Monday, January 26, 2015

Hawaiian Islands Travel Series: Kihei and Makena, Maui

Day 2: Southern Maui: Kihei and Makena

*Disclaimer: This article is presented as fiction, not fact. Names have been changed for the sake of privacy.

Read Day 1: Lahaina, Maui here.

SOUTHERN MAUI is pretty famous for luxury resorts, terrific snorkeling, and nudist beaches, if you’re into that. One of its most highly anticipated snorkeling spots is Molokini Crater, a crescent-shaped islet a couple miles from Maalaea Harbor in Kihei. Other boat departure points are Lahaina Harbor on the west side, Kai Kanani in Makena, and Kihei Boat Ramp. Once in the deep waters of the crater, snorkelers can explore a colorful reef and see hundreds of feet down. They might even have the chance to see a whale shark or two.

Molokini Crater. Photo courtesy of I Travel Hawaii.
 My boyfriend and I debated heavily about doing Molokini. People we talked to, including Maui locals, advised doing it at least once. Ultimately, our tight budget ruled it out, but I would recommend it. There are a variety of boat options to choose from, if you’d like to choose a leisurely all-day catamaran adventure like Aloha Blue Charters offers, or a zippy adventure aboard Blue Water Rafting.

A neat little church near our snorkel spot.
We drove to the southern end of Maui from Lahaina. Kihei looked like a smaller version of Kahalui: densely-populated with more brand name stores. The roads are eventually flanked by hotels and resorts on all sides as you drive closer to Makena in the far south. I remember my boyfriend and I were astounded at the lack of visible Starbucks on Maui, but the friendly server at Peggy Sue’s told us Kihei had one.

Speaking of Peggy Sue’s…let’s talk food. There is a strip mall off of South Kihei Road, which is pretty easy to spot. There will be an Amigo’s Mexican Restaurant on the street corner. We ate at three places there: the aforementioned Amigo’s; Peggy Sue’s, a 50s-style milkshake and burger joint; and Coconut's Fish Café, which we’d heard offered mouth-wateringly delicious fresh fish at decent prices. My recommendation? Eat your meal at Coconut's Fish Café: I had this wasabi ahi burger that was gone in about two seconds, and my boyfriend had the famous fish tacos. Hop over to Peggy Sue’s for milkshakes. The service there was extremely friendly and accomodating; when the lady heard I was a fan of salted caramel mochas, she whipped me up a milkshake version not on the current menu. Last, maybe have a drink or two at Amigo’s. The service was good, but the food was sub-par chain restaurant fare.

Ulua Beach

Of course I talk about dining options first, but we did do some exercise before enjoying our well-earned meal! We ended up snorkeling in Makena…where, we’re not exactly certain. Originally we were trying to find Five Graves. We found this neat shady secluded spot where a lot of divers were getting ready…but it looked a bit too treacherous without aqua socks. So we ended up at what I believe might have been Ulua Beach, or as we like to call it: “Sleeping Turtle Point.”

It was easy snorkeling; the current got a little rougher when snorkeling around the outcrops. We snorkeled a fair ways along the coast before meandering back and finding our sea turtle fast asleep again.

I would have liked an extra day to explore Makena. It has some fantastic white sand beaches. However, we’d booked our next accommodation on the northeast shore of Maui. It was time to brave the Hana Highway.

Read more in the Hawaiian Travel Series:
(0) Intro: Welcome to Maui
(1) Day 1: Northwest Maui: Lahaina

Upcoming: Day 3: Central Maui: Paia and Makawao

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