Photo: Arien Sherman
Gone surfing, I’ll be back in time for the wedding. I slid the note under the door to my mom’s hotel room. Instead of sticking around to get ready with mom and the girls, I decided to go for a quick surf. My brother’s wedding ceremony was set for 11:30AM, at Kapalua Beach about 20 minutes north of Lahaina. I still had time. The waves were small and not great, but it was better than having to smell nail polish and perfume for two hours. When I came back, later than I had planned, mom was stressing. Luckily, I managed to get ready quickly.
The ancient, deep call of the conch shell summoned the bride to be. Dressed in a simple strapless wedding gown, with an empire waist to hide her belly, Lauren looked the part. My younger brother stood there sweating and squinting in the noonday sun, his white shirt a stark contrast to the blue-green backdrop of ocean and mountains. Brett had originally wanted to get married on top of a mountain or a volcano, but he didn’t seem to mind this coastal setting. In a few minutes the shortest and most beautiful wedding, I had ever seen, was over.
A special dinner celebration was planned for later in the evening. In the meantime, we had to find non-beach related activities so that Laurens hair – loosely pulled back and tied with white gardenias – would not be disturbed. Most of us elected to go for burgers and shakes at the Cool Cat Cafe on Front Street. The newlyweds were still in their wedding costumes, and yet it seemed to fit with the 1950’s décor. The thick vanilla milkshakes were cool and soothing, exactly what we needed to stave off the hunger until the burgers arrived.
Photo: Desiree Bilon
After our leisurely lunch we rallied up our troops and drove over to the Maui Ocean Center. What a strange way to spend a wedding day, first the diner and now the aquarium. We arrived a bit late and had to hurry, the story of our life. Before entering the open ocean tunnel, we did manage to squeeze in a computerized quiz game in the Marine Mammal Discovery Center and learned that only half of the spinner dolphin’s brain shuts down at a time during a rest period. Tranquility fell upon us from above and on both sides. Sharks, manta rays and an array of fish weaved in and out of one another as if performing a ritual dance.
As we climbed up the stairs and returned to the surface, broad daylight blinded us. We donned our sunglasses and sought out the tide pool for a chance at some hands-on interaction with harmless sea creatures. I held only one, a black sea cucumber that was smooth and cool on my hands. Some of the crew were more adventurous, namely Brett, exchanging one sea creature after another.
An evening of celebration at Merriman’s Kapalua, overlooking the ocean, marked the end of an unforgettable day. As night crept upon us, the air cooled down. It was October and a fine time for a shotgun wedding.
Photo: Arien Sherman
When to go?
Anytime! Average temperatures range from 75-85 F (24-29 C). April to November is summertime and warmer and drier than winter from December to March.
How to get there?
Fly into Kahului Airport (OGG), Maui’s main airport. Many airlines offer direct flights. You can also fly into Honolulu International Airport (HNL) on Oahu and then to Maui on a short, 30-minute flight. Ferry service runs daily to and from the nearby islands of Lanai and Molokai.
Shuttle, tour bus, taxi, and public transportation are available. Consider renting a car to experience more of Maui.
Things to do and see
45 minutes from the airport, Lahaina was historically a whaling port and in the early 19th century the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom. It is now a colorful but relaxing town with art, entertainment, restaurants and shopping. Don’t miss the banyan tree in the park.
Iao Valley State Park
For easy hiking and sightseeing, head to Iao Valley located in central Maui, just west of Wailuku. Famous for the iconic 1200 foot Iao Needle (green pinacle rock). Park gates open from 7am to 7pm. $1 for walk-ins, $5 for cars. For a better view, go early when there are fewer clouds.
Maui Ocean Center
Open 365 days of the year from 9:00AM-5:00PM and in July and August until 6:00PM. Tickets $25.50 for adults and $18.50 for kids. Consider buying a weekly pass, a great value for only a few dollars more. http://www.mauioceancenter.com/
Kapalua Bay Beach
20 minutes north of Lahaina, this shallow, golden sand beach is sheltered from the waves, making it an excellent place for the kids and for snorkelling. For the best underwater view, swim up the left hand side of the beach around the rocks. Restrooms available.
D.T. Fleming Beach Park
Named America’s best beach in 2006, the mile-long crescent, white sand beach is a favorite amongst sunbathers, swimmers, and surfers. The surrounding forest offers shade. Picnic facilities and restrooms available.
Makena Beach State Park (Big Beach)
One of Maui largest beaches, this golden sand beach is less crowded than Lahaina and Kaanapali. Just south of Wailea and roughly a 50-minute drive from Lahaina. Great views of the Molokini and Kahoolawe islands. Picnic tables and restrooms are also available.
A wide variety of accommodation is available in Maui: high-end resorts, hotels, bed and breakfasts, and rentals. On the west coast resorts and hotels can be found in: Kapalua, Kaanapali, Lahaina, and on the southern coast in Kihei, Makena and Wailea.
We stayed at Lahaina Shores, right on the beach, a mid-range option with kitchenettes. http://www.lahainashores.com/
Cool Cat Café has thirteen burgers to choose from, sandwiches and salads also available. 658 Front Street #160 (Wharf Cinema Centre) Downtown Lahaina 808.667.0908 http://www.coolcatcafe.com/
Merriman’s Kapalua, a fine dining restaurant, located on the cliffs in Kapalua Resort serves Hawaiian regional cuisine, 90% of which is locally grown or caught. One Bay Club Place, Lahaina 808.669.640 http://www.merrimanshawaii.com/maui.htm#about
Wedding Photography and Planning
A Paradise Dream Wedding offers several different wedding photography and planning packages. My brother is a photographer himself and chose this service provider because of their high standard of photography. http://www.mauiwedding.net/index.php