Going out to dinner demands tough choices. Restaurants on Maui consume more than 40 pages in the phone book, and Mauis chefs are world-renowned for their culinary creativity. What type of restaurant, which location? Seafood or sushi? Pasta or poi? Hawaii Regional or Japanese? Caribbean or Thai? Mexican or Vietnamese? South shore or west? Central Maui or Upcountry?
West and South Maui have restaurants that range from informal seaside fish houses to swank, candle-lit dining rooms with swans gliding by in a lagoon. Oceanfront dining is a Maui signature. In Wailea, a California dining legend has opened his interpretation of Cal-Maui cuisine while close by, live violin music accompanies excellent risotto in a romantic al fresco oceanfront setting. In Paia, on a cove where an outrigger canoe at sunset evokes thoughts of Gauguin, excellent seafood from the hooks of local fishermen comes in exotic and savory preparations.
In central Maui and Kihei, time-honored mom-and-pop restaurants and some of the best ethnic eateries in Hawaii offer top values for family-style dining. If upscale aloha shirt is the dress norm in Wailea, in central Maui, its Formica-style casual. Noodle shops, Vietnamese pho, Mexican, Chinese, and American diner fare are among the central Maui offerings. A Maui hotspot in Kahului draws diners from all over the island for its Latin fare and live entertainment, and the best mango-ritas in the world.
Much of the movement called Hawaii Regional Cuisine, Hawaiis culinary sensation, originated on Maui. While some of the founding members of HRC are Maui chefs, today the leaders include a broader group of Mauis finest practitioners in the culinary arts. Hawaii Regional Cuisine is a marriage of the culinary techniques of East and West, wok and whisk. The use of fresh island vegetables, fruit and seafood in multicultural techniques results in award-winning dishes that have attracted nationwide attention. Fish pried off the hook that day can appear on a plate with a mango beurre blanc. Freshly picked passion fruit morphs into a zesty lilikoi chiffon pie. Maui basil and asparagus elevate the simplest dishes to gourmet fare.
The luau, the famous traditional Hawaiian feast, reaches its pinnacle on Maui. In the old days the food, music and revelry of a luau lasted for weeks, until the partygoers fell in heaps. These days, the fun is crammed into one fabulous evening of hip-swinging hula, fire dances, and the exotic, sensuous rhythms of drums and gourds. Usually the setting is beachside, timed for the sunset. The food at the modern luau will be kalua (roasted in an underground stone oven) pig, poi made from the pounded root of the taro plant, haupia (coconut pudding) and other traditional dishes along with familiar favorites such as teriyaki chicken, potato salad, and pineapple cake. Todays luau reflects a multiethnic Hawaii.
Some of Hawaiis top musicians are from Maui. They play a medley of Hawaiian, contemporary, classical, rock, jazz, and the reggae blend called "Jawaiian," and their slack-key instrumentals are revered among the musicians of the world. In their public places and lounges, many hotels have daily music events, ranging from mellow piano to a big band or a soothing Hawaiian trio.
There are bars and night clubs in the resort areas of Lahaina, Kaanapali, Kahului, Wailea, Kihei and Makawao. They range from the latest L.A. style rage to hip-hop, R&B, jazz, blues and classics. Check the local Maui News and free visitor publications, or ask the hotel concierge to see whos playing where.
The Maui Symphony Orchestra season runs through fall and spring, and the Maui Academy of Arts stages productions July through May. The Maui Community Theater knows no season; to the delight of the local community, it just keeps going.
Mauis premier entertainment venue is The Maui Arts & Cultural Center with its world-class theater facilities, galleries, and studio space. Combined with its high standards and international and local performers, the MACC supports a diverse and vigorous arts and culture community.
Popular evening shows include Ulalena at the Maui Theatre; Warren and Annabelles Magic Show in Lahaina; "Kupanaha" Magic Show at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, and "Tony & Tinas Wedding," a dinner show at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa in Kaanapali.
Many resort hotels have evening activities that could include moonlight horseback rides, theme parties, star gazing with an astronomer, wine tasting, films, or Hawaiian story telling. With Mauis ideal weather and surroundings, all things good are possible.