Shannon Wianecki | Photography by Jason Moore, Ron Dahlquist, Jack Jeffrey, Rob Ratkowski, Cecilia Fernández
Welcome to Maui No Ka ‘Oi magazine’s first annual guide to what makes our island the very best, the most, the top of the heap. We asked our friends and families to help us name what makes life on Maui so superlative; the resulting compilation—from startling natural wonders to secret spots, treasured recipes and local traditions—revealed just how lucky we are.
Use the following pages like a treasure map to the essence of this irresistible refuge. We whittled our lover’s litany down to thirtyish—some obvious, some whimsical choices—not listed in order of importance. After all, is it really possible to determine whether a Hawaiian honeycreeper ranks higher than a moonbow? We aimed for a balance of the ancient and up-and-coming, the budget-minded and high falutin’. We hope some will be new to you—a chance to fall in love with Maui all over again.
1. Kapalua labyrinth
At the sea’s edge, on the point between D.T. Fleming Beach and Oneloa Bay, take a meditative stroll around the white coral labyrinth. It’s best just before sunset, when the mist rises along the coast. (From the parking lot at the bottom of Office Road in Kapalua, walk along the outside perimeter of the golf course to the ironwood trees. Several paths lead through the trees to the labyrinth.
2. Golden sand
Collect pillow-soft, golden granules between your toes at Makena State Beach Park. Makena, which means “abundance,” offers plenty of sandy real estate for everyone. (Three entrances off Makena Alanui Rd., Makena)
3. Red sand
An unmarked trail skirting Ka‘uiki Hill leads to secluded Kaihalulu (Roaring Sea) Beach. The view is unlike any other in Hawai‘i: coarse red sand washed by crystal-blue waves, the feisty surf kept at bay by a row of jagged black lava rocks. (Follow the trail from Hotel Hana-Maui’s Hauoli St. parking lot, Hana.)
4. Black sand
Let the blustery blowholes, mysterious sea caves, and dramatic black sand at Wai‘anapanapa State Beach Park revive your senses. (Off Hana Hwy., Hana.)
We recycle! Now if we can just get curbside service.
6. Mana‘o Radio
Who can remember what life was like before Barry Shannon and Kathy Collins hit the airwaves? Thanks to the dynamic duo and their dedicated disc jockeys, 91.5 FM broadcasts live jam sessions, Michael McCartney’s Time Machine, Paul Wood’s creatively themed musical musings, Hamish Burgess’ Celtic programs, and some of the funniest public service announcements on air. Commercial free! Hones’ promise, as Collins’s alter ego, Tita, would say.
7. Maui Swap Meet
Dig 50 cents from your coin purse for admission to this part-farmer’s market, part-crafter’s paradise for everything from strawberry guava jam to Hawaiian quilts. Get there by seven sharp—the best flowers and gifts go quickly! (Next to the Kahului Post Office, Pu‘unene Ave., open 7 a.m. to noon every Saturday)
8. Maui Friends of the Library Bookstore
Forget Borders. Next time you need a juicy read, venture past the Pu‘unene Sugar Mill. Follow the enigmatic signs (“BOOKS, THIS WAY”) through once-thriving Pu‘unene, now a ghost town. Behind the old schoolhouse, the volunteer-run bookstore is a jolly, tin-roofed shack filled floor-to-ceiling with books discarded from local libraries. Score dog-eared volumes of Shakespeare, Milton, and the occasional Hawaiian collectible for just 10 cents a pop. Warning: after hunting for rare editions, you may have to chase chickens from the roof of your car.
9. Wo Hing Museum
During the autumn Moon Festival, everyone is invited to nibble on sweet moon cakes (pastries stuffed with black-bean and lotus-seed paste) and place fruits and flowers on the sparkling Taoist altar upstairs. The two-story museum, built in 1912 by Chinese immigrants, hosts annual celebrations encouraging longevity and good luck for all. On any day of the year, duck past the garden’s star-fruit tree to sit beneath antique woks and baskets in the rustic cookhouse-turned-theater. Every 20 minutes a film loop plays footage by Edison, shot in 1898 when his crew came to the Islands. Marvel over black-and-white panoramas showing old-time paniolos (Hawaiian cowboys) wrangling cattle onto ships, and Honolulu’s first electric streetlights. (858 Front St., Lahaina, 661-5553, www.lahainarestoration.org. Open 10-4 daily, admission $1.)
10. Demigod Maui
Unsurprisingly, many Maui residents feel a kinship with our island’s namesake. Idealistic, slightly mischievous, ready for a challenge—he’s just like many of us! We aren’t the only ones smitten with Maui’s supernatural antics—the Maoris, Tahitians, Samoans and Tongans all tell stories of his strength and daring . . . but we can stake special claim. According to legend, Maui and his moon-goddess mother Hina lived at Ka‘uiki in Hana. It was from our peak, Haleakala, that Maui snared the sun. And all summer long, his magic fishhook Manai-i-ka-lani (elsewhere known as the constellation Scorpius) can be viewed high in our sky. Maui used the star-studded fishhook to pull the Hawaiian Islands up from the sea.
11. Drawing Class at Hui No‘eau
Indulge your inner Da Vinci or Degas. Learn to scribble with the pros. At this C.W. Dickey-designed estate, professional artists Kit Gentry and Kirk Kurokawa teach beginning and life-drawing classes. (2841 Baldwin Ave., Makawao, 572-6560, www.huinoeau.com)
12. Bamboo Forest at Waimoku Falls
Follow the mossy boardwalk into the shade of the bamboo forest. Listen to the hollow clatter and whistle of canes knocking together in the wind. Take a refreshing plunge in the amphitheater pool of the thundering, 400-foot- high waterfall. (At ‘Ohe‘o Gulch in Kïpahulu; follow signs from the National Park Service parking lot.)
13. Seed lei
Flower lei may be gorgeous, but lei ‘ano‘ano last longer. Collect and sew your own with help from Laurie Shimizu Ide’s book, Hawaii’s Seeds and Seed Lei.
14. Chez Paul’s créme brûlée
The creamy custard ensconced in a tart pineapple bowl is the exquisite marriage of French and Pacific cuisine. (Chez Paul Restaurant at Olowalu on Honoapi‘ilani Hwy., Lahaina, 661-3843)
15. Spago’s ‘ahi poke cones
No chopsticks necessary. Wrapped in crunchy sesame-miso with a splash of chili aioli and tobiko (flying-fish roe), these handheld appetizers are heaven in a single bite. (Spago at Four Seasons Resort Maui, 879-2999)
16. Pukalani Superette’s Macaroni Salad
This recipe is for 10 pounds—it’s so good, you may actually want that much!
8 pounds cooked ditalini
2 portions* minced carrots
1 portion* minced onion
1 portion* minced celery
12 boiled eggs, minced
1 gallon Best Foods mayo
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 cup sweet relish
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
*One portion equals what can fit in a 24-ounce container.
17. Long’s Drugs
Eh, no pretend. We know you love Long’s, too. Where else can you buy fishing hooks, Hello Kitty pencils, Japanese cucumbers, Spam, and a palaka (cowboy plaid) photo album all in one spot? Maui-born Lee Cataluna even wrote a short story about it, called “Folks You Meet at Long’s,” and she’s a famous playwright. See, no shame. Long’s is the best, even after the aunties come clear out the shelves with their five-for-one coupons for sushi rice and Maui Kookwees. (Maui Mall, Kïhei’s Azeka Place, Lahaina Cannery Mall)
18. Hale o Pi‘ilani at Kahanu Garden
Stand beneath the 50-foot-high exterior wall of Hale o Pi‘ilani to gain a new perspective on Hawaiian architecture. Eight centuries ago, Hawaiians passed rocks hand-to-hand from as far as seven miles away to build this colossal three-acre heiau (religious site). Today the awe-inspiring structure is surrounded by a living museum of hala (pandanus) and ‘ulu (breadfruit) groves maintained by the National Tropical Botanical Garden. In the Polynesian “canoe garden,” the skeletal limbs of ‘awa (kava) and wauke (paper mulberry) whisper ancient secrets to the curious. (Located 1-? miles down Ula‘ino Road, Hana. 248-8912, www.ntbg.org, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Self-guided tour with booklet, $10.)
19. What you’ll see in Kipahulu and why it’s da best:
Waterfalls, Hawaiians on horseback, organic fruit and flower farms.
20. The best thing about Kaupo
is colorful Kaupo Store, Hui Aloha Church, wild cattle, and barn owls.
21. What’s cool about Kahakuloa:
Kalo lo‘i (taro patches), the “famous” banana bread stand, 636-foot-high Kahakuloa rock formation. Also, Bruce Turnbull’s sculpture garden and Karen Noland’s art gallery.
The lone silhouette standing on a surfboard, paddling across the horizon, is poetry in motion—and an increasingly common sight, thanks to Maui’s water giants Dave Kalama and Laird Hamilton. They recently revived interest in paddle-surfing, which may have ancient roots and definitely dates back at least as far as the beach boys of the 1930s. Like Pilates for big-wave surfers, it’s an intense core-muscle workout and offers more speed for catching waves, better views of marine life, and an alternative activity for waveless days.
23. Tamara Catz
Long the darling of celebrities and style mags, Catz’s hand-embellished clothing and accessories are designed on Maui and epitomize chic island life. Filmy cotton slip-dresses embroidered with birds and flowers capture the relaxed elegance and heat of the tropics. At the hip Tamara Catz boutique in Pa‘ia, men can lounge on comfy ottomans while their lady friends try on dazzling, sequined bikinis. (83 Hana Hwy., Pa‘ia 579-9184 www.tamaracatz.com)
24. Massage Schools
Get A-plus treatment for a fraction of the regular price: volunteer your aching muscles to a student practitioner at any one of numerous schools around the island. (Maui School of Therapeutic Massage, 1043 Makawao Ave., Makawao, 572-2277, www.massagemaui.com; and Spa Luna 810 Ha‘iku Rd., Ha‘iku, 575-2440, www.spaluna.com)
25. Luxury spa treatments
You don’t have to be a celebrity on vacation to avail yourself of red-carpet pampering at Maui’s posh resort spas. The best of the best? The Kate Somerville facial at the Four Seasons Resort Maui, the Honua scrub and lomi lomi massage at the Hotel Hana-Maui, and the lavender body-butter wrap at the Westin Ka‘anapali.
26. Native honeycreeper
Can you name this blonde-tufted fellow? Zipping from tree to tree, he sips nectar from ‘ohi‘a blossoms, simultaneously pollinating them with the curled feathers on his crown. Hawaiians, who delighted in wordplay and euphemism, named him ‘akohekohe, in reference to curly hair of, ahem, another sort. Sadly, only around 3,500 crested honeycreepers exist, and the species, dependent on pristine native forest, is presumed extinct on Moloka‘i. Hear the ‘akohekohe sing on the East Maui Watershed Partnership’s website (www.eastmauiwatershed.org). Visit Waikamoi Preserve to experience in the wild.
27. Waikamoi,“the waters of royalty,”
is Maui’s botanical treasure box. In the shade of native koa and ‘ohi‘a trees, tiny emerald ferns unfurl lace-like fronds, pale pink geraniums open amidst a flurry of silver leaves, and scarlet birds flash sickle-moon-shaped beaks. You can visit this magical place, a 5,230-acre Nature Conservancy preserve, on two guided hikes led by Haleakala National Park staff. The “Bird Loop” crosses a verdant gulch, the home of rare Hawaiian honeycreepers and flowering plant species—many of which exist nowhere else on earth. The five-hour “Walk on the Wet Side” descends into dense cloud forest on a steep boardwalk that culminates in an aerie platform—an even better bet for birders. (Bird Loop: Mondays and Thursdays, 8:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Walk on the Wet Side: Third Sunday of every month, 11:45 p.m to 5:30 p.m. Meet at Hosmer’s Grove, just inside the entrance of Haleakala National Park. Call one week in advance. 572-4459, $10 Park entrance fee.)
28. Maui Mokka Coffee
This 1,000-year-old Ethiopian variety nearly went extinct; now it’s grown only here, in Ka‘anapali. Pea-sized beans are packed with hints of chocolate and bright floral notes. (MauiGrown Coffee Company Store, 277 Lahainaluna Rd., Lahaina, 667-2827, www.mauigrowncoffee.com)
29. Makena Landing
Once a thriving port where visiting dignitaries landed and Rose Ranch cattle swam out to ships, it remains one of the island’s best spots to launch a kayak or dive for adventure. Below the surface you’ll see turtles, flying gurnards (pictured above), and even octopus, if you’re stealthy. (Off Makena Road)
30. What’s the worst thing about going to the Mainland? SHOES!
We give going barefoot (or close enough, wearing just slippers) two-toes up.
Outside of Hawai‘i, the silvery arcs are little more than fantastic legends. But as my cousin from Wisconsin can attest, they’re real. On her last visit, she watched the moon rise from her Ma‘alaea condo lanai. “What’s that?” she asked, pointing to a huge, silver bow stretching from the West Maui Mountains midway across Ma‘alaea Bay. Maui doesn’t have the patent on moonbows—but our often-misty, moonlit sky presents a perfect stage for the phenomenon. Your best bet for spying one of these miracles? Take your sweetheart for a drive down Kokomo Road in Ha‘iku on the next full moon. Those lucky enough to catch a double moonbow better pull the car over and kiss.