Raindrops on roses? Whiskers on kittens? I don’t know about those, but these are a few of my favorite things from this past week’s visit to Maui:
- Best little tourist town: Makawao. Lahaina has great historical sites and museums, but it’s looking a little careworn and in need of fresh paint, while the surfer-dude haven of Paia is overloved and traffic-jammed. The upcountry cowboy town of Makawao has fun local shops, a couple nice cafes and cream puffs from Komoda’s bakery.
- Kapalua Bay for snorkeling: Get there early for a spot in the public parking lot of this beautiful little beach with a protected and quiet cove that’s great for beginner snorkelers or old pros. Good reefs with some brightly colored coral, big scarlet-colored slate pencil urchins, and lots to see throughout the bay, including schooling fish like you saw in “Finding Nemo.” Fun to swim with them.
- Plate-lunch place: Ono Kau Kau Mixed Plate, 3481 Lower Honoapiilani Road, Honokowai. I liked the Lau Lau Pork, wrapped in taro leaf for a taste of the islands. Tip: Unless you’re there for a real FULL meal, get the “Mini” plate ($7.95). All items on the “Local Food” menu come with the typical macaroni salad and big scoop of rice, so you’ll have plenty for lunch. It’s a homey little place within walking distance of my favorite picnic lunch spot:
- Honokowai Beach Park. It’s the first beach area north of Kaanapali in West Maui. Soothing views of Lanai, Molokai and spearmint green waters from several shaded picnic tables, some with barbecue grills. Not a great swimming beach, but a good place to eat when your wallet is getting thin.
- Fresh local papaya. Great for breakfast any day. Get it ripe and cheap at the farmer’s markets: Monday, Wednesday and Friday, right across from Honokowai Beach Park, or Saturday mornings at Maui College in Kahului.
- Best road trip for banana bread: Get Julia’s home-baked banana bread ($7 a loaf) at the roadside stand at Kahakuloa on the narrow, winding, scenic thrill-ride called Kahekili Highway (Highway 340) around the north “head” of Maui. “Highway” is a misnomer; this is more of a goat path, only for the strong of heart and skilled at driving. Go slow and be sure your horn is working, for the blind corners. And when you get the banana bread, don’t forget the lilikoi (passion fruit) butter, $7. Good eating.
- Napili Village condos: Good rates at a homey and comfortable condo complex steps from the beach. For the best ocean view, get Room 7A. I liked their affordable car-rental deal (through Avis), which gets you $10 a night off your room rate.
- Best mai tai on Maui: The Mai Tyler at the rooftop bar at Fleetwood’s on Front Street, Lahaina. The lilikoi foam topping makes it bliss. Go for Happy Hour, 3-6 p.m., when you’ll get it at half-price: $7.