Guide to the Road To Hana in Maui

There are many resources available to help you prepare for and make the most of your journey on the Road To Hana. Our goal here is not to tell your more of the same, but to share a few thoughts from local perspectives.

Drive the Road to Hana Like a Local

Stillwell’s Bakery

Stillwell's Bakery and Cafe Maui, Hawaii

Stillwell’s Bakery and Cafe

Most often you hear “Start your day in Paia Town.” Paia is great. Paia is lovely. Parking in Paia is a nightmare. Consider beginning a little out of the way, but not too far that it throws in a kink. Stillwell’s Bakery in Wailuku is off the hook with its freshly baked pastries and breads.

Breakfast can be full and hearty or a simple, small start, but guaranteed delicious. Coffee is piping and parking is plentiful. It’s so local that I might have to go into hiding for dishing out the 411 on our secret little tucked away gem.

Skip Twin Falls

Stillwell's Bakery & Cafe Scrumptious Pastries

Stillwell’s Bakery Scrumptious Pastries

This will not be a popularly accepted opinion by any guide book, but here goes anyway – Twin Falls– skip it. Traffic wise it puts you way ahead of the pack and on your way to finding an abundance of beautiful sights more worthy of your time. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard a local say this I could fill my tank for a cruise to Hana!

Mile Marker 16, Ke’anae Peninsula

Drone image of Ke'anae Peninsula

Ke’anae Peninsula

It doesn’t take long on the Road to Hana to appreciate the ‘I Survived the Road to Hana’ T-shirts. The twists and turns keep you busy dividing your attention between the road, the scenery, and for some the nausea (see tips below!). One place you need to be on high alert is approaching mile marker 16, you are within a few short minutes of two most often overlooked treasures.  Makai, or ocean side look for the road that leads down to Ke’anae Peninsula.

After heading downhill you will come to where the land begins to flatten out. Park your car, lock your car, grab a camera and get out to explore the majestic rocky coast. As beautiful as it is – it is equally dangerous, so keep a safe distance from where the waves meet the rocks.  Rogue waves can be strong enough to sweep you off of your feet!

Mile Marker 18.9, Wailua Valley and Ko’olau Gap

Wailua Valley is on the road to Hana

Wailua Valley

Back on the main road just past Ke’anae keep your eyes Mauka, or mountain side, approximately mile marker 18.9 for a very small lot.  It only holds a couple of vehicles and you will find there is a set of stairs going up on the right hand side. You definitely want to go up the stairs. Once you have ascended, the beauty you will behold is transcending! Wailua Valley and the Ko’olau Gap– the home of many distant yet spectacular waterfalls. You can also see the rim of Haleakala’s Crater. Look down the other side for a picturesque view of Ke’anae.

Please note: The gated road in the parking area keeps visitors out of the privately owned valley. There are some adventurers who trespass and hike, though it is highly frowned upon to do so. Plus, you do not want to come face to face with an angry wild hog, their tusks are no joke and they are not friendly like Pumba. But, please do your best to not miss this breathtaking stop and make sure you have your camera ready.

Nahiku Marketplace Hana Maui, Hawaii

Nahiku Marketplace Hana

Nahiku Marketplace

As you travel on and feel your belly rumble for lunch, hold out for the Nahiku Marketplace. Local vendors dish up Thai food, scrumptious tacos, and my personal favorite – the yummiest coconut shrimp on island at the Island Chef stand. There is a vast array of gifts to be found, such as jewelry and unique Maui souvenirs. Inside the coffee shop you will find the most mouth watering Lilikoi (passion fruit) bars and coconut bread – this is the stuff cravings are made of.

Best Advice

I am about to give you some of the best advice ever: call the coffee shop the morning of your journey while you still have cell phone service (808) 248-8800, ask them to hold a few bars and loaves for you and let them know you are on your way. They sell out early in the day and it is a sad, sad day to get there only to find they do not have any left.

Wainapanapa Black Sand Beach, Maui Hawaii

Wainapanapa Black Sand Beach

Black Sand Beach and Hasegawa General Store

Now, fully sated and back on the Road to Hana you are only 6 miles to town. After you visit and play at Waianapanapa (Black Sand Beach) and head into town, the Hasegawa General Store has a mish mash of many things you may have forgotten, want, or need. From cold bottled water and snacks to full on groceries, they also have tools, t-shirts, hats, cool Hana stickers for your car back home, and so much more. Stop in and browse; it supports local economy.

Complete Your Circle Around East Maui

Many visit Hana Bay (in close proximity to Hasegawa’s) and then call it a day. They turn around and head back toward their starting point. If you aren’t staying the night in Hana and it isn’t close to getting dark, I encourage you to continue on and complete your circle around East Maui. Yes, the road can get precariously narrow in places, so please drive safely. It is worth it to witness the raw beauty that is so different from any other part of the island. Be extremely careful in choosing where to plant your feet if you are out to take pictures over cliff side. You might find there is no more but a tiny little bush between you and a very long drop down to the ocean.  Feeling the earth crumble underfoot and realizing you are standing on a precipice is terrifying. Never under estimate the very dangerously disguised beauty of Hawaii!

Kaupo General Store

Kaupo General Store Maui

Kaupo General Store

Other great stops if time permits is a bathroom break at the little roadside Kaupo General Store. The hotdogs there are a yummy treat, too. It is a little bit of a trek from Kaupoto Ulupalakua, and has more than its share of bumps in the road for a good clip; however, it eventually turns into smooth pavement with some pretty fun rollercoaster like hills.  Beware of the cattle guards that can rattle your car like a set of maracas.


Ulupalakua and Maui’s Wine Country

Maui Wine Country

Maui Wine Country

Once you make it to Ulupalakua you are right in the heart of Maui’s Wine Country. I cannot fail to mention having a glass of pineapple wine, it’s crisp, it’s sweet, it is oh so Maui. The Ulupalakua General Store is very paniolo (cowboy) townish, unique and super cool with a wide variety of fixin’s and gifts.

Grandma’s Coffee Shop

Grandma's Coffee House Kula

Grandma’s Coffee House Kula

And lastly, but never to be forgotten is Grandma’s Coffee Shop in Kula where the local coffee says POW, but the relaxed vibe of the place says chill. Serving up healthy choice wraps or downright sinful sweets, Grandma’s is a one of a kind find in world filled with coffee shops. These 3 little tips are especially good if you have decided to make your trek against the flow and start out the Road to Hana on the backside.

It’s always a good idea to do your research and have a few sights you know you don’t want to miss along the road to Hana. Hopefully you can tuck a few of these suggestions in along as you explore.

Stay Safe and Other Advice

Natural Nausea Treatments

Most importantly be safe. While the following information isn’t fun, I feel it is important to mention a few things. I don’t care if you’ve never gotten sick on a carnival ride before or not, every car on the Road to Hana needs to have an anti-nausea arsenal ready!! If bonine makes you drowsy, Down to Earth in Kahului has holistic remedies. Also anything ginger.. ginger ale, ginger candy, etc… Is there anything more horrible than being stuck on a tilt-a-whirl that does not stop for hours? Don’t find out – be prepared!!

Lock Your Car

ALWAYS lock your car, and never leave valuables unattended – even locked trunks are never a guarantee (this unfortunately goes for pretty much anywhere on the islands).

Please Drive with Aloha!

If you see a string of cars behind you pull well off to the side carefully to let them pass. Local vehicles are easy to spot and they really do not want to drive slowly behind you. Let them get around you; if you don’t they will inevitably pass you anyway. Truthfully, it puts both of you at risk for there are very few safe places for passing – the locals do not wait for the safe places.

Check the Weather

It’s always a good idea to keep your eye on the Hana weather report for the duration of your stay so you can try and pick the least wet day.  It is the rainforest after all so rain is inevitable. Hard rains or days on end rains are the ones you want to avoid due to risk of mud and rock slides.

Always take along a sweater or lightweight blanket, once the sun goes down travel can be quite chilly! A flashlight and paper towels in the car is a good idea too, and perfect in case you want to destroy that loaf of coconut bread on the way back.

The Road to Hana is a magical place you will never forget. Be safe. Have fun. And enjoy the ride!

If your best friend lived in Hawaii and you were planning to visit, wouldn’t you ask their advice on virtually everything you could think of? Not everyone used to be lucky enough to have that personal resource, but in this age of technology and connectedness, the apps on your phone put you in touch with people who can help you make your best plan for your dream vacation.

If you don’t have them already, upload your new best friends – TripAdvisor and Yelp! I cannot stress enough how valuable these resources will be. They do not lie to you. They are not trying to sell you something. They are the best friends you’ve never had the opportunity to meet in person! See these powerful tools through new eyes – at first glance they may come across as impersonal icons on your screen, but they are so much more. TripAdvisor and Yelp are a virtual melting pot of the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people. Many of them are people like you and I who have already visited Maui or have chosen to live here. With honest opinions and voices, sometimes brutal, sometimes humorous, and sometimes generous, one thing you can always count on is that they are always there for you. TripAdvisor and Yelp simply want to tell you the best and worst (or somewhere in between) things to do, places to eat, food to try, fishing onshore or off, surf spots, snorkeling, ziplines, beaches to lay on and be lazy, places to hike, and coffee – ah, the coffee… pretty much anything or anywhere you can think of you will be able gain personal insight into. Be sure to leave time in your days to discover little gems along the way once you’ve arrived. These little nuggets are best learned by talking to locals who are serving your dinner, crewing your activities, mixing your drinks, sharing a beach, a wave, a trail. Take this valuable information to the web and see if it fits into your idea of the perfect holiday. GoogleMaps will get you pretty much anywhere, it doesn’t matter if you’re walking, biking, or driving, it won’t let you down – it will get you to that shave ice!

Don’t get caught running around like the proverbial Hawaiian rooster with it’s head cut off. Let TripAdvisor, Yelp, and GoogleMaps give you the down low, in the know, way to go, and go with the flow (a red line on GoogleMaps lets you know there’s slow moving traffic ahead – what a pal!)

You want to make your Hawaiian vacation be everything you’ve dreamed of. You want it the way you want it. The way you deserve it. Because hey – you worked hard to get here. Make it happen with the help of your new best friends. You are ready to do this thing!

E Komo Maui - Welcome to Maui Sign

Simple and honest, here are a few tips for Maui visitors to help you and the locals blend harmoniously. Island lifestyle is a whole other way of living.  It’s all about sharing Aloha even in the smallest of things.  If you are already here – E Komo May (welcome!).  If you are planning your trip or merely entertaining the idea – let us begin by saying E Kipa Mai (come visit!). The following suggestions are two-fold: they will help us, and they will help you – locals respond kindly to shared Aloha!

Take Your Time — Relax

hammock on the beach

Relax and Slow Down

Relax and slow down… We’re on island time and that means we take our time – with everything! Honestly, if you take a deep breath, slow down, and leave the hurry, hurry, hustle behind you will find that your time here seems to pass by a little more slowly. If you rush and pack your days full your time will seem to fly by and no one wants that, after all, you worked hard to get here! Take a few lazy days and lay on our sugar cookie beaches, listen to the surf and the whisper of the palms and feel the soul of the island.

Share Aloha on the Road

Hana highway

Aloha on The Road

Aloha on the Road:  Please do not drive like you are on your way to a fire! Forget you have a horn, honking is not nice Aloha. If you want to look at something beautiful, which happens a lot, pull over so as not to cause sudden stop accidents.

Be respectful at 4 ways (intersections with each corner having a stop sign). Go in the order you arrive at the stop, if you pull up 3rd, you go third – all you have to do is pay attention to the order in which you arrive at the stop. To go before your turn shows disrespect, and we are all about kokua.

Please, always use the side mirrors on the passenger side of your vehicle to be aware of bicycles and mopeds. These are main modes of transportation for many locals and they are literally everywhere, often coming up along side you as you prepare to make a right hand turn. Many accidents and injuries are avoidable if everyone does their part to be on the lookout. Beware – pedestrians are everywhere too!

Lastly, if you are meandering the beautiful coastline, the road to Hana, or any other twisty turny 2-lane by vehicle or as a cyclist, please, for the love of all things good – locals beg please, pull over and let us pass by. We want to get home, or to work, and while we appreciate that you are sightseeing, we cannot tell you how much we appreciate even more the Aloha you share when you don’t make us sightsee behind you. Mahalo nui loa for letting us go around!

Tipping on Maui

Tipping is important

Tipping in Maui

Tipping: It’s how many of us eat dinner at the end of the day.  Many visitors to Hawai’i are unsure about tipping here and how it works. For those of us in the service industry your generosity by way of gratuity is a large part of our income with regular wages on a lower end scale making it hard, without tips, to meet the cost of living.

We love it here, we love what we do, and we love that you visit us! We do our best to help make your dreams of the perfect tropical island paradise vacation all you hope for and to serve each of you, our visitors, in the Spirit of Aloha.

Please factor tipping into your budget as you plan your time and activities in Hawai’i. From coffee house baristas, food trucks and restaurant servers, hotel valet, room service, housekeeping, boat tours crewmembers, helicopter tours, zip line, hiking guides; the list goes on and on. 15-20% of your total receipt is considered typical gratuity and is very much appreciated by all who spend their days making sure your Hawaiian vacation is the best in every way.

You may share your appreciation and Aloha in a tip jar, the receipt book, or directly into the hand of the one providing service. As manager for a private boat charter company my favorite tip for tipping is this: The wind and waves may rock the boat, but only you can tip the crew! Mahalo nui loa!

Respect Other Surfers

Surfing on Maui

Surfing on Maui

Surfing: It’s a great feeling! The joy of a stoke-filled session can be addicting, but the thirst for great waves needs to be balanced with respect for your fellow surfers. So, in the spirit of keeping everyone’s surf experience fun and trouble-free here are a few guidelines to help you out with some basic rules of thumb.

The person closest to the curl has ‘right of way’ and is in position to catch the next wave. This rule applies regardless of whether the curl is breaking from left or right. Luckily there are plenty of waves to go around, so take a deep breath and wait your turn. On a good surf day the sets will keep coming. Focus on having a good time and not on the number of waves you catch, that way you don’t accidentally end up becoming a wave hog. You don’t want to be that guy! And it’s inevitable, cut offs, drop ins, and snakes happen, so enter the water knowing that if someone hops on your wave just let them have it and brush it off, the karmic wheel will reward you with plenty of nice swells in return.

Some spots are known for intense localism, while others are more mellow. To make sure you don’t end up with a sour session keep your eyes and ears open, gauge the crowd’s mood before making the decision of whether it’s welcoming new wave riders. Once established, a good approach is to err on the side of goodwill and let the locals have contested waves regardless of wave priority. Whether they accept the wave with thanks or entitlement, you are doing the right thing and will put yourself in a better position for the next wave, and possibly, most likely, a new friend.

Maui Guidebooks

Maui Revealed, the Ultimate Guidebook

Maui Revealed Book

Maui Revealed: A great guide publication that has become extremely popular with visitors. It is a wealth of information that ranges from highly sought activities and destinations to secret, sometimes remote, little-known gems. Broken down by areas and townships, you will find the best places to eat: food trucks, local favorites, fine dining top chefs and restaurants, or simply where to find the best poke.

The book will tell you all about the best beaches with sand like brown sugar, black sand beaches, waterfalls and waterfall pools for swimming, well-known trails and remote hiking adventures (please secure a hiking guide, these can be extremely dangerous and put you at great risk). You’ll find drum circles and fire spinning, upscale shopping and hippie towns, information on snorkeling, whale watching, scuba diving, deep sea fishing, helicopter tours, lava tubes, horseback riding, hunting, and wine tasting – it’s hard to name something that isn’t covered in this book. You will find cultural information as well.

If you purchase Maui Revealed, we highly recommend you read it in its entirety. There is much information that will help you understand not only discovering Maui, but also about some things that are very important to those who live here, like: kuleana (responsibility), kokua (help/respect), kapu (a very serious no trespassing), and malama pono keep da aina ono (take good care of the land).  You can purchase Maui Revealed here or explore some other wonderful books about Hawaii’s culture, myths and legends, marine life, etc. locally.  Some can be found at Maui Friend’s of the Library, many at a mere fraction of the cover price! Find them located in The Wharf Center in Lahaina or The Queen Ka’ahumanu Center Shopping Mall in Kahului.

In all of Maui’s beauty, always remember much is still rugged and never go above your physical limitations or explore without local assistance. We want you to fall in love with our beautiful island and at the end of your visit take home nothing but a great tan, the best memories, your souvenirs, and the Spirit of Aloha!! Imagine if everyone who visited Hawai’i would take the Aloha home and spread it wherever they go how much better a place the world would be.

From our Sea Monkey Ohana to yours, know you are always welcome to contact us for any island advice, we are happy to help ( or by phone 808-491-9141). Aloha Nui Loa!



Trash found in the ocean in Maui

One of our neighbor boats in the harbor, Ultimate Whale Watch, was out on a typical whale watching tour when they noticed a peculiar line in the water that seemed taut. Peter, General Manager of the company, happened to be onboard that day. He dove into the water to check out what was going on. It turns out that a whale had been entangled and was stuck, trying to drag on the line to get free. With a few smart maneuvers on his part and the help of the Coast Guard, they were able to free the humpback whale.

There are a small number of sharks that frequent Lahaina Harbor in hopes that the fishermen who come in daily will drop some tidbits of fish for their lunch. Actually, they would like more than a tidbit, but it keeps them coming round like clockwork. Everyone loves to look for and wait excitedly to watch the sharks in the harbor. One shark, we call Sandy, has in recent months gotten some line twisted around it’s neck that appears to be getting tighter as time goes on. Several men have tried in vain to approach the shark to cut the line with no luck. We hope Sandy is able to get the help she needs before it is too late.

Lately, here in Maui’s beautiful waters, there has been a deluge of castaway nets and debris washing to the surface. Many boats, including Sea Monkey, have been doing their part to collect and bring the garbage in out of the water. We fear for the whales who have come home for their breeding season. Baby humpback whales are born here and quickly get to business learning the ropes of being good breachers, tail slapppers, and pec wavers. We want to do everything we possibly can to help clean up the ocean, not only for the safety of humpback whales, but for all sea life. Those of us who live here consider all creatures of the sea to be like extended members of our families.

We are sharing this for a two-fold reason. One, to hopefully make everyone a little more aware of the immense dangers ocean pollution and garbage present to whales, dolphins, sea turtles and more, boats, and the livelihood of not only our people, but for many around the globe who live by the sea. And secondly, to extend a huge thank you to everyone who collects the garbage and brings it in; to those who aren’t afraid to get into the water and do what they can to free a sea creature in need of help. These things are fine examples of the true Spirit of Aloha.

We, at Sea Monkey, firmly believe that the creatures of the sea, large and small, know when we are trying to help them and that they truly appreciate our efforts. While out cruising the basin one day, recently, we had literally just pulled a huge floating net in out of the water and secured it in a holding area when a HUGE humpback whale told us ‘Mahalo nui loa!’ (Thank you from the heart!) with a nose to tail, magnificent, awe-inspiring, breathtaking breach RIGHT behind the boat! We cheered, we stood in awe, and we laughed and smiled huge smiles from the depths of our hearts as we said ‘You’re whale-come’! That is a defining moment none of us will ever forget. As a matter of fact the memory of it brings joy to my heart and a huge smile as I write. It is our sincere hope that each of you reading this will have an opportunity to help clean the ocean and receive the kind hearted thank you like we received. Spread the word and do good, on any level that you are able; and we promise it will bring a smile to your heart, too! 

Rain at sunset over the ocean in Maui

Like any other vessel that cruises the open waters, we are at the mercy of the weather. At Sea Monkey we know this and try to plan our charter destinations where the weather is less likely to affect the itinerary, but avoiding inclement weather is never guaranteed. From rain, tropical storms and high winds to vog (volcanic ash fog), run-off and low or high waters, there are many ways in which bad weather can force a chartered excursion off course — or simply ruin the day. Bad weather can mean anything from less impressive photos or muddled water clarity, to a rained-out snorkel trip.

We rely on our Captain’s experience to determine your daily destination as it can be cold, rainy, cloudy or windy in one direction on Westside Maui, yet beautiful in another direction with the sun shining and calm clear waters; that is what we are always looking for.

If the captain of your cruise decides it’s too dangerous to proceed with the scheduled itinerary we will cancel your trip and even though full cancellations are rare, they do happen. It is never our desire to cancel and we try to wait as long as possible before making a decision, while still trying to give our guests enough lead time to make alternate plans if necessary.

We can’t lie, winter on Maui definitely brings more challenging conditions on the water, but it also brings something that makes a drizzly day on the water worth it – Humpback Whales! Know upfront when booking a winter month charter that if weather prohibits great snorkeling, we still strive to fulfill your charter with food, fun, and hanging out with Humpback whales will be the focus. If you are prone to seasickness please make us aware ahead of time, we have a number of remedies to help you keep the nausea at bay. Seasickness is no fun and something you should consider seriously as you plan your vacation itinerary. If you are feeling adventurous, bring a bikini, a lightweight long sleeve or jacket, your sense of adventure and be ready for anything!

Aloha! We hope to see you soon!

There are many options for enjoying the beautiful ocean surrounding our island including heading out on a charter boat to snorkel, watch for whales, or see the sunset. These are the top 10 charter boats on Maui. Aloha.

Top Charter Boats on Maui


Sea Monkey Private Charters Maui

Luxury at it’s finest and the most competitive private yacht prices on Maui. Sea Monkey Private Charters is perfect for everyone, whether family fun or honeymoon romance you will not find a better day cruiser yacht to come aboard. Comfortable leather seating in the cockpit under a bimini shade; cushioned reclining seats on the bow for sun, fun, and enjoying the speed of the boat; fresh warm water outdoor shower; a beautiful restroom down below, and so much more! Sea Monkey will take you sightseeing while cruising; whale watching the magnificent Humpback Whales in season; snorkeling in places where you have the water all to yourself; provide all of your gear and feed you well with first class service by Captain and First Mate, all in the lap of luxury on the beautiful blue Hawaiian waters. Go to our tab on this website labeled Book Now or call us at (808) 491-9141 for personal assistance to secure your charter.



Jayhawk cruises the waters off Lanai


If luxury combined with deep-sea fishing or scuba diving is on your bucket list, Jayhawk Yacht Charters is a perfect fit for you. You can even book a stand-up paddle excursion. This is no ordinary fishing vessel, it features beautifully appointed staterooms and is equipped to whisk you away on overnight charters with your own personal chef. Among their amenities are: shimano fishing gear, fish finder technology, GPS, and chart plotters. If you really desire to go all in on the luxury experience, Jayhawk offers an upgrade to have a masseuse onboard to work out those muscles you exerted bringing in your catch! Visit them now at or call (866)326-0636.



Satisfaction Yacht

Where else on Maui can you find a luxury powerboat with a lil ‘mini me’ tender tucked inside itself to get you into hidden coves or the shallows for closer views? Aboard Satisfaction you can witness first hand the beauty and majesty of Maui, Lana’i and Molokai on overnight charters. Extreme opulence with luxurious amenities coupled with Penn International Rods & Reels, state of the art equipment, sumptuous dining and much more are all part and parcel for the most discerning and affluent guests visiting Maui. See everything Satisfaction has to offer at or call (808)866-0338.



Alii Nui Catamaran

Alii Nui means highest royalty in Hawaiian, this vessel is royal indeed – the crown jewel of all sailing catamarans found on Maui. Stretching low and wide she is truly an impressive way to spend your day on the water providing luxury in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. You can snorkel, scuba dive, snuba, or more simply float with water noodles or boogie boards if you just want to relax in the water. Alii Nui berths in Maalaea Harbor and travels regularly to Molokini Crater, a highly sought after snorkel destination where you can see species of fish not found anywhere else in the ocean. If romance is on your agenda and you are not in the market for a private charter, Alii Nui’s Sunset Sail and Royal Feast are extraordinary. Special event sails and packages offer you an opportunity to go dancing, arrange for a private dinner, or even get married! Visit to see which excursion they have to offer is right for you or call (808)875-0333.



Kainani Sailboat

Set sail on Hawaii’s most outfitted private monohull yacht. Experience performance sailing, personalized snorkel trips, whale watching, or liveaboard inter-island cruises aboard Kainani. Depart from world famous Ka’anapali Beach, sit back, relax, and discover true Hawaii from the sea. Amidst the beautifully appointed amenities you will find a spacious interior featuring 3 private cabins, 2 marine heads (bathrooms), a comfortable saloon, and a full galley – there is even an outdoor grill on deck. For fun they provide snorkel gear, fishing gear, floatation noodles, deck chairs, a bodyboard, and a 2-person kayak. In the Spirit of Aloha, the Captain and Crew are always eager to share what they know about the Hawaiian culture, legends of old, and reasons behind the names of the places, giving you a truly personal Hawaiian experience. For more information visit or call (808)495-1001.



Atlantis Submarine Maui


Dive 100 feet and more below the surface aboard a real submarine, Atlantis Submarines Maui, and witness first hand Hawaii’s underwater paradise. Marvel at the sight of a replicated sunken ship, natural coral reef gardens filled with colorful fish, sharks, sting rays and more all while enjoying the air-conditioned comfort and safety of the vessel. Atlantis Submarines are the world’s most technologically advanced passenger vessels and host panoramic windows and high ceilings. Featured in National Geographic television specials and owned and operated in world-wide locations around the globe, find all you need to know about Atlantis Submarines at or call (800)381-0237.



Ultimate Whale Watch

Since 1982, Ultimate Whale Watch & Snorkel has been dedicated to sharing their knowledge and experience of Maui’s ocean through whale watching, snorkeling, and supporting education and research. Their small group rafting vessels are fast, fun, safe, and offer up-close and personal opportunities to view and photograph Maui’s finest and most spectacular marine life: whales, dolphins, turtles, tropical fish and more! In the true Spirit of Aloha, Ultimate Whale Watch & Snorkel donates their vessels, time, and resources to researchers that are working to understand Maui’s marine environment and in turn protect and advocate for it. Their goal is to encourage eco-friendly decisions and appreciation of the Hawaii paradise we are a part of. Book privately or make new friends as you join a shared boat – either way, they guarantee a whale of a time (in season of course)! Call (808)667-5678 or visit them at



Pride of Maui

Berthed in central Maui’s Ma’alaea harbor, Pride of Maui is a 65-foot maxi-powered Catamaran boasting 3000 sq ft. of deck space (specifically built for Hawaiian waters by professional boat builders in New Orleans). The Company purposely leaves a percentage of the boat empty in order to uphold the quality and service of their international reputation. The Pride of Maui is a well respected large yacht, famous for its stability and comfort. Its size, seating, and layout permit unobstructed panoramic viewing and the convenience to comfortable walk around its spacious decks. Offering whale watching, SNUBA, SCUBA, snorkeling world-class destinations including the famous Molokini Crater, underwater video, and an array of special events. Plan your day of fun and make memories aboard Pride of Maui by visiting their website at or call them at (855)666-3893.



Trilogy Catamaran

With a fleet of beautiful, state of the art vessels, Sail Trilogy offers an extensive selection of activities. You can sail, snorkel, SNUBA, romance and dine, get married, watch dolphins play, and in season experience the world famous Humpback whales. Departing out of Lahaina harbor or off of the beach in Ka’anapali, with Trilogy you can choose your destination package and explore Molokini crater, Maui’s neighboring island of Lana’i, watch fireworks, or join the Captains Dinner Sail and experience a private restaurant feel, fine dining with panoramic views aboard this luxury sailing catamaran. Tables are set for two to enjoy a four-course dinner service with premium open bar. Book privately or go with a shared group, either way Trilogy will not disappoint – visit their website and see why for yourself as you read their story… they don’t just say Aloha – they LIVE Aloha. Phone:(888)225-MAUI



Maui Princess Dinner Cruise

Departing from Lahaina, enjoy a memorable evening of dining and live music aboard Maui’s largest and most stable 120-foot vessel, the Maui Princess. View the stars, as they come out over the ocean, from their all premium top-deck seating. You will enjoy different musicians nightly, and tableside dinner service provided by their excellent wait staff. Well known to have the most delicious menu and prepared fresh daily by their own chef, the food is really quite scrumptious. After dinner, you can dance, or, relax at your table, and enjoy the rest of your evening cruise along the scenic Maui coastline. Visit to view the menu selection and book your evening on the sea or call (808)667-6165 to book direct.

In Maui nature is everywhere, abundant and amazing. Lucky to live in Hawaii, we are surrounded, literally, by an underwater world that is full of wonder and magnificent creatures. Not even in our wildest imaginations can we dream of all that exists out there in the deep blue, but we can share with you some fun things we do know about a few of our neighbors who dwell ‘unda da sea’.

Green Sea Turtles (Hawaiian Name – Honu)

Green Hawaiian Sea Turtle

Gentle giants of the sea, pro surfers of the waves, and protectors of the coral reefs – Hawaii’s honu cruise in graceful motion to the beat of no ones drum but their own. If only they could throw the shaka as they drift by on island time, it would seem only fitting. They feed on algae (helping to keep our coral clean and healthy), and sea grass which turns their fat layer green; it is that and not the color of their shell that gives them their name.

The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle is the only indigenous reptile found in Hawaii, dating back as many as 150 million years. It is a symbol of good luck, by ancient Hawaiians in the form of a guardian spirit (Aumakua), believed to be departed loved ones that continue to look over and protect their lineage. Because they are revered as Aumakua, combined with that they are born on land and often come to rest on sandy beaches; even though they spend most of their lives in the ocean, they are considered by ancient Hawaiians to form a revered triangular link of man, land, and sea. If you search them out you will find the Honu pattern is heavily used in ancient petro glyphs as well as in modern graphic form around the islands.

Sea Monkey Honu fun fact: there is a giant green sea turtle that frequently cruises one of our snorkel destinations and his name is Stage Coach because he is so big! We can never promise he will show up, but when he does – wow!


Humpback Whales (Hawaiian name: Kohola)

Humpback Whale

Of all the hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Hawaiian islands each year, there is none more eagerly anticipated or welcomed back than the Humpback Whales! Whale season in Hawaii is officially from December through April. February is the month known to the local folk as ‘whale soup’.

Humpback Whales travel to the warm tropical waters in the safe basins to birth their offspring. They come from Alaska, Mexico, and Russia; traveling approximately 39 days of non-stop swimming around 3,200 miles to get here. They can actually turn off half of their brain at a time to rest it for the long journey.

Once here, there is great excitement! Thrilling breeches as they hurl themselves far up into the air only to come crashing down in a giant splash – giant tail fins slapping the water with a resounding crack – waving Aloha with their school bus-sized arm fin, the pectoral – singing – courting – giving birth – nurturing – competition pods of males fighting over a female (yes, the whales – but not unlike the sailors in the old local watering holes, too!).

One of the most amazing things to experience is hearing the whale song underwater while snorkeling, or seeing the magnificent creature silhouetted off in the not too distant water, knowing you are sharing the same space – it is exhilarating beyond all belief! We could go on and on with facts and tales of whales. Join Sea Monkey during the season and let our crew expand your knowledge while you laugh, oooh and aaah together over the breathtaking spectacle of the Humpbacks.

Sea Monkey Humpback Whale fun fact: It’s only October, but they are back! At least the scouts are, which is incredibly exciting. The scouts travel right ahead of the pods to ‘scope things out’. They look out for killer whales, sharks, and other dangers. They find the safe havens, and they sing it back to the pods on their way. Meanwhile, the local boats and fishermen have officially received their first playful Humpback Whale shows and Aloha waves of the season – – – Come join us!!


Sharks (Hawaiian Name – Mano)

White Tip Reef Shark

The serious side of the ocean – Hawaiian waters are home to over 40 species of sharks, though the most commonly seen is the docile white tip reef shark. White tips eat many small fish, octopus, and crustaceans, and are harmless to humans unless harassed and provoked. Most sharks have to continuously move in order for water to move in their mouth and over their gills, allowing them to breathe.

White tip reef sharks can rest on the ocean floor and pump water through their mouth. Ram ventilation is what it’s called for sharks to breathe while swimming; they use muscles around their mouth when resting. Their skin is made up of what is called denticles which is essentially rows and rows of almost microscopic shark teeth which prevent the growth of algae on their skin, so make sure you pet your shark from head to tail and not the other way around!

Hammerhead Shark

Other common sharks found around Maui are Tiger and Hammerheads. Definitely not friendly, tiger sharks will eat turtles and whales and are known to attack humans as well. Hammerhead sharks are mostly found around Molokai but can be found in small numbers around Maui. Sharks are considered a most prized Aumakua in the Hawaiian culture.

Tiger Shark

Sea Monkey shark fun fact: Mala Ramp, on Westside Maui, collapsed in 1992 during hurricane Iniki and has become a favorite hang out for white tips. They like to be lazy and hang out under ledges and in lava tubes, so the fractured ramp provides a fun playground for them to eat, sleep, and put on a show for snorkelers! If weather permits, Mala Ramp is a place we like to visit because it is safe and full of an amazing array of marine life – you might get lucky and see a white tip in the distance!


Dolphins (Hawaiian Name – Nai’a)

Spinner Dolphin

Beloved for their ability to look like they are always having the time of their life – jumping – spinning – swimming – dolphins are full of excitement! Hawaii’s 3 most commonly seen dolphins are the Bottlenose, the Spinners, and the Spotted. We would have to say that Spinner’s are definitely the most fun. They are small, have a long beak and in a single leap out of the water they can spin as many as six times. They are found around all of the main islands of Hawaii, hunting at night and either resting or playing during the day.

Spotted Dolphin

Spotted dolphins are easily confused with spinners; they are closely related and look very similar. However, the end of their beak is white-tipped and mature ones have a spotted color pattern on their body. Mostly seen in the channels between the islands, the spotted do not rest near shore. Both the spinner and spotted dolphins travel in schools from small numbers up to hundred.

Bottlenose Dolphin

Bottlenose dolphins are much larger in size, live in smaller pods, their color is uniformly gray, and their beak is thicker and more blunt. Super intelligent and very playful they love bow riding where they surf in front of a boat or even a whale’s bow wave.

Sea Monkey dolphin fun fact: It’s so much fun to listen to the stories of captains and fishermen here in Lahaina harbor, and one of them shared this little tidbit: since we are not allowed to pursue swimming with dolphins, she has found that if they are in the nearby waters while your snorkeling, sing into your snorkel while you’re swimming around often times they will come to you – don’t know if it works or not, she swears it does – but it’s worth a try!


Manta and Eagle Rays (Hawaiian name: Hihimanu)

Manta Ray

The Hawaiian name means lavish, magnificent, and elegant. The beautiful creatures glide through the water and along the sandy bottom of the ocean like they are gracefully dancing the waltz. Their large flat side fins look like giant butterfly wings. Feeding on mostly plankton and occasional clams, snails, shrimp and fish with no shell, it uses the head fins like speared paddles to scoop food into its mouth.

Manta ray ‘wings’ can get so large that a grown man could lay on each one, each with their arms stretched over their heads and possibly still not cover the full span from tip to tip. That’s huge! Rays have skeletons made of cartilage like sharks, but the resemblance stops there other than the fact that both are awe inspiring. Quite often seen in the Hawaiian waters while snorkeling, the rays are still considered elusive for as soon as you see one, they are off in a moment, perhaps they are related to Batman?

Sea Monkey ray fun fact: though this is a cheat and really nothing to do with the animal ray – Sea Monkey boat is a Sea Ray, too, and glides just as beautifully along the top of the water as the animal rays do underneath! If only it was able to run on fish food instead of gasoline.


Hawaiian Monk Seal
(Hawaiian name: Ilio holo I ka uaua which means dog that runs in rough water)

Hawaiian Monk Seal

Extremely endangered with numbers reported to be below 1,200, the Hawaiian Monk Seal is only found in US waters around Hawaii. They are one of the only two mammals in existence that are native to Hawaii. Often found snoozing and warming themselves on local beaches, they are still considered a rare sighting.

Tiger sharks are the main predator for the monk seal, especially the young. However, entanglement from fishing gear, coral bleaching, canine diseases, and ocean acidification are factors that contribute to the dwindling numbers.

Able to dive up to 900 feet in deeper waters, most of their hunting is done in shallow reefs where they thrive on fish, octopus, and crustaceans. They live 25-30 years if they are lucky enough to elude the threats that humans pose. A monk seal pup has a very hard time surviving tiger shark hunts and human interference into their habitat. If you see a Hawaiian Monk Seal consider yourself blessed, but please be respectful and keep your distance. There are preservation teams around the island’s that will come to stand guard over the seal while it rests at a moment’s notice.

Sea Monkey Monk Seal fun fact: There is a local gentleman known to all as “Doc”, his life is dedicated to the monk seals and he can be seen in Lahaina harbor daily spreading his love and knowledge of the seals that he claims to be able to communicate with. If you see a man in a funny straw hat with whirly-gigs sticking up 2 feet above it, that’s Doc! And you can rest assured knowing that he would love to stop and chat with anyone about the Hawaiian Monk Seal. You can even check out his series of informational videos on YouTube by searching DrLeisure1. The following video, not by Doc, is rare footage of the monk seal and a green sea turtle playing, though we do not believe the turtle is having very much fun, what do you think?

Monk Seal Playing With Green Turtle


 Eels (Hawaiian name: Puhi)

Whitemouth Eel

Conger Eel

Zebra Eel

Yellowmargin Eel

Eels are elongated fishes with a snake-like body. They live in crevices and roles, rarely displaying their entire body in the open. In Hawaii they are quite abundant and represented by many species

Eels tend to be territorial, but do not live in only one hole or location for a long time. Eels are constantly opening and closing their mouth, which makes them appear aggressive; however, this is simply the way they breathe. Since eels generally stay in their hole during the day, many of them are quite willing to model for you, at least facial shots. Some of the bolder species such as the Yellowmargin and Whitemouth Moray, along with the Conger Eel, may even allow you to place a framer on them.

Sea Monkey eel fun fact: It’s a little more challenging to photograph the shy garden eels, so this is how you outsmart them paparazzi style – leave your camera outside of it’s burrow and back off about 20 feet, sure enough the eel will reappear and perform for your video!


Picasso Triggerfish The official Hawaiian State Fish
(Hawaiian name – Humuhumunukuapua’a)


There are some very showy guys and gals swimming around in the ocean here in Hawaii – they sport a very ostentatious name and look like they’re all dressed up with nowhere to go, so they hang around the coral reefs showing off their fancy selves. They are the Hawaiian state fish and their name is Humuhumunukunukuapua’a. Intimidating, but it’s a lot easier to pronounce than it looks.  Just say it like this and you will sound like a Hawaiian in a minute: Who-moo-who-moo-noo-koo-noo-koo-ah-pooh-ah-ah. Easy, right, so cheehoo and pat yourself on the back!

Humuhumunukunukuapua’a is a triggerfish that is very territorial, so even though they are a show off for snorkelers, they like their space and we highly advise you give it to them, as they have been known to aggressively bite ankles! When Humuhumunukunukuapua’a are happy, healthy, and feel non-threatened their colors are bright and beautiful. When sleeping or feeling invaded they have the ability to tone themselves down into muted coloration for protection.

Sea Monkey Humumunukunukuapua’a fun fact: We hope someday you have an opportunity to snorkel and encounter this flashy fellow, if you’re not a water adventurer you can visit him at the Maui Ocean Center or any aquarium in Hawaii. If worst comes to worst, he is so popular, you will surely see him sported on t-shirts up and down the strip in Old Lahaina Town!


Sea Urchin
(Hawaiian Name: Wana, pronounced vah-na)

Beautiful spiny creatures called sea urchins draw the attention of snorkelers and divers for their exotic presence. Either round or oval, their spines are designed for special habitats. They have five zones of tube feet, which allow them to attach themselves securely to the coral reef or the ocean floor, and five zones of spiny needles to protect them from predators. Some sea urchins hang out directly in the wave crash zone so these tube feet keep them from getting tossed around. Hawaii has several species of sea urchins; the Collector Urchin and the Pencil urchin are two of the most popularly seen.

Collector Sea Urchin

The collector gets it’s name from the fact that it’s an ocean hoarder, hanging onto debris that washes over it like seaweed, gravel, and shell – it uses the debris to hide itself.


Pencil Sea Urchin


The Pencil urchin is brightly colored and make for beautiful photo opportunities. Neither of these are harmful, unless you accidentally step on them, so don’t do that! Always be aware of what’s around you as you play in or explore the ocean.


Diadema Sea Urchin

The Diadema urchin is the one you want to look out for. Its slender spiky needles are venomous and extremely painful, so look but don’t touch, it could send you to the emergency room.

Sea Monkey sea urchin fun fact: watch our homepage video and see our crew holding a pencil urchin for the guests to see. Our crew loves to guide you as you snorkel and share the wondrous creatures that live beneath the sea – it’s a magical place down there!


Mahalo for joining us on this short version journey about a few of the amazing creatures that live in Hawaii’s natural aquarium – the Pacific Ocean. Should you find yourself visiting one of our little rocks we call islands, we hope you will take the time to swim, snorkel or dive in our clear waters and experience the spectacular underwater world up close and personally. Truly, there is nothing like it! Whether whale watching from a distance, snorkeling from offshore or chartering your own personal experience aboard a luxury private day cruiser yacht, you will take home memories that will last a lifetime. Aloha!


Sources: Wikipedia; YouTube; “Hawaiian Reef Fish” by Witte/Mahoney; “Documenting The Super Moms of Seals The Hawaiian Monk Seals of Kalaupapa” by Dr. George R. Harker.

Hawaii Wild Life Fund

Maui Ocean Center

Smithsonian Ocean Portal

Hawaii Travel Guide


Private Maui Snorkeling Tours

Why using reef safe sunscreen is important?

Anyone swimming or snorkeling in the tropical ocean near coral should consider a coral reef safe sunscreen. It is not a mystery that sunscreen that washes off your body when swimming may affect aquatic life.  Some commonly used chemical sunscreen ingredients cause coral bleaching and may be affecting coral reefs. In fact near 10% of the world’s coral reefs may be threatened by sunscreen induced coral bleaching.

Each year between 4000-6000 metric tons (4400-6600 US tons) of sunscreen washes off swimmers and snorkelers into coral reef environments. Some of these common sunscreen ingredients were shown to cause complete coral bleaching at very low concentrations.

Avoid these reef-harmful sunscreen ingredients:

  1. Oxybenzone (benzophenone-3) – Sunscreen with several suspected human health effects.
  2. Butylparaben – Preservative with several suspected human health effects.
  3. Octinoxate (Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate) – Sunscreen with several suspected human health effects.
  4. 4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4MBC) – Sunscreen with several suspected human health effects. Allowed in Europe and Canada, not in USA or Japan

There are many other chemical ingredients that are commonly used in wide variety of sunscreens that are bad for you and the coral reef.  As a general rule of a thumb it is a good idea to avoid products with a long list of chemical ingredients you can’t read or understand..  The two base ingredients that score best for safety of the coral today are: titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.  Please read Environmental Working Group reports for more detailed and current information about true meaning of “reef safe” sunscreen today.

Other factors to consider when trying to stay sun safe.

Do not confuse SPF number and amount of time the sunscreen will protect you against the powerful UV rays!  Many people believe that the SPF number equals the number of minutes you are protected (meaning: SPF 100 gives 100 minutes of protections, while SPF 30 only protects you for 30 minutes).   That is not exactly how it works.  In fact, SPF 30 filters out 97% of UVB, SPF 50 filters out 98%, and SPF 100 filters out 99%, according to the the American Cancer Society.

In addition, consider other factors when using a sunscreen, such as your water exposure, sweat, and the power of the UV rays.  Your weather channel app can tell you how strong the UV Index is in your area at all times.  It is a great idea to avoid sun exposure between hours of 10am and 4pm, while UV Index is at its highest.  Other ways to stay sun safe is to use hats, sunglasses, and clothing to cover up and seek shade whenever possible.

Our reef safe sunscreen recommendations.

Elta MD UV Pure Broad-Spectrum SPF 47 SunscreenMaui Surfer Honey Natural Sunscreen

Sea Monkey Private Charters offers a variety of reef safe sunscreens onboard our vessel. We want not only our coral reefs and marine life to be safe, but you too!  One of the highly recommended products by many dermatologists today is Elta MD UV Pure Broad -Spectrum SPF 47 Sunscreen.  It is sold on Amazon as well as in many dermatology clinics throughout the Country.  Purchase it in advance, tuck into your suitcase, you will be ready before you even get to your vacation! If you are planning on snorkeling or swimming in Hawaii – please consider using a locally made sunscreen product. Maui Surfer Honey All Natural Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30   can be purchased online or in many local stores.  It is reef friendly natural sunscreen, made in Hawaii with natural ingredients and Maui grown essential oils with the crisp dry aroma of rosemary and lemongrass. It contains no Avobenzone, no Homosalate, no Octinoxate, no Octocrylene, no Oxybenzone, no PABA, no Parabens, no Retinyl Palmitate, and no Nano particles and is water resistant for 80 minutes.  Protect yourself, your loved ones, and our ocean – and smell great, too!

Sea Monkey, and all of Hawaii say a big mahalo nui loa for your kokua to all who choose wisely to help us preserve our beautiful marine world!

4th of July Celebration Lahaina

If you are lucky enough to be in Maui for the 4th of July you should definitely visit historic Lahaina Town and enjoy the holiday specials in many ocean view restaurants and town shops.  For an old-fashioned Independence Day celebration, come down and listen to a variety of bands play throughout Lahaina Town.  Enjoy an afternoon of great fun, food, shopping, keiki activities, entertainment and more, followed by a spectacular sunset and a fireworks celebration.  A fireworks display lighting the night sky over Lahaina is scheduled annually at 8pm from a barge offshore of Front Street. Fireworks can be viewed from charter boats in Lahaina Harbor and on land throughout Lahaina Town.  Book your private boat charter with Sea Monkey Private Charters and let us make this the most memorable part of your vacation!  For more info on 4th of July Celebration in Lahaina Town and schedule of events check out this site: VisitLahainaSite