During the last week of March the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) made a proposal to expand the scope and focus of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary . The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary was established by Congress in 1992 in order to protect Humpback whales and their Hawaiian habitat, which they visit each year to mate and give birth; it was the 12th marine sanctuary to be established. It is thought that the sanctuary has helped to boost numbers from a paltry 6,000 back in 1993 to 10,000 in 2006, with numbers only having increased since then!

If the expansion goes through, the sanctuary would receive a new name: Na Kai Ewalu, which roughly translates to Eight Ocean Waters. The expansion would add roughly 235 sq. miles to the current 1,366 sq. mile sanctuary; the boundaries expanding to include the coastline of Niihau, parts of the Kauai and Oahu shorelines, Lanai, Kahoolawe, and even Molokai! The best part of the planned expansion is the ecosystem-based management rule that comes along with it; it proposes that other marine life such as coral, honu, and other marine mammals should be receive special protection. It is thought that the new rule will allineate modern science with marine management practices of the Hawaiian culture.

Public meetings will be held regarding the proposal from April 27th to May 11th. We encourage anyone who is interested in gaining more information about the proposal to attend a meeting place near you. The public hearings for the island of Maui will take place on April 29th and 30th at the Kihei Youth Center and Kaunoa Senior Center, respectively. If you can't attend a hearing in person comments are also being accepted online and by mail at the following address:

NOS/ONMS/Malia Chow

1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg 176
Honolulu, HI 96818

Lahaina, Maui is known for its beautiful beaches, historic sites, and of course, Hawaii Ocean Project boat tours! If you feel a bit peckish while you’re waiting to go on your HOP boat tour, why not check out these delicious eateries? Our list covers a variety of different types of food, as well as varying price points.

1. Star Noodle is an Asian fusion restaurant located at 286 Kupuohi Street in Lahaina. Well-known among locals for its delicious and innovative cuisine, you will not regret giving Star Noodle a try. They are moderately priced and serve their dishes family style, meaning that everyone at the table will get to sample a little bit of everything. Star Noodle’s former Head Chef, Sheldon Simeon, participated in the 10th season of Top Chef and made it all the way to the semi-finals; needless to say, you expect only the best when you dine at Star Noodle!  You should expect to spend around $80 for two people.

2. Genki Sushi is located in the Lahaina Gateway Center. Genki Sushi is a kaiten (conveyor belt) sushi restaurant.  Price is set per plate and you could easily spend as little as $10 or as much as $100 on your meal, depending on how hungry you are. The staff here is very friendly and upon entering the establishment you will be greeted with a hearty, “Irrashaimase!” or “Welcome!” Genki Sushi in Hawaii offers sushi not typically found elsewhere in the world, such spam and egg nigiri sushi or tuna salad in inari. Genki Sushi is a Japanese-style eatery with local offerings!

3. Shaka Vibe is more of a snack shop than a sit-down eatery, but if you’re only a little hungry then this may be the place for you. With two convenient locations in Lahaina to choose from – one in the Wharf Cinema Center on Front Street and one at Kaanapali Beach Hotel – you can’t go wrong. They specialize in bubble tea and tornado taters (curly cut potatoes on a stick), both of which come in a variety of flavors; this is a light snack that will leave you feeling glad you stopped by. Shaka Vibe is very affordable; you should expect to spend less than $10 per person. If you’re a visitor to the islands, let the staff know! They love to feature visitors from off island on their Instagram page.

4. Dairy Queen. Okay, okay, we know Dairy Queen is a fast food chain restaurant but it’s the only one left on Maui so it’s very special to us! If you have a craving for a dilly bar or a pepperoni hot dog (that’s a hot dog in a bun covered in pepperoni and cheese) how could you not want to stop by? This Dairy Queen, located in Lahaina Cannery Mall, is also an Orange Julius so you open yourself up to a world of delicious, sugary options by having your lunch here. They occasionally have a special where for $6 you can have a hot dog of your choosing, a small drink, chips, and a sundae; for a dollar more you can upgrade your sundae to a blizzard.

5. Casa Maya Mexican Restaurant is also located in Lahaina Cannery Mall; in fact they’re just across the way from Dairy Queen! The food here is served up fast, fresh, and hot. The food is moderately priced, but fair for authentic Mexican cuisine; you should expect to spend about $12 per person. Furrgus from Spokane, Washington left a review on TripAdvisor that says everything they ate here was, “over the top wonderful.”  Furrgus liked it, maybe you will too!

6. Slappy Cakes is fairly new to Maui but has been well received by both locals and tourists. Rated 4/5 stars on both Yelp! and TripAdvisor, it’s a can’t miss novelty. As the name suggests, their main attraction is pancakes! There’s a Japanese grill built into the table which the server will turn on for you (be careful, it is hot!), you pick your batter flavor and toppings, and then design and eat your own pancakes! Other than pancakes, they have delicious entrees and seasonal drinks. It’s a little pricey (you can expect to spend about $40.00 for two people) but worth it. It is a very popular spot, so there is usually around a twenty minute wait time; be sure to plan accordingly. Slappy Cakes is open from 7:00 am to 2:00 pm.

7. Bubba Gumps is conveniently located right on Front Street and is a popular location for tourists to dine at, not just because it’s a fun tie-in to the movie Forrest Gump, but because it’s right on the water. Imagine eating your shrimp and veggie skewers while looking out at the waves crashing up on the rocks right below you; is there anything more relaxing? We think not. Bubba Gumps is one of the pricier restaurants on our list but the service is great and they offer a gluten free menu. They were also voted Best Kid Friendly Restaurant in 2013. If you’ve never eaten at a Bubba Gumps restaurant before, you’re in for some fun! The servers will ask you trivia questions relating to Forrest Gump; this is especially exciting if you’re with a group of friends and you’re the competitive type. Here’s some fun trivia: Did you know that famous actor Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World) worked at the Bubba Gumps on Front Street when he was an undiscovered actor?

8. Choice Health Bar serves breakfast and lunch, and all of their items are 100% vegan. Located at 1087 Limahana in Lahaina, Choice has all of their produce locally sourced and has been recognized as a “Best Healthy Choice” restaurant by the ‘Aipono Awards from 2012 to 2014. Choice’s moderately priced menu is innovative and healthy; they are the only place on Maui where you can get organic, non-GMO, all vegetarian sushi.

9. Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice has two locations in Lahaina – 819 Front Street and 790 Front Street. The latter location opens a bit earlier than the other, with store hours being 10:30 am to 9:00 pm. (The 819 Front Street location opens at 12:30 pm and stays open until 10:00 pm.) Ululani’s is an island favorite that serves shave ice and only shave ice. With an extensive list of flavors, you may want to read their menu  before stopping by so you’ll have a good idea of what you want. Although they don’t serve food, we felt it prudent to include it on our list of places to eat because their refreshing shave ice will help you fight off the humidity that Lahaina is well known for.

10. Lahaina Pizza Company is another popular spot that is rated 4/5 stars on Yelp! and TripAdvisor. If you love pizza, as most people do, you must try Lahaina Pizza Company. Every one of their critically acclaimed pizzas  has their special slow cooked tomato topping on it.  They offer a variety of refreshing tropical drinks and local beers. Lahaina Pizza Company is located at 730 Front Street, and opens at 11:30 am.

We hope everyone enjoys our suggestions of places to dine and snack while you’re in Lahaina. There are so many wonderful places to consider both – local and chain restaurants – that it was difficult narrowing it down to ten. If you’ve tried any of the places listed above or have any recommendations of other delicious eateries that simply can’t be missed, please feel free to share it with us in the comment section below.

We look forward to seeing you on one of our boat tours that leaves out of Lahaina harbor, and supports legitimate marine research here in beautiful Hawaii. If you’re interested in learning more about how we support marine research, please read about Our Mission and our Donation Recipients. Mahalo!

With Whale Watch season coming to a close, you may be wondering what other fun activities you can do while on vacation in Hawaii. Wonder no more! Our Lanai  Snorkel is fun, family-friendly (children six and under are free), and something that you simply must experience. This activity runs on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with check-in at 7:00 am. Be sure to bring a towel and sunscreen with you.

While we sail to Lanai on the Kaulana of Maui, our 70 foot double decker catamaran, we will offer a continental breakfast of muffins and assorted tropical fruit. Imagine looking out at the beautiful Pacific Ocean, the salty sea air gently caressing your hair, while sipping on your coffee and enjoying fresh tropical fruit. If there’s a better way to start your morning we certainly can’t think of one!

Our friendly and knowledgeable crew will give everyone instructions once we arrive at our destination(s) (weather permitting, we will stop by two different snorkel spots) off the Lanai coastline, where you will discover striking reefs and a diverse collection of marine life including — perhaps — spinner dolphins!  We provide complimentary snorkel gear and floatation devices – oh, and let’s not forget, we have a slide that goes from our upper deck into the water! Our on board gift shop offers affordable underwater cameras and other souvenirs; be sure to pick something up to commemorate this unforgettable trip. You can also feel good in knowing that all proceeds made at our onboard gift shop are donated directly to marine research.

After your snorkeling adventure we will serve you a BBQ buffet style lunch of burgers, veggie burgers, hot dogs, chicken breasts (with all the extras!), macaroni salad, and chips. As for beverages, we offer unlimited water, soda, and juice and one free cocktail, which can only be enjoyed after you snorkel. Additional alcoholic beverages are available for purchase, but you must have a valid ID with you regardless of your age.

This half day adventure will leave you tanned, tired, and happy. For your convenience, if you are staying at on the West side of Maui, we offer an exclusive courtesy shuttle . Oh, and if you book your tour online, you’ll receive our 10% Internet discount rate! We look forward to seeing you on our Lanai Snorkel tour. A hui hou!

It’s indisputable that Molokai is one of the most beautiful of the Hawaiian Islands. Whether you’re a Hawaii local who goes to bring some Molokai hot bread home or a tourist who doesn’t want to miss out on visiting historic sites, there are so many places to see and accomplishing them all in a day just doesn’t seem possible. We’ve assembled a list, presented here in no particular order, of five eclectic things to do while you’re visiting Molokai.

  1. Eat! Trying new foods is always interesting and if you eat where the locals do, you know you’re going to eat well. Popular places to grind include Kanemitsu Bakery, Kualapu’u Cookhouse, Paddler’s Inn, and Mana’e Goods & Grindz.
  2. Post-A-Nut. We’re serious! Everyone loves receiving mail (that isn’t a bill), and this attraction is #1 of the top 60 things to do on TripAdvisor’s “Things to Do in Molokai” list. This attraction is very straightforward: visit the post office, decorate a coconut and mail it out with help from the visitor proclaimed “nicest Post Master in the world.”
  3. Ka Ule o Nanahoa also known as the “Phallic Rock.” Legend has it that this sacred rock has the power to help women fall pregnant. In addition to the interesting legend, we think it’s a pretty neat place to visit because of the short hike you’ll have to take to get to the rock (the hike is relatively easy and generally accomplishable by a person of any age) and you can also check out the Kalaupapa Lookout while you’re in the area.
  4. Kumu Farms. Whether you’re looking for a fresh organic banana to snack on (see item 1 on this list – everyone loves food!) or natural body creams and body scrubs, Kumu Farms is the place to go!
  5. Father Damien’s Church. This attraction is on our list of places to visit during our Molokai Alii Tour, but it felt prudent to include it on this list considering the contributions Father Damien (also popularly known as Saint Damien of Molokai) made to the population of Molokai during his lifetime.

Our Molokai Ferry runs 7 days a week between Lahaina, Maui and Kaunakakai Harbor, Molokai; two carry on items are allowed per person, and children under the age of three are free. For more information, visit our Molokai Ferry page, or if you think a planned tour is more your speed then we’d recommend our Molokai Alii Tour, where your day is planned and you’re taken around Molokai in a comfortable air conditioned bus with a knowledgeable local tour guide.

There are so many fun, interesting, and educational things to do on Molokai that it was difficult to limit our list to just five. If you’ve done any of the things on our list, we hope you’ll share your experience with us!