Published: April 2009
By Stewart Yerton
With its siren-like resorts, lavish spas, and world-class golf courses, Maui has a way of testing travelers' budgets, but with the right guide, the island can be downright affordable.
DESTINATION Maui HIGH SEASON Mid-December through early
April, July through August AVERAGE 5-STAR ROOM RATE $415 (high), $385 (low)
AVERAGE COST OF A ROUND OF GOLF $150 BARGAIN A bag of the
Original Maui Kitch'n Cook'd Potato Chips ($.80) WORTH A SPLURGE The Ka Maukele
treatment (exfoliation, wrap, and massage) at the Four Seasons Resort at Wailea ($350)
9:00 A.M. I step off the plane and the spending begins. First
stop: the Maui Tropical Market (Kahului Airport; 808/877-7923) gift shop for a tiki key
chain ($3) in the shape of Kala, the Hawaiian god of money. I need all the financial help
I can get.
9:30 A.M. On an island where roads cling to cliffs, twist up volcanoes,
and wind past waterfalls, you definitely want a car. My silver 1999 Toyota Corolla ($30
a day) from Word of Mouth Rent-a-Used Car (150 A Hana Hwy., Kahului; 808/877-2436) has
little sex appeal but does have air-conditioning. I put its key on my tiki chain and head
to Paia, an artsy hamlet on the fabled road to Hana.
10:00 A.M. A stroll past Paia's surf shops, galleries, and
boutiques selling sarongs and sandals takes me to Café des Amis (42 Baldwin Ave.; 808/579-6323),
where tanned, twentysomething locals brunch. I order a latte and a crêpe ($12) stuffed
with mozzarella, tomato, and basil, served with fresh mixed greens and sour cream.
11:00 A.M. After brunch I go on a souvenir safari. At Necessories
Boutique (21 Baldwin Ave.; 808/578-9805), I buy a retro postcard ($3) emblazoned with
vintage sheet-music cover art for Queen Liliuokulani's classic "Aloha Oe." Later, at Maui
Grown Market (93 Hana Hwy.; 808/579-9345), I buy a deck of hula-girl playing cards ($2).
12:30 A.M. Although money doesn't grow on trees, on Maui, food does. So
it's not surprising to see young girls selling citrus as well as flowers by the side of Baldwin
Avenue leading into the high-country town of Makawao. I purchase four tangerines and two
grapefruits ($1), and they throw in a free protea bloom.
12:40 P.M. On the outskirts of Makawao is Hui No'eau Visual Arts Center (2841 Baldwin Ave.;
808/572-6560). Although the center, which has free admission, is between exhibitions, the
museum shop has works from an earlier show of tattoo art. Outside the main building, I wander
through groves of flowers and cool my feet in a reflecting pool. As I leave, a woman asks
if I'd like some avocados and nods toward a heaping bowl.
1:30 P.M. Makawao is a classic paniolo town, a remnant of the
days when cowboys worked the land. Shops and galleries are tucked into the hillside—among
them, the Viewpoints Gallery (3620 Baldwin Ave.; 808/572-5979), a cooperative of local artists, and Hot Island Glass Studio & Gallery (3620 Baldwin Ave., #101A; 808/572-4527),
where I buy a glass bowl ($15) shaped like a plumeria blossom. For lunch,
I swing by Makawao Garden Café (3669 Baldwin Ave.; 808/573-9065) for a small mahimahi-and-greens
salad and lemonade ($8.25).
3:00 P.M. I steer my Corolla toward Kaanapali, a beach resort
area on the western edge of the island. At Longs Drug Store (Lahaina Cannery Mall, 1221 Honoapiilani
Hwy.; 808/667-4384) outside Lahaina, I pick up a pair of flip-flops ($5) decorated
with turtles and canoes. I also stop at Snorkel Bob's (1217 Front St.; 808/661-4421) to rent
a mask-snorkel-fin set ($5.50 for 24 hours).
4:00 P.M. Perhaps the best part about Hawaii: there's no such thing as a private beach. Several resorts, like the Sheraton Maui Resort on Kaanapali Beach (2605 Kaanapali Pkwy.;
808/661-0031), even set aside a few free parking spaces for beachgoers. I manage to get one
and proceed to play out my Steve ZissouJacques Cousteau fantasies, swimming with parrot fish,
Moorish idols, and Hawaii's state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapuaa.
6:00 P.M. As sun sets, I head to Aloha Mixed Plate (1285 Front St.; 808/661-3322), a waterfront
café with an outdoor patio. I order an iced tea and coconut-crusted shrimp
($18.50) served on a bed of chopped cabbage with rice and macaroni salad—the most
expensive thing on the menu.
8:30 P.M. Alongside leis, aloha shirts, and outrigger canoes stands Hawaii's ultimate iconic
art form: the hula. Cheesy?Perhaps. Fun?Almost always. So after dinner it's off to the Kaanapali
Beach Hotel's Tiki Bar (2525 Kaanapali Pkwy.; 808/661-0011) for the free hula show. I consider
an $8.25 Tiki Tai, a mai tai in a souvenir Polynesian mug, but opt for the more budget-friendly
locally brewed Fire Rock Kona Pale Ale ($6).
11:00 P.M. Exhausted, I check into my quiet room ($140
a night, including tax) at the newly renovated Aina Nalu Resort (660 Wainee St.; 808/667-9766)
in Lahaina. The room is full of dark, polished woods, tapa-cloth fabrics, woven-grass
ceiling fans, and vintage Hawaiian surfer photographs. I turn on the flat-screen TV and give
my tiki key chain a stroke of thanks before drifting off to dreams of tropical fish and hula
TOTAL SPENT: $249.25
The Lahaina Restoration Foundation (808/661-3262; www.lahainarestoration.org)
has produced a free walking guide of historic houses, museums, and a lighthouse. It's definitely
worth picking up. ?; Be prepared to ask more than once to find the lowest rate for accommodations.
You'll get the best prices in the fall, excluding Halloween and Thanksgiving. ?; Although
the going rate for a group surfing lesson on Maui is $60, you might get a $10 break during
low season if you call in the morning to book a lesson that day.