There are many more things to do in Maui, see, and experience other than driving to Hana, going snorkeling at Molokini, or visiting Hilo Hattie’s (not that these are not fun things to do). Here are my top 6…in no particular order:
1. Obon Festival
Obon, or just “Bon,” is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one’s ancestors. The custom has evolved into a family reunion holiday in which families visit and clean their ancestral graves. It has been celebrated in Japan for over 500 years.
With the influx of Japanese immigrants in the early 1900’s, the Obon custom was quickly adapted to the Hawaiian lifestyle. Each of the Buddhist temples will hold their own festival consisting of a service and lots of food, and culminating with the Bod Odori (dancing). In this clip, women dressed in colorful yukatas (light cotton kimonos) and men in happi coats dance around a yagura (bandstand) to singers and drummers. Colorful lanterns light up the night and transport you to a neighborhood festival in Japan.
Obon season begins in June and ends in late August. If you are visiting on a weekend during those months, you may want to check out one of the festivals. You won’t be disappointed.
2. Outrigger Canoe Paddling
Have you ever wanted to paddle an outrigger canoe, but not known it was possible (or felt intimidated)? The Kihei Canoe Club takes visitors out all year on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. There is a $25 donation that goes to the kids’ scholarship fund. If you are a visiting for a few months, you may want to consider a part-time membership. Membership does have its benefits. As a member, I paddle regularly, and am allowed to take guests out for free. Be good to me, and we will see what I can work out!
The Kihei Canoe Club takes visitors out all year on Tuesday and Thursday mornings
3. Iao Valley
This one may be in the guides, but is not stressed nearly enough. Iao Valley is my version of Hana “lite.” It’s so easy to get to (in the Wailuku area in central Maui) and will give you a taste of what Hana is like. You will be done with this excursion in an hour or so.
I consider Iao Valley to be Hana “lite;” it is quicker and easier to get to with just as much beauty
There are several viewing areas and paved hiking paths. There is a lookout point on the way where you can see the profile of JFK (no kidding, it really looks like him). As a kid, we’d spend the whole day swimming in the stream and picnicking. If you are lucky, you may see some locals jumping off the bridge into the freezing cold stream water below. If you go in August or September, the smell of white ginger flowers and ripe guavas is something that you will never forget. You may get to pick a guava if you are lucky!
4. Ukulele Jam Session
My buddy and founder of 808UkeJams, Jarret Delos Santos, or as we call him, Kumu Kealoha, holds weekly jam sessions at Keolahou Church (177 N. Kihei Rd) on Thursday evenings from 7:00-8:30PM. The sessions are free. Bring your ukes and your voice or just yourself. You can come to listen or you can play and sing. Jarret has extra song books. If you want to be a member, it costs $20 for the music, then it’s free from then on. I have gone from knowing three chords to becoming more comfortable with a B flat!!!
Bring your ukes and your voices for a jam session on Thursdays at the Keolahou Church in North Kihei
5. Upcountry Maui & The Lavender Farm
Upcountry Maui, or more specifically Makawao Town, was once the Paniolo (cowboy) town of Maui. The heart of the town is small, but is very comparable to Paia town with its vintage buildings and Maui-made crafts.
Visit Alii Kula Lavender Farm for quality products made on Maui
While you are up there, drive up a little further (not as far as Haleakala Crater), you will find an area known as Kula. It’s about 5-10 degrees cooler up there and it’s a part of Maui that you will never expect to see.
One sight to see is the Alii Kula Lavender Farm. Acres and acres of lavender and some of the most amazing views of the island. It’s like being in the cockpit of an airplane. If you like to cook, they sell culinary lavender (a little goes a long way) and their lavender shortbread cookies are awesome.
6. Touring Around Makena
I have written numerous blogs about Makena, but unless you set out on foot, it’s hard to experience its true beauty. Without saying much more, here is my tour of Makena for you. Enjoy.
Want to Know More?
I hope this inspires you to experience the island in some not-so-common ways. Even some of the locals may not have experienced a few of these. If you would like any additional information about the island and, oh yes, real estate, don’t hesitate to contact me.