Maui - What's Left To Say?

It's been almost 3 years since my last journal, but a recent Maui visit puts me in a writing mood; however, what's left to say?

Maui - What's Left To Say?

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by thecopes on May 4, 2006

So, here it is, my third journal about Maui. What's left to say that hasn't been written in countless other journals or in the plethora of guidebooks? (By the way, Maui Revealed still seems to be the guidebook of choice for most visitors—I saw lots of folks, including yours truly, carrying it around. Great pictures, maps, and their opinions, although sometimes preachy, are generally right on.)I'll try not to make too many "the luau was really great" comments, but instead concentrate on the off-beat, weird, lesser known, or funny (to me, anyways).This time around, we were staying for 16 days, 14 of those in our condo at Napili. Another family was joining us and our daughter was flying out from New York City to be with us as well, so that was a new experience for us. We also sampled the North Shore for the first time, played some golf (sort of), searched out the "Olivine Pools", and attended the Kokua Festival featuring Jack Johnson, Willie Nelson, and Ben Harper.Oh yeah, I had a really good frozen espresso at Bad Ass Coffee.${QuickSuggestions} One advantage of going to Maui several times is that you don't feel like you have to do EVERYTHING. In fact, we made a quick trip over here last October when our condo had a last minute opening to fill and it was great! We normally feel that a week is too short for any vacation, especially in Hawaii, but since we had no specific plans and did nothing except lie on the beach and go snorkeling, the week had a very pleasant, slow, and relaxing pace.If it's your first time, you'll go broke or crazy if you try to do everything that the guidebooks say are a must on Maui. Pick one or two for sure but make sure you allow yourself time to relax and enjoy the Aloha spirit3you're on vacation for crying out loud.Don't drive to Hana if you get carsick or twisty one lane roads unnerve you. Don't take a helicopter ride if you've got a weak stomach or are afraid of heights. Don't bicycle down Haleakela unless you like dodging uphill cars in the rain while wearing a garbage bag poncho after getting up at 2 in the morning to be in time for the sunrise (except when it's cloudy). Don't go to the Old Lahaina Luau if you want to see fire-dancers. Man, this place is a drag! Why would anyone come here?${BestWay} Geez, don't rent a moped! The Maui News recently had a story about some poor groom-to-be who had a wreck on a rental moped 2 hours before the wedding rehearsal and broke his leg so he and his bride had to get hitched in the courtyard of the Maui Hospital. I think the 40 mainlanders who came for the wedding still had a blast at the Grand Wailea so I guess it wasn't a total loss. And I'm thinking that a wedding night with a broken leg is better than none at all.While it's pretty easy to tell the visitors from the locals just by their cars, if you get a convertible and drive around with the top down north of Lahaina, you might as well put a big sign on the side that says "TOURIST". Passing showers at any time can put a damper (rimshot!) on things in a hurry.You might think about renting an economy car if driving to Haleakela and Hana are in your plans. Gas prices on Maui are the highest anywhere. When we arrived the average was $3.25/gallon and when we left it was $3.65!Finally, if you arrive direct from the mainland to Maui on a bigger plane, send someone to the rental agency while the others collect the bags. Then have the rentor return to the terminal in the rental car to pick the rest of you up. When that jam-packed sardine can known as the Northwest Airlines 757-300 from Seattle disgorges the 48 rows of visitors, you'll be glad you beat most of them to the rental agency. Here's another hint: most of the major rental agencies are close together, so don't wait for the courtesy van for your company—just hop on the first one and walk over to yours. In fairness to the rental agencies, they usually do a pretty good job dealing with crowds but if you can avoid standing in line, your vacation will get off to a "mo betta" start.

Olivine Pools

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by thecopes on May 23, 2006

If you've looked through Maui Revealed, you'll know that the authors list the "Olivine Pools" as a not to be missed gem on the north end of West Maui. And they are right! This is an awesome place and, despite the publicity from the book, thanks to its location and terrain, it's not overrun with visitors. Drive past Kapalua, Honolulu Bay, and the Nakalele blowhole and watch for the "Bell Stone" on your right. Park opposite the stone and make the climb down to the pools. It's amazing to be able to actually snorkel and see some pretty big fish in the deepest pool while the waves crash around you. Frequently the waves heave themselves over the edges of the rocks, generating small scale temporary waterfalls. Kids will definitely enjoy this, but be aware that the climb down is somewhat steep, and you do need to keep an eye on the sea when you're at the pools. Use a little common sense and the family will be perfectly safe. Wearing reef shoes to make the climb, and to walk around the area will make your visit much more enjoyable.

Nothing particularly funny or off-beat happened during our visit although I briefly wore my wife's straw hat, which my daughter seem to think was hilarious for some reason. And, no, I won't post a picture. The occasional startled screams whenever a huge wave sprayed over the rocks was amusing the first time, but then you realized that it can be potentially hazardous if you're not paying attention and get too close to the edge. And I did find it somewhat disconcerting to see people that were unprepared--wearing flip flops--making their way down the cliff, gingerly on the sharp rocks. Hey, try not to let your mangled toes bleed too much in the pools, OK? They probably forgot their sunscreen, too.
Olivine Pools
West Maui
Maui, Hawaii

Kapalua Golf Club

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by thecopes on June 4, 2006

Playing golf at Kapalua is expensive. The courses will run you $90 (twilight at the Village course) to $295 (full price at the Bay course). If you're staying at the Ritz-Carlton, you get a discount, which is like giving Bill Gates a discount at Blockbuster when he rents Xbox games.

But if you want to enjoy Kapalua and don't want to spend the big bucks, there are alternatives.

Play the putting course—it's only $10/adults, $5/kids. Even though they advertise that price as per round, the exceedingly nice folks in the pro shop told us we could play as much as we wanted and if we had our own putters (they'll lend you ones if you don't have your own), we could play past 5pm when the pro shop closes.

Or hit a bucket of balls. They charge only $10/large bucket (90 to 100 balls). When we decided to hit a bucket after playing the putting course, those nice folks gave us a bucket for free.

The driving range and putting course are rarely crowded and though they enforce the typical golf dress code on the courses proper, on the putting course and driving range, it's pretty much anything goes (shorts, T-shirts, flip-flops). We were also told (encouraged, actually) to feel free to also use the practice putting green and chipping area. The view from the putting course and driving range is gorgeous as well, looking out towards the water with Molokai in the background.

On the driving range, my best shot was when I rang one off the cage of the ball retriever/sweeper (or whatever they call that thing), startling the driver. Everything else I sliced—fortunately, the real golfers on the range didn't seem to mind us hackers. The only person who told me I sucked was my son.

When you're done playing, eat and drink at the Vino restaurant. We had great appetizers and drinks and enjoyed it so much we came back for Easter brunch and had a terrific buffet meal for $32/person, which was $10 to $20 less than the hotels were charging. They even had a made-to-order frittata bar!

The pro shop is well stocked with clothing and other items with the Kapalua butterfly/pineapple logo. It's high-quality stuff, and fairly pricey, although there were a few good deals on the clearance rack—if you don't mind a green and orange striped Tommy Bahamas polo shirt.
Kapalua Golf Club
800 Kapalua Drive
Maui, Hawaii, 96761
(800) 527-2582

The Maui Music Scene -- The Good, The Bad , and the Stoned

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by thecopes on May 5, 2006

First of all, the radio stations on Maui suck. Thanks to laptops and iPods, we no longer bring a stack of CDs with us on vacation. So, while driving around, my son and I were stuck trying to find something on the car radio that we can both stand. Fortunately he loves classic rock but could we find any? Nope. Oldies? Top 40 pop but no rock and roll. There was plenty of (c)rap but who wants to listen to that stuff? Even the Hawaiian music stations left something to be desired. I mean, is Iz the only Hawaiian musician? Plus reception was lousy. (That's like the old joke: "The food here is lousy." "Yes, and such small portions.")

Interesting side note: As we were leaving Aloha Mixed Plate in Lahaina after lunch on the day of our departure, we heard coming from the speakers at the bar the familiar (for us) guitar solo from the song "Rock Bottom" by the 70s band UFO. Unfortunately the bartender wasn't available to ask what the source was -- radio or CD -- but my son and I broke out the air guitars. My wife, of course, thinks we're nuts.

On the other hand, Bounty Music in Kahului is a great music store. We were able to rent a guitar and small amp for my son so he could keep up his chops for only 90 bucks for 2 weeks. I finally bought a ukulele and was able to find a nice mid-priced spruce top from their very wide selection. Nice folks, although the clerk that helped us had a little trouble negotiating the computer register. "Uhhhhh, I'm a drummer, man, so I only help out on the weekends." He made up for it by insisting we take two free pens. Thanks, dude!

Which brings us to the third annual Kokua Festival. The festival in general coincides with Earth Day and has a definite "Save The Planet" attitude. Hotter than hot Hawaii native Jack Johnson heads up the festival, this year being joined by Willie Nelson and Ben Harper. I'm not a much of a Jack Johnson fan as he's a little too mellow for my taste, so I probably wouldn't have even considered going to this except that my wife is a HUGE Willie Nelson fan. So we went. Ah, "the things we do for love," to quote another 70s band, 10cc.

Getting there turned out to be an experience. We allowed the usual 45 minutes for the drive to Kahului from West Maui. The only problem is that at "pau hana" (quitting time), the trip takes AN HOUR and 45 minutes. Parking also turned out to be a challenge as there was only one entrance to the dusty field that was being used. And was there a sign to direct you? Nooooooooo. So we missed the opening Hawaiian music acts and arrived just in time for Ben Harper. I found it a bit distressing that my mainland mania attitude was starting to return. To add to the frustration, the festival concessions used scrip instead of cash. So you had to stand in a slow moving line to get the scrip you needed to stand in another slow moving line to purchase over-priced food and drink. GEORGE IS GETTING UPSET!!!

And then there were the "restrooms": a row of 24 porta-potties -- 20 for the ladies and only 4 for the men. What gives? It was then that I saw the sign for the "Men's urinals." On the other side of a barricade were two troughs with plywood "privacy partitions". What was especially interesting was the height of these partitions -- they were easily a foot higher than normal but the same size as you'd expect. While this may have discouraged peeking at the guy next to you, it made for an interesting scene as you entered the area -- you couldn't see anyone from the waist up, but you could sure see everything from the waist down, if you get my drift. And the troughs made the ones at Fenway Park look fancy by comparison.

Back to the concert. It was a beautiful evening and as the skies darkened, Ben Harper took the stage for an extremely mellow set. Which is more than I can say for the people around us. While the smell of marijuana was in the air, the chemical of choice in our section was alcohol and lots of it. In keeping with the Kokua spirit, the beer cups were made from biodegradable corn starch. A lot of corn died that night, my friend. As did a lot of brain cells and I daresay that some of the people in our row did not have a lot to lose in the first place.

Willie Nelson was up next and he pretty much phoned it in but that's OK. He did all the hits and while his voice still has that distinctive sound, he basically spoke the words instead of singing. But he's still cool for an old guy and my wife enjoyed him.

Jack Johnson could do no wrong. He could have sung "Bingo was his name-o" and the crowd would have loved it. Marijuana, beer, a beautiful star-lit tropical night, and mellow tunes -- it was enjoyable but it would've been fun to see the crowd reaction if he'd thrown in a rocker. I did hear someone yell for "Freebird." Not tonight, brah.

Ben Harper joined Jack for a few tunes and their rendition of a Bob Marley song (sorry, I don't know the name) was superb. Of course, Willie joined them for the encore.

After the show we were a little concerned about several thousand inebriates getting behind the wheel. With only one exit from the parking lot, we expected a Hawaiian demolition derby to take place and we figured our rental car would be a favorite target of the locals in their pickup trucks, but in typical Hawaiian fashion our exit went smoothly, albeit slowly.

My favorite moment as we were exiting was the woman shouting into her cell phone: "Meet you where? I don't know which freaking palm tree you're talking about!" (Except she didn't say "freaking.")

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