Maui

We were there for a wedding, so that was our primary focus, but we did manage to get out a bit.

Flying in

We had to fly into Honolulu first because the only flights from SF to Hawaii with lay-back seats (which I need for long flights) go through there. The hop to Maui was in a smaller plane. On these planes they apparently store big power chairs sideways (according to the guy who loaded it). This meant my chair got some minor cosmetic damage, thankfully nothing functional (broken plastic bits). Always avoid little planes wherever possible for this reason. That is where they are most likely to break your chair.

We changed planes at Honolulu Airport. There was a long distance between the terminals. On the way in, we took the shuttle to the other terminal, but with the assistance of airport personal who were able to get the shuttle with the ramp. On the way back our connection was tight and we didn’t want to change waiting for the shuttle with the ramp and we walked/rolled it. It was about a 15 minute walk and probably faster than the shuttle.

Wheelchair Van Rental

This was our third time renting from Wheelers of Hawaii and they were great as always. We arrived late so they left the van with a lockbox. On departure we were able to drop it with a person who came to pick it up. She met us right at the curb in front of our airline.

Hotel

a handicapped chair for lowering people into the pool

I will say first that I did not choose the Royal Lahaina Hotel. We were there for a wedding and the wedding was at the hotel so we stayed there because it seemed simplest. Because I need a bath and not a roll-in shower, I was limited to the suites (big price hike). I also had to clean the tub before using it a second time because it had reddish black dust in it. It turns out that’s just in the tap water and it was there after every bath. ….so maybe don’t drink unfiltered tap water in Maui. The view was lovely though and they have a chair lift for one of the two pools.

Day one: rest and recovery all day in a dark room in bed. At night we went to the Luau at the hotel. After Aulani’s Luau, this was less impressive, but it was nice, and said to be one of the best on Maui. The food was good, the drinks (open bar), less so. The performance was good, but a little drawn out between acts. Stories and legends about the Polynesian Islands.

The Maui Butterfly Farm

me holding a monarch butterfly in my hand and smiling, wearing putple

This is a little rural roadside stop. You should book your tour ahead here. It is a small place. There is a single handicapped parking spot on the right side parking lot (paved) as you pull in. Left parking lot is partially paved and bumpy. There is a roadside general store to the right, plus a sandwich and pie place and a fruit/juice stand to the left with the butterfly farm in the center. The general store is too tight to navigate much of in the chair. The only restrooms I saw for the public were portapotties (and not the big handicapped ones) so be warned.

You have to go between cars to enter the butterfly farm (and hope they leave enough space? Uneven terrain, broken asphalt. Indoor power chairs and many manuals will struggle and likely need push/lift assist in places. There are piles of wood chips, gravel, and soft dirt. I managed in my m300 permobile chair (though a couple of the doors into the butterfly tents were very tricky and I almost got stuck.

a space between cars big enough for a wheelchair to drive through with the butterfly farm sign on other side

They have chickens wandering around. Your first stop is washing hands. Then you go to at a table where they explain the species and their life cycles. They pass around caterpillars, leaves, show the pupa and newly hatched butterflies etc.

a preying mantis

After this they walk you into the tents. Tons of butterflies. They let you dip you fingers in nectar and the butterflies hang out on your hands drinking it. There is one tent with preying mantises, which they also pass around (if you want). It’s pretty and friendly and overall a nice and educational experience.

Front Street

Similar in feel to a cross between downtown Santa Fe and Pier 49 in San Francisco, or maybe Carmel crossed with Monterey, but Hawaiian. It is a string of shops in the area where Hawaii’’s capital once was. To the north of the shops is a historic building from the 1800’s, and farther north are a handful of restaurants. We ate at Frida’s (Mexican Hawaiian fusion), which was very nice in the local restaurant kind of way. Live music, ocean view, open air, good food.

Parking a wheelchair van on front street was no fun, but if you go slightly north of the shop strip, there is parking on the east side of the street with a sidewalk. The sidewalk often looks like it won’t work for a wheelchair, but it does. Where the shops are the sidewalk is on both sides, but further north it’s only on the east side. Not all shops are accessible, but most are.

Don’t miss getting cookies from the Honolulu Cookie Company. Pi Pizza was VERY good.

Boat Rides (snorkeling, whale watching, etc.)- nothing I could find was wheelchair accessible, and they make my husband sick so my husband and daughter didn’t go either.

Beaches

The Maui Ocean Center

Very nice aquarium and cultural center. About 1/3 of it is outdoors, so wear sunscreen. There were a couple inaccessible outdoor areas (viewing turtles underwater, etc.), but for the most part everything was accessible. They have a 3D show in the sphere that has amazing quality 3D wise- special tech I’ve never seen before. You just feel like you are actually underwater.

Lots of indoor aquarium things to view, cultural exhibits, etc. Also a large gift shop, cafe and restaurant. It was a nice 1/2 day trip.

Beaches

My daughters eczema was really bad and she didn’t want to do the beaches this trip because the sand gets in the open sores. I did collect information though. Kamaole Beach Park III (good for snorkeling) has a ramp for wheelchair. Kamaole Beach Park I has a beach wheelchair (so they say, did not confirm). Our hotel did not have a beach wheelchair, but they said there were rentals of beach wheelchairs and they bring them to you.

Maui Nui Botanical Gardens

This is a fairly small botanical garden on an old zoo site near the airport and we stopped in as we were leaving just to see. It focuses on traditional Hawaiian plants, especially in terms of cultural use, not just the pretty ones. There are only a handful of flooring plants, so if you are there for flowers you will be disappointed. As a quick stop before the airport though, it was fine. Street parking on the roadside was a little tricky in terms of the wheelchair, but we found a space where I could unload.

Flying Out

The wheelchair took another hit, this time on the larger plane. The thing that secures the headrest to the chair can off and got lost. Note to self- secure everything, tighten all screws before flights! I of course did a report and they should be fixing it soon. Luckily I can use the backup chair- no major longer term things coming up too soon.

Published by Mary Corey March

I am a contemporary artist living and working in San Francisco. The root of my work is exploring both the individual person and humanity through identity, relationships, diversity, and commonality. How do we define ourselves and each other? Where do we draw the lines and what happens _on_ those lines? How to we frame our experiences? How much of our humanity can come through in a data format? Through our symbolic images? Our words? Our definitions? Our bodies? These are the questions I delve into again and again. In May of 2017 I became disabled with ME/CFS. I have since continued my artwork with the help of assistants. I am in a wheelchair outside of the home.

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