2020 Shaka List: 25 Reasons to Love Maui

SHAKA: [shah-kah] noun 1. Extension of thumb and pinkie to form a “Y”; 2. A gesture conveying a quintessentially Hawaiian greeting, a sign of friendly intent. (See also: “Hang loose.”)

Jaws surf wave
Photo by Bob Bangerter


A few times a year, sea conditions converge to create a massive surf break at Pe‘ahi, known around the world as Jaws. In the predawn hours, jittery surfers wax boards and ready their jet skis, helicopters zoom in for jaw-dropping shots, and thundering waves pound the coastline, audible to those still in their beds miles away.



In autumn, reddish-orange globes ripen in the orchards along Pūlehuiki Road in Upcountry Kula. Shinichi Hashimoto planted persimmons here more than 100 years ago; his trees still bear sweet fruit. Buy a box of the family farm’s crunchy fuyu persimmons, but save room for a few plump hachiya. When ripe, these flamecolored softballs dissolve into delectable jelly.

Kuia Maui Chocolate
Photo by Ku‘ia Chocolate


When Gunars Valkirs planted a cacao farm in Lahaina, and later opened a chocolate factory, few knew how much sweet charity the CEO of Maui Ku‘ia Estate Chocolate had in mind. When the pandemic changed things, so did Ku‘ia. If you visit its website (MauiChocolate.com) and click on “Chocolate Laulima,” a list of nonprofits drops down. Choose one you’d like to help, order $100’s worth of chocolate, and Ku‘ia will ship the chocolates and write the nonprofit a check for 40 percent of the sales. For more information, visit MauiMagazine.net/kuia-estate-chocolate.

Maui Oheo Gulch
Photo by Chris Archer


After a good rain, East Maui overflows with waterfalls. Some plummet 400 feet over fern-filled ledges, sending a halo of mist rising from wet rocks. Others trickle softly into deep jadeite pools. Hawaiian mo‘o (lizard deities) are said to protect these freshwater tributaries, which can swell to raging rivers during flash floods. If you choose to enter the mo‘o’s domain, do so with respect and common sense.

wing surfing maui
Photo by Fish Bowl Diaries


Wing surfing may be relatively new, but the sport is taking off. “The technology came from kite-surfing,” says Audrey Davis, of Naish, “but wing surfing is much friendlier. You can learn it fairly quickly, and the equipment is minimal: grab your [inflatable sail] and your foilboard or SUP, and you are good to go.” Because it requires far less ocean space than kiting, she adds, “wing surfing can be done just about anywhere and in any strength of wind.” As SurferToday notes, “It’s all about carving around [and] having fun.”


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