The Shaka List
25 reasons to wave your thumb and pinky, and feel “lucky you live Maui.”
by Shannon Wianecki
What makes Maui a shoo-in for the title of World’s Best Island year after year? Certainly its string of perfect beaches plays a part. Paired with brag-worthy resorts, top-class restaurants, and a multitude of recreational activities, Maui’s diverse and idyllic landscape probably makes it a slam-dunk. But for those of us who wake up every morning in paradise, the island’s most winning qualities are more subtle: an enchanting scent, a singular flavor, or an annual community gathering that recalls warm memories. Below we’ve revealed a few of these details-the sacred spots, sought-after tastes, and lucky scores that make life on Maui such a love affair.
The wild North Shore beach, whose name means “hospitality,” welcomes waveriders with open arms. One of the planet’s top spots for surfing, windsurfing and kiteboarding, Ho’okipa offers no fewer than five surf breaks to daring watermen and women who carve waves twenty feet and taller. Voyeurs are welcome as well; the cliff-top parking lot claims a bird’s-eye view of the action. Below the surface, Ho’okipa is a treasure trove of marine life: gentle garden eels wave from their sandy bed, turtles hunt for jellyfish, and a rare monk seal once dropped in to catch a local surf contest.
- Median Temperature
85 degrees year-round. ‘Nuff said.
- Sustainably caught seafood. Living on a rock in the middle of the ocean is good for at least one thing: seafood. While landlocked mainlanders eat farm-raised and frozen fish, we are free to enjoy wild, pole-caught ‘ahi, ono, ‘opakapaka, and mahi. Best restaurants to cast your hook: Mama’s Fish House, Pa’ia Fishmarket, the Waterfront, and the Plantation House.
- Haleakala National Park. Sure, kids in New York City can take field trips to the fabled Museum of Natural History to learn about plants, animals, and fossils. But kids (of all ages) on Maui can experience vulcanology, geology, and biology lessons in the wild. Martian landscape pocked with lava bombs, rain forest spilling with waterfalls and charismatic birds-Haleakala has it all. Don’t wait till you have friends in town. Drive up the side of this sleeping volcano, hike down into the House of the Sun, and discover for yourself why Edward Abbey once said: “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.”
- Backyard fruit trees. Even the most humble Maui residences claim access to a backyard producer. Whether yours is a star-fruit tree whose branches break under the burden of its fruit, or a mango so sweet it earns you party invitations, you can live deliciously off the land here. (And let’s not forget the lychee, guava, mountain apple, fig, lemon, pomelo, orange, avocado and apple banana. . . .)
- Hotel Hana-Maui’s infinity pool. Recipe for relaxation: float on your back in the resort’s idyllic pool. Count ‘iwa (frigate birds) soaring over Ka’uiki, the pu’u (hill) that juts into the sea. Watch squalls drift along the horizon. Spy on ranch horses sidling up to the fence for a nuzzle. Forget what day or even year it is. (If this doesn’t transport you to nirvana, proceed directly to the spa.)
- Maui Girl & Company. Celebrating its thirtieth anniversary this year, the grass-skirt-fringed Pa’ia boutique is the spot for stylish swimwear. If you don’t believe us, check the February issue of Sports Illustrated. Whew! On an island where bikinis are the equivalent of the little black dress, shop owner and designer Debbie Kowalski Wilson has had our back for three sun-kissed decades. Her mix-and-match Maui Girl label allows ladies to look their very best at the beach. She was among the first to import Brazil’s teeniest briefs. (And if your ma worries that you’re showing too much cheek, you can always invest in one of Wilson’s adorable cover-ups.)
- Gymnasium exhibits at the Maui County Fair. From the lavish orchid displays to the student art adorning the walls, the fair’s indoor exhibits are worth waiting the whole year for. Stroll down the aisles to view whimsical self-portraits, handcrafted quilts, lovingly cultivated bonsai trees, and enormous papayas competing for blue ribbons.
- Biodiesel at the pumps. As Maui takes baby steps towards sustainability, Pacific Biodiesel’s recycled fryer oil frees us from fossil fuels. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
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Copyright © 2006 The Maui No Ka Oi Magazine.