Maui Nightlife Sunset Bars!
Understanding Pupus, Hapuupuu And Other Food
The happening place at sunset time is Hula Grill in Kaanapali.
The most obvious nightlife realization that one is in Maui and not Honolulu can be found with the booze cruises. In Maui (specifically Lahaina and Kaanapali) the cruises are not $25 but $45-$65 and are more focused on cruising than boozing.
The second is at the bar on the lanai at the pleasant Hula Grill in Kaanapaili (on the beach at Whaler's Village).
At first glance, it appears to have the same type of lively and casual bar atmosphere as Duke's in Waikiki (in fact, it's part of the Duke's family), particularly at sunset. There's daily Happy Hour specials and a happy crowd drinking them down as an end to the perfect island day.
But this is not Duke's and singles soon discover that most people at the bar are couples or families who are waiting for a dinner table, not other singles looking to mingle. An hour after sunset, the place is back to it's lack of frenzy and by 11 it's closing down.
With sunsets like this on Kaanapali Beach, why be anywhere else!?
Kaanapali Beach is the place to be on Maui for spectacular sunsets.
But hey, when it's happening, it's happening. This is where you want to be at the end of the day. Sure, there's families and couples on honeymoons, but there's also the occasional "third wheel," to to speak, the 20-something daughter or son who is bursting at the seams to meet and talk with someone other than a family member.
Plus, it's just pain fun. he food and location are motivation enough to go and stay past the sun's slide into the Pacific.
Next door is Leilanie's, which is quite similar but has a smaller bar area, so finding a seat at the bar can be a challenge. It's not as buzzing with activity as Hula Grill because most people are seated. Hula Grill more of a bar scene.
Lahaina Bars & Nightlife
About 10 minutes away – $1 shuttles run from morning until about 9:30 p.m. – is Lahaina, Maui's focal commercial area. Most of the bars are in Lahaina and what nightlife can be found on Maui is in this old fishing village.
The place to begin is Kimo's. It's on Front Street in the heart of "downtown." Go after dinner for its famous Tropical Itch, a potent concoction that comes with a wooden backscratcher sticking out of the glass. Have more than two and the backscratcher also makes for a handy walking cane. It's rarely busy, but the locals easily mix with tourists at the bar. The food is quite good for those who want to mix the Itch with dinner.
The bars in Lahina is where Maui nightlife happens.
From there, where to go depends on the night of the week. Here's the Maui meltdown:
• Weekends – Sunsets on Kaanapali, followed by Spats, an Italian restaurant at the Kaanapali Hyatt that is converted into a dance spot. Young locals prefer Paradise Bluz in Lahaina ($15 cover and a collar is required, though they will loan t-shirt stricken patrons an Aloha shirt). Spats is sometimes open until 3 but you must have a stamp to get in past about 1:30.
• Mondays – Hard Rock Cafe. There's a live reggae band and a lively crowd.
• Tuesdays – Moose McGillycuddy's. With a $5 cover comes dollar drinks. There's a line by 11 but note this is hardly a sophisticated crowd.
• Wednesdays – Stay in after sunset and save up the energy for Honolulu.
• Thursdays – We like this one, it's a sushi restaurant called Sansei in Kapalua (15 minutes north of Kaanapali; take a cab). In addition to the 15% off sushi from 10-closing – the mango crab is most highly recommended – it has people attempting to sing karaoke. It's steps from the Ritz, so wedding parties are there, as well as locals.
When is Maui like Key West? When you walk down the street, past the endless t-shirt and souvenir stores and think "it's to hot out here; time for a cold beverage." But instead of heading to Sloppy Joe's, in Lahaina the place is Cheeseburger in Paradise. Not owned by that famous singer/songwriter, Cheeseburger is a restaurant/bar with Key West-style ceiling fans, a million-dollar view of the bay and the best bartenders in Maui. We like it best upstairs. And how are the cheeseburgers? Very tasty and patrons are indeed in paradise.
But are they the best burgers on the island? Not quite. That distinction goes to a small dive bar in Kannapali, Johnny's Burger Joint. At the corner of the Hwy. 30 and the Kaanapali turnoff (2395 Honoapiilani Highway), Johnny's cheeseburger is like a large In 'N Out, big and juicy with a bun that does not get in the way of the burger.
Speaking of local dives, there are a few of them scattered about the island. It's where the locals go, though we must point out that locals here means either young kids in a click (sometimes called mokes) or "veteran" bar hounds.
At 515 Front Street, a secondary shopping complex south of the main area of Lahaina, there's a sort-of-sports bar called Bamboo as well as Heckock's, which has a great location with windows open to the sea. Coolers Restaurant and Bar at Dickenson Square is a pleasant place with a large marlin on the wall whose open windows look out to Dickenson Street.
And for those looking for a real dive, there's the Sly Mongoose in an industrial area between Lahaina and Kaanapali.
There is one other spot that unfortunately got a little too wild for it's own good. The Pioneer Inn is a rustic, inexpensive hotel for scuba divers on a budget with a once-raucous bar attached. It would go loud and deep into the night.
Alas, it now closes at 9. Still, with those open walls and Hemmingway-inspired ceiling fans it's an afternoon stop for one or two drinks in memory of the good 'ol times. It's by the famous Banyan Tree and the Lahaina harbor and across from The Wharf, a small shopping plaza with a movie theater and outdoor patio bar, The Blue Lagoon.
Hana falls may – or may not – be worth the all-day drive.
Maui is an island of activities.
For active individuals, Maui's diverse landscape offers excellent scuba diving, snorkelling, surfing, windsurfing, fishing, hiking and golf. It also offers wandering, so get a car and explore. The tiny town of Paia, for example, looks like a 60s hippie surfing community untouched by technology or time. Just a couple of blocks in either direction at an intersection on the way to the Haleakala Crater, it's businesses include a few modest restaurants, a couple of surf shops and a reggae store.
Yet at the same time Maui is so soothingly comfortable that there's no harm in doing, well, nothing.
All around the island there are parks and secluded coves tucked along the beaches, a mere turnoff from main roads. Just off shore is swimming, snorkeling or, in some spots, surfing. It's a setting made for romance, which makes it little wonder there are an average of 100 weddings a week on Maui.
D.T. Fleming Beach Park is considered one of the best beaches in the America and neighboring Honokeana Cove at Napili has the kind of scenic privacy one expects here. Take a swim, bring the mask and fins and spend a good few hours letting the sun dry the water spots.
There is, of course, the Road to Hana. Shall you do it? Well, it takes all day and the Seven Pools, hiking and waterfalls are great, but you'll have to decide if you want to devote an entire day to spend an hour or two there, and to pay the $10 parking fee. Then again, you've gone all the way to Maui and you aren't likely to see anything like the Seven Pools at home.
PubClub.com's sister site, SurfsideSam.com, has this detailed look at the Road To Hana and the Seven Pools.
The Big Island
The youngest of Hawaii's main islands is undergoing constant transformation since the most recent volcanic explosion began in 1983. Hawaii Volcanos National Park, down winding Craters Road, provides views of layers of lava flow.
The best beaches – some say in the world – are on the sun-bathed Kona Coast. Beaches are identified by mile markers, signaling where to turn off the highway to reach them. Luxury resorts are dotted along the Kona Coast. On the other side of the island is Old Hilo, with its historic buildings, waterfront galleries, shops and museums.
Despite the fact it's obviously in Hawaii, it does snow on the Big Island. It's off Chain of Craters Road which leads to a quarry and prehistoric lakes. Extreme thrill-seekers come here to go snowboarding.