Maalaea and the Maui Ocean Center

Windswept trees along Maalaea Bay

One of the premier destination for visitors, the Maui Ocean Center overlooks Maalaea harbor on Maui’s isthmus. It’s just off the main road connecting Kihei with Lahaina. The road parallels Maalaea Bay, a quiet place at which the waters lap at a wide, sandy beach. Prevailing winds have bent the trees into eerie shapes. An occasional hiker or jogger takes the beach trail along the water; otherwise, serenity prevails.

Maui Ocean Center coral reef

Maui Ocean Center

The Maui Ocean Center is a world class aquarium featuring exhibits of a reef and its colorful denizens, sea turtles, sharks and many other aquatic species. Children are fascinated by the creatures they see here and even their jaded parents are impressed. Plan on spending half a day checking out the exhibits. Then try one of the tasty lunch entrees at the restaurant overlooking the harbor. After lunch take a stroll through the area and visit the impressive fishermens shrine.

Maalaea harbor

Maalaea Harbor

Fishermen’s shrine (Ko’a)

The harbor is a busy place. All year long, boats leave for Molokini, famous for world class snorkeling. Whale watching is popular during the winter months. Some people live on their boats, some in the nearby apartments. There’s always a lot of activity here so this is a great place to spend some time.

Walks on Maalaea Bay

On the beach at Maalaea Bay

On the Keālia Coastal Boardwalk

Walking along the bay is fun with views of south Maui eastward and the west Maui mountains in the other direction. When my wife and grandson were in the area, we hopped onto the Keālia Coastal Boardwalk, part of the Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge. The boardwalk parallels the shore and winds through several scenic areas. It wasn’t crowded; in fact we saw only two other people while we were there. We observed some colorful bird species that we couldn’t identify. After a bit, we left the boardwalk and circled back along the shore. We had an enjoyable walk after spending the morning at the Maui Ocean Center.

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