ANDY MAC'S MAUI TRAVEL GUIDE!!!
Andy Mac Williams,
I'm no travel guru, but I have been lucky enough to visit the Valley Island of Maui several times. My oldest Bryan (Xavier 2000) lived on Oahu for three glorious years and I took on the responsibility of keeping him grounded and on task by making many long flights to Hawaii. We ventured to Maui frequently and sucked the marrow out of every trip using his Hawaiian drivers license to score huge discounts everywhere. Any activity on Maui is all good. Just hanging out at pool with easy access to tropical drinks or just watching for whales in the gorgeous channel between Maui and Lanai. I have my favorite activities though.
LAY OF THE LAND:
The Maui Classic (Coach K Invitational) is played at the Lahaina Civic Center (3500) just north of the town of Lahaina. Xavier is staying at the Westin on Kaanapali Beach just north of the Civic Center. All the major hotels and condos are lined up along the beach and connected by a walkway.
The Whaler Village is positioned midway along the path with shops and restaurants and a great view of Lanai and Molokai and the channel and the sunsets to the west. Let me know if you see a green flash low on the horizon right before sunset. It's a rare meteorological event they say?? I've seen many Hawaii sunsets (and a few sunrises after luaus). I'm thinking the green flash is a myth like the Yeti or the Abomidable Snowman.
Upscale Kapalua is north of Kaanapali. We're talking Ritz Carlton and 10 million dollar condos etc. The drive to Kaannapali from the airport at Kahaului is 30 to 40 minutes and traffic will be bearish around Thanksgiving. There's no reason IMHO to leave the NW corner of the island.
The Road to Hana is hyped BIG TIME. Don't waste a day. It's a tortuous twisting drive and it gave me a headache. Once you get to Hana after 50 miles of one lane bridges and switchback curves, there's nothing there.
MY FAVORITE THINGS(ACTIVITIES):
The pre-dawn drive to the top of Haleaakala Volcano is a pain, but the payoff is worth it unless the fog rolls in. From 10,000 feet above the Pacific on a clear day you can see over 90 miles to the BIG ISLAND to the East . Maybe even see the current eruptions on Kilaueaa although that's a long shot!! The sunrise itself is a religious experience.
The Macs will be attempting the Sliding Sands hike into the volcano crater. It's amazing, but it's also 11 miles long at altitude. Andy Mac is hiking the Mitchell Forest bike trails to get in shape. The Park Service now requires reservations for the sunrise drive and hike.
For the risk takers, there's the one lane road drive around the NW corner of Maui. Rent-a-car maps show this as a dotted line meaning no insurance coverage, I guess. We made it. The views of the Pacific are unreal. There's a great medium hike up the Iao Valley. It's hard to locate the trail head and about a 25 minute drive,but the views are gorgeous.
FOOD AND RESTAURANTS:
A Luau is a "must". All the major hotels do their own. The Old Lahaina Luau may be the best all around considering food and Island Entertainment and availability of drinks. We've booked the Feast at LeLe on South Front Street in Lahaina. Pacific "O" Restaurant puts this one on. Pacific "O" is the best eating experience on Maui - closer than Mama's Fish House - better local fish-a once in a lifetime view of the sunset off the tip of Lanai across the channel right on the beach and an unequaled outdoor veranda bar.
Breakfast and lunch at Longhis (888 Front Street) is expensive, but worth it. Lunch on the porch at the Kapalua Plantation Golf Course Club House (Home of the PGA Tour Tournament of Champions) is recommended. The elevated views of Lanai and Molokai etc make it impossible to concentrate on what you're eating.
The Hula Grill at the Whaler Village along hotel row is very good. The tables are set in sand. I once ate next to Jerry Tarkanian (Tark the Shark) after he'd been fired at Fresno State. No lie, he was chewing on his napkin.
BEST STAGE SHOW:
Warren and Anna Bell's Magic Show on Front Street. It starts with heavy appetizers and drinks in the parlor and progresses to the best comedy-magic act ever and it's "G" rated. It's expensive and may be sold-out already. Warren could have been a Las Vegas headliner, but he owns his own building now and lives in Maui!!
Buy pounds of POKE at Safeway or any of the local markets. It's freshly caught Ahi tuna mixed with onions and spices and it's good for lunch any day.
Deep sea fishing charters are available at Lahaina Harbor. Not cheap, but a great boat ride!! It's early for humpback whale watching, but there may be some early arrivals in the channel. Pacific Whale Foundation offers big boat cruises leaving from Maalea Harbor South of Lahaina. I like taking the smaller lower to the water Zodiac rubber boats also out of Maalea. Dolphins and sea turtles can be seen anytime.
Trilogy runs the best catamaran trips we've found. Their excursion to Lanai includes lunch and beach time and departs from Lahaina. Many cat companies launch scuba and snorkel trips from the beach outside the major hotels. The snorkel cruise to the Molokinii Crater is a fun boat ride. Sometimes it seems 50 swimmers are chasing around 5 fish when many boats tie up and release their tourists though.
I'm banned from taking my golf clubs on this trip. The best courses may be at Makena to the Southwest of Lahaina. Gold, Blue and Emerald are all too good for my anemic game. Kannapali has two resort courses (North and South). They've hosted PGA Seniors and LPGA events. Kapalua has two courses. The Bay or Shore course is shorter with epic ocean views.
The Plantation Course hosts the PGA Tourney of Champions in January. The elevation changes are breath taking the weather may change several times during your round. The golf is costly. Remember the trade winds kick in every day at 1PM island time. The rates are cheaper but if you hate playing in a 20-30 knot wind, dig deep and make an early tee time.
I'll float a full Maui Classic preview later. Obviously, the 8 team field is loaded on steroids with consensus FINAL FOUR picks Duke and Gonzaga playing plus SEC favorite Auburn and Mountain West second pick San Diego State (just behind Top 10 Nevada). Host D-2 school Chaminade (the Sliver Swords) are not playing for the first time ever. Duke is making its 6th Maui trip. Coach K is 16-0 with 5 titles. More later on the match-ups etc.