Golden Princess glided into Lahaina Roads at dawn, careful not to disturb the wintering humpback whales in the channel between Maui, Lanai and Molokai. A few spy hops and tail slaps greeted early risers, the harbinger of greater exhibitions to follow. (Wow, did they ever.) The ship dropped anchor about a half mile from Lahaina town, the old whaling port turned tourism destination. Actually, “dropped anchor” is an anachronistic term, since cruise ships rarely do that anymore—using thrusters they more or less hover in place.
We tendered ashore and trundled about for a bit, hopping ourselves over to Kihei in South Maui, and then back to Lahaina. Avoiding the passenger crush downtown, we got out to Mark Ellman’s Mala Ocean Tavern for lunch. It’s a little place at the edge of town right on the lapping sea, and even with a couple thousand people clogging the area a mile away, there was a nice table with a sea turtle visible poking around for its lunch. Mala is one of the best spots to eat on the island, with the freshest fish and the coolest attitude. But it’s hardly cheap. A fish sandwich made with local mahimahi was $19.95, an ahi burger $18.50. Still, delicious.
Maui always manages to remind me of martinis, and it’s not the alliteration. I’ve had some of my best ones here, or at least it seemed that way. This was was shaken up during previous Maui trip at Lahaina Grill, sometimes called the best restaurant on the island (it isn’t). Dinner was okay, the dishes suffering from the too-many-ingredients syndrome. But, trust me brah, the martini you see was terrific.