Ports We Love: Lahaina, Maui

By: Charter, Cruising Tips, Destinations

We left the dock in Lahaina and instantly we were on one of the most exhilarating sails we had ever embarked upon. Set on a beam reach cutting across the channel between Maui and Molokai the spray from the ocean descended from all angles. The 18-knot wind seized our thoughts as the bow plunged into swell after swell of pure sailing bliss mixed in with drenched adrenaline. This is sailing in Hawaii. The channels between islands can be brutal while at the same time invigorating. Hawaii is not all hula girls and mai tais, but in some cosmic way, it really is simply about the simple pleasures of sun, sand, wind, and water.

Things To Do

While water sports can dictate your visit to the Hawaiian Islands a visit to a Whaling Museum informs you of the storied past of Maui and how mariners and Hawaiians came to call this dot in the Pacific Ocean home. A pineapple plantation tour is chock full of tidbits about the history of the island and its residents and ends with sweet, gold Maui pineapple samples. Head upcountry and check out Maui farms or catch a rodeo where paniolos (cowboys) trade their flip-flops for cowboy boots.

Ho’okipa Beach Park – This stretch of sand on Maui’s north shore is home to big wind and big waves. Out on the ocean, you’ll see windsurfers cruising by and catching a lot of air on the rolling sets. Closer to shore the locals hit the waves on one of the most popular breaks on the islands. This is real Hawaii with a majority of locals filling the parking lot with trucks full of surfboards and ice chests full of beer. Nearby Paia is home to an artsy colony with boutique shops and quaint eateries. Try Paia fish market for big plates of local Mahi. Mama’s Fish House is a couple of coves over, on the beach, and it is home to one of the best restaurants in Hawaii. Fresh fish, tropical drinks and a view of the ocean does plenty to romanticize the idyllic nature of a Hawaiian vacation.

Kahakuloa Village – Take a drive heading north from your anchorage around the west Maui mountains, and you’ll soon drive into and through this small village that is home to Lorraine’s Shave Ice. Head down the driveway and step up to the counter and get some banana bread, take home some candied coconut and of course enjoy a shave ice. If it is a slow day you can talk to Lorraine about the area and she’ll share great stories about this valley and what growing up on Maui was like.

Hana and Ohe’ o Gulch – At the end of a 3-mile hike up into the slopes of Haleakala you’ll leave the tourists behind at the seven sacred pools of Ohe’o gulch and instead experience the serenity of the base of Waimoku falls that tumble from 400 ft above you. You would have walked through a bamboo forest that chatters as the wind blows through the leafy spires and glanced at mango and papaya trees as well as sat under a few large banyan trees.

Why Maui?

The island of Maui allows for a few different experiences when deciding to base your sail trip around a specific location. From West Maui, you can visit Molokai, Lanai, and Molokini all within easy high energy day sails. This leaves your evenings for plenty of exploring the restaurants of Lahaina and the bars and shops of Kaanapali. The afternoon tradewinds are predictable, and sailing alongside migrating whales makes for much more to see.


Honolua Bay is an ideal anchorage in late spring and summer when northerly winds are non-existent. Mala Wharf works best for more favorable conditions and is south of Honolua. Lahaina Harbor and its moorings work year round but can be difficult to obtain in busy times.

Clearing In:

Step into the Lahaina Yacht Club and they’ll help you with all you need. Tie up at their dock in Lahaina Harbor and take the quick walk to their offices right near the marina.

Where To Eat:

Honokowai Fish Market – Step into this tiny store in a strip mall in Honokowai and you’ll be treated to fresh Ahi Poke’ as well as flaky fish tacos. Grab your food to go and take a seat at Honokowai Beach Park. Your meal will come with a view of Molokai and Lanai framed by palm trees swaying in the Maui tradewinds. Stay here until dusk and you’ll be treated to a legendary Maui sunset.

Aloha Mixed Plate – This outdoor casual spot is not far from Mala Wharf and specializes in local style food with genuine Hawaiian hospitality. The brown gravy on the loco moco will cuddle your salty and savory taste buds and the kalbi ribs and rice and Kahlua Pork are so good you’ll start talking in pidgin English.

Hula Grill – This might appear to be a tourist trap but take a seat at the barefoot bar and you’ll soon come to realize that this might be the best beach bar in Hawaii. The food and atmosphere are casual and the local entertainment will keep you around for a few more drinks.


Mala Wharf is close to three large grocery stores as well as the many shops and boutiques of Lahaina. From most anchorages in Maui, you will have access to provisions. Honolua Bay is a bit more remote but a quick walk up the hill gets you to a bus stop or a dinghy ride around the bay gets you to DT Fleming Park to grab a taxi or bus.

Attractions Near Honolua Bay

Since you’ll be anchored in the north you can walk over to DT Fleming Park where you can indulge at lunch at the Ritz Carlton Kapalua. Further south Napili Bay is ideal for water sports and happy hour at the Napili Kai Resort. Breakfast at The Gazebo Restaurant at Napili Bay is legendary and the Honolua Store at Kapalua has excellent local food for reasonable prices.

Local bus service can take you to the Honokowai Farmers Market, Kaanapali, and Lahaina in a matter of minutes.