The spirit of aloha

By Susan Haynes
October 14, 2002
Maui map

Setting: Maui is second-largest of the six settled Hawaiianislands, and its county boundary embraces two neighboring islands,Lanai and Molokai. Maui itself covers 728 square miles, displayingvolcanic mountains, cascading waterfalls, verdant valleys, tropicalrain forests, pastures and ranches, consistently top-rankedbeaches, pristine bays, and otherworldly lava rock. Only six mainroads, mostly two-lane, cross and encircle the island.

Attractions: People are drawn to the aloha spirit, ethnicdiversity, and a live-and-let-live attitude that tolerateswide-ranging lifestyles. The art scene is vibrant, and the islandboasts Seabury Hall, one of the top college-prep schools in theUnited States. Entrepreneurialism is encouraged.

Drawbacks: Conflict among development, environmental, andindigenous Hawaiian interests affects housing options, localpolitics, and, sometimes, friendships. Maui's few roads meantraffic tie-ups are common. With the decline of once-thriving sugarand pineapple industries, job-changers will find little outside ofservice work that supports tourism. Starry-eyed vacationers oftenmove here without enough research; 79 percent leave within 16months, according to the chamber of commerce.

Housing Options: Five regions dominate, with contrastingclimates and ways of life: West Maui, South Maui, Central Maui,Upcountry, and East Maui. Newcomers may want to rent in two orthree locations to check out the best fit.

Your Next-door Neighbors: In the traditional Hawaiian way,three generations of family may occupy a single house. Living sideby side may be a retired heart surgeon from the mainland, a delishop owner, a travel guide, a waiter, and a windsurfing-equipmentheir. Many artists, designers, writers, and, increasingly,technology wizards work from their homes.

What It Costs: There's a "paradise tax" when enjoying lifethousands of miles from industrial manufacturing. According to thechamber of commerce, it takes 30 percent more income on Maui toduplicate a mainland lifestyle. A two-bedroom Kihei Village condomight run $124,900, while a six-bedroom Lahaina beachfront cantally $4.5million. In between, $200,000 can buy a Makawaofixer-upper.

Where You'd Spend Free Time: Kitesurfing; snorkeling in LaPerouse Bay; hiking on magnificent trails winding through theisland, especially in Haleakala Crater and the Iao Valley; mountainbiking or horseback riding through lava tubes.

(published 2002)