West Maui Attractions
The western leeward side of Maui encircles an older volcano named Puu Kukui which rises to 5,788 feet. Although the beaches on the coast from Maalaea Bay to Honolua Bay have individual names, the whole coast is one long beach. The towns with the main attractions and accommodation are historic Hahaina, Kaanapali and Napili.
Maui Ocean Center
This Maui Ocean Center houses a collection of Hawaiian reef fish, corals, green turtles, sting rays in a series of well-designed aquariums. One highlight is a glass tunnel through a shark and ray tank, allowing visitors to sit and contemplate the varied life around them.Other displays explain the life cycles of the humpback whales which migrate to Hawaii each December to March (no whales on display) and how the Polynesians who settled Hawaii used the sea.Signage and educational materials are well done and experts are readily available to answer questions.The Center displays many pieces of original art. The store on the grounds sells a range of gifts up to original works of art of exceptional quality for the serious collector.
Address: 192 Ma'alaea Road, Wailuku, HI 96793, United States
Opening hours: Jul 1 to Aug 31: 9am-6pm
Sep 1 to Jun 30: 9am-5pm
Sep 1 to Jun 30: 9am-5pm
Entrance fee in USD: Adult $25.50, Senior over 65 $22.50, Child 12 & under $18.50, Child 2 & under FREE
Useful tips: Membership passes available.
Disability Access: Full facilities for persons with disabilities.
Guides: Audio-visual presentations available. Interpretive sessions sometimes available. Work-study or volunteer programs.
Facilities: Gift shop, Restaurant or food service
Typical Visit: 3 hours
Kaanapali is a tourist center with hotels and resorts, restaurants, and shopping centers.
This village certainly counts as Maui's fastest-developing tourist resort, with a population not far behind that of Kahului and Wailuku. Looked at critically it is a prime example of tourism development gone wrong. Totally uncontrolled building work was carried out on either side of Kihei Road, which runs through the whole village, owing to a lack of central planning. Today, Kihei has far too many buildings such as condominiums and holiday flats - occupied by their owners for only part of each year and rented at other times as time-share projects.That apart, Kihei has an almost-continuous 6 miles/10km-long beach, the island's most settled weather and offers beautiful, clear views of Lanai, Kahoolawe and Molokini. Kihei's hotels are cheaper than elsewhere on Maui, comparable with prices in Kaanapali and Kapalua, but less luxurious.During the Second World War, Kihei protected itself from a possible Japanese invasion by tank traps and bunkers but no invasion took place. Today pieces of overgrown concrete blocks can be seen which bear witness to that period.
South of Kihei the village of Wailea is becoming increasingly more developed for tourism with the building of a row of luxury hotels (the Stouffer Wailea Beach Resort, the Maui-Inter-Continental Wailea and the Maui Prince). New golf courses have also been opened here.
Molokini Island - Coral Reefs
This horseshoe-shaped islet lies to the south of Maui's west coast off the village of Makena. Molokini stands 148ft/45m above sea-level and consists of the remains of a crater, the larger part of which has sunk beneath the sea.The rich fishing to be had in its sheltered bay has caused the island, lying between Maui and Kahoolawe, to be declared a protected marine area. As its clear blue waters are always calm, Molokini is particularly suitable for beginners to snorkeling. Boats sail every morning from Maalaea and Lahaina to Molokini. According to Hawaiian legend, Lohiau, the lover of whom the fire goddess Pele dreamed, married a noble Hawaiian woman. In anger, Pele cut their bodies up into pieces. Their torsos became Puu Olai ("earthquake hill"), a hill near Makena, and their heads became Molokini.
This hamlet of just a few houses, located to the south of Lahaina on road 30, played a part in Hawaii's history. In 1790 the Massacre of Olowalu ("many hills") took place among the native Hawaiians led by an American sea captain - an opponent of Kamehameha I.Today's attractions are the 200-300-year-old petroglyphs located near here. They can only be reached on foot and are not easy to find. Different activities of the ancient Hawaiians are portrayed - fishing, canoeing and weaving. It is best to ask for directions at a petrol station by the roadside.