Maui, Hawai’i

The Legend of Maui – Hina, mother of the demigod Maui, had trouble drying her bark cloth because the day was too short. So Maui went to the great mountain that the sun passed over each day and, as the sun’s rays crept over the mountain, snared them and held them fast with his ropes. “Give me my life,” pleaded the sun. “I will give you your life,” said Maui, “if you promise to go more slowly across the sky.” And to this day, the sun is careful to go slowly across the heavens; and the great mountain is known as Haleakala (Ha-lay-ah-ka-lah), the House of the Sun.


I have traveled to Maui three times: in 1983 and 1995 by air, and in 2014 by ship.

Travelogues

  • Snorkel south of Lahaina & Humpback whales – 2014 – seeing Humpback whales & their young up close was the highlight, but I also saw a turtle and some fish while snorkelling
  • Haleakala Volcano – 1995 – a must see! Drive to the 3,000 metre (10,000′) summit in only a couple of hours.
  • The Road to Hana – 1995 – offers some spectacular scenery, while you wind along the steep coastal cliffs, on this wet, tropical side of Maui to Hana.
  • Molokini Snorkel Cruise – 1995 – There are many snorkel cruises available to this small volcanic lagoon located just off the southwest coast of Maui.

Map of Maui, Hawaii

Map of Maui, Hawaii

Maui is called the Valley Isle. Pineapples and sugar cane are grown in the valley at the base of the great volcano Haleakala. The twin towns of Kahului and Wailuku are found in the valley, and the airport is just to the east of Kahului. The main tourist areas are not to be found in Kahului or Wailuku – these towns are largely left to the locals.

Canadians and retired Americans tend to go to the more reasonably priced, dry and sunny Kihei area, and the more affluent Japanese and Americans tend to go to the more exclusive Kaanapali and Wailea areas. Wailea in particular, is very popular with affluent tourists, and is a much newer development than Kaanapali. Needless to say, golf is a popular pastime in both locales.

Here are some photos of Maui taken in 1995 (except as noted):

Of all the Hawaiian Islands, Maui is without a doubt the most popular with Canadian tourists. In both 1983 and 1995, we stayed in Kihei condos which we arranged with Canadian owners who live right here in British Columbia. Although we are still forced to pay rentals in US$, cutting out commissions usually saves substantially over rental rates arranged through travel agents or third parties. If you live on the west coast of Canada or the U.S., check your local newspaper want ad listings under Travel. You might be surprised at the variety of listings offered for condos on Maui and the other Hawaiian Islands too. Condos on Maui are usually configured as one or two bedroom units, with kitchen, lanai (patio/deck), and pull-out sofa bed in the living room.

Most visitors to Maui rent a car, however there is public transit on the island. For car rentals, you would be well advised to make a reservation before you leave on your trip, since rentals can be scarce during the high seasons. Use online bookings with national agencies to get a confirmation before you leave. You will still be free to negotiate at the counter for the rental rate and type of vehicle you wish to rent, but at least you will be guaranteed some kind of rental vehicle.

The north coast of Maui has some wonderful beaches. Most have public access, and are heavily used by the locals. While we were visiting in November of 1995, Maui experienced strong winds, and some huge surf. Along the north west coast (north of Kaanapali), the surfers had all the wave action they could handle! This made for some spectacular views, and the blowhole at Mokolea Point put on quite a show.

The beaches in the Kihei area are the best for lounging around and casual swimming. Many are public beaches located right beside the road. Security is an issue at beaches, so take a bit of cash for spending and leave your valuables back in your condo or hotel safe, not in your parked car.

Wildflowers abound on Maui (and the other Hawaiian Islands as well), and you shouldn’t wiz along the highways in your car without stopping to smell the flowers, otherwise you will miss one of the most wonderful features of Hawaii. Plumeria is a delicate white flower, often used in making leis. We took a rest stop along the Hana Highway, and I discovered these beautiful wild orchids, growing on the road bank. When visiting the Iao Needle area, who would have expected to see these huge wild lilies (I think that’s what they are) growing along the trail.

Lahaina is an old whaling town turned into a tourist trap, however it is worth seeing. The Pioneer Inn has a nice bar overlooking the harbour area, located beside the huge banyan tree (the tree takes up a whole city block!). The Pioneer Inn also has a very nice restaurant, which is hidden away from the street in the atrium, located in the centre of the hotel. I don’t recommend staying at the hotel (too noisy), but the bar and restaurant offer excellent places to unwind, and get away from the hustle and heat of Lahaina’s main drag.

Although I understand that Lahaina’s old sugar mill doesn’t operate anymore, there is a funky old sugar train ride you can take down the line, complete with singing engineer! Sugar cane is harvested using both machines, and manually. Here is a shot of workers in the fields cutting cane by hand.

While in Hawaii, don’t forget to kick back and watch the sunsets…they are made just for you by the Hawaiian gods.

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