-Cemetery-Lahaina,-Maui- HIHanakao'o-Cemetery-Lahaina,-Maui- HIHanakao'o-Cemetery-Lahaina,-Maui- HIHanakao'o-Cemetery-Lahaina,-Maui- HI

a beautiful sunset back at the hotel.

Wailea-Beach-Marriott-Resort -Spa


so the next day I ventured into Lahaina, which was much more touristy than anything i’d yet come across, but still really fun! This is the first time i’ve ever included so many iPhone photos in a travel post – goes to show you what direction we’re headed in, doesn’t it?


I backtracked after that to the Maui Upcountry to check out a ‘cowboy’ town known as Makawao


In that general vicinity is a lavender farm ( I know, I know–why the hell was I visiting the Ali`i Kula Lavender farm—and I have no good answer, except that i’m a bit obsessed with lavender in general ) But I came across some REALLY cool abandoned stuff on the road up there!

This is a little HDR work, which I know some people love and some hate – but I couldn’t figure out how else to get all the detail I needed!


another version of the abandoned Airstream! I especially like this one!


some cool flowers at Ali`i Kula Lavender

Ali`i Kula Lavender

and– the iPhone version

weird iPhone shot for no good reason—all I know is that he’s VERY excited.


So I was really looking forward to my drive to the Iao Valley State park, since previous to my ‘Road To Hana’ drive (coming soon) it was the most ‘tropical’ spot I had anticipated seeing so far. I pulled the car off here for a moment, as the place suddenly felt very ‘Jurassic Park’


this photo in this size simply does NOT do it justice! So be sure to check out the Fullsize image here: LINK


It was so overcast and just COOL looking when I arrived here. While I was hoping for full sun, the low clouds gave the area an unexpected drama


this turned out to be one of my favorites image from the entire trip!!! Beautiful fullsize image here: LINK


a less than perfect iPhone shot of the same image



on the short list of things you HAVE to do when visiting Maui, is waking at at the crack of dawn to drive to the top of Haleakalā National Park to see the volcanic crater at sunrise. I’m thinking – “wait a minute–I have to wake up at 2:30 to drive an hour or 2 for a SUNRISE??!!” But, I did it and have to say, it was absolutely breathtaking–and I don’t use that expression frequently!!!

On the way, I stopped to photograph the sugar cane fields being burned off, which they do – as it turns out – during the dead of night. It was very surreal to encounter a roaring (but contained) fire right off the side of the highway!


The ride up is tedious–switchback after switchback in pitch blackness. As you glance up the mountain before you, what little you can see in the darkness reveals tiny little moving red lights, which are all the cars already much further up than you are – making it painfully clear you have a long drive ahead of you. Thinking I was early, I discovered several hundred freezing people already awaiting this so called sunrise-i’m still skeptical at this point….


Not entirely sure what exactly to expect, I kept photographing frantically, thinking every change in sky color and brightness WAS the actual sunrise…

Haleakala-National-Park-crater-Maui-HI-sunrise Haleakala-National-Park-crater-Maui-HI-sunrise Haleakala-National-Park-crater-Maui-HI-sunrise

the details in the crater become more apparent as the sky brightens…


fullsize below for download here: LINK


…and then it happens.

With a chill down your spine, the sun shows its face right at your eye level above the clouds. The crowd grows silent with the exception of camera clicks. It really IS unlike any other sunrise you are likely to encounter. Pretty damn awe inspiring. You suddenly forget what time it is and how cold you are (your 10,000+ above sea level ) To add to the unusual scene, someone began chanting in Hawaiian behind the crowd, welcoming the Sun God.

fullsize image here-LINK

Haleakala-National-Park-crater-Maui-HI-sunrise Haleakala-National-Park-crater-Maui-HI-sunrise

some of the unusual Silversword plants – only found in a few rare spots in this area!

Haleakalā-silversword Haleakalā-summit


back down on the ground – this rock – pretty far from shore – was moved there from a 1982 hurricane!


Finally I decided to hit the Road To Hana–something I had heard about ever since I was a kid. I started pretty early and the entire drive – between driving at 10 miles an hour and stopping to see stuff – took about 11 hours!

Here’s a typical corner you have to get around!


fullsize image here : LINK


I stopped along the way to take some walks in the woods to check out the vegetation. Some were tourist traps but interesting to see and get out to walk a little


full-size image here: LINK


morbid perhaps – but interesting at the same time.


big ‘ol pile of coconuts!


over the edge, straight down into a small waterfall



I’d always heard about and been fascinated by the idea of a ‘black sand’ beach, and so Wai’anapanapa State Park, Black Sand Beach did not disappoint!

fullsize image here : LINK



the south side of the Road To Hana is generally considered off-limits, especially by car rental companies since they won’t insure you if you get into trouble down there. It turns from tropical beauty to rather barren flatlands that felt like I was Out West. I inquired in Hana if they thought the road conditions, based on recent weather, were safe. I was assured they were – so I took my chances and hit the road. While not as traditionally ‘pretty’ as Hana, I felt it had some of the most spectacular vistas of them all. Not only that, but being almost the only car for a couple of hours is both disconcerting and really cool. The corners on this stretch of highway were – unbelievably – even MORE tight and difficult to maneuver than the ‘normal’ stretch of Hana. Not for faint of heart drivers!!!

fullsize image here for full effect!: LINK


So having survived, I plopped myself back on a beach chair at the hotel and grabbed a drink while taking in another incredible sunset

This Banyan Tree was planted in April, 1873, and marked the 50th Anniversary of Christian missionary work in Lahaina. It’s gigantic!


Pay Phones!!! And they wear Hawaiian shirts too!


I might have been just a little too fascinated by this church and it’s giant signage…


this was a random map I was given at a ‘tree farm’ – apparently to help me find my way. I thought it was a horror movie guide to the mad doctors lab in the woods, so I left quickly….

took a walk to see what I was mising at the local resorts down the street–pretty sweet views!


So the last highlight before the wedding, was an hour helicopter tour on Blue Hawaiian I booked myself on. I had only ever done one other, which was over the Grand Canyon. A tad scary but super-cool – I just HAD to see the island from the air. I was lucky to get a seat right next to the glass bubble, for the best camera views

I thought this funny little diorama was pretty hysterical inside…


spectacular views of the Iao Valley from the air!


I just kept photographing like a lunatic while trying to actually ENJOY the experience!!


HEY!! There’s my hotel complex!!!


that tiny line you see across the center?–that’s a road with a VERY tiny car if you look closely!


The Road To Hana from above!



and since Maui is all about sugar cane – I had to get at least ONE shot of the cane blowing in the wind!


and well..yeah–that’s me trying to look busy.

And finally – our sunset the very last evening as the wedding ended – which turned out to be – honestly – the most gorgeous of the entire week. A great end to an amazing trip!

OH! and if you’re really into this HERE IS A LINK to a short slideshow/video I made from the trip photos!

Hope you enjoyed tagging along! ( and sorry for the big watermarks on the full size photo links: gotta be careful they don’t get snagged and used without permission!)


  1. Jan Robertson on February 5, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Very very nice… We honeymooned here in 1980! Our favorite island (so far). Thanks for sharing!

  2. […] Read the original here: maui photographs, Hawaii 2012 | Robert Norman Photography […]

  3. Erik Souza on February 6, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    Robert, these photos are spectacular! The sunset shots you got are stunning – we might have to bug you for a print or two!

  4. Adrienne Gilbert on February 6, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    These make me want to go back now!!! Ahhhh!!! Thank you for sharing!!! 🙂 xoxo

  5. Aloha Events Catering on March 11, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    Bravo!! You captured Maui beautifully! We so hope we can work with you again! Aloha!!

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