I was there for a conference. By and large it’s a nice place for a conference. It’s like being at work, but with nicer weather. And yeah, I know, I can find a problem with anything. But that’s because there are, in fact, problems with everything.
I am nevertheless comfortable in asserting that Maui is the least interesting of the Hawaiian islands with which I’m familiar. I can see why someone would like it, but those antecedents of “like” would correlate strongly with that someone and I being generally incompatible as co-vacationers. FWIW. Maui would be great for someone who wants nice weather, a mega-resort, a mall with expensive boutiques and galleries, sub-par restaurants, and resort-style golfing.
Here’s a photo of sunset from the hotel pool:
I think it’s a nice photo and all, maybe even enticing. But what amount of time on your Maui vacation could staring at sunsets across pools productively take up? I’m going with eight. The second sunset you stare at is cliché, and by the third one you’re just desperate for meaning. Um, IMHO. So then what are you going to do for the other 6 days, 23 hours, and 52 minutes?
Well, there are a couple things. Maybe even three:
- The Hana area is genuinely nice. It’s slower paced and not dominated by mega-resorts. It seems like a place you would find on Kauai. Except that: (a) it’s a pain to get to — you can romanticize that drive all you want, but at the end of the day it’s arduous and there are only four or five places worth stopping, and (b) since it’s the only place on the island that looks anything like that, it’s necessarily crawling with escapees from all the mega-resorts. Who aren’t necessarily fun to hang out with.
- The drive around the northern part of the western lobe is kind of nice. It’s not all that crowded, not quite as arduous as the Hana drive (I mean, it’s arduous, just not wish-I-was-dead arduous), and has at least one nice little church and a little tidal swimming pool among the rocks in one spot.
- Haleakala is something that’s probably worth doing once, although it’s a long ways up there for maybe a couple of hours of entertainment (with thousands of your co-tourists).
So it’s got that going for it.
Here’s a photo of a bird taken from the lanai of the hotel room at the mega resort that we stayed at (because it was close to the conference):
See that little black bird in the tree? Awcute, right? Except that it’s loud, it’s everywhere, and it’s a non-native species. In a sense, it’s a type for the real problem with Maui:
*Tourists*. And there’s nothing for them to do. No way to disperse. Just sitting around the pool mutually reassuring themselves that they’re doing something interesting.
The place is dominated by the mega-resort whether in Kihei-Wailea, or the whole Lahaina-Kaanapali mega-hotel-opolis. It’s hard to break free from these places and there aren’t a lot of reasons to do so (other than the three above and to buy groceries at Wal-Mart). Maui ends up feeling like the Las Vegas strip, but without all the stuff to do.
If you have to go to a conference and cost has no meaning, it’s a nice place to have a conference. Between sessions you can hang out outside, in January, and it’s warm. Nice. OTOH, you’re still at a conference and, for the most part, there’s not a lot different about a conference session room at the Grand Wailea on Maui and a conference session room at the Will Rogers Airport Embassy Suites in Tulsa.
Then with the opportunity cost. It costs the same to go to Honolulu, only that place has better food, more stores, a “scene”, and several regions to consider exploring. It costs the same to go to Kauai, which has rivers everywhere, waterfalls everywhere, easy-in snorkeling, world-class hiking, fewer crowds, etc. It costs the same to go to the Big Island, which — I haven’t been to. I’m guessing I’d like it better so long as I wasn’t stuck in Kona.
Long story short, I’d like to go to this conference again, but probably when it’s on some other island.
Here’s a picture of water: