Our 2nd full day on Maui was set aside for spending a day with nature. Having been on a number of whale watching trips, in addition to watching them from the shore, a whale watching cruise was definitely one of the first items on the agenda. We spent a couple of hours with Pacific Whale Foundation and we were not disappointed.
Enroute to Maalaea Harbour we drove through the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, so we stopped at the Kealia Boardwalk for a stroll through coastal wetlands, enjoying the sights and sounds of local birds. This post will focus on the Wildlife Refuge and the next one on the whale watching.
This is a coastal salt marsh along both sides of Hwy 31 between Kihei and Maalaea Harbour. It includes the boardwalk, which starts from a small parking lot on the ocean side of the highway. If coming from Kihei, road signs prohibit turning left into the parking lot, so you need to drive past and turn around before accessing the parking area. Similar restrictions are in place on departure, as road signs prohibit a left turn towards Maalaea.
The Boardwalk follows the coast, is very well built and maintained, and extends for almost 1/2 mile. About the mid-point it crosses the inlet/outlet for the pond located across the road. It also provides access to the rather pleasant beach and dunes.
Kealia Boardwalk Bridge Looking Towards the End
We stopped at the bridge and enjoyed watching the birds and ducks, some of which are naive to Hawaii and others that stop over during migrations.
Hawaiian Stilt or Aeo
Egret Type of Bird
Same Bird Watching the Ducks
The bridge crosses the inlet, which connects to Kealia Pond, located on the other side of the highway.
Kealia Pond Inlet With South Kihei Shore in Background
Kealia Pond Inlet with Pond Visible on Other Side of Highway
Judi on the Bridge Watching the Birds
On Maui, we tend to get wrapped up in excursions that generally involve boats, snorkelling, volcanoes or driving to Hana. However, if looking for a low key day, a stroll along the Kealia Boardwalk is highly recommended. Don’t forget the sunscreen, as it is completely open and in the middle of the day gets rather hot.