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Letter From Lahaina
Capt. Michael Barnes, Retired, Harbor, reports from the Caribbean.
A Quick Trip to Maui, After Nine
Contrary to popular opinion that the Hawaiian Islands are only for the newlyweds or the nearly-deads, and that trying to get an icy cold adult beverage after nine o’clock at night (if you can stay awake that long) outside one of the mega tourist hotels is just about impossible, is not true.
Sure, you can visit the Old Lahaina Luau, receive a lei and watch the dancing show while being served by very large tattooed gentlemen, and still be in bed by nine. Or the more frugal traveler can visit Captain Jack’s and overindulge in some good old-fashioned comfort food, washed down with insipidly sweet daiquiris. It has even been rumored you might catch a glimpse of somebody famous at Fleetwood’s, a very posh second-story wood-paneled bar that will quite happily take your family inheritance in exchange for food and ice-cold beverages, and still be in bed by nine. Even those of you who are electronic wizards and like to sing could visit Down the Hatch, also on Main Street, where you need your cell phone for the words to sing karaoke, making it very COVID safe and easy to be in bed by nine.
Our favorite after-nine dive bar is called the Lahaina Sports Bar and is hidden far away from all the newlyweds; aging sexagenarians, septuagenarians and occasional octogenarians; trinket shops; and themed bars and restaurants that line Lahaina’s main street. It’s a reasonably priced late-hour dive bar, filled with younger locals and friendly bar staff who pour strong drinks. Depending on the night of the week they also have live music or real karaoke, but most importantly they stay open late. The Sly Mongoose is a close second – this cool low-key bar is located behind an industrial strip mall, and the outside of the bar looks nothing like the inside, which is small. But drinks are reasonable, especially for Maui, and the bar staff is nice. At the south end of town is a beach house kind of place called Sparky’s Riptide, with a large beer list, pub food; it’s perfect for the TV sports fan.
For those of you who rented a car and have a DD (dedicated driver), continue south to the rustic paradise of Kihei village (it’s $40 with Uber each way from Lahaina), where you will find Kahale’s, the oldest dive bar on the island. It features live bands and boasts the longest happy hour on the island. We had quite a few ice-cold adult beverages here while surrounded by some heavily tattooed young and not-so-young ladies and their motorcycle-riding escorts. There is also an Irish bar close by called the Dog and Duck that was a bit touristy. We checked it out and left as they played nonstop European soccer, and the clientele was boring.
Last but not least is Dollies Pub and Café. This little gem is tucked away on the west side of Lahaina amongst the vacation condos and hotels in a strip mall. There’s no ocean or sunset view, but there’s a great and friendly staff who serve a mean a colorful frozen cocktail called Lava Flow that emulates the look of a real-life volcano, and a selection of comfort food that won’t cost an arm and a leg. Your wallet will be thankful you stopped by.
It’s always nice to be on vacation, but it’s also nice to meet local people without being a loud rude inconsiderate tourist.
Remember the days when certain herbal products were considered illegal and frowned upon by society? You can kind of relive that moment with a visit to a local Polynesian Kava bar called Haleakala, here they serve traditional tropical-inspired kava from all over the Pacific Islands in half coconut shells. But beware — after one or two sips of this locally brewed indigenous drink, with its subtle dry muddy taste, you might have a different perspective on life for a while!
Travel safely and travel often.
— Capt. Michael Barnes.
P.S.: Sorry, I forgot the cruise ship crowd. For after-nine activities, just catch an Uber and ask the driver where he or she goes when everybody else goes to bed.