If you are looking for true beauty and drama a trip to the West Side of Maui will allow you and your guests to be the “playwrights” of your journey. As your flight soars towards the island of Maui you can’t help but notice the now iconic wind turbines climbing from the shore line high up the west side of Maui. These turbines provide so much energy to this little island nestled in the island chain. You might not think about it however, getting electric that far out into the Pacific Ocean is quite expensive actually, for locals it can cost upwards of $300-$400 just to power their homes and that isn’t including air-conditioning. These wind turbines are the grand entrance to your journey over to the west side of Maui. If you look closely through the window you will be captivated by the views of a winding two-lane road rolling along the ocean side cliffs and grasping to the shore. This will be your maze of excitement over the next few days taking an adventurous siesta on Maui’s west side.
As soon as you obtain your car from the rental car service, you will definitely be looking for something good to eat after a long flight. The first place you will want to stop is at Tin Roof. It is an amazing casual lunch shop by Chef Sheldon Simeon in Kahului, Maui. You might remember this local celebrity from Bravo’s Top Chef. Dishes include mocha chicken; poke bowl, and pork belly. I know you are going to be so excited to see the island so this is the perfect spot to pick up and go.
If you think you an wait about 20 minutes you might decide you want to hang onto that lunch and make a stop along your way to the west side. After you pass the great wind turbines (did I mention the hike up around the turbines is amazing at dawn or dusk?) you will soon stumble upon Maalaea Harbor. The only thing great about this Harbor is that it is one of the locations for Trilogy Catamaran cruises. I have been on these excursions quite a few times and this crew is first class. Make that mental note if you are looking to snorkel or whale watch. If you don’t want to visit Molokini to snorkel they also have trips that board on the sand in front of Whaler’s Village at Kaanapali Beach. Oh yeah, back to lunch. Right beyond the windy harbor area there is an amazing lookout on your left. Hang onto your lunch and enjoy it seaside with the tourists or if you can wait a little bit longer there are several places along the highway to pull off after you drive through the “tunnel” and reach the bottom of the hill. Let me tell you one thing, you have a new appreciation for a fresh poke bowl while eating impromptu on a piece of drift wood next to the crashing shore.
After you have that lunch, stop for desert a few miles down the road at Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop in Oluwalu. You can purchase mini pies to make the decision a whole lot easier. Okay, so now you’re filled up. What is next? Lahaina Town is the little beach town that all the tourists and cruise ship visitors flock too. Is it for me? Absolutely not, not in a million zillion years. Should you go? You decide. I suggest maneuvering your car down Front Street and make the decision yourself. For most mainland guests they love it. If you are a luxury traveler – AVOID. If someone informs you there are wonderful outlets in Lahaina they are lying to you. Look if you must go to Lahaina, go for dinner at the Lahaina Grill or Honu.
As your journey continues, I must inform you that you will be passing the last Starbuck’s on your right (unless you are staying at the Marriott Maui Ocean Club). If you are an addict like my husband this might be your stop. If you want to try something even better, swing into Kaanapali Beach a little further down the road. In Whaler’s Village there is a wonderful little coffee shop known as Island Vintage Coffee. They have amaze balls coffee (they also have locations on Oahu). Almost every tourist that stays on Kaanapali Beach knows or quickly finds out about Whaler’s Village. Back in the 1980’s Whaler’s was the luxury-shopping mecca for Maui. As Japanese travel declined to west Maui and refocused towards Oahu the shops exited or opened in Wailea (south shore). The good news is that there have been amazing renovations over the last five years. Slowly, premium retailers are moving back into the locale and they were fortunate to add Monkeypod Kitchen as one of their new restaurant anchors. It’s a definite win for lunch, dinner or if you want just one of their tons of beers on tap (btw-opentable). Another great option at Whaler’s is hidden away downstairs in the little dump food court. Go visit Joey’s Kitchen and get anything and take it to the beach and have another one of those casual meals. We do that in Hawaii quite a bit. Ask any local and most likely they will tell you they have board shorts/swim suit, old hiking shoes, towel, hyrdoflask for water and maybe a beach chair in the back of their truck/trunk. When there is traffic and that is often on the west side, you just pull off and go for a swim or a hike. If you are lucky to have picked up a plate lunch along the way, it becomes an unplanned picnic.
Now you know all about Whaler’s and you have seen Kaanapali Beach. It is definitely the land of many resorts. If you are looking for one of those “points” properties and have kids this might be right up your alley. I have noticed there are tons of visitors from the US east coast as well as the middle states. Many of the guests have been coming to Kaanapali for many generations and they continue to make memories. There are beautiful golf courses near and the waters are gorgeous but for me, it’s too crowded, too many families and more than my liking of hairy backs and sunburn skin. Please note that you are in Hawaii and our trade winds combined with hot sun can make for terrible sunburn. It is also important to mention that in 2021 you will no longer be allowed to use sunscreen in our state that contains oxybenzone and octinoxate the main chemical in 3.500 of the world’s most popular sunscreens? Why? These chemicals are contributing to the destruction of our coral reefs and ocean life. So if you are a Kaanapali fan, have fun and we can meet up the road for lunch one afternoon at my hotel the Montage or Ritz Carlton. These properties are above and beyond just like you anticipate. I will let you know that this beautiful part of the island tends to be a little damp but that is why it is so lush and beautiful. Hence, this is the end of the west side and the end of my review.
I gave you allot of tips of places to visit and stay along the way. Here is a quick summary with a few additions. Have fun in the Wild, Wild West.
•The Ritz-Carlton, KapaluaBay
Dinner & Eats:
•Merriman’s Maui (go for cocktails at sunset)
•Monkeypod Kitchen (Whaler’s Village)
•Joey’s Kitchen (Whaler’s Village)
•Star Noodle (Lahaina)
•Japengo (Hyatt Regency Maui)
•Lahaina Grill (Lahaina)
•Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop (Oluwalu)
•Tin Roof (Kahului –near the airport)
•Da Kitchen (Kahului –near the airport)
•All Good SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen Lotion
•Babo Botanicals SPF 30 Sunscreen Lotion
•Badger SPF 30 unscented Sunscreen Cream
•Raw Elements SPF 30 Certified Natural Sunscreen
•Stream2Sea SPF 30 Mineral Sunblock
•Loving Naturals Clear Body SPF30+ All Natural Sunscreen
Mulberry Seed Design