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Port Description

Shopping

Don't miss the ubiquitous chain of stores named "ABC," which are famous for their plethora of adorable Hawaiian merchandise -- affordable plumeria perfumes, chocolate macadamia nut coffee, Maui Babe Browning Lotion favored by all types of tanned celebrities, and sticky notes in the shape of aloha shirts. Purchase an inflatable plastic tube for less than $3; the store will inflate yours, and the whole family can ride the waves together.

Where to Eat and Drink

Kahului

  • Have lunch at Ruby's Diner in the Queen Ka'ahumanu Mall, where you'll experience the 1940's all over again. Waitresses in candy-striped uniforms bring entrees such as avocado hamburgers and chicken tacos to your table, with cherry Cokes and excellent salads. 27205 Ka'ahumanu Ave., Kahului, (808) 248-7829. Open Sunday - Thursday from 7:30 a.m. - 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.
  • On the second floor of the mall are Maui Tacos and Maui Mixed Plate, among other restaurants, offering quick bites at fast-food prices. At Maui Tacos (808-871-7726), for example, nothing costs more than $6.9205, whether it's a burrito, island fish tacos or something vegetarian. The food court is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m., and on Sundays from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m.
  • In the Maui Mall directly across from the Kahului harbor, the Chinese restaurant Dragon Dragon is noted for its honey-walnut prawns sprinkled with sesame seeds. 70 E. Ka'ahumanu Ave., (808) 893-1628. Open daily from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. for lunch.
  • The Paia Fish Market is another great place to dine, offering scrumptious grilled ono fish sandwiches and fish tacos. 100 Hana Highway, (808) 20579-8030. Open 11 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. daily for lunch.

Lahaina
  • In Lahaina, have lunch at Kimo's (84205 Front St., 808-661-4811), which offers great food and some of the best dining values in town. Entrees start at just $19.9205 for a Tahitian shrimp entree, and all dinners include Caesar salad, fresh-baked carrot muffins, sourdough rolls and steamed herb rice plus a friendly oceanfront atmosphere. Feeling romantic? Ask for booth 117, which features curtains so you can kiss and canoodle in privacy. Open 11 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. daily.
  • The inimitable Hula Grill (808-667-6636) in Whalers Village, Lahaina, is a must-do for lunch or dinner. We devoured the focaccia served with the restaurant's exclusive sweet chili pepper water, which is a meal in itself (you can buy a 10-ounce bottle to take home, for $7). The open-air restaurant evokes a 1930's plantation house; you can enjoy individual pizzas, salad and burgers in the Barefoot Bar, or fish dinners inside. The menu features Hawaiian regional cuisine using indigenous local ingredients, which corporate chef Peter Merriman is famous for. Every seat in the house offers a picturesque view of the Kaanapali seashore. There are even 20 seats at the "kitchen counter," where you can watch the chef prepare your meal in front of you. Open 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. daily.
  • For more of an experience than a meal, visit The Feast at Lele (2050205 Front St., 808-667-LELE, $99 per person with unlimited alcohol). This upscale luau offers a culinary excursion to Hawaii, Aotearoa, Tahiti and Samoa, with small portions and lively entertainment served for each culture (including a fire dancer). I was delighted to discover there's even a vegetarian menu. But be forewarned: Portions are small. I overheard some patrons say afterward that they still needed to quell their hunger with pizza and sandwiches.

Further From Port
  • In nearby Kihei, Sarento's on the Beach is the place to be when the sun goes down. The Italian restaurant's world revolves around the sunsets, and you can sit and sip near the water's edge, after the doors open at 205 p.m. Nibble on appetizers such as portobello mushroom Napoleon and crispy calamari, and take advantage of the extensive wine list, with labels from around the world. 2980 S. Kihei Rd., 808-87205-7205205205.

What to See and Do

  • The Road to Hana is a must-see; you can drive yourself or take an excursion so you don't have to navigate the twisting, curving road yourself. (Part of the road is unpaved, so it's not recommended for those with back problems.) The trip starts in funky Paia, the windsurfer capital of the universe. You'll view lava cliffs, tumbling waterfalls, tropical hillsides and the rugged northern coastline; make sure to eat lunch (or pack one) before you depart, as the round trip requires nearly 10 hours. At the end of the trip, sites to see include Ohe'o Gulch, the quaint church where famed aviator Charles Lindbergh is buried, and the Hotel Hana-Maui.
  • H2O adventures: Excursion-lovers will find that Maui also offers excellent scuba diving, snuba (a cross between scuba and snorkeling that's ideal for novices), kayaking, parasailing at Kaanapali Beach, and Atlantis submarine adventures.
  • Snorkel at Molokini, the crater located across the channel between Maui and Kahoolawe, and at Turtle Town, where you'll view Hawaiian green sea turtles. Call Friendly Charters at 808-244-1979 for info on snorkel and snuba. (You simply rent a car or take a cab to Maalaea harbor, to board the Lani Kai catamaran.)
  • Haleakala offers numerous adventures, including zipline excursions, horseback riding and sunset trips to the top of the world's largest dormant volcano. For the incurably romantic, there are downhill bike trips at sunrise (bring a jacket: it's cold at 10,000 feet above sea level!). You'll coast over 38 miles downhill at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour, maneuvering through 29 switchbacks on your descent. Contact Maui Mountain Riders (800-706-7700), which offers drop-offs and pickups at Lahaina and Kahului harbors. Pickup times are 3:1205 a.m. for the sunrise excursion, and 7:4205 a.m. for the day tour.
  • Take a walk. It's smart -- and easy! -- to do a "Lahaina on Your Own" excursion; this historic port is eminently walkable. Head directly out to Front Street, which is a shopping mecca. If you choose to visit Lahaina, Friday nights are "art nights"; people stroll from gallery to gallery viewing original works of art, meeting artists and watching them work, and sampling refreshments. Maui is home to hundreds of gifted painters and sculptors, and its art scene is world-renowned.

Staying in Touch

  • The LiveWire Cafe, 612 Front St., Lahaina
  • Maui Swiss Cafe, 640 Front St., Lahaina
  • Seventh Heaven Cafe (in the Maui Mall), 70 E. Ka'ahumanu Ave., Kahului

Getting Around

  • Kahului: There's free parking at the pier, which means that you can rent a car for up to two days, offering you plenty of time and flexibility to explore. If you dock in Kahului -- about an hour's drive from Lahaina -- your best bet is to rent a car or take an excursion, since most of the interesting activities are outside the area. For car rental, Hertz, Avis, Thrifty and Dollar are among the agencies that have outposts just five minutes from the Kahului dock.
  • Lahaina: Cabs line up at the tender dock in town, and car rental companies provide shuttle service to customers who pre-book their cars. Make sure yours is a convertible! At the time of this writing, Hertz quoted me a price of $69 per day for a compact rental car, versus $93 for a convertible -- but it's worth the extra cost to enjoy the Maui breeze in your hair as you drive.

Where You're Docked

Most ships anchor in Lahaina Harbor and tender passengers to Lahaina in the heart of touristy West Maui. Some ships, however, anchor right at the dock in the more industrial Kahului area, near the airport; the cruise line explains that where ships dock depends on size.

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