2015 Shaka List

20 Things We Love About Maui


Story by Shannon Wianecki

Maui is the Goldilocks of islands. Not too hot, too cold, too quiet, or too chaotic . . . just right. Whatever climate or stimulation you crave, you can find it here, somewhere between the sea and summit. In the morning, you can dig your toes into mud while chasing waterfalls and still clean up in time to dine beside celebrities in Wailea. You can drop off the map on a Kahakuloa taro farm owned by a Grammy Award-winning guitarist. You can bodysurf on an empty beach and later squeeze in beside multitudes to watch a movie under the stars. You can string together a thousand perfect Maui days without trying very hard.

Every year, Maui No Ka ‘Oi shines a spotlight on the details that distinguish this paradise. For every item on this list, twenty more wait in the wings, ready to woo you.

Kiwikiu birds

1. Kiwikiu
The saffron Maui parrotbill is endemic to the Valley Isle; it exists nowhere else on Earth. Its recently given name, kiwikiu, is both onomatopoeic — sounding like the bird’s chipper call — and a blend of the Hawaiian words kiwi (curved — like its beak) and kiu, referring to the cold, brisk kiukiu breeze that blows across the forests above Makawao, where the bird lives. The chivalrous parrotbill woos its mate with worms and grubs. Only around 500 of these distinctive honeycreepers remain in East Maui’s remote rainforest. Let’s cherish every one by supporting the Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project’s habitat restoration efforts. Photo by Mike Neal

Paiai2. Pa‘i‘ai
Sticky and super nutritious, this Hawaiian snack (pronounced pa-ee-eye) is the precursor to poi. It’s made from hand-pounded taro, has the consistency of mochi, and tastes like earthy, toothsome love. Get yours from Noho‘ana Farm in Waikapu. Photo by Jason Moore

Jaws surfing Maui

3. Jaws
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. Photo by Bob Bangerter

Iao Theater Maui4. Historic ‘Iao Theater
A relic from the Roaring Twenties, Iao Theater is the state’s oldest playhouse. Over the years, everyone from Frank Sinatra to Bob Hope graced its stage. Today it’s the home of Maui OnStage, the community theater troupe responsible for rousing productions of Chicago and Annie Get Your Gun. Rumors claim it’s also home to a benevolent ghost named Emma. Illustration by Matt Foster

Waihee Ridge Trail Maui

5. Waihe‘e Ridge Trail
Yellow and salmon ‘ohi‘a blossoms decorate this steep, uphill slog. Huff and puff your way to the top for dizzying views of Central Maui, and, when the clouds part, the wild heart of West Maui’s mountain, Mauna Kahalawai. (Read more about it in “Trial by Trail,” MNKO V16 N4.) Photo by Conn Brattain

coming home to Maui

6. Coming home to Maui
When the pilot announces the plane’s descent, locals begin shedding layers: off come the coats, scarves, and socks. The plane roars to a stop a few lengths short of Stable Road Beach, and all feels right with the world. Photo by John Giordani

Pardee & Betsey Erdman7. Pardee and Betsy Erdman
For more than fifty years the Erdmans have proved the best neighbors one could hope for — running a sustainable cattle ranch, supporting local farms, fighting invasive species, and sponsoring the restoration of rare native forest — all on their own dime. When Hurricane Iselle blasted through their ranch, they revved up their chainsaws, and kept working. We tip our hat to the Erdmans’ generosity, integrity, and resilience. Photo courtesy of Sempra U.S. Gas & Power

RadioPio Maui8. radiOpio
From the tiny tower atop the Pa‘ia Youth & Cultural Center, aspiring disc jockeys broadcast commercial-free radio. Turns out these ‘opio (youngsters) have sophisticated taste: tune in to 88.9 FM for everything from punk rock to samba and soul. Photo by Nina Kuna

maui artmixx

9. ArtMixx
What happens when a new wave of young artists takes over the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s amphitheater and gallery? Free parties with interactive art, fire dancing, futuristic fashion, and mind-bending projection mapping — the creative medium of Maui’s avant-garde. Photo by Ben Ferrari

Hana Relay Maui

10. Hāna Relay
Why run in athletic shorts when you can wear a tutu or a spacesuit? For forty-four years, the Valley Isle Road Runners have sponsored the most entertaining relay race in the Pacific. Competitors sport themed costumes and pound fifty-two miles of pavement from Kahului Airport to shady Hana, where the after party lasts well into the next day. Photos by Sue Hudelson

Buddha in Lahaina Maui

11. Lahaina Jodo Mission Buddha
The first Japanese nationals arrived in Hawai‘i in 1868. One hundred years later, a twelve-foot-tall Buddha followed, to commemorate the issei (first wave of immigrants) and their descendants. The three-and-a-half-ton statue sits with its back to the West Maui Mountains, gazing serenely at the gilded Pacific. Photo by Eric Olbrich

turtles at Hookipa Beach Park on Maui

12. Honu at Ho‘okipa
In recent years, green sea turtles (honu) have returned to the east edge of Ho‘okipa Beach to bask — right where surfers dash into swells and keiki (kids) build sandcastles. Why did these salty, stoic reptiles choose such a busy stretch of sand for their naps? We don’t know, but we’re delighted and give them ample room. Photo by Andrew Shoemaker

Dinner at Humuhumunukunukuapua‘a

13. Ka Malama dinner at Humuhumunukunukuapua‘a
The third Thursday of every month, Chef Mike Lofaro and Hawaiian Cultural Ambassador Kainoa Horcajo serve a five-course foraged meal inspired by the Hawaiian moon calendar. Guests feast on ‘opihi (limpets), akule (scad), limu (seaweed), and other local delicacies done up in gourmet style. Photo courtesy of Grand Wailea

Menehune Mayhem14. Menehune Mayhem
Big wave bomber Ian Walsh’s annual keiki surf contest is more than just a chance for groms to show off their sickest tricks. The all-day celebration features surfboard-shaping workshops, scavenger hunts, taiko drumming, and prizes for scholastic achievement. A+++ Illustration by Matt Foster

Ulalena rain15. ‘Ulalena rain
Borne on a twilight wind, this golden-red mist moistens fields from Pi‘iholo to Hamakuapoko. Photo by Conn Brattain

Drive in movies in Maui

16. Hali‘imaile movie night
On certain Saturday nights, Maui’s former film commissioner, Harry Donenfeld, transforms Hali‘imaile Distillery into a DIY drive-in movie theater. Free family fun! BYOP — bring your own popcorn. Check the distillery’s Facebook page for info. Photo by Harry Donenfeld

Haleakala snow

17. Haleakala snow
Every so often, a dusting of white cloaks the 10,023-foot summit: proof that Poli‘ahu, the Hawaiian snow goddess, has come to play with her younger sister Lilinoe, goddess of mist and rain. The snow predictably melts by midday — but if you’re quick, you may catch sight of the sisters sledding. Painting by Linda Rowell Stevens

maui scooter dives

18. Scooter dives
Maui Dreams Dive Company rents underwater scooters — all you really need to feel like a Navy SEAL or secret submarine agent. Grab hold of one and shoot across the sea floor to investigate sunken ships, frogfish, and sea stars. Photo courtesy of Maui Dreams Dive Company

Lee Cataluna19. Lee Cataluna
Eh, Lee. Why you wen’ talk about us? No ack. We know. We recka-nize ourselves in your award-winning columns, books, and plays — ‘specially Folks You Meet in Long’s, and your hi-lar-i-ous novel Three Years on Doreen’s Sofa. Some smaht you are, coming from Wailuku. Eh, Lee. We proud.

Maui roadside fish for sale

20. Roadside fish for sale
Fresh ‘ahi, dried aku. Local fishermen hook us up. Photo by John Giordani


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