Wherever you stay, wherever you go, transportation is always a concern. Although most visitors rent a car, which is usually a fine idea, this is not your only choice. While hitch-hiking is sort of - but not really - tolerated, there is also the wonderful island-wide bus system. Besides actually getting you someplace for nearly nothing, how often during this vacation will you actually have a local to really chat with for awhile?
PARKING & MAUI BUS, deserve a shout here.
For Lahaina, getting around downtown can be a nightmare. If you have an extra hour you may wish to take a drive down Front Street. Am I exaggerating? I hope so, but maybe not. In summary my message for Lahaina is plan ahead. If you are coming from other parts of the island, like I usually do, if it is early or late or off-season, you could try your luck right downtown on Prison and Front Streets. If this is full, or it is not during one of the times mentioned above, then plan to park in the free public parking lot at 750 Luakini St. in Lahaina. Of course, this may well be full too so make sure you know where a "plan B" parking lot is. My plan B lot is all the way through town - to get there its best to stay on the main road (No! Not Front St.! The Hwy, such as it is, may be slow but it is still the best way through town and worth driving back up prison st. to get on this downtown by-pass) until you see the Cannery and Safeway on the left (ocean-side) at Kapunakea St. Even on Halloween I find parking out here.
If you are coming from Ka'anapali and towns further west, this parking lot at the Cannery is probably your best bet too. But if you do park here it is a bit of a long stroll to get all the way to the Banyan Tree. There is a local bus making the trip downtown every hour, so if you arrive at the ideal time, you can hop on the bus in front of the Safeway and take it down to Papalaua St. which is the beginning of the shops on Front St. Or possibly you may want to stay on the bus until you arrive at the other end of the ride behind the Wharf Cinema Center (Hale and Luakini Streets) which is just a block from the Banyan Tree. Maui Bus phone number is (808) 871-4838 and the in-town bus service is "Lahaina villager route #23". The cost is $2/person.
Here is the schedule and map of the route:
The traffic/parking problem in Kihei is nowhere near as frustrating as in Lahaina. However, the good and bad is that the South Shore just goes on and on, beach after beach, hotels and houses and shops all along the way; so it can be tempting to drive all the way along the beach road (Kihei Rd.) which goes much faster than the road in Lahaina... its just a whole lot longer. Kihei also has a local bus route the "Kihei Villager #15" and, like Lahaina, it runs every hour. If you already have a car then the rewards for taking the bus in Kihei are not as attractive as it can be in Lahaina, still there are many pluses to taking public transit in Maui - for one it gives you an opportunity to literally rub elbows with the locals. So check out the Maui Bus service before finalizing your plans. Perhaps public transit will meet your needs better than renting your own car.
Driving in Kahului. While in most of Kahului driving is not an issue, this is not true of all of it. And sadly, the roads most likely to be a nightmare are those very roads visitors are most likely to be driving on. Again my advise is plan ahead, I like google maps as they have great route advice.
Parking here and most other places in Maui is seldom a big issue. Paia however, offers both frustrating traffic and not enough parking! Paia is still worth it though for a long list of reasons, and it is not like the county planners have not tried as there is parking at all corners of the triangular shaped town. I suggest trying to park at Paia Bay, or try the parking lot right after that on the mauka or right side of the road, just before town. If this one is full too, then don't worry, just keep on through town to the Community Center on the other side. It is a little farther from here then from the first place, but not that far really. If your plans are to go up Baldwin to one of the many inns up that way, take the cut-off road across the street from Paia Bay, and where this connects with Baldwin there is a nice parking lot there.
One of the many great things about Paia is that once you do get into town and out of your car you will find that most everything is a short walk from anywhere else in town.
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