From the bustling shops of Lahaina to the beautifully
manicured golf courses of Kapalua, West Maui has something to offer
everyone. Many of the major resort hotels are located at Kaanapali. Even
if you are staying on the south side of the island at Kihei or Wailea,
chances are you will find yourself driving to the west side several times
on your vacation ... there is just so much to do here!
you leave the central valley at Maalaea Harbor, you begin the drive to
West Maui along the Pali Highway ... a stretch of winding, but wide rode
that hugs the cliffs looking out over the ocean, with sweeping views of
Kahoolawe and Lanai. Just past the tunnel is a snorkel area known as Coral
Gardens. Afternoon snorkel trips usually don't go to Molokini ... they
usually come here.
marker 14 is often an excellent place to snorkel. The beach isn't very
wide, and the sand is brown ... but the reef stretches out for almost 1/4
mile offshore. The further out you swim, the clearer the water gets and
the more beautiful the fish and coral become. Be careful pulling off the
road if you stop here ... traffic is heavy and car accidents are too
to Lahaina from Maalaea Harbor, you will pass the tiny village known as
Oluwalu. If you blink, you will miss it. There is a general store there,
and a well-know french restaurant known as Chez Paul. About a mile off the
highway on a dirt road that leads back through the old sugar cane fields
is a rock outcropping with a great display of ancient Hawaiian Petroglyphs.
Town is an old whaling port ... now home to art galleries, shops, fine
restaurants, and entertainment. Lahaina Harbor has daily departures for
snorkeling trips to Lanai, parasailing and whale watching in season,
dinner cruises, and ferries to the islands of Lanai and Molokai. Parking
can be tough in this town. Your best bet is to use the free public parking
lot on the corner of Prison and Front Street. Parking here is limited to
three hours during the daytime, but they don't check parking there in the
evening. Just a word of caution: if this parking lot is full, DO NOT park
in a bus parking stall or you WILL get a ticket and it WILL be added to
your rental car bill.
is famous for it's wide white sand beach and its upscale hotels. This
photo shows the Sheraton which sits on Black Rock ... separating the main
Kaanapali Beach from the more quiet (but perhaps more beautiful) North
Beach area. Whaler's Village is an upscale shopping center located here
(Gucci Gucci Goo). Snorkeling around Black Rock is usually pretty good all
year round ... turtles and rays can even be seen here occasionally.
is a golfing mecca ... the Plantation Course is the most challenging and
most well-known, hosting the Mercedes Championship each January. The Ritz
Carlton and Kapalua Bay Hotel are here. If you stay this far north, expect
a little more wind and rain than further down in Kaanapali and Lahaina.
Check out Fleming Beach Park ... a favorite among locals.
past Fleming Beach Park, the road narrows and begins to twist and turn.
Just before mile marker 35 you will likely encounter a collection of cars
parked along the side of the road. Several trails lead down through the
forest and out to the rocky beach at Honolua Bay. In the summertime this
bay offers some of the most spectacular snorkeling on Maui. In the
wintertime the wave action makes the water murky, but the big attraction
then is surfing. For a good look at the bay, continue past it and stop at
the overlook on the far side of the bay. If conditions are calm and you
plan to snorkel, you can see the coral heads just under the surface of the
the surf is up, continue to the top of the hill and turn left onto a side
road that leads toward the mouth of the bay. Overlooks at the top of the
cliff give you a great bird's-eye view of the waves breaking at Honolua,
which offers long, and wild rides to experienced surfers.
on the road past Honolua, you leave civilization behind. Beautiful
ocean-swept vistas and red rocky cliffs await. At mile marker 38 you will
see a navigational light at the edge of a cliff. A paved parking lot is
here. Keep on going another 1/4 mile to a dirt parking lot with large
rocks along the edge. Park here and walk toward the ocean. You can see the
Nakalele Blowhole in the distance, or you can hike down a trail for a
close-up view. When the swells are up, each wave fills a cavern and
forces water out a hole in the top with tremendous pressure.
the road gets really interesting. Your rental car company doesn't want you
to keep going ... the road gets so narrow that there are sections where
encountering an approaching vehicle means that someone has to back up ...
sometimes for 100 yards! Tucked away on this remote side of the island is
the tiny village of Kahakuloa. The most notable geographic landmark on the
north shore of Maui is Kahakuloa Head ... Maui's version of the rock of Gibraltar.
you do the entire drive from Kapalua to Kahului on this northern route,
expect the trip to take you around 2 hours. One thing you won't see much
of along the way is waterfalls. This is surprising since the summit of the
West Maui Mountains is the second-wettest spot on the face of the earth.
The waterfalls in the deeply carved valleys of the West Maui Mountains are
spectacular, but they are remote. You can't see them from the road ... you
have to take a helicopter flight to get a good look. You are going to
spend thousands of dollars coming here on vacation ... do yourself a favor
and spend another $100 or so and see some of the most beautiful sites on
the face of the earth! Check out our helicopter