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When the Maui Sun Goes Down

When the sun goes down, the beat picks up on Maui. Try a new tempo, get in sync with soul, taste new pleasures, seize the moment and hear the music of the night.

Going out to dinner demands tough choices. There are about 200 restaurants, 20 pages of them in the phone book. The first decision is what to eat; the second is where. Will it be seafood or sushi? Pasta or poi? Steak or salad? The variety is fork boggling -- or is that chopstick boggling? Maui not only offers a whole buffet of ethnic restaurants ranging from Mexican to French, but a palate of moods. Dine beside the sea with linen and silver, even swans swimming by in a lagoon, while classical music drifts gently upon the air. Or make it family-style in a mom-and-pop bargain Chinese restaurant where the tables are formica but the food is fabulous.

The food sensation that is taking critics by storm is Hawaii Regional Cuisine, and much of the movement originated on Maui. Certainly some of the finest practitioners of the new culinary art are on the island, and they're changing everyone's definition of fine dining with their laudatory taste sensations. Hawaii Regional Cuisine is a marriage of the culinary techniques of East and West, wok and whisk. The emphasis is on fresh island vegetables, fruit and seafood. The result? How about a fish caught that very afternoon served with a mango beurre blanc? Or perhaps lilikoi chiffon pie. Maybe pasta with pesto made from Maui basil? Of course, the traditional Hawaiian feast, the one famous the world over, is the lu`au. In the old days a lu`au lasted for weeks, and people danced until they fell in heaps. Today, all the fun is crammed into one fabulous evening of hip-swinging hula, fire dances and romantic sensuous movement. Usually the setting is beachside, timed for the sunset. The food at the modern lu`au will be kalua pig, poi made from the pounded root of the taro plant, haupia coconut pudding and other traditional dishes along with familiar favorites such as fried chicken, potato salad, and cake. Today's lu`au reflects today's Hawaii -- a good, mix.

Maui music is a medley of Hawaiian, contemporary, classical, rock, jazz, "Jawaiian" -- name it and you can probably move to it on Maui. Many hotels have daily music events ranging from a piano soloist to a big band, to a mellow Hawaiian group singing the sun down on a breezy terrace. There's square dancing once a week at the Kahului Community Center, the Pukalani school and Makawao Library.

There are sizzling night clubs all over Lahaina, Kaanapali, Kahului, Wailea, Kihei and Makawao. They range from the latest L.A.-style rage to cheek-to-cheek. Check the local Maui News and free tourist publications to see who is playing where.

The Maui Symphony Orchestra season runs October through May, the Maui Academy of Arts stages productions July through May and the Maui Community Theater knows no season. It just keeps going. The island draws a constant parade of imported talent doing short but big gigs.

A $28-million Maui Arts & Cultural Center adds world-class theater facilities, galleries and studio space to further support Maui's incredibly diverse and vigorous art and theater community.

Many resort hotels have a full schedule of evening activities that might include a moonlight horseback ride, theme party, star gazing with an astronomer, wine tasting, films, or Hawaiian story telling.

Maui is magic all the time, but most especially when that big Maui moon splashes its light upon the rolling surf, the air is laden with the perfume of thousands of flowers and a breeze rattles in the palm fronds. Somewhere, faintly, Hawaiian music, poignant and richly melodious, is playing. It's time to walk barefoot in the sand. The seduction is complete.


Maui Symphony Orchestra, 808/244-5439.

Maui OnStage, 68 North Market Street, Wailuku; 808/244-8680.

Maui Academy of Performing Arts, 808/244-8760.

Maui Philharmonic Society, 808/244-3771.

Kaanapali Beach Resort Association, Lisa Nuyen, Executive Director, 2530 Kekaa Dr., Kaanapali-Lahaina, Maui, HI 96761; 800/245-9229.

Kapalua Resort, Donna Nabavi, Public Relations Manager, 500 Bay Drive, Kapalua, Maui, HI 96761; 808/669-0244.

Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Pam Dobson, Director of Marketing, P.O. Box 338, Kahului, Maui, HI 96732; 808/242-ARTS.

Article Courtesy of the Maui Visitors Bureau

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