As we began to explore our new Maui neighborhoods, one of our most pleasant surprises was the Maui Ocean Center. Located in Ma`alaea Harbor, the Aquarium and Oceanography Center is the largest tropical reef aquarium in the Western Hemisphere. Opened in 1998, the 3-acre center includes exhibits of coral reef habitats, sea turtles, sharks, and humpback whales. They even have a 360-degree tank with glowing jellyfish.
The Center’s mission is to “foster understanding, wonder, and respect for Hawaii’s marine life.”
You will experience this wonder as you travel through the 750,000-gallon Open Ocean Exhibit that features a 54-ft walk-through tunnel where you can watch the huge sting rays, beautiful tropical fish, and graceful sharks swim overhead. Imagine experiencing Hawaii’s underwater world without even getting wet!
With spectacular views from Ma’alaea harbor to the outstanding exhibits, your journey includes a magical walk from the seashore to the bottom of the reef.
Rather then being a new discovery, this visit to Sedona is more of a rediscovery. It has been more than ten years since we visited the lovely Sedona/Oak Creekarea.
We are planning to do a series of crafts fairs starting in the fall and have been attending various fairs in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area so that we can get a feel for what other artists are doing. We thought that it would be interesting to get the flavor of some of these venues outside of the “big city.” The fair we attended was in Oak Creek just off Highway 179.
There were a few big name outlet stores in the shopping center hosting the fair but most stores seemed to be out of business which made this a great spot for a crafts fair. The feeling was real laid back but everything seemed to be well organized. It was a fraction of the size of most of the Scottsdale/Phoenix crafts fairs. There was a nice mix of hand crafted and mass produced items and we even made a few purchases of leather goods and eyewear.
The town of Sedonahas changed quite a bit since we were last here. The biggest changes are in the upgraded roads and traffic circles which make getting around easier. There is also some new lodging, built to accomodate the increased number of visitors. It is still a very beautiful place, especially in the spring.
We were with our dog Teddi and had to make the obligatory stop at McDonald’s. The architecture of this particular McD’s was right in keeping with the general look and feel of the town. Nice to see that new building is controlled and not haphazard.
We will be heading back to Sedona/Oak Creek in the fall with Kathy B’s watercolor creations and our line of Hawaii inspired t-shirts and accessories.
Immediately after arriving at Kahului Airport we shuttled over to pick up our rental car/SUV. The reservation was made through a third party and not directly with the rental car company. The Ford Edge that we reserved was not available and I really had to pull some teeth to get one. Lesson learned! Make a reservation directly with the car rental company, even if it costs a little more.
Napili Kai Beach Resort
So, after leaving the rental lot we headed over to the West Side of Maui and checked into The Napili Kai Beach Resort. A little bit of heaven! This is where Kathy and I met all those years ago when I was a Hana tour guide. She was staying here and I picked her up early one morning in June to take her on tour with a van full of other guests. The rest is history and a story for another time.
May is not that busy on Maui and the front desk was gracious enough to upgrade our room to a beachfront suite and apply a discount to boot. Don’t ya just love the aloha spirit?
Although the weather for the first few days was pretty wet and windy it did not dampen our spirits. In fact, it enhanced the beauty and Hawaiian feeling of the place.
This is a great hideout from the major resort hotels. Highly recommended!
Kahekili Highway, Hawaii State Highway 340
Next morning we are up bright and early. To get immediately and fully immersed we decided to do the most challenging thing first. What’s that you ask? Driving the Kahekili Highway.
Some years back I took some friends who were visiting on this drive. They wanted to get out of my truck and walk until we cleared the cliffside. Personally, I don’t think it’s all that rough. It all depends on what you’re used to.
As our morning adventure progressed, out of nowhere, on a clean stretch of road, appears a beautiful old plantation house. It turns out to be The Kaukini Gallery.
We did most our our gift shopping here. The gallery was surprisingly busy as many of the other adventurous souls on this road saw this as a good place to stop before moving on.
Further on down, the road was closed for improvements and we had to wait about two hours for it to reopen. So, we pulled off into a little ranch subdivision and just hung out, listening to the quiet and taking in the beautiful views.
After completing this drive we ended up in Kahului and stopped at Bounty Music to pick up a guitar rental. We then headed back to our hotel for a relaxing afternoon.
We always wanted to go here but never really had the time. Since we were in the neighborhood we decided to go for it.
This restaurant was started by Mick Fleetwood and the merchandise in the store downstairs from the restaurant is filled with Fleetwood Mac memorabilia and a $40,000 custom Harley that you can buy on the spot. The view of Lahaina Harbor from the rooftop lounge is outstanding and the martini’s were pretty good too.
After a busy day we headed back to our hotel for some rest.
The Road To Hana And Beyond
Today is Tuesday and has been set aside for a drive to Hana.
I posted this trip in a previous blog so, I am not going to go too far into it. I have driven this road at least 300 times. The trip never gets old and there are still new things to be found.
We stopped for lunch at The Travaasa Maui Resortbefore heading around the backside of the island. Cell service was surprisingly good and we were able to send and receive a few business texts.
For the full story, click on the above links
Cafe O’lei Kihei
Today is Wednesday and most of the day will be spent house hunting, But before getting into it we met our friends Joe and Marie for lunch at Cafe O’lei in Kihei.
This has become a favorite of ours and many other local Kihei and Wailea residents.
There are a lot of great things to do on Maui and usually, not enough time to do them all. Following, in their order of importance, in my humble opinion, are some of the things that will make your Maui visit memorable.
Over the years, the road to Hana has developed a reputation for being treacherous. Don’t believe it! For the most part, this winding road (600 or so hairpin turns) is modern and well paved. It is also much more than just a road; it is a drive into the past and a rolling view of Hawaiian history and culture. Plan the entire day for this great trip and don’t start out too late. Mornings on Maui are breathtaking and 07:00 would be a good time to hit the road. Be sure to have a map of Maui and if possible, a guide book or pamphlet.
First stop along the road (The Hana Highway) is the town of Paia, an offbeat artsy community of shops and galleries. Now would be a good time to stock up on some beverages. If you are predisposed to motion sickness you should also buy some Dramamine or ginger. Continue reading Maui Day Trips→
Polipoli State Park or Polipoli Spring is a really remote part of Maui that very few visitors and most kama’aina never get to see. It is 10 acres of forested wonderment situated in the 21,000 acre Kula Forest Reserve on the slopes of Haleakala.
Most of the trees are non- native and were planted in the 1930’s depression by The Civilian Conservation Corps. The extent to which they have grown and prospered is a testament to the power of nature.
You will be at around 6,200 feet and it is often damp and foggy but, not always. The temperature is from 10-20 degrees cooler than at sea level so, bring a jacket. The hiking is superb and the whole experience is kinda romantic. Take your significant other.
There is an old ranger’s cabin available for rent in the middle of the forest. Personally, I found it a little creepy. But, that’s just me. Maybe you’ll like this hyper rustic stuff. You can contact: 808-981-8109 for more information on the cabin, camping permits and to check on possible park closures. Continue reading Polipoli State Park→
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