Hidden Paradise

Maui Hawaiian Village is tucked away on a private parcel of land in a lush valley between Waiehu and Kahakuloa in the West Maui mountains.

It’s Maui’s newest Hawaiian adventure, and it just opened its gates on a regular basis July 15. But don’t think you can just jump in your car and drive to this idyllic, yet culturally sensitive place.

Reservations are required. You will then get instructions to meet at a convenient parking lot in Kahului, where you’ll be transported by bus to the spectacular 25 acres of paradise in Waihee. (There is no onsite parking.) The experience commences with the blowing of the conch shell at 9 and 10 a.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

“The Maui Hawaiian Village is a living and thriving place to experience just how Hawaiians sustained themselves for hundreds of years,” says owner Joshua Chavez, who is now developing of the scenic 10 acres into a nonprofit resource center with his partners, while keeping 15 acres a for-profit cultural adventure.

“The village is set along the fresh flowing waters of a stream at the top of an ahupua’a restoration,” he continues about the old way of Hawaiian land division from mountain to ocean with rock wall dividers that predate any written Western contracts.

“Ancient rock walls and waterways have been restored to replant lo’i kalo, or ‘taro patches.’ Hawaiian hale, or ‘houses,’ have been built in the traditional ways with thatched roofs and lashings.”

During the past two years, invasive jungle trees such as strawberry guava have been getting replaced with native or endemic Hawaiian koa, ohia, kamani, alahe’e, lama, loulu “palm,” hala, and niu “coconut.”

Hawaiian plantings, such as ‘uala, “sweet potato”; mai’a, “banana”; ko, “sugarcane”; and ‘awa, “medicinal bush” are now producing abundantly.

Right now, you get tastes of papaya, lilikoi and cooked taro; and more fruit trees will be added to the burgeoning business in coming months. Partake in hands-on activities demonstrating food, clothing, shelter and values of the Hawaiian culture.

“As you arrive, the alaka’i, or ‘guide,’ will escort you to each of the exhibits, where a cultural practitioner will take the lead in each activity,” says Chavez. “At the Hale Kuke ‘cooking house,’ see, touch and feel how to prepare and cook mea’ai, ‘food.’ An imu, or “underground oven,” is layered with materials used for cooking such as fire, stones, banana and ti leaf. The art of poi making is handled by the men in the village.”

Groups are welcome. For more details, call 244-2221 or visit the website at www.mauihawaiianvillage.com.