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Sunday, June 6, 2010

*DO YOU WANT TO VISIT MAUI?









Conde Nast picked Maui as the TOP TOURIST DESTINATION in this Universe and, of course, the best of the Hawaiian islands to visit.  While Europe draws the most visitors (with France #1 and Spain #2),  with United States next, followed by China, Maui always makes the top ten list in categories like romance or even for family.  I yesterday reported on my drive up to Haleakala for the sunrise.  This was about as close as I'll ever get to a religious experience.  

Maui is third in population after Oahu and the Big Island, and has a rich history built on whaling and whaling.   If you rent a normal car, the agency will not allow you to drive around the island.  If you must do this, you need to specifically get a Jeep (or similar) vehicle from, maybe, a non-conventional company, and pay more.  Maui Nui actually includes Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe (unihabited), and all are incorporated into Maui County.  But why is Maui so popular?

Here are the obvious pluses:  a lot of sun, world class beachesvery low crime rate, everyone speaks English, a variety of eco-tourism opportunities--Hana drive, Haleakala, whale watching (only from mid-December to mid-April), Iao Needle (photo on right) Valley State Park--and much more, award winning spas, movie/wine/cuisine extravaganzas, golf tournaments and the surf (70 foot waves--click on Jaws, Christmas 2009).  Energy, room and food costs are high, but nothing compared to world tourist capitals.

Speaking of cost-effectiveness, you should understand that tourists go to the West (really, South) side (Makena to Kapalua), mainly for the beaches, hype, night life, restaurants, whales and historical relevance.  Everything is very expensive here.  On the other hand, I had a drink last night on East (North) side Maui Beach Hotel, and noticed, at most, 20 cars in a huge parking lot.  I asked the manager why?  No one stays there!  It was recently remodeled, looked fine and rooms (142 of them) cost only $100/night.  Count on paying up to three times more (yes, there are also cheapies here, though) at Kaanapali and Wailea.  However, Maui Beach Hotel has no real beach.  The East-North (Wailuku and Kahului) side is a real bargain, and, in addition, has most of the shopping areas on the island and the main airport.  It is also strategically closer to Hana and Haleakala.  It might get a bit windy  (Haleakala and Iao channel the winds through the valley, so wind energy conversion devices are beginning to make a difference), but the West-South side can become uncomfortably warm with little ventilation at times.  The economy, though, seems to be booming, with a lot of cars on the road and a new shopping area seems to pop up every time I return.

My photo yesterday driving below the Haleakala clouds showed those windmills in the background.  In the long term, some combination of the winds, sun, ocean and biomass can make this county energy self-sufficient.  The islands will be linked by undersea cable and the more readily available space on the "other" islands can be utilized for wind and solar power, perhaps even supplying Honolulu.  The next two generations will be difficult and traumatic, but Maui County, after in time transitioning into a high-end tourist destination with a couple of casinos, one at sea, might well, indeed, become one the best places to live on Planet Earth by 2100.

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Tropical Cyclone Phet made landfall at Karachi, killing seven.  The storm had weakened and Pakistan was well prepared.

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