We have a different article about our favorite malasadas. For this one, we’re talking straight donuts. We love donuts. The round kind with the hole, the long kind, the long twisty kind, the filled kind. All kinds! Whether for breakfast or dessert, donuts rule. We pretty much had to flip a coin between number 1 and number 2 on our list. They are both so ono! Here are our five favorite places to get donuts on Maui.

  1. Donut Dynamite (Wailuku)
    With fun, exotic flavors, Donut Dynamite is our favorite donut shop on Maui. You want fun flavors? How do Bacon Maple, Oh!Reo Cookie, and Salted Caramel grab you? They also have “local” flavors like Maui Vanilla Bean and Molokai Sweet Potato. And yes, they do make malasadas if you want something truly local to Maui. At $4.00 a piece, the donuts here aren’t cheap. But they’re quite large and, of course, they taste great. Closed on Sundays, Donut Dynamite is open Monday – Saturday, 7:00 AM – 1:00 PM. They do run out, so get there early! (Donut Dynamite)
  2. T. Komoda Store and Bakery (Makawao)
    If you prefer a more traditional donut than those served at Donut Dynamite, we recommend you take a trip up to Makawao and visit Komoda’s. The Long John, a cream-filled, chocolate bar-type donut is our favorite. But the donut-on-a-stick, a twisty-glazed-type donut is a close second. Komoda’s is also famous for its cream puffs and, especially, their coco puffs, a chocolate cream filled puff. Open from 7:00 AM – 4:00 PM on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and from 7:00 AM – 2:00 PM on Saturday, you need to get there by 9:00 for a decent selection. They tend to sell out of their pastries by mid-morning. (T. Komoda Store and Bakery)
  3. Krispy Kreme (Kahului)
    When you fly into Maui, pretty much the first thing you see when exiting the airport is Krispy Kreme. Being the only location in Hawai’i, it’s a popular stop for residents of other islands. Say what you will about Krispy Kreme, but you can’t deny the simple glazed donut is one the finest donuts ever created. One bite and it just melts in your mouth. The other donuts they serve are fine, but oh that glazed. We have no problem putting down two or three while waiting dutifully in the cell phone lot to pick up family and friends from the airport. (Krispy Kreme)
  4. The Bakery (Lahaina)
    Don’t feel silly if you’re parked right in front of The Bakery and feel like you can’t find it. It’s a small, dingy looking shop in an industrialized part of Lahaina. The door is usually cracked open and even when you’re standing on the doorstep, you’re still not sure if it’s the right place. Once you step inside, you’ll smell the fresh breads and pastries. Well known for having the best malasadas in Lahaina, they also make large, satisfying donuts. If they have the lemon glazed donut when you visit, don’t hesitate to buy one! Closed on Sundays, they’re open the rest of the week from 5 AM – 11:30 AM. (The Bakery)
  5. Home Maid Bakery (Wailuku)
    Opened on Maui in 1960, Home Maid Bakery is a local institution. When locals think of Home Maid, their thoughts go to the many varieties of the crispy manju and silky mochi. They also think about fresh, warm malasadas. But Home Maid also makes delicious donuts. The chocolate donuts are really good, but sugar donuts are even better. The Long Johns are also spot on. Home Maid Bakery is open seven days a week from 5:00 AM – 9:00 PM. (Home Maid Bakery)

You’ve seen our list of favorite donut shops on Maui. Now tell us yours in the comments below or on Twitter @HIOceanProject and Instagram @hawaiioceanproject

A warm island breeze softly brushes your shoulders while you sit back in your seat to enjoy the soothing rhythm of the Hawaiian waters gently lapping the sides of the boat. Watch as the sun paints the sky intense shades of sunset with a refreshing beverage in hand and loving companion at your side. As the only boat with all premium seating, at no extra charge, we invite you to board Hawaii Ocean Project’s own Maui Princess for an enchanting evening full of love, laughter, and lifetime memories out on the calm ocean water.

Dinner Cruise Highlights:

  • Live entertainment
  • Delicious food
  • Refreshing beverages
  • Impeccable service

Departing at 5:30 pm seven days a week from the historic whaling port of Lahaina, our large luxury vessel makes its home in the West Maui waters. So wander in from the bustling shops of Front Street and check-in at the north end of the Lahaina Harbor between 4:45 to 5:00 pm. The evening’s entertainment will vary each night to ensure that each experience is one-of-a-kind! Paired with the strums of our musicians, the island of Maui forms her own performance as she fades into shades of gold while the sun sets. You might even get to catch a stunning show from our finned friends during the whale season of December to April.

With a stunning backdrop forming, dinner will be served on the open-air upper deck by our attentive staff.
Choose between:

  • Mouthwatering prime rib that is carved on board
  • Delectable roasted chicken
  • Macadamia nut encrusted mahi mahi fillet with a harmonizing buerre blanc sauce
  • Appetizing vegetarian patty with marinara sauce.

Each meal will also include a fresh garden salad with croutons and papaya seed dressing along with potatoes, carrots, dinner rolls, and a refreshing beverage. For guests onboard the Maui Princess, sodas and juices will be unlimited while our full bar will feature three alcoholic drinks included, with additional available for purchase. And those with a sweet tooth, don’t fret! A delightful cheesecake will be served as dessert with a seasonal fruit drizzle to wrap up the dinner service.

But the evening does not stop there! With a full 2.5 hours on board, join your new Maui friends and sway to the beat or kick back to watch the stars appear. As the clock rings 8, our cruise will dock back at the Lahaina harbor but that does not mean that your time with Hawaii Ocean Project has to come to an end. We have a number of ocean activities to add to your agenda and booking online leads to an instant 10% off the full price of all our activities! So clear your Hawaii vacation itinerary and board a Hawaii Ocean Project adventure today!

The annual Halloween celebration in Lahaina has been called the “Mardi Gras of the Pacific.” When day turns to night, with traffic blocked off, Front Street is transformed into Maui’s biggest adult party of they year. But, lets go back to the beginning.

The first “official” celebration of Halloween on Front Street took place in 1989. By 2007, Halloween easily became the biggest day of the year in Lahaina. Crowds were estimated to be between 20,000 – 30,000 people. Though never verified, it was thought that Halloween alone pumped $3 million into the local economy.

Back then, the evening started with a keiki (children’s) parade. Seeing the kids in their costumes was the big highlight for a lot people. As darkness set in, the crowd and the vibe of the event went from family fun to an alcohol-fueled mega-party. Unlike New Orleans, you weren’t allowed to drink alcohol on the streets. Still, blocking the streets from cars, led to a constant parade of barely clad men and women roaming Front Street.

Considering it an affront to Hawaiian culture, a group of cultural advisors asked local authorities to shut the party down. And in 2008, it did. The county no longer sanctioned the keiki parade, the costume contests, and most importantly, it left Front Street open to automobile traffic. In doing so, the county hoped to curtail the rowdiness. It was effective. Maybe too effective, as local business suffered a sharp downturn in revenue.

By 2011, Maui County was still feeling the effects of the downturn in tourism due to the ongoing recession. So the LahainaTown Action Committee and the Office of Economic Development relit the fuse on the Halloween party. Once again, the keiki parade led off the event, and as dusk settled the adults came out to play.

Today, the Keiki Costume Parade kicks off the annual Halloween celebration at 4:30 PM. The parade ends on the stage at Banyan Tree Park, where the children receive a ribbon and goodie bag. From there, the party rolls down the street to Campbell Park for live music. Once the sun goes down, it’s back to Banyan Tree Park, for more live entertainment and a costume contest for adults. Many of the bars and restaurants along Front Street host their own Halloween parties and costume and contests.

Though it hasn’t reached those peak, early-2000’s attendance numbers, the party is still the biggest of the year in Lahaina. If you’re attending this year, have fun and be safe!

Maui has some of the best high-end foods in all of Hawai’i. From Hali’Maile General Store to The Millhouse to Morimoto’s, if you want a wonderful, romantic meal, Maui has you covered. But sometimes, you just want greasy comfort food. It’s OK. We totally get it! For greasy spoon diner food, Maui once again has you covered. It’s somewhat telling that only one of the locations listed here has a website. Here are five greasy spoons, listed alphabetically, that we recommend you try if you just want a quick, tasty breakfast with no hassle or pretense.

CJ’s Deli and Diner (Ka’anapali)
A classic diner, CJ’s is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 7:00 AM – 8:00 PM. Tucked away in the Fairway Shops at Ka’anapali, CJ’s also provides boxed lunches, in a cooler, if you’re having a beach day or driving to Hana. But, CJ’s is known for their breakfasts. Serving everything from “All-American” plates with eggs, pancakes and bacon or sausage to loco moco with a half-pound hamburger patty (quite the gut bomb for breakfast!) to Hawaiian sweet bread French toast. Plus they have an assortment of fruit plates and healthier fare. Unusual for a greasy spoon diner, they also have gluten-free and vegetarian menus. (CJ’s Deli and Diner)

Jack’s Inn (Kahului)
Back in the day, we wouldn’t eat at Jack’s more than a couple of times a year due to the ever-present cigarette smoke. It was that kind of place. Now, however, with no smoking ordinances in place, we eat at Jack’s at least once a month. The loco moco over fried rice is to die for. Jack’s is the ultimate, old-school Maui breakfast joint. Beyond breakfast, it’s known for its oxtail soup and saimin. If you want one last taste of classic Hawaii before headed off the island, we recommend you swing by Jack’s Inn. It’s less than 10 minutes from the airport. Open from 5:30 AM – 2:00 PM Monday – Saturday, closed on Sunday. (Jack’s Inn)

Sheik’s (Kahului)
Sheik’s opened in 1968 and has been serving up greasy spoon classics like hamburgers, fried chicken and hot dogs since day one. Beyond the classics, though, Sheik’s serves up surprisingly good Hawaiian plates. The breaded teriyaki is probably the best on all of Maui. The saimin and chow fun are also quite good. As for breakfast, it’s not an expansive menu, but they serve typical breakfast plates plus a 4-scoop serving of excellent fried rice. With linoleum tables and vinyl booths, Sheik’s certainly plays the part of the beloved greasy spoon diner. (Sheik’s)

Sunrise Cafe (Lahaina)
On Front Street, where it seems like everything is aimed at deep-pocketed visitors, Sunrise Cafe stands out. It’s our favorite hole-in-the-wall diner in Lahaina. The menu is expansive and affordable and the food is good and plentiful. Sunrise Cafe is known for its loco moco. Considering the time difference here on Maui, we’re a little surprised more places don’t open early for breakfast, but Sunrise opens its doors at 6:00 AM. Sunrise Cafe is cash only. (Sunrise Cafe)

Tasty Crust (Wailuku)
Seen from the outside, it screams “old school diner!” Seen from the inside, it screams it even louder. Tasty Crust would be right at home in a Quentin Tarantino movie. It has greasy spoon roots and is proud of it. The service is fast and friendly and the food is filling and, well, tastes OK. Look, it’s not going to blow your socks off, but if you want breakfast done right, Tasty Crust delivers. They are open for breakfast at 6:00 AM every day and remain open all day for dinner except for Monday, when they close at 3:00 PM. Cash only. (Tasty Crust)

What is your favorite greasy spoon diner on Maui? Leave a comment below or tell us on Twitter @HIOceanProject and Instagram @hawaiioceanproject

Planning a trip to Hana takes, well, some planning. What follows is a simple list of recommended items you’ll want to bring along for drive on the Road to Hana.

Hana Day Trip Planning Guide: 12 scenic spots to visit
Hana Day Trip Planning Guide: Where to eat

What to pack for the car:
* Gas up! Remember to fill your tank. Gas stations are few and far between.

* A map. If you have a phone with GPS, as long the map can be accessed while off-line, it will be sufficient. But having an actual paper map handy is always a good idea. You can most likely pick up a free map at your hotel or condo.

* Something to listen to. It’s optional, but music is always fun. There are also plenty of “audio tours” available on CD or even as apps for your phone. If you use a phone app, make sure to bring a car charger as you’ll be listening to it for a few hours. The Hawaii Public Libraries (Lahaina, Kihei, Wailuku, Kahului, Makawao and Hana) have audio tours available to check-out. You can also check out guide books. If you’re not a resident, you can get a 3-month temporary library card. With the card, you also receive wi-fi and computer access, in case you want to download or print out maps. You can also print out boarding passes when the time comes to fly away.

* A small cooler. Another optional item, but a cheap, small cooler with some ice to keep drinks and snacks (fresh poke, anyone?) cold is nice to have.

* A garbage bag. Along the way, you’ll accumulate trash.

What to pack for the body:
* Sunscreen. Sure, you’ll be spending most of your time in the car, but you will be stepping out, eventually. At least, we hope you will!

* Mosquito repellent. If you want to explore the beautiful forests, you’ll probably want to spray. The mosquitos are often vicious out there.

* Itch cream. For all of those mosquitos bites that happen after you jump in a river or tide pool that washes off your bug repellent.

* Hand sanitizer

* Something to alleviate motion sickness. You can purchase dramamine over the counter. Or, there are other natural remedies that may work for you. Of course, if you’re not prone to motion sickness, you can ignore this. But the road is windy, and you’re spending plenty of time gawking out the windows, so motion sickness is quite common.

What to wear:
* Hat and sunglasses. Again, you’ll be in the car for most of the trip, but once you get out of car, you want to keep yourself protected from the sun.

* Comfy clothes to hike in. Shorts are fine. T-shirts and tank tops are fine. For most people, whatever you wear to the beach will be OK. The caveat being, if you’re going out with the sole intention of doing some of the bigger hikes, well, you probably already know what to bring on a long hike.

* A change of clothes. If you swim or go on a particularly muddy hike, it might be nice to have dry, clean clothes to change into for the long drive back. You may not need them, but better safe than sorry.

* Hiking shoes or sneakers. The trails can get slick. For most of the hikes near the highway, flip-flops should be OK. But you’ll probably feel a lot better in actual shoes.

* Day pack. A light backpack to carry water, a towel, your camera, etc.

What else to bring:
* A towel. One towel for the entire car will probably suffice. If you go to swimming hole, you may want to dry your feet before you get back into your shoes, but everything else will dry naturally. A towel is also nice in case you spill something in your car.

* Plastic bags. Not for garbage, but rather for wet and/or muddy clothes and shoes.

* A camera. OK, most people just use their phones, but if you have a nice camera, bring it (and a spare battery and memory card). Word of caution, though. If you leave it in your car, hide it. There are break-ins. Don’t make it easy for criminals.

* Water. Water. Water. If there’s one thing to bring with you, it’s water. The road is long and hot. There aren’t too many places to purchase water and you’ll want to stay hydrated.

* Snacks. There are actually great fruit and snack stands along the way. The banana bread stands are always popular. However, they’re not always open or they run out of food. So, to be safe, you should bring along chips, veggies, candy, spam musubis, etc. to munch on. Best case scenario, you won’t need it. But, it’s a long ride. We’re guessing you’ll eat everything you bring.

* Cash. Most of the fruit and snack stands only accept cash

Continue reading our Hana Guides:
Hana Day Trip Planning Guide: 12 scenic spots to visit
Hana Day Trip Planning Guide: Where to eat

When driving to Hana and following directions, it’s all about the mile markers. For most of us, mile markers are nearly always looked over. For this trip, though, keep an eye out for them!

Before you begin your trip, make sure you check out our What to Pack Guide  to make sure you bring everything you’ll need for a successful journey.

Starting from Paia…

Twin Falls (Mile marker 2)
We know some people don’t stop here because it feels like the trip just started. Because it’s so close to Paia, it’s the single most crowded destination on the trip. But it’s well worth battling the crowds. The falls are gorgeous and less than a mile from the highway. There is also outstanding hiking beyond the falls. If you decide to drive past it, we highly recommend you visit it another day. Or, if you’re doing an out-and-back to Hana, hit it on your return. Afternoons are far less crowded. You can also pick up fruit and drinks at the Twin Falls Farm Stand.

Waikamoi Nature Trail (Midway between mile markers 9 and 10)
A quick hike, but we enjoy it. It takes you through an old forest with plenty of greenery and some scenic views. It’s not spectacular, but it’s a nice stop to stretch your legs.

Garden of Eden (Midway between mile markers 10 and 11)
You will probably pull in, see that they charge $15 per adult, and get back on the road. But, if you have the means, the Garden of Eden is really pretty spectacular. A little earlier this year, we named it the best tropical garden on Maui. For the price of admission, you will see 26 acres of lush greenery and every tropical flower you can imagine. You’ll also see where they shot the opening sequence of “Jurassic Park” and take in some of the best views of Puohokamoa Falls.

Ke’anae Arboretum (Just past midway between mile markers 16 and 17)
A smallish, six acre, state-owned arboretum that provides free walking trails through a well maintained nature park. This is an excellent place to get out of the car and stretch your legs if you haven’t stopped anywhere yet on your trip. There are about 150 specimens of trees, each well marked. Included amongst these trees are numerous fruit trees you won’t find anywhere but Hawai’i.

Ching’s Pond (Just before mile marker 17)
This is a quick one. Ching’s Pond (AKA Blue Sapphire Pools) is a small swimming hole popular amongst locals. The brave (or maybe it’s the foolhardy) will make the 25-foot cliff leap. If you decide to jump, research it first. There’s a target you need to aim for or you’ll be crushed.

Wailua Valley State Wayside (Just past the halfway point between mile marker 18 and 19)
Another quick stop, just take the small set of stairs on the right and you’ll be awarded with some amazing views of the Ke’anae Valley, Wailua Village and the ocean. On a clear day, you can even see waterfalls. You can’t get the view from inside your car, so definitely get out and stretch your legs if you stop here.

Upper Waikani Falls (Just past midway between mile markers 19 and 20)
Many people snap photos of this waterfall (AKA Three Bears) from the car. But, if you want to stop, continue driving less than a quarter mile and you’ll find parking. It’s a short hike down to the falls, and most of the year, it’s a comfortable swimming hole.

Kahanu Garden (Just past mile marker 31)
This spectacular 294-acre tropical botanical garden is another of our favorite tropical gardens on Maui. There’s a $10 fee for adults, children under 12 are free. For your admission fee, you will see plants, trees and flowers from the Pacific Islands, as well as National Historic Landmark, Pi’ilanihale Heiau, a massive lava rock structure, and the largest ancient place of worship in Polynesia.

Waianapanapa State Park (Mile marker 32)
With its black sand beaches, views, blowhole, hiking and caves, Waianapanapa is always a favorite stop. Most people park, quickly snap a photo, and get on their way. But, if you decide to walk down to the beach, you’re in for a treat. The black sand feels nice running between your toes and there’s small cave just as you enter the beach that provides excellent Instagram opportunities. Because people are in such a hurry, though the parking may appear full, it tends to have a steady flow of people leaving. We highly recommend spending an hour or two exploring.

Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach (In Hana Town, trail begins just past the Travaasa Hotel)
While it’s somewhat difficult to get down to the beach due to a crumbling trail (the drop is steep), if you decide to go for it, the red sand beaches are a memory you won’t soon forget. That said, if you’re somewhat squeamish about heights, or you have little ones with you, we don’t recommend this stop. Because of the inherent dangers, the beach itself is fairly empty. If you do see anyone here, chances are they will be naked as this is a clothing optional beach.

Wailua Falls (Mile marker 45. FYI, the mile markers go in reverse from Hana, counting down from 51)
You can see these 80-foot falls from the side of road, where there is plenty of parking and usually a street vendor or two. It’s an easy hike down to the water and most people do Wailua Falls from the road, so if you have the time, we definitely recommend heading down and maybe even going for a quick swim. Due to its beauty and roadside location, it’s the most photographed waterfall on Maui.

Seven Sacred Pools and the Pipiwai Trail (Mile marker 42)
Generally the last stop on a one-day excursion to Hana, Seven Sacred Pools (Ohe’o Gulch) often times gets skipped because people run out of time. The easiest way to get to see the pools is to pay to enter Haleakala State Park. If you time a Hana trip on back-to-back days to the summit to see the sunrise, you can use the same receipt to get in. Once parked, there’s a short .5 mile hiking loop to see the pools. Depending on the time of year, you’ll be able to enter the pools for quick dip. Regardless of whether you’re allowed to swim, the pools are beautiful. The other thing to do at this stop is to hike the Pipiwai Trail, a well-maintained, 2-mile trail that leads you to the 400-foot Waimoku Falls. Before reaching the falls, you’ll see a massive banyan tree and walk through a lush, bamboo forest. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and our single favorite location on the entire trip. Don’t miss this!

Finally, if your car is up for it, we recommend driving around the backside of Haleakala, rather than circling back and returning to the Road to Hana. The road get narrow and, in fact, there is no road in parts of it, but the trails are well-driven, so you don’t need an SUV. The backside is mostly all driving with very few stops, but the desert-like terrain and the lava fields are beautiful and a nice change of pace from the jungle you just drove through. You’ll end up in Kula, near the winery if you could use a calming drink after 10 hours on the road. This is where you should change drivers, as the person who drove this far deserves a break!

PRO TIP: Start at the aforementioned “back way” to get to Hana. Going in the reverse direction, you’ll hit the best parts of the trip, before they become crowded later in the day, then you’ll hit spots like Twin Falls after everyone else has already left. Rarely do people do the Road to Hana in this direction.

Hana Day Trip Planning Guide: Where to eat

On a day trip to Hana, you will probably be on the road for at least 10 hours. During this time, you’ll probably want to stop for at least one “big” meal, as well as for snacks. Here are our recommendations on where to eat on the Road to Hana.

Hana Day Trip Planning Guide: What to pack
Hana Day Trip Planning Guide: 12 scenic spots to visit

Huelo Lookout (Midway between mile markers 4 and 5)
Huelo Town is called “the little Hawaiian village forgotten by time.” A former sugar plantation community, it is now a quiet town with cattle ranches and smaller farms dedicated to growing fruit and vegetables. But the reason to stop here is for the Huelo Lookout fruit and smoothie stand. If you skip Twin Falls, it’s the first place to get drinks and snacks for the road.

Ka Haku Smoke Shack (Just past mile marker 10)
The shack, basically a tarp, serves up some mean barbecue. We wish we could recommend something, but the menu changes depending on what fresh produce and meats the owner, Chef Chewie, has on hand. Everything is farm to table, served on natural plates (bamboo plates lined with banana leaves.) Only open Monday – Friday until late afternoon or when Chef Chewie runs out of food.

Garden Gourmet (Halfway between mile markers 10 and 11, at the entrance to Garden of Eden) A food truck with picnic table seating, Garden Gourmet serves fresh, farm-to-table meals, with much of the produce grown nearby. All the food is prepared made-to-order, so if you’re in a hurry, this probably isn’t the place for you. But if you go, we think you’ll be happy with your meal. You do NOT have to pay to enter the Garden of Eden to eat here.

Aunt Sandy’s Banana Bread (Between mile markers 16 and 17)
If there’s one food item you can buy on the Road to Hana, it’s banana bread. But if you want the best banana bread, stop by Aunt Sandy’s. It’s moist on the inside and somewhat crisp on the outside, creating a really nice texture for which your mouth will thank you. The grilled hot dogs also hit the mark. If your car mates won’t mind, we also recommend the chili dog. But, again, you should ask the other folks in the car if this is OK!

Nahiku Marketplace (Mile marker 28)
Whether you want fresh juices, coconut water, snacks or souvenirs, this little marketplace has grown from its original two vendors to now offering more places to eat than Hana Town. You’ll find food trucks and stalls of all kinds, from Thai to barbecue and everything in between. You will also find vendors selling the world famous coconut candy.

Thai Food by Pranee (Hana)
A little shack in Hana, Thai Food by Pranee serves authentic Thai cuisine. The food tends to fall on the “sweet” side, rather than spicy, but don’t despair, if you order it spicy, it’s definitely, spicy. The other thing to note is you’re eating outdoors. In Hana, this means there will be flies and mosquitos. But, since you read our What to pack for Hana guide you’re set with the bug repellent, right? Back to the food. Thai Food by Pranee is in the running for best Thai food on Maui. People seem to be aware of this because the lines can get long, and it can take, literally, an hour to get your food when it’s busy. We recommend you ask how long it will take, so you can set your expectations.

Braddah Hutts BBQ Grill (Hana)
It’s unfortunate for those of us who don’t live in Hana that the best barbecue on Maui is in Hana. Whether you’re craving barbecued chicken, pulled pork, ribs, steak or even fish tacos, Braddah Hutts has you covered. The portions are big and prices are reasonable, for Maui, anyway. Don’t be scared off by the lines, unlike most things around these parts, it actually moves pretty quick.

Hasegawawa General Store (Hana)
Take a step back in time and enter the Hasegawa General Store to load up on snacks and drinks for the long drive back. Here you’ll find a little of everything, from locally grown vegetables to fishing gear to clothing. This is a mom and pop store that would make your mom and pop proud.

Hana Burger Food Truck (Hana)
The Hana Ranch runs the Hana Burger Food Truck. So obviously, the burgers are fresh and about as local as you can get. Beyond the burgers, though, all the veggies are also grown on location, and the fish is all caught locally. Even the ketchup is made on location using ingredients from their organic farm. Generally speaking we prefer Heinz ketchup above all others, but this ketchup is actually really good. Service is fast and there are plenty of covered picnic tables. The house-made ginger beer (non-alcoholic) is a real treat. As a bonus, as you’re enjoying your meal, you’ll be staring out at the Pacific Ocean. Hana Burger Food Truck is only open Monday – Friday from 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM.

Hana Day Trip Planning Guide: What to pack
Hana Day Trip Planning Guide: 12 scenic spots to visit

Stepping out of your island “home away from home” and onto the white sands of the nearby beach, you enjoy the calming sound of waves gently crashing at your feet. The warm, ocean water at your toes and Hawaiian sunshine kissing your shoulders attract more than just the relaxation-seeking vacationer with mai tai in hand. Since the days of Old Hawaii, the Kohola (Humpback Whales) have been regular and beloved visitors of the island chain.  Born in Hawaii, these gentle giants typically tend to frequent back to their birthplace and make the long journey to the islands in the month of December as the northern temperatures are dropping. Fortunately, we have had the incredible opportunity to welcome our majestic friends home a little early this year!

Spotted off West Maui near Kapalua on October 10th, two North Pacific humpback whales have come to spend the next few months here in the Hawaiian Islands. Many of us look to escape the icy chill of winter in the North to Maui’s coastal waters and the humpback whales are no different. The warm, subtropical climate of Hawaiian waters brings these beautiful mammals to breed as well as give birth. With neighboring islands nestled close to each other, the ocean waters of Maui County offer a safe “kiddie pool” for these whales to also raise their young calves without the threat of toothy predators like the orca.

The official season does not start until December and runs to around April, but this early sighting is an exciting sign that the whales have started their 4-6 week journey to their island home. During the peak of their time here, typically in January or February, you can probably catch a stunning display of frolicking whales right from the shore. But if you want to grab a sneak peek at the breaching and tail slaps, your best bet would be on the water! While any of Hawaii Ocean Project’s cruises offer the incredible opportunity to personally experience the Pacific humpbacks up close, our whale watching tour is centered on these magnificent marine giants. Reserve your spot today and get your cameras ready for 2 hours of once-in-a-lifetime views!

Unlike diving, where things like water salinity levels, hydrogen sulfide and water temperature gradients can deeply affect visibility, when snorkeling around Maui, most of the external factors that affect visibility are easy to spot. If you notice the water seems unusually murky, then it’s probably not a good time to snorkel. Here are five easy ways to tell if visibility is going to be clear when you snorkel.

Waves
A wavy day means that sediments on the ocean shore will be stirring. This is why snorkeling where there’s an off-shore reef blocking waves is advantageous. But, if you’re in an area without a blocking reef, one way to quickly check the wave conditions the night before you’re planning on snorkeling is with a surf app like Surfline or Magic Seaweed, or google “surf forecast at …” (fill in the beach you want to visit). If you see the waves are going to be big (over 4 feet) for surfers in your general area, it will most likely mean the area you’re snorkeling will be wavier than usual. Anything less than four feet and you should be in the clear (pardon the pun.)

RELATED: Best places to snorkel on Maui

Wind
The wind can wreak havoc on visibility. On Maui, the best time to get in the water is early in the morning. Not too early, as you want the sun to illuminate the water, but ideally, you’ll be in and out of the water before the tradewinds kick in. The deeper the water you’re going to be snorkeling in, the less wind becomes an issue. This is why a snorkel trip from a boat, like excursions to Molokini and Lana’i are pretty much wind-proof.

Rain
It doesn’t happen often, but when a big, steady rainstorm hits, it can definitely affect water clarity. Unless the water is super shallow, the issue is not that the rain kicks up sediments, it’s more because of the run-off from all the water coming down and entering the ocean. After big rains, you may hear there’s a “brown water advisory.” If a brown water advisory hits your beach, you should stay out of the ocean. Not only will the water be murky, but the brown water may contain harmful pathogens and other pollutants that can cause illness.

Sunshine
On the other end of spectrum, sunshine also affects clarity… in a good way! Just like on land, the brighter it is, the easier it is to see. Even on cloudy days, it’s never that dark during daytime hours here, but still, a little sun doesn’t hurt your visibility. Think of it as a spotlight, illuminating the fish around you.

RELATED: Common fish you’ll see when snorkeling Maui

You
When a snorkeler kicks up the sand or clay at the bottom of ocean, those particles will then cause the water to become murky. That seems obvious. To avoid this, if you’re near the ocean floor, try swimming with just your hands. The force of your flippers is often enough to stir up the ground.

Please remember when snorkeling to respect your environment. Just as you don’t want anyone to stand on your face, never stand on coral. If possible, keep those legs flapping and try to stay off the ground. Mahalo!

Snorkeling in Maui is fun. When you enter our waters, you’re liable to see fish of all colors, turtles, sea urchins, and maybe even (harmless) sharks and rays. But when snorkeling, don’t overlook the coral. Coral are beautiful, living ANIMALS. Coral has a unique, symbiotic relationship with other sea creatures and plants, and helps “power” our beautiful reefs. However, many corals are dying out due to rising sea temperatures and poisoning from popular sunscreens. See our sunscreen guide to learn more about how sunscreen poisons the reef and what to look for when purchasing reef-friendly sunscreens. Here are four common corals you’ll see in Maui. For fish, check out our Fish Guide for Snorkeling Maui.

Lobe Coral
Found in a variety habitats, lobe coral is one of the most common corals in Hawai’i’s oceans. It’s mostly seen in depths from 10 – 45 feet, though it can also be seen in shallow tide pools and can thrive as deep as 150 feet. They grow less than a centimeter a year, yet lobe coral can become massive entities, up to 20 feet across. Only the outermost layer, about 1 millimeter, is actually alive. There are several species of lobe coral in Hawai’i. You’ll often see yellow, greenish and tan varieties off of Maui’s shores.

Cauliflower Coral
The most common species of coral in surge-zone slopes of shallow reefs less than 10 feet deep, the cauliflower coral ranges in color from tan to pink. It can also be found in depths of 90 feet or more. Cauliflower coral is unusual in that it can only grow to maximum length of about 12-to-15 inches, whereas most corals do not have a capped size. The living portion of cauliflower coral is the outermost layer, roughly 2 millimeters deep.

RELATED: Best places to snorkel on Maui

 

Rice Coral
In still-water habitats, rice coral can be the dominant species of coral. It tends to live below the reef, where it is blocked from the effects of wave surges. One unique aspect of rice coral is its ability to take on a variety of shapes, depending on its proximity to light. If it is in direct sunlight, it tends to grow into spiked peaks, whereas in shady or deeper waters, it’s more flattened out. You can even find both forms of the coral in one seabed when spiked pinnacles, blocking the sun, live over the flat-type of coral. Rice coral, generally, ranges in color from solid cream to dark brown with lighter branch tips. However, the flat, blue rice coral, endemic to Hawai’i, is popular amongst snorkelers due to its bright blue color. Rice corals can grow to several feet in diameter.

Finger coral
Living in wave protected, shallow waters to 100 feet, finger corals are very common in Hawai’i’s waters. It derived its common name because the coral grows out and up, forming appendage-like structures. The “fingers” tend to be flattened at the tips. Finger Coral are light-brown/grey to yellow in color. It’s slow-growing, but it is believed there are colonies over 1,000 years old! (Image credit: By James St. John [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

RELATED: Maui Snorkeling Q&A