Hing Chinese Museum is among historical sites you
can tour in Lahaina, no matter the weather
Hawaii — So you came all this way and, oh, it’s
raining. Hey, you’re still on Maui. Are you really going
to get all cranky?
you can drive a few miles — or wait 10 minutes — and
you’ll have sunshine again.
there are days when spongy gray clouds cover the whole
island and it’s not the beach weather you’d bargained
had a lot of rain — this whole year has been an
anomaly," said Brian Jenkins, manager of Napili
Village condos, where we stayed on a recent visit.
you don’t have to hang in your room and watch bad TV.
With advice from Jenkins and a little exploring, we found
good things to do when the weather occasionally goes
20-year-old Maui Ocean Center, centrally located at Ma‘alaea,
is a just-right diversion for a moist day, especially if
you haven’t yet been in the ocean but plan to snorkel or
dive during your visit.
2015 trip to Monterey, Calif. I found this a perfect
combination: Stop at the aquarium first to learn all about
what you’re going to see, then get out on the water and
appreciate nature all the more. The same sequence fits
seeing more types of fish than I’ve ever seen
before!" my wife exclaimed as we goggled in front of
the Living Reef exhibit, full of gorgeous purple and green
coral along with fish of every color and shape cruising by
just inches away.
at that guy’s teeth!" she said, nodding at a
passing wrasse. "Yes, a bit of an underbite," I
were fluttering butterflyfish, rock-threading needlefish
and enough lemon-yellow tangs to fill a fruit stand.
Toddlers loved the place, leaning with palms against the
glass in wonder.
in compliance" with a local ordinance prohibiting the
display of intelligent cetaceans (dolphins and whales),
Maui Ocean Center has much more of an educational slant
than those tourist attractions where animals perform for
whistling crowds. Naturalists educate visitors about using
reef-safe sunscreens. And they practice "catch and
release," with every creature ultimately returned to
presentations are frequent — 20 per day, check the
schedule online — along with cultural activities such as
ukulele lessons, lei making, and even "Aquari-OM,"
a chance to practice yoga in view of the Open Ocean
exhibit (all included with aquarium admission).
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miss the twice-daily presentation (11 a.m. and 3 p.m.) by
divers in the 750,000-gallon Open Ocean tank, full of
sharks of many kinds, giant stingrays and hundreds of
other fish. Are you a certified diver? Sign up for Shark
Dive Maui and take a 40-minute dip in the tank yourself
(starting at $199).
Ocean Center, 192 Ma‘alaea Road; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily,
rain clouds often come stormy seas, just the thing to fuel
high spouts on the Nakalele Blowhole.
blowhole is located off the narrow and winding road
"over the top" — along the northern cliffs —
of West Maui, which on a map looks like the head attached
to the torso comprising the rest of the island.
from the resort zone of West Maui, this once-feared far
end of Highway 30 has seen new pavement and considerable
safety improvements in recent years. It’s still no place
to drive without both hands on the wheel, but you’ll do
fine as long as everybody obeys the 25 mph limit. (Beyond
Milepost 41, where the road becomes Highway 340, be
prepared for challenging one-lane roadway.)
blowhole is in a place where ocean waves marching in from
the north have undercut a lava shelf and carved a
tire-sized hole so that surf can spout up like a
Yellowstone geyser. Check tide tables and go at high tide
for the best chance for a good show. (It can be inactive
in calm weather.)
past Honolua Bay until Milepost 38.5, at a large pullout.
You can stroll down a gentle hill to view the blowhole
from high above — with a sensational wide vista of
blueberry sea and emerald cliffs — or clamber 15 minutes
down a steep and rocky hillside to get a closer look (not
for the faint of heart or weak of ankle, and watch your
footing in wet weather). Heed the poignant, hand-painted
sign: "Stay clear of blowhole, you can be sucked in
and killed, it’s NOT a water park."
comes a high-pitched cry from onlookers when a gusher
spouts 50 feet in the air. Then "woo!’ goes the
blowhole, in a bass pitch, as air is sucked back in.
rock downwind of the blowhole is pockmarked like injera,
that bubbly Ethiopian flatbread, from years of corrosive
saltwater spray, making for a mysterious and unearthly
beyond Lahaina’s T-shirt shops and ABC stores to
discover some of the fascinating story behind this
19th-century whaling port that was once the seat of
good place to start is the admission-by-donation Lahaina
Heritage Museum, in the Old Lahaina Courthouse, on the
water side of the historic banyan tree (Hawaii’s oldest
and America’s largest). Here you can shudder at wickedly
pointed old whaling harpoons and get a quick grounding in
the area’s history. In the gift shop pick up a $2
Lahaina Historic Trail map, including 65 sites scattered
across town along three different walking
"trails," from 30 minutes to an hour each.
the map as you wish, or pick a few sites of interest. We
liked the Wo Hing Museum, 858 Front St., an exquisitely
restored, wide-balconied structure built in 1912 as a
social and religious center for the island’s expat
Chinese populace, many of whom came to work in the sugar
sure to step outside to the cookhouse for an added
attraction: a showing of fascinating films shot by Thomas
Edison during visits to Hawaii around the turn of the last
favorite stop, at week’s end, was the
every-Friday-evening candlelight tour of the Baldwin Home
Museum, at Front and Dickenson streets, a historic
missionary home and the oldest house still standing on
the Reverend Dwight Baldwin — a physician as well as a
clergyman — and his wife, Charlotte, raised six
peered into a case of Baldwin’s medical tools, including
"forceps" resembling my father’s old tin
snips, and something called a "surgical chisel"
that made me gulp.
served as a doctor, a veterinarian, a dentist, a
carpenter, a reverend, a missionary, a dad and a part-time
counselor," explained Jackie Hala, a Maui-born Native
Hawaiian with the Lahaina Restoration Foundation, who led
us on a tour by the light of candles and lanterns.
nighttime visit really conveys what life was like in those
went to bed when the sun went down and got up before
dawn," Hala said.
fee ranges from $5-$7 for Wo Hing and Baldwin Home
museums; free for 12 and younger; lahainarestoration.org.
days are also fine for shopping in Lahaina, where you’ll
find plenty of opportunities to lighten your wallet in
clothing boutiques, high-end galleries, island-themed
interior-design shops and more.
at the banyan and wander north on Front Street (there’s
a large public-parking lot at Front and Prison streets).
If you’re in the market for cheap T-shirts, we found the
best deal at six for $20. Need some high-end sandals? Look
for Island Sole, 728 Front St., whose sign shows a nene
wearing flip-flops. Watch for Lahaina Galleries’
Maui-themed version of van Gogh’s "Starry
Night" (incorporating palm trees and the old
Rip Curl and Billabong, if you need board shorts, Sand
People ("a coastal lifestyle emporium") and much
other Maui shopping: the newly renovated Whalers Village
at Ka‘anapali (also home of Maui Escape Rooms, if you
have seriously bored teens in tow); locally grown
boutiques and galleries in the surfer town of Pa‘ia; and
everything high-end (Tiffany to Tommy Bahama) at the Shops
stopping for lunch and an island brew is easy, whether you
go for the five-napkin signature sandwich at Cheeseburger
in Paradise, on the Lahaina waterfront, or ahi poke tacos
at the newly opened brewery restaurant at Maui Brewing in
Kihei (also a great place for a rainy-day tour).
you can’t fight it, wade into it. Head for one of Maui’s
moistest, most beautiful places, the Iao Valley, where you
might see the spectacular Iao Needle if it’s not lost in
known by the Hawaiian name of Kuka‘emoku, the
greenery-cloaked Needle, formed by erosion, rises 1,200
feet from the valley floor. A paved .6-mile trail climbs
200 feet to a viewpoint. (Stay on trails and heed signs,
this can be flash-flood territory.)
made our way here, at the end of Highway 32 west of
Wailuku, in a downpour. The stunning geography was almost
lost in billowing mists. But it was also one of the most
peaceful places on Earth on a rainy day. Tip: Pack a
Valley State Monument, $5 parking fee for out-of-state