Miscellaneous information about Maui
Every time I mention that I’ve been to any of the Hawaiian Islands people ask me lots of questions. So rather than send a unique email I put together this blog. I organized it by island.
First, the blue book Maui Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook by Andrew Doughty was an excellent resource. Just look through the reviews and comments on Amazon. I’ll try to add some details below that aren’t listed in this book. I also have practical advice like where Safeway is located.
We’ve been to Maui a number of times over the years. We tend to stay in Kihei for several reasons listed below. We’ve seen every part of the island except for the north-east corner past Paia and west of Hana. Over the years what we’ve seen includes Haleakala, Iao Needle, the road to Hana, Maui Aquarium, Lahaina and other places further north and south.
Note: My photo’s used in this post will appear “grainy”. They are low resolution photo’s in an attempt to discourage people from copying them.
I love the Hawaiian Islands and appreciate their history.
I suggest staying on the south western side of Maui. It gets less rain. Farther south it’s dry like Arizona with cactus, etc. This typically includes Kihei, Wailea and Makena.
Overall Kihei is middle-class and affordable. Wailea and Makena are south of Kihei, very nice but expensive. For example, the Shops at Wailea are like a mall on steroids.
No matter where you stay on Maui the beaches are all public. In most cases there’s some parking. There’s a number great beaches in Kihei, Wailea, and all the way south. Some overall photos on this area that I found are here.
From this area you can see Molokini in the distance. Molokini is the sunken half crater volcano. More on Molokini snorkeling below.
In Kihei is the Dolphin Plaza. It has espresso, Pizza Hut, Baskin Robbins, a Mexican restaurant, Sushi, etc. Snorkeling is right across the street at Kamaole 1 or 2.
Here’s a beach camera that you can control that points to Kamaole 2. We always go for an evening walk on Kam 2, watch the sunset and look at little fish swimming in the tide pools. Here’s another live beach camera at Kamaole 1 beach in Kihei.
How to find a place to stay?
We’ve used vacation rentals by owner (VRBO) a few times to rent condos.
If you choose to rent a condo or a house it’s good to book early (6 months ahead) yet still bargain with the owner since they may come down in price. Try to get them to waive the cleaning fee or something, anything.
Also, sites like VRBO.com linked above are open to anyone to post a picture of a condo\house for rent. There are some rare cases where people “reserved” a condo\house only to show-up and learn the “owner” wasn’t really the owner and they lost their deposit. I believe Visa and the other credit cards will cover this type of theft.
Some things we’ve done include…
Hana highway drive
Yep, I did that once and vowed I’d never do it again. “…59 bridges, 46 of which are only one-lane bridges, requiring oncoming traffic to yield and occasionally causing brief traffic jams if two vehicles meet head-on. There are approximately 620 curves…” Source: Wikipedia.
Eat at Mama’s Fish House once or twice
Yep, that’s a good aspirational goal. $11 dollar Mai Tai’s on their lunch menu may convince you to just sit there and eat a loaf of bread. Lunch is cheaper than dinner. It tends to rain over there, but still beautiful. Good food. Mama’s is north of Paia which is a beach town. Big waves, surfer dudes, etc.
Drove part of the Pi’ilani Highway
We drove to about mile marker 25. When you reach the southern part of the island it’s very desolate but interesting. If you start from Kihea/Wailea/Makena to this mile marker 25 it’s a good 1/2 day trip.
Sunrise at Haleakala and a hike in the forest
You’ll need to leave the house at 3am or so. Dress warm since the temperature can get near freezing. Very windy too! Hiking in the wilderness is more restrictive than you might think. For example, most of the land along the Hana drive is owned\leased by a company for the water rights. They don’t want random touristas traipsing through their forest. I believe you need a permit to hike Haleakala.
Ka’anapaali is on the northwest part of the island. It’s windier with occasional drizzles. If you stay up there and have questionable weather head south to Kihei and Wailea, it’s only a 45 min drive.
The Maui Aquarium is kinda expensive but worth it.
The Town of Lahaina
You’ll either love it or hate it. We really like it. Lots of touristy shops, restaurants and art galleries. Also, walking along the waterfront is nice. The old banyan tree across from the Pioneer Inn is interesting.
What some people don’t like about it… well, it has lots of touristy shops, restaurants and art galleries. This is where the cruise ships let off their passengers so it’s “that” kind of town.
Where to get groceries?
Local Weather info
Just a beautiful little beach. A place where small, intimate weddings occur.
Here’s my list of the best snorkeling beaches
(drum roll please…)
1) Molokini (of course)
Why? Well, just look at these pictures!
You can take half-day snorkeling trips since it offers incredible snorkeling. Although the weather can be difficult to gauge, it can be “hit or miss”.
The boat charters that leave from Maalaea Harbor take about 30 mins to reach Molokini. There are boats that leave from Kihei boat ramp. I took the Kai Kanani catamaran twice that leaves from Makena Beach and Golf Resort and in less than 15 mins we were out there.
My favorite south Maui beaches for snorkeling:
1) Keawakapu beach, near the Kihei Boat Launch
Park at the north entrance in the gravel lot near Sarento’s On the Beach restaurant. Alternatively, down the street a little there’s public parking on the other side of the street. Snorkel north and you should see turtles.
2) Maluaka Beach / Makena Beach
In-front of the Makena Beach and Golf Resort. Beautiful spot, has bathrooms, showers, etc. To snorkel, go to the south end of the beach, hop in the water, go around the corner and keep going 🙂 you’ll eventually see this:
3) Mokapu Beach. Ulua and Mokapu are next to each other
As you walk down to the beach and just as you pass the restrooms follow the trail to the right, walk about 200 feet then head towards the water. Mokapu is a very quiet beach with good snorkeling whereas Ulua is like Disney World with all the floaters (aka: snorkelers). These beaches are such an odd contrast.
I saw this Spotted Eagle Ray at this beach.
I also have seen lots of Green Sea Turtles (they’re around lots of western beaches)
4) Palauea Beach
No facilities, but great snorkeling. Quiet beach. You have to walk through a small forest to get to the water.
This photo was taken from the northern end of the beach out in the water of course. Lots of fish!
My favorite northern Maui beaches for snorkeling:
1) Kahekili Beach Park
Just a little north of Black Rock (you can see Black Rock sticking out in the photo below).
Has bathrooms, showers, plenty of parking. Gentle slope into the water which continues into the ocean. Lots of fish. The water was very clear when we were there. We visited twice during one trip since we enjoyed it so much.
2) Kapalua Beach
Can get crowded. Has bathrooms, showers. Gentle slope into the water but very deep in the middle of the bay. Great beach to bring the kids, nice sand, etc.
NA) Honolua Bay
I snorkeled here on our last trip. Park up on the road and spend a few mins walking through the dense forest. No facilities.
Entrance to the water is very murky. In fact, it was disgusting. When snorkeling from the shore you must swim through near zero visibility, through leaves and brown debris for about 50 yards. At that point it starts to clear up. After about 75-100 yards from shore (where the boat is in the picture below) it’s really clear. Saw some fish. Nice coral but I dreaded finding my way back to the beach.
You can kinda see a line in the photo below that deliniates the sludge. It is natural debris, but still murky.
Here’s some other Honolua Bay pictures.
NA) Black Rock / Ka’anapali Beach
This is probably my least liked beaches for snorkeling. It’s good for beginners and kids but after a few minutes of bumping into other snorkelers you’ll be looking for a less crowded beach.
Here’s some Black Rock pictures.