Maui; new experiences, and revisiting old haunts (for frequent visitors)

Maui; new experiences, revisiting old haunts for frequent visitors

We’ve been to Maui 18 times in the last 19 years, as well as visited Kawai and Hawaii, the Big Island. Since we own a timeshare in Maui, we’ve done just about everything you can do on the island (with the exception of zip-lining and parasailing – which have become less interesting as we’ve aged, and also seem a dumb way to spend money).

We’ve been to the summit of Haleakala a number of times, circled both ends of the islands including the road to and past Hana, snorkeled in numerous coves and cruises, done way too many luaus, seen the shows and trekked the waterfronts of Lahaina and Wailea. We have done a number of the hikes and explored a good bit of the native Hawaiian and natural history of the island.

Haleakala Crater, with clouds birthed by tradewinds just starting to spill in about 11 AM.

For this trip, finding our Kihei timeshare booked out, we were put up in another resort, the Gardens at West Maui resort, in Napili at the far northwestern end of Maui. So, we resolved to do a good job touring the new-to-us delights of this area of the island, as well as to revisit and better explore several old haunts. In addition to exploring our new area, we elected to better hike several locations on the volcano and La Perouse Bay, and to better explore Lahaina’s early history.

For exploring the area of Napili and West Maui, we quickly found the Kapalua Coastal Trail, connecting four lovely beaches along the rugged coast. The trail links Napili Bay and beach on the south end, heads north to Kapalua Bay and beach and, for folks wanting to go the distance, Oneloa Bay and beach and, eventually, Honokahua Bay and DT Fleming State Beach and Park.

The Kapilua Coastal Trail winds along Maui’s rugged northwestern coast.

The trail is partly paved and partly gravel through volcanic rock, and is about two miles from end to end. Views to the seaward side are magnificent, with Lanai and Molokai seen across the ocean channels and grand resorts on the land side. We eventually settled on Napili Beach, because it was both closest to our resort and great for people watching.

From DT Fleming Park, the Honoapiilani Highway continues north and east around the end of the island, through additional stunning scenery and pocket beaches before eventually reaching a portion that is gravel (and occasionally single lane), offering a nerve-racking return to Kahului. Scenery is stunning, though rental car companies (and my spouse) would suggest “not in their rental car”.

Our favorite, Napili Beach, with spouse Susan in foreground.
Pretty beach, fine people-watching and the classy Sea House Restaurant at north end!

We resolved to better explore the trails on Haleakala, the huge dormant volcano anchoring Maui’s southern portion. Just past the national park entrance, stop at the Visitor Center and chat with rangers and pick up a hiking route map. Short hikes fan out from the Haleakala Visitor center at 9,740 feet, with a short hikes along the crater rim, or a few blocks to view the Haleakala Observatories (closed to the public). Heading down, we stopped at the Leleiwi Overlook at 9,324 feet (we had a clear day, with clouds just beginning to enter the crater – offering stunning views).

The Haleakala Observatories, at very peak of the volcano (alas, not open to the public).

Hike into the crater on the Halemau’u Trail, featuring considerable elevation changes along its several miles. Suggestion: head for Haleakalā Crater fairly early in the morning – on many days, by 11 AM and later, rising tradewinds coming off the ocean cause clouds to build and eventually to spill into the crater, causing zero visibility, cooler temperatures and, occasionally, light rain high on the volcano. The Kula Lodge, on the main road at 3200 feet, is a delightful place to stop for breakfast or midday lunch. Another option is the Lahaina Pali Trail, which parallels the Pali Highway from Ma’alea Harbor headed north to Lahaina and offers stunning views of Molokini, Kaho’o’lawe and Lanai from high on the bluffs above the Pacific.

Another revisit from a few years earlier was the unique Hoapili Trail, located south of Wailea at very end of the Makena Road (State Highway 31), taking visitors through miles of jagged lava flow from the late 1700’s volvanic eruptions of Haleakala. The trail begins in La Perouse Bay (named for French explorer Jean-François de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse; in 1786 La Pérouse surveyed and mapped the area) and follows the old King’s Highway, built centuries earlier, circling the island, allowing ancient Hawaiian kings to traverse the island and collect taxes from their subjects.

Three of over 200 wild black goats seen on the unique Hoapili Trail,
just south of La Perouse Bay.

The trail winds through the jagged La Perouse Bay lava fields and along the coast, presenting breathtaking ocean views around every turn and sightings of scores of wild black goats which inhabit the area (we counted over 200 goats on our early morning, four-mile hike).

We resolved to better explore the native Hawaiian and colonial history of Lahaina, the old whaling capital, where the Lahaina Historic Trail, well-signed to lead you to dozens of sites and a half-dozen museums, including the Baldwin House, Plantation Museum, Wo Hing Museum along Front Street and Lahaina Heritage Museum in the Old Lahaina Courthouse. Don’t miss the Hauola Stone, “birthing stone”, just off shore where royal princesses would birth children in the healing waters.

The Baldwin House, on Front Street, one of several museums in Lahaina.

Nearby is the foundation of King Kamehameha’s 1802-03 English-built palace (north of the Old Courthouse) or the old Hale Pa’ahao Prison, built in the 1850s, at 187 Prison Street and the Seamen’s Hospital. For a respite on your trek, try Paia Fish Market on Front Street for delicious fish tacos and other treats; ice cream at Lahaina Ice Cream Parlour, Front and Market (featuring locally-made options like banana macadamia nut and kona coffee almond fudge).

For more information: Maui Visitor’s Bureau,, (808) 244-3530; for Maui Revealed guidebook and phone-app,

The old prison in Lahaina, dating to the 1850s.

Contact Tim at or follow at Happy travels in your world!

This entry was posted in Hawaii and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form.
  • Categories

  • Archives