Maui Beach Park

I just got back from a week in Maui and it was my first time visiting any of the islands of Hawaii. It was warm, sunny and beautiful. Just like any other part of the world, Maui has its own culture and its own unique set of customs. If you’ve ever thought about visiting Maui or are planning to go any time soon, here are a list of ten things that you will want to keep in mind.

1. Everyone Drives Slowly

I’ve driven in a few different cities in Canada and the United States. For the most part, people drive like they’re in a bit of a hurry and a significant proportion drive above the speed limit. That wasn’t really the case in Maui. More people were on an “island pace,” you could say, driving at the posted speed limits most of the time. This might be because the majority of the vehicles on the road are rentals. I did find that some locals did drive faster on the mountain passes, though.

2. You Need a Rental Car

Speaking of cars, you’ll need one. While there is some public transportation to get between places like Lahaina and Ka’anapali, they’re few and far between. There are several car rental companies located right at the main airport in Kahului. Without a car, you’ll really have a hard time getting around. As an aside, the cheapest gas I found was at the Costco by the airport.

3. Bring a Portable GPS

Navigating Up Haleakala

Again on the topic of driving, you will need to have a portable GPS with you. Some car rental companies rent them out too, but they charge far too much for it. You’re better off buying something like the Garmin nuvi 1390LMT that I have, since you can buy one for the same amount of money that a car rental company would charge you to rent one for a week.

Before you say that you’ll just get by with Google Maps on your smartphone, realize that cell phone service can be spotty or non-existent on many parts of the island. You really do need offline GPS.

4. It’s Pronounced Havaii

When the “W” is in the beginning of the name, like Waikiki or Wahului, it’s pronounced how you think it’s pronounced. When the “W” is in the middle of the name though, it’s pronounced like a “V” in the Hawaiian language. So, it’s technically pronounced “Ha-vai-ee” and not “Ha-wai-ee.”

5. Respect All of Nature’s Wonders

There are several very delicate ecosystems on Maui, just like there are in Australia. Many threatened and endangered species call the island and the surrounding waters home. In fact, it is illegal to chase or touch a sea turtle. You also should not touch the coral reef, but if you go snorkeling, you can see them clear as day.

6. Dress Casually Always

Whether you’re strolling down the beach or heading to a relatively fancy dinner, the dress code is remarkably casual. Even nicer restaurants have no problem with flip flops, shorts, and a t-shirt. That said, bikinis are usually not okay and guys do have to wear shirts.

7. Swim at Your Own Risk

Maui Surfing

A good proportion of Maui’s coastline, particularly along the western and southern parts of the island, is littered with little beaches that are great for lounging, swimming, snorkeling, stand-up paddle-boarding and more. However, keep in mind that while this is perfectly legal, most beaches do not have lifeguards and swimming in the ocean carries several inherent dangers. Proceed at your own risk and discretion.

8. Road to Hana Is Narrow

One of the more popular activities is to take the “Road to Hana.” The Hana highway takes about two hours from Kahului to Hana, but anticipate that you’ll take the whole day, because there are several places to stop along the way to take pictures and go on hikes. That said, the road is very twisty and it gets quite narrow, sharing a single lane for both directions of traffic. Speed limits can get as low as 5mph, especially if you take the unpaved southern route (which is not covered by your car rental agreement). The highway up to the top of Haleakala isn’t nearly as narrow, but there are several switchbacks and you will need to be mindful of cattle on the road.

9. Support the Farmers Markets

There are several farmers markets in and around Lahaina, Kihei and other parts of Maui. If you want the freshest of fruit (as well as preserves and other goodies), these are the places to go. The pineapple is great, of course, but the lilikoi passionfruit, apple bananas, and common guava are very good too.

10. Practice Aloha

Be courteous. Be friendly. Be helpful. Or, as Wayne Kealohi Powell puts it:

“The Way of Aloha” is a path that emphisizes acceptance, forgiveness and cooperation through the development of hyper-awareness, the cultivation of Mana –inner power, friendship and unity, the practice of survival/exploring skills, and an ethic of “love and be loved.” The typical ideal is to act in such a way as to get the best results for everyone in a given situation with the emphasis on enjoyment and creating peace and harmony. Aloha is a very active, nonviolent path. We practice nonjudgement, and an attitude of “what can I give?” rather than “what can I get?”

Maui Sunset at Haleakala

I’ll be adding more photos to my Flickr photostream, so keep your eyes on the Maui2012 tag. I have some videos to share too and those will be posted to my YouTube channel. Mahalo.

UPDATE #1: I’ve uploaded a video room tour of our suite at Outrigger Napili Shores. Check it out below.