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    Hula Dancing

    by dlytle Written Apr 19, 2003

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    Hula was developed in the Hawaiian Islands by the original Polynesian settlers, who migrated there by outrigger canoes from southeastern Pacific islands. Other ethnic groups have come to Hawaii since the first European contact in 1778: Western (mainly British, American, and Portuguese) and Asian (mainly Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino) settlers have contributed to Hawaii's present multicultural dance culture. The hula, however, has remained largely uninfluenced by other dance traditions.

    Missionaries who arrived in 1820 introduced Christianity and prevailing Western values. With the support of converted high-ranking chiefs, they denounced and banned the hula as heathen. Declining numbers of hula practitioners therefore taught and performed clandestinely through the mid-nineteenth century.

    Interest in older chant-accompanied hula waned in the early twentieth century. Newer song-accompanied hula captured the attention of tourists and Hollywood film audiences, which contributed to a growing entertainment industry in Hawaii. Concessions to non-Hawaiian audiences included English-language lyrics, less allusive pictorial gestures, and sex appeal added by emphasized hip movements, removing the hula from its former religious context. Perhaps the most enduring images of hula in the 1930s and 1940s are those of dancers in cellophane skirts and seductive satin sarongs.

    Chant- accompanied hula has been revived, and new dances are choreographed in the older style, eclipsing the song- accompanied form in popularity, especially among younger Hawaiians. Contemporary practitioners divide hula into hula kahiko (ancient hula), comprising older chant-accompanied dances, and hula 'auana (modern hula), comprising newer song-accompanied dances.

    The Whaler’s Village provides Hula shows on Mon., Tues., Wed., Fri., and Sat. at 7pm - 8pm. They are among the many places you can go to see a good performance of this native Hawaiian dance style.

    Free Hula Dancing show at Whaler's Village
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    Lahaina's Sailboats at Sunset

    by dlytle Written Apr 19, 2003

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    When you discuss the beauty of their islands with any of the locals you will often hear the phrase "Maui no ka oi"...Maui is the best. And one of their best free sights is the stunning sunset views of neighboring islands and sailboats anchored off shore in Lahaina Bay.

    Maui is rich in history, especially the old whaling port of Lahaina. Lahaina, located at the foot of the majestic West Maui Mountains, was once the seat of government for Kamehameha, the first king of all the Hawaiian islands. During his reign, into the 19th century, Lahaina prospered from the lucrative sandalwood trade. Later, Yankee whaling ships began using the port as a mid-way point to and from the rich whaling grounds off the coast of Japan.

    Whaleships generated income for Lahaina, but the wild breed of men on board these vessels brought despair, hardship and disease to the islands. Christian missionaries were soon attracted to the plight of the Hawaiian people. The whalers' credo of "there's no God west of the Horn" became a moral challenge to the men and women from New England who sailed to Hawaii to establish ministries and schools. The missionaries, working with members of Hawaiian royalty, helped once again to establish order in Lahaina. Today, Lahaina is a beautiful seaport village and sailboats still rock gently in her sheltering harbor.

    As you sip your drink, or eat a casually elegant meal at one of the many establishments in Lahaina, take a moment to notice the many sailboats riding at anchor and imagine once again what it must have been like, those many years ago, when the old salts off the whaling vessels were gloriously rollicking about town.

    Lahaina Sailboats with Lanai in the background.
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    Lahaina's Banyan Tree Square

    by dlytle Written Apr 19, 2003

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    Near the Lahaina harbor and the Old Courthouse, just off of Front Street, is Banyan Tree Square. It features a tremendously large banyan tree planted in 1873 to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the arrival of the missionaries. It is also the site of the reconstructed ruins of Lahaina Fort, originally built in 1832.

    This banyan tree is the largest in Hawaii, spreading out over nearly an acre. Some of its branches are nearly 50 yards long, supporting themselves by sending out "trunks" of their own. This is a great place to rest in the shade after walking around shopping or seeing the sights.

    Under the old Banyan Tree at Lahaina
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    Lahaina, former home of Hawaiian Kings and Queens

    by dlytle Written Apr 19, 2003

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    Before Lahaina became a thriving missionary and whaling village, it was the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii and the home of Hawaiian kings and queens. Later it became the whaling capital of the world and grew to be a very busy port town. Now, backed by lush green mountains and fronted by a beautiful blue harbor, Lahaina has become one of the prettiest towns on Maui or any of the Hawaiian Islands.

    Today, Lahaina is a beehive of tourist activity. And Front Street, a Maui tourist mecca, is a quaint oceanfront main street that is lined with pastel timber houses and has coconut palms swaying in the cooling breezes blowing off the ocean. This main drag also has its share of restaurants, art galleries and little shopping malls geared toward visitors. But the town still manages to retain some charm, particularly along the harbor and around the square, which is dominated by a phenomenal banyan tree that covers half an acre (a quarter hectare).

    Part of Front Street near Banyan Tree Square
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    Really look at the Lava that built this paradise

    by dlytle Updated Apr 17, 2003

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    Lava is the sole reason that Hawaii exists at all. Volcanoes spewing out lava by the millions of cubic feet created the foundation of these islands. Then left to time, nature took this raw material, softened it into rich soil and caused plants to be blown on winds to land on her newly prepared land. She brought corals to cover the shallow areas and marine life to enjoy these tranquil waters. Over time insects and animals and man found their way to this paradise and created what you see here today.

    So please don’t overlook the opportunity to see for yourself, first-hand, the basic building block of Hawaii—Lava—and the difference between the two types of lava to be found in Hawaii. For example, in West Maui , north of Kapalua along the coast you will be able to see ancient remnants of massive ‘a’a lava flows. At other locations around the island you can find the smoother pahoehoe lava flow remnants.

    Here is a little more detail about these two types of lava found in Hawaii.

    `A`a (pronounced "ah-ah") lava has a distinctive rough, ragged, sharp surface. `A`a lava makes walking very difficult and slow.

    Pahoehoe lava has a smooth, humpy, or ropy surface. The surface texture of pahoehoe lava varies widely, displaying all kinds of bizarre shapes often referred to as lava sculpture.

    As you walk along use your minds-eye to imagine the hiss and roar those many years ago, when the red-hot lava hurled itself into the cool ocean’s water--still burning while totally immersed--causing the ejection out of that fiery and watery hell of tons and tons of steam rising and then falling back as water to cool and nurture the parched landscape. All of these violent actions resulting in rolling back the waters and extending the island further into the steaming sea.

    Lava is what made these islands and is still making them - islands that please the eye as they rise out of the deep blue sea. The lava here was the cradle that provided the basis for the fertile abundance and eye-appeal that is to be found everywhere in this paradise.

    'A'a Lava near Kapalua
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    Maui's number one crop: Sugar from Sugarcane

    by dlytle Written Apr 16, 2003

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    Flying into Kahului airport, it's clear to see Maui's wide central valley is dominated by swaying green and golden fields. But It is not corn or even bamboo, it's Maui's number one revenue crop: SUGAR. This sugarcane growing area, located in the narrow isthmus between Haleakala and the West Maui mountains, is carpeted from end to end with stalks of sugarcane.

    Sugar is Maui's largest agricultural crop. With minor fluctuations, the value of the cane is right around $63,000,000 dollars. By comparison, Maui pineapples pump just $25,000,000 into the economy.

    Sugarcane, a distinctive tall grass filled with sweet juice, is simply a part of everyone's life on Maui whether they work in the industry or not. It's hard to ignore the sugar cane fields when they are the backyard neighbors of so many Maui residents. While that ensures a quiet rural quality to a neighborhood there is a trade-off. The fields can be breeding areas for rodents, stray cats, insects and even marijuana plots. During a burn, ashes often fall like black snowflakes and can blanket areas just about anywhere on the island if the wind is right. The phenomenon is known locally as Maui Snow!

    Cane is planted in twin lines with a spacing of 3 feet between the two lines in each pair and 6 feet between each pair of lines.

    At two years of age, the sugarcane is ready for harvesting. First, the field is burned to reduce the amount leafy matter, tops, dead cane, etc. going to the factory. Large push rakes get the cane into long rows. Hydraulic cranes load the cane into haulers. Harvesting is done on a continuous schedule, operating seven days a week, to maximize factory utilization.

    A history of sugarcane and Maui’s grand plantation era is presented at the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum (808-871-8058) in Puunene. The exhibits at this museum include a working scale model of a sugar mill. Complimentary packets of Maui-brand raw sugar come from the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company, located just across the street.

    A sugarcane field in Maui
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    Pineapples - Hawaii's "King of Fruits"

    by dlytle Written Apr 16, 2003

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    Hawaii's king of fruits is the Pineapple and while in Maui I was standing near a dirt road, close to Honolua Bay, looking out over a sea of pineapple plants. Sporting spiky green "crowns," the plants blanket the landscape in every direction, as far as my eyes can see, from the hills in the background all the way down to the ocean.

    A question for you. What is the pineapple’s closest living relative? Read to the bottom of this article for the answer.

    Workers supposedly can plant an average of 9,000 crowns per day per person. That's a lot of pineapple! It's painstaking, backbreaking labor. I can't imagine being out in the field for eight hours, five days a week, using a spade knife to insert the spiky crowns -- the pineapple "seeds" -- into the ground. Pineapples are planted in neat rows exactly 11 inches apart. This has proven to be the optimum spacing; it enables a pineapple plantation to get the most yield from its land (about 27,000 pineapples per acre) while providing the fruit with enough room to grow to its preferred weight: 4 pounds if it's to be sold fresh.

    From 1940 to 1960, Hawaii was the world's largest grower of pineapple, cornering a dominant 80 percent of the market. Today, unable to compete with cheaper production costs in countries like Mexico, Thailand and the Philippines, the state produces less than 15 percent of the world crop. Still, the "king of fruit" remains as much a symbol of the islands as Diamond Head, a lei and the hula. In fact Maui annually produces 170,000 tons of 50 different varieties of pineapple. Ninety percent of the fruit is processed as slices, chunks and juice; the remainder is sold fresh.

    Because the fields are rotated, planting and harvesting go on year round and three generations of fruit grow from one plant before the field is allowed to turn fallow. It takes two years for the first of these generations to mature.

    The closest living relative to the pineapple is Spanish Moss which is found in the southern-most portions of the United States.

    Pineapple Paradise on Maui
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    Even Whales enjoy a "Maui Vacation"

    by dlytle Written Apr 16, 2003

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    Maui is a Whale Sanctuary offering a safe place to the migratory Humpback Whales when they come to Hawaiian Waters to breed and birth. Whale Season is December 15-April 15 and is always a real treat. During this time access to the ocean is restricted, and watersports like parasailing, jet skiing and water skiing are not allowed. This is to ensure that the whales are safe and secure here during their annual "Maui vacation". They always put on a show including Tale Slapping, Pectoral Fin Waving and SpyHopping ( where they poke their heads out of the water and look around).

    The humpbacks travel here every winter, swimming all the way from their summer feeding grounds in Alaska. They come to the warm , sheltered waters of Hawaii to give birth to their young, and to mate, thus ensuring the perpetuation of their species. Once hunted nearly to extinction, the Humpback whale now seems to be making a comeback.

    If you look at a map of Maui and its neighbor islands, you will notice a sort of bowl shaped waterway between them. These waters are very warm and shallow, no more than 300 feet deep. Behind the islands the waters drop off to many thousands of feet deep. These warm, shallow, protected waters are mostly free of predators, and are a perfect place for the mother whales to have their babies. Weighing about a ton at birth, the baby whales grow at a rate of up to a hundred pounds a day! Feeding on the richest mothers milk in the world, they soon grow large and strong, and develop the thick insulating layer of blubber they will need to survive the cold waters of Alaska.

    The adult whales are very active while they are here. They can be spotted from miles away when they come to the surface to breathe or "blow". They love to play, constantly slapping the surface with their huge pectoral fins and tails, or launching themselves spectacularly out of the water in what is known as a breach.

    Humpback Whale Breaching in Maui
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    Green Sea Turtles in Maui

    by dlytle Written Apr 16, 2003

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    Ah, the magnificence of the green sea turtles! Like the whales, there is something ancient about them; as if they have been alive forever. In this area they congregate by the hundreds up and down the coastline. Large or small, they are all magnificent and benevolent creatures of the sea.

    Green Sea Turtles are protected by the Endangered Species Act, so it is illegal to touch or harass them in any way. You can, however, swim right next to them! Be careful not to block their access to air, as they need to surface regularly. Typically, turtles surface every 20 minutes or so, but they can stay down for hours!

    These wonderful sea turtles can be found all along the coast of Maui but it seems to me that they congregate in larger numbers along the area from Wailea to Makena State Park.

    Green Sea Turtle at Makena State Park
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    Makena State Park - Wilderness and Wildlife

    by dlytle Written Apr 16, 2003

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    With its seemingly endless expanse of golden sand beach and perfect bodysurfing waves, Makena State Park is a “must see” scenic wildland that includes a large, white-sand beach, and Pu'u Ola'i cinder cone. The cinder cone is the most prominent feature of this state park and lies north of the beach area. This popular beach is sometimes referred to as "Big Beach". It is approximately 3,300 feet long and more than 100 feet wide and is the longest undeveloped stretch of white sand on Maui. Swimming during calm seas, bodysurfing, board surfing, shore fishing, and beach- related activities are the main activities at this park.

    Big Beach is a great spot for sunbathing and swimming. Little Beach and Big Beach are divided by lava rocks but connected by a foot trail., Little Beach, a five-minute hike back towards Wailea, up and over the rocks, is a world-famous nude beach which may or may not be a beach for visiting with your family. It, however, has the best boogie-boarding and bodysurfing on the island; hence the large numbers of young local boys dispersed amongst the nudists. If public nudity offends you, you may just want to stay on Big Beach and enjoy the wilderness-like feeling.

    Makena State Park also has a black sand beach that is not nearly as large as Big Beach. This is an area into which many of the local snorkeling and whale watching boats anchor so that their passengers can enjoy a shallow-water snorkeling experience with both the abundant fish as well as the green sea turtles.

    As the terrain the road meanders in becomes more rustic, be looking on the right for the signs to the black sand beach.

    Small Black Sand Beach at Makena State Park
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    Maui's Rainbows

    by dlytle Updated Apr 16, 2003

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    The Island of Maui is famous for its myriad rainbows. I was fortunate enough to see several while on my trip there. Many of them can appear to be very close as can be seen in this picture.

    Rainbows are one of the most spectacular light shows observed on earth. The traditional rainbow is sunlight spread out into its spectrum of colors and diverted to the eye of the observer by water droplets. The "bow" part of the word describes the fact that the rainbow is a group of nearly circular arcs of color all having a common center.

    The sun is always behind you when you face a rainbow, and the center of the circular arc of the rainbow is in the direction opposite to that of the sun. The rain or mist, of course, is in the direction of the rainbow.

    The traditional description of the rainbow is that it is made up of seven colors - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet – the acronym is ROY G. BIV. Actually, the rainbow is a whole continuum of colors from red to violet and even beyond the colors that the eye can see.

    Sometimes we see two rainbows at once, what causes this? A ray of sunlight enters and is reflected inside a raindrop. But not all of the energy of the ray escapes the raindrop after it is reflected once. A part of the ray is reflected again and travels along inside the drop to emerge from the drop. The rainbow we normally see is called the primary rainbow and is produced by the first internal reflection; the secondary rainbow arises from two internal reflections.

    There is an interesting question with a remarkable answer. Do two people ever see the same rainbow?

    Since the rainbow is a special distribution of colors (produced in a particular way) with reference to a definite point - the eye of the observer - and as no single distribution can be the same for two separate points, it follows that two observers do not, and cannot, see the same rainbow." In fact, each eye sees its own rainbow!!

    Of course, a camera lens will record an image of a rainbow which can then be seen by many people!

    Rainbow near Kaanapali
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    Driving scenic Hana Highway

    by seamandrew Written Apr 13, 2003

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    The road to Hana is without a doubt the most famous and desired drive in all of Hawaii. Our guide book compared it to driving through the garden of Eden. They were right on the money! This is the type of destination that allows you to enjoy the journey as opposed to the destination. I suppose that's because they're intertwined. The destination is really the journey.

    The Hana Highway is a long winding road through a lush paradise filled with beautiful vegetation, spectacular waterfalls, and unimaginable views of the Pacific Ocean. For the best waterfalls, you have to get off the Highway and go offroad a bit. There is no rush getting past here since the whole point of the trip is the drive. Take your time and be patient with the slow drivers ahead of you. Remember they're gazing at all the awe-inspiring landscape too. For your pleasure there are many stops along the way for you to stop and take pictures. We strongly recommend a covertible for the journey. See my travelogue on the Hana Highway for more pictures.

    The everwinding Hana Highway, watch that next turn
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    Haleakala Crater

    by seamandrew Updated Apr 13, 2003

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    Haleakala Crater is quite an impressive site. Not only is it huge, its vastly barren terrain makes you feel like you've landed on Mars. The color of the sediment (soil) also adds to this effect.

    It's a common misconception that the crater was formed by a large volcanic blast. However, scientist have proven that the crater was formed by erosion caused by rain and wind.

    There are hiking trails all around the crater and they are clearly indicated at the visitor center. Be sure to stop by for some more info.

    Also, if you are considering spending the day here at Haleakala, also consider taking the bicycle trip back down. There are various bike tours that will provide you with everything you need. Not recommended if your hiking at the crater too. You won't have enough time in the day. Have fun!

    Haleakala Crater...boy are those mini-craters cool
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    Haleakala Visitor Center

    by seamandrew Written Apr 13, 2003

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    The Haleakala Visitor Center is worth visiting for a more in depth history of how Haleakala formed by eruption and then how the crater was formed by erosion. It's quite a fascinating story. Also, their is a scaled model of the crater that is quite informative.

    Haleakala Visitor Center.
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    Sunrise at Haleakala

    by seamandrew Updated Apr 13, 2003

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    Catching the sunrise at the summit of Haleakala crater has become one of Maui's top must see activities. If you catch the sunrise at the right time, you will be blown away by it majestic splendor. What is the right time you ask? The answer is, go when there is a good cloud cover. The way in which the sunlight reflects over the sea of clouds in an experience beyond words. We read that catching the sunrise on clear day is not as great an experience as when there is cloud cover. Fortunately, it appears to be cloudy there quite often.

    To get the time of sunrise and the weather forecast in Maui, call 808-877-5111. You'll want to get to the top of Haleakala at least an hour before sunrise to ensure that you get a good parking spot at the summit. Otherwise, you'll have to park at the Visitor center and risk not seeing the best view. If you get there when it's still completely dark, you will probably see more stars than you've ever seen in your whole life. I was blown away by the number of constellations I saw so clearly. Elisabeth and I woke up at 2:30 am and left Lahaina at 3:00 am. We made it there just before 5 am and were very pleased to be the third car there. It was an hour from the juncture between routes 377 and 378 to the top.

    Also, it gets very cold up there at 10,023 feet. No matter how warmly you think you need to dress, dress warmer. I underestimated it and practically froze. My wife brought her ski jacket with her and it came in very handy. She was still very cold however so take that in to serious consideration.

    Two things to remember. Be sure to watch out for the rare Nene goose and also for the rare silversword (a native plant of Hawaii). Both are protected. Be sure to see my travelogue for the a full sequence of pictures.

    Sun rises over a sea of clouds at Haleakala Crater
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Maui Hotels

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Maui Things to Do

Reviews and photos of Maui things to do posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Maui sightseeing.
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