Pictures, I mean. I suspect that many readers have been somewhere in Hawaiʻi at least once, and may find smiles in the photos. For those who’ve not, or who have but not to Maui, I’ve wrapped some words of advice around the pictures.

Why These Islands? · If you’re on the west coast of North America, it’s a direct 6-hour flight from almost anywhere. From anywhere else in the world, the Caribbean or Bali or Queensland might be a better choice if you’re hungry for sunshine and beaches.

Palm tree in Maui

Every Hawai’ian photoset has to have one of those.

Why This Island? · Maui is just ridiculously nice. It doesn’t have the cosmopolitan intensity of Oahu, the astonishing topography of Kauai, or the wildness, space, and volcano porn of the Big Island. For an adult-only vacation I’d totally recommend the Big Island and/or Oahu; they’re just more interesting.

Palm tree, Venus, and Jupiter

Another palm tree, but the white dots are Venus (brighter) and Jupiter. There’s a reason they put observatories on these islands; get away from the lights and the stars are remarkable.

Especially if you’re bringing kids along, Maui is just the ticket. The weather is usually good, the beaches are first-rate, it’s small enough to be easy to get around, and it’s very, very convenient.

Unspoiled? · Not hardly. You can stay in a concrete tower, shop at chain stores, eat at chain restaurants, and play golf every day on PGA-branded courses among people wearing PGA-branded fashions (who also fill those stores and restaurants). That’s what Kāʻanapali and Wailea are all about. And they’re not terrible to stay in; but you can do better

There are lots of other places — Kihei, Lahaina, and Napili-Honokowai spring to mind — where you can find something at a more human scale.

You can visit Pāʻia, a hippie joint with good shopping, or Pukalani up on the mountainside, or Kepawanai Park in the Iao valley, and I guarantee you won’t see any towering concrete.

In Pāʻia

Window in Pāʻia.

For the 1%? · I don’t think so. If you book ahead, game the airfares, and are willing to stay off-the-beach, there are bargains. You pretty well need a car to get around, but I was shocked by how low the rental rates were, this time around.

Things To Do · Forget it. If you want to Do Things, go to the Big Island. Maui is for lounging by the pool while the kids splash around, or snorkeling slowly, watching sea-turtles.

Well... except for one. I’ve been to Maui quite a few times over the years, and every single time we’ve visited the summit of Haleakalā. I read somewhere that it’s the highest mountain (10,023 feet) in the world that you can drive to the top of; given that, how could one not? It’ll cost you $10 and quite a bit of fuel and on most days you’ll see views that will stay with you forever.

Looking down in Maui from the summit of Haleakalā

One of those views.

Swimming · For me, this is the big thing. I live by the sea but it’s cold here, and for me there’s no greater luxury, absolutely none, than an hour bobbing in the salty waves and doing some low-energy snorkeling. Plus, kids love it.

A kid on a beach on Maui

A kid, loving it.

Maui has surfing beaches and snorkeling beaches and sunbathing beaches and lots of excellent online references to pick them. Having said that, I would totally recommend spending some time at Kapalua beach park, where the parking is free and the snorkeling excellent.

Kapalua beach

Maui beach, late in the day.

Eating and Drinking · A certain proportion of the locals have figured out that there’s good money in growing high-quality organic meats and fruits and vegetables and honeys and coffees and cheeses and jams and spices and selling them to tourists. Works for me, and they’re not exactly hard to find.

It’s like this: At the sort of low-key resorts we favor, there are communal barbecues down by the beach, and toward sunset the Dads assemble there, drinks in hand with kebabs or steaks or chops or fishes on the grill, to talk real estate while cooking and watching the sunset. It’s really not terrible at all.

Some particular recommendations include the Big Swell IPA from Maui Brewing Company (also their brewpubs), the soft cheeses from Surfing Goat Dairy, and many of the beans from The Coffee Store in Napili.

Brewpub lighting fixture

Light fixture at the Maui Brewing Company

While you barbecue and drink, you consider this.

Maui sunset


Contributions

Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Bud Gibson (Mar 24 2012, at 07:32)

I like your closing shot quite a bit as well as the beach scene with the people. It would be interesting to try some higher contrast treatments of that beach scene where you let the people go to black or almost to black, though the image is quite dramatic as it is.

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From: Joel Hoffman (Mar 24 2012, at 08:38)

Actually -- not to disparage Haleakalā, and I'm sure there are others, but you can drive to the top of Pike's Peak, in Colorado, at over 14,000 ft.

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From: Paul Clapham (Mar 24 2012, at 13:13)

Even in the state of Hawaii you can drive to the top of Mauna Kea, which is nearly 14,000 feet.

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From: Larry O'Brien (Mar 24 2012, at 14:14)

Not even the highest mountain in the state you can drive to! Come over the channel to the Big Island and I'll drive you to the entrance and give you a tour of Gemini Observatory, at 13,796'!

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From: Dogen (Mar 24 2012, at 17:44)

You forgot to mention the windsurfing and kitesurfing. Maui is one of a few world-wide Meccas for windsurfers. There's lots of rental gear and reasonably priced vans. It's fabulous. A nice aspect is that the action is mostly on the less crowded side of the island. On my visits there I never go off of the windward side.

Here's a shot:

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/dogen/7012504575/" title="Kanaha Beach Park, Maui by dogenfrost, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7051/7012504575_1dc8f322bf.jpg" width="500" height="375" alt="Kanaha Beach Park, Maui"></a>

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From: Tony (Mar 28 2012, at 05:50)

Great shots and looks like a great location to visit. How about as a place to live?

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From: Doug Cutting (Mar 30 2012, at 11:09)

Haleakala is known to cyclists as the longest paved climb, from Paia, 10,000 feet of climbing over 36 miles.

http://www.strava.com/segments/haleakala-%22world-s-longest-paved-climb%22-638944

https://twitter.com/#!/cutting/statuses/153620924103540737

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March 23, 2012
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