Maui, Hawaii, September 2004

Heather and Clare soaking up the sun and cocktails in Maui

Clare (left) and Heather (right) in 'Cheeseburgers in Paradise' the restaurant famous for its "Cheeseburgers, Mai Tai's and Rock n' Roll"!

Clare and Heather visited the beautiful Hawaiian island of Maui in September 2004 to attend the AMOS technical conference. During their week long stay there was enough time to do plenty of sightseeing as well as participating in all of the conference activities.

Maui is a small island, approximately 48 miles (76.8km) long and 26 miles (41.6km) wide. It is however the 2nd largest island in the Hawaiian chain (which contains 132 islands, atolls and reefs) and is known as the 'Valley Isle'. For such a small island it has a very diverse landscape ranging from (relatively) flat ranch land to tropical rainforest to desert! The island is dominated by the large dormant volcano Haleakala, whose name means 'House of the Sun'. Hawaiian legend says the volcano got its name when the god Maui harnessed the sun to the volcano to slow its passage over the island. In doing so he increased the number of daylight hours allowing the islanders to grow more crops.

The climate of Maui is very temperate, and only changes by a few degrees in winter. This makes it an ideal holiday destination, but has been known to cause a type of cabin-fever in the locals who see virtually no change in the weather and seasons all year round. In the winter the humpback whales come to Maui to breed before returning to Alaska making Maui a popular destination for whale watchers.

During their stay Clare and Heather had time to take a day trip into the rainforest. The 'Road to Hana' is popular with tourist as it passes stunning coastline, dense rainforest and stunning waterfalls. Hana itself is famous for its black volcanic sand beaches and Kris Kristofferson has a house there. On the road to Hana the girls had a chance to swim in the natural waterfall fed pools of O'heo, eat tropical fruit harvested that morning and sample the local pineapple wine in the Tedesci winery.

The pools of O'heo

The pools of O'heo

A little way offshore of Maui lies the semi-submerged volcanic crater Molokini which houses an incredible reef full of tropical fish, many of which can only be found in Hawaii. The girls took the opportunity to go snorkeling in the crater and also swim with the sea turtles in 'Turtle Town', an area just off the coast near Makena.

A sea turtle surfaces in "turtle town" near Makena, Maui

A sea turtle surfaces in "turtle town" near Makena, Maui

On their final day before flying home (a grueling 24 hour trip via 5 airports!) the girls got up at 2am to go up Haleakala and watch the sunrise. They also had the chance to see the famous Silversword plants. These are distant relatives of the humble sunflower, and the summit of Haleakala is the only place in the world that these unusual plants can be seen.

Sunrise over the volcanic crater of Haleakala, Maui

Sunrise over the volcanic crater of Haleakala, Maui

The girls visited the Iao Valley national park on their way back to the airport. The Iao Valley was once a sacred burial ground for the chiefs of the Island and was also the stage of the last battle between the inhabitants of Maui and the Big Island towards the end of the 18th Century. It is hard to imagine so many decades later that this lush and tranquil valley, which is home to the Iao Needle, was a place that witnessed unimaginable carnage. The Iao Needle is in-fact the highest part of a jagged ridge that runs through the valley. An erosional remnant composed of basalt this feature rises to a very impressive 2250 feet above sea level!

SilverswordIao valley - the needle

left: Silversword on the summit of Haleakala right: Iao valley national park - the needle

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Just for fun

A little peek into the lighter side of life within the Heriot-Watt Waves & Fields group.

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