Visitors who sign up for Ekahi Tours’ Kahakuloa Valley Rustic
Cultural Tours might simply be looking for someone to drive them
around the curving, coastal road encircling west Maui. Considering
its many hairpin, one-way turns, that could be a wise choice in
order to enjoy the spectacular beauty. But the experience of this
tour goes beyond simple sightseeing.
The full-day outing intimately introduces the half-dozen or so
participants to the natural surroundings that distinguish the
Hawaiian islands; the prominent families who have left their mark
on Maui; and the ohana, or extended families, of the Kahakuloa
Valley who live in accordance with the ancient Hawaiian values and
“There are values you have to experience,” said Ray Hutaff,
president of Ekahi Tours, to understand “what the culture was and
The tour started with a 7 a.m. pickup at the Wailea Resort hotel
in south Maui and continued north along pineapple fields and below
towering bluffs, where we were told further resort development was
We then pulled off the road to take in two gorgeous beaches,
Moluleia Bay, often called Slaughterhouse Beach because it was a
former slaughterhouse site for the once plentiful monk seals, and
Honolua Bay, a marine reserve offering snorkeling.
From then on our guide, Lynn Pohaku Hue, continued to astound
with her extraordinary knowledge of the environment and the people
Down the Road
The road twisted along the coastline and cliffsides for the next
30 miles, and we stopped to see the ocean waves shoot through the
lava break at the Nakalele Blowhole. We leaned against a
crystallized volcanic boulder and thumped it with a rock to hear
its hollow ring, created by a gaseous formation.
Drawing from her mother’s medicinal expertise, Hue spoke about
how the red dirt along the roadside was used, not only to dye
T-shirts for tourists, but for its iron content. She talked about
the noni plant that had healed a serious shoulder injury she
suffered and pointed out the tree leaves used to cure children’s
As a hunter herself, Hue spoke about the boar, deer, elk,
pheasant and quail that had been introduced to the islands, as well
as the ranching cattle, sheep and horses.
The heart of the tour began when we reached Kahakuloa Valley,
turned onto a private road and drove across several streams back
into the valley.
Eighty-one people live in the valley, Hue said, as she pointed
out each family’s home.
Ways of Life
When our group entered the lands of one of the families, we
walked over a swinging bridge to see the ancient terraces lined
with stone walls, where taro had been cultivated for more than
1,000 years. Unfortunately, because the water is being extracted
for other uses in many places, a way of life was almost lost.
“Water is the source of life. To let water flow freely is to let
life flow freely,” Hue explained. “The way of Hawaiians was always
a simple way. The way of life is striving to be continued.”
For residents, there is a need to be continuously
self-sufficient, even in modern times, and maintain a family
“The family unit is the main foundation,” Hue said.
Hue informed us that families in Hawaii are rooted in several
different cultures. Large tracts of land are owned by prominent
Portuguese families, including the Nobrigas, who secured the
exclusive Coca-Cola distributorship for Maui, and the Mendes
family, who operate a horseback-riding ranch on their 3,000
We stopped for lunch at the Kaukini Gallery, which represents
more than 100 local artists, and had been started on the grounds of
Eddie and Harriet Chang’s cattle ranch by their granddaughter.
Finally, we visited the picturesque oceanfront Turnbull Studios
& Sculpture Garden that functions as a working art colony.
It was a lot to absorb by our 3 p.m. return, but the main
message was clear: There’s a spirit to Hawaii’s many people, and
efforts are under way to preserve their legacy.
“This is our culture,” said Hue. “It should be seen.”
Kahakuloa Valley Rustic Cultural Tours
$80 adults; $75 seniors ages 60 and older; $60 children up to age
Commission: 20 percent
Additional tours to Hana and to Haleakala Volcano are available,
as well as private and group charters.