Who doesn’t want to spend some time in Maui, particularly during the cold of February where most of the country shivers from the snow? February is one of two off-season times to visit Hawaii and Maui has a more active Argentine tango community than any of the other islands. In February, you have the added pleasures of whale watching.
- Argentine tango in Oahu
While sometimes established milongas can be cliquish, we found the three dance parties we attended to be warmly welcoming.
You’ll land at Kahului airport. Kahului is the largest town on Maui with about 20,000 people. Definitely rent a car. Maui isn’t the kind of place you can get by easily on public transportation. Just west of the airport is the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, located on Kahului Beach Road, between the Maui Community College campus and Keopuolani Park.
Wanting to get away from the crowds, we stayed in Kihei at the Aston Maui Lu Resort. While the room has seen better days and we had to request our TV be replaced, the resort was just outside of the more popular Lahaina area. The Aston hosts a luau once a week if you haven’t been to one before and has free a neat borrow-as-needed chest that included a boogie board.
- Aston Maui Lu Resort
- 575 South Kihei Road,
- Kihei, HI
- (808) 879-5881
In Kihei, you can pick up a cheap boogie board and other items at the Rainbow Attic or the Salvation Army. Rainbow Attic is closer to the Aston.
- Rainbow Attic
- 1881 S. Kihei Road, Ste. B5
- Kihei, HI
- (808) 874-0884
- Salvation Army
- 35 Halekuai Street, Ste. 105
- Kihei, Hi
- (808) 875-8065
We decided to see Black Grace, a New Zealand dance troupe that was performing for one night only at the MACC. The evening was made even better by the local restaurants that were invited to sell dinners to those guests who were so inclined. The meals are generally linked to the theme of the performance. MACC hosts both local and international acts like Elton John, Slack Key Masters, Philip Kan Gotanda, the Doobie Bros, and events like the Maui Brewers festival.
- Black Grace versus Hype 5-0
Sunday evenings, the MACC also hosts a tango practica from 7:30 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. for a nominal fee of $5. Meet some new friends. Parking is free.
On Monday, we also went to a swing dance lesson and danced a little Lindy, swing and swango in Kihei. This was the more informal dance experience we had at the island.
On the second Thursday of each month, you can dine and dance at Casanova Restaurant up the hill in Makawao. The dance floor is small and the music varied. The DJ played some classical tango pieces along with some modern music. The kitchen closes at 10:30 p.m. so go early if you want to eat. You might consider staying in the neighborhood overnight although it is pricier than other places, but you’re halfway to Haleakalā.
During the winter, Humpback whales can be sighted in small pods. This is both mating and birthing season for the Humpbacks who have made the 3,500-mile migration from Alaska to the warm waters around Maui. Maui is host to a whale festival to honor these large guests. The celebration begins in November and ends in mid-May, but February is when the non-profit Pacific Whale Foundation has its Saturday Whale Day (this year 19 February 2011) and the Maui Whale Count (Saturday, 26 February 2011). There are plenty of free activities and some fundraisers for marine education programs.
PWF also runs various excursions, including full moon cruises, Molokini snorkeling, Lana’I excursions, dolphin adventures, whale watching (of course), kid camps and, for adults, dinner and sunset cruises.
For the whale watch and snorkeling adventure, they’ll provide the sunscreen to slather on—the kind they feel is most environmentally friendly. If you have a wetsuit, bring it or rent one of theirs. They also have the fins and non or prescription masks. Lunch was hearty. The biggest complaint we have: fellow passengers who decided they didn’t want to snorkel and wanted to go back to shore ASAP even though this was a two-location snorkel trip. The crew managed to make that problem only a minor inconvenience to the rest of us. We saw some whales in the distance and got close up to a sea turtle (don’t harass or ride them because they are endangered and can actually drown if tired from boisterous snorkelers).
We had planned to try a horse ride up to Haleakalā, but the tourist information you receive might be outdated. With this economy, the tourism industry has been hit hard and some of the smaller concerns have gone out of business. Maybe next time.
We did take a trip around the west side of the island and hiked down to see a blow hole. We careful. The place where we parked had obviously been targeted by vandals and/or thieves before judging from the car windshield glass that was sparkling on the dirt parking area. Hard times are hard times and make it even more important to be cautious.
On our quest to find the best shave ice place, we tried several places.
Across the Kihei Center is a open market and in the back is a small shave ice place. The owner is friendly and the place is little more than a quaint island shack. The consistency of the ice is nice and flavors are good but the selection is small.
Across Kamaole Park is a shave ice stand. The ice wasn’t as fine as other places but the flavor was good with a wide selection.
Venturing into the more popular tourist town, Lahaina, we went to Ululani’s based on Yelp. They make their own flavors but the flavors are sweeter than most. The ice is very fine, as good as Waiole’s, but the price is a little high.
- 815 Front Street
- Lahaina, HI 96761
If you get tired of shave ice, try some frozen yogurt at Tutti Frutti in Kihei. They make some of their own flavors and they are great. Their passion fruit is the best there is.
- 1819 South Kihei Rd. B-111,
- Kihei, HI
- (808) 891-8098
We were thinking that we’d love to take a dance tour to Maui. If you’re interested, send us a line.
Concerts and Practica
Maui Arts & Cultural Center
One Cameron Way
Kahului, HI 96732
- Phone: 808-242-2787
- Box Office:808-242-7469
- Sundays (practica): 7:30 p.m. to 9:45 p.m.
Casanova Restaurant in Makawao
1188 Makawao Avenue
Makawao, HI 96768
- Phone: (808)572-0220
- Restaurant Website
- Second Thursday of each month, 8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.
- $5 (Does not include refreshments/dinner)
- Milonga contact
***Argentine tango in Oahu***
Swing and Lindy Hop classes and social dancing
- Every Monday night.
- 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at The Open Room
- Kenolio Park, Kihei
- Kihei, HI 96753
- map and directions: http://www.swingmaui.org/venues.php
- 505 Front Street
- Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii
- Call (808) 661-8422
I’O grows its own vegetables and herbs on their farm which you can visit. This is a pricey restaurant where you’ll want to dress up, but, of course, that’s dressing up for island standards. The service was excellent. Crabby Catch ($38) had an oven-roasted fresh fish topped with a lightly spiced crab salad over wilted greens and served with a roasted corn coconut sauce and O’O Farm basil pesto accent. The I’O Trio ($42) included seared fresh catch with lobster coconut curry sauce over a mushroom asparagus risotto, grilled petit filet mignon, grilled Madras curry and porcini mushroom dusted lamb chop with a pineapple demi. We had trouble deciding what to order before deciding to go with this sampler. The lobster accented with the coconut was amazing as was the filet, however, the big winner was the lamb. The sweetness of the pineapple brought out the lamb in a surprising way . We love scallops and mushrooms so the Scallops & Big Island mushrooms sautéed with fresh thyme, olive oil and lime was a natural choice ($15). The scalllops were cooked to perfection and the dish was elegant simplicity.
Big Wave Cafe
- 1215 South Kihei Road
- Kihei, HI 96753
- (808) 891-8688
This is an local eatery that serves up hearty food you’d find in diners across the US, but served with a Hawaiian flare. You’ll see tourist and locals alike here. While the food isn’t outstanding their portions are huge and filling, plus the prices are reasonable.
- Argentine tango in Oahu
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