There’s More to Maui than Sun and Surf
Andrea Gross | Mar 4, 2013, 11:01 a.m.
I’m here on a mission: to buy some “crack seed,” a popular local snack that isn’t nearly as illicit as it sounds. Introduced by Chinese plantation workers and also called Li Hing Nui, which means “traveling plum” in Chinese, it consists of a variety of dehydrated and preserved fruits. The name comes from the fact that in order to enhance the flavor, the fruits are cracked open to expose the seed. I taste a soft dried plum. It is sweet enough to be good, sour enough to pucker my lips, and salty enough to raise my blood pressure.
We buy two bags, plus some locally made dried papaya and a half-pound of pickled mango. Thus prepared, we mosey down to the beach where we dig our toes into the black sand before taking a refreshing dip in the water.
We can’t leave Hana without stopping at Haleakala National Park and hiking to the famed Waimoku Falls. The temperature is 75 degrees, about the same as it is in Phoenix this time of year, but the humidity makes it feel much warmer, and I wipe my brow as I begin the two-mile trek that leads through a bamboo forest, around a Banyan tree and across a stream. The route is so scenic, so breathtakingly beautiful, that I don’t even complain when I slip and end up covered with pure Hawaiian mud. There are small waterfalls along the way, but the payoff is the towering falls at the end. Tumbling down 400 feet, they’re more than four times the height of Havasu Falls, which tumble into a gorge near Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park.
That afternoon we reluctantly wind our way back to Kahului. As we enter the airport, a lovely woman approaches and hands each of us a flower. “A hui hou kakou,” she says. “Until we meet again.”
We nod our thanks and begin plotting our return.