Well, this is an awfully short list. These are the only two Irish pubs on Maui at the time of this writing (March, 2018)! So Maui doesn’t boast a great lineup of Irish pubs. But at least the two it does have are pretty darn great…

Mulligan’s on the Blue (Wailea)
Maui’s largest Irish Pub, Mulligan’s on the Blue offers up a full menu of Irish classics plus local fish. The drink side of the menu shows a large selection of draught and bottled beers, whiskeys and cocktails. The pub also features numerous TV’s making it an ideal spot to catch a game. The weekly Wednesday night Willie K. Dinner Show was one of the more popular live music events on the Island. However, after being diagnosed with cancer in January, he’s scaling back his performances. Check the online schedule on the Mulligan’s website to see when he’ll be playing and be sure you pre-book if you plan on seeing one of Maui’s most popular entertainers. The pub also features magic shows on Tuesdays and live music the rest of the week. While located on the “Blue” course of the famed Wailea Golf Club, Mulligan’s is independently run. Still, it’s a great place to stop for a drink after a round. (Mulligan’s on the Blue)

Dog and Duck (Kihei)
Located in the “triangle,” the little cluster of bars and clubs just south of Foodland in Kihei, Dog and Duck is the more wild and unrefined of the two Maui Irish pubs. If Mulligan’s is known for its extensive Irish food menu, Dog and Duck is more known for its party atmosphere, seven nights a week. The food is OK (stick with the fish and chips), but if you’re going for the drinks and a good time, Dog and Duck has you covered. The pub has a few TV’s and they are pretty generous with the remote if there’s an event you must see. One great thing about Dog and Duck is that it’s centrally located in Kihei, so you’re a short Lyft ride away if you over imbibe. (Dog and Duck)

Of course, if your idea of an Irish Pub is anywhere that serves Guinness on tap, you’ll find plenty of locations on Maui. In fact, tell us in the comments where you like to go for a Guinness or Jameson…

We love our monk seals. But if you’re lucky enough to see one, remember to keep your distance. They are endangered and should not be touched or harassed in any way. Beyond that, Hawaiian monk seal mothers of newborns will aggressively protect their pups. The National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA) recommends keeping a distance of 150 feet, allowing them to remain undisturbed.

  1. The official state mammal of Hawaii, the scientific name for the Hawaiian monk seal is Neomonachus schauinslandi. The Hawaiian name is “Ilio holo I ka uaua”, which translates to “dog that runs in rough water”.
  2. The average lifespan of a Hawaiian monk seal is 25 to 30 years. Adult males grow to about 7 feet long and weigh between 300 and 400 pounds. Meanwhile, females can grow to 8 feet long and can weigh between 400 to 600 pounds.
  3. The Hawaiian monk seal is unique in that they live in a tropical climate. Most seals prefer frigid water.
  4. Hawaiian monk seals do not have external ears and they cannot rotate their hind flippers underneath their bodies.
  5. Breeding season is between June and August, with birth usually occurring between March and June. The average gestation time is nine months. Mothers of newborn pups are devoted to their offspring while nursing. For the first 5-to-6 weeks of a newborn’s life, the mother is so busy safely raising her pup that she will not eat. The pups go from 35 pounds at birth to roughly 175 pounds while being nursed. The mothers, though, will lose hundreds of pounds during this time. Once finished nursing her pups, the mothers will abandon their offspring and head out to the ocean to feed.
  6. Hawaiian monk seals feed primarily in deep water coral beds on fish, lobster, octopus and squid.
  7. Humans are the biggest threat to Hawaiian Monk Seal survival. Though we don’t outright hunt them, they will often get entangled in fishing nets and gear. We also encroach on their coastal resting places. Tiger sharks and Galapagos sharks are known to prey on them. Finally, male Hawaiian monk seals will often group up and kill or injure females and immature monk seals of both sexes during a mating ritual called “mobbing”.
  8. Native to Hawaii, the Hawaiian monk seal and the Hawaiian hoary bat are the only two mammals endemic to the Hawaiian islands.
  9. The Hawaiian and the Mediterranean monk seals are the last two surviving monk seals in the world. The Caribbean monk seal, which was once the third type of monk seal, was declared extinct in 2008. In 2016, it was estimated there are 1,400 Hawaiian seals in existence.
  10. The Hawaiian monk seal was officially declared an endangered species in November, 1976.

Have you seen a Hawaiian monk seal on Maui? If so, where? Please tell us your story in the comments below…

Depending on where you are on Maui, the weather conditions can be very different. It can be snowing in one area (OK, the summit of Haleakala, specifically) and 85 and sunny on the beach. That’s an extreme example. Less extreme is it can be pouring down rain near the airport, but 15 miles away at the same elevation in Kihei it can be blue skies and sunny. Why? Here’s a quick guide to help you figure out Maui’s wacky weather patterns.

First, a quick primer. Maui is generally broken down into four regions, central, leeward, windward and upcountry. The reason for the wild weather swings is due to a few factors:

  1. Haleakala and the West Maui Mountains. These mountains keep rain locked on one side of the mountain. For example, the east side of the West Maui Mountains will receive 400 inches of rain a year. But the west side of the mountains (Lahaina) will receive around a foot of rain a year.
  2. Another factor in the weather, also related to the mountains, are the winds. The trade winds, arrive from the northeast for about 80% of the year. When they are blowing, they will wrap around the mountains, causing a jet stream-like action, increasing its force. We’ll go deeper on this phenomenon later in the article. The other winds on Maui, called Kona Winds, come from the south. They tend to bring with them vog (volcano ash fog) from the Big Island and are generally less strong than the trade winds.
  3. Finally, half the island is within 5 miles of the ocean. This creates a strong marine influence for these parts of Maui, but the other half of the island sees no effects.

Maui’s Four Main Regions
Central Maui
When you land at the airport, you’re in Central Maui. Central Maui is basically Kahului and Wailuku. Wailuku is the home of the government buildings and sits at the base of the West Maui Mountains. Because of it proximity to the mountains, Wailuku tends to be wetter than Kahului. But, being trapped between the West Maui Mountains and Haleakala, both towns feature warm temperatures while having less wind and higher humidity than the leeward side of the island.

Leeward Side
The most popular region for visitors is the leeward side, which consists of the south shore (Kihei/Wailea/Makena) and the west side (Lahaina, Kaanapali and Kapalua). Here is where the trade winds really come in to play. The West Maui Mountains splits the winds. As the winds on the north side of island blow, they will continue to hug the north shore, but these same winds will also be funneled between the West Maui Mountains and Haleakala. This blast of wind ends up releasing in Maalaea then wrapping along the Kihei/Wailea coasts. This is why it can be so incredibly windy in the Maalaea harbor and the south shore. Seeing whitecaps in the Maalaea Harbor is common. The mountains that funnel the winds though, also block the rain from coming over to the leeward side, which is why it’s the sunniest, warmest and driest part of the island. Just take note of the afternoon winds, which can make the beach, with sand being kicked up, a bit unpleasant.

The coolest part of the island can get downright cold in the winter (the 40s are not unusual). When people say “upcountry,” they’re generally referring to the Makawao-Pukulani-Kula area. The highway from Kula to Haleakala is also considered upcountry. Upcountry, which is between 1,700 to 4500 feet elevation, is a popular location for residents to reside because of the cooler temperatures, which average in the 70’s and low 80’s vs. the 80’s and low 90’s of the leeward side. Upcountry also has far less humidity, especially compared to Central Maui. Generally speaking, Upcountry has the most comfortable climate.

Windward Side
Consisting of the north shore (Paia/Haiku) and the east side (Hana) of Maui, the windward side is noted for its high winds in Paia and rain around Hana. The northeast trade winds in Paia create legendary conditions for kite boarding and windsurfing. In fact, it’s considered one of the best locations in the world for these activities. Meanwhile, down the road on the Hana Highway, if you stay at around sea level, the weather isn’t noticeably more wet. But as you climb elevations along the side of Haleakala, you’ll be entering rain forests where it rains 365 days a year.

Do you have any questions about Maui’s weather? Ask below in the comments, and we’ll try to assist you.

The “Deep Dive” series takes longer looks at some of our favorite places on Maui.

Our first Deep Dive piece is on the beautiful, yet dangerous Olivine Pools, truly one of the most scenic places on the island. During whale season, you’re bound to see the humpbacks frolicking just offshore. You will also witness the majestic power of the waves as they crash into the walls surrounding the pools. Of course, the pools themselves have their own beauty.

The Olivine Pools are located on the Kahekili Highway, accessible from both the Lahaina side of the island and Kahului. If you’re in Kihei/Wailea, you can really go either direction, though the drive from the west side (Lahaina) is less crazy. By crazy we mean, if you’re coming from Kahului, much of the highway is one lane with hairpin turns. The road starts to feel claustrophobic… even with the expanse of the ocean right below your wheels. The advantage of going “counter-clockwise” (from Kahului) to the Pools is you’ll drive past the Julia’s Best Banana Bread stand. It truly is the best banana bread on Maui. OK, we actually rated it a tie with Aunt Sandy’s, but it’s definitely worth the stop.

When you arrive at the Olivine Pools, you’ll find ample parking on the street. You’ll also come across this sign and memorial:

As stated in the intro to this piece, the Olivine Pools are dangerous. In 2017, a Utah man was swept away and his body was not recovered. SFGate.com named the Olivine Pools one of Hawaii’s most dangerous places. The Pools sit on a rocky point where the waves generally crash into the walls. However, larger waves will jump the walls and flood the pools. When the water goes back out, it sweeps everything and everyone out to the ocean.

You can actually take nice photos prior to the descent down to the tide pools. If you’re with small children or people who may not be in the best of shape, you should stop here. Here’s what the view looks like from the top:

If you decide to risk it and head down, you should wear shoes. Hiking-type sandals with heavy soles would work well, too, and if you’re heading into the pools, they’re the best thing to wear. While it’s not a difficult hike, the rocks are sharp and can get slippery. If you slip, you’ll most likely end up with cuts. Here’s what the hike looks like (the photo makes it look more difficult than it is):

After the first descent, there’s a fantastic viewing ledge. If the water is unpredictable, this is where we stop. From this ledge you can see the entirety of the Olivine Pools, as well the surrounding cliff walls. It’s relatively (but not totally) safe here and unless you want to go into the pools themselves, you’ll see everything you need to see. We recommend you venture no further than here. Even from up here, you’re not totally safe from the waves, so pay attention to the ocean. Here’s the view from the ledge:

The hike down to the pools is also filled with sharp, wet rocks. Again, it’s not difficult, but you may find yourself occasionally slipping. Once you reach the pools, you REALLY need to pay attention to your surroundings. Even on what may seem like the calmest of days, one rogue wave is all it will take to sweep you out to sea.

If you’ve come down this far, the pools are quite lovely and worthy of a plunge. They are safe in that the water isn’t poisonous or anything like that, but know that you are in the direct line of a potentially life-altering wave. Take a dip, then get back up to higher ground.

We’re sorry if we sound like worry warts, but deaths and near death experiences at the Olivine Pools are preventable. Common sense dictates you stay above the shoreline, but human nature will probably lead you down to the pools. Look, we’ve gone down there a few times so it would be hypocritical to say you shouldn’t go. But if you go, please be smart. Be safe.

The number of movies set in Hawaii are numerous, but the actual number of films shot in Hawaii is enormous. Why the disparity? Many of the films shot here are using Hawaii as a fictional backdrop or stand-in for a different place. Using TV as an example, “Hawaii 5-0” is shot on and is based on Oahu. Meanwhile, “Lost” was shot in Hawaii, but on the show the mysterious island is definitely not Hawaii (though there were a few episodes where Hawaii is used as a locale). With that in mind, here are our top 10 favorite movies shot in Hawaii, some we’re guessing, you didn’t realize were filmed here.

1. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
The movie takes place all over the world, but for the iconic opening scene, one of the greatest opening scenes of all-time, Kauai steps in as the double for the Peruvian jungle. Who can ever forget the giant round rock chasing Indy through the booby trapped temple? The temple is on the grounds of the Kipu Ranch, near Lihue. Kipu Ranch is a working cattle ranch, but if you’d like to see where the movie was filmed, you can take a tour here.


2. The Descendants (2011)
George Clooney starred in this Oscar-nominated movie shot on Oahu and Kauai. Clooney’s character lives in a neighborhood east of Waikiki called Nu’uanu. Other locations include the Elks Club in Honolulu (standing in for the Outrigger Canoe Club), Hanalei Bay in Kauai, and Kauai’s Tahiti Nui bar. While a great movie in its own right, it really hits home to residents of Hawaii and it shines the spotlight on the difficulties of balancing Hawaiian history and culture with modernization.

3. From Here to Eternity (1953)
While we think “Raiders of the Lost Ark” has an iconic opening scene, the ‘beach kiss’ scene of “From Here to Eternity” is one of the most iconic scenes EVER FILMED. The kiss between Sgt. Milton Warden and Karen Holmes (Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr) takes place in Halona Beach Cove on Oahu. The beach is nicknamed Eternity Beach for obvious reasons.


4. Jurassic Park (1993)
Eleven years after he filmed “Raiders of the Lost Ark” on Kauai, director Steven Spielberg returned to Hawaii to shoot “Jurassic Park”. While the majority of the filming took place on Kauai (stepping in for the fictional Isla Nublar), there’s a memorable scene shot here on Maui. People often refer to the scene as the opening scene, but that’s incorrect. About 16 minutes into the movie, the music crests and a helicopter carrying the main characters flies over a large rock as they head to the Jurassic Park. That rock, in real life, can best be seen from helicopter or from the Garden of Eden on the Road to Hana.

5. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
Filmed almost entirely on location at the Turtle Beach resort on Oahu’s famed north shore, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” is definitely our favorite comedy shot in Hawaii. The film acts as almost a 90 minute commercial for the resort. We definitely wanted to stay there after seeing the movie. The film does a great job highlighting the beauty of the north shore and is just flat out funny.


6. Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
It may surprise you that the battle arena of “Catching Fire” was shot in Hawaii (it did us). But after re-watching it for this article, we can definitely see it. The movie filmed the brutal cornucopia scene near the Turtle Bay resort at Kawela Bay. The jungle scenes were shot primarily in Waimea Valley and at the always popular Waimea Falls.


7. Point Break (1991)
Both the original and the recent remake shot scenes here in Hawaii, but we’re going to focus on the original, starring Keanu Reeves (Johnny Utah) and Patrick Swayze (Bodhi). While Reeves did learn how to surf the movie, we highly doubt he was on board for the scenes shot at Waimea Bay, Sunset and Pipeline of Oahu’s North Shore. The final scene where Bodhi attempts to ride the “50-Year Storm” wave purports to take place at Bells Beach in Australia, but it was actually shot in Oregon, but the wave itself was from Waimea Bay. Got that?

8. Blue Crush (2002)
Filmed on location on Oahu, “Blue Crush” follows a young surfer as she chases her dreams to join the WSL pro surfing tour. The best surfing scenes are shot on the North Shore, including Pipeline, where the movie climaxes. The hotel where the girls work is the Marriott at Ko Olina. To this day, as far as fictional movies go, we like the surfing in this movie the best.


9. 50 First Dates (2004)
This charming rom-com stars Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore and is shot almost entirely on Oahu. Sandler’s character works at Sea Life Park in Waimanolo, but they shot all over the island, finding smaller locations and using non-actor locals in many scenes. We like that they purposefully dodged Waikiki. By skipping the tourist hub of Oahu, the movie has a smaller, intimate feel.


10. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)
The most recent addition to the “shot in Hawaii” movies, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”, starring Hawaii native The Rock, was shot primarily on Oahu, with many exteriors shot at Kualoa Ranch. If the place looks familiar to you, that’s because “Jurassic Park”, “Godzilla”, “50 First Dates” and “Lost” (this where Hurley set up his golf course), among other movies and TV shows were filmed at the ranch. If you’re on Oahu and want to tour the ranch, they have a special “movie lot” tour here. There’s also a cool waterfall jump scene that was filmed in Papaikou on the Big Island. The Rock will back in Hawaii to shoot “The Jungle Cruise” for Disney in 2018.

Do you have a favorite film shot in Hawaii? Tell us in the comments below. Mahalo!

There are many fun things to do on Maui, but most involve the ocean. Whether you go on a whale watch, a snorkel tour or just hang out the beach, you’re bound to be having a fun time. But if you’re looking for a little more adventure, have you thought about horseback riding?

Believe it or not, Maui has a long history of ranching. We even have a Hawaiian word for cowboy: paniolo. In 1793, Captain Vancouver gifted King Kamehameha a few head of cattle. By the 1820’s, cattle were roaming Maui, destroying everything in their path. Soon, cowboys were brought in from the mainland to corral them. Eventually, the natives were taught cowboy techniques, and the rest, as they say, is history.

If you’re interested in going horseback riding on Maui, you’re in luck. There are many options. Here are our five favorite places to ride horse, listed alphabetically.

Lahaina Stables (Lahaina)
Conveniently located in Lahaina, Lahaina Stables is the easy choice if you’re staying on the west side and either don’t have a car (it’s an easy Lyft/Uber trip) or don’t feel like driving very far. Lahaina Stables offers three different rides, AM, Lunch, and Sunset that take you along the West Maui Mountain ridge giving you fantastic views of the ocean. The sunset ride, while quite a bit more expensive than the AM ride ($189 vs. $135) offers smaller groups and champagne and chocolate-dipped fruit, making for a uniquely romantic evening. (Lahaina Stables)

Makena Stables (Kihei)
Offering morning, sunset and private tours, Makena Stables also offers something the others on this list don’t… the chance to ride through lava fields that will make you feel like you’re on Mars. Riding along the shoreline south of the Wailea, you’ll have outstanding views of the ocean, Molokini and may even see the Big Island. But, oh, those lava fields. You will feel transported to different time and place once you hit the trail. Makena Stables is easily the most convenient horseback tour if you’re staying in Kihei and Wailea. (Makena Stables)

Mendes Ranch (Wailuku)
Starting from the beautiful Mendes Ranch, ride down from the valley to the coastline for 1.5 hours of gorgeous trail riding. If you visit during the winter and early spring, you are likely to see whales. When is the last time you saw whales from the back of a horse? Mendes Ranch offers two rides, AM and early afternoon. On the afternoon ride, there’s an option for a pre-ride barbecue lunch. (Mendes Ranch)

Piiholo Ranch (Makawao)
Ever see the movie “City Slickers,” where Billy Crystal played a New York City businessman who decides to vacation on an active ranch and cattle drive? Well, Piiholo offers the unique opportunity to spend three hours as an actual cowboy, rounding up cattle! Of course Piiholo Ranch also offers a more traditional two and three-hour rides (both are private, with a minimum of two riders), as well as lessons for children. (Piiholo Ranch)

Thompson Ranch (Kula)
A working cattle ranch, Thompson Ranch is known for its small groups (no more than six riders at a time) and the gorgeous vistas provided while riding along on Haleakala mountainside. Outside of the incredible views, you’re also likely to see cattle, chickens, turkeys and other creatures great and small. Morning, picnic and sunset rides, along with private rides are offered. This is a smaller operation with a decidedly less “tourist” feel. (Thompson Ranch)

Have you been horseback riding on Maui? Where did you and do you recommend it? Let us know in the comments below…

They said it was a fool’s errand to try to name the best banana bread on Maui. On any given day, the “best” may change due to baking conditions. Maybe the day we visit is especially humid and throws off the preparation. Maybe there was a bad bunch of bananas. Or the water was “funny.” You get the picture. We barreled ahead anyway. For the most part, we’ve been eating banana bread on Maui for years, so it’s not like a single bad visit is going to throw us off. We have plenty of institutional knowledge on this topic. Here then are our five favorite banana breads on Maui.

We’re going to take the wimpy way out and declare a tie for the title of the best banana bread on Maui. Both Aunt Sandy’s and Julia’s are ridiculously good.

Aunt Sandy’s Banana Bread (Road to Hana, mile marker 17)
What makes Aunt Sandy’s so good? No one is really sure. We think it’s probably the locally ripened bananas, but Aunt Sandy may put a little magic into her bread. It’s always super moist, not too sweet and the texture is divine. We know people who, because of a craving, have driven out to Hana just for Aunt Sandy’s, bought a couple of loaves, and drove home. Crazy! (Aunt Sandy’s Banana Bread)

Julia’s Best Banana Bread (Kahakuloa)
If you think the Road to Hana can be a tough drive, it ain’t got nothing on the Kahekili Highway. You can reach Julia’s from both Lahaina and Wailuku, traveling in opposite directions. But the highway from both directions is rough. Hairpin turns on a one-lane roads with a deathly drop down a cliff into the ocean is no one’s idea of a fun drive. But the payoff, arguably the best banana bread on Maui, is so worth it. There’s nothing fancy about it. It just tastes darn good. (Julia’s Best Banana Bread)

The rest…

Grandma’s Coffee House (Haiku) Located way upcountry in Haiku, getting to Grandma’s from the west side is a bit of hike, but you won’t be upset you made the drive. Right about now, you’re probably wondering if it’s a prerequisite to drive for hours for banana bread. The answer is no. Just keep reading. Anyway, Grandma’s is an old school shop with wonderful breakfast and coffee… and banana bread. At Grandmas’s there a number of varieties of banana bread, but we stick with the classic. Again, for some reason, the banana bread here has “something” that just makes it better than most banana breads you’ll find on the mainland. (Grandma’s Coffee House)

Four Sisters Bakery (Wailuku)
Located in a tucked away building in Wailuku, Four Sisters can be a little hard to find, but trust your GPS. Getting here is nothing compared to Julia’s or Aunt Sandy’s! Once you find it, order one of everything. They are probably best known for their butter rolls and their malasadas. But the banana bread is truly fantastic. Try the mango bread, too. You won’t be disappointed. As the Wailuku location is fairly close to the airport (about 15 minutes away), many people will grab the banana bread as gifts for friends and family back home. If you do this, we recommend packing it in your suitcase or it might not make it back! (Four Sisters Bakery)

Sweet Aloha Baking Company (Lahaina)
Better known for their amazing cinnamon rolls, Sweet Aloha Baking Company also makes fresh banana bread every day. On top of the standard banana bread, they also make it with chocolate chips (our favorite) and macadamia nuts. We recommend eating the cinnamon rolls right away and squirreling away the banana bread for a nice mid-day snack. (Sweet Aloha Baking Company)

Do you have a favorite place for banana bread on Maui? Please share in the comments below.

Just for kicks, we thought we’d compare the high-end suites and villas at Maui’s finest resorts that are available to the general public. We know resorts hold back certain suites to VIP’s and dignitaries, but these are all available for booking by us common folk via the internet… assuming we can afford a few thousand a night. Unless otherwise noted, we set the cost by attempting to “book” the rooms from 12/23/18 – 12/30/18.

Four Seasons Maui (Wailea)
Maile Presidential Suite with “complete suite experience service”
$20,000 per night (approx.)
This massive 4,000 square foot (plus lanai), three-bedroom/three bathroom penthouse suite features a 180 degree view of the ocean and your own personal assistant for the length of your stay. Transportation to/from the airport is provided via either a luxury SUV or a Tesla. Daily breakfast, either buffet-style at the restaurant or via room service and one private dinner are included. You’ll also receive two 50-minute massages. The master bathroom has a private, cedar sauna. The lanai is large enough to hold a full dining table, sofas and lounge chairs and overlooks the ocean. You’ll receive twice daily housekeeping and evening turndown service. This is one of the places for which we needed to look at alternative dates. For this article, we were able to “book” from 11/25/18 – 12/2/18, which is not yet prime season. (Four Seasons Maui Suites)

Fairmont Kea Lani (Wailea)
Three-bedroom Oceanfront Villa
$7849 per night
These two-level, three-bedroom/two-bathroom 2,200 square foot oceanfront villas feature two master bedrooms with full marble bathrooms, a second floor lanai and a private courtyard with your own wading pool, barbecue, dining table and lounges. There’s a fully stocked gourmet kitchen, as well as a washer and dryer. You also receive daily breakfast from the hotel’s Kea Lani Restaurant and complimentary guest parking. (Fairmont Kea Lani)

Grand Wailea
Napua Royal Suite (one bedroom)
$7,074 per night (plus $30 resort fee)
For over $7,000 per night, you’d think the resort fee would be included, right? We get upset paying a resort fee when the room is $120! So what does seven grand a night get you? Start with a room that measures in at just under 2,000 square feet. Actually, let’s start at the airport. When you land, you’ll receive car service to the resort. Upon arriving at the hotel, you’ll have a private check-in and a personal concierge for the length of your stay. You’ll have access to two private lounges, which include a complimentary continental breakfast in the morning, tea in the afternoon, drinks and hors d’oeuvres in the early evening and dessert bar at night. The private, covered lanai has stunning views of the ocean, with a large dining table and lounge chairs. Of course you’ll have access to the rest of the immaculate Grand Wailea grounds. If this isn’t enough for you, there’s also a 2-bedroom Grand Suite, but for information on it, you need to contact them directly. (Grand Wailea Napua Tower Suites)

Ritz-Carlton Kapalua
Ritz-Carlton Presidential Suite
$4,930 (plus $35 resort fee)
Checking it at 2,560 square feet, the one-bedroom/1.5 bathroom suite features two large lanais with full ocean views and the master bathroom has both a marble soaking tub and a shower, as well as a state-of-the-art TOTO bidet-style toilet. You also get full club access, which includes continental breakfast, all-day cocktails and soft drinks/juices and snacks and evening hors d’ oeuvres. It was hard to find open dates to get a room rate, but the rate we show here is for January 23, 2018, which was the day the article was written, we imagine if you’re booking in advance it would be a lot more! (Ritz-Carlton Kapalua)

Ho’olei at Grand Wailea
Deluxe Ocean View Three Bedroom Villa
$4795 per night
Located at the highest elevation of the property, this three-bedroom/3.5 bathroom villa is equipped with a private elevator, attached garage, full kitchen, barbecue and two lanais with panoramic views of the ocean. Though these villas are “homes,” the grounds contain a full-service concierge, a swimming pool with a waterfall and gym facilities. In addition to that, you also have access to everything the Grand Wailea hotel offers, including a gorgeous pool, spa facilities, restaurants and beach access. (Ho’olei at Grand Wailea)

What’s the nicest place you’ve stayed in? Indulge us in the comments below…

All kinds of visitors flock to Maui for vacation. We’re not just talking about people. In the winter, humpback whales seek out the sub-tropical weather of the Hawaiian Islands. That’s right, even humpback whales vacation in Hawaii. The surrounding waters of Maui are center-stage for these majestic creatures. Not that you need incentive to visit, but it’s all the more reason to book a Whale Watch Tour with us at Hawaii Ocean Project. We’ll provide front-row seats to the sheer awe and beauty of our favorite finned-friends at the height of whale watching season.

Having finished their summer feeding frenzy in Alaska, humpback whales make the 4-8-week trek to Hawaii for their annual winter migration. Some of the early birds can be spotted in November. But by February, their numbers are in full swing, meaning the time is now. Pods seek out the warm and shallow waters of the Au’au channel between Maui and Lanai – otherwise known as whale watching central. With the added protection of Molokai, the trifecta of Maui County provides shelter from natural predators, making it the perfect environment for their winter breeding purposes.

The ocean is a big place, but the great thing about humpback whales is that they’re kind of hard to miss. More often than not, they make their presence known. Mothers are in the midst of teaching their young how to swim and develop motor skills. You may see a calf by itself, but the mothers are always standing by; they let them off their training wheels for a bit and wander off so calves can experience their existence. Humpbacks not only enjoy the warmer climate, but also the safety of the environment.

Hawaii is a National Marine Sanctuary for humpback whales. Vessels are not permitted to approach a humpback within 100 yards, meaning if we were to stumble upon a pod, we would immediately cease our engines so as not to disturb them. Human presence has disturbed their existence long enough. Humpbacks were near the point of extinction at the height of the whaling industry in the 1800s. Through active conservation efforts, their population bounced back and in 1973, humpback whales were taken off the endangered species list. We are doing our part to keep it that way.

We are not out to prod or provoke. It’s called whale watching, after all. Nevertheless, it’s all about the safety of observation, a safety for both visitors and pods. They get to enjoy the freedom to repopulate and raise their young undisturbed, and we’re lucky enough to observe (the latter, not the former).

We’re not kidding about front-row seating. At any given moment, you can spot calves frolicking and playing. Even the adults put on a show with their near-constant breaching. They like to spy hop – peek along the surface to see what’s going on around them, so be sure to give them a wave. Adults come up for air every 10-15 minutes, while calves do so every 3-5 minutes. The name of the game isn’t whether you’ll see any, but how many you can keep track of.

We may try to keep our distance, but that doesn’t stop humpbacks from getting closer themselves in a phenomenon known as “mugging” (a polite use of the term). By law, we cannot proceed until they’re in safe distance, though we’re sure our passengers won’t mind the close encounter. Frankly, we don’t either. Since it’s mating season, male pods are often in competition over the chance to court the female, and the females themselves are known to seek nearby vessels as a way of escaping the attention. We’re not necessarily out on the water to provide an exit strategy, but we’ll happily oblige.

Humpbacks sing quite the song in the surrounding waters of Maui. Whale sightings are guaranteed this time of year. In fact, they’re numbers are so high in concentration that we embark on 4 tours daily for visitors to get the most out of the experience. You’ll be joined by our very own crew of marine naturalists to help pinpoint our finned friends for you, though since it’s peak season, you might beat them to it. In any case, they’re on board to narrate their history and biology while you have your eyes fixed on the ocean. The time for a whale watch tour is now. Book early and book online to save on a whale watch charter you’ll never forget.

Whether you bring or rent a bike, there are many options for those looking to bicycle on Maui. For the best mountain biking, you’ll want to head upcountry. For road biking, you’ll find plenty of bike paths or roads with wide shoulders to accommodate you. In this article, we will recommend three road and three mountain bike rides that you can do without going through an activity service. Click here to download a (slightly outdated) PDF map of Maui with bicycle paths highlighted. The map is only a photo of a map, so it’s not all that clear, but it’s fine for an overview. Stop by a bicycle shop to pick up an actual map.

Maui has some outstanding mountain bike paths, but if you want to ride on the best, you’re going to need to head upcountry.

Kahakapao Loop (Makawao Forest Reserve)
Drive just past Makawao Town (be sure to visit Komoda’s for some tasty baked treats in Makawao before or after your ride) and you’ll find this popular mountain bike trail. It’s roughly six miles long with around a 1000′ elevation gain. Unless it’s wet, which creates a sloppy terrain, it’s a good trail for all levels, from strong children to adults. If you have kids, we recommend doing the trail counter-clockwise. Otherwise, go clockwise, the descent will be a little more fun. (Kahakapao Loop)

Polipoli Springs Loop (Kula)
Located in Kula, the Polipoli Springs Loop is one of several mountain bike trails in the Polipoli Spring State recreational area. This loop covers the popular Mamane trail, which many consider the most fun part of the Skyline Trail (listed below). This ride can get technical, with some areas of rocks and boulders, so make sure you’re prepared. The Polipoli Springs area is generally quite nice before 10:00 AM, but after 10, it is almost covered with clouds. So we recommend waking up early and hitting the trail first thing in the morning. (Polipoli Springs Loop)

Skyline Trail (Haleakala Summit)
The crown jewel of mountain bike rides on Maui, the Skyline trail up at the summit of Haleakala is a once-in-a-lifetime ride so fulfilling you may do it twice. You start at the summit, where it’s freezing (literally) cold, then you head down. As such, unless you plan on riding back up, you’ll need to park one car at the summit and another at the Rice Memorial Park pick-up point in Kula. You’ll encounter different terrains on the ride including loose volcanic cinder, forest, grass and gravel. One of the nice things about this trail is that tour operators are not allowed to go up there. So you won’t find yourself behind a large group when the trail turns to single-track. Before you do this one, make sure you do your research. It can be tricky at spots, but it’s so worth it! The views are simply breathtaking. (Skyline Trail)

Some people don’t like road biking on Maui because dedicated bike lanes are rare. But, most of the roads do have wide shoulders and biking is legal on highways.

Haleakala (Paia to the Haleakala Summit)
Amazingly, Haleakala is not considered a steep climb by avid bikers. We’ve only done this ride once (once is enough!), but we think it’s pretty darn steep. With that in mind, even experienced bikers say the climb is relentless. If you’re going to do this ride, know that roads are well paved and drivers are on the lookout for riders (mostly going downhill) so it’s fairly safe from a traffic perspective. One issue is the weather. If you start in Paia, you’re basically starting at sea level and ending up at 10,000 feet. Along the way, you may encounter heavy winds and even sleet, especially in the winter months. The ride from Paia is about 35 miles to the summit. (Haleakala Summit Ride)

Maui North Shore Greenway Trail (Kahului to Paia)
Compared to the other two rides in the “road” section of this article, this one is a piece of cake, but it’s also quite cool. The ride from Kahului to Paia is only about 7 miles. You can stay on the trail, which takes you behind the airport, if you want to beeline to Paia, but we recommend you veer off the trail into the neighborhoods along the ocean. Spreckelsville and Baldwin Beach are amongst the stops you can make. This ride is flat the entire way and is safely tucked away from the highway, save for about a 100 meter stretch just prior to hitting Paia, making it a great family ride. The way Paia traffic is nowadays, it may actually be faster than driving a car! (Maui North Shore Greenway Trail)

West Maui Loop
You can start this loop, really anywhere between Kapalua and Kahului. Even from out in Kihei/Wailea, though from there it isn’t technically a loop. The ride essentially goes around the West Maui Mountains, affording you incredible views of the ocean and the mountains. In total, the loop is about 60 miles. Outside of the mountain part of the ride, it’s relatively flat. If you do it, the folks at West Maui Cycles recommend you start early in the morning and go clockwise from Lahaina and counter-clockwise from Kahului so you’ll avoid the heavy afternoon winds.

Do you have a favorite bike ride on Maui? Tell us about it in the comments below.