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Report 1896: Two Travellers on Maui, January 25 - Feb 5, 2011

By Doug Phillips from Canada, Winter 2011

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Page 4 of 14: Around West Maui - Thursday, January 27

photo by Doug Phillips

Julia's banana bread stand at Kahakuloa

Maui is basically two dormant volcanoes connected by an isthmus. Most of the western part, the smaller of the two areas, is called West Maui; the larger part includes South Maui, North Maui, Upcountry, and East Maui. Kahului, home to big box stores, auto dealerships and the main airport, is located in the lower, generally flat, isthmus in between. This area, along with a section of the western part is called Central Maui. Outside Kahului the isthmus is dominated by fields of sugar cane. I had thought we might visit Kahului a couple of times during our visit, but I was wrong. Our only connection to Kahului was with the airport on arrival and departure.

Today we drove around West Maui in a clockwise direction, starting a few minutes before 9:00am from Ka'anapali and returning to our base around 4:30pm. We used two resources on our trip - Maui Revealed and some suggestions from our friends.

We toured some of the areas north of Ka'anapali - Honokowai, Kahana, Napili, Kapalua; stopped to see the Dragon's Teeth at Makalua-puna Point, the surfers at Honolua Bay, the Nakalele Blowhole and hiked the Ohai Trail. We admired from the roadside the highly-recommended Olivine Pools, natural lava swimming pools near the ocean's edge. We were not prepared to go swimming today. Maui Revealed extols the virtues of many sites on Maui, but the reader sometimes skips over the part about the challenge of getting to the site. Usually, there is no convenient pathway to ease your journey. The visitor picks his way down from the roadway over and through uneven and descending fields of boulders and outcroppings of solidified lava.

A drive around this part of Maui is a popular activity and you tend to run into the same people at more than one stop. We encountered a young couple from Seattle a couple of times and also met them at a third stop as they were on the way back. They had turned around a few miles up the road where it narrowed to a single lane. Navigating turns and oncoming traffic was too much of a challenge. Both here and on the Road to Hana, there are many accounts of the difficulty of the journey. For example, some tourist literature indicates that the Hana Highway has more than 600 turns. I think a lot of these warnings are exaggerated. Sure the road around West Maui is very narrow in parts and the Road to Hana is winding, but almost everybody is like yourself - a tourist, carefully and slowly, making his/her way along. Locals are pretty easy to spot - their vehicles aren't as clean as your rental and they sit on your tail until they can get around, so pull over a bit at the first opportunity.

A bigger driving challenge would be driving from Lacoste to Lourmarin, through Bonnieux, in the Luberon in the south of France at the height of the tourist season.

Once we reached the narrower section of the road, traffic eased significantly. We paused for a smoothie at the Kauikeolani Lunch Wagon and also stopped to buy some banana bread at Julia's in Kahakuloa; then continued around the island on some very narrow roads until the divided state highway reappeared. While it might be hard to believe, we also got lost for a few minutes trying to figure out how to make our way through Wailuku, the government centre on the island.

Dinner at the Aloha Mixed Plate, a popular, casual and inexpensive restaurant at the northern end of Front Street in Lahaina. We had a great outside table a few steps from the ocean, our server was excellent, but our meal was only mediocre, likely due to our choices. We both selected Hawaiian dishes; the pork was prepared in a style quite different from our experiences and I would like to meet the guy who decided that poi was edible. In fairness, our server warned us about the poi. We would return on a future visit to Maui, but will make different selections.

Next: A Family Reunion

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