Our decision to do our own thing in Lahaina on the island of Maui was perfect. There are so many amazing things to see and do on this island, and we know that we plan to return someday for a longer visit. The ship tours of the island included the Road to Hana, cycling down the road that leads to the great Haleakana volcano, lots of snorkeling trips and various other adventures.
We looked at Google Earth and decided that Kaanapali Beach would be a good outing. We knew that this world famous sandy beach was easily accessible by bus from the port town of Lahaina. The best laid plans are open to change, and the lovely little town of Lahaina charmed us so completely that we spent the entire time in port exploring the town, walking along Front Street, and topped it off with a couple of hours in the sun on Baby Beach, just a short walk north of town.
This was our only port that required tender service, and Princess had a decent tender system. When we were ready to go, we went to the Capri dining room to get a tender ticket number, and then waited maybe ten minutes before we were called to board our tender. Even though the seas were only moderate, it still required a bit of agility to jump from the ship to the tender, and there were two nice strong young men helping folks with the timing of the leap.
Once on shore, we discovered that we were right in the middle of the town, and across the street from the historical court house. The visitor center is right there, and the young woman working at the desk was incredibly helpful. She told us which beaches in town might have good snorkeling, how to use the bus system, how to get to Hilo Hattie’s for the free tram, and how to get to Whalers Village and Kaanapali beach.
The first thing we saw right behind the court house was a lovely park with huge banyan trees. The day was warming up perfectly and the shade was wonderful. I lived in Hawaii on Oahu from 1950 to 1952 and my favorite memory of living on the islands as a child was the banyan tree where I climbed and played to my heart’s content.
We took our time walking through the town toward the beach, and after seeing how beautiful it was, we decided that staying right where we were was the very best option. The town of Lahaina itself is wonderful. Of course, it is very touristy, but in a way that is delightful. There were lots of interesting shops with beautiful clothes, and dozens of galleries with all kinds of amazing art. We even found a good place for shave ice, my favorite Hawaiian treat. Shave ice is incredibly fine textured and flavored with wonderful fruit syrups. It is nothing like a snow cone, even though it might look like one.
The path to the beach at the north end of town goes in between houses in a residential area, and we almost missed it until a nice woman sitting in her front yard motioned us back to the path. We saw lots of babies and young children and thought maybe it was called Baby Beach because it was shallow and gentle, with no waves at all. The island in the distance is Lanai, and we could also see Molokai to the north.
We walked to the far northern end and found a perfect spot for our beach towels. We were dressed in swim suits under our sundresses, with water shoes and our snorkel gear. The bags were a bit heavy but we had no plans to return to the ship during the day, so had to carry it all with us. I chose to leave the big camera behind, but did pack along the iPad so I could at least take a few photos.
The water felt cold at first, but once we were in it was fine. There was very little wind, and we snorkeled from the beach with shallow canyons of coral between sandy bottoms so we could stand up on sand any time we needed to rest. Our reward was Hawaiian Trigger fish and some lovely yellow and white butterfly fish. There weren’t a lot of them, but I would imagine if we had gone farther out on the reef we would have found more.
After a couple hours on the beach we decided it might be prudent to get out of the hot tropical sun. We were both ready for a cold beer, and within a few blocks of the beach we found Bubba Gumps. The restaurant is one of my favorites and the open air atmosphere was perfect. We settled in to a booth with a view of the water and our ship in the distance and had beer and an appetizer of fries for Mo and fabulous coconut shrimp for me. I tried a Kona amber ale that was a bit hoppy but settled in really well after the first few sips.
We learned that Whaler’s Village is a very high end shopping center, with all the fashion name stores that Melody and I saw last month in Vienna. No need to do that on this trip. Also, we could see the famous beach in the distance, and could also see all the high rise hotels on that beach. The laid back vibe of Lahaina town was much more to our liking.
I had always imagined Maui to be more like the hi rise beach, and was delightfully surprised to find this old town so lovely. It of reminded both of us of Key West, which we love. We decided that when we come back to the islands, we will plan on spending at least a week on Maui. We will then drive the famous narrow, crooked road to Hana and go to the top of the Haleakana volcano. I had no idea that I would like Maui as much as I did.
Sail away was at five and we were on board in plenty of time to relax and clean up before dinner. Our towels, swimsuits, shoes, and everything else we had with us was covered in fine, sticky sand. We dressed for dinner and were treated to another great meal. I had prime rib that was excellent, with a mushroom tartlet and a perfect green salad. Mo had a pork chop with a fig demiglace and a caesar salad. I tried the cheesecake for dessert and Mo once again had “nothing” . Our waitperson Elena decided it was time to actually give her nothing, and surprisingly above the “nothing” word was a delightful fresh strawberry sweet thing.
Our day on Maui was very nearly perfect. Tomorrow, Honolulu.