Going off the beaten path lets visitors soak up the laid-back island life
Driving west to east, as Doughty suggests, turned what some describe as white-knuckles experience into a relaxing scenic drive.
Driving clockwise, there were few, if any, blind spots on a short stretch of one-lane road, and we were able to travel along the inside lane (the road is paved and two lanes in most places) rather than along the edges of steep cliffs.
At the "Little Grass Shack," a pineapple stand on a secluded bay just outside Honokohau Village, we met Maui native Darryl Aiwohi.
Honokohau's population, once at around 5,000, has dwindled to just a few families, who like Aiwhoi, shunned real-estate developers and held onto the land where their ancestors made a living growing pineapples. He and his wife pick 15 a day which they cut up, and sell for $2 per slice.
A few miles north is Nakalele Point where a steep path of red clay and lava rock leads to the Nakalele Blowhole. At high tide, with a strong surf, water spurts up from the hole like a fountain going on and off without warning. Navigate this area with caution, and keep your distance from the hole. A California man died when he was knocked by a large wave into the blow hole in July.
Driving gets more challenging just outside the village of Kahakuloa. Here, the road narrows to one lane for about three miles, with no guard rails. The scenery is stunning, with green mountains on one side and coastal views on the other, but keep your eyes on the road.
Perched on a cliff above Kahakuloa is the Kaukini Gallery where 120 island artists sell pottery made with beach glass and whimsical sculptures crafted from discarded divers' tanks.
Four miles from Kahakuloa, near mile marker 10 is Turnbull Studios and Sculpture Garden. Visitors are free to wander around the grounds and studio where Bruce Turnbull, his nephew, Steve; and Steve's wife, Christine, work and sell works by local artists.
If a helicopter tour or zip-line adventure isn't in the budget, no worries. Spend a day enjoying some of the simple treats locals treasure.
Park the car and ride an air-conditioned bus, without hassling with traffic or parking.
Eat a plate lunch.
Try shave ice more than once.
One of our most carefree days involved all three.
Maui County Transit runs hourly service ($1 per trip or $2 for an all-day pass) on 12 routes around the island, connecting popular beach areas, shopping malls and restaurants.
Travel time was about an hour from the bus stop at our condo in Napili in West Maui to Front Street in Lahaina. That's longer than it takes to drive, but in a car, chances are we wouldn't have found the Aloha Mixed Plate behind the Lahaina Cannery Mall.
Spotting what looked like an idyllic scene from the bus window, we jumped off, snagged a beach-side table, and for $8.95 shared the Hawaiian plate — Kalua pig, cabbage, salmon, poi — while admiring the yachts moored in the harbor.
One of the island's biggest little luxuries is shave ice. Japanese plantation workers came up with the treat by hacking blocks of ice with machetes, then dousing the shards with fruit juice.
Pickled mango, green tea and red velvet are among the 50 flavors Ululani and David Yamashiro sell at Ululani's, with two Front Street locations.
The couple started their business at the farmers market in Vancouver, Wash. Now they have three locations in Maui, and offer flavors such as pickled mango and tiger's blood, a cherry and coconut combo.
At David's urging, I tried three in one afternoon. Brain freeze aside, it was pure fun.
Their secret: poking holes in the ice so the syrup can seep in. "Good shave ice," says David, "should be the consistency of powdered snow."
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