Thursday, February 02, 2012

Maui: Alternatives

Let's say you're in Maui and you want to enjoy the beach but you can't swim or snorkel (or just prefer not to) and want to avoid crowds. Where do you go? I'd recommend Waihe'e Beach Park, which is located next to the Waiehu Golf Resort. It's relatively isolated, there's free parking, restrooms and showers, picnic tables, and the water is crazy beautiful.


Now, what if you're in Maui and you don't have time to do a road trip to Hana and you feel like you're missing out on the lush, green natural side of the island? I'd say head to the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens. It's adjacent to the U. of Hawaii Maui College (which is not too far from the airport) and you can park across the street at the War Memorial Stadium. This garden cultivates native plants only so you'll get a taste of Hawaiian greenery and the best part is that admission is free. It's a great place for kids, the elderly, and for people who want to learn more about Hawaiian botany.
And let's say you're in Maui and want to shop but can't afford the purse crushing prices of Wailea's upscale shopping centers and you don't want to pay for parking at the Whaler's Village? Then I'd say head over to the Queen Kaahumanu Center. If you're from the mainland and you're used to those easy cookie cutter malls, then you'll feel right at home here. It's an open-air mall so you feel like you're walking around outdoors (fresh air is always nice) but there's some tent-like roofs to keep out the rain (which makes this a great rainy day activity). This place has a bunch of stores I've never heard of (but I'm sure Hawaiians are familiar with) but also has plenty of the stuff that I'm used to. There's also a See's Candies (first time I went to one was in LA) so you can munch on some chocolates while you shop. They usually give out free samples so I'd go in even if I wasn't going to buy any chocolates.
And lastly, what do you do if you're in Maui and you don't have time to see the sunrise (or sunset) at Haleakala? There are plenty of beaches along the west coast where you can satisfy that solar craving. The Kamaole Beach Parks are great for watching the sunset, particular Kamaole Beach Park I. There are ledges to sit on along the edge of the sidewalks so you can rest your feet while you observe. There's also plenty of street parking and one or two lots nearby. Just note that because the Hawaiian islands are so close to the equator, the sun rises and sets rather quickly so if you're driving around and the sun is starting to set, you'll want to pull over as fast as possible and watch because it'll be over in a matter of minutes.
These two photos were taken six minutes apart. That's how quickly the sun sets. And you can see all the silhouettes of bystanders amazed by the beauty.
And just one minute later you can't even see that bright dot anymore.
Maui is so beautiful and there's so much to do for everyone (except maybe people who only love winter sports).

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