Maui is the stuff that tropical dreams are made of. Whether you’re looking to swim your way through a Hawaiian reef, or watch cliff divers at sunset, we have you covered from Lahaina to Wailea.
Here are six things to see and do in and around West Maui.
They say that for whales, Alaska is the kitchen and Hawaii is the bedroom where humpbacks come to birth, raise and play with their young ones. For those visiting Maui to whale watch, this means that you’ll have a chance to see these majestic creatures during one of the most playful and active times in their lives.
Over the course of six days on the island, we easily saw at least 70 whale sightings, including splashes of water from afar, to slow and gentle dives into the ocean and a few epic ‘Free Willy’ jumps that reminded us how small we were really are in this world.
They say the easiest way to spot a while is to look along the ocean’s horizon and to keep your eyes peeled for splashes of water. From there on, you can keep your eyes locked on the surface to track the whale underwater.
Tip: The Sheraton Maui Resort is offering a Whale Watching Package that includes a whale watching catamaran ride, deluxe room accommodations with a great view of the ocean, tickets to the Maui Aquarium and more. Whale watching services offered by Teralani Sailing Adventures.
Just a short drive from West Maui is the iconic Nakalele Blowhole blowhole that spews beautiful ocean water up in the air up to 50 feet. It’s one of three natural blowholes in the world. If that isn’t enough to get you there, there’s also a “heart cut out” of a jagged rock wall that is a must-capture photo op in it of itself.
We suggest timing your visit just before sunset for ultimate photos. Colourful sunset, active blowhole, and a natural heart rock – good one, Mother Nature, good one.
Tip: Going down to the blow hole requires a short but steep walk down a rocky path that can be tough to navigate for some. Wear appropriate footwear for the trek and be sure to make your way back before the sunsets completely as there are no trail lights. Also, don’t get too close to the blowhole as there have been accidents resulting in death.
Watch the cliff diving ceremony at Black Rock
There’s a legend about the last chief of Maui, Chief Thunderer, who proved his spiritual strength by taking a daring plunge from the cliff into the Pacific. You can witness this for yourself on Kaanapali Beach as the Sheraton Maui re-creates this cliff dive nightly at sunset. The ceremony begins with the blowing of a conch shell and includes the lighting of torches, and a old Hawaiian chant that is a great dose of local culture.
Tip: Watch the cliff dive at Black Rock poolside with a mai-tai in hand from the outdoor patio at Cliff Dive Grill. Go early for a good spot as the best seats with clear line of sight get taken early on the evening.
Napili Bay is consistently ranked as one of the most popular beaches to visit in Maui and we can see why. The crescent-shape beach means waters are calmer which translates to great snorkelling, prime conditions for stand-up paddle boarding and even friendly sea turtle visits.
During our visit, we saw dozens of whales, a few curious sea turtles and all sorts of interesting fish by way of snorkel mask. Not bad for an afternoon at the beach!
Bonus points for all of the palm trees that offers nice shade for those who are inclined to stay out of the sun.
Tip: If you’re thinking about keeping hydrated and well fed during a beach day, not to worry. Sea House, an open-air restaurant is located steps away from the beach with reasonably priced, tasty options. Our favourite? Their Da Kitchen Sink fried rice that has everything from Portuguese sausage to pineapple to furikake.
Water babies unite. When in Maui, one must dive to get up close and personal with all of the aquatic wildlife, as it does not disappoint.
We suggest going with a well-established company like 5 Star Scuba who knows Kaanapali Beach inside and out. In addition to all of the important safety and technical aspects of diving, they guide you through all of the amazing sights and sounds that are only experienced when submerged underwater.
Under their guidance we were able to have an amazing dive which included a visit to see the resident one-eyed shark, sea turtle, and even pausing to listen to the melodic sounds of whales singing.
Tip: If you have yet to be PADI certified, consider doing the three-classwork components at home prior to your visit. Completing you two open water dives in Maui waters will be a treat you won’t forget. If you’re staying at the Westin Kaanapali, their conveniently located on-site.
How to get there
Direct flights from Vancouver (YVR) to the Hawaii islands are typically a reasonable 6 hours in length – perfect for two movies and a short nap.
Air Canada, WestJet and Delta airlines have direct flights daily when flying to Honolulu (HNL), Maui (OGG, Kona (KOA), or Kauai (LIH). WestJet flies to Maui 21 times a week from Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton.
For more information on trip planning, visit GoHawaii.