Maui for n00bs

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Maui for n00bs

Postby BayAreaKite » Sun Sep 06, 2015 10:32 am

My wife and I recently returned from our Hawaii honeymoon, and I wanted to share some advice to help other BAK’ers plan their future trip. It felt a bit cliche flying out of Seattle to Hawaii as newlyweds, but the relatively short flight, ease of travel, and simplicity of life on Maui made a great place to spend a couple weeks after the months of pre-wedding chaos. Plus, I had never been. We’re kiters, all we need is wind. The warm water and beautiful views were just a bonus. If you’re thinking of taking your first Maui trip, read on for some recommendations.

First things first: rent a car through mauivans.com This company started many years ago catering to windsurfers with big beat up vans. They’re still going strong, with smaller and cheaper car options for kiters. Vince is the manager and he picked us up at the arrivals area at OGG within minutes of getting our bags. For about $500 we had this hatchback/wagon thing for two weeks. This was half the quoted rate from Hertz. Typically we prefer not to rent cars on vacations, but unfortunately on Maui you really need a car to get around the island if you plan to explore at all on no-wind days. And unless you’re camping behind kite beach, you need a car to get to kiting each morning. As a bonus, they throw in a cooler and some beach chairs, with the cooler being super valuable throughout the trip as we moved around with food. They also didn’t seem to mind that we returned the car with about 10 pounds of sand. If they didn’t have the sticker on the back they would blend in nicely with the local cars, which would be nice for reasons mentioned later on.

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rental car
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We pre-booked our lodging via VRBO a couple months before the trip. Honestly I wanted to just wing it and figure it out when we got there after meeting members of the kite community on the beach, but my wife was not as stoked about that idea as a honeymoon. I don’t blame her, we needed to relax on our vacation not worry about where we’re going to sleep each night. In hindsight, we probably should have just winged it, because the VRBO listings had a little bit of false advertising and once you’ve paid, you’re locked in. You can’t cancel 24 hours in advance like hotels. Lodging on Maui is also really expensive, especially in Paia. And it didn’t help that I was comparing everything to Baja, where you can get a beautiful studio on the beach for less than $100/night and it’s hard to spend more than $20 at dinner. Anyway, we picked Paia for the first week because it was on the famous “North Shore” and closer to the airport/kite beaches. I was also told that it is less “touristy” than the south side, but that really just meant the tourists didn’t sleep in Paia… the town was still buzzing all day and evening with tourists. But I can’t judge, we were tourists ourselves.

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Paia cottage views
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We were here to kite, and Paia would just be our base to eat and sleep. Which is why we shouldn’t have pre-paid $200+/night for lodging there. You have to drive to the kite beaches regardless of where you stay, so it probably would have been better to stay on the south side in Kihei, where there’s more to do on no-wind days and you can find places for less than $100/night. It didn’t help that on our 3rd night while we were out to dinner our cottage was robbed. They stole my wife’s purse and Macbook and went on a shopping spree to Walmart and Burger King. Police were not interested in helping retrieve the computer after we got a signal from Findy My iPhone when it booted up near the airport, which further put a damper on the experience. But we recently got a call from a detective saying they had some suspects. We’re not really interested in pursuing this any further, but would love to do anything we can to prevent another couple from having to deal with this on their honeymoon. It made our remaining nights in Paia a little uncomfortable, and we were locked in.

Back to the kiting. We had done most of our research online and had a pretty good sense of where to go. All the info you will ever need is right here: http://www.mauikiteboardingassociation. ... emaps.html

As we drove past the water treatment plant, shipping port, and bottle depot, we laughed at how kiters always get screwed with the worst beaches in some of these beautiful destinations. Definitely not complaining, but when we initially arrived at Kanaha beach it was not what we expected. It reminded us of our experience learning in Sardinia, one of the most beautiful islands I have ever been, where kiters were confined to a single beach about 5’ wide full of palm debris and dirty wetland. Not ideal learning conditions! Kite beach is quite small, which can make for busy rigging/launching/landing conditions, but the benefit of that is it makes it super easy to make new friends:)

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Kite Beach rigging area
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looking downwind from Kite Beach
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grilling boards with friends
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sunset sessions were our favorite
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Being summer the winds were plentiful but the surf not so much. There’s a reef about a half mile offshore which kicks up some waves, but for the most part it was twin-tip conditions with lofty boosts from pro-pool. There’s a photographer, Jimmy Hepp, who sits under a tree just upwind of the beach taking pictures of kiters as they boost from the flat water. He posts his photos on Facebook each night, giving you the opportunity to buy a high quality version for $25. He’s got some serious glass, and a fast shutter, as you can clearly see individual water drops in these pictures.

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Boosting in Pro Pool
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Learning to back roll
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There are a few other beaches south of Kite beach… mainly Naish beach and Old Man’s. If we were to go back to Maui, we would try to find a place to stay with beach access and rigging on the front lawn even further south. This would prevent needing to drive to the beach each morning, and all the loading/unloading of the car that comes along with that. It would also eliminate the worry of your car getting broken into or wallets/keys getting stolen off the beach… which does happen. And after being robbed in Paia, we were a little uneasy with the place. Apparently there are a few places in Sprecklersville you can rent, and we were fortunate to make a new friend with a condo on the beach and we did have one session from his place.

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post session at our friend's private beach
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After a week in Paia we were excited for our move upcountry. I’m not sure how I found it, but we ended up reserving a few nights in a cottage on a coffee plantation outside of Haiku. We were warmly greeted upon arrival, and offered a tour of her beautiful 25 acre plot of land in the jungle. Sydney had an amazing story regarding the acquisition of the property, and eventual conversion into shade-grown coffee planation and preserve of native historical site. We really enjoyed our time there, and would definitely consider returning. The drive to the beach was maybe 5 minutes longer than from Paia, but we felt a world away. It was cooler in the evenings, quieter, and we knew we weren’t going to have any unwanted visitors. Check out more details here: http://malikoretreat.blogspot.com

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exploring with Sydney
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the jungle
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historical hieroglyphs
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swimming holes on Maliko Estate
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View from the deck at Maliko Estate
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We also spent some time in Kihei, which has access to all the good snorkeling, dive sites, and cool hikes such as La Parouse. Honestly I didn’t mind the hustle-and-bustle, and would return to Kihei over Paia any day. It’s cheaper, there’s more to do, and felt authentic as a commercial hub. We even kited Kihei. See below for various photos from our activities in Kihei on the no-wind days.

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Snorkeling with turtles on the south shore
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reef shark in Molokini Crater
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eel
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yellow fish
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frog fishes. can you see them?
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In closing, how one spends their precious vacation time and money is a very personal thing. After our first week, I was ready to go home. We are blessed in the Bay Area with wind, waves, flat water, and heat all within an hour or two of home during the summer. It was hard to swallow spending $300/day in Maui on top of our Bay Area rent, and we joked about next time doing a staycation. But the 2nd week allowed Maui to redeem itself, after meeting some wonderful new friends, a pleasant and relaxing stay in Haiku, and some fun no-wind activities on the south side. Maui is definitely a piece of kitesurfing history, and a must visit for anyone passionate about the sport. But as with any traveling, what makes the experience is the people. So I encourage you to go with friends, or make friends while you’re there, and plan on doing more than just kiting. We only experienced a sliver of the island, and if we had a 2nd chance at the first week we’d take it. It won’t become an annual tradition like Baja for us, but in the end, we left with fond memories and new friends. Feel free to PM me with any questions if you’re thinking of taking a trip, although clearly I am no expert!

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the view of the kiters made it harder to leave
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PS if your ID gets stolen on travel, you can still get through TSA… just show up a little earlier than normal for the additional interrogation;)
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Re: Maui for n00bs

Postby MehYam » Sun Sep 06, 2015 1:02 pm

Beautiful write-up! You should work for the Hawaii board of tourism.

Only been to Maui once, now I'm suddenly jonesing to revisit.
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