Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Our Lifestyle Adventures: The Fastest-Growing and Dry Side of Maui

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Our Lifestyle Adventures: The Fastest-Growing and Dry Side of Maui

Canoe Club in Kihei Beach
Maui is diverse with many ecosystems in Maui: 1) tropical rainforest that includes the eastern side of Maui’s Head and the area crossed by the Hana Highway, 2) the central area of flat grasslands and 3) the higher temperate zone in Haleakala. The fourth is the dry side comprised of the western part of Maui’s Head, including Lahaina and Kaanapali, and the southwestern shore that includes Kihei, Wailea, and Makena. This post is about the latter.

Beach in Wailea
Kihei was special to Bill, just like Haleakala. When he brought his family to Maui about thirty years ago, they stayed in a small condo unit in this desert side of the island. One of our missions, as we drove Kihei Road was to look for this condo. What he found instead was an unfamiliar place that was dotted by fancy golf courses and luxurious residential subdivisions. Alas, it was impossible to find the condo! After all, this is the fastest growing part of Maui.

Bill at the Big Beach in Makena
The best beaches in Maui are in this area. Kamaole Beach Parks I, II, & III, Keawakapu Beach, Kihei Beach are local favorites but Maui’s signature Big Beach is at the Makena Beach State Park. And Wailea Beach is another favorite of tourists. We even stumbled upon the colorful array of kayaks and canoes that belonged to the Maui Canoe Club at Kihei Beach. It is the largest outrigger canoe club in the world! But it was at the Big Beach where Bill could no longer resist playing with the waves.

Views of Molokini
Molokini is a crescent-shaped, partially submerged volcanic crater that forms a small islet 2.5 miles off Maui near the Makena Beach State Park. The islet has an area of 23 acres. It is only 161 feet (50 m) at its highest point. Bill and his family took a ferry to the island when they were in Maui. It is touted as an excellent bird sanctuary and place for snorkeling. But we opted not to go to the island and instead had a great time looking for the best spot to take a photo of the island from the coast.

Maalaea Harbor
Hawaiian Shaved Ice
Before we left the area, we finally gave in to the growing desire to sample the ubiquitous Hawaiian Shaved Ice. It turned out to be hugely refreshing drink but it was a little too sweet for me. So we just split one to taste. Still hungry, we stopped at the Maui Ocean Center where the Maui Aquarium was located and found our spot at a café on the Maalaea Harbor, the gateway to Kihei. And it was a huge plate of kahlua fries.

Black Rock and its daily diver 
Then we hurried to catch the diver who performs a daily sunset ritual, diving from the Black Rock, Pu’u Keka just north of Lahaina, into the sea. We got there in time before the haunting music started to play. When he appeared, he first lighted the torches that have been set up on the rock. As he plunged into the water, many cameras simultaneously clicked. It was an exciting moment amid such a beautiful Maui sunset. And then we dined at the Sheraton Hotel beside the Black Rock.

The next day was our last, so I finally got the nerve to take a dip in the Maui waters behind our Resort. Although I still did not get my hair wet, my 120 pounds certainly got pushed and shoved by the waves. They came back frequently at regular intervals to taunt me. After all, that’s what waves do. But in Maui the waves seemed more insistent. I secretly hoped that Bill would come back soon from his snorkeling activity and save his damsel in distress. Kidding aside, I concluded that I liked Maui more than Kauai! It is bigger and more diverse and definitely has more to offer. Besides, I am a big city girl!

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