Twelve Tips for Maui Travelers

1. KNOW YOUR LIMITS. If you decide to tackle Haleakala via bicycle, keep in mind your own physical fitness. Maui Memorial Hospital reports seeing at least 2 to 5 injured cyclists in their emergency room each week with broken bones or facial injuries from downhill rides.

2. BITE ME. If you’re tired of pesky bug bites, pick up some lavender spray, as it repels various insects. Deer and goat won’t feed on it either, but hopefully, that’s not a concern.

3. OUT OF TOUCH? No matter where you stay in Hana, you may experience areas without Wi-Fi. To remedy this, try your luck by the ballpark. Here, you should be able to connect with the network of the town’s posh Hana-Maui Resort.

4. TOW-IN SURFING AT JAWS. Every year in Dec. and Jan., there is a grand pohai na keiki nalu (“gathering of the surf kids”) to witness one of the biggest spectacles in the islands: tow-in big-wave surfing at . When the waves break just right off the coast below a pineapple field in Haiku, surfers have jet skis tow them into waves that reach heights of 100 ft. from crest to trough (though the average height is 25-40 ft.). Surfers are strapped into their boards, allowing them to rip nasty tricks on their way down the wave—it’s like skiing down an avalanche. After the ride, surfers hold their breath and wait for the jet ski to tow them back to safety before the next wave. Surfers train for years, holding onto heavy rocks below the surface to increase their lung capacity, which they’ll need to survive the powerful wave breaking above them. Lifeguards wait outside the impact zone should they be needed. The event also has a hefty price tag, as the cost for the tow-in is a few thousand dollars, unless the surfer is backed by a sponsor or a movie company trying to make a film. News of surfing at Jaws spreads by word of mouth—keep your ears open for a chance to see this crazy event.

5. HANA HIGHWAY DRIVING TIPS. Many residents commute several times a day on this road. Use your rearview mirror, and use the pull-outs along the road to let cars pass you. Do not stop on the road to look; this is dangerous and inconsiderate. On one-lane bridges, obey the yield signs. On steep downhills, switch to a lower gear rather than riding your breaks.

6. I LIKE BIG BUTTS. Smoking at the beach? If you’re under the impression that your bad habit will decompose quickly, you are sorely mistaken. Cigarette butts last 10 to 15 years and unleash toxins into the ocean. Bring a portable ashtray if you’re going to light up. They’re available at many local stores, or get one for free from the Pacific Whale Foundation.

7. WELL ALE BE. If you have a tendency to get seasick and are planning to engage in activities that may instigate such a predisposition, make certain to avoid any Vitamin C-laden foods and beverages, like OJ. Instead, reach for some ginger—be it in pill, ale, or root form. You will feel refreshed instantly.

8. THE EARLY BIRD CATCHES THE FISH. When booking or setting out on a snorkeling expedition, keep in mind that earlier is better. Afternoon trips are often plagued by rocky waters. Four out of seven days, tours experience rough water as noon approaches, and you may find yourself sailing out to that special fin-filled spot only to have to turn around upon arrival.

9. CLICK IT OR TICKET. As with driving anywhere, in Hawaii it’s best to adhere to the speed limit. On coastal highways, the limit changes frequently, and cops love to pull over motorists who aren’t heeding the signs. Be sure to buckle up, since fines for driving without a seat belt run around $100.

10. TALK STORY AT THE RITZ. In Hawaii, the phrase “talk story” means a long rambling conversation about anything. Its origins stem from the fact that Hawaii’s history was recorded in chants, songs, and storytelling long before anything was written down. For a memorable tale, head to the Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua, where once a month on a Friday evening around the full moon, Hawaiian cultural advisor Clifford Naeole can be heard talking story as part of a program called Moonlight Moolelo. Appetizers and music quiet the onlookers as they sit on the lawn overlooking D.T. Fleming Beach and listen to Naeole and other local experts muse about Hawaii’s indigenous people.

11. LOOK LOCAL. Theft from parked cars at beaches is not uncommon. To protect your valuables, always lock your car, and try putting a Hawaiian flag on your dashboard or tying a lei on your rearview mirror to look more like a local (and less like a target).

12. METER MAIDS GET PAID. Parking in Lahaina can be difficult. If you’re coming from out of town, make sure to arrive by 10am; the few free spots fill up quickly. Although pay lots can be expensive, several offer free parking with proof of purchase from specific stores. If you’re planning on buying something anyway, consider going to a validating store.

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