On The Road - Maui
Maui Is More Than Just A Pretty Face
By: Jules E. Beuck and Rose Botkin-Beuck
Photos by: Rose Botkin-Beuck
When Hawaii is mentioned some of the things that immediately come to mind
include sun, surf and sand. In our never ending search to bring our readers
the information they need when planning a trip around the block or around
the world we dragged ourselves over to Maui. Maui is a gorgeous island, but
it is more than just another pretty face. We will now let you know what you
can do in addition to taking advantage of the sun, surf and sand.
We spent much of our time on the Western shore of Maui. There you tend to
find yourself in the city of Lahaina. This is a town that reminded us a lot
of the city of Avalon on Catalina Island (this is not a bad thing). There
are a number of shops and bistros for folks to spend their money. There is
also a pier where from various excursion tours leave.
One of the first things we did was take a ride on a submarine. Atlantis
Submarine runs continuous tours from Lahaina Harbor. Now this is not a
semi-submersible sub (although that is offered in Lahaina as well), but an
actual submarine that totally submerges and takes you on a tour of the
bottom of the Pacific Ocean. You board a water shuttle at the harbor and are
taken out to meet the sub. The shuttle rendezvous with a tugboat that acts
as a stabilizing anchor for the sub. In this way it is easier for customers
to access the submarine.
You have to be able to climb down and up a ladder to access the sub. When
fully loaded, the submarine submerges 135 feet and travels the ocean bottom.
We saw many species of fish from the sub's port hole windows. Every person
has a window seat and we were able to take good pictures through the window.
A guide narrates and describes what is being seen. If you get to sit forward
enough, you can look out the captain's window as well as the window in front
of you. One of the things we found out is that nautical predators use the
sub as a shield so that their prey will not be able to detect them until it
is too late.
Atlantis Submarine owns a sunken ship and the sub took us over to see it. It
was very interesting to see how many fish have taken up residence in the
The submarine is run on electric batteries so there is no polluting of the
ocean. The experience was very cool, we highly recommend it and it is one we
would love to repeat. Find out more at
www.atlantisadventures.com or call (808) 973-9815.
After getting off the submarine we walked around Lahaina's Front Street. We
stopped in at the Lahaina Heritage Museum located in the Old Lahaina
Courthouse. The museum has the original Hawaiian flag that was taken down
when Hawaii became a US territory. It had been saved by the postmaster on
duty at the time and was returned to Lahaina in the 1950s by the
postmaster's son. There are a number of exhibits on the history of Hawaii
and Lahaina in particular. In back of the museum is part of the foundation
of an old fort and many cannons that were scavenged from sunken ships and
used to defend the island.
In front of the museum is a Banyan tree that is 123 years old. With the care
and help of local residents it has grown to become very large and intricate.
We cannot describe it in enough detail to give it justice. Sufficient to say
that it is very impressive to view. Admission to the museum is free and
hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Those are some of the things you can do in Lahaina during the day. Now let
us move on to things to do at night. Lahaina is not one of those towns where
the streets are rolled up at dusk, there are plenty of places to eat and
enjoy nightlife. Many of the usual restaurant chains are located in Lahaina
so if you are looking for something familiar there is much from which to
However, if you are looking for something that is unique to the island, then
David Paul's Lahaina Grill is the place for you. This upscale bistro opened
in 1990 with 55 seats, it now sports 155 seats. The tables are set with
linen tablecloths that are themselves covered with butcher block paper. The
lighting is muted and impressionistic paintings line the walls. A bar area
is in the front while you wait for your table and there is a pastry bar in
Hot sourdough rolls and garlic butter are brought to the table as you try to
decide what to order.
We started our meal with a Dungeness crab and tiger prawn cocktail that was
just superb. The cocktail sauce was a bit spicy but worth it. For our main
dishes we ordered Kona coffee-roasted rack of lamb and steak Christian.
The steak Christian is a filet topped with a potato wrapped prawn served on
top of garlic infused mashed potatoes. The steak was tender and delicious
and the mashed potatoes definitely added to the meal.
The rack of lamb was tender and also served on the garlic mashed potatoes.
Both meals were garnished with steamed carrots and asparagus.
For dessert we had the sorbet sampler (three types of sorbet whose flavors
are regularly rotated) and the turtle caramel cluster ice cream, which is
served in a twill almond cookie cup.
We do not drink alcohol, but for those who do there are two wine lists and
there is a sommelier on hand to help with your selection.
Our experience at David Paul's was a good one and one we recommend. Go to
www.lahainagrill.com or call (800) 360-2606 for more information.
We also caught a very unique show in Lahaina called "Ulalena." Put together
with the help of the folks at Cirqué du Soleil, "Ulalena" combines
Polynesian entertainment with Cirqué du Soleil panache. The show blends
Hawaiian myth with Hawaiian history as it tells the story of the island of
Maui with acrobatics, music and dance.
The stage is equipped with elevators and a turntable to move the actors
around. The narration is in English but most of the singing is in Polynesian
dialects. There are numerous costume changes and props.
At one point a rainforest comes to life to perform as a percussion
ensemble. There is visual humor, such as when the half hog Kamapua relentlessly
pursues the volcano goddess Pele and seriousness when the island natives are
introduced to firearms by Captain Cook.
"Ulalena" is educational about Hawaii in general and Maui in particular, in
ways that a traditional Luau could never be. It is not as busy as a usual
Cirqué show but in some ways this enhances the show. The show is presented
Tuesday through Saturday at 6:30 p.m. It runs a quick 75 minutes. Call toll
free (877) 688-4800 or go to their Web site at
This only scratches the surface of what Lahaina has to offer, but that is
for our next visit.
Not all of our time on Maui was spent on Lahaina. One day we decided to turn
our rental car south and explore some of what Maui has to offer besides
Lahaina. Maui's highways are basically two lane affairs with plenty of
stoplights, so if you have the need for speed Maui is not the place for you
(at least not on land). However, there is lots of beautiful scenery as you
pass the ocean on one side and mountains on the other. Driving in Maui kind
of reminded us of traveling Highway 1.
Our first stop on our jaunt was the Maui Ocean Center in Wailuku. As its
name implies the Maui Ocean Center is an aquarium dedicated to the marine
life of the Hawaiian Islands. The Center opened in 1998 and has continued to
expand its offerings ever since.
At the Center you will find exhibits such as the Living Reef and Hammerhead
Harbor. In the Open Ocean exhibit there is an acrylic tunnel where you can
look into a tropical tank and watch as sharks and giant rays float over your
head, similar to Shark Encounters at SeaWorld. This was the first time we
had actually gotten to see a ray from underneath. The Center has a special
offer for certified scuba divers. For a fee, divers get to dive into the
750,000 gallon Open Ocean tank and swim with the sharks and rays. This is a
chance to swim with marine life not often seen when diving in the ocean.
Family members can watch the divers in action from the tunnel. You never
know what animals will be in the tank, as the Center constantly rotates
animals back to the ocean.
One exhibit we particularly enjoyed was Turtle Lagoon. Here green sea
turtles on loan from the Center on Oahu swim in a viewing tank that allows
visitors to watch the turtles on top of the tank or through a view window as
they dive to the bottom of the tank. This exhibit is part of a hatch and
release program where these magnificent creatures will be released back into
There are two restaurants at the center. The Seascape Ma'alaea Restaurant
has a varied menu that runs from Cajun seared ahi to fettuccine carbonara.
You can enter the restaurant from inside or outside the park. For quick take
out there is the Reef Café.
Between SeaWorld, the Long Beach Aquarium and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, we
in California are kind of spoiled when it comes to venues of this type. The
Maui Ocean Center still has enough unique exhibits that a visit there would
be worthwhile. For a $2 rental fee, you can get a digital audio guide that
will narrate information on what you are looking at. We took advantage of
the guide and found it quite helpful.
For more information on the Maui Ocean Center go to their Web site at
www.mauioceancenter.com or call (808) 270-7000. It is open every day
from 9 a.m. Closing hours vary by season.
After the Maui Ocean Center we drove over to the Lao Valley State Park. At
this park you can take a walk to view some of the waterfalls for which
Hawaii is famous. It was raining the day we got there, so we did not feel
comfortable taking the walk because we were not sure of our footing so our
stay at the park was short. We did get to see some interesting rapids
From the State Park we went to the Maui Tropical Plantation. Here we got to
take a tram ride through this plantation where they have a small field of
most of the money crops of Hawaii such as papaya, guava, mango, macadamia
nuts, coffee, avocado, bananas and sugar cane. There was even a coconut
husking demonstration in the middle of the tour. The driver explained what
the crops were and their history in Hawaii.
Also at the Plantation are two spider monkeys. It was never explained to us
what the significance of the monkeys to the plantation was. Only one was out
the day we were there, but it was very active and quite entertaining. It
seemed to like the attention.
You can learn more about the Maui Tropical Plantation at their Web site
www.mauitropicalplantation.com or by calling (800) 451-6805. We thought
the plantation was cool and will go back should we get back to Maui again.
After a day as busy as that we were tired so it was back to the hotel to sit
by the beach and watch the sunset.
Now we would like to tell you about some adventures in the air and on water,
as well as a traditional (at least for tourists) luau we attended.
Let us start with our adventure on the water. We have mentioned the
beautiful sunsets on Maui. We thought it would be cool to check one out
while on the water. Consequently, we found ourselves at the Kaanapali Beach
Hotel to catch the Trilogy Excursions Sunset Sail. Unfortunately for us we
picked a night that was overcast with choppy water.
However, in the tradition of the show must go on we still got a twilight
cruise even though there was no real sunset to be seen. Trilogy Excursions
works hard to give a complete experience. Included in the ticket price is a
two hour ride on a 54-foot catamaran, hot and cold appetizers (there was
enough for us to actually make a dinner out of what was offered), cold
beverages and filtered water.
The ride was rather bumpy, in fact it kind of felt like a two-hour roller
coaster ride. Fortunately, the sky was clear enough to be able to enjoy the
scenery of the islands that were visible. For those brave enough there were
a couple of trampolines on the catamaran for folks to stretch out on as they
enjoyed the ride.
The staff was friendly and courteous and answered all questions put to them.
We found the experience to be a fun one and one we would not mind repeating
(hopefully on a day with smooth waters and a gorgeous sunset). Trilogy
Excursions offers a number of sailing tours in addition to the sunset sail.
Go to their Web site at
www.sailtrilogy.com where they have some Web specials or call (888)
Our adventure in the air was courtesy of Alex Air. Alex Air has been in
business for more than 35 years and offers helicopter tours of Maui and
surrounding islands. The helicopters seat about five or six passengers. Alex
Air provides headsets that not only let you hear the pilot's narration about
the facts, history and legends of what is being flown over, but also allows
the passengers to interrupt and ask questions (which were always answered
The day we took the tour we were supposed to fly over Maui's volcanoes and
east end but (again) Mother Nature was not with us, as it was cloudy and
overcast. Consequently, our pilot took us over the west end and Molokai'i.
He was able to fly in close to waterfalls that might otherwise be seen from
a distance or only be reached by a day's hike. He took us over spots that
had been used in the making of "Jurassic Park" and other movies that had
been filmed on Maui or Molokai'i. At the end of the tour we were given a
video of Maui as seen from their helicopters. For your own Maui adventure in
the air go to their Web site at
www.helitour.com or call (808) 871-0792.
On our last night on Maui we took in the Drums of the Pacific Luau and Show.
The show featured traditional Hawaiian dancing and presentations such as
fire eating and dancing. The unearthing of the luau pig and tiki lighting
were demonstrated. The plentiful buffet not only had shredded pork, but beef
and chicken as well (not to mention the ever-present poi). There were
samples of songs and dances from such Polynesian cultures as Samoan, Fijian,
Tahitian, Tongan, Maori and, of course, Hawaiian. This show is at the Maui
Hyatt Regency. Call (808) 661-1234 or go to their Web site at
www.maui.hyatt.com for more information on the luau.
One place we wanted to get to but ran out of time for was Ali'i Kula
Lavender. This is the only place in the world that has certain types of
Lavender that bloom all year round.
"People want to see, touch and learn about Lavender," says owner Ali'i
Chang, the Lavender Engineer. "Lavender is kind of mystical and mysterious
to many. We've found that people are interested in learning about lavender,
and began offering Garden Tea Tours and Garden Culinary Luncheon Tours as
part of our agricultural operation to educate the public of its uses. We
currently have over 45 different varieties of lavender."
The farm offers walking tours - often led by Ali'i himself - that begin with
lavender tea and lavender scones (custom lunches for individuals or groups
also are offered, as are wreath making tours). Call (808) 878-8090 or point
your browser at
www.aliikulalavender.com for more information.
That covers Maui but we did leave Maui for a fun day on the island of
It is no secret that the islands of Hawaii are popular vacation
destinations. People love to go there but when they come back they often
bemoan the fact that Hawaii is getting too built up and commercial.
Molokai'i is still unspoiled and charming while offering all that lures
people to visit Hawaii.
Molokai'i can be reached by either island hopping from Maui or O'ahu or by
ferryboat from either island. We took the Molokai'i Princess from Lahaina
Harbor on Maui. The seas were pretty rough but it was still a fun ride and
on our way back to Maui we actually saw a rainbow over the ocean.
While on Molokai'i we visited the Coffees of Hawaii coffee plantation where
we picked up some souvenirs for friends back home and walked a huge white
sand beach. We had the whole beach to ourselves and were amazed at this
beautiful spot that goes unused and unappreciated.
At the Molokai'i post office we were able to "post-a-nut." You are actually
able to mail coconuts from this post office. We mailed three, including one
Molokai'i has a lot of historical significance. For example, formerly a
leper colony where the famous Father Damien resided, Kalaupapa is now a
National Historic Site and still home to the few former patients who chose
to remain there. Access is, by law, strictly regulated to those 16 and
older, and only permitted if invited by a resident or by tour via Damien
Tours of Kalaupapa. This is something we left for when we return. For more
information, visit the National Park Service's Web site
Molokai'i is home to the only barrier reef north of Australia. It
also sports the highest sea cliffs and numerous waterfalls.
There is an annual hula festival as the island is considered the place where
hula dancing was invented.
We did not stay overnight on Molokai'i, but checked out a couple of places
to do so for when we return. The Lodge at Molokai'i Ranch is a member of the
Small Luxury Hotels of the World. It looks like a ski lodge that slid down
the hill to a beach. It is very elegant. It will provide you with all the
luxury you can handle.
We also visited Hotel Molokai'i. At Hotel Molokai'i we enjoyed lunch and
found that this facility with A-frame cabanas gives the full Hawaiian
experience without taking a big bite out of your wallet. There are
traditional luaus, free Hawaiian entertainment, a gorgeous beach, full
service restaurant and concierge service, outdoor pool, and hammocks on the
beach. Go to their Web site at
www.hotelmolokai.com for more information.
On Molokai'i you can golf, surf or do any of the things that you go to
Hawaii for without feeling that you are being squeezed out. Driving the
island is a breeze because there are no stoplights.
Molokai'i is a Hawaiian hidden treasure that will take you back to a Hawaii
unspoiled by time. For more information about Molokai'i contact the
Molokai'i Visitors Association at (808) 553-3876 or at www.molokai-hawaii.com.
The trip definitely rocked and like all good trips it left us
wanting to go back for more.