A March 2002 trip
to Maui by smmmarti guide
Quote: As Maui fast becomes our home away from home we find grand reminders of the past, and conjure great visions of the future. Yet, there is rarely a better place to be in Maui than wherever you are and nothing better to do than whatever you are doing.
Preceding the last ice age, the islands of Lanai, Molokai and Kahoolawe were part of the Maui landmass. Now, the channels separating the islands of Maui County (for Lanai, Molokai, and Kahoolawe are governed as one district) are the favored warm, shallow breeding grounds for Maui’s famed humpback whale population. During whale season (Nov.- May) sightings are practically guaranteed.
Off the south coast of Maui from Wailea lies a small crescent shaped island called Molokini. Actually a cinder cone that is a haven for reef fish and sea mammals alike, Molokini is an opportune destination for divers, snorkelers and adventurers.
Volcanic peaks, waterfalls, offshore islands, exotic sea creatures, and beaches everywhere all provide prospects for myriad adventures in paradise.
Hawaiian beaches continue to be the epicenter of surfing. Whale watching, snorkeling, boogie boarding, and sand-castle building can be enjoyed by even the moderately fit. Sail-boarding and Kite-surfing are more extreme sports that draw aficionados from around the world to the perfect conditions available on Maui’s north and south shores.
Beyond the many outdoor recreation options, Maui is a romantic paradise offering cultural entertainment from Hula to Luau’s, while local festivals celebrate everything from Chinese New Year to Christmas; O Bon to Girl’s Day.
If you are staying in a resort complex such as Kapalua or Kaanapali, you can rely on the resort shuttles to take you from one resort to another. But if you are going further a field, it’s best to rent a car. There is an island bus service and with traffic becoming an issue on island, it is being promoted with hopes that routes and services can be increased.
Restaurant | "Kimo's, Leilani's, Hula Grill"
The waitresses at Kimo's, dressed in Aloha shirts, have been born and bred in the spirit of Aloha. The tiki lamps blaze, the slack-key-guitar plays to the rhythm of the waves and before you even get past the hostess stand you know you've stumbled upon something special.
Most often the menu offers a great chance to try some exotic sounding local seafood like fresh Opakapaka and Hawaiian Opah. Juicy steaks and a children's menu make it a suitable choice for any palate or situation. Romantic tables for two ring the edge of the upstairs dining room and larger tables for groups all offer stunning views of the ocean.
The operators of Kimo's, T S. Restaurants
have a couple more fantastic locations in Ka'annapali: Leilani's and Hula Grill. The two sit just a few feet from the long sandy beach that makes Ka'annapali so exceptional and just a coconut's throw from each other in the Whaler's Village Shopping Center. Both menus are similar to Kimo's, packed with island loving favorites such as sashimi, dim sum, and barbeque ribs but each offer their own twists that make them all worth visiting. I recommend digging your feet in the sand at Hula Grill's barefoot bar for a lunch in the sun where more burgers and sandwiches round out the menu. For those stuck on seafood (and why not when it's so fantastic?), the shrimp cocktail and Ahi sashimi are very memorable, as is the cajun-style Ahi sandwich. For dessert, Kimo's Hula Pie is a legend; a giant chunk of macadamia nut ice cream atop a cookie crust, drizzled in fudge and caramel. You can't leave without having at least one.
Leilani's offers a more elegant atmosphere for dinner. With beautiful upstairs views of the ocean and soft tiki lighted atmosphere it is the most romantic of the three. Though Leilani's also offers superbly fresh island fish, they focus more on pleasing the carnivores. A dozen different meat entrees, including Leilani's famous (and delicious!) prime rib stud the menu. Even in this seafood loving paradise, everyone agrees that their marinated steaks are the most succulent and unique.
At all three restaurants you will likely wait for a table with a view even with a reservation, but it is well worth it. You will remember your island perfect meal, great service, stupendous views and overall sense of contented bliss for a long time to come.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 4, 2002
Attraction | "Honolua Bay Surfing"
Like Gullah in the south, Hawaiian pidgin is an amazingly endearing dialect, born of simple ignorance and necessity as many cultures merged to create a version of English all its own. Pidgin has become the last symbol in Hawaii to separate the locals from the Haole's (Hawaiian for 'white-skinned man') and other visitors. Haole has come to describe anyone in Hawaii that steps beyond the boundaries of Aloha. If someone calls you a Haole, you're a kook, a Barney… that's a bad thing. Apologize.
The reputation the local machismo has earned can be a bit of a vicious bark/ gentle bite scenario. Be cool, and people are cool to you. A motto for any circumstance in any place that is no more obviously ingrained in daily interaction as it is in Hawaii. "So be cool, brah, an' maybe I give you one wave," (laughter)
All this is to prepare you to take in one of the greatest sights in Maui, the pride of the Westside, Honolua Bay. It has been touted as the best right in America. One of the more famous waves in the world.
Because it's situated on the West side, a good swell comes when they get a Northern wrap, that is, the north swell hits the island in Maui and wraps around the land mass, ending up at The Bay. That's all you need to call it on Maui and "you cool, brudda." For more information on how the north wrap works, consult your high school physics teacher, you can sit in on a class some day. It'd be good for you.
Anyway, if you don't surf and want to learn, The Bay isn't for you. Head South to Pu'umana or Olowalu with your rental board and your booties. When you want a chance to see some guys that really rip, go to the bay. As you drive up the Honoapi'ilani Hwy out of civilization, you'll come to a one-way bridge under a leafy, green canopy in a narrow valley. Cross it, drive up the hill, around the bend and there will be a dirt road to pull off to the left. Go ahead and follow that to the cliff and park your vehicle. There are a couple dirt paths to walk down for better views perched above the rocks that are worth it for the able bodied and relatively sure-footed. It's nothing too hairy, don't be intimidated, the locals don't bite.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 5, 2002
Honolua Surf Co.
2435 Kaanapali Parkway, E1
Lahaina, Hawaii 96761
+1 808 661 5455
Attraction | "Ka'anapali"
Here, shoppers find quintessential Hawaiian goods in the Honolua Surf Shop, the ABC store, McIrney's, Blue Ginger, interesting Pacific Rim import shops, and exclusive designer shops of Chanel, Versace, and Gucci. The tone is decidedly low-key regardless of which shops suit your style or pocketbook.
A popular kiosk offer "pearls in an oyster" and South Sea jewelry. The food court gives visitors plenty of options with a choice of McDonald's, Pizza Paradaiso, and Ganzo Kawara Soba restaurant. A mist-cooled coffee kiosk at Kimo Bean Coffee Company keeps you on your feet for the long hours of beaching, playing, shopping and relaxing that are inevitable when visiting Kaanapali.
Fridays are Aloha Hula Show night in the plaza. Special events such as Sand Castle sculpture competitions, cooking demonstrations, the Maui Onion Festival, Maui Tacos 5K Run, Fourth of July Celebration, Maui Marathon, Keiki Hula Competition are all hosted at the Whaler's Village during the year.
The Whaler's Museum is a free interactive exhibit detailing the history of the great age of Whaling and is a must-see for history buffs and whale lovers. The free self-guided audio tour is available in English, Japanese, Spanish, and German. On display are hundreds of artifacts and exhibits which inform visitors of the unique lifestyle of the whaling men of old. For the keikis, there are often special free activities such as palm frond weaving, lei making or sand print designing at the "creation station."
Just a few steps away at the broad ocean beach, swimming, sailing, surfing, water-skiing, parasailing and snorkeling, are some of the optional ways to spend your leisure hours. If snorkeling is your choice, you'll find the most popular snorkeling spot on the island at Black Rock, a volcanic cinder cone directly in front of the Sheraton Maui hotel.
Some of Maui's most beloved dining establishments are also located at Kaanapali. Hula Grill's "eat in your swimsuit barefooted" grill with tables and chairs situated right into the sand. Leilani's on the Beach is another festival of great dining with seafood and prime meat highlighting the menu.
The Rusty Harpoon restaurant and tavern serves a terrific breakfast, lunch and dinner menu of local and classic favorites from eggs benedict to burgers, Hawaiian fish to barbeque ribs.
As you can see, it's easy to pass the day leisurely and satisfyingly indulging in Kaanapali's many shops, events and services. But the gorgeous and lively beach, as always, is the main star of this attraction!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 3, 2002
Ka'anapali, Western Shore Of Maui
Maui, Hawaii 96761
Attraction | "Kids in Kapalua"
Kamp Kapalua meets at the Kapalua Bay hotel every day of the week from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. The cost is $45 for the first child and $35 for each other child in the family and includes a t-shirt on the first day and lunch daily.
Every day at camp highlights a new theme and activity such as Nature, Undersea or Native Hawaiian, and every day includes swimming at the beach or the hotel pool. Keikis may conduct science experiments, explore tidal pools, learn the hula and Hawaiian language, build sand castles, learn to boogie board or relax and play a little (shhh, don't listen, mom!) Nintendo. Kids receive a camp t-shirt and choice of lunch menu daily.
Ritz Kidz is a similar day-camp style program offered through the Ritz Carlton hotel for children 5-12 year old. (But the ideal age for attendance is 6-9.) This program has the advantage of a choice of full or half day sessions. Also a great boon to parents needing a "date night" in Maui is the Wednesday Night Out program, where children are served dinner, a movie and popcorn and games and activities in the company of other kids, which often makes them enthusiastically embrace mom and dad's absence rather than crying at the fearful sight of an unknown babysitter. The best news is that for guests at the Ritz hotel, the half-day programs are no extra charge, the full day is $15 and the Wednesday Night Out $40. Fees are higher for non-hotel guests, who are also welcome to attend on a first-come, first-served basis.
The counselors on staff at the Ritz are dedicated professionals. We have been taking the kids here for years now and have had the peace of mind of being able to entrust our precious darlings with the same set of smiling, friendly, never rattled faces. How do they do that day after day?
At the Ritz Kidz the children participate in the Aloha Friday and Cultural Exhibits held regularly at the Ritz, along with scavenger hunts, face painting, beach olympics and a myriad of nature crafts and activities.
Another option for family entertainment and keiki kamp is the Kapalua Arts Center. Here, special holiday and summer camp programs are offered to visitors and residents alike. When camps are not in session people are encouraged to just stop in for a dance class, to paint a picture or create a ceramics masterpiece to be fired in the kiln.
Coming here for an hour or two and indulging yourself in this outlet of creativity in such a natural setting will have you and your offspring going "Hawaiian" in no time.
Kapalua/Ritz Specialty Tours
Ritz Carlton Hotel
Back in the days when Kapalua was one extensive pineapple plantation, the Honolua Store served as the company store to the various ethnic groups that lived in the housing camps and toiled in the pineapple fields.
Today, guests at Kapalua and locals alike visit the store regularly to stock up on beach supplies, native crafts and specialty items, groceries, produce, Kapalua Logo clothing, books, major city newspapers and sundries.
Conveniently located just adjacent to the Ritz Carlton and Golf Learning Centers, the Honolua Store also serves packaged sandwiches and fresh fruits, a soda fountain and breakfast and lunch grill. For breakfast, eggs, meats, pancakes and french toast are cooked to order. After 10:30 a.m., try a Hawaiian style plate lunch to go, or to be eaten at one of the picnic tables out on the porch.
Golfers playing the Village Course often stop in here before teeing their next shot to grab the golfer's special, the Spam Sushi, and one of the exotic specialty drinks chilled and waiting in the huge refrigerated drinks section.
Although it's fun to scour the island for souvenirs and necessities, you really needn't look any further than Honolua Store in order to stay well-fed and well-informed in Kapalua or to find something intriguing that will satisfy everyone on your shopping list.
Calm waters (relatively), high visibility and a natural mecca for myriad ocean fish and rays, Molokini is generally considered to be one of the best dive sites in the world. Certainly it is the premiere snorkel and scuba site in Hawaii. That is good and bad, since often times there are so many boats anchored here and so many excited flippers stirring up the waves that avoiding collisions with other swimmers is a challenge. Endure it and you will see more variety and thrilling underwater sights here than perhaps anywhere else on the island.
Lucky for you, there are a number of Maui operators who will happily take you aboard their boats for the one hour cruise to the dive garden of Eden. Along the way you may be entertained by the comical antics and bantering of the crew. On my cruise, divers hoisted a bucket of sea life from the depths and proceeded to use the creatures as comical props, pretending to eat them whole or wear them like living tatoos.
I might have lost my appetite had a hunger stimulated by sun and sea not overruled. Guests onboard are well fed either breakfast for the morning outings or a hearty barbeque lunch during afternoon trips. You may be encouraged to help yourself to the open bar offered on many boats, but I'd advise holding off on that until the ride home. You don't want to miss a thing while you are in the water or be at all tipsy as you plunge off the bow of the boat into the agitated waters below.
You don't have to be a strong swimmer to manage this feat, since the boats outfit you with gear and floatation devices like bouyed kickboards. Even if you are a strong swimmer, it's not a bad idea to have something to cling to just in case you are visited, as some recent tourists to Molokini were, by a mother whale who'd gone a bit off course and came eye to eye with surprised guests who would have been satisfied with seeing the promised colorful reef fish!
A number of companies offer trips to Molokini, some in conjunction with timeshare requirements, so be sure you know the fine print. One of the best known operators with the strongest reputation and longest history of making the journey is the Trilogy . After taking the trip, a Texas couple wrote to the Trilogy that, " y'all hang the moon." Since "hanging the moon" is about the biggest compliment a Texan will ever give, you can be assured that taking a trip to Molokini, will give you something worth writing home about along with memories and daydreams to last for ages.
The exhibits have been created in conjunction with Hawaiian cultural representatives and are presented from the perspective of the Hawaiian's philosophy and highly developed respect for aqua-ecology, or "kapu." In the Hawaiian exhibits you will learn the history of the evolution of this "science" and the seemingly innate sense that the ancient ocean caretakers had toward protecting and preserving their ocean bounty.
The Turtle Lagoon provides an opportunity to watch the giant sea turtles, or honu as they glide past the glass just inches from your wondering eyes. In the Discovery Pool, visitors are invited to carefully reach into the waters and touch the, sea urchins, mollusks, sea cucumbers and maybe even a hermit crab. The Sting Ray Cove directs visitors to a slightly underground viewing section where sun-shy rays are easily observed. The Living Reef exhibit elucidates the unique ecology of Hawaii and explains the reason Hawaii is home to such an enormous and varied collection of marine life.
In the main exhibit hall, the center holds a vast collection of aquariums filled with more exotic and colorful fish than any snorkel or scuba trip could promise. The Open Ocean exhibits demonstrate the various underwater landscapes that make up the world under the sea. From its giant caverns of dappled light to the coral reefs to the great open ocean where creatures live without protection or sunlight, the Ocean Center offers examples of all these forms of sea life from shark to sponge. The ethereal and surreal jellyfish tank, a circular freestanding structure shrouded in blue light and filled with thousands of floating, pulsating creatures, is a sight not soon to be forgotten.
But the biggest source of pride and interest at the Maui Ocean Center is the Whale Discovery Center. Here, you will follow the journey of a young whale's migration from the summer waters of Alaska to the warm Maui winters. Did you know that mother whales do not eat the entire season they are in Maui? That every whale has a unique fin like a human handprint? If you were a whale, how long would it take you to make the journey from Alaska? You can test yourself and see on an interactive peddling machine. With the help of the exhibits and interactive games, you will have a pretty good idea before your visit ends of the challenges and behavior patterns of Maui's most famous winter visitors.
During the rest of your stay in Maui as you spot the whales at sea, you will now recognize a breach from a slap, and feel an even closer kinship with the magnificent creatures that never cease to amaze and intrigue.
Maui Ocean Center
Highway 30 at Ma'alaea Harbor Village
Maui, Hawaii 96793