SeanChron | Maui: From Makawao to Makena

Clifford Nae'ole, Cultural Advisor at Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua watches over the 20th Annual Celebration of the Arts Opening Ceremony

4/11/2012. Each Easter, I look forward to attending the annual Celebration of the Arts event at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua on Maui. This year was the 20th Celebration of the Arts and it was one of the best ever. This particular trip to Maui lasted eight days but the first three days were all about making the most of all the lectures and arts workshops offered over the weekend.

The Royal Hawaiian Guard begins Opening Protocol

As always, the weekend started with "Hiuwai" & "E Ala E" Ceremonies to wash away the year's worries, bring balance and harmony to ones life, and welcome the birth of a new day with the rising sun. The next event was the “Ka Wai A Kane (Awa Ceremony)” in which invited practitioners and hotel management gathered to honor 20 years of dedication to the event by drinking the bitter waters of Kane. The Ceremony was beautiful and those of us lucky enough to observe the proceedings were witness to a truly wonderful experience. The final event in the formal Protocol was the “Wehe I Ka Puka (Opening Protocol)”. The Royal Hawaiian Guard (pictured above) began the Opening Protocol, followed by families and practitioners offering chants as they entered the hotel lobby. The Opening Ceremony finished with the Namahana Award of Excellence being given to two deserving kupuna (elders) who have led lives supporting all things Hawaiian. As always, it was truly an honor to be part of these very special events.

Additional highlights from this year's Celebration was spending some time weaving with Master weaver Pohaku Kaho'ohanohano. I've had the opportunity to do a small amount of lauhala weaving with Pohaku in the past so it is always a treat to sit down and learn more techniques and tricks that he's gathered from many years of weaving. The most entertaining part of the weekend by far was spending time with Kaleialoha Roback and her family crafting Ni'ihau shell jewelry. It's great fun making the jewelry, but it's even more fun hearing them tell jokes and stories about each other.

Physicist Garrett Lisi kite surfing

Needless to say, I had a great time during the rest of my trip to Maui as well. I got to have lunch and spend some quality beach time with Maui-based physicist Garrett Lisi, hung out in cowboy town Makawao for an afternoon, and I made it to the Wailuku First Friday event where I got to have dinner at one of my favorite Maui restaurants, Cafe O' Lei. I made my first attempt at stand up paddle and had a chance to paddle with Kihei Canoe Club as well. I had met Kimokeo Kapahulehua, President of Kihei Canoe Club and renowned voyage paddler, last autumn in Seattle when he visited the club I paddle with in Seattle, Wakinikona so it was a great experience paddling with his club on Maui. We even saw some honu (sea turtles) during the paddle. I ended up having lunch at Lahaina Coolers several times, the food was fantastic and I had one of the best (and most beautiful) pizzas I've ever tasted (see below).

Island pizza at Lahaina Coolers

On the last day I made it all the way to the lava fields past Makena on south Maui. It was an incredible experience going from the lush parts of the island to the rocky lava fields. You definitely get an understanding and appreciation of the volcanic forces that created the island. One the way back, I made a stop in Makena to visit the Keawala‘i Congregational Church (pictured below), one of the most charming churches on the island...and the spot where one of my co-workers was married.

Keawala‘i Congregational Church

Last but by far not least, the last meal on Maui was spent at Mala Ocean Tavern. The food is always fantastic and the staff are amazing as well. Sitting at the bar is certainly the best way to go, the people you meet at the bar are always wonderful and getting quality time with the bartender...priceless.