This is Part 4 of 4 about our trip to Maui. Click on the links here to visit Part 1, Part 2 (Iao Needle & drive around the island), and Part 3 (Snorkeling Trip). Also, for a comparison of Maui versus the Big Island, see this post.
Today was our last day in Maui. We got up and checked out of the hotel this morning. We said goodbye to the wonderful "tree tunnel" as we left the driveway of our hotel for the last time and hit the road for Lahaina on the western end of the island. It was a pretty and scenic drive that took us by the spot where we went snorkeling on the Four Winds II yesterday.
Downtown Lahaina was nice. This is a shot of Front Street in downtown Lahaina. The Maui Revealed book said if you came to this side of the island and DIDN'T go for a walk down Front Street, then you were missing out. I found it to be a typical upscale coastal tourist trap sort of like Cannery Row in Monterey, California, or Mystic, Connecticut or Newport, Rhode Island, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. There were lots of art galleries, restaurants, historic sites, and of course the touristy t-shirt shops.
On the site of this lighthouse, King Kamehameha III ordered the first lighthouse (well... a pole with a light on it) erected in 1840 - the first navigation aid in Hawaii. The current lighthouse that is there was built in 1915. (Yes, this was a virtual geocache).
Believe it or not, all the leaves you see in this picture is ONE banyan tree. It's over 100 years old!
This was absolutely THE COOLEST shop we saw in Lahaina. They had all these really cool ship models made out of wood. I was surprised they only cost on the order of $300 bucks! If I were playing The Price Is Right, I would have guessed upwards of $1,000. They had lots of historic ships like HMS Victory and USS Constitution. They even had the Mount Washington (the ferry boat that runs across Lake Winnepesaukee, NH). Anyway, LW had to drag me and the boys out of there.
Oh, yeah, did I mention they had the stereo-typical tourist t-shirt shops? Some people wonder why I have a problem with our kids glamorizing pirates.
Aside for anyone else shopping for t-shirts in Maui: We shopped several places all over the island for our souvenir t-shirts. Out of all the places we went, the place I liked the best was the shop in Kihei downstairs from Denny's. They had the best selection of t-shirts that I saw in any of the stores we went to, and the prices weren't bad. By "best selection," I mean that they had a variety of nice, classy looking, conservative Maui t-shirts, unlike the stereotypical tourist-trap obnoxious-slogan, cheap, or cheesy t-shirts.
Okay, so now for the best part (in my opinion) about Lahaina. I wrote previously about LW's propensity to look for things that had cross-referenced good reviews in multiple books. Both the Maui Revealed book and the Frommers Hawaii with Kids book contained high praises for Cilantro.
[Cue sound effect: Angels singing the hallelujah chorus] This place was AWESOME. They take "fresh" to a new level and put one of our old NoVA favorites, Baja Fresh, to shame. The food was both SO fresh and absolutely-to-die-for-delicious. I don't think I've ever had tortilla chips that tasted THAT good. The guacamole was ALMOST as good as LW's fresh guacamole. The pork adobo burrito I had was legendary. The churros were even better than Costco's! If you like Mexican food and you go to Maui, then you absolutely MUST go to Cilantro. This place ROCKS!
Of course, if you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that seeing this sign made my day!
After our awesome lunch, we hit the road toward back toward the airport and stopped to look for a couple of geocaches along the way. The boys entertained themselves with the camera in the backseat. Now we have hundreds of pictures of YB taken by ES and ES taken by YB, plus pictures of their stuffed-animals. Thank goodness electrons are free (in the 2GB SD card variety in the digital camera I mean).
Luckily for us, Maui is mostly a rural type of place and Kahului is not a big town. The power was out, so all the traffic lights were out. It was chaos on the roads. Plus, we couldn't buy gas for the rental car, so we just sucked up the penalty at the rental car place and turned the car in with a half-full tank.
Follow-Up: Now, sitting in my recliner watching the evening news, I see it's a big story that they lost power on almost all of Maui today. The other big news around here is the impact of Aloha Airlines going under and all the people stranded at the airport. The news crew interviewed one couple that's been stranded here for 3 days. Yikes! That's why I just sucked it up and bought new tickets for a Hawaiian Airlines flight back - I didn't want to take any chances with the "space available" travel with so many people holding useless Aloha Airlines tickets and trying to get into those limited available spaces.
Overall, we had a great trip and really enjoyed having the family vacation time and the opportunity to see another one of the islands.
Follow-Up 4/12/08: I had a hit from someone doing a Google search for BlackbBerry signal coverage on Maui. In all the places we went on Maui, I always had a good signal on my BlackBerry. Even when I was over the side of a cliff searching for a geocache, and all I could see was the ocean on one side and sheer rocks above me on the other side, I was still able to access the internet on my BlackBerry to review the geocache listings.