Here on Maui, there are plenty of things that vacationers can do for fun, from beach outings to dining experiences to a very long list of activities. Most of these options are available all year round, but some things come and go. For example, the Maui Arts & Cultural Center (MACC) is hosting the new exhibit "Spineless: Portraits of Marine Invertebrates: the Backbone of Life." If you enjoy art or marine life or both, you may want to swing by to see what the artist has on display.

Susan Middleton is an acclaimed photographer who has garnered a great deal of popularity through her past exhibits, including "Archipelago" and "Remains of a Rainbow." Whatever draws Susan's eye is sure to be presented in a fascinating and intimate light. This time, she's set her sights on marine invertebrates, meaning underwater creatures with no spines. Think octopus, squid, crab, shrimp and a host of other creatures. Considering that over 98% of the ocean's known species are invertebrates, it should be interesting to see which of them caught Susan's eye for her photographs.

She certainly chose an interesting set of subjects, although we may be biased, considering that we operate snorkeling tours to Molokini and Lanai. That being said, invertebrates have become quite popular in recent years, thanks to a growing public interest in the ocean in terms of both science and popular works of fiction. In fact, depictions of the octopus have even filtered into the fashion world.

While fads come and go, some of us have an enduring passion for the marine world and all its inhabitants. If that includes you or anyone traveling with you, take some time to swing by the MACC. It could be especially convenient if you're planning to go see one of their shows or performances the same day. In fact, if you're on a family vacation with your kids, they might check out the photographs at the exhibit in conjunction with Observe and Play Family Day, an opportunity for them to craft a sea creature of their own to take home. Admission is free, and conveniently, both are both held in the Schaefer International Gallery.

The Spineless exhibit will open on August 6th, and will remain at the gallery until October 1st, 2017. Observe and Play Family Day will be held on Saturday, August 26th from 10am to 12pm in the same location. You can find out more about both by visiting mauiarts.org. If you'd like to find out more details about our Maui ocean tours, you'll find our contact information at the bottom of the page. Mahalo!

There are so many things to do and see on Maui, visitors often try to fit it all into one vacation and find that they can't. But with so many different activity options, it can be a challenge to thread through them to find out what's suitable for kids of certain ages, and what isn't. Some activities are best left to adults, while others are only suitable for older children. With that in mind, here is a list of our top 10 suggestions for things to do with your kids on a Maui vacation.


Molokini Snorkel tours – The number 1 way to discover Hawaii's marine life with your children: joining them in their natural habitat! Molokini is home to calm, clear waters, and hundreds of marine life species; making for the perfect family snorkel experience. Book with us and enjoy one of Maui's most memorable experiences with your family! 

Submarine tours – These outings are safe and convenient for children of many ages, not to mention that they love these experiences. Especially if you have a child who isn't big on getting in the water, at least not yet. These kinds of tours give kids a chance to view the underwater world without getting wet.

Magic shows – These performances inspire wonder in children, and that makes them a popular favorite. Magicians seem to do the impossible, and most kids get a real thrill out of seeing magicians do things they can't explain. Either your children will be amazed, or hard at work trying to figure out how the tricks are done. Either way, this is a mentally stimulating option and a lot of fun.

Luaus – At these gatherings, your kids will have a big selection of food, so even if they're on the finicky side, they'll usually find something they like. More importantly, it's the dazzling entertainment that children enjoy at luaus. They get to watch mesmerizing hula performances, and sometimes even fire dancers. Just don't be surprised if they demand lessons!

Horseback Riding – There are a number of places that offer trail rides to guests on Maui, and all of them are accustomed to accommodating children. Check their specific age limits. Timid children can sometimes be apprehensive about horses, at least at first, but once they get used to the steady rhythm of movement, the ride becomes a fun and memorable experience. Not to mention the lure of the gorgeous Maui scenery.

Hiking tours – Older kids can have a lot of fun with hiking tours, and the spectrum is pretty broad in terms of strenuousness. Opt for easy hikes and experience Maui's natural beauty with your children. This is also a great way to get your kids to spend their energy.

Zipline – This exhilarating activity is generally limited to children aged 10 and over. If your kids don't have a fear of heights, this can be one of the most fun and exiting things they will ever do. How often do kids get to tell their friends about how they went zooming through the trees on Maui with the beautiful blue Pacific as the backdrop?

Sugar Cane Train Ride – Although the sugar cane industry has just come to an end, the Lahaina Sugar Cane Train is in operation, and waiting to whisk you and your kids off on a historic tour of West Maui. The sights are stunning for kids of all ages, but this activity tends to be the most popular among younger children.

Maui Ocean Center –  You won't find a bigger collection of native Hawaiian marine species anywhere else in the world. Conveniently, you and your children get to view these fascinating creatures in all their colorful splendor without having to get into the water to look for them. Best of all, it's suitable for young children too. Don't miss the touch pools!

Surfing Lessons – Ideal for kids that fall into the middle or older age range, surfing lessons are taught by experienced instructors all over the island. They teach at beaches with mild conditions to ensure safety, and it's worth keeping in mind that surf instructors are powerful swimmers. Choose based on reviews from other parents to ensure the best experience.

(Bonus!) Parasailing/Whale Watching – We're combining these two activities because they're mutually exclusive, depending on the time of year. From December to May, whale watching tours will be in operation. During the other half of the year when the humpbacks have migrated to their summer feeding grounds, parasailers can take to the skies once again. They can't operate during whale season because of the risk of striking a whale. Seeing a 45-foot long whale in person tends to leave a lasting impression on children, and sometimes a lasting love of marine life. Sailing through the skies over the ocean off Maui's shores also leaves a lasting impression, by providing your kids with a whole new perspective on the world, literally.


If you're vacationing with family, Maui can be a wonderland for children and adults alike. Just don't forget to treat yourself to a special experience too! If you have someone to babysit, or your kids are safely off on their own supervised adventure, maybe you can join us aboard a romantic Maui sunset dinner cruise / theater combo tour. Whatever is in store for you and your children, we hope you have an amazing time on the island! Mahalo!

Did you know that Lahaina has more art galleries per capita than any other town in the United States? From popular local artists to internationally renowned masters, you’ll find a stunning spectrum of art in Lahaina. Maybe there’s something inspiring about discovering beautiful works of art in an equally beautiful place, because the art scene only seems to be growing in Lahaina. There are sometimes even opportunities to meet some of the artists. You might even find paintings of the Lahaina Harbor in some of these galleries. Its scenic beauty makes it a popular subject. In fact, some of our boats may very well appear among these renditions.

If you enjoy viewing art, you’ll find galleries all along Front Street. In fact, there are so many, you might not have time to step inside and explore all of them. After all, you’ll need to eat sometime! With that in mind, we’ll suggest five galleries that we like. Just keep in mind that the others are wonderful too. Art is subjective, after all, so it’s all about your personal taste. These are just some good ones to get you started.

Lik Lahaina – This is one of the most popular galleries in Lahaina, partly because of the dazzling photography of the world renowned master, Peter Lik, and partly because of the incredibly friendly and helpful staff. Stepping through their doors is always a pleasant experience. If the beauty of nature dazzles you the most, you’re sure to enjoy seeing it through the discerning eyes of Peter Lik.

Wyland Galleries – If you’re familiar with Wyland, you’ll know that he’s all about fantastic depictions of aquascapes. His work is popular among Maui vacationers who have been inspired by their experience of the tropical ocean. Try joining us on a Lanai snorkel tour and then check out his gallery afterwards. You might feel like his work captures the magic of the underwater world. If his paintings aren’t your cup of tea, you might still enjoy his sculptures. On a side note, Wyland is a passionate environmental conservationist who lives in Hawaii part-time.

Vladimir Kush Gallery – If you enjoy richly immersive surrealism, Kush is world famous for just that, along with his command of color and light. His work is known for inspiring viewers to think in new ways. Remarkably, this talented artist works from images in his head, which isn’t surprising considering the unusual content, but is quite surprising in terms of the detail and realism of his paintings. This gallery is an eye opening experience that’s not to be missed.

Daryl Millard Gallery – Looking for a quintessential piece of Maui landscape art? Daryl has become popular for providing just that. His paintings are as comforting as they are beautiful, and feel like windows into Maui. His sunset paintings are especially celebrated, and his masterful use of light really helps bring his images to life. If you want a piece of art to remind you of your time spent on Maui, you won’t want to miss this gallery. Also, his staff are every bit as warm as his paintings.

The Village Galleries Maui – This is your stop for an all around interesting art collection from a wide variety of artists. You’ll find jewelry, sculptures, prints, blown glass, paintings, and some interesting Hawaiian cultural art, among others. Prices are reasonable, so it’s a nice place for a quality souvenir or a gift for a loved one.

We hope that you enjoy exploring these creative gems on Front Street, along with the many others that are worth looking into. Who knows, maybe the trip will inspire you to do some artwork of your own? You could even take pictures for reference material later. For that, you could get some amazing shots from our Maui Sunset Dinner Cruise, if you’re interested. Mahalo!

Did you know there are only two native mammal species that can be found on land in Hawaii? They are the Hawaiian hoary bat and the Hawaiian monk seal. When we homo sapiens found our way to the islands, we brought a whole host of other mammals, including rats, mice, pigs, mongoose, cats, dogs, horses, sheep, cows and many more. If you turned back the clock to the time before these changes, you’d see pristine stretches of smooth, undisturbed beach throughout Hawaii, and the only sunbathers were Hawaiian monk seals relaxing peacefully among the busy little sand crabs. In those days, there wasn’t so much as a mosquito to bother them. Humans brought those later, too.

Luckily for the Hawaiian monk seal, the major Hawaiian islands only comprise part of the enormous chain. Hundreds of smaller islands stretch to the northwest, and most of them are empty of humans and other mammals. Despite the changes that humans brought to their habitat, Hawaiian monk seals remain exclusive to our archipelago, and to the diminutive Johnston Atoll, a former U.S. military base several hundred miles to the southwest of Hawaii. When the Polynesians arrived in Hawaii, they named the Hawaiian monk seal “Ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua”which means “the dog that runs in rough waters.” So what’s it like being a Hawaiian seal? Here are some fun facts about these shy but dynamic creatures.

Statistics

  • Monk seals live for approximately 25 to 30 years.
  • There are about 1,100-1,200 monk seals in existence today.
  • Their top threats are entanglement, shark bites, climate change, disease and food scarcity.

Physical Traits

  • They average 7-7.5 feet long.
  • Unlike many other pinnipeds, the females are slightly longer than the males.
  • Their average weight is 375-450lbs, with females weighing slightly more than males.
  • Algae can sometimes grow in their fur, giving them a reddish or greenish appearance.

Behavior

  • They can dive up to 1,500 feet, but their average depth is 200 feet.
  • Female monk seals mature at age 5, while it is unknown when males mature.
  • Monk seals have been found to give birth at any time of year, but birth rates are a bit higher in March and April.
  • Females nurse their young while fasting for a month, after which time they leave their pup to survive on its own.
  • Monk seals were named for their solitary behavior, and for the loose skin around their necks that look like cowls.

Feeding

  • Monk seals eat from 5.8-12.9% of their own body mass in food per day.
  • Feeding on the ocean floor, they consume fish, cephalopods, and crustaceans.
  • Hawaiian monk seals have a relatively low metabolism compared to other marine mammals.

History

  • Scientists estimate that monk seals have lived in Hawaii for as long as 13 million years.
  • Their species is older than some of the Hawaiian islands themselves.
  • Scientists believe they are the oldest phocids, meaning “true seals,” on Earth.

Hawaiian monk seals are critically endangered, and one of only two remaining kinds of monk seals on Earth, along with the Mediterranean monk seal, whose population has fallen to just 600 individuals. There was once a Caribbean monk seal, but it is believed to be extinct since the 1950’s. This makes the survival of the Hawaiian monk seal especially important. To avoid harming these remarkable marine mammals, it’s important to keep the islands free from litter, and above all, to stay as far away from them as possible if you come across one lying on the beach. Monk seals are accustomed to solitude, and they like it that way. Females are known to permanently abandon their pups if disturbed by people. If you see a monk seal in Hawaii, report the sighting so the professionals can collect data and keep onlookers at a safe distance.

To report monk seal sightings:

Email pifsc.monksealsighting@noaa.gov or call your island’s Marine Mammal Response Coordinator.

  • Island of Hawaii: (808) 987-0765
  • Kauai: (808) 651-7668
  • Maui/Lanai: (808) 292-2372
  • Molokai: (808) 553-5555
  • Oahu: (808) 220-7802

If you join us aboard one of our Maui sunset cruises or Hawaii snorkeling tours, keep in mind that monk seal sightings are extremely rare but not impossible. You’re much more likely to spot Hawaiian green sea turtles, especially if you’re snorkeling with us. If you have any questions about the marine life you’ll encounter on our tours, you’ll find our contact information at the bottom of the page. We look forward to having you onboard with us! Mahalo!