Here you are, on the Island of Maui – the land of slow – if you can let that happen.
This post doesn’t begin to rival any of the several hundred page bookd on Maui. Definitely get one or more of those. But after almost 35-years of visits, these are our observations and recommendations, what we do then we’re here. There’s a lot here, so scroll through the post and look at the index of links at the end. If you arrived on this post without visiting the post Thirty Years of Visiting Maui circle back; getting here is part of being here.
Update April 2018
New Restaurant – Leoda’s Kitchen, Olowalu
Easy snorkling, good beach – Kapalua Bay
The Hana Highway Drive is the must-do activity.
Before we delve into activities and restaurants, there are some issues to discuss.
Mark your day by the sunset. You don’t need to be at a great place each time, just remember to look up. Since you are in the tropics, the time of sunset doesn’t change much over the year. Just after 7:00 in June to just before 5:00 in December. There is no daylight time change. There is about a 50 compass degree difference between the direction of the setting sun in the winter and summer, about 295 degrees in summer and 245 degrees in the winter for the navigation nerds. So sometimes the sunset is over Lanai and sometimes it sets right into the sea.
Summer sunsets last longer than winter sunsets. Sunsets can be quiet. When it’s quiet, you can almost hear the hissss as the sun sinks into the water. At other times, it is an amazing light show that can last for almost an hour. Where we usually stay, most of the units aren’t oceanfront, but there is a sunset deck at the water’s edge, where locals and tourists congregate, have a drink, chat and watch the show. Even though we have an oceanfront unit, it’s fun to go out and mingle. A friend of ours known only as Bear, who sat on that deck over 300 days a year, all of them stoned, would say, “Not bad for a Tuesday.” Rest in peace Bear.
Don’t forget Sunrise
You may be thinking, “I’m on vacation, there’s no way I am going to be up for sunrise.” Remember Maui is 2 or 3 hours earlier than California and 5 or 6 hours earlier than the east coast. You are quite likely to be able to enjoy sunrise, at least early in your stay. In West Maui, the sun is rising above the mountains behind you, so while it becomes light early, there isn’t direct sun. The sun first lights up the tops of the mountains on Molokaii, slides down to the shore and sweeps across the water. This is a subtle dance as a background to your morning coffee.
One morning, the light was just right and I saw bands of flying fish leaping out in the channel illumnated by the first rays of sun on the water. Then the light changed and they were gone and I never saw that delight again.
On Hawaiian Shirts
First, never tuck a Hawaiian shirt in! It functions to let the breeze in and drapes well from the shoulders to mask a little bit of muffin top at the belt line, but it can only hide so much. However bright you think the shirt is in Hawaii, it will look five times as bright at home and will probably linger in the closet or simply embarrass the family there. Do you have any other shirts with big flowers on them? Look at what the local guys wear and go that route if you plan to wear the shirt mainland way.
I wear the shirt on the left all the time on the mainland. After ten years sitting in my closet I sold the shirt on the right to a consignment shop. The shop owner said it would sell in two days….and then probably sit in somebody else’s closet for the next ten years.
A friend, who has family in Hawaii, on reading an earlier version of this post, reminded me that locals don’t call them Hawaiian shirts but Aloha shirts and flip-flops are called slippers and those really insubstantial rubber slippers are called rubber slippers or as he intoned rubba slippa. You may come across a lot of other parts of the island tongue. For a while I fancied myself a quasi local but in the end, I’m from the mainland, and I stick to Aloha and Malalo.
On our last trip we cooked home three nights, got take-away two nights and went to a restaurant one night. The restaurant, though we had enjoyed it in the past, was by far the least unsatisfactory experience of the trip.
Cooking for us on Maui is really super simple. We just grill some of the great fresh fish from The Fish Market Maui, Susan composes one of her amazing salads with the sweet onion salad dressing from Honokuai Farmers’ Market, maybe a baked potato and a bottle of wine. And we might just slip in a container of mac salad if nobody’s looking. And there’s never anybody looking. That’s it. Hardly cooking at all.
If going to a restaurant every night doesn’t sound appealing and/or affordable and for you vacation means no cooking at all, take out is a great option. Sitting on your lanai with a view of a moonlit ocean with your take-out meal you hardly feel deprived. There are lots of options all over the island so you shouldn’t have to go too far. As an example, in the little shopping area across the street from where we stay, there are four good places. These photos are my first venture into food porn and I know that I have to up my game. I’m planning a photo spread – ode to mac salad – which, along with artichokes and deviled eggs, is one of the world’s great mayonaise delivery systems.
Honokowai Okazuya and Deli is a West Maui institution and has a locals cult following. An Okazuya in Japan is literally a side dish shop or deli. They’ve been here since our first visit. The owners had been chefs at one of the big hotels and decided that they could serve food at least that good to locals at much lower prices. The menu includes Mahi Mahi, Korean BBQ and other dishes. The sides include sautéed vegetables and, of course, the local favorite, mac salad. Excuse me if I keep bringing up mac salad, something we never eat on the mainland.
I can remember sitting around with some of our local friends on a Sunday evening, the night Okazuya is closed, lamenting. “What we were going to do for dinner?” We were at a loss, though they decided to troll the low cost happy hours at the hotels close by. The locals always know where those are. On one visit, we arrived only to find that Okazuya was closed for the week. I guess everybody needs a vacation, but we found it inexcusable that the airlines don’t warn all tourists when Okazuya would be closed! Each day, we tried the door again, amazed that such a cataclysmic event could befall us. On this issue, our Maui slow slipped away, just a little. We plan Okazuya night when we first arrive and there is often a repeat.
The Fish Market Maui, which I described in the post 30 Trips to Maui, has very good pupus and fish dinners as well as being a great fish market.
A few doors down is Ohana Tacos Maui. A few years ago they operated out of a truck in the parking lot. Now they have moved into the big time and have taken over one of the shops.
Finally there’s Pizza Connection, the new kid on the block. They’ve taken over the spot in the parking lot. They have a mobile wood fired pizza oven and good food.
The point is, that some of these places are great and they’re all good, all local and all within walking distance. You shouldn’t have any problem satisfying everybody’s taste. Wherever you stay, search out your local take-out early in the trip.
In preparation for writing this section, I did a little Internet search of restaurants in Maui and realized I have very little to add. In the Bay Area, the choice of restaurants is dazzling with new places opening up all the time. We’ve found that we don’t really go out as much as we used to and don’t try each new place when it opens. We return to our favorites, mostly moderately priced with a few more expensive places for special occasions, so we don’t have the urge to restaurant shop in Maui. But if you aren’t lucky enough to have such a good choice of restaurants where you live, it does appear that there are a lot of new places, in all price ranges, to explore.
To give an idea of how we roll, one of our must stop lunch spots has been a little burger place in the bottom level of what is now a Round Table pizza at the turn-off the Kanapali Parkway. They served a burger that was so juicy it would drip off your elbows, fries, fried onion rings and a beer or even a milk shake. No view, no ambiance, just good. Sadly it’s closed now so it is up to you to find your own guilty pleasure.
I will however name a few places:
New addition April 2108 – Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop – Leoda’s is south of Lahaina in Olowalu. You pass by on the way to and from the airport but maybe never stop and think it’s too far from Lahaina to go for just that. But you would be wrong. Or stop after snorkling at Olowalu Beach nearby. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Great sandwiches, hoagies, burgers, salads and did I mention pie? Even pot pies. See below for other restaurants.
Kimo’s – Kimo’s is our first day stop. Upstairs they serve excellent seafood with nice ambience and views of the water.
Sea House – The Sea House is a waterfront restaurant at the Napili Kai Hotel. This recommendation isn’t for dinner, but for cocktails and pupus at the bar terrace. Get there about an hour before sunset before it fills up. Linger over a drink or two and a snack until sunset.
Star Noodle – This is a little place above the main road near the Lahaina Cannery Mall. Go here for the food and the value, not the fancy dining room. Update, Feruary 2017. This place has become wildly popular, plan your meal there seeral days in advance and make a reservation. It’s so great to see somebody make a greaat success in such an unlikely location.
MisoPhat – New listing for us February 2017. The Steadman family are fishermen have been in the restaurant business for 20 years and provide all their own fish. There are two locations in Kahana, West Maui and Kihei. The Kahana loation is small, walk in and take away with no reservations. The sushi is outstanding with many delightful and elaborate rolls. It’s strictly BYOB but the store several doors down has a good vairety of small bottle sake. This will definitely be a regular stop.
On Mama’s Fish House
I do, however, feel compelled to bring up Mama’s Fish House, a Maui tradition, but it hasn’t really been one of ours. We had driven by it for years, but never gone in. A few trips ago, on the way back from Hana, we were passing Mama’s at about 4 :00 p.m. and thought we ought to give it a try. How busy could it be this early?
We turned into a very crowded parking lot. As I was trying to negotiate an impossibly small parking space, a young man came over and told us that this was the valet lot. When I asked where the self-park lot was he said there wasn’t one. I apologized and started to get out and hand him the key so he could take it from there. He asked when our reservation was. When we said we didn’t have a reservation, he told us that they really didn’t do walk-ins and if we tried, the wait could be hours; so much for spontaneity. We left, resolving to do it right next time. On our next trip, we actually made a reservation before we left the mainland.
We arrived on time and dutifully used the valet parking. I wore my Hawaiian shirt, not to loud, and clean shorts, but still in flops. Susan donned her little travel dress. Even with the reservation, there was a wait, so we had a drink in the garden.
On the menu, perhaps in an attempt to justify the $50 dollar price tag, is a note, sort of a birth certificate, describing the provenance of the each fish that is being served— not describing the type of fish, but the actual exact fish. They describe the species of fish, the fisherman who caught it and precisely where it was caught. At least they stop short of naming the unfortunate picine. That day, one dish read “Onaga caught by Billy Shapiro in the deep reefs near Lahaina.” Susan, who is Jewish, commented that his grandmother would be saying, “William, what are doing out there chasing fish – in a boat? It’s not too late to get back into Dental School.” After analyzing the menu, Susan, maybe out of loyalty, ordered Billy’s Onaga.
It was a delightful leisurely meal. The food is great, the dining room and grounds are beautiful and the bill for two, with the tip, was almost $300. Some friends of ours who happened to be in Maui during our last visit, saw this post and wanted to to go Mama’s. The food was still good it was still $300 for two and it’s simply not worth it. This isn’t why we come to Maui. I know that we would have been as happy with the take-out from Okazuya watching the sunset from our own lanai.
Maui isn’t only the land of slow, it’s the land of Go, Activities and Activities and Activities. They’re endless. There are whale watching boat trips, snorkeling boat trips, sunset dinner boat trips, helicopter trips, bicycle trips down Haleakala, horseback riding, golf, surfing, luaus, the Hana Road, and on and on. When you arrive at the airport, they will be handing out a magazine with ads for lots of activities, and they are all easy to find on the Internet or at the activities desks in the tourists areas.
It’s easy to exhaust yourself and your family, going in many directions and making everybody crazy. If you have kids, you do have to accept that kids want to do stuff, not just sit around. Susan believes that without even noticing, we live our lives with the habit of tension as we go from one event to another. How often do we find that we are navigating our lives with a clenched jaw, that an angry reaction to a small annoyance lies waiting just under the surface? My daughter, Mandy, describes this as FOMO, Fear of Missing Out.
Letting go of all this is what we love about Maui, the land of slow. So try to resist over-scheduling; leave extra time to get to every event. If you assume that you will come back to Maui again and again, then it matters less what you do this time. You can do something else next time. And maybe you will come back again and again.
If forced to make a recommendation my top 5 are:
Snorkeling/Scuba or even Snuba
New addition April 2018 –Kapalua Bay – There are plenty of websites describing the best snorkling sites on Maui. And your best resource is always the dive shop where you rent your gear, since they know the local conditions, wind and weather. See more on snorkling and other activities below. But after all these years, and maybe as we have become less adventuress, we have come back to Kapalua Bay as the easiest reliable snorkle spot, especially for a first outing or if you are not that experienced. It is protected bay with P\plenty of fish and a variety of coral formations. There is a good beach with a grassy swath behind. Go in the morning by 8:00 or so before the wind comes up and you might still get a spot in the public access parking lot.
When the conditions are right, another great place, a little more challenging but worth the effort, is Honolua Bay. It is beyond Kapalua and Fleming Beach. Some of the boat trips stop there, but you can drive yoursleves. It’s isolated; you park by the road and walk down the dirt track through a bit of tropical forest dodging chickens.
When you get there you’ll find a very rocky beach, but pick your way to the water. To the left is deeper water with rocky ledges. There are lots of fish and you’re more likely to see turtles. To the right paddle out and you’ll find a shallow reef with mulit-colored coral and fish. Or if you’re a pretty strong swimmer you can go out into the middle of the bay. It’s over 30′ deep. You might see nothing or something special, One time, out of nowhere, I was suddenly surrounded by a huge school of good size fish racing around me on all sides. I was thrilled until I started to wonder, what’s chasing them? Another time I got the answer to the age-old question. How do dolphins mate? I know you’ve all wondered.
You shoulda been here yesterday. It’s true; this place used to be better and more colorful but still good. It can be windy in the winter and undivable so check before you go.
Drive to the top of Haleakala The whole top of the mountain is a National Park It’s 10,000 feet, like a treeless moonscape, quite amazing. Don’t forget to bring some warm clothes.
Drive The Hana Highway It is an all day event, or even two. If you can drive this road without anxiety you have mastered Maui style.
Update April 2018 – The Hana Highway – Over our lunch at Leoda’s today, Susan and I easily agreed that if you only do one adventure while visiting Maui, it has to be the Hana Highway. Plan in advnce, avoid the weekend and eave really early. Dawn is good. We have pledged that next trip we are going overnight despite having to pay for an extra hotel room.
The Hana HighwayThere is a lot to explore on the way and once you’re in Hana. There are lots of travel guides. We’ve often continued around the island, which may or may not be strictly against the car rental rules. But it’s more miles of narrow road, particularly just after you leave Ohe’o the National Park, more often called the Seven Sacred Pools. About eight miles further on you reach Palapala Ho’omau where there is a beautiful seaside meadow with a little church and the gravesite of Charles Lindberg.
I’m not much of a gravesite fan, or quite frankly much of a Lindberg fan for that matter, he got pretty weird in his later years, but the setting is wonderful and peaceful
Whale watching trip There are several good options, but we like the Pacific Whale Foundation. It’s as much a research organization as a tourist ride and worth supporting. The speakers are really knowledgable. There are a lot of whale watching videos on You Tube but this Epic Whale Encounter is an exception
Day trip to Lanai – Take the Lanai Ferry
The ride over can be as good as most whale watching trips though it is a little pricey at $60 round trip each. When you land, just to the left is Hulopo’e Beach Park with very good snorkeling. Or rent a jeep and explore the island. Shipwreck Beach is one highpoint
There is a lot to explore on Lanai and the rental people will help you out. I haven’t been on the island since Larry Ellison bought the whole thing. Who knows what that will bring.
On recreational real estate
One Activity that we do enjoy is recreational real estate shopping. Real estate is a blood sport in Maui. Brokers and agents, circle the tourists like very personable sharks, trying to turn the hotel guest and condo tenant into owners. The rise of the fractional unit, timeshares masquerading as something more elegant, has just put more blood in the water.
We love looking at real estate. When I first came to Maui, I compulsively looked at condos. It’s a dream that the local agents are masters at spinning. “Why rent when you can own?” “If you buy now, you’ll lock in the property at these low prices forever.” “If you don’t buy now, some day you won’t even be able to come here.” “How can you pass up this chance to own a piece of Paradise?”
It’s so much fun going through these places and dreaming. In any event, the agents sitting open houses can be a great trove of knowledge of all sorts about the island. Trip after trip we kept looking, slowly like a trout nibbling at a piece of tasty bait. We weren’t serious, just looking. Then one trip, with a little nudge from a downturn in the market, we struck, the hook was set and we soon found ourselves the proud owner of a two-bedroom oceanfront unit. It had taken years to succumb, but the school of circling brokers is patient. In fact, the hook was set so deep that within six months we had bought two other less expensive units and had already flipped one of them. My broker Dave Siefker did all the transactions and even managed my rentals. Nobody is better at all of this in a very low key way then Maui Dave.
This makes me sound like some sort of fancy real estate wheeler and dealer, but this was a long time ago, prices were relatively low, and we had a very low downpayment. We’ve all heard stories about fantastic real estate deals. I think that it’s human nature for people to exaggerate their successes or minimize their losses. Nobody really wants to say, “We got hosed.”
While I never actually did the math, which is one way to avoid facing whether we did or didn’t make a shrewd deal. I would suspect that if I compared all the rental income we made and even added all that we would have spent on those Hawaiian vacations, then deducted the total cost of owning, management, renovation and even a modest cost for all the time spent dealing with the rental, the return compared to having simply bought Apple stock wouldn’t look as rosy. Property values in resort areas are extremely cyclical. Over the years I have seen huge swings in values, with a much more modest rise in the average long-term values. If your life situation forces you into a sale at the wrong time, losing money is a distinct possibility.
I want to give a shout-out to Ray Chin a West Maui broker. We wandered into an open house for a $10 million house and he treated us to the tour as if we could actually afford such a place. He even showed us another expensive place.
On the other hand, in Hawaii, people who have money dress the same way the people who don’t. Maybe he actually thought we could afford the place. I read an article the other day about Hawaiina dress code. “What do you call people in Hawaii who wear suits and ties?” the answer is, “The accused.” In many visits to open houses, the brokers have been nothing but gracious. They play the long game and understand that you have to show a lot of people property and then, in the end somebody bites. I did, several times.
My first wife and I started visited Maui six of seven times a year, sometimes together sometimes separately, and were forming an idea that we would ultimately retire to Maui. As time passed, we found that the number of visits fell off; we were divorced and sold the remaining properties. While my next wife and I love our time in Maui, family, friends and our life in Oakland are far more compelling than life in Maui. There are so many other places in the world to visit, we only come to Maui about once a year.
Buying your own place is a big step, which is why timeshares look so inviting. A timeshare presentation is one of the most sophisticated and fascinating marketing processes I have ever experienced. If that interests you, go ahead and do the tour. These salesmen are artists and their story is nearly irresistible. It all seems so possible. It takes some time if you do the whole process though you can always just leave. Still, they sometimes offer some good enticements. Remember, leave your checkbook at home and beware the closer.
Some people love their timeshares especially when they can trade them for other locations around the world, but all you have to know is that the resale price of timeshares is a small fraction of what new shares go for. The profits to the developers are extraordinary which must mean that the value to the buyer is the inverse. If you’re convinced that a timeshare is what you want, at least visit the resellers before you jump in. A typical new timeshare can cost $2,000 to $4,500 up front with monthly payments totaling $33,000 to over $70,000 over ten years plus annual fees of $800 to $1,800. For expample a resale at Papakea, a nice mid-scale development, in mid-June week can run $3.700 with an annual fee of less than $500.
On Public Beaches and Public Access
The Public Beaches and Public Access points are gems of Hawaii. There are great Public Beach parks all around the island with plenty of parking. On weekends, local families set up encampments and spend the entire day. There are also public access points for more obscure and isolated beaches. They are marked, but usually by only a small sign. There seems to be a tug-of-war between the adjacent landowners who want to discourage people from coming on to “their” beach and the public access advocates. There is often limited parking. If there isn’t a place to park, just wait, the turn over is pretty rapid, especially later in the day. Remember, the land of slow. Here is a map of beach public access points:
Black Rock Beach is right off the Sheraton Hotel in Kaanapali. The public access parking is actually in a ground floor corner of their parking structure. The old building, built in 1963 was the first hotel in this now vast hotel row. They picked the best spot next to a rocky point, a very good snorkeling spot. This is a great place for first time snorklers as well as the more experienced. There are usually lots of fish and turtles are not uncommon.
If you are adventurous, you can clamber up the rocks and jump off twenty feet to the sea. Or maybe just watch.
We really like to hike when on vacation and in other places will hike 5 to 10 miles each day. When we stay in Honokowai, there aren’t any off the road trails that we are used to in Northern California. Besides, in the middle of the day it’s too hot, beach weather, not hiking weather. If you must take more of a hike there is the Io Valley State Monument close to West Maui that has a good trails
Haleakala National Park that has extensive trails for all levels of enthusiasm, but remember most of the trails start downhill and you have to come up each step. And you’re at 10,000 so be cautious and take lots of water.
One excellent hike that we had never taken before is the Waihee Ridge Trail.
There are two ways to get to the Waihee Ridge trailhead from West Maui. The first is the easy way. You go around the island counter-clockwise. It takes about an hour and involves almost no winding roads. It goes through Wailuku, the county seat and isn’t very much fun. The other is the not-easy-way, which some might consider more fun; go around the island clockwise. It involves miles of winding single lane road, probably more trecharous than the more famout Hana Road and takes more like an hour and a half or more. You pass the Nakelele Blow Hole and the little almost town of Kahaluloa deep inside the single lane road zone.
Susan enjoyed the delightful combination of car sickness and terror at my just a little too fast negotiation of the winding one lane road.
You arrive at the turnoff adjacnet to the Mendes Ranch and then driver up a narrow road to a parking lot. On the day we arrived we were greeted with a herd of black cattle moving down the road. The first one, the leader, came to a stop inches from our front bumper and stopped, seemingly unclear what to do next. Eventually, he move past us followed by the rest.
We finally arrived at the end of the road and embarked on the trail. It’s five miles roung trip and about 1,500 feet up with beautiful vistas on all sides. The trail is steep in parts and, on the day we went, there was a little rain that made it quite slippery. A very good hike that we will repeat.
We ran into two women on the trail in at least their sixties (but then so are we). We asked if they had been on the trail before and one said, “many times” One had moved to Maui 20 years before. Walking near them for a long time, I couldn’t help but overhear the story about her husband who had been in jail and then worked as an investigator for a defense attorney and how the family didn’t seem to bat an eye at his past. I wish we could have had dinner with them.
Our Daily Stroll
But these are time consuming events and we do need to get some daily exercise. So, each day, first thing before breakfast, we set off along the road toward Fleming Beach six miles away. We do 1/3 of that route each day or about an hour round trip. The next day we drive to where we stopped the day before and walk the next leg. There are other walkers but not too many cars at that time of day. This hike is part of our decompression from mainland life. One morning near the big resorts at Kahana, I brushed by a man, a little too close, and our shoulders hit. He spun around and yelled, “Fuck You.” Wow, that doesn’t even happen in Oakland. Not everybody arrives at the land of slow successfully.
You notice so much more walking than driving like the small memorial to the surfer killed by sharks one year
and the house that has a pot belly pig in the yard. This pig is gone but his house and the pig crossing sign is still there.
In the same area, the road is very near the water but in an area maybe thirty feet wide there is a beach camp that locals have probably had here for generations with awnings, a few sheds, picnic tables chairs and a boat or two pulled up on the beach.
There are modest houses and multi-million dollar homes and great views of the water along our route. Every year we take the same walk, stop in the same place and every year it changes, just a little.
The last leg starts at the Nipili Kai Hotel which may be one of the nicest low key hotels in West Maui
Just past the hotel is the beginning of the Kapalua Coast Trail. There is good parking, but on the weekends you have to park on the road. On busy days you may have to park further down the road, and it can be a little bit of a hike. It’s so so sad that we have to walk all that way to get to the beginning of our hike. I know, of course, that I would be less smug if I were hauling three kids and a ton and a half of beach gear. From the parking lot you go through a little tunnel to a beautiful cove.
There is a good beach with calm areas for little kids, snorkeling, beach showers, a equipment rental stand, snack bar and grass areas if sand isn’t your thing. If you follow the path past the beach you are on the Kapalua Coast Trail, which continues for about a mile along the shore, overlooking the remnants of an ancient volcanic flow with views to Molokai in the distance.
Seven years ago, Isao Nakagowa single-handedly created a protected breeding ground for the nearly extinct colony of wedge-tailed shearwaters or ‘u’au kani or moaning birds who inhabit the site.
The Path eventually joins up to the road where you can continue on the main road in the middle of the Kapalua resort area. This is unlike the rest of our walk. It is completely manicured, and controlled. There is no street parking, no trespassing, no dogs, no brown people without uniforms, nothing at all inviting.
We’ve left the land of slow and find ourselves in the land of no. On one walk, we made up new names for the streets we passed that seemed to better reflect the culture of that area: Unearned Privilege Way, Trust Fund Street, Dumb Luck Circle and my favorite, Born on Third Base Avenue. You continue through the grounds of the Ritz Carlton Hotel on the hill and end at Fleming Beach. It’s not a great place for swimming, better for boogie surfing, but be careful. But it’s a good for a quick dip and there’s a Beach Park with showers.
Lahaina was the historic whaling port on Maui and is now a tourist destination. These days we hardly ever go there, but when the second Mrs. Hixson and I first started going to Maui, we went to Lahaina often. We had a young daughter, and we all liked wandering through the shops, museums, the Ulanela cultural show, the trained parrot guy, Lappert’s ice cream or shave ice on a hot summer evening, one restaurant or another, even Cheese Burgers in Paradise. It is also the place where the ferry to Lani or Molokai embarks and where many of the snorkel trips originate.
It’s all tourism, but then we’re tourists. It’s busy but that doesn’t mean you can’t just saunter, in the slow. I think weaning yourself by steps from Lahaina after several visits is part of the evolution of becoming more like a local, and of course getting older and happier just watching the palm trees wave.
On Paia and Upcountry
The anti-Lahaina is the smaller town of Paia on the windward side of the island, past the airport, on the beginning of the road to Hana. Paia is in the area of the island where there is still active sugar cane industry. West Maui has turned clean and white. The cane fields are largely gone and all that’s left of the sugar refinery is the big chimney off the main road. Everything in Paia is still tinted by the red dirt churned up by the cane operations and blown everywhere by the trade winds. If you take the shortcut from West Maui, you go right past the active cane refinery and the connection to the historical roots of the old sugar economy.
The town has a hippie surfer woo woo vibe and is a mix of tourist shops and restaurants with a strong presence of quality local artists. There is more of a sense that the locals are hanging out here too, more young people who have settled here, at least for a time. We make a point of coming here each trip either on the way to Hana or Haleakala or one of the windward beaches or just to stroll the shops and have a snack.
From Paia there are roads that lead up the mountain to towns with great names like Pukulani, Makawao and Kula where locals live. This is an area that’s interesting to drive through, but this world seems to be impenetrable to the causal tourist.
We’ve driven up on the mountain and explored some. It is beautiful. Depending on the elevation you can be in tropical Hawaii, fog shrouded Northern California, with the happiest cows in the world, or the High Sierra above the tree line. I’ve never stayed on the mountain though Susan has in another life though I often think we should try it out. But on the way back from a recent trip, my seatmate on the plane was just returning from a visit to her parents who have moved to Maui for their retirement, living on the aforementioned mountain. I asked, “What does one do on the mountain?” hoping to hear stories of magical hidden glens. She said, “We basically get up early and head to the beach.” So I guess we’ll just keep staying at the beach.
Index of Links
Honokowai Okazuya and Deli
The Fish Market Maui
Ohana Tacos Maui
Dave Siefker – Maui Beach Villas
Ray Chin Real Estate
Typical New Timeshare
Public Beach Access
Jump off Blackrock
Io Valley State Monument
Haleakala National Park
Waihee Ridge Trail
Napili Kai Hotel
Kapalua Coast Trail
Uanela Cultural Show
Cheeseburgers in Paradise