Like coffee beans, the only place cacao beans, the main ingredient for making chocolate, are only grown commercially in the the United States is in Hawaii. Here on Maui, we have our own cacao farms. Not all of the chocolate made on Maui uses our local beans, but some do. Those are noted below, with a special shout out to Hana Gold. We highly recommend their plantation tour if you have time on a trip to Hana. Here, then, are our five favorite chocolates made on Maui.

Hana Gold
The Hana Gold chocolate bars are made using organic cacao grown and hand-picked on their Hana plantation. Not only is the cacao grown on Maui, but 100% of the ingredients used are cultivated on Maui. The bars themselves are even poured and molded in Hana. Hana Gold offers plantation tours Monday – Saturday at 2:00. Beyond the plantation, Hana Gold chocolate bars can be found at Mana Foods, Down to Earth, Maui Ocean Center and other specialty shops. (Hana Gold)

Hawaii Fudge Company
With locations on Front Street in Lahaina and on South Kihei Road, the award-winning Hawaii Fudge Company, makes it convenient for you to try their various candies. Beyond fudge, they also make toffee, caramels and taffy. Our favorite is the salted caramels, but everything we’ve tried has been good. Hawaii Fudge Company also offers daily classes in their Kihei shop where you’ll take home a pound of fudge that you make. (Hawaii Fudge Company)

Maui Specialty Chocolates
Maui Specialty Chocolates is one of Maui’s best kept secrets. These dark and milk chocolates, made by the owner of the company, are rich and smooth and come in many varieties. Our favorites are mint truffles and the crunchy peanut butter cups. Beyond chocolate, they also make delicious peanut butter and chocolate mochi that melt in your mouth. The only place to purchase Maui Specialty Chocolates is from their little outlet in Kahului, about 5 minutes from the airport, making it a great place to pick up gifts for your flight off the island. (Maui Specialty Chocolates)

Sweet Paradise Chocolatier
Making chocolate with locally grown ingredients, Sweet Paradise Chocolatier has been on Maui since 2007. Perfect for gifts, their hand-crafted truffles and patterned chocolates are absolutely beautiful and taste great, too. Each piece is like a little piece of art. But you’d be a fool to not eat them, after taking an Instagram photo, natch. The lava sea salt caramels are also heavenly. At their Wailea shop, they also sell chocolates from other Hawaiian-based chocolatiers, so it’s definitely worth a visit.(Sweet Paradise Chocolatier)

Wow Wee At just $2.50 a bar, decidedly less expensive than the other chocolates on this list, Wow Wee calls its chocolate bars “Maui’s Candy Bar.” Wow Wee makes bars in a variety of local flavors, using local ingredients like macadamia nuts, coconut, Maui potato chips, Kona coffee, Maui rum and Hawaiian sea salt. Our favorite bar is the Dark Chocolate with Hawaiian sea salt and caramel. Wow Wee chocolate bars are available at Long’s Drugs and other local retailers. (Wow Wee)

Do you have a favorite chocolate made on Maui? Leave a comment below or tell us on Twitter @HIOceanProject and Facebook @hawaiioceanproject or send us a picture on Instagram @hawaiioceanproject.

Maui has a vibrant live music scene featuring many different types of music. From Lahaina to Upcountry, you’re bound to find live music on Maui every night of the week. Here are our favorite places to watch live performers.

  1. Charley’s (Paia)
    With the Hard Rock closing its doors on Maui in late 2016, Charley’s is the best place to see indie rock bands, local bands and touring club acts on Maui. While most venues on Maui seem to cater to, shall we say “older” visitors Charley’s is going after younger music fans. With a lively, fun atmosphere, a great bar and good food, Charley’s is a good time for locals and visitors alike. (Charley’s Restaurant and Saloon)
  2. Fleetwood’s on Front Street (Lahaina)
    Owned by legendary Fleetwood Mac founder Mick Fleetwood, you would expect to Fleetwood’s on Front Street to be a live music mecca. Good news… it is! Even though there are plenty of recurring acts on the schedule, Mick Fleetwood himself does take the stage. Check out their monthly calendar at the following link to find out who’s playing. (Fleetwood’s on Front Street)
  3. Mulligans on the Blue (Wailea)
    On the south shore, from Kihei to Wailea, there are many live music options. But we’re zeroing in on Mulligans for their consistently great artists. While the “triangle” in Maui has live music at places like Life’s a Beach and the South Shore Tiki Lounge (live music daily from 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM) it mostly focuses on DJ’s and dance music. At Mulligans, live music is its major form of entertainment. If you choose one night to visit, make it a Wednesday when Hawaii legend, Willie K. is performing. (Mulligans on the Blue)
  4. Casanova (Makawao)
    Located upcountry in the fun little town of Makawao, Casanova is primarily known for serving some of the best Italian food on Maui. But, on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, they host music events. While artists like Willie Nelson, Kool and the Gang, Taj Mahal and Los Lobos have played at Casanova, the focus is on established contemporary Hawaiian bands, as well as and reggae artists. Casanova mixes in “club” nights featuring DJ’s with live performers, so make sure to check the schedule at this link to find out who’s playing. (Casanova)
  5. Cool Cat Cafe (Lahaina)
    With a rotating cast of regulars and music ranging from contemporary Hawai’ian to classic rock, Cool Cat Cafe is always a fun hang. Along with the music, Cool Cat serves up award-winning burgers and build-your-own milkshakes. With a convenient location on Front Street, you can stand outside and listen to music. If you like it, walk on up and join the fun. (Cool Cat Cafe)

Tell us your favorite live music venue in the comments below, or on Twitter @HIOceanProject and Facebook @hawaiioceanproject or send us a picture on Instagram @hawaiioceanproject.

As the sun begins to peek over the horizon, we invite you to board Hawaii Ocean Project’s own Lahaina Princess for the unique opportunity to grab an underwater look of a volcanic caldera just off the coast of Maui. Molokini is one of Maui’s premier snorkel destinations due to the clear waters and extraordinary marine life that has made the tiny crescent island their home, so you definitely do not want to miss this!

Join us at the main booth on the north end of Lahaina harbor at 6:30 am and hop on our 65 foot double-deck adventure yacht ready for an unforgettable day of play in the warm Hawaiian waters. At 7:00 am, we will ferry you to the historic Molokini Crater as our first location. And if you missed breakfast due to the early check-in time, we got you covered with a continental breakfast. Once anchored, grab your gear and get to snorkeling in one of the only three volcanic calderas in the world where this is possible!

As lunch time nears, we will hele (go) over to the captain’s choice for our second location and snag yet another chance to glimpse the underwater world. It is here we hope to introduce you to our favorite finned friends; one or more of the five different varieties of turtles you can see in Maui waters! On our way over, you will be served an ono (delicious) deli-style all you can eat lunch.

Unfortunately, your day with us does come to an end. As we head back to the Lahaina Harbor, simply sit back, relax, and take in the majestic beauty of Maui. Upon returning to the harbor, we are happy to give suggestions on how you can spend the rest of your day!

What’s included:

  • Breakfast and lunch along with unlimited water, soda, and juice.
  • Snorkel equipment with instructions from our crew.
  • Flotation devices (including life jackets, noodles, boogie boards.)
  • Reef-friendly sunscreen.

The Hawaii Ocean Project Molokini Snorkel tour is the only one that departs from Lahaina harbor, making it the perfect launching pad for those staying on the west side. Taking sail year round on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, we are sure that your Hawaii vacation itinerary has a spot for a memorable Maui adventure. Book online today and save!

Happy Thanksgiving! This list could’ve run on for pages and pages. But on this long weekend, we’ll settle for our top 10 reasons to be thankful for living on Maui.

  1. The people— People come from all over the world to live on and visit Maui. Most of the people here are chill, friendly and happy. Quick with help and joyous smiles, we’ve never a been around a happier lot of people anywhere in the world.
  2. The weather— It never really gets too hot or too cold. When it does get too hot, the trade winds come in to save the day. Even the rain here is pretty when it forms delightful rainbows.
  3. The ocean— No matter where you are, you’re just a short car ride away from the majestic Pacific Ocean. Our oceans are filled with beautiful fish and sealife. From bright yellow tangs to green sea turtles to large rays, snorkeling in our oceans, no matter how often you go, promises something new to see and experience. Of course, Maui’s ocean provides a wonderful playground for those who like to spend their time above the water, as well. With world-class surfing, kiteboarding, windsurfing and stand-up paddle boarding, whatever object you ride in our oceans, you’re guaranteed to be satisfied.
  4. The beaches— This goes hand-in-hand with the ocean. Our beaches are clean, pristine and offer various types of terrain, from white sandy beaches to black lava beaches to red sand beaches, we have it all. Tidepools formed on beaches are excellent places to teach children about ocean ecosystems. And of course, there are few things more relaxing than reading the book under an umbrella at the beach.
  5. The food— Whether you prefer a cheap, plate lunch or a 5-star meal prepared by the finest chefs in the country, Maui has food for everyone. Hawaii’s favorite dish, poke, may have gone national, but the best poke on the planet can still be found here on Maui. Other regional specialties, like malasadas, loco moco, chow fun and shave ice are always available and always delicious.
  6. The sunsets— Every night nature puts on a show that produces some of the most breathtaking images you’ll ever see. Even locals who have spent their entire lives here gaze in awe at the beauty of our sunsets. Whether they’re golden, pink or fiery red, the sunsets never disappoint on Maui.
  7. The hiking— Whether you’re on a half-mile trail connecting two beaches along the coast or 10,000 feet up above the clouds surrounding Haleakala, the hiking on Maui is extraordinary. Rainforest hikes take you through wet terrains to waterfalls and rivers, while ridge hikes take you to points with amazing views of the ocean, valleys and everything in between.
  8. The waterfalls— From the 400 foot Waimuku Falls to smaller waterfalls hidden throughout the island, Maui is an Instagrammers dream. The Road to Hana itself has at least 12 waterfalls either located right off the road or a short hike away. Twin Falls and the Waihee Ridge Trail hike offer excellent waterfall views, as well.
  9. The artisan spirit— Living on an island, we often have to make do with what’s on hand. Sure farm-to-table is a burgeoning movement on the mainland, but here on Maui, it’s a way of life. The upcountry farms produce some of the finest livestock, fruits and vegetables you’ll find anywhere in the world. Beyond food, the artisan culture of Maui creates everything from sunblock to pickles to handcrafted chocolate with cacao grown right here on Maui.
  10. The history— The Hawaiian Islands have a unique history, language and culture. It’s a history to be proud of and embraced.

We love living on Maui. No, it’s not always the paradise portrayed on postcards, but it’s home. We’re proud to live here, and we’re proud and thankful we get to share our island with visitors from around the world. Mahalo!

 Achilles Tang
These black fish have a distinctive orange patch near the tail and some seriously beautiful orange, white, and blue stripes that look like they were painted on. Growing to 10 inches long, the Achilles Tang can be found in surge zones, along rocky shores and coral reefs. While you should always try to keep a respectful distance from fish while snorkeling, it’s especially true of the Achilles Tang, as their tails consist of sharp spines that can cause deep wounds.

 

Bird Wrasse
White and grey in color, as juveniles and females, Bird Wrasses, like all Wrasses, will evolve into males, as they mature, and turn blue and green. With their distinctive snouts, the Bird Wrasse can grow to about 10 inches long. They can usually be found near the reef looking to dine on shellfish, worms, urchins and other sea creatures.

 

 

Black Durgon
Also called a Black Triggerfish, the Black Durgon appears to be a solid black fish, with white stripes that run along its dorsal and rear fins. But a closer look reveals that the “black” is actually multiple colors, and depending on the lighting can be quite striking. This blimp-shaped fish is normally around 12 inches long, but it can grow to 18 inches. Black Durgon are usually found just below the surface, near rocky and coral reefs. (Photo copyright Conchasdiver | Dreamstime.com)

 

Blacktip Reef Shark
With black tipped dorsal and pectoral fins, the Blacktip Reef Shark is fairly easy to differentiate from other sharks. They are considered relatively harmless and should not alarm you if you spot one while snorkeling. As long as you don’t antagonize them, and stay a respectable distance from them, you should be safe. They can grow to around six feet.

 

Bluespine Unicorn Tang
With a horn-like growth out of the middle of its forehead, it’s no mystery where this fish got its name. Like the Achilles Tang, Bluespine Unicorn Tangs have sharp spines in their tales that can cause injury if you touch them. They can grow to 24 inches, and tend to feed near shallow reef surfaces.

 

 

Christmas Wrasse
The Christmas Wrasse, named for its red and green coloring, can be found primarily in shallow reefs and along rocky bottoms, going as deep as 30 feet. Growing to nearly a foot in length, it’s one of the larger Wrasse fish in Hawaiian waters. (Photo copyright Krlkllr34 | Dreamstime.com)

 

 

Convict Tang
The most common of the Tang (or Surgeonfish) family, the Convict Tang can be found in tidepools and shallow reefs all the way down to depths of 150 feet. These distinctive fish really do look like convicts with their white bodies and black stripes. The Convict Tang averages about six inches in length and feeds on reef algae.

 

 

Forceps Butterflyfish
Unless you look closely, this fish can be easily confused with the yellow Longnose Butterflyfish. Both fish are bright yellow, with dark heads, and long noses. But, there are two main characteristics that separate the two fish: the Forceps Butterflyfish has a slightly shorter nose, and its jaw is roughly one-third shorter. The Forceps Butterflyfish feeds in shallower parts of the reef, whereas the Yellow Longnose feeds in the deeper waters at the outer reef. (Photo copyright Oskanov | Dreamstime.com)

 

Fourspot Butterflyfish
With a bright yellow lower body and black top half, the fourspot is so named for the two white spots on each side of it’s body. Still, it’s often confused with raccoon butterflyfish, even though the black rings around its eyes are far less prominent than in the raccoon variety. The fourspot butterflyfish is common in Maui’s reefs and reaches a length of about 8 inches. (Photo copyright Krlkllr34 | Dreamstime.com)

 

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles
Native to Hawai’i, the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle is the largest hard-shelled sea turtle in the world. They can grow upwards of 4 feet long, and can weigh more than 300 pounds. They are the most common of the five sea turtles you’ll see in Maui’s waters. The other turtles you may come across are the Hawksbill, Leatherback, Loggerhead and Olive Ridley. Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles are endangered species. It is against the law to touch them.

 

 

Hawaiian Whitespotted Toby Pufferfish
Endemic to Hawaii, these small fish grow to around three inches. The Hawaiian Whitespotted Toby Pufferfish is yellowish to dark brown, with white spots, and are the most common pufferfish found in Maui’s waters. Like all pufferfish, when alarmed, these fish will expand their size by upwards of 2x to 3x by sucking in and holding water. They, also, have poisonous toxins in their skin that makes them dangerous for predators and humans. (Photo copyright Wrangel | Dreamstime.com)

 

Milletseed Butterflyfish The black-spotted, yellow Milletseed Butterflyfish is endemic to Hawaiian waters, and is one of the most common fish seen by snorkelers in Maui’s reefs. It has a unique, vertical black eye mask. They tend to swim in schools in both shallow and deep reefs and grow to about 6.5 inches.

 

 

Moorish Idol
Quite beautiful, the Moorish Idol is often confused for a butterflyfish, but it’s actually a member of its own species. These fish are commonly seen near the sea floor around shallow reefs by snorkelers. Besides its coloring, another characteristic of Moorish Idols is their extremely long dorsal fin that can double the length of the fish. Moorish Idols can grow up to nine inches long.

 

Needlefish
Long and narrow with needle-like pointy beaks, needlefish swim near the ocean’s surface, and often leap from the water. While you’re in the water, they can actually be hard to spot as the shimmering silver coloration often looks like simple waves. Needlefish can range from a couple of inches all the way to three feet or more. (Photo copyright Andris Lipskis | Dreamstime.com)

 

Orangeband Surgeonfish
Generally between 6 to 14 inches long, the Orangeband Surgeonfish is identified by a thick orange strip just above its pectoral fin. Another fairly easy identifier is their two-toned body, normally white (or lighter) in the front half of their body and grey in the back. They tend to swim in schools near the sandy ocean floor.

 

 

Orangespine Unicorn Tang
Unlike the Bluespine Unicorn Tang, the Orangespine Unicorn Tang does not have a prominent “horn,” but an easy to way to identify these fish is by the orange band where its tail meets its body. They primarily feed in shallow reef surfaces and can grow up to 24 inches long.

 

 

Ornate Wrasse
The Ornate Wrasse lives near the reef and can be found at depths from as shallow as 3 feet all the way to down to nearly 500 feet. They normally reach a length of about 6 inches, but can grow up to 10 inches. These multi-colored fish normally sport a pinkish head with green, blue, and red spots and stripes.

 

 

Parrotfish
A brilliant pink, orange or blue, parrotfish are commonly seen on Maui reefs. Though they are often colored similar to parrots, their name is derived from their beak-like snouts. Parrotfish can be found in both shallow and deep water reefs and can grow quite large, up to six feet in some cases, though most range between less than a foot to three feet long. By expelling the corals they eat, Parrotfish are actually partly responsible for the white “sand” beaches you’ll find around Hawaii.

 

Pennant Butterflyfish
With a white body and two wide black stripes, this fish is often confused for the Moorish Idol. The main way to tell them apart is in the length of the dorsal tail. Where the Pennant Butterflyfish seems as though it’s snipped off, the Moorish has an extremely long one. They are often seen in schools in deeper water.

 

 

Raccoon Butterflyfish
Growing to nearly eight inches in length, the Raccoon Butterflyfish has an oval shape and is named for its black, raccoon-like mask. Its bright yellow body is easy to spot against the reef. The Raccoon Butterflyfish is very common in Maui’s waters.

 

 

Reef Triggerfish (Humuhumunukanukaapua’a )
The state fish of Hawaii, Humuhumunukanukaapua’a means “triggerfish with a snout like a pig.” While they reside in shallow reefs, they aren’t the friendliest of fishes and will scatter if they feel encroached upon. That said, with their bright, distinctive coloring, they are easy to spot and track from a distance. They grow to about 10 inches.

 

Saddle Wrasse
A fish native to Hawai’ian waters, the Saddle Wrasse can reach nearly a foot in length and are found mostly in waters from about 15 to 75 feet deep. The Saddle Wrasse acquired its name because of the colorful “saddle,” normally red, located behind the dorsal fin. The Saddle Wrasse is one of the most common fish you’ll see while snorkeling Maui’s waters.

 

Sergeant Major Fish
So named for the five black stripes running vertically against it’s, generally, blue coloring, the Sergeant Major fish can live in waters up to 130 feet deep. Juveniles can be found in tide pools. Though they can grow up to 9 inches, most max out at around 6 inches.

 

 

Spotted Boxfish
While the females are primarily brown, and the males mostly blue, they are named for the spots that cover their bodies. Hawaii’s most common boxfish, they swim mostly in shallow waters and can often be seen by beachgoers wading near the shoreline. Spotted boxfish can grow to 10 inches, though most tend to be around six inches. (Copyright Dirk Jan Mattaar | Dreamstime.com)

 

Spotted Pufferfish
Pufferfish come in two varieties, smooth and spiny. The Spotted Pufferfish is a smooth puffer that can reach 20 inches in length. Fairly common in Maui’s waters, they are brown with white spots and can found near the reef during the day.

 

 

Threadfin Butterflyfish
Normally hanging out near the inner and outer reef slopes, Threadfin Butterflyfish grow to around eight inches in Hawai’i’s waters. To tell this fish from other Butterflyfish, look for the black dot near the rear of its dorsal fin.

 

 

Yellow Longnose Butterflyfish
While, normally, bright yellow in color, researchers believe the Yellow Longnose Butterflyfish will sometimes turn dark brown, then possibly shift back to its yellow color. They grow up to eight inches in length, and tend to live in deeper waters at the far end of the reef. (Copyright Olga Khoroshunova | Dreamstime.com)

 

 

Yellowmargin Moray Eel
While eels are often seen in the reefs of Maui, the Yellowmargin Moray eel is the most common. Staying hidden in the reef during the day, they are sometimes difficult to spot. Yellowmargin Moray eels can grow to four feet in length. While they have acquired a bit of a scary reputation, as long as you don’t provoke them, Moray eels are not considered dangerous. But, as with everything under the sea, you should stay back a respectable distance and don’t antagonize them.

 

Yellow Tang
Probably the easiest fish to spot and identify along Maui’s reefs, the Yellow Tang’s bright yellow coloring really stands out. Your eyes can’t help but be attracted to it. It’s the only solid yellow fish in these waters. They can grow to eight inches, and are normally found in shallow reefs.

We could not be more pleased and excited with our website’s latest look. Over the last few months, we have been working to craft an even better resource for you to discover your next Maui adventure in an easier to use format.

Massive Overhaul
To better serve you, we have worked especially hard with our design team to create a homepage that gives you a complete first look at what your time with Hawaii Ocean Project will be like. We have simplified our information with a fresh and new Frequently Asked Question section. If you have been wondering about booking a trip, where you can find us, or what to bring, you can now get most of your questions answered with no calls necessary.  And to be in the know before you go, we have created a detailed snorkel Q&A as well as a whale Q&A to have you well prepared for your next ocean adventure.

All New Packages
To maximize your precious time here on the Valley Isle, we have created combination tours to get you double the fun for an incredible price! With the return of our favorite gentle giants, grab a stunning show of the majestic Pacific Humpback Whales followed by a flaming sunset out on the water with our Dinner Cruise & Whale Watch Combo. Rather hop into the water and get a personal look? With our Dinner Cruise & Snorkel Combo, you can glimpse life in paradise above and below the surface!

Get to Know Maui
As part of being your source for all things Maui, we have created a section dedicated to what to do in the Valley Isle. From ocean activities to land activities and everything in between, you are sure to learn the ins and outs of the island before you even step foot off the plane! Looking for exclusive updates on Maui events, places to dine, online promotions, and more? Then join our Maui adventures newsletter and take a little bit of the island with you for when you go!

Take a Look Around
With all the exciting changes that we have made on our site, we could go on and on but we won’t! Here at Hawaii Ocean Project, we feel that there is a little fun in mystery and truthfully there really is too much good stuff to include in just one post. So poke around and stay awhile, you might just discover the adventure you have been looking for!

The shaka sign, made with the thumb and pinkie up, and the three middle fingers curled into a fist, then lightly shaken, is ubiquitous in Hawaii. Locals use it as a sign of solidarity and friendship. It can be used to say “howzit? (how’s it going?)” or “thanks” or “hello” or “hang loose.” Most associate it with Hawai’i but some believe it’s roots began in California.

Here in Hawai’i, when attempting to seek the origins of the shaka, no one can definitively say where it came from. There are a few different origin stories that revolve around a “man” missing his three middle fingers. Some believe it began with a surfer who lost his three middle fingers to a shark. Another story is that a young man lost his fingers while throwing dynamite into the ocean. Still another variation is that a man in the 1960’s lost his fingers in an industrial accident and was known by all his neighbors, including the mayor. When the mayor was running for re-election, he adopted the man’s missing-digit wave while he campaigned.

Finally, one story that seems to be catching steam as the definitive truth involves a man named Hamana Kalili. Kalili lost three fingers to a sugar cane feeder. Once he lost his fingers, he could no longer work in the mill so he became a security guard. Part of his duties included overseeing the train that carried away the sugar cane. When kids would try to sneak onto the train, they would give the “all clear” sign to their friends by mocking Kalili’s fingerless wave. Charming!

So, if that solves the mystery of how the shaka came into existence, the next question is, where does the name “shaka” come from? In the 1960’s, local TV personality David “Lippy” Espinda ended his TV car commercials with “shaka, brah!” Most believe this is the origin of the name. But, even this is in dispute.

Remember that mayor that purportedly co-opted the sign from this fingerless neighbor? Well his name was Frank Fasi (1920-2010) and he credited the late boxing promoter Bill Pacheco for flashing the sign and saying “shaka brother.” Others believe the word “shaka” is derived from the name of a Buddha, Shakyamuni, who pressed his hands together in the shapes of the shaka. Another belief is that shaka is an amalgamation of “shark eye,” a compliment given to friends and relatives. The true origin of the name “shaka” may never be known.

No matter where the shaka sign came from and how it was named, shakas are a part of every day life here in Hawai’i. If someone flashes you a shaka, don’t hesitate to send one right back!

Whether you are planning a Maui vacation for the first time or you are a seasoned visitor, there are certain advantages to knowing the ins and outs of the Valley Isle. With that said, we here at Hawaii Ocean Project aim to keep you in the know before you go with our Free Quarterly Newsletter. Get island inspiration right in your inbox and see how easy it is to fall in love with Hawaii.

Along with providing you with exciting ocean activities, we work to be a helpful resource for you during your stay here on Maui. While we already offer Hawaii travel tips and tricks on our website, this newsletter features exclusive updates on all things Maui. From upcoming island events and current Maui news to the best eateries and sights to see, you are sure to find something that will lead to unforgettable memories.

Discover incredible destinations like Upper Waikani Falls on the way to Hana or wander through bustling towns like Lahaina’s own Front Street. You can even plan to join in the island festivities, especially during this holiday season, and truly step into island living. And if you’d rather be out on the sparkling blue ocean, we also highlight one of our action-packed boat tours with each issue.

Hawaii Ocean Project invites you to get to know the island of Maui before you step off that plane, and after all the tans fade but Maui memories are forever. So HOP to it and sign up today! Enter your name and email in our sign up form below; it is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Already here? Well stop by the far north end of Lahaina’s historic harbor, we would be delighted to give you our warmest aloha!

Sure, you can easily spend your entire family vacation at the pool or at the beach. There’s nothing wrong with that, and if your kids are like ours, they will be perfectly happy with that. But if you want to shake things up a bit, here are five more family activities to keep the family engaged and off the tablets and phones!

Whale Watching
In season, December 1 – April 30, nothing beats a whale watching tour. Two hours on a nice boat, learning about whales and the ocean, while taking in gorgeous views of Maui and surrounding islands. Out of season, snorkel trips out to Lana’i almost always take you through pods of active spinner dolphins. While dolphins aren’t as spectacular as giant whales, they are loads of fun and love to play next to the boat. Click here to learn more about our whale watch tours and our Lana’i snorkel adventure.

Maui Ocean Center
Should the weather forecast look iffy, schedule the Maui Ocean Center for a rainy day. Nearly all of the activities are indoors, and oh what activities they are! The highlight of any trip to this aquarium is the stunning glass tunnel through the middle of a tank full of sharks and rays. It’s just beautiful. Maui Ocean Center is ultra-eco-friendly. They keep no mammals, nor do they serve drinks in plastic bottles or offer plastic straws (they use paper straws). Overall, it’s a very impressive aquarium and is a highlight of any trip to Maui. (Maui Ocean Center)

Surf Lessons
Depending on the age of your kids, this can be a fun for the family. Generally speaking, you’ll find friendly, knowledgable instructors who will get both you and children up and riding waves. A morning of surfing creates memories to last a lifetime. It may even create a lifelong surfer, and just as importantly, your children will learn respect for the ocean. You can find surf lessons all over Maui.

Ziplining
Ziplining is a fun and exhilarating way to see Maui. You can find various zipline adventures all over the island. We recommend googling it. But, for this article, we’ll call out three that are located near visitor hotels and condos and that are family-friendly.
Lahaina Zipline Adventure Tour: Soar over the Maui Dragon Fruit Farm on Lahaina’s only zipline tour. Though only 450 ft. long, this zipline tour allows you to go up to four times! The minimum age is 5 years old, with a max weight limit of 250 pounds.
Maui Ziplining at Maui Tropical Plantation: With five zipline adventures, ranging from 300 – 900 feet, Maui Ziplining has something for everyone aged 5 and up. Must be between 45 and 250 pounds.
Skyline Eco-Adventures Ka’anapali: For ages 10 and up (minimum weight 80 pounds,) this tour encompasses either an 8-line or 11-line tour with views of the Pacific Ocean and takes 2.5 – 3.5 hours.

Roller Skating
Take your kids roller skating at the Kalama Park roller rink. Every Wednesday from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM and Friday and Saturday from 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM. Skating is free, but if you need to rent skates, they are available for just $5 a pair. FYI, this is not the skate park, which is located near the rink. The skate park, for those a little more adventurous, is for skateboarders, roller skaters and scooter riders who prefer ramps and tubes.

One bonus listing: Toddler story time at the Kihei Public Library on Thursday mornings from 10:30 – 11:o0 AM, with crafts from 11:00 – 11:30. Children’s librarian Miss Kathleen leads a raucous story time for toddlers with reading, singing and dancing. It’s a truly interactive experience for toddlers and parents, alike. On Fridays, there’s an additional 10:30 AM story time for children 4 and up, though kids of all ages are welcome.

Please let us know if you have other family recommendations for visitors of Maui by commenting below or hitting us up on Twitter @HIOceanProject and Instagram @hawaiioceanproject

Whether you live on Maui or are just visiting, Maui’s artisan food purveyors make treats that you can enjoy and feel good about. Using local ingredients and hiring local residents, artisan goods are a boon to the local economy. The five companies listed here make products that are good now, but they also make excellent gifts for friends and relatives on the mainland. They all travel well in a suitcase, or they can be ordered online and shipped. We only listed five companies, but there are numerous local companies who display their wares at farmers markets all over the island.

Waikapu Pickles
These pickles, made from Maui-grown cucumbers, are fully made by hand, down to the slicing. Just two years old, Waikapu Pickles have taken Maui by storm. While regularly available at the Upcountry Farmers Market, they can also be found at natural food stores like Mana Foods in Paia and Down to Earth in Kahului. They currently bottle four varieties of pickles, with the Hawaiian Chili Pepper being our favorite. (Waikapu Pickles)

Adoboloco Hot Sauce
What started as a homeschool project has grown into a wonderful little sauce company. Bottling chili waters, hot sauces and marinades, this family run business shows that the family that works together, stays together. Adoboloco Hot Sauces can be found at Foodland, Whole Foods and many other retail establishments. Popular breakfast spot Kihei Caffe has it available to use on your meals, if you wish to try it. (Adoboloco)

Maui Fruit Jewels
Made in Wailuku, these vegan, gluten-free candies are made with over 50% fresh, local fruit. Excellent for eating here on island or for taking off-island, Maui Fruit Jewels are a perfect gift. Featuring local fruits like mango, pineapple, lilikoi, other flavors include herb and spiced wine and tumeric. Here on Maui, Maui Fruit Jewels can be found at Whole Foods, Foodland and assorted gift shops. (Maui Fruit Jewels)

Maui Olive Oil
Using olives grown upcountry in Kula, Maui Olive Company presses and makes this olive oil here on Maui. After six years of waiting for their olive trees to bear fruit, the company pressed their first olive oil in 2015. They sell out fast, but if you head to the Upcountry Farmers Market early on Saturday mornings, you may be able to find some. If you do, you’ll be in for a real treat! (Maui Olive Company)

Maui Crisps
A beef jerky unlike any beef jerky you’ve ever had, Maui Crisps are more like potato chips in texture. You can literally snap them and crumble them with your fingers. How do they manage to make preservative-free smoked beef into a chip? With paper thin slices of beef, smoked just right. Maui Crisps really need to be tried to understand the novelty of the product. For non-meat eaters, they are now packaging pineapple crisps. Tracking them down isn’t so easy. You can either purchase them from the website, or from the Shell gas station on Kaahumanu Ave. near the Queen Kaahumanu shopping center. (Maui Crisps)

Tell us your favorite local companies on Twitter @HIOceanProject and Instagram @hawaiioceanproject or leave a comment below. Thanks!