The "Aloha spirit" is alive and well on the island of Maui. That smiling welcome and gracious hospitality combine with reverence for land and sea.
Aloha spirit really comes alive among Hawaiian traditions. Here's where visitors can join in:
The graceful hula is part of all Hawaiian celebrations: birthdays, weddings and funerals. Both men and women dance.
- Catch a free hula show at Maui's Ka'anapali Beach Hotel, performed each evening. Or take a hula class there.
- Ka'anapali Beach Hotel hosts a three-day international children's hula contest, Hula O Na Keiki, each November.
Paddle an outrigger canoe at the Fairmont to experience sailing as the ancient Polynesians did. — Photo courtesy of Fairmont Kea Lani
Several Maui hotels offer expeditions in outrigger canoes. Outriggers have a brace on the side – the outrigger – for support in thrashing seas.
- Find Maui outrigger experiences at Travaasa Hana on the eastern side of Maui.
- The Fairmont Kea Lani in Lahaina and Four Seasons Resort and Spa in Wailea also offer the sail, accompanied by an expert paddler who helps guests slice the paddle blade into the water and chant to synchronize.
Craft and Street Fairs
Hawaiian artists practice traditional crafts such as woodcarving, quilting and jewelry-making; necklaces are strung from puka and other shells. Then, they showcase their wares at Maui craft and street fairs.
Polynesian symbols painted around the ankle or extending up the arm are popular on Maui, too, and henna artists show up at craft fairs alongside the other artisans.
- Lahaina Civic Center Craft Fair is held Sundays just north of Lahaina Town, toward Ka'anapali resort.
- On Saturdays, Kahului hosts a swap meet that includes crafts.
- Farmers' markets all over Maui sell crafts as well.
Designs using Polynesian symbols are painted at some crafts fairs — Photo courtesy of Anne Chalfant
Maui has lots of luaus. A luau is an extravaganza – a traditional Hawaiian feast in which a pig wrapped in banana leaves is roasted in the ground. Long tables are chock-full of side dishes such as purple potatoes, Hawaiian sweet bread, pineapple cake and macadamia nut pie.
Still not persuaded? Try this: Most luaus have an open bar.
- The Old Lahaina Luau is located on its own grounds, decked out like a tropical Hawaiian village. Tickets may seem pricey, but this favorite luau often sells out.
- Drums of the Pacific takes place at Hyatt Regency.
- Maui Nui Luau is held at the foot of Black Rock, from which a diver makes a dramatic sunset dive into the sea. This luau's hosted by Sheraton Maui Beach Resort, Ka'anapali.
- At the Wailea Grand Luau, located at Grand Wailea, look for world-champion fire knife dancers.
Hawaiians generally share a common respect for the earth around them.
- A morning cultural walk is led each week by The Grand Wailea resort's cultural expert Kaino Horcajo. The resort's 40-acre property is home to native plants, and the property is maintained with sensitivity to the ahupua'a system of keeping earth in balance. An altar welcoming voyagers from the sea marks the end of the walk.
- Ko`ie`ie Fishpond in Kihei, Maui is seeing stone-by-stone restoration with the help of volunteers. Hawaii's ancient fishponds belonged to the king and royal family. They are sacred to Hawaiians, yet many have been destroyed. The Maui Fishpond organization rebuilds a pond the second and last Saturdays of each month at Kalepolepo Park in North Kihei, near 726 South Kihei Rd.
When you think Hawaiian music, you probably think ukuleles. That's part of the enchantment.
- Musicians start playing before sunset at bigger resorts. Ka'anapali, Wailea and Kapalua will get the party started with some nice ukes and slack key guitar.
- Ka'anapali Beach Hotel hosts a three-day steel guitar festival each spring; bring that guitar and jam, or go to workshops. It's free.
- Check Maui Arts and Cultural Center's schedule for big name Hawaiian talent.