Saying Aloha to the Whales

It's that sad time of year when the North Pacific Humpback Whales depart Hawaii. At the time of this writing, the whales are still abundant, but we are definitely seeing fewer than we saw earlier this month. So, if you happen to be on Maui through the end of April, you may still have time to book a whale watch.

Maui whales


Maui Whale Watch Guide - Why Humpbacks Breach

When you join us on a whale watch tour on Maui, breaching is one of the common actions you're likely to see. Breaching is when a whale throws its entire body out of the water. It's an awesome to sight to witness, to be sure.


Best Pizza on Maui - HOP to it

Maui Pizza that you'll love!


To be honest, the last thing visitors think of is the potential for epic pizza places on Maui. And though we don't have many, the pizza joints on this list are truly top-notch. Unique to Maui pizzas are the local ingredients and toppings you can generally only find here. Step outside of your normal pizza zone and try ordering something distinctly local. You might be surprised!


10 Facts About Spinner Dolphins

Seeing whales on a whale watch tour is awesome. No doubt about that. But do you know what else is awesome? Seeing dolphins! But is it legal to swim with them?


Best Sandwiches on Maui - HOP to it


At its core, a sandwich is two pieces of bread stuffed with, uh, stuff. So what differentiates a great sandwich from a good one? Freshly baked bread is a start, but it's the "stuff" that magically transforms an ordinary sandwich into something memorable. Here are our five favorite sandwich spots on Maui.

  1. Down the Hatch (Lahaina)
    Featured on the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," Down the Hatch offers up a few sandwiches and other lunch and dinner items, but we wholeheartedly recommend the Lobster and Crab Stuffed Grilled Cheese. The name pretty much says it all (see the image at the top of the page). But what it doesn't mention is that it's served on thick slices of Hawaiian sweet bread. The sweetness of the bread cuts some of the heat created by the flavorful spicy lava lava sauce. Located on Front Street, Down the Hatch is a must-visit in Lahaina and they're now open for breakfast!
    (Down the Hatch)
  2. Sprout Vegan Cafe (Wailea Gateway Center)
    One of Maui's newer additions, Sprout Vegan Cafe has some delicious food. Their "Tuna" sandwich has brought us back 4 times this year already. Highly recommended! Burgers, wraps, burritos, bowls, sushi, smoothies, juices, and sweets await you sans guilt.
    (Sprout Vegan Cafe)
  3. Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop (Lahaina)
    Opened in late 2011, Leoda's replaced the popular French restaurant Chez Paul. Interestingly, the first chef of Leoda's was none other than Top Chef favorite Sheldon Simeon. Leoda's is world-famous for its pies, and for good reason. But they take the "Kitchen" part of their name seriously. If you go just for the pies, you'll be missing out on some of the best sandwiches on Maui. The Roast Pork hoagie is a pork lover's dream. Made with sashimi-grade tuna, the Seared Ahi sandwich is another can't-miss item. Of course, a fresh piece of pie is always a nice accompaniment. This is considered one of the best Maui restaurants by many locals, savy visitors, and critics.
    (Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop)
  4. Casanova Deli (Makawao)
    Located upcountry, next door to the renowned Casanova Italian Restaurant, Casanova's sandwiches are available on a variety of bread, but depending on the sandwich, we recommend the house-baked focaccia. That said, the New York, a zesty meatball sandwich with their house-made marinara, served on a baguette, is still our favorite. For the vegetarians out there, the Vulcano with baked eggplant and smoked Mozarella is always a good choice. We often stop here on our way to Haleakala and enjoy the sandwiches up at the summit.
    (Casanova Deli)
  5. Tin Roof in Kahului serves the best chicken sandwich we've ever eaten. It's the only sandwich they serve, thus they didn't make our top five. Sheldon Simeon, mentioned above, is the owner and operator of Tin Roof. You will often see him behind the counter making food. Tin Roof is on Dairy Road near the airport. They are only open for lunch and it gets pretty crowded. They have a nice mobile website, though, from which you can order ahead.
    (Tin Roof)


Top Five Maui Beaches

Hawaii Magazine took a poll and published their list of the top five beaches on Maui. While it's a great list, we're going to re-order it... and swap in a couple of our favorites.

First, here are the results of the Hawaii Magazine readers poll:

  1. Kaanapali Beach
  2. Napili Bay
  3. Makena Beach
  4. Baby Beach
  5. Keawakapu Beach

It's a fine list and hard to argue with. But this would be a pretty boring article if we didn't take a little bit of time to disagree. For one thing, the poll doesn't list any beaches from non-tourist areas on the north and east shores. So, let's fix that with our own top five list of beaches!

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1 - Makena Beach (Makena)

Big Beach Makena

Also known as Big Beach and yes, it's a big beach, spanning over 1.5 miles! The beach is also wide, with over 30 yards of beach from shore to the water. While the water can get rough - rough enough that if you're a beginning swimmer, you may not want to enter the water - for most of the year, it's simply perfect. As an added bonus, around a northern bluff lies Little Beach. It's hidden from the general public, but if you know where to go (it's not hard to find) you'll come across this clothing-optional gem.

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2 - Napili Bay (Kapalua)

Napili Beach

A smaller beach, but with a great location and actual trees for shade, we find this beach to be the best on the west side. Parking can be tough to find, but if you go early enough it won't be a problem. The water is nearly always glassy and it's a great place to learn how to snorkel. Turtles are abundant here.

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3 - Baldwin Beach/Baby Beach (Paia/Spreckelsville)

Baldwin Beach

A "locals" beach, but as long as you're respectful of the people and the beach, you will be just fine. Baldwin is another long beach. Located on the north shore, if you're coming from the airport, it's just before the sunny surf town of Paia. The waves at Baldwin Beach can get big, but that's part of the fun. If you walk down the beach from the main parking lot, you'll eventually run into Baby Beach. A beautiful cove with a large reef that blocks the waves, creating smooth, lake-like conditions that are perfect for your keiki, and it has some of the best tide pools on the island. Baby Beach is also accessible directly from the west side if you don't want to make the walk from the main parking lot. You can follow Google maps to Maui Country Club, but instead of turning right into the golf course, keep going straight and you'll run into the ocean.

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4 - Kamaole One/Charley Young Beach (Kihei)

Kamaole Beach Park 1

Located in the heart of Kihei, this beach has a little of everything. Kam 1 and Charley Young are connected, though we've never figured out where one ends and the other starts, so we'll just lump them together. The north end of the beach, Charley Young, features small, yet body surfable (for beginners) waves most of the year. There's also tide pools that are ripe for exploring. The southern part of the beach, most of the year, has calmer waters... and more people. But parking is ample, and the south end features three sets of showers and a nice bathroom.

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5 - Wai'anapanapa State Park (Hana)

Wai'anapanapa State Park

The largest black sand beach on Maui, Honokalani Beach (pictured above), resides in this beautiful state park. But the park has more than just its fascinating black sand going for it. It also features overnight camping, easy to navigate lava caves, blow holes and Hawaii's largest known heiau (an ancient Hawaiian temple or sacred site). If you're staying in Hana or are doing the Road to Hana, running your feet in the black sand is a must do. Keep in mind, in COVID times, you need to make a reservation to enter the park at least the day before.  You also have to pay for entry, but it's far less crowded because of it.

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That's our list of the best five beaches on Maui. Do you agree... or disagree? Hit us up in the comments. We'd love to see your favorite beaches!

By the way, did you know that you can now save $10/person on our Maui Princess Dinner Cruise or a Snorkel Adventure to the island of Lanai? Well you can! Just use the promo code VIP20 after clicking on this link: Hawaii Ocean Project Adventures. Also, check out our other blog articles.


Why Lanai is a Better Snorkel Destination than Molokini

So, you want to explore the island of Molokini, but getting to a tour departure location from your West Maui accommodations has proved too much of a hassle. Well, don't fret. In actuality, the little island you see across the water, Lanai, is actually a much better snorkel destination! Fortunately, this is one adventure that you don't have to skip out on due to inconvenience.

We will take you on an exciting Lanai Snorkel and Dolphin Tour that departs from the scenic Lahaina Harbor located just off of Front Street. We want to ensure that the best Maui adventures are in reach for our guests. If you haven't been out to Lanai yet, we strongly recommend it, assuming you're interested in snorkeling the vibrant coral reefs that reside there.

You'll board one of our spacious, stable double-deck adventure yachts, departing at 7am and returning around 1:30pm. On your trip, we'll provide you with continental breakfast and a barbecue buffet lunch featuring burgers, veggie burgers, chicken breasts, and hot dogs with sides like potato salad, tropical fruit, chips, cookies and unlimited soda and juice.

You'll be snorkeling in the pristine waters of historical Lanai, as well as one other location chosen on the day of departure that is fully dependant on water conditions. We will never "force" you to snorkel in areas with poor visibility or overly rough water conditions.

Our professional staff will get you fitted in the latest snorkel gear and help you with safely devices like floaties, boogie boards and life preservers if you aren't fully comfortable in the water. Of course, we'll also have professionals in the water watching over you to make sure you're as safe and comfortable as possible.

Oh, about those dolphins. While not a guaranteed sighting, on a majority of trips, fabulous spinner dolphins greet the boat and play in our wake. There aren't many photo opportunities better than a leaping dolphin!

As for the things you should bring with you, we recommend a towel, sunglasses, sunscreen, a hat and whatever else you want to use to cover your skin for the hours that you'll be out in the sun. Last but not least, you might want to bring cash for souvenirs. All proceeds from souvenir sales go to our Research Direct program, which supports top Hawaii marine scientists. We believe in conservation and these are truly, Hawaii's top researchers.

So, let's circle back to the top of the article. Why is Lanai a better snorkel destination than Molokini? The main reason has to do with congestion in the water. In fact, the Molokini caldera is so congested with boat traffic that the Hawaii State legislature recently put forth a 2019 bill to Governor Ige to reduce the number of tour boats that can enter the waters. Governor Ige ultimately vetoed the bill stating: “This measure is unnecessary as DLNR already limits the number of Molokini Shoal MLCD commercial use permits to 40. DLNR is in the process of working with the commercial use permit holders to adjust the operating schedules to coordinate access to better manage the impact of commercial activity on this precious natural resource.” Your read that right. 40 boats! To summarize, snorkeling in Molokini can be a real cluster****!

If you have any questions or need assistance with your Lanai Snorkel and Dolphin Tour booking, you'll find our contact information on the top of this page. We look forward to seeing you onboard! Mahalo!

By the way, did you know that you can now save $10/person on our Maui Princess Dinner Cruise or a Snorkel Adventure to the island of Lanai? Well you can! Just use the promo code VIP20 after clicking on this link: Hawaii Ocean Project Adventures.

The Five Best Things to Order at the Queen Ka'ahumanu Food Court

Maybe it's a rainy day. Maybe you want to escape direct sunshine. Or maybe you're killing time or picking up last minute souvenirs before you need to drop your rental car off at the airport. For whatever reason, if you find yourself hungry at Maui's largest mall, the Queen Ka'ahumanu Center, here are our five favorite things to eat in the food court.

  1. Fried Chicken Wings (Pearl's B-B-Q)
    Crispy and juicy, the wings at Pearl's might be the best wings on the island. By ordering a full plate, you also get your choice of four sides. Our go-to sides are kim-chee (duh), corn, and potato salad. For the fourth side, we always pick something different. The wait for the food at Pearl's can be a little long, so keep that in mind if you're in a hurry.
  2. Chicken Katsu Curry (L&L)
    Chicken katsu is basically a fried chicken cutlet. When you add the lightly spiced curry gravy over the top, it becomes an even tastier dish. Like most plate lunches in Hawaii, it's served with rice and mac salad. We order the curry on the side so the chicken doesn't become soggy. The portions are huge, so the other advantage of this is if you have leftovers, it again saves on sogginess.
  3. Mango Boba Smoothie (HiTea)
    This is about the fourth bubble tea joint to live in the food court over the last five years, but HiTea seems to have staying power. For one thing they have over 50 different flavors to choose from and many are Hawaii-centric varieties. To this end, while we haven't tried even half of the options, our favorite is the Mango Boba smoothie. The freshness of the mango makes this drink pop like the boba pearls at the bottom of the drink.
  4. Hard-shelled Beef Tacos (Maui Tacos)
    This may be a controversial choice as Maui Tacos is better known for their burritos. Maybe it's a nostalgic factor that takes us back to the times when we had tacos at home using Lowry's taco mix and browned hamburger, but we love these hard-shelled tacos. Maui Tacos has a great salsa bar to top off your tacos.
  5. Mac Nutella Crepe (Maui Crepes and Grill)
    Though there's a large selection of savory crepes, our top recommendation from Maui Crepes is the Mac Nutella. As expected, the crepes are light and fluffy as they are for all types of the crepes. But we love the way the macadamia nuts and Nutella play together. For an extra $2, you can add a scoop of ice cream. Always with ice cream!

By the way, did you know that you can now save $10/person on our Maui Princess Dinner Cruise or a Snorkel Adventure to the island of Lanai? Well you can! Just use the promo code VIP20 after clicking on this link: Hawaii Ocean Project Adventures.

Hawaii's New Crosswalk Law Takes Effect Today

OK, so you know how you approach a crosswalk and the crosswalk signal is flashing how much time you have left to cross the street and you see there's 12 seconds to cross the short intersection so you walk across the street and hit the sidewalk with two seconds to spare? Well, that is now illegal. What exactly is illegal? Attempting to cross the street when the countdown timer has already started. True story!

Today, Senate Bill 663 goes live in the state of Hawaii. With it comes a $130 fine. Would the police actually write you up a ticket? Probably not, or so Honolulu Police Capt. Ben Moszkowicz of the Traffic Division told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, "Honestly, under the new state statute we probably wouldn't cite people... We kind of try to use some common sense. If they're still in the intersection when the red hand goes on, then we would probably cite them then."

So the moral of the story is, you can probably cross the street like you normally do. But just know, the police can cite you for entering the crosswalk when the walk light is blinking. So, don't be a jerk to the officer who gives you a warning or you may end up with a $130 ticket!

By the way, did you know that you can now save $10/person on our Maui Princess Dinner Cruise or a Snorkel Adventure to the island of Lanai? Well you can! Just use the promo code VIP20 after clicking on this link: Hawaii Ocean Project Adventures.

Maui Named 4th Best Place in the U.S. to Visit... and 6th Best in the World

Yes, we're #luckytolivehawaii, but we also know Maui is a great place to visit. How great? Well, U.S. News and World Reports named Maui the 4th best place in the country to visit. What they wrote about Maui:


With idyllic beaches and verdant parks, Maui offers ample opportunities to relax. Here, you can spend your days admiring the scenery as you cruise along the Road to Hana, fly above the island in a helicopter or lounge across the black sands of Waianapanapa State Park. If you'd rather cool off than sunbathe, sign up for a snorkeling tour. Sampling Maui's seafood is also a must, but don't overlook other island delicacies like haupia, a creamy coconut custard.

Interestingly, Maui is the only place in the top 5 that isn't a national park.

U.S. News and World Reports Top 10 Places to visit in the U.S.A.:

  1. Grand Canyon
  2. Yosemite
  3. Yellowstone
  4. Maui
  5. Glacier
  6. New York
  7. San Francisco
  8. Washington D.C.
  9. Honolulu
  10. Telluride

Kauai comes in at number 16. So of the top 20 places U.S. News recommends visiting, three are from Hawaii. Not too shabby.

U.S. News and World Reports also released their list of the 30 Best Places to Visit in the World. While Paris tops the list, Maui is the first U.S. destination to make the list, landing at number six overall.

U.S. News and World Reports Top 10 Places to visit in the world:

  1. Paris
  2. South Island, New Zealand
  3. Rome
  4. Tahiti
  5. London
  6. Maui
  7. Bora Bora
  8. Phuket
  9. Grand Canyon
  10. Yosemite

Their description of Maui:

Whether you're driving along the Road to Hana, enjoying a bird's-eye view of the lush coastline from a helicopter, snorkeling with sea turtles or simply relaxing on the island's honey- or black-colored beaches, you'll find that Maui is unlike any other tropical destination. Don't miss a chance to visit Haleakala National Park, which is home to the world's largest dormant volcano.


Maui is the only Hawaii destination to make their top 30.

By the way, did you know that you can now save $10/person on our Maui Princess Dinner Cruise or a Snorkel Adventure to the island of Lanai? Well you can! Just use the promo code VIP20 after clicking on this link: Hawaii Ocean Project Adventures.