This is a really cool area which most people just drive past on their way to Lahaina. However, the ocean here, which appears to be level with the highway, is particularly beautiful here. Surfers, snorkelers and divers know it very well. You'll even see people camping under the treed areas along the road. There also happens to be a really nice fruit stand here. Definitely worth a stop.
This was once the capital of the islands, and home to King Kamehameha I. Later, it was a whaling town, home to saloons and brothels. Now, it’s tourist central. It’s another place you can get on a boat and go snorkeling, diving, whale watching, fishing, etc. The shops, galleries, restaurants, bars and entertainment here are enough to keep you busy for days. We have spent whole days here. But, most of the time it’s a late afternoon/evening thing. Recommendations are as follows. There are a couple nice luau's here to experience. They are the Feast at Lele and the Old Lahaina Luau.
Kimo’s is a nice seaside patio restaurant. If you’re in Lahaina in the AM, grab a Bad Ass Coffee, on the Front Street side of the Pioneer Inn. Speaking of Pioneer Inn, it has a nice outdoor seating area across from the largest Banyan Tree in the Hawaii. I recall having a nice breakfast there. If you plan on Scuba Diving, this is my recommendation for West Maui. Maui Diving Scuba Center offers intro dives, as well as PADI certification. We got certified there in two days, for $365, which included four dives. The best place we dove in Lahaina was Mala Pier. Call our good friend, Mike Wakashige at (808) 667-0633 or click the link to learn more.
To me, this is most touristy area on the island. Lots of hotels, condos, chain restaurants and stores. This is where the people who don't read this guide get ushered in like cattle by their travel agent. You, the wise traveller who has decided this to follow this guide, knows to stay elsewhere. Therefore, you are allowed to visit.
And that's a good thing.
Because there are some worthwhile things to do and see. One that comes to mind is Black Rock.
It lies at the far north end of Ka'anapali Beach, in front of the Sheraton.
(This is a good time to remind you that all the beaches in Hawaii are public.)
We stayed here for 14 days in mid-February this year. It's quite different than what we're used to, in Kihei. For one, the weather pattern is different. It tends to be more subject to wind/rain/clouds here than in South Maui. Not all the time, just more often. I guess summer and fall tends to be better on this end of the island.
Second, most of the condos you'll find here are of the older variety, built in the 60's and 70's. There are many which have been updated, but the older construction means less sound barrier between units. It also seems to be just a noisier area, in general.
It gets really heavy during certain parts of the day, if you plan on heading south of, or returning from the south of Lahaina. We made the mistake of trying to return from Kahului at 4:15 in the afternoon, and didn't arrive at our place until after 6pm.
All that being said, if you plan on staying on this side of the island, there is plenty to do. Lahaina, Ka'anapali, Kapalua and Honolua Bay are all within a 10 minute drive.
There are great beaches, as well as spectacular views of Lanai and Molokai. This fella sidled up on our beach for a rest.
Kapalua is further north, and in addition to the many fine hotels and condos, hosts a PGA tournament annually. You can even play this course, if you're interested.
My favorite thing to do here is visit Oneloa Bay, (Ironwood) Beach.
There is a trail which runs within the vegetation above the beach. It leads to some lava rock formations and coves that are fun to explore. The ocean is beautiful, and you're likely to see turtles in the coves.
One trail, to the north, leads to Dragon's Teeth (Makaluapuna Point). To the south, the trail is a bit longer and goes past Hawea Point and the Montage Resort. Both are easily walkable. There are parking lots and spots along the roads to park.
Click on map.
The scenery along this coast is truly breathtaking, including some of the best views of Molokai from Maui. The sea is often rough, even on a sunny day. When going onto points which extend out, NEVER turn your back on the ocean. Many people have been swept away by waves, leading to tragedy.
By all means, don't miss this hike. Just give the ocean the respect it deserves. There are areas to swim, and as you see below, cliff jump. This one is near Kapalua Cliff House.