MAUI DIRT: Where to Drink

It's hard to know what the best local watering holes are when you travel, and we don't always have time for trial and error, so here are some suggestions of spots where you're likely to have a good time on Maui, depending on your speed. That being said, since Maui's not really known for its nightlife, it might be healthy to keep any expectations of an epic rager in check. Besides, local police frequently post up checkpoints for intoxicated drivers, so go catch your buzz but try not to get too messy. πŸŒ 

Dina's SandWitch @ 145 N Kihei Rd., Kihei 
Rating: πŸΉπŸ πŸ˜€  πŸ’΅
Dina's is technically a sandwich spot, but their bar serves up a long list of tropical drinks (the kind that come in pastel colors, served with an umbrella) that somehow avoid feeling cheesy. It could be the layers of character that the place in steeped in, the friendly, chatty bartender, or that the cold, sweet drinks are exactly what you want after a day of baking on the beach. Relax and let the evening slide by.

Kihei Town Center @ 1913 S Kihei Rd., Kihei
Rating: πŸ» πŸŽ‰ 🎢 πŸ’‹
If anyone's really trying to tie one on and see what kind of trouble they can get into, chances are they'll end up in Kihei Town Center, where a cluster of five or six bars serve according to various themes (beachy, cocktail, tiki, Irish, fratty, local) and you can easily check a different scene if your first or second try doesn't scratch your itch. To be honest, I've never seen it get all that rowdy, but there does seem to be quite a bit of thirst for one little area. My preference is for the most prominent bar, Life's a Beach, which looks out at Kalama Beach Park, serves up big ass steins of beer, and has a house band that kills it on reggae and dub jams. A close second is Ambrosia, just around the corner, which predictably attracts a sunburnt cocktail crowd and plays your Top 40 Hits. It's also been claimed by the LGBT set, so check it out if you're looking for a local gay scene. The drinks are pricey but OK. 
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Charley's Restaurant & Saloon @ 142 Hana Hwy., Paia
Rating: πŸΊ πŸŽΈ πŸŽ€ πŸ“€
Although Charley's food and booze are decent, what really sets it apart is its contributions to the local music scene. It regularly hosts touring bands (Questlove DJ'd a set one night while I was on island) and Willie Nelson's platinum records glisten on the wall. Nelson has a place in Paia and is known to play there from time to time, which my mom has talked her way into before (go Mom!). It's not a bad place to catch some shade and have a beer in the afternoon, but it can get turnt up at night so check their calendar to see if someone interesting is rolling through while you're there


MAUI DIRT: Plate Lunch

Probably the most common dish on Maui that is authentically Hawaiian is what they call plate lunch: a scoop of rice, a scoop of macaroni salad, and a protein of your choice, which they say is what the workers in the sugar cane fields would eat for their lunches during Hawaii's initial cultural inundation from the east and the west. Plate lunch could be seen as a symbol of that diversity, and of Hawaii as a whole, but it has continued to be popular because it's just such good eatings. Hawaiians love plate lunch so much that a pretty cool local clothing line named themselves after the dish

Maui's food truck game is heavy, and they've pretty much perfected the art of the plate lunch. That being said, not all plate lunch is created equal, so when our bartender one evening told us, "Drive down past the Iron Horse Saloon in Wailuku to down by the water where all the guys set up to serve lunch," we had to check it out. Her directions were spot on, and it ended up being the best meal we had on the island. 

Parked alongside Hwy. 340 at the Kahului Harbor, we found three food trucks, and decided to order plates from both 808 Plates Maui and Geste Shrimp Truck. At 808 Plates, we got a wasabi glazed chicken katsu with a side of poke instead of pasta salad, and then a spicy pineapple shrimp with a side of crab-mac salad. Ugh... Writing this is making me hungry. 

I'm not really into describing the mouthfeel and all that jazz, but damn, it was gooood. The crab mac almost stole the show but chomping down that spicy shrimp was just too good. I love wasabi and that katsu hit me just right; the poke was fresh and meaty. If you're on the island, please do yourself a favor and get yourself some plate lunch "down past the Iron Horse Saloon in Wailuku" (check out the links to their Yelp! pages for more specific directions). 


MAUI DIRT: Going to Town

Maui has some great towns to explore, full of color, delicious food, and enough shops to satisfy any clothes horse. Your best bests for a town walkabout are in Lahaina, Pa'ia, and Makawao. They're all worth a visit, but if your time is limited, this post should help you choose your own adventure.

Lahaina, situated on the western tip of the island, is the largest town on the island and the most obvious destination for a day excursion. Many of the popular snorkel and SCUBA tours leave from Lahaina Bay and Lahaina is home to the most diverse food options on the island. Old Lahaina has some charming historic structures and a beautiful, giant banyan tree as well as lots of tourist shops, and the tourists that flock to them. The old buildings are interesting, but for a more personal experience of the town's history, visit the graveyard adjoining the Maria Lanakila Catholic Church on Wainee St. 

PA'IA is the the town hub of Maui's North Coast, and is a beach bum's paradise. Although much smaller than Lahaina, its laid-back vibe feels more authentic to the island, and its shops are more mom-and-pop than of the chain variety. Pa'ia is also home to some spiritual locations like the Paia Stuba and a Buddhist temple; the place does have a certain energy to it. Have fun poking around (or just laying around on the beach) but don't leave town before eating at Flatbread Company.

MAKAWAO is a jewel of a town tucked away up in the hills that has become an artisans' haven. Several galleries and shops sell the locals' works, there's a small open-air market (where we had a custom beaded bracelet made for $15 based on the design of a $50 one we saw in a shop across the street), and the glass blowing-studio is a fun visit. The old-timey buildings and chickens bopping around create an altogether transportive atmosphere, so a trip to upcountry to walk around Makawao is really your best bet if you've geared more toward the quirky but authentic village feel. 


MAUI DIRT: Makena & Little Beach

I'll go ahead and say it: Makena Beach is one of the best beaches in the world. The soft sand, the clear emerald water, lush foliage, active surf are all breathtaking. But what really takes Makena to the next level is Little Beach, Maui's counter-culture haven. Little Beach is clothing optional without being creepy and there are plenty shade trees to keep your buns from burning. Unsurprisingly, Little Beach is also Maui's main gay friendly beach, so it's a good spot to make some friends for LGBTQ locals and travelers. Regardless, if you're down for a funky, crunchy, possibly magical vibe, Makena's Little Beach is your spot. 

Getting to Makena is easy--just follow the road signs from the Piilani Hwy. going south, keep driving along the coast, and you can't miss it. To get to Little Beach is a bit trickier; after you park your car and follow the path to Big Beach, catch your breath and take in the stunning view, follow the footprints toward the rock face you see at the end of the beach. Approaching the rock face, you will see a path that will take you up and over (or if you're seeking a physical challenge, might find the bouldering route). Really it's hard to get lost and you'll know you're there when you see a full moon ;). Certain stretches seem more popular with different groups, so I'll let you figure out the best place for you to sit, but it's literally all good. 

PRO TIP: Go to Little Beach on a Sunday afternoon and evening for the drum circle and sunset. It's definitely a party so BYOB. 

A taste of Sunday Funday on Little Beach:



DeFremery Pool @ 1269 18th St., (closed for the summer)

McClymond's Pool @ 2607 Myrtle St., Oakland (let me know if you find out how to get in)


Emeryville Public Pool @ 1100 47th St., Emeryville

Temescal Pool @ 371 45th St., Oakland

East Oakland Sports Center @ 9161 Edes Ave., Oakland (didn't visit because only has indoor pools, but looks fun)

These public pools are all pretty convenient to Oaklanders, but there are other facilities and swim spots to check out throughout the East Bay, obvi. Use these links to check for swim times before you leave the house, and to do your own exploring!

East Bay Swimming Pool Info Links *questionable reliability so call before you go*
*City of Emeryville Public Pool: Link

*City of Oakland Aquatics: Link
*City of Berkeley Aquatics: Link
*East Bay Regional Parks (includes swimming lakes/beaches): Link



I'm not so inspired to write about Temescal Pool, TBH. It's basically what you might expect from an inner-city public pool, which is not to say there's anything bad about it, maybe just a certain meh-ness of it all. On entry, they didn't have change for a $20, so my $3 fee became a $6 donation (to be fair there is a sign taped up that says "BRING EXACT CHANGE"). The locker room was a bit cluttered and... moist... but had lockers, showers, etc. I tried to make the mid-day lap swim, but got caught up, so was at the afternoon open swim, which was pretty popping with the 5-10 y.o. set, and it seemed like the staff was doing great at keeping up with all the kids. 

There is your standard 2 width and tread water swim test to go in the deep end, which is actually the majority of the pool, and I ended up having mostly to myself. The swimming was very enjoyable, and they do allow diving off the deep end, which is great because I like to monkey around in the pool a bit, but if you're mostly into swimming laps, just check the signage and follow the times. They don't have any deck chairs or tables, but if you have a bunch of kids they can post up on the (overgrown) grass. I'll probably go back soon to check out lap swim, but it wouldn't be my first choice for a lazy afternoon. 

Temescal Pool @ 371 45th St., Oakland
Rating: πŸŠπŸ‘ŒπŸ˜
Info & Hours: http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Government/o/opr/s/aquatics/OAK029288
Timing is everything.