This page describes the location of west Maui oceanfront condominium Kulakane 302, as well some of the features and attractions of upper west Maui.
On this page (links):
- Photo of Maui from Space
- Interactive Google Map
- Nearby Features
- Beachfront Location
- Beautiful Views
- Sea Turtles
- Surfing Nearby
- Great Sunsets
The Kulakane condo complex is located on the beach in upper west Maui in the quiet Honokowai district, about halfway between the resort areas of Kaanapali and Kapalua.
Click on the photo to see an unlabelled high-resolution version in a new browser window.
See a high-resolution image of upper west Maui here
Click here for an aerial view of the Kulakane in Bing.
Peaceful, Yet Close to Everything
Honokowai is peaceful, yet the condominium is close to everything in west Maui. There are a number of restaurants and markets in Honokowai and Kahana within walking distance from the Kulakane. Distances are short in upper west Maui; some of the best golf, snorkeling, shopping and restaurants on the island are just a few minutes away.
Lahaina is about 5 miles from the condo. Kapalua is about 3 miles north; Kaanapali, Napili and Kahana are within 2 miles. Kaanapali and Kapalua are two of the best golf resorts in Hawaii. Lahaina, historically a whaling village, now has the best shopping on the island. Enjoy the dozens of clothing shops, world-class art galleries, and unique gift stores. Options for waterfront dining abound, including american, italian, asian, fresh(!) seafood, and many others. Lahaina harbor is a base of operations for most water adventures offered on Maui, including snorkeling, parasailing, SCUBA or SNUBA diving expeditions, day trips to neighborhing islands, sailing, and others.
Right on the Beach!
A view of the south end of the building and beach. (Photo taken in early evening, about 1/2 hour before sunset.)
A view of the seawall, pool deck area, sand and ocean. The sand in front of the seawall varies with the seasons, but the beaches at each end of the property (as seen in the above photo) are fabulous year-round.
The western side of Maui is the drier, sunnier side. Temperatures in west Maui are typically similar to those on the east and north sides of the island, but the humidity is usually lower and the clouds (and rain) less frequent. This is due to the "rain shadow" effect. Easterly trade winds (blowing from the east) are forced upward over the mountains, causing the air to cool and form clouds on the east slopes and near the peaks. There, moisture is removed from the air in the form of rain. As the air crosses the peaks and descends on the west side of Maui, it is warmed again - minus the moisture that was lost to precipitation.
Maximum daytime temperatures are typically in the low- to mid-80s (27-29 degrees C) in the summer, and upper 70s (25-26 C) in the winter. Most of the precipitation that does fall in the Honokowai area comes during October through April; very little rain falls during June through September.
Beautiful Views, Gentle Surf
Two of the primary benefits of our upper west Maui location are the neighboring islands of Molokai and Lanai. The presence of Maui's sister islands just 10 miles offshore benefits us in several ways. First, the islands are themselves beautiful to look at, and much more interesting than an expanse of ocean horizon. As the sun moves through the sky, the pattern of shadows on the green hillsides is continually changing.
This short video on The Condo page, shot from the lanai of our Maui condo, illustrates a typical midday and a sunset view. Also see this video on the Cool Stuff page (also shot from the lanai of Kulakane 302), which compresses a full day into 55 seconds. It provides a good representation of how the view changed throughout one particular summer day.
Another benefit provided by the neighboring islands is shelter from ocean swells and waves approaching the island from the north and west. For this reason, the surf from Lahaina to Kapalua is usually gentle, especially in the summer. (Of course, caution in and around the ocean is always prudent, and dangerous surf can occur anywhere on Hawaiian shores under the right conditions. Areas of the Hawaiian islands that have north exposures are famous for producing large waves when north swells arrive, especially in the winter. See our video of surfing at Honolua Bay for an example of north swells at Honolua Bay.)
We are often asked how the ocean directly in front of the Kulakane is for snorkeling. The answer is great! ...usually. If this answer sounds equivocal, it's because it reflects the reality that any good snorkeling location is subject to the influences of the weather and sea state. The waters of upper west Maui are more protected than most other locations on the island, but can (like any location) become murky when the surf is up.
The Honokowai Reef runs parallel to the shoreline, providing an attractive environment for fish and sea turtles (honu). The reef is about 25 yards offshore in front of the Kulakane. Once outside of the reef, the water is much clearer than it is along the shore. You will always see fish at and beyond the reef, and will often see the sea turtles. We have also seen rays, eels, and a wide variety of coral and urchins.
To give you an idea of what the snorkeling is like at and near the Kulakane, we made this short video (in addition to the video featuring sea turtles below).
The usual caveats apply. There are some dangers associated with snorkeling or any other ocean sport. Snorkeling should only be attempted by competent swimmers in good health, and should always be done with a buddy. Persons who have not snorkeled before should consider going out with an experienced person. If the conditions look rough, it is probably best to look for another location that day.
Virtually every guest who stays for more than a day or two at the Kulakane sees the Hawaiian green sea turtles (honu) feeding on algae that grows on rocks near the shore. The honu are an endangered species currently making comeback. West Maui is one of the few places where we can reliably observe them nearly every day. The turtles seen at the Kulakane are all adults, with shells (carapaces) ranging in size from about the size of a dinner plate to more than 3 feet across and weighing several hundred pounds. Watch for them at several different times of the tide cycle and you are almost certain to see them. You will soon learn to recognize their heads when they pop up to breathe, and will sometimes hear them exhale.
By far the best way to see the honu, though, is to get in the water with them. They are very graceful to watch as they "fly" through the water by flapping their wing-like front flippers. Snorkelers and divers must be respectful of the turtles' personal space by not approaching too closely. The turtles are legally protected, and it is prohibited to harass them. However, they are friendly and curious creatures who will often approach a snorkeler if s/he simply floats calmly on the surface and waits for them to approach. The turtles are vegan, and have no interest in trying to bite humans or other animals. However, it is possible to be injured by a turtle if you get too close to it, especially in shallow water. These are large, powerful creatures, and can easily accidentally hurt a diver in a scramble to move out of a confined area. Give them some room.
Here's a video devoted to the honu, shot directly offshore from Kulakane 302. The first two turtles are seen about 100 yards from shore, in water about 15 feet deep. On this particular day, the turtles were very friendly and came by to check us out on one of their trips to the surface for air. After a few breaths each, they returned to their spots on the bottom, tucked under overhanging rock shelves.
The second pair of honu were feeding on the reef as we made our way back to shore. The turtles do not appear to mind getting tossed about by the waves as they surge over the reef. We have seen turtles get rolled over in the surf, only to right themselves and go right back to their meal.
See much more information about the honu at the Turtle Trax website, discussed here on our Cool Stuff page.
Good Surfing Nearby
Although the surf in Honokowai is usually gentle, good surfing spots are nearby. The less-protected beaches south of Lahaina and north of Kapalua provide excellent surfing conditions during much of the year. Honolua Bay (about 5 miles north of the condo) will challenge even the best surfers when a north swell is running. "S Turns" (in Kahana, about 1 mile north of the condo) and Laniupoko (just south of Lahaina) have forgiving breaks. Surfing lessons are available in Lahaina from several surfing schools.
Here's a short YouTube video of the surfing action at Honolua Bay in mid-November 2011. A decent day, but the break gets much bigger than this.
The Best Sunsets
Yet another benefit provided by Lanai and Molokai is that they make the best sunsets. Why? Simply put, clouds increase the colors and interest of a sunset. Clouds typically form over tropical islands as the trade winds pass over them. Clouds are visible over the mountains of west Maui, Molokai and Lanai in the space shuttle photo at the top of this page.
See our tutorial on photographic techniques for taking great sunset photos here.