There’s a saying in Hawai‘i: Maui No Ka Oi. It means that Maui is the best. If you like getting outside to experience what Hawai‘i has to offer, Maui does all of it very well. The same can arguably be said about the holidays on Maui. From the top of Haleakala to the reefs below the waves, Maui can provide an unforgettable experience. Plenty of people might book their trip here for the holidays and not realize the unique experiences this time of year brings (you know, besides the unique experience of being in Hawai‘i). Here’s a list of some of things that Maui can reveal to you over the next month.
Watch a Meteor Shower
Sure, we’ve all caught glimpses of shooting stars throughout our lives. Maui gives you the unique opportunity of watching the show from the top of one of the largest mountains in the world, Haleakala. Ancient Hawaiians and modern astronomers know it is one of the best seats in the house (on the planet, rather) to see the night sky in all its glory. Away from light pollution and usually above the clouds, the summit of Haleakala is just over 10,000 feet above sea level. Hawai‘i is well positioned to view the Geminid Meteor Shower which is visible from December 6th through the 19th. The peak will be over the next few days, the 12th through the 14th, with the potential of seeing 100 meteors an hour. The best times for seeing this are between midnight and dawn, which requires you be a night owl or at least an early riser. If you’re driving up to watch sunrise you’ll have the added treat of the meteor light show (just watch the road first, the meteors will still be falling when you park). Remember to dress warmly (10,023 feet elevation is cold) and bring a blanket or at least a beach towel to lay down on and maximize your viewing potential. Experts suggest even pointing your feet south to get the ultimate viewing experience. You’ll have to pay a $15 fee per vehicle to enter Haleakala National Park but it is good for 3 days and gets you into the Kipahulu District on the east side of the island too. If you can’t make it all the way up the mountain to see the meteor shower, get to a beach that has little artificial lighting around it, sit back and watch the show.
Santa Arrives by Canoe
Before the big night, Santa visits the keiki of Hawai‘i for last minute wishlists and photo opportunities. The man in red even eschews his usual transportation in favor of arriving Hawaiian style: he arrives by outrigger canoe. You can catch him early on Ka‘anapali Beach in front of the Hula Grill at Whaler’s Village on Sunday, December 20th. He’ll come ashore between 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., making for great sunset with Santa photo opportunities. You can also catch him arriving by outrigger canoe on Thursday, December 24th on Wailea Beach in front of the Grand Wailea. He’ll arrive there between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Try get in early as Santa can draw quite a crowd. Both events are free and open to the public.
See a Show
The Valley Isle gets some great shows during the holiday season, though not as many in 2015 as in years past. We have found a few that really look promising. For the those traveling with kids, one of Hawai‘i’s top children’s authors, Gill McBarnet, will present a reading of her book “The Goodnight Gecko” at the Maui Ocean Center. The presentation is special in that it celebrates the 25th anniversary of the book and includes a performance by the Maui Academy of Performing Arts’ keiki singers and dancers. Cost is included with entrance to Maui Ocean Center (which is well worth it, it’s an awesome aquarium). Catch it at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, December 19th. The book signing follows the show from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. For the adults, check out the Willie K Holiday Party at the King Kamehameha Golf Club on Wednesday and Thursday, December 16th and 17th. Uncle Willie K is a local music virtuoso who puts on a killer show anytime, every time. The event goes from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and includes a prime rib and seafood buffet, two drinks and, of course, the show for $100 (which includes tax and gratuity, not a bad deal). You can see only the show for $40. You’ll definitely need reservations for this one. Call 808-243-1025. If you stick around past the New Year, try to catch the Uncle Willie K BBQ Bluesfest on January 8th and 9th in Kahului. This year’s show features guests Taj Mahal and Samantha Fish among others. Other famous fans of Willie K often pop in for the show too. $80 for both days. Check out www.williekbluesfest.com for more info.
See the Lights
Just like the mainland, we love Christmas light displays. One of the most famous is the giant banyan tree in Lahaina Town. The lighting ceremony has already passed but the festive glow can be experienced every evening through Christmas. The display isn’t particularly flashy or showy, it is just a nice addition to an amazingly huge and iconic tree. The resorts in Ka‘anapali and Wailea also do some elaborate Christmas light work with the buildings and trees. Just walking down the beachside paths and driving through the areas will be a treat for young and old alike. If you’re looking for a taste of what the local folks do for their Christmas displays, the communities off Maui Lani Parkway next to The Dunes at Maui Lani Golf Course in Kahului have some of the most elaborate setups on Maui. Previous years have had huge productions timed to music that you can tune to on your radio. The community The Legends at Maui Lani has some of the best. It can get very crowded, however, and you should consider parking outside the community on Maui Lani Parkway and walking along the sidewalks to see the lights. If you choose to drive, be very cautious as there are always lots of families with small children enjoying the lights too.
Watch the Fireworks
New Year’s Eve wouldn’t be the same without fireworks. The grandest display can be seen in Wailea. We recommend finding public parking and enjoying the show from the beach. If you want a little more swank to your evening, the Grand Wailea has an event with live music, champagne toast and lots of pupus. Entrance is $95 ($85 if you’re a guest) plus the cash bar and reservations are required. Call 808-891-3311. Fireworks start at midnight.
Maui is the best
Maui is so packed with things to do, it is easy to overlook (or be too worn out for) the celebrations that come with the holidays. One of our favorite things we didn’t mention above is the free show you get this time of year from the humpback whales. Find a good spot and the beach and keep your eyes peeled for these leviathans hurling themselves into the air. For the musical aspect of their show, you have to go for a dip in the ocean. If you go just a little way from shore so the sound of the waves isn’t overwhelming and dive under, you can actually hear the males singing to their ladies. That never gets old to us. Enjoy your time on Maui! Mele Kalikimaka!
Andrew Doughty is the famous author of the widely popular Hawaii Revealed series including Kauai Revealed, Oahu Revealed, Maui Revealed and the Big Island Revealed. He moved to Kauai many years ago after he fell in love with the beauty of the islands and decided to never go back. He is known for his candid opinion on each of Hawaii’s attractions, be it a restaurant, a helicopter ride, a beach or a resort. For the last two decades, he has managed to keep his identity anonymous so that his reviews can remain unbiased and only be influenced by his own opinions and thoughts. You can learn more about his beautiful journey at this link – About the author