I am in the middle of some exciting happenings that I cannot disclose at the moment (will do once I get the ok). In the meantime I thought I should update this blog. Thankfully, wonderful friends of ours, the Sowers, gave me permission to share their top picks and recommendations to family and friends coming to visit Maui. And so this is the post of the day! I agree with all their recommendations (some I agree more, some less, but overall – they are all good!):
We lived in south Maui for 7 years, so I know a lot more about that area than Kaanapali, but we did make a few trips up that way, so I will share what I do know.
The top two luau on Maui, both in Lahaina, are the Old Lahaina Luau (www.oldlahainaluau.com) and the Feast at Lele (www.feastatlele.com). There are other, more affordable ones, but you definitely get what you pay for with the others. If you are interested in either of those, consider making reservations soon. Another neat show that we went to several times is ‘Ulalena (www.ulalena.com or www.mauitheatre.com ). It is a fantastic, powerful performance of dance, song and music (all done w/in the theater) of the history of Hawaii. I’m not too familiar with restaurants up there – I know one my friend really likes is Leilani’s on the Beach, which I believe is located near Whaler’s Village. That’s a fun area just to take a stroll. Another restaurant we liked was the Lahaina Fish Co.. BJ’s Pizzeria is good. There are the traditional Hard Rock Cafe and Bubba Gump, too, but you may as well eat fresh fish!
Other top picks for activities from us:
1. Drive to Hana (doesn’t matter how far you go, just the drive to the wetter side is fabulous) waterfalls, one-lane bridges, beautiful flowers and green everywhere you look. Either on the way there or on the way back, a stop at Ho’okipa Beach on the north shore past Pai’a is a good spot to see surfers or windsurfers if conditions are right. Be sure to stop at the Keanae Peninsula to see the beautiful, rugged coastline with pounding waves. Splurge on a loaf of banana bread along the way, you won’t find any fresher! If you have time to go past Hana, Hamoa Beach is a beauty, and continue on to the Kipahulu area, which is part of Haleakala National Park.
2. Drive to summit of Haleakala, in Haleakala National Park. It’s worth a call to the Ranger’s office before you go to check on weather conditions. Go as early in the a.m. as possible, as the clouds tend to move in later in the day. If you have time to hike just a short ways down the Sliding Sands Trail you will be well rewarded. On a clear day you will be able to look south from the top and see Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea on the Big Island. Be sure to take a jacket!
3. Perhaps on the same day as Haleakala, a sightseeing drive to other parts of Upcountry Maui is nice; try Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm (www.aliikulalavender.com) for a nice stroll thru the gardens (free!), Tedeschi Winery (www.mauiwine.com) is a great place for a picnic lunch, weather permitting. The wine is nothing to rave about, but the location is beautiful. You will likely pass several unattended roadside fruit stands we almost always bought something, especially avocados, limes,
4. Pack your snorkel and beach gear and head to south Maui for the day. Take the route to Kihei, and drive along South Kihei Road to be closest to the ocean just don’t be in a hurry! Any of the south Maui beaches are great for snorkeling, from Keawakapu Beach southward. One of our favorites was the beach in front of the Maui Prince (Maluaka Beach). Brett also had some good swims at the north end of Keawakapu. Ulua Beach is another good one, but notoriously crowded. Morning is usually best before any wind/waves kick up for better visibility. Be sure to at least stop at Big Beach (south of Maui Prince), it’s a beauty! Neat views of Molokini and Kahoolawe from all of these beaches.
5. Continue past Maui Prince to the end of the road. This will take you through the most recent lava flows on Maui (1790), and it is such an interesting landscape. Gives you a whole different view of the south flank of Haleakala as well. There is a popular snorkel spot on the drive, Ahihi Bay, which can be crowded but does offer sightings of fish you won’t see elsewhere, like the yellow tang. This is a protected area, so you need to be extra careful to not touch or stand on any of the coral. That’s a given no matter where you snorkel.
6. If you have time on a Tuesday or Thursday morning to get to Kihei early, the Kihei Canoe Club takes visitors out paddling in theiroutrigger canoes. Our daughter paddled for the youth team, I paddled recreationally for 5 years. You need to be there no later than 7:15 a.m. It is very popular, and first-come, first-serve, so even earlier wouldn’t hurt. Suggested donation of $25/adult (tax-deductible), or whatever you can give, supports the kids paddling program. They are usually back to shore by 9a.m. Fantastic opportunity to see turtles and whales!
7. Lots of people take snorkel trips on boats to Molokini that’s a personal choice; it’s nice to see Maui from the water, but we were never overly impressed with the snorkeling itself. How I wish I had been there 20 years ago! We would personally opt for snorkeling from shore anytime. If you were to choose a whale watch and/or snorkel trip, we would recommend Trilogy first (they have a boat out of Lahaina), and then Pacific Whale Foundation (boats out of Lahaina & Ma’alaea I think).
8. Beach, beach, beach. The best activity, for the best price! I’ll be interested to hear how you like the beaches on the west side vs. south side.