On your trip from Kahului airport to Hana airport, you will encounter pineapple fields, rugged coastlines, waterfalls, rain forests, movie stars' homes, and smooth, North- Easterly trade winds.
1) Kahului Airport: This busy Class-C airport is the home of Maui Aviators, LLC. Kahului Airport is famous for its gusty trade winds that blow through the valley created by 10,000 foot mount Haleakala to the East and the 6,000 foot West Maui Mountains to the West. You will be sharing the field with numerous tour helicopters, inter-island commuters and jets, heavy jets such as mainland-bound 777s, 767s,757s, and 717s, and numerous business jets. Prior to departure, pick up your ATIS on 128.6, call for clearance on 120.6, and switch to Maui Ground 121.9 when you are ready to taxi for depart.
2) Paia ("Pie-ee-ah") town. Departing Kahului Airport, you will turn North and follow the shoreline to Opana Point. On your way you will pass Paia town, a gentrified sugar plantation town that was once the population center of Maui. Paia is home to numerous restaurants and shops, and hosts visitors from all over the world who come to windsurf at nearby beaches and enjoy Paia's bohemian life style. After Paia you will see world famous Hookipa Beach Park, home of international wind-surfing competitions.
3) Haiku ("Hi-koo") and Opana ("Oh-pah-nah") Point. After Hookipa, the landscape becomes increasing rural. The geometric patterns in the pineapple fields will immediately catch your eye. Scattered among the hills and valleys, you will see numerous homes and several small farms and ranches. Offshore you may see shoals of fish, turtles, dolphins, and whales, all of which can be spotted in Maui's clear-blue near shore waters. The Eastern extremity of the pineapple fields marks Opana point, which is just inside the North-Eastern limit of Kahului Class-C airspace. At this point, Maui Departure will terminate its radar coverage of your flight and you can begin your CTAF position reporting on 120.65. Be sure to ask your instructor for the pronunciations of the local reporting points. Along the coast set your altitude in accordance with Hawaii's local 'hemispheric rule'. East bound VFR flights below 3000 feet generally fly at 1,500', and 2,500'. However, note that most of the tour helicopters and several hapless fixed wing pilots do not abide by this rule and there have been several near-misses, so keep your eyes open.
4) Huelo ("hoo-ay-low"), Hole-in-the-Rock, Jurassic Rock. Flying along the coast you will pass several homes, some of which are perched right on the edge of the sea cliffs. Several famous personalities inhabit Maui's North Shore, including Sammy Hagar, the late George Harrison, Jim Neighbors, and Kris Kristoltsen. Where the houses end and the rain forest begins demarks the end of Huelo. Down on the coastline, you will pass the curious rock formation known as "Hole-in-the-Rock", followed by Jurassic Rock, which you may recognize from the movie of the same name. Thereafter you will pass beautiful Honomanu bay, followed by Keanae peninsula. It is not uncommon to see dolphins in Honomanu bay, but lookout for the overhead power lines and the steeply rising terrain if you venture too far in-shore.
5) Keanae ("K.N.I.") Peninsula. Jutting out from the coastline the prominent Keanae Peninsula is easily spotted. You will see the taro paddies here that have been harvested since pre-contact times. Also note the various water-falls, some of which "fall up" due to the strong trade winds. On a clear day you can see right up into Haleakala crater, where the Apollo astronauts trained for the moon missions.
6) "Harrison's" and "the Heiau". The next prominent landmark used by the local aviators for a reporting point is the late Beatle George Harrison's house. It looks like a cliff-top golf course and is a good place to begin your descent into Hana ("hah-nah"), which is clearly visible by now. Just past Harrison's you will see a large black stone platform that stands out from the surrounding rain forest. This is a sacred ancient Hawaiian Heiau ("Hey-Ow!") and is a good line-up for your downwind when in left traffic for Hana's runway 8.
George Harrison's golf course-like estate.
7) Hana Airport. Hana airport is an uncontrolled airport that services isolated Hana town. Many tour helicopters stop in Hana for lunch, or to drop off and pick up guests, so keep your eyes and ears open. Also, there is a powered hang glider based out of Hana conducting introductory lessons. He does have a radio on board, but can make some surprising unannounced appearances. Usually the winds favor runway 8, but be sure to over-fly the field at about 1,500' to observe the winds on the ground, and to make sure there are no cows, wild boars, or lawn mowers on the field. Pattern altitude is 800' and runway 8 uses left traffic.
Hana airport's luxurious ground facilities include a pay phone, a drinking fountain, and restrooms. No fuel is available.
8) Hana ("Hah-nah") Bay. Proceeding south from Hana Airport you will see the sleepy little town of Hana on the slopes overlooking tranquil Hana bay. It takes about 2-3 hours to get to Hana by car from Kahului. You have made it in 20 minutes. In Hana you will see the Hotel Travasaa Maui, Hana Ranch, and several historical and ancient Hawaiian sites.
9) Hamoa ("Ha-mow-ah") Beach. Nestled behind the ancient cinder cone called Makaalae by the Hawaiians is the tiny surfing beach of Hamoa. Nearby you will see the old church where Charles Lindbergh is buried. Look up the slopes and you'll probably catch a glimpse of the several water falls that cascade down Haleakala's Eastern slopes.
10) Ohe'o ("Oh-hay-oh") Gulch. Commonly and erroneously known as "Seven Sacred Pools", Kipahulu stream, with its numerous water falls and swimming holes contains dozens of pools, none of which were ever sacred. You will see travelers worn-out from the half-day long drive resting their weary bones beside the waters of this Federal park which also hosts a drive-up camp site.
11) Kaupo ("Cow-poh") settlement. Once a substantial population center, Kaupo is now one of the most remote areas in the state. There are several old churches to be seen along the coastline, some over 150 years old. Other evidence of the once abundant population can be seen in the stone formations that mark the ancient villages and home sites all along this dry coastline. Also note how the Eastern slopes of Mount Haleakala block the progression of the clouds, robbing the air of its moisture and making Kaupo a virtual desert.
12) Mount Haleakala ("Hah-lay-ah-kah-law"). Rising from sea level to 10,025 feet in just four horizontal miles, the Southern slopes of this Mountain present a dramatic and colorful landscape. Looking up from Kaupo, you can just see into Haleakala crater, where the astronauts once trained. Follow the coastline here and note the Hawaiian Ruins, the ancient "King's highway". Be wary of the turbulence. It's not unusual to have 30 to 40 knot winds along this shore, as the channel between Maui and the island of Hawaii is bordered by a 10,000 foot mountain on the North, and a 14,000 foot mountain on the South.
13) La Pereuse Bay and the Lava Flows. The South-Western slope of Haleakala is the site of the last volcanic eruption on Maui, approximately 200 years ago. The valley winds meet the channel winds off La Pereuse bay, so expect some turbulence here. The crystal-clear waters of the La Pereuse bay marine reserve are a favorite snorkel and dive destination, and it is not unusual to spot dolphins and turtles here. As you come around this point, Kahului radar should be able to pick you up, if you are above 1,500 feet, so go ahead and get your ATIS (128.6) and give Maui Approach (119.5) a call to let them know you are transitioning the are from Makena to McGregor Point
14) Makena ("Mah-ken-ah") Cinder Cone and Molokini ("Mow-low-key-knee") Crater. The prominent hill next to the half-mile long Makena beach cradles a small nudist beach along its Western shoreline. This is a reporting point for entering Kahului Class-C airspace. For your transition to Lahaina from here, it is a good idea to call Maui Approach on 119.5 to let them know of your intentions, as they can give you traffic advisories and keep you out of harm's way.
Makena cinder cone. The small beach in the foreground is popular among nudists. (A good place to practice turns about a point)
Just offshore of Makena is the world-famous snorkel and dive destination, Molokini Crater. This tiny crescent island is over-run with hundreds of cavorting snorkelers every day. It is much more comfortably viewed from the air.
Kihei ("Key-hay") and the isthmus. Looking North from Makena you will see Wailea resort with its numerous golf-courses and five star resorts. North of Kihei is the isthmus between the West Maui Mountains and Mount Haleakala commonly called "the Valley." On the Southern shore of the isthmus is the Kealia nature preserve which is comprised of two large ponds adjacent to Sugar Beach just North of Kihei.
15) McGregor Point. This area is frequented by whales in the Winter time. This is a good opportunity for pilots to practice their turns around a point. Be sure to stay at least 1,000 ft. MSL, to comply with federal regulations. Looking North from here you can see the 6,000 ft. West Maui Mountains and the 10,000 ft. mount Haleakala. The elevation of the isthmus in between is approximately 100 ft. or less in the center. The trade winds blowing from the North East accelerate through this valley and create ideal conditions for wind-surfing. They also create a great deal of turbulence on the South West parts of the island. McGregor point is famous for its turbulence, so we advise our pilots to stay well offshore (at least 2-3 miles). You should see the wind shear line on the water and be able to judge the intensity of the turbulence.
16) Oluwalu ("Oh-lou-wall-lou") and Coral Gardens. The dry valleys and sandy beaches of Oluwalu present a rusty, dusty contrast to the green and verdant valley and North Shore of Maui. The tour boats like to congregate offshore of Oluwalu for lunch, and to allow their passengers to frolic over the reefs of Coral Gardens. Pilots should contact Kapalua Unicom on 122.7 and let them know you will be transitioning to Honolua Bay via the shoreline.
17) Lahaina ("Lah-hi-nah") and Kaanapali ("Kah-ah-nah-paw-lee"). Lahaina has hosted international visitors for over 200 years. In the days of the tall ships, whale ships filled the waters offshore and whalers spent their leave time on shore carousing with the natives. In modern times you will be sure to notice the frolicking tourists dangling from Parasails being towed behind speed boats. Be sure to adjust your altitude accordingly so that you do not take home any non-paying and unwitting passengers. Just North of Lahaina is the world-class resort destination, Kaanapali Beach. You will recognize this 1/2 mile long beach by the golf course that is immediately on shore, and the black lava cliff jutting out from its North end. In the Winter their are too many whales to count in the near offshore waters.
18) Kahana ("Kaw-haw-nah") and Kapalua ("Kah-paw-lou-ah"). Continuing North from Kaanapali you will see the island of Molokai to your left, and the small, private Kapalua airport in the pineapple fields on shore of Kahana beach. General aviation aircraft are not welcome at Kapalua, but be sure to stay in touch with Unicom on 122.7 for traffic advisories. Planes will be coming in from Kamalo point on Molokai's South East shore, or from the North East. Just beyond Kapalua airport you will see Kapalua bay, with its two North facing sandy beaches and the Ritz Carlton Hotel, followed by Honolua bay marine preserve, a favorite among surfers in the Winter. When you get to Honolua, let Kapalua Unicom know that you are clear to the North and pick up your Kahului ATIS on 128.6.
19) Nakalele ("knock-ah-lay-lay")Point. This is the Northernmost tip of the Island of Maui. You should contact Maui Approach on 120.2 and let them know you are in-bound. Be sure to give them your altitude and type of aircraft, and let them know you have the ATIS information.
20) Kahakuloa ("Kah-hah-koo-low-ah"). This prominent rock jutting out from the cliffs and protecting a small sheltered bay lies just inside class-c airspace and is a reporting point marked on the charts. From here you will follow the shoreline, just offshore, and proceed to Kahului Harbor which should be visible as you round Kahakuloa point.
21) Waihee. Be sure to notice the dramatic limestone sea cliffs of Waihee ("Why-hay") and the sand dunes of Wailuku ("Why-lou-coo"). Keep your eyes open for tour helicopters coming in and out of the valleys here. This completes your circle-island flight!