October 28th, 2022
After some nice days relaxing in the sun, today was more of an adventure day. It started with me heading off for shore diving while Kate stayed at the resort and carried on with the Sun worshipping.
I had booked onto a shore dive trip with Maui Diving located in Lahaina. I have mostly focused on Boat Diving on past Maui trips, but the prices have risen quite substantially since the pandemic and Maui Diving is over half the cost of the usual Boat trips I take with Lahaina Divers. I had booked on a trip with Lahaina Divers for this trip later on in the schedule, so it was nice to reduce the costs by doing some diving at the lower-cost shore diving outfits.
The 2-tank Shark Dive+ that I had booked was only $149 including rental gear and that is a good deal no matter where you are diving. Maui has some pretty expensive dive companies but I really was pretty happy with that price considering the heights the Boat Diving operations were asking!
Maui Divings office is located in the center of Lahaina, just off the Honoapiilani Highway. It’s a nice modern building with large comfy sofas to sit while waiting for your divemaster, which was lucky as I arrived quite a bit earlier than I was meant to.
The operation if pretty simple but it’s everything you need for some of the best shore diving on Maui. The gear was all really new and I was even given a brand-new with tags wetsuit, which I think was just luck, but still shows the shop spend well to keep the gear tip-top.
The procedure is pretty simple. Get your gear together at the shop, throw it in the back of a van (here the shop does cheap out a bit as these vans were pretty rough, but we were not going far) and then the instructor drives you out to the first dive spot. Gear-up, and head to the water.
Mala Pier Shark Dive
The first dive spot was the Mala Pier. For those that don’t know Mala Pier is the sunken remains of an old Pineapple loading dock that was swept away by hurricane Iniki in 1992 and now lies at the bottom of the channel, encrusted in coral and teeming with life.
The site is known for its resident White Tip Reed Sharks that skulk around and snooze amongst the old pilings and supports of the pier. It’s also host to an army of Sea Turtles, Moray Eels, and even the elusive Frog Fish can be found amongst the collapsed structure. Along with an army of reef fish and some really nice coral growth on the pier.
Naturally dives always vary from day to day but we had fantastic conditions. The swell was minimal and the water clarity really nice for a shore dive over sand, a good 25m. As the dive is shallow the light is amazing and everything is illuminated and bright.
Wildlife wise we had a full house, and there was a large contingent of White-tips, usually, these are to be found snoozing under a ledge during the day but we found them out and about cruising the reef. They were also some of the biggest White-Tips I have seen and the divemaster confirmed there were really large for the location. Apparently, there was some mating going on in the area hence the activity and largeness of the sharks present.
We also go to see an awful lot of turtles. There is a cleaning station at the back of the pier and the station was basically full, with no room at the inn, as the turtles queued up for their preening.
There were shoals of goatfish and all the regular reef fish we usually see and in great numbers with some large examples of most of them. Finally, our Divemaster somehow managed to spot a lump of coral slightly different from the rest, and on a real close inspection, it proved to be the illusive Frog Fish, perfectly camouflaged.
It was a great dive, one that made me a little sad I usually push out to deeper waters rather than explore the shores closer to Maui.
After the first dive, it’s back to the van. De-Gear, swap tanks, and then back in the van and off to the next site. I have had poor experiences with shore dives in the past where the guides are a little too relaxed and the whole thing just takes hours. This was not the case here and we were back at the water’s edge in the perfect amount of time, just long enough for a good surface interval.
Black Rock Back Wall
The second site was the Back Wall at Kaanapali. As the conditions were favorable we were able to do the whole site. we entered the water at May’s Beach and followed the wall right round until we came out at Kaanapali Beach.
This was another nice dive with lots of fish life and a few turtles. It lacked any feature presentation but there was a lot of life and the whole site is a really nice wall dive that feels far more remote and wild than you would imagine being right in the heart of Kaanapali.
It’s then just a case of stripping down the gear. and heading back to the shop. Our excellent Divemaster offered to break down all our gear for us while we lounged around on the grass, but apart from the fact it would have taken 4x as long, I am not the type to sit and watch.
By now it was around 1 pm and the whole trip had taken around 4 hours. I headed back to the Condo to meet up with kate, grab some lunch and then head into Lahaina.
Lahaina Happy Hours
As we were heading to a Luau this evening with an open bar, we naturally jumped into an Uber to head into town. We also wanted to check out some of the latest Happy Hour offerings and do a little browsing, so got into town nice and early.
The first stop was Betty’s Beach Cafe right in from of the Feast at Lele. They had a live singer on and we got seats overlooking the ocean. We had a couple of their Betty’s Mai Tais for $5 but made them long for $3 extra. The singer was really good and we enjoyed sitting and taking in the view over the ocean while the Island Vibes flowed.
After settling the check we headed into the heart of Lahaina, and took some time to browse some shops and check out a few galleries.
We maybe, spent a bit too long doing this as we nearly missed the Happy Hour at Fleetwood’s. Luckily we grabbed a bar seat with 5 mins to go and the barman grabbed our order just in time. We both couldn’t resist the $8 Kokomo’s and these were really good choices, sweet and creamy with a real lime hit running through, one of the best cocktails we had this trip!
After this, it was time to walk back down Front Street for the main event.
Feast at Lele
We spent the evening at the Feat at Lele. This is the sister Luau to the Old Lahaina Luau and does things a little differently. Here the focus is really on the food which is the best Luau food on the Island. The meal is served in several courses all with small portions of various dishes from across Polynesia.
The location is really beautiful along one of the only beaches in Lahaina and is often treated to stunning sunsets over the island of Lanai. Drinks came very soon after arriving and there is a great drinks menu and everything we tried was delicious. Only watch out for the creamier ones as these can take up precious food space. We ended up with more than enough drinks, even for our “British” drinking habits and we can’t imagine anyone being disappointed with the number of drinks. If you empty your glass they fill it right back up.
The first course came early, and the show starts as you are sampling the meal. It is not a full production show like most Luau’s instead parts of the show intersect with the different courses. With both the food and the show representing different Polynesian cultures it takes you on a journey between the islands.
Hawaii – Lomi Lomo Salmon – Kalua Pork – Jasmine Rice
Aotearoa/New Zealand – Pikopiko Salad w/ Smoked Fish – Stewed Mushrooms – Braised Short Ribs
Tahiti – Huge Baked Shrimp – Coconut Fish – Chicken in Mango
Samoa – Shrimp/Seafood Stew – Coconut Corned Beef – Soft Taro Roll
There is a lot going on and many new tastes and textures, it was a real feast. We think the assumption most people will only like certain things and pick and choose, but as it is all brought to you, and we pretty much loved every bite we really ended up stuffed. By the end the Soft Taro Roll basted in Coconut Milk was so delicious but we could barely muster another bite!
…and we still had dessert
Dessert – Guava Chiffon Cake – Lilikoi Lemon Tartlet – Chocolate Dipped Mango.
Fortunately, the dessert was really small and we could manage a small bite of each. The Mango was incredible and was partially dehydrated and candied before being dipped in chocolate.
The final part of the show was the fire dancers and then with very full tummies and quite inebriated, we were presented with a check. Which was odd as we had pre-paid. This was made clear from the check, but they were requesting a tip on top, something we haven’t had before at Luau’s, but then our servers had been amazing and kept those drinks flowing so we gladly offered a decent percentage.
Overall, we really enjoyed the Feast at Lele. We prefer the more traditional style of Luau where you dine first and then enjoy the show. It felt at times you had to choose between eating and giving the performers the attention they deserve, but the food deserves attention too!
It is the best food we have had at a Maui Luau, although we have the new Feast at Mokopu to review later in the week and that should be a killer…at least it should be considering the cost!
After things wrapped up we headed for the exit and grabbed an uber back to the Condo, where we pretty much headed straight to bed.