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Adventures on Maui

Adventures on Maui

Ahh finally, you’ve landed, now what to do? So many exciting adventures on Maui, do you swim, surf, ride bikes, go whale watching, snuba or just hit the bars and restaurants? Your head is spinning. You have to sit down.

You’re in a condo in Kihei in Magic Maui (thank you Homey Hawaii) ready to discover why they say the Hawaiian phrase, Maui no ka ‘oi, Maui is the best. You wonder a moment that the Hawaiian word for ‘best’ is ‘no’. The language doesn’t make sense.

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You saw the Hawaiian word ‘mahalo’ (mah-haw’-low) on the trashcans and thought it meant ‘trash’. Imagine your surprise when you found out it means ‘thank you’, that is thanking you for putting rubbish in the can. You’re stalling, you really have to do something today. You spent a fortune getting here and the credit card is itching in your pocket.

You’re in Kihei, on Maui sunny South Shore, and can look out and see three islands floating offshore. Off to your right in the distance is Lanai, the pineapple island, out in front is Kahoolawe, the scruffy target island and not far away is the half-moon atoll called Molokini, the snorkel island (this writer just made up that name), because it’s a perfect lagoon for snorkeling. You can barely see the catamarans and snorkelers from your balcony.

Adventures on Maui - snorkeling Molokini crater
Snorkeling Molokini crater; photo by Allie Caulfield

Check your options for Maui Snorkeling Trips.

Palm trees sway in the park across the street, Kalama Park, where outside you see fifty surfers and stand up paddlers flailing around in the 1 foot waves. It looks easy enough and fun so there’s your cue – you want to go surfing! You are in luck because within one block of your condo are two surfboard rental places that, lucky for you, give surfing lessons. So you are off!

Surfer standing on the board - Kihei, Maui
Photo by Kirt Edblom

Experience the thrill of riding waves with group and private Kihei Surf Lessons.

It was grand feeling the wave lift you up as you stood up and flew across. It let go of all your foggy thoughts and as you dried off on shore you felt clear and everything was new! What a sport, more like a religion or therapy.

Once at home that night, you fall asleep to the light sound of traffic on Kihei Road but the fresh, warm, salty breeze flowing in your window makes up for it. You wake up the next morning and a rush of adventure sweeps into you. Time for something more epic than 1 foot waves, time to see what that gigantic mountain rising behind your condo is about.

Adventures on Haleakala

You know it’s called Haleakala, Hale (Haw’-lay) meaning ‘house’ , ‘a’ (ah), ‘of’ and kala (kah-lah’) the sun, House of the Sun. And you read the story of the god Maui who roped and slowed down the sun so his mother could have more sunlight to dry her kapa (kah’-pah, sometimes called tapa) cloth. According to the legend, long ago the sun raced across the sky too fast to get a tan or dry your clothes. Maui roped it and made the sun promise to slow down half-the year in the summer, so that’s why the days are longer in the summertime. Cool.

Back to Haleakala. It rises just above 10,000 feet high. It’s a dormant shield volcano that last erupted in 1790, and besides being an awesome wonder of the world, it gives people at least 2 great Maui adventures.

Haleakala is a shield volcano that forms South Maui. It's dormant; last eruption was around 1790.

The first is the world-famous sunrise or sunset at the summit – you might do this one day you’re here. You check the internet on your smart phone and see that there are tour companies that carry you to the top of the mountain at 5 in the morning where you witness the breathtaking spectacle of the blazing pink and gold sunrise from the Haleakala summit. Many come to Maui just for this moment.

You note the tour companies and think you might brave it later in the week. Right now you’re looking at the second adventure on the great mountain, where you coast for miles down the dazzling slopes on a bicycle. Wow! That sounds good. You call your friends on Maui, or if they’re not home you go for it yourself.

The tour company picks you up at your condo, drives you and a rented bike up the winding slopes to the summit and there you push off on your expensive, safe bike and glide freely down the winding paved road, you go for miles, wind in your face, smiling wide at the easy slopes leading to the Maui towns far below.

Go at your own pace; photo by Ken Lund

It is a thrill! You’re so glad you went for it.

For two days, you’ve had two adventures on Maui, you feel like a kamaaina (kah’ma eye’-nah) local person. But actually until you’ve been in the islands awhile you’re still a malahini (mah’ law-heen’-ay) newcomer. But you feel like a local. What’s next? You’re raring to go! How ’bout something new and original.

You’ve heard about that fun, underwater activity called Snuba. Snorkeling and Scuba put together = snuba, where you swim underwater and walk on the seafloor breathing through a long hose attached to air on a boat. You can snuba dive without the tanks and the training, just jump right in and glide into the deep.

Snorkeling and Scuba put together = snuba, where you swim underwater and walk on the seafloor breathing through a long hose attached to air on a boat.

Sounds wild, you tap your smart phone and book the best snuba tour on Maui.

And now you are underwater, dazzzling tropical fish glide by, yellow tangs, silver pipe fish and the world famous Humuhumunukunuku apuaa, the state fish of Hawaii. If you can pronounce this you are a kamaaina. You are flying underwater, yesterday you flew across the waves. You’re a regular superman or superwoman.

Hawaii State Fish - Humuhumu nukunuku apua'a
Hawaii State Fish – Humuhumu nukunuku apua’a

Now it’s time to head back to the condo to do some serious relaxing. To do this you need 3 things: your t.v. remote, food and drink. The remote is already there so it’s food and drink to pick up. And why not be a kamaaina and eat some Hawaiian or local food.

Food adventures on Maui

You head to Foodland in Kihei or Safeway or any store. You feel brave so you pick up some raw fish, not really regular fish but soft Ahi (a kind of tuna). Get a slice and sear it real quick on each side or get Ahi cut in little chunks called Poke (Po’-kay). It’s marinated in shoyu (local soy sauce) and seaweed. You might pick up a packet of Wasabi green hot stuff, mix it with shoyu (soy sauce) put it on the Poke and it tastes great.

Poke means ‘to slice or cut’ in Hawaiian. While it’s usually prepared with Ahi, it can also be made from other raw fish, shrimps, seaweed. Most Hawaii supermarkets have from 7 to 15 kinds of poke. Ahi Poke Shoyu, Tako Poke Kim Chee, Shrimp Garlic Poke, Tako Poke Onion, Tako Poke Limu, Ahi Poke Limu, Ahi Poke Garlic, etc. – all with different umami sauces.

Most Hawaii supermarkets have from 7 to 15 kinds of poke, tossed with umami-packed sauces.
Poke display in a supermarket; photo by Falco Ermert

You could pick up some Lau Lau, wonderful chunks of sweet wild pig wrapped in ti leaves and spinach. Warm it up at home and dig into it with your fingers and it will be so ono, a much-used word meaning delicious. Try some cone sushi, sweet rice sushi, or maki (mah’kee) sushi, rice wrapped in black seaweed.

You HAVE to get a bag of Maui Potato Chips, famous chips, real crispy, salty and ono. If you want to be real local get some lomi lomi salmon, and if you are really brave get some poi. You scoop it in your fingers and get ready to cringe, but don’t worry, after a few bites you still won’t like it. You have to be born here to like it.

A bowl of poi in the center of the table, surrounded by other dishes; Hawaii
A bowl of poi; photo by Gregg Tavares

But it’s worth a try, to tell the folks back home you tried it.

Your drinks are up to you. That’s another phrase they use a lot in Hawaii, ‘up to you’. Nobody wants to make the decision on things so to be polite on any question they always say, “up to you”.

Now you are back at the condo, you spread out the kau kau (cow’cow’) Hawaiian for a regular meal, pupu (as you know) is Hawaiian for snacks. It’s on the t.v. tray. You pop open a beer, have a glass of wine or just a soda, (soda is the local word, not pop or soda pop, just soda). You click on the t.v. and maybe watch the local tourist channel to get more ideas for adventures on Maui. There’s a show called Soul Surfers with scenes of surfers riding the big waves. You can watch Hawaii 5-0 and Magnum P.I. To get in the Island mood.

A morning walk

One of the best things to do on Maui is to wake up early and take a walk. Mornings are almost always bright and golden, and warm. The air is fragrant with plumerias and salt air. You look out at the ocean and see the islands and you know you are not in Kansas or L.A. anymore. So tropical! The big long, expensive flight was worth it.

Walking the dog Maui style; Photo by Kirt Edblom

As you walk from your condo in Kihei You will see a combination of people from sleek joggers to wandering tourists to scraggly street people, many surfers are clacking by on skateboards. You will see families, moms, dads and kids, struggling across the street carrying long surfboards.

After your walk you sit on a bench facing the sea, in front of you are surfers, stand-up paddlers, a wide blue ocean with a catamaran heading for Lanai. You see a giant whale breach and splash down. You smile wide and breathe in the cool morning air and so relaxed now, you finally know why Maui is the best, Maui no ka ‘oi.

Adventures on Maui: in front of you are surfers, stand-up paddlers, a wide blue ocean with a catamaran heading for Lanai. You see a giant whale breach and splash down. You smile wide, you finally know why Maui is the best, Maui no ka 'oi.

3 thoughts on “Adventures on Maui

  1. Wow! I have been to Maui, lived there for a time. Now I am stuck on the mainland. This article makes me want to pitch everything and go back! Maui no ka oi–for real!

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