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On your trip from Kahului airport to Molokai's North Shore, you will encounter whales, majestic sea cliffs, rugged coastlines, 1,500 foot waterfalls, rain forests, sail boats, and smooth North- Easterly trade winds.

Kahului Airport: This busy Class-C airport is the home of Maui Aviators, LLC.  Kahului Airport is famous for its gusty trade winds that blow through the valley created by 10,000 foot mount Haleakala to the East and the 6,000 foot West Maui Mountains to the West.  You will be sharing the field with numerous tour helicopters, inter-island commuters and jets, heavy jets such as mainland-bound 777s, 767s, and A330s, and numerous business jets.  Prior to departure, pick up your ATIS on 128.6, call for clearance on 120.6, after switch to Maui Ground 121.9 to taxi and then you will be handed of  to Tower 118.7  

Kahului Airport looking west.  Runway 5-23 (5000') is in the foreground.  Runway 2-20 (7000') intersects Runway 5.  The beach in the right foreground is the world-famous Kanaha beach park.

Kahului Airport looking west.  Runway 5-23 (5000') is in the foreground.  Runway 2-20 (7000') intersects Runway 5.  The beach in the right is the world-famous Kanaha beach park.


1) Waihee.  Your clearance (Maui Clearance 120.6) to depart to the North West will probably be to remain two miles offshore, and maintain 1000 ft.  (Remember that in Hawaii our West-bound altitudes are 1,000, 2,000 and 3,000 feet when we are flying below 3,500 ft.  East-bound altitudes are 500, 1,500, and 2,500).  Dial in 310 on the Kahului Vortac (115.1) and add about 10-15 degrees of cross-wind correction for the strong North-Easterly trade winds.  Once airborne, look at the ocean to determine the direction and strength of the wind.  The frequency of the white caps gives you an indication of the strength of the wind, which usually blows perpendicular to the directio of the swells.  Be sure to notice the dramatic limestone sea cliffs of Waihee ("Why-hay") and the sand dunes of Wailuku ("Why-lou-coo").  Keep your eyes open for tour helicopters coming in and out of the valleys here

2) Kahakuloa ("Kaw-haw-kou-low-ah").  This prominent rock jutting out from the cliffs and protecting a small sheltered bay lies just inside class-c airspace and is a reporting point marked on the charts.  Abeam or just past Kahakuloa Maui Approach should tell you to squawk VFR.  When they do, set your transponder to 1200 and switch to the Maui ITAF (Island Traffic Advisory) 120.65  for your local reports along the North West coast of Maui.

3) Nakalele ("knock-ah-lay-lay")Point.  This is the Northernmost tip of the Island of Maui and where you can find the Nakalele Blow Hole. During the winter months when the north swells are rolling in you will see the Blow Hole shooting ocean water serveral feet into the air just like a geyser

4) Kahana ("Kaw-haw-nah") and Kapalua ("Kah-paw-lou-ah").  Looking South West as you traverse the Pailolo Channel you will see Kapalua bay, with its two North facing sandy beaches and the Ritz Carlton Hotel, and Honolua bay marine preserve, a favorite among surfers in the Winter.  You shoud contact Kapalua Unicom (122.7) to let them know of your intentions and ask them for traffic advisories.  However, you will not enter their airspace and can also monitor Maui ITAF120.65 for other aircraft in the area who might not be talking to Kapalua.

5) Elephant Rock.  The Hawaiian name for this little island is "Mokuhooniki".  That is why we aviators call it Elephant Rock.  Make your first report to Molokai North Shore Traffic here on Molokai ITAF 121.95.  It should sound something like: "Molokai North Shore Traffic, Cessna five Sierra Papa is Elephant Rock, Westbound at 1,000 ft., Molokai North Shore Traffic.")


See the Elephant?

Elephant Rock Molokai

6) Cape Halawa ("Haw-law-vah").  Your next reporting point is the scenic Halawa Valley which marks the end of the road on Molokai's Eastern shore.  Note the waterfall in the back of the valley.  Keep a sharp lookout for helicopters and cross-country traffic coming from Honolulu and monitor Molokai ITAF 121.95

Cape Halawa Molokai

7) Wailau ("why-lah-ow" - 'ow' as in ouch)Valley.  This is a deep valley with 2,000 foot walls that harbors a small community of campers on the Eastern side of its beach.  Hawaiians once lived here by the thousands, farming taro and fishing the abundant waters of Molokai's North Shore.  The sea cliffs here are the highest in the world, plunging over 2,000 feet into the azure depths below.  After a good rainfall the coastline is striped with waterfalls and presents one of the most beautiful scenes on Earth.

Wailau Valley Molokai

8) Kalaupapa Peninsula.  This historic peninsula jutting out from the cliffs is a world unto itself.  The settlement here was established in the late 1800's as a hospital for the treatment of Hansen's disease (Leprosy) patients.  You will see Father Damien's historic church and several historic buildings, including a grand old light house as you over-fly the peninsula.  Monitor Kalaupapa Airport CTAF 122.9 closely for traffic in and out of Kalaupapa field, a small airstrip on the peninsula's North shore, adjacent to the light house, which boasts some of the most severe winds in the state.

Kalaupapa Peninsula Molokai
Kalaupapa Peninsula Molokai
Kalaupapa Peninsula Molokai

Be sure to fly 1000 2000 or 3000 when westbound and 1500 2500 or 3500 when at or below 3500 for you cruising altitude in Hawaii

9) Transition to Molokai Field.  After transitioning across Kalaupapa, you should pick up the MKK ATIS (128.2) and contact the Molokai Tower (125.7) to let them know you are in bound from Kalaupapa.  The field here is up at 454 feet, and pattern altitude is 1,300.  You should get higher, though (about 2,000 ft.) to get over the cliffs.  Crossing the cliffs you can expect some turbulence, so tighten up your seat-belts!  If you don't want to land at Molokai, you must still call the tower, as you will be transiting through their airspace to the South.

10) Molokai Airport is a good place to stop and stretch your legs, but be wary of the gusty trades and up-sloping terrain on either side of the field.

Molokai Airport

11) Kaunakakai ("Cow-nah-kah-kai").  After departing Molokai Airspace, you will cross the South Molokai shoreline.  Note the rings of stone projecting out from the shoreline.  These are ancient Hawaiian fish ponds.  Kaunakakai is recognizable as the population center of Molokai and by its harbor.  From here fly South across the channel to the shipwrecks.  Be sure to note the strong Easterly cross-winds and adjust your heading accordingly.  When clear of Molokai Class Delta airspace make a position report on Molokai ITAF 121.95.

Kaunakakai Molokai

12)  The Shipwrecks.  These ships have been wrecked on Lanai's reefs since World War II.  They are old tankers that are gradually returning to the elements.  You will see several other small hulls and debris that has washed up over the years on Lanai's North shore.  The big shipwreck lies just offshore of Lanai on the MKK (116.1) 120 degree radial.  The small shipwreck is on the MKK 135 degree radial. Make your position reports for the Island of Lanai on 122.9

Big Shipwreck Lanai
Little Shipwreck Lanai

13) Club Lanai.  As you proceed around Lanai's eastern tip you will pass the abandoned Club Lanai, a small destination resort that many years ago used to brings tourists over from Maui to play in Lanai's clear waters.  You may also see whales (in the Winter) and sailboats playing offshore of Lahaina.


Club Lanai

14) Manele Bay.  Lanai was once covered in pineapple fields, however, with the demise of the pineapple industry tourism is now its primary economic engine.  There are two five-star resorts on the island, one at Manele bay, and one up at Lanai City (Koele Lodge).  They both have beautiful golf courses and provide a romantic (and quiet) get away.  Movie stars and billionaires choose Lanai as a quiet, secluded place to be married and get away from it all.  Further down the coast from Lanai you will see Lanai's dramatic sea cliffs and sapphire blue waters.  Turn around here and head back to Lahaina, or land at Lanai airport to stretch your legs.  As you transition from Lanai to Lahaina, you should contact Kapalua Unicom on 122.7 and let them know you will be transitioning to Lahaina from Manele Bay, and then proceeding East to McGregor Point.

15) Lahaina ("Lah-hi-nah") and Kaanapali ("Kah-ah-nah-paw-lee").  Lahaina has hosted international visitors for over 200 years.  In the days of the tall ships, whale ships filled the waters offshore and whalers spent their leave time on shore carousing with the natives.  In modern times you will be sure to notice the frolicking tourists dangling from Parasails being towed behind speed boats.  Be sure to adjust your altitude accordingly so that you do not take home any non-paying and unwitting passengers.  Just North of Lahaina is the world-class resort destination, Kaanapali Beach.  You will recognize this 1/2 mile long beach by the golf course that is immediately on shore, and the black lava cliff jutting out from its North end.  In the Winter their are too many whales to count in the near offshore waters.


Lahaina Maui
Lahaina Maui

16) Oluwalu ("Oh-lou-wall-lou") and Coral Gardens.  The dry valleys and sandy beaches of Oluwalu present a rusty, dusty contrast to the green and verdant valley and North Shore of Maui.  The tour boats like to congregate offshore of Oluwalu for lunch, and to allow their passengers to frolic over the reefs of Coral Gardens. By Olowalu you shoud make your position reports on Maui ITAF 120.65


Olowalu Valley Maui
Oluwalu Reef

17) McGregor Point("Mack-greg-ohr poh-eent").    As you pass Oluwalu, get your Kahului ATIS (128.6) and contact Maui Approach (119.5) for permission to land at Kahului Airport or to transition to Molokini and Makena and then land at Kahului Airport.  This area is frequented by whales in the Winter time.  This is a g ood opportunity for pilots to practice their turns around a Whale.  Be sure to stay at least 1,000 ft. MSL, to comply with federal regulations as Humpback Whales are an endanbered species.  Looking North from here you can see the 6,000 ft. West Maui Mountains and the 10,000 ft. mount Haleakala.  The elevation of the isthmus in between is approximately 100 ft. or less in the center.  The trade winds blowing from the North East accelerate through this valley and create ideal conditions for wind-surfing.  They also create a great deal of turbulence on the South-West parts of the island.  McGregor point is famous for its turbulence, so we advise our pilots to stay well offshore (at least 2-3 miles).  You should see the wind shear line on the water and be able to judge the intensity of the turbulence.  If it is too severe you should return to Lahaina and proceed North East bound to return to the field.  (See Circle Maui guide for info.)


McGregor Point Maui

18 Kihei ("Key-hay") and the isthmus.  Continuing North from Makena you will pass Wailea resort with its numerous golf-courses and five star resorts.  North of Kihei is the isthmus between the West Maui Mountains and Mount Haleakala commonly called "the Valley."  On the Southern shore of the isthmus is the Kealia nature preserve which is comprised of two large ponds adjacent to Sugar Beach just North of Kihei.  To return to the airport from here you could track in-bound on the Kahului Vortac, 115.1, or follow the highway to the Puunene Sugar Mill.  The highway is clearly recognizable as a dark band of trees proceeding Northward through the sugar fields.  Be sure to note the remnants of the World War II military bases scattered among the fields here.  For your final approach, line up over the Sugar Mill at 800', just to the East (right) of the smoke stacks and you will be on the glide slope.  In fact, there is an official approach procedure called the "Smoke Stack Visual Runway 2" that uses this mill.


North Kihei Coastline Maui

19)   Makena  The prominent hill next to the half-mile long Makena beach cradles a small nudist beach along its Western shoreline.  This is a reporting point for entering Kahului Class-C airspace. Just off shore of Makena Hill is Molokini Island which is Maui's premiere snorkeling and diving spot. If you want to make a few circles and take pictures just advise Maui Approach and they should approve it.

Makena Beach Maui


Just offshore of Makena is the world-famous snorkel and dive destination, Molokini Crater.  This tiny crescent island is over-run with hundreds of cavorting snorkelers every day.  It is much more comfortably viewed from the air.


Molokin Island Maui

Makena cinder cone.  The small beach in the foreground is popluar among nudists.  (A good place to practice eights-on-pylons?)



20) La Pereuse Bay and the Lava Flows. The South-Western slope of Haleakala is the site of the last volcanic eruption on Maui, approximately 200 years ago. The valley winds meet the channel winds off La Pereuse bay, so expect some turbulence here. The crystal-clear waters of the La Pereuse bay marine reserve are a favorite snorkel and dive destination, and it is not unusual to spot dolphins and turtles here. As you come around this point, Kahului radar should lose you on their radar, so set your transponder to 1,200 after they say "good bye" and tune your radio to CTAF on 122.9.

La Perouse Bay Maui

21) Mount Haleakala ("Hah-lay-ah-kah-law"). Rising from sea level to 10,025 feet in just four horizontal miles, the Southern slopes of this Mountain present a dramatic and colorful landscape. Looking up from Kaupo, you can just see into Haleakala crater, where the astronauts once trained. Follow the coastline here and note the Hawaiian Ruins, the ancient "King's highway". Be wary of the turbulence. It's not unusual to have 30 to 40 knot winds along this shore, as the channel between Maui and the island of Hawaii is bordered by a 10,000 foot mountain on the North, and a 14,000 foot mountain on the South.

22) Kaupo ("Cow-poh") settlement. Once a substantial population center, Kaupo is now one of the most remote areas in the state. There are several old churches to be seen along the coastline, some over 150 years old. Other evidence of the once abundant population can be seen in the stone formations that mark the ancient villages and home sites all along this dry coastline. Also note how the Eastern slopes of Mount Haleakala block the progression of the clouds, robbing the air of its moisture and making Kaupo a virtual desert.

23) Ohe'o ("Oh-hay-oh") Gulch. Commonly and erroneously known as "Seven Sacred Pools", Kipahulu stream, with its numerous water falls and swimming holes contains dozens of pools, none of which were ever sacred. You will see travelers worn-out from the half-day long drive resting their weary bones beside the waters of this Federal park which also hosts a drive-up camp site.


Pools Of Oheo Maui or Seven Sacred Pools

24) Hamoa ("Ha-mow-ah") Beach. Nestled behind the ancient cinder cone called Makaalae by the Hawaiians is the tiny surfing beach of Hamoa. Nearby you will see the old church where Charles Lindbergh is buried. Look up the slopes and you'll probably catch a glimpse of the several water falls that cascade down Haleakala's Eastern slopes.

25) Hana ("Hah-nah") Bay. Proceeding south from Hana Airport you will see the sleepy little town of Hana on the slopes overlooking tranquil Hana bay. It takes about 2-3 hours to get to Hana by car from Kahului. You have made it in 20 minutes. In Hana you will see the Hotel Hana Maui, Hana Ranch, and several historical and ancient Hawaiian sites.


Heavenly Hana Maui

26) Hana airport. Hana airport is an uncontrolled airport that services isolated Hana town.  Many tour helicopters stop in Hana for lunch, or to drop off and pick up guests, so keep your eyes and ears open. Also, there is a powered hang glider based out of Hana conducting introductory lessons. He does have a radio on board, but can make some surprising unannounced appearances. Usually the winds favor runway 8, but be sure to over-fly the field at about 1,500' to observe the winds on the ground, and to make sure there are no cows, wild boars, or lawn mowers on the field. Pattern altitude is 800' and runway 8 uses left traffic.

Hana Airport Maui

Hana airport's luxurious ground facilities include a drinking fountain, soda machine, and restrooms. No fuel is available.



27) "Harrison's" and "the Heiau". The next prominent landmark used by the local aviators for a reporting point is the late Beatle George Harrison's house. It looks like a cliff-top golf course and is a good place to begin your descent into Hana ("hah-nah"), which is clearly visible by now. Just past Harrison's you will see a large black stone platform that stands out from the surrounding rain forest. This is a sacred ancient Hawaiian Heiau ("Hey-Ow!") and is a good line-up for your downwind when in left traffic for Hana's runway 8.

George Harrison's House

28) Keanae ("K.N.I.") Peninsula.

 Jutting out from the coastline the prominent Keanae Peninsula is easily spotted. You will see the taro paddies here that have been harvested since pre-contact times. Also note the various water-falls, some of which "fall up" due to the strong trade winds. On a clear day you can see right up into Haleakala crater, where the Apollo astronauts trained for the moon missions.

Keanae Peninsula Maui

29) Huelo ("hoo-ay-low"), Jurassic Rock, Hole-in-the-Rock, .

Flying along the coast you will pass several homes, some of which are perched right on the edge of the sea cliffs. Several famous personalities inhabit Maui's North Shore, including Sammy Hagar, The Late George Harrison, Jim Neighbors, and Kris Kristoftsen. Where the houses end and the rain forest begins demarks the end of Huelo. Down on the coastline, you will pass Jurassic Rock, which you may recognize from the movie of the same name followed by the curious rock formation known as "Hole-in-the-Rock". Thereafter you will pass beautiful Honomanu bay, followed by Keanae peninsula. It is not uncommon to see dolphins in Honomanu bay, but lookout for the overhead power lines and the steeply rising terrain if you venture too far in-shore.


30) Haiku ("Hi-koo") and Opana ("Oh-pah-nah") Point. After Hookipa, the landscape becomes increasing rural. The geometric patterns in the pineapple fields will immediately catch your eye. Scattered among the hills and valleys, you will see numerous homes and several small farms and ranches. Offshore you may see shoals of fish, turtles, dolphins, and whales, all of which can be spotted in Maui's clear-blue near shore waters. The Eastern extremity of the pineapple fields marks Opana point, which is just inside the North-Eastern limit of Kahului Class-C airspace. Prior to Opana Point you should pick up your Kahului ATIS on 128.6 and contact Maui Approach on 120.20

31) On your way back to Kahului Airport, you will pass Paia town, a gentrified sugar plantation town that was once the population center of Maui. Paia is home to numerous restaurants and shops, and hosts visitors from all over the world who come to windsurf at nearby beaches and enjoy Paia's bohemian life style. Before Paia you will see world famous Hookipa beach park, home of international wind-surfing competitions.


Hookipa Beach Park Maui

The airport will be in sight from Paia. Happy Landings!