Marvelous Maui

We are avid snorkelers, so you'll see many entries about the different locations we snorkeled, the variety of fish, and the degree of difficulty. Other activities included trips to Haleakala Crater, 'Iao Valley, Old Lahaina Luau, the Maui Ocean Center, and more.


Marvelous Maui

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by quiltergal on November 7, 2005

We love to snorkel, so we tried to hit as many leeward beaches as possible. The snorkeling on Maui is awesome, way better than in the Caribbean. Try one of the Pacific Whale Foundation snorkel tours. They are very well done. Visit the I'ao Valley State Park. It's small but stunning and well worth the visit. It's free, too! Haleakala National Park is also very interesting. Cost is $10 per vehicle, and the entrance fee is good for a week and can also be used at Oheo Gulch, so keep your entrance ticket. Weather can be a bit problematic. The day we went, it looked clear, but by the time we reached the summit, clouds shrouded the top and visibility was zero.

Shopping at Whalers Village and Lahaina Town is great. The Shops at Wailea are nice but just don't have the same energy as the other two locations and cater to a higher-end crowd. The Old Lahaina Luau is exceptional. The setting is very pretty and romantic, and the show is great, the food very good, and the open bar outstanding.

${QuickSuggestions} If you want to try snorkeling, the two best places to rent gear are Maui Dive Shop and Snorkel Bob's. Make sure you get a silicon mask that fits and a dry snorkel. It's worth the extra money and will keep you from swallowing gallons of seawater and make your overall experience more enjoyable.${BestWay} Rent a small economy car. Don't bother with a jeep unless you plan to do the road to Hana, and even then you don't really need one. Also, don't bother with a convertible. It's usually either too hot or too rainy to have the top down, so why pay the extra bucks. Also, gas was $3/gallon, so if you're on a budget, don't rent a gas hog.

Kahana Falls

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by quiltergal on November 7, 2005

Best Things Nearby:
Ka'anapali Beach, Lahaina Town, and Whalers Village

Best Things About the Resort:
Friendly, helpful staff; small but pretty swimming pool; and no pushy timeshare salesmen

Resort Experience:

Kahana Falls is a small, relatively quiet resort in West Maui. The units are nicely appointed but not luxurious. There is a TV and DVD player in the living area and a TV in the bedroom as well. The kitchen has a full-size stove with an oven, microwave, full-size refrigerator, and dishwasher. There is also a washer and dryer and a small box of detergent. Kitchen cleaning supplies are provided. The only spices are salt and pepper. There is a dining area, but we ate most of our meals at the table on the lanai. The bedroom has a closet in the attached bathroom. There is a safe in the closet. There is also a ceiling fan in the bedroom, which kept the room quite comfortable.

The property has no ocean views, except from the very top floors, and even then it's just a peek. Kahana Beach is right across the street but is obscured by other resort properties and is not very good for swimming. There seems to be a problem with algae. You're better off going elsewhere for beach fun. The grounds are very nicely landscaped and well kept.

There is a free Monday night Mai Tai party with a hula show. The hula show is put on by a Halau from the Wailuku area. It's well worth attending, though the Mai Tais are very watered down. The pool is on the small side but quite lovely. There are two waterfalls. One flows directly into the pool and the other flows into the koi pond behind the pool. There is a spa with a sand bottom between the pool and the koi pond. It was very popular while we were there. You are able to check out beach towels from housekeeping as well as a Styrofoam cooler that rents for $5/week. The proceeds from the cooler rental goes to charity. There is also a gym down next to housekeeping that looked well furnished.

I can't say enough nice things about the staff at the front desk. They really went out of their way to accommodate some special requests for us, always with a smile.

This has been my second stay at this property. The service and the resort far exceeded my expectations on both occasions. I was very satisfied with my stay at Kahana Falls and would love to stay there again.



Kahana Falls
4260 Lower Honoapiilani Road
Maui, Hawaii
808/669-1050

Lelanis

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by quiltergal on November 7, 2005

Lelani's at Whaler's Village is beachfront. Sunsets can be stunning from there. I think I may have found the best fish tacos on the planet here. For around $10 you get two tacos both with a slab of ono on a bed of cabbage and their secret sauce. They were so good, we had to go back our last night on Maui and have them again. It can be a bit noisy, as the bistro is right by the bar. The waitstaff is very friendly and helpful, and the food came quickly.
Leilani's on the Beach
2435 Kaanapali Parkway
Maui, Hawaii, 96761
(808) 661-4495

Hula Grill

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by quiltergal on November 7, 2005

Hula Grill is beachfront at Whaler's Village. You can eat in the restaurant or in the barefoot bar. We prefer the barefoot bar, as it is more casual and has a much better view of the ocean than inside the restaurant. This is important if you are there at sunset. Sunsets at Ka'anapali Beach are exquisite, made better only by a great drink and good food. What could be better than sipping a Mai Tai or Pina Colada while watching Mother Nature put on a show. The barefoot bar has tables set in sand, so don't wear anything dressier than flip-flops.

Hula Grill is a high-energy place that caters to the young at heart, and the bar is usually hopping most nights. There is live music at 7pm most evenings. The bar can get pretty rowdy, so I'd recommend trying to get a table closer to the beachfront. The menu has mostly local cuisine and features fish. I highly recommend the Firecracker Fish. I've had it with ono and with opah, both excellent. The wait staff is friendly and helpful. They'll even take your picture if you ask.
Hula Grill Kaanapali Beach
Whaler's Village
Lahaina, Hawaii, 96761
(808) 667-6636

Kimo's

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by quiltergal on November 7, 2005

We had the fish tacos here with Ahi tuna. They were enormous! I couldn't finish mine. They also put a lot of cheese on them, which wasn't really a good accent for the Ahi. However, Kimo's makes the BEST Lava Flow on the island. For those not in the know, a Lava Flow is a pina colada and a strawberry daiquiri blended separately and then poured into the same glass. It makes lovely red-and-white swirls in the glass. What sets Kimo's Lava Flows apart from the rest is that they add a banana to the Pina Colada. It's just the right touch and soooo yummy. Kimos is oceanfront, and we were lucky enough to get an oceanfront table. It is in a very nice location, and there is a great wait staff.
Kimo's Restaurant
845 Front St.
Lahaina, Hawaii, 96761
(808) 661-4811

Cafe O'Lei

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by quiltergal on November 7, 2005

Cafe O Lei can be a bit hard to find, as it is in the back of a store on Front Street. It was nearly deserted when we got there. It's pretty small, with maybe a dozen tables. For the type of restaurant it is, the menu seems a bit pretentious. We weren't terribly hungry, so we ordered from the appetizer menu. I got the Kalua pork and smoked Mozzarella quesadilla, which was quite good. Their drink specialty is the Lahaina daiquiri. It's a strawberry/banana daiquiri that tends to be a little on the tart side. It's good, but Kimo's Lava Flows are better. They are oceanfront and do have lovely views of Lahaina Harbor.
Cafe O'Lei
3673 Baldwin Ave
Makawao, Hawaii, 96768
+1 808 573 9065

Old Lahaina Luau

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by quiltergal on November 7, 2005

This luau is the best of three I have attended. Honestly, it's not to be missed. The location is beachfront on Front Street in Lahaina Town. You are greeted at the entrance with a fresh-flower lei and a mai tai. Seats are reserved, so there is no standing in line for hours to assure a good seat. The open bar is amazing. They are real drinks with real booze, not the wimpy things most places try to pawn off as a mai tai. You can choose from at least a dozen different drinks, so I tried as many as possible. The food is excellent. My only criticism would be that the Kalua pork was a tad on the dry side but still very tasty. The grounds are very nice and simulate a Hawaiian village. There are local crafts people there selling carvings, baskets, etc. The show is kind of the history of Hula. It's not a Polynesian review, so don't expect to see the Samoan fire dancer or the Maori warrior who sticks out his tongue. It's very well done, and the dancers obviously know their stuff. There are no glitzy costumes, just regular hula garb. If you are only going to do one luau while on Maui, this is it. Old Lahaina Luau
Old Lahaina Luau
1251 Front St.
Lahaina, Hawaii, 96761
(808) 667-1998

Pacific Whale Foundation - Molokini Snorkel Trip

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by quiltergal on November 7, 2005

Molokini Crater is an amazing place to snorkel. The water is super-clear, though a bit colder than beach reefs. There is a pretty good variety of fish and other critters. Towards the end of our hour there we had a white-tipped reef shark swim under us. That was pretty exciting and worth the $65 right there!

The Ocean Odyssey is a large cat with a big engine. It only takes about 20 minutes to get from Ma'alaea Harbor to the crater. I did a Molokini trip a year ago with a different company, and it took over an hour to get to the crater. From Molokini we cruised to Lanai. That took approximately an hour.

Just outside Manele Bay we came across a pod of spinner dolphins. They were sooo cool and came right up to the boat and played in the wake. The youngsters were practicing their spinning behavior and were so funny to watch. The coral heads were very well developed in Manele Bay, but there were some pretty significant swells, so the water was a bit murky. We still saw lots of fish. On the way back to Ma'alaea Harbor, we saw lots of green sea turtles bobbing around. The food was good, barbeque chicken sandwichs and pasta salad. Narration is done by marine biologists who know what they're talking about. I should also mention that the cost of the tour goes to support the foundation and their ongoing research.

Pacific Whale Foundation
Kealia Beach Plaza
Maui, Hawaii, 96753
+1 808 879 8811

Kaanapali Beach

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by quiltergal on November 7, 2005

Ka'anapali Beach is a huge beach. It is fronted by a dozen or so resorts, along with Whaler's Village shopping mall. It can be quite crowded at times, so this isn't the beach for relaxing. It's also known as Dig Me Beach, if that tells you anything.

There is great snorkeling at Black Rock at the north end by the Sheraton, but like the rest of the beach it can get very crowded. I swam out around the point and saw two sea turtles snoozing on the bottom. On our last day we snorkeled there and a spotted eagle ray swam right under me. That was pretty cool.

At times this beach has a wicked undertow and big swells. It can be challenging getting in and out of the water without getting knocked down. With a little practice and patience, it can be done without filling your suit with sand!

People watching is great here. Think of it as free entertainment. This is also a great beach for watching those amazing Maui sunsets. There is a paved path that fronts the beach and goes past all the resorts. It's a very nice stroll in the evening, but again can be crowded depending on the day of the week.

Ka'anapali Beach
Ka'anapali, Western Shore Of Maui
Maui, Hawaii, 96761
(808) 667-5900

Honolua Bay

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by quiltergal on November 7, 2005

Honolua Bay is the West Maui Holy Grail of snorkelers and divers alike. It is part of a marine preserve located at the northernmost tip of West Maui. It is situated in a transition zone between the windward and leeward sides of the island and displays weather patterns unique to both. When conditions are prime, the snorkeling and diving is supposed to be awesome. The summer months are supposed have the most consistently excellent conditions, as there are very few northern swells at that time of year. Getting to Honolua Bay can be an adventure in itself. There is no public parking or facilities of any kind. In fact, it’s not even marked. As a result, it’s very easy to miss the turn-off; in fact, we drove right by it the first time. You have to park in the dirt on the Makai side of Highway 30. There is a trail that winds down through a beautiful rain forest. It definitely has a Jurassic Park feel to it. There are huge trees with numerous epiphytes growing in the tree canopy. The epiphytes have very long air roots that hang down, nearly touching the ground. You cross Honolua creek about halfway down the trail. It’s usually dry, but after a heavy rain, it runs full blast and can be 2 to 3 feet deep. The creek drains directly into the bay. It’s about a 5-minute walk to the bay, 10 if you stop and gawk. Honolua Bay has no beach, only rocks. It can be very tricky navigating the rocks, especially when they are wet. Water booties or Tevas are highly recommended. Entry into the bay can be somewhat dicey. I used the old broken concrete boat ramp as my point of entry. I put on all my gear, which I usually don’t do, and scooted down the ramp on my butt until I was in enough water to swim away from shore. Once in the water, we couldn’t see anything, not the bottom or anything around us. The farther out from shore we swam, visibility improved a little bit. We could make out the shapes of fish but could not identify them unless they swam right up to us. Unfortunately for us, there was a large northwest storm out in the Pacific that generated a northern swell train. Honolua Bay usually takes a direct hit when the northern swells are running. As a result, the bottom gets churned up and visibility is very poor to nonexistent. We swam around for about 20 minutes and decided to go elsewhere. As we headed for shore, we again had zero visibility for about the length of a football field. It totally creeped me out. I was afraid I’d hit a rock. My husband said that he could hear the Jaws theme song running though his mind. I plan to return one day and snorkel when the conditions are prime. It gives me an excuse to go back to Maui... like I really need one.
Honolua Bay
North of Kapalua
West Maui, Hawaii

Maluaka: Great snorkeling w/o going to Molokini

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by quiltergal on November 7, 2005

This is the reef the snorkel tour boats take you to when they talk about snorkeling at "Turtle Town." Boy, they aren't kidding. There are turtles everywhere here. Big ones, medium sized and little ones. I also saw a small free swimming octopus. Several different kinds of moray eels and Picasso triggerfish. This was also the only snorkel spot where we saw saddleback butterfly fish. There is public parking, showers, restrooms, and a nice picnic area. The beach itself is quite nice, with a great view of Molokini. It can get a little crowded, as the beach is shared with the Maui Prince hotel.
Maluaka Beach
Makena Beach Resort
South Maui, Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by quiltergal on November 7, 2005

Who would think you could spend 4 hours at an aquarium? Well, we did. It was kind of a drizzly day, so we thought this would be a good activity. It was amazing. As a former owner of a saltwater aquarium, I can attest to how difficult it is to maintain perfect water balance in a closed system. The Maui Ocean Center is doing everything right. The fish all look very healthy and well fed. The water for the size animals it houses is pretty clear. We are one of those geeky fish couples who know all the names of the fish without looking at the card. There is a hammerhead shark tank, a turtle tank, a jelly cylinder you can walk around, and the giant community tank that has everything from the tiniest damsel fish to a very fat tiger shark. Kids and adults alike were obviously enjoying themselves. Maui Ocean Center
Maui Ocean Center
Highway 30 at Ma'alaea Harbor Village
Maui, Hawaii, 96793
(808) 270-7000

Iao Valley State Park

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by quiltergal on November 7, 2005

On the day we were there, 'Iao Valley was misty and mysterious. It's a hard place to describe. Technically it is what is left of the central caldera of the West Maui volcano. As you stand there and look around, you know you are in an ancient place with a lot of history and legend. It is the valley where the people of Maui took their last stand against Kamehameha the Great in 1790 and lost. It's not very far out of Wailuku and well worth the visit. I'd like to spend some more time there in the future.
Iao Valley State Park
Iao Valley Road
Wailuku, Hawaii, 96793
No phone available

Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Concert

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by quiltergal on November 8, 2005

The concert series is every Wednesday evening at the Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua. Hawaiian slack key guitar is the music played in Hawaiian backyards throughout the islands. It is open tuning, unlike traditional guitar tuning. Many songs are sung in the Hawaiian language. It's very beautiful and earthy. As you sit and listen, you really get the feeling you're sitting in George's backyard listening to him and his Ohana playing the old songs and creating new ones together. George is the host of the concert series, and there is a different guest player every week. The Ukulele Boys are fabulous, nephews of George I believe. I have seen this show twice, and the boys have stolen the show both times. They can do things with a ukulele you wouldn't have thought possible. Masters of Slack Key Guitar Concert Series
Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Concert Series
Napili Kai Beach Resort, 5900 Lower Honoapiilani Rd.
Maui, Hawaii, 96761

Kapalua Bay

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by quiltergal on November 8, 2005

Kapalua Bay is truly a natural wonder. It's a beautiful horseshoe-shaped bay with very well-developed coral heads. It can be a little tricky getting in and out, as there are some large rocky areas at the water line. Just look for the light-colored water. That indicates a sandy bottom and makes your entry into the bay much easier. The variety of fish at Kapalua is far greater than Molokini, and the water is a bit warmer. You can swim way out to the outer reef without danger of getting sucked into the Tahiti Express. We saw three varieties of moray eels, a pair of turtles wedged into holes in the outer reef, and HumuHumus too numerous to count, same with Yellow tangs. There were huge Blue Cavalle (in the Jack family), bright yellow trumpet fish, schools of needle fish floating near the surface, and Bird Wrasses--male and female--Christmas Wrasse, and Rainbow Cleaner Wrasse. The list goes on and on.

If you want to get hooked on snorkeling for life, go to this beach first. This is also a great beach if you just want to sit back and relax. There is plenty of sugary sand and not as many people as the other more centrally located beaches. All in all, I think Kapalua is my favorite beach on Maui. There is a small public parking lot, but it tends to fill early, so mornings are best. There are restrooms and two showers. There is a paved walkway the runs the length of the beach, kind of like at Ka'anapali, and there is lawn behind the walkway. It's the perfect spot to have a picnic. I was in the water so much, I didn't get any pictures of this beautiful spot unfortunately.

Kapalua Bay
Ka'anapali Beach
Lahaina, Hawaii, 96761

Olowalu

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by quiltergal on November 9, 2005

Olowalu can't really be classified as a beach. It's kind of a wide spot at Mile Marker 14 that dives off into some very thorny trees. Make sure you wear your flip-flops or watch carefully where you walk, as there are thorny twigs buried in the sand. There are a couple of tiny spots that have sand, but the road is so close, you can barely hear the waves over the traffic. The snorkeling is okay, but you have to swim quite a ways out to see anything good. A lot of the coral has been killed by brown algae. The coral is also pretty close to the surface, and I worried about damaging it and myself as I skimmed across it. There is a deeper sand-bottomed channel that snakes in and around the coral heads. It gives you a little more room to move while still getting a good view of the reef. We didn't see anything remarkable at Olowalu that we hadn't seen at Kapalua, Black Rock, Wailea, or Maluaka. There are no facilities of any kind, and there is even a sign posted saying sharks may be present. I would not recommend this spot for beginners.
Olowalu
Mile Marker 14
Maui, Hawaii

Kahekili Beach

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by quiltergal on November 9, 2005

This is a great spot for beginning snorkelers. It's calm and protected, with very easy entry. It doesn't have the variety of fish Kapalua does, but I did see my first turtle here. The reef goes way out. The facilities are very good. There are two covered pavilions with picnic tables, restrooms, a shower, and public parking. There is a nice sandy beach for just hanging out. This is definitely a family-friendly spot.
Kahekili Beach
Highway 30
Maui, Hawaii

Lahaina

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by quiltergal on November 10, 2005

Lahaina buzzes with a happy energy. The setting is lovely, and no matter how busy it is, you always feel relaxed. Lahaina loosely translates into “cruel sun.” I’ve been there in the summer, and that’s no lie! The trade winds that keep the rest of the island cool and comfortable flow around the north and south ends of the island, missing Lahaina completely. The summer season in Lahaina can be stifling. It is situated on a natural harbor and, at one point in its long history, served as a whaling port and the royal capitol.

Lahaina is quaint and has retained much of its historical charm. The harbor is a hub for many different boating activities. There was a fishing tournament going on while we were there. It was fun to watch the fishermen bring their catch in to be weighed.

Front Street is the main drag lined with shops and restaurants. Okay, let’s get down to the business of shopping. Shopping in Lahaina is fabulous. Every other store on Front Street is a jewelry store. I was in heaven and finally purchased the black Tahitian pearl pendant of my dreams. I got a screamin' deal on it too. Hawaii Jewelry, ask for Michael. If you are looking for a new swimsuit, this is the place to shop. If you can’t find one here, you won’t find one anywhere. I’m partial to Maui Waterwear. There are clothing stores that run the gamut, from Tommy Bahama to el cheapo and everything in between. There is a Hilo Hattie’s here, but it reminds me of an island version of JC Penny. Art galleries abound, but be prepared to leave a chunk of change. You can also buy locally made island goods, like a carved bone Maui fishhook for your favorite skateboarder, shark-tooth jewelry, and lots of things made from Koa wood.

If you get hungry, there are lots of restaurants to choose from. My favorite is Kimo’s. They make the best Lava Flow on the planet. If you are an ice-cream lover, make sure you try a scoop from Lappert’s.

Lahaina is definitely a party town, and things get livelier as the evening wears on. I have heard that Halloween in Lahaina is really something to behold. There is a parade somewhat akin to Mardi Gras. The people who live on Maui really get into Halloween. It’s kind of refreshing and makes you feel like a kid again.

The downside to Lahaina is everybody loves it. Consequently, it is always crowded, especially on cruise-ship day. Parking is a nightmare. We did discover the secret free three-hour parking lot. It’s on the corner of Prison and Front streets. Be prepared to fight for a spot, though. It will take you more than one trip to get the complete Lahaina experience, but that’s a good thing.

Lahaina

Maui, Hawaii

Haleakala National Park

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by quiltergal on November 12, 2005

Our trip to Haleakala National Park was kind of a mixed-bag due to weather. When we left our condo the weather was clear, but by the time we reached the summit a lenticular cloud had formed at the top, reducing the visibility to zero. That said, the trip was still very worthwhile. You’ll travel up through Kula, which sits at about 3,000 feet. Kula has some spectacular views to the leeward and windward side of the island. The road is very windy. You’ll also need to keep an eye out for mountain bikers coming down from the summit. If you are in a convertible, I would recommend you put the top up before you go. You’re going from sea level to 10,023 feet, and 80°F to 50°F. Dress accordingly. At certain spots along the road to the summit you can actually see what turbulence looks like, if there are some clouds. The clouds slam up against the side of the mountain, roll and boil back on themselves. It’s very interesting to watch, and makes for some good photos too. Make sure you stop at the Leleiwi Lookout, and take the short walk to a shelter overlooking part of the crater and Ko’olau gap. You can see the shoreline past Haiku on the road to Hana. This is also a good place, if clouds are present, to watch the wind versus the mountain. Once you reach the summit, there is a visitor center. Restrooms are available. The visitor center is pretty small by national park standards. If you drive a little further up you’ll reach the summit and the viewing shelter. By now, if you haven’t dressed adequately, you’ll be very cold. There are silversword plants in the parking lot and along the trails that go down into the crater. They are descended from the California Tarweed, and have evolved over the years into something quite unique. Silverswords can live up to 50 years, bloom once, and die. There are geese in Haleakala, also, called Nene. They are thought to have evolved from wayward Canadian geese. Silverswords and Nene are both protected under the Endangered Species Act. I can’t comment about the crater, because we couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of us. That’s something to put on my list to see next trip.
Haleakalā National Park
Po Box 369
Makawao, Hawaii, 96768
(808) 572-4400

Wailea Beach

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by quiltergal on November 16, 2005

Lovely Wailea! There's something here for everyone. We saw our first Picasso Triggerfish here, actually several of them. Also seen and noted were adult Rock Mover Wrasses. There also seemed to be an abundance of green male Bird Wrasses. This is a great beach, with easy entry pretty much anywhere. The better snorkeling is to the south, around the rocky outcropping. It's a great beach for swimming, sunbathing, and just doing the beach thing. There is public parking, showers and restrooms. Public access is between the Grand Wailea and the Four Seasons.
Wailea Beach

Maui, Hawaii

http://www.igougo.com/journal-j48465-Maui-Marvelous_Maui.html

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