Maui Travelogue Revisited
There’s no cure for winter--just as there is no cure for the common cold--but a January trip to Maui is like a dose of vitamin C and echinacea all rolled into one big bright bolus of sunshine. For the GLBT traveler, Maui offers a few specialty sites and services, all of them well worth looking into. After all, you wouldn’t want to travel to the most remote place on the planet and miss out.
Billed as a gay "resort," the 25-room Maui Sunseeker is a seaside hotel, all but situated right on a white sand beach, that features a clothing optional roof deck.
Take note, though, that to access the roof, which offers a hot tub, a communal table, a computer with free Internet access, and an on-site massage therapist--you need to be 18 years of age or older.
The efficient, friendly staff are unfailingly kind and attentive, and our fellow guests--whom we met while lounging in the rooftop hot tub, with Orion and a million other stars clear and bright overhead--were equally sweet-natured and interesting.
The ’Little Beach’ at Makena
My husband and I consider the "little beach" at Makena State Park near Kihei to be our home away from home while on Maui.
The little beach is praised as a clothing optional place to play in the surf, soak up the sun, and make new friends. Though known in some circles as a "gay beach," the little beach is actually welcoming to all.
Makena Beach is sort of like a family: returnees are likely to see familiar faces as fans of the locale’s golden sands and gorgeous teal waters come back year after year. Little beach is also a hit with the locals, many of whom congregate on Sundays for a drum circle.
The drumming starts in mid-afternoon and gets more energetic and enthusiastic as the sun sinks seaward. With more and more people arriving in the hours just prior to dusk, the beach becomes a mob scene--albeit a friendly, peaceable mob.
Like any family, however, devotees of Makena’s little beach also has its share of... let’s call them "characters." Raconteurs, nomads, and sketchy characters can also be found, and while we have never had any trouble ourselves, we have also been smart about not leaving our belongings unattended, especially on Sunday afternoons and evenings, when the little beach is transformed into a sort of tribal rave complete with drum circle and fire dancing. We have, however, heard tell of valuables going missing, so exercise a modicum of care.
Also take note of the fact that to access little beach--which is separated from Makena’s "big beach" by a lava spit--it’s necessary to do a little climbing. The climb is not arduous for anyone in reasonable physical shape (unless, as sometimes happens, the sand is washed out at the big beach’s far end: in that case, it’s a much more difficult transition over bare lava rock), but hauling lots of extra gear can be cumbersome... not that it stops the young men with the drum sets and the didgeridoos from arriving fully equipped and accessorized!
The climb also means that you may want to bring a flashlight if you plan to stay for the full party experience. Though the park officially closes at 8:00 p.m., night falls early--dusk is about 6:00 p.m.--so well before the official end time, it’s going to be pitch black.
No Ka ’Oi Adventures
Last week I wrote about No Ka ’Oi Adventures and its owner, the handsome, charming, and openly gay Wade Holmes, in depth.
But the day-long adventure we took with Wade was far from the only option his company provides to the alternative traveler. Wade also offers trips all around Maui, including to Hana, as well as to other islands--including one of the most beautiful, the island of Kauai.
The Feast at Lele
Though not GLBT-specific, The Feast at Lele in Lahaina is too much fun to overlook.
This luau offers gorgeous, graceful dance presentations and food from four Polynesian cultures: Hawai’i, New Zealand, Tahiti, and Samoa.
The Hawaii course features a salad with pohole fern and heart of palms, and an entree of pork (similar to pulled pork). But wait! There’s also fish! With mango sauce! Plus poi and banana chips... And a chant, a song, and a hula. It’s all paired with a mineraly Merlot.
The New Zealand course offers greens and duck salad with poha berry dressing. There’s also mushroom with sweet potato in a rich sauce, and fish cakes made with scallop and shrimp. The entertainment element is a challenge chant with a leaf peace offering, a gala, and a performance of a dance with ’poi balls. All this is paired with a buttery NZ Sauvignon Blanc. Spectacular!
The Tahiti course is replete with scallops on the shell, fish in a lobster sauce, and boneless chicken wrapped in Teri leaf in a coconut milk sauce. The luau’s dancers serve up a Tahiti creation chant, the official chant of Tahiti, and, as a third attraction, a traditional ’ori. These delights are paired with a light, butterscotchy Chardonnay.
The Samoa course continues the tasty journey with shrimp and avocado with passion fruit (or pineapple), squash (sometimes breadfruit) and taro leaf in coconut milk, and steak. And dance, naturally--all paired with a rich blackberry and cherry tasting Pinot Noir.
As if this bounty, which is enjoyed under palm trees and stars, weren’t enough, there’s also dessert: macadamia nut tart with Haupia Hawaiian vintage Chocolate Truffles and tropical fruit (lychee, strawberry, mango). The sweets are paired with the ’fire knife dance’ and port.
The luau is pricey--
$110 per head--and some of the online reviews are less than kind. (Some find the exotic fare "inedible," but hey, this ain’t McDonald’s.)
Whether we were blessed by Madame Pele and the other Hawaiian gods or just blessed with good company, our experience was positive all around.
Pacific Whale Foundation
Hawaii’s first--and arguably one of its most important--nonprofits is the Pacific Whale Foundation, which launches excursions from two locations: downtown Lahaina and just outside of Kihei. The Foundation exists, as guides on its snorkel trips and whale watches will tell you, to address a trifecta of needs related to cetacean life: research, education, and conservation. The Foundation takes all of those things seriously, providing at-sea field trips for local school kids, appealing to passengers on its boating excursions to share any good photos of whales (researchers can use the unique markings on individual animals to track the population), and serving drinks in cups that look like plastic, but are made of corn and compost in water. (No kidding.)
We did both the snorkel trip and the whale watch. Since we were visiting in January, which is whale season, we saw plenty of humpback whales on the snorkeling trip to nearby Molokini (a sunken island: only the remnants of its long extinct cinder cone rise above the water) and farther-afield Lahaina (a neighboring island, also part of Maui County).
Westerly winds had stirred up the waters--normally much clearer--so visibility was not good, but the number of whales we spotted breaching, flapping fins and tales, and spouting, more than made up for it, as did the shipboard food and drinks.
The whale watch was even more spectacular: at one point the craft we were on, the Ocean Explorer, was surrounded by about two dozen whales, some of them males jockeying for the attentions of a female (who was escorting her calf; the pair even cozied up to the boat at one point, affording passengers spectacular views).
Almost as a bonus, a pod of spinner dolphins swam alongside the Ocean Explorer for a time, racing right next to the boat and leaping--and, yes, spinning--out of the water. (Full disclosure: my husband and I are members of the Foundation. Memberships cost $50 and include discounts and a free excursion, so it only made sense to join up.)
This local paper is not GLBT-focused, but it’s so damn cool...
A sense of humor, a writing style with a strong flavor of Hawai’ian culture, a focus on local stories plus a selection of weird news from around the world, and weekly installments of the "Eh Brah!" and "Coconut Wireless" features make this free paper a treat. We looked forward to seeing every new issue.
We got ours at Jamba Juice, but it’s available in many local markets as well. We might just need to procure a subscription, in order to keep the Aloha alive.
The famous song notwithstanding, the only thing we find to be "blue" about Hawaii--aside from a strong drink by that name--is having to leave. Aloha Oe, Maui, and mahalo--thank you!
With a hop name that references a popular surfing spot and the island’s best fish tacos (in my humble opinion, at least), Jawz Restaurant rules.
Even better, Jawz runs two trucks, both located near Makena’s Big and Little Beaches, so you can drop by and get your taco on the way to your sun-drenched afternoon by the water.