Chris & Steve in Maui, Mar 01-09, 2007

Chris has been to Hawaii many times over the past 30 years. This was Steve's first time.
Places we visited are underlined in red on the map.

Condos/ beaches

The west coast of Maui -- particularly the Kaanapali, Kihei, and Wailea/ Makena areas -- has an incredible number of giant resort hotels and vacation condo buildings. Kihei has grown rapidly in the past 5-10 years (it covers the area indicated by purple bracket on the map) and still has a lot of new construction going on. Most of the condos in Kihei, as well as the high-end housing developments (located a little farther away from the beach), have names including the word "Kai" (ocean). E.g.,

We stayed at the condo complex "Kihei Kai Nani". Most condos are time-shares, or the owners stay part of the year and rent them out through an agency the rest of the time.

The beaches go on for miles, and are always "public access" even if a big hotel is nearby. We walked up and down the Kihei/ Wailea beaches almost every day.

Animals

The most noticeable animals are birds. Diversity of insects, reptiles, and terrestrial mammals is low compared to mainland tropical areas, not surprisingly. On the eastern side of Maui we noticed plenty of mongooses, a weasel-like mammal from India which was foolishly introduced to Hawaii in the 1800s to control rats in the sugar cane fields, quickly got out of control, and drove many native bird and other animal species to extinction (more detail here).

Here are a few critters we encountered on our beach walks.


There are many humpback whales off the west Maui coast during Dec - May. These are baleen whales that feed on krill and small schooling fish. Their main food supply is around Alaska, but they travel to Hawaii to breed and raise calves, since killer whales (their main predator) are scarce in this area. We saw humpbacks often during our beach walks, and also went on a charter catamaran, "Quicksilver", out of Maalaea harbor to see them up close.
Note: We did not take this picture. It's from a stock photo site.

We went snorkeling almost every day, in the spare hours between our other excursions. There are coral and colorful reef fish all up and down the west coast. We saw many of the species illustrated on this guide (taken from this site).




Some prime snorkeling spots are Honolua Bay (on the northwest "corner" of Maui),

Makena Beach, next to the Maui Prince Hotel,

and the Ahihi-Kina'u Natural Area Reserve farther to the south.

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