Keywords: Maui Guide, Maui Travel, Maui Food, Maui Lodging, Maui Surfing
This guide is prepared for beginner to intermediate level surfers. Maui is known for epic waves in the winter, but that’s when expert surfers are talking. As usual there are “rest of the surfers” whose goal is to enjoy surfing at a bit more mellow and relaxing level than going after monster waves or fast waves to be discovered by a surfing magazine etc.
Where to Stay:
It looks like the best deals are in Kihei and if you can group a few people together for a week or more, a vacation rental should be the way to go. Another area where there are a lot of vacation rentals is a bit north of Kaanapali, called Kahana.
Wailuku might also be a good choice as it is centrally located to visit both Kihei and Lahanina, and there are some less expensive hotels in town. Wailuku looks more like an old gold rush town in California and there are a lot of historical buildings and also many inexpensive restaurants in this and Kahului area. Some parts of this town looks a bit rough so be prepared.
There are many different deals and price seem to vary quite a bit depending on who you ask (on the Internet) even for the same date and the same property, so be sure to shop around using your Internet search engine as a tool.
Overall Surfing Situations
You have heard about Honolua Bay and Hookipa, or The Jaws. You can find out about them in most surfing web sites. But they are mainly for experts who can safely surf 2 or 3 times overhead fast waves.
For beginners and intermediate surfers, I recommend going to Kalama Beach Park (the locals call this The Cove) in Kihei if you are staying in Kihei or Wailea. If you are staying in Lahaina or Kaanapali then the Lahaina Breakwater and several beach parks south of it is the best.
There are numerous breaks on the way from the Kahului airport to Lahaina along the route 30. Since the shores are protected with the corral reef, the road hugs the beach and often you just park, and within 20 steps you’d be in the water. As you go up north from the Kahului airport, you will go through a short tunnel. After this tunnel to Lahaina are series of beaches, and if you find a break you like, just stop the car, and go surfing. Some are fully maintained with a parking lot and a shower; others are still maintained with at least some portable toilets.
Once you hit the first sign that says the town of Lahaina, turn left at Shaw street then turn right at the Front street. The first public beach access lot is where you take off for surfing at the Lahaina Breakwater. The shower is kind of hidden in front of the hotel/restaurant building so look for it.
Often overlooked is Kanaha (and not Kahana) Beach Park just north of the airport. This is actually popular with beginner wind surfers polishing the skills to go to The popular Ho’okipa. Also speaking of that on the way to Ho’okipa is the Baldwin Beach Park. Be sure to check this spot out when there are some N swells coming in.
For more information about beaches in Maui a local FM radio station KPOA has an excellent web resource athttp://www.kpoa.com/parks/beaches.shtml
Some caution should be exercised when surfing in Hawai’i or most other tropical islands. Maui, and probably in Hawai’i in general have volcanic rock, coral or the mixture of both. They are razor sharp and just brushing over them can cause very deep wound. I did not believe this first, but sure enough I got a deep cut on the second day of my trip and after two weeks, it is not completely healed. Probably a good idea to bring some first-aid kit with you, as it is most likely that you get a nick or cut. As a surfer not familiar with the bottom of the water, I suggest you at least wear booties for the first few sessions at a new location. Also some of these rocks to protrude almost up to the surface level so watch out for not being caught (your center fin or the board) in those. You could tumble forward then you and you board both might get a deep gash.
I was there in September when the swells were really low, but the quality of breaks are great as at most locations you paddle out several hundred yards in the water where breaks occur then you can ride some of those almost all the way to the shore. Again, when you have finished with your rides, do not jump in the water to stop. Just sit on the board and wait for it to stop or if you are a bit better do a final kick out by turning the board back toward the ocean. When you are about to wipe out, hang on to the board so that you don’t hit the bottom of the water where the razor sharp objects await you.
Locals are very friendly even though they look all sun tanned and tough looking in Maui, but some are very serious about the sport so you may get some advice from where you should be paddling out. As with all surfing sessions in new locals, wear a lot of smile and when paddling by a surfer, a simple greeting of “Hi” or “Good morning” will tell them that you mean no harm. Also, they often ask you if you will be taking a wave. If I am asked, I usually return the favor by “No, please take it, it’s all yours!” then I will watch where they go, and on the next break I will try to go to the same place.
Note that where they paddle back. Locals almost always paddle around. You can almost always tell locals from tourists by looking at how they paddle back.
Renting the Board
For the amount of the trouble of carrying your boards from the main land, you might just rent it and return it when you are leaving. You can rent high quality short and long boards. Of course, you can bring them and I have seen people carrying 4 or 5 long boards at the airport.
Most rentals in Maui are SofTOP boards. Foamy boards are actually rare here. You can rent them at Kalama Beach Park or at the Lahaina Breakwater right at the beach. They also offer lessons at the same locations. If you are into higher performance board, many surf shops in the area offers rental boards. I was very pleased with Hi Tech Surf Shop in Kahului where they can rent anywhere from short boards to long boards. All are high-end epoxy boards including JC, South Point, McTavish. At this time of writing a $20 (a going daily rate island wide) a day package consists of a board bag, leash, the first stick of wax, and the board. Many other places including snorkel rental or even SCUBA rental places have boards so you could ask around. If you rent from these beach front places, they have already pulled out the side fins and also put in a soft Surfco center fins. This might cause a performance issue. If you want to rent short boards, above mentioned shop or other specialized surf shops in Kahului are your best bets.
Be prepared as Hawai’i in general, you will need to pay a bit to a lot more than your counter part in the main land. But with some strategy you can do well. Also, keep in mind that as a visitor you are supporting their economy, so when you feel you’ve spent a bit more money, well, think that you have helped someone in the island.
Sales tax there is fairly low at the time of writing, compared to say in San Francisco (8.25%). But hotel stays are heavily taxed. We were slapped with $25 a day tax staying at a major chain hotel resort. This can add up.
As a resort destination, there are a lot of restaurants and bars out there and many are tourist places. At one place, I have seen a dinner plate costing close to $40 while you enjoy a view of a condo complex construction site with cranes and plywood fences. Then you can also enjoy a bowl of Saimin or plate of Yakisoba for no more than $6.00 a plate. You can get away paying $6 or $7 for a burrito with a soft drink in the main land and in Lahaina it is about $10 from a taco stand.
Picnic and BBQ option: On most of the state run beach parks they provide BBQ pits or stands, and many locals do use these facilities to cook dinners even on work days. So you probably pick up some charcoal and some meat. It is warm and nice out so you can really have fun BBQ. Some locals are also happy to share the food with you.
There are many Safeway supermarkets, and also we liked Food Land in Kihei. If you go there be sure to ask for the member card which is free.
Some Places We Have Tried:
On our second trip to Maui (just returned home on Sept 10) we aimed to skip most of the expensive places and eat more locally, focusing mainly on ethnic eats in Kihei, Wailuku, Kahului, and Upcountry. Here's a report:
Tokyo Tei ($) - 1063 E. Lower Main Street - Wailuku
Great homestyle Japanese food, specializing in tempura and teishoku meals. No sushi. Housed in a funky medical building with doctor's offices and hostess bars. The whole Lower Main Street area has some very intriguing places.
Wei Wei BBQ and Noodle House ($) - 210 Imi Kala St. - Wailuku
Good mix of Cantonese BBQ, Japanese and Hawaiian. Tasty BBQ pork.
Tasty Crust ($) - 1770 Mill Street - Wailuku
Famous for hotcakes (served since 1944) but also open for lunch and dinner. We had a cheap, good breakfast there. Full of locals and wonderfully authetic diner atmosphere.
Who'd the Boss? ($$) 2051 Main Street - Wailuku
Reasonably priced island cuisine bistro with nice fish dishes.
Polli's ($$) - 1202 Makawao Ave - Makawao
Excellent, reasonable, fresh Mexican cantina fare with a pleasant atmosphere. The outside sign says “Come in and eat or we’ll both starve”
Makawao Steak House ($$$) - 3612 Baldwin Avenue - Makawao
Overpriced for just okay steak and rather amateurish service. Not recommended. They have a tea room that serves high tea, which looks nice but we did not go.
Hali'imaile General Store ($$$) - 900 Hali'imaile Road - Hali'imaile (Upcountry)
Had an excellent lunch at this place, which could be called a Hawaiian Chez Panisse, with its emphasis on fresh local produce and innovative cuisine. Nice wine list. Will definitely go back here. Lovely atmosphere. Not cheap but not outrageous. Website: www.HaliimaileGeneralStore.com
Aroma D'Italia Ristorante ($$$) - 1881 S. Kihei Rd - Kihei
Decent, reasonably priced Italian with good homemade meatballs.
Vietnamese Cuisine ($) - 1280 S. Kihei Rd - Kihei
Good, reasonably priced Vietnamese. Good soups.
KKO (Kaui Ku Ono) ($$$) - 2511 S. Kihei Rd - Kihei
It has the fresh fish, the sunset views, nice outdoor seating, competent friendly service, all for reasonable prices.
Horhito's ($$) - 41 East Lipoa St - Kihei
Innovative Mexican cuisine at reasonable prices with an emphasis on fish dishes. Cantina decor with Mexican antiques, murals, and twinkling lights. A nice find.
Hanafuda Saimin ($) - Azeka Mall - 1279 S. Kihei Rd - Kihei
Finally I got to taste saimin and I was not disappointed. Noodles are a lot like ramen and the broth is like some Cantonese won ton soup base with Cantonese-style BBQ pork. Also serves sandwiches and assorted plate lunches. Highly recommended.
Canton Chef ($$) - Kamaole Shopping Center - 2463 S. Kihei Rd - Kihei
Tasty Chinese cuisine at reasonable prices.
China Boat ($ lunch special, $$ dinner) - 4474 Honopiilani Road - Kahana
Very good Chinese food with an emphasis on seafood.
Food Court in Maui Marketplace ($) - 270 Dairy Rd - Kahului
Any restaurant here is probably a good bet for tasty, cheap eats. I had a great chicken plate lunch at the Vietnamese place and my husband had a good pho. L&L Plate lunch place is also here as well as Fernando's Mexican and a Chinese place. Was packed with locals on the weekend.
Roy's Kahana Bar and Grill ($$$$) - Kahana Gateway Shopping Center
A good friend's sister-in-law works here so we paid a visit. We'd been to Roy's in Spanish Bay (Monterey, CA) and knew the food would be good and it did not disappoint. High prices but high quality for Roy Yamaguchi's famous Hawaiian/European/Japanese fusion cuisine. My husband had a unique sake tasting menu. Dramatic atmosphere with 40-foot ceilings but no view.
Excellent, professional service and nice wine list.Now You are Back in Bay Area and Miss The Taste of Hawai'i
Here are the branches of some of the very restaurants you have enjoyed while you are in Maui.
L&L Hawaiian Barbecue:
Daly City(Mission St. & Citrus Ave.)Mission Plaza Shopping Center6893 Mission St.Daly City, CA 94014
Phone: (650) 756-7188
Fax: (650) 756-7388http://www.hawaiianbarbecue.com/Hawaiian Drive Inn
50 San Pedro Road (near Mission Street), Daly City, CA 94014 (650) 997-0887
24251 Hesperian Blvd. (near Southland Drive), Hayward, CA 94545 (510) 781-4886
711 El Camino Real (between Broadway and Brewster Avenue), Redwood City, CA (650) 369-0396
4827 Mission Street (at Onandaga Street), San Francisco, CA 94112 (415) 586-9382
128 Hazelwood Drive, South San Francisco, CA 94080 (650) 871-2836
3730 Sonoma Blvd. (in Longs Shopping Center), Vallejo, CA 94589 (707) 643-8883http://www.hawaiiandriveinn.com/location.htmHukilau
642 Ramona Street (1 1/2 blocks south of University Avenue)
Palo Alto, CA 94301
5 Masonic Avenue (Southwest corner of Masonic Avenue and Geary Blvd.)
San Francisco, CA 94118
230 Jackson Street (between 5th and 6th Streets in Japantown)
San Jose, CA 95112
Al Omoto, Kurt Osaki, and Eric Tao
Hukilau serves Island-style food and cocktails. Drink specials for women are available on Wednesdays (Wahine Wednesdays), live music can be heard on Fridays (Aloha Fridays), and brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays.http://www.dahukilau.com/J & J Hawaiian Barbecue
1170 - 1180 Alma Street
Menlo Park, CA 94025
(650) 323-6137, FAX (650) 323-6203
Daily: 10:00 am - 9:00 pm