Maui man caves: Hunting in Hawaii for sports bars and happy hours
KIHEI, Maui -- Hawaii is as good of a golf destination as Earth can offer. But for the sports fan, the six-hour time difference from the east coast, not to mention beaches and sunshine, can push televised sports to the back page.
While in Maui this fall, I found myself in a predicament: Detroit and University of Michigan football have never been hotter, and I wanted to balance loads of golf with as many games as I could catch.
Though nervous I might not be able to catch many games, I was pleasantly surprised to see just how much Maui watering holes cater to sports fans, even if we're a few thousand miles away from the action.
Sports Page, Kihei in South Maui
In south Maui's bustling Kihei, where rows of condos and hotels line the beach, I popped into Sports Page (2411 S. Kihei Road) and found a loud happy-hour crowd on a Thursday afternoon watching the Detroit Tigers vs. New York Yankees playoff game and the Oregon Ducks on Thursday night football.
Sports Page has a one-page food menu limited to just about whatever can possibly be fried (though they do make a "Loco Moco" -- a Hawaiian specialty burger topped with egg, rice and gravy). A separate room with pool tables plus a TV hooked up to Nintendo Wii keep other patrons occupied.
There are plenty of TVs (though most seemed a little fuzzy) and Sundays feature NFL Sunday Ticket.
Lulu's in Kihei
Not crazy about the limited menu and iffy service at Sports Page, I cruised just north along the main drag to Lulu's Restaurant and Bar (1945 S. Kihei Road).
Lulu's, which has a location in Lahaina as well, is ideal for those who don't want to sit in air conditioning but would rather enjoy a festive, open-air, second-floor bar where you can catch a glimpse of the sunset.
The beer and food selection is better here than Sports Page, and there are loads of sharp TVs. I gobbled up a roasted-pork dinner with a tall pint of beer while taking in the sunset and Boise St. on a Friday football.
Mulligan's in Wailea
Wailea has a more upscale vibe compared to Kihei, but you wouldn't know it at Mulligan's, located conveniently for golfers at the Wailea Old Blue Golf Course clubhouse.
The bar area, which offers the NFL package and also promises to show rugby and soccer games, is surrounded with sharp TVs, while the dining area is a little more upscale but still has a couple TVs of its own.
Mulligan's has a happy hour menu with $3 beers and discounted food, including Ahi Tuna, buffalo wings, burgers and sandwiches. Also, on weekends, Mulligan's opens at 7 a.m., serves a $9.99 breakfast buffet and offers beer specials all day long.
After walking 14 holes at the Ka'anapali Golf Course's Fit Club, I was sore and hungry at twilight. So I was pleased to see my accommodations for two nights on West Maui, the Westin Ka'anapali, had an outdoor, poolside sports bar with satellite TV and the NFL package.
On Saturday night, I enjoyed some Maui Brewing Company draft beer and a fully loaded beef chili dog (the bar has tables and a full menu of appetizers and full meals) and caught highlights from a day of college football.
Considering it's steps from the Westin's pools, this is the spot to watch all the games with one eye and keep an eye on the little ones in the pool with the other.
Dollie's Pub & Cafe in West Maui
On West Maui, I needed a spot to catch University of Michigan football on the Big Ten Network, a channel that's not in basic-cable packages anywhere but the Midwest.
Everyone I asked on the island recommended I visit Dollie's Pub & Cafe, a little joint located in Kahana between Kapalua and Ka'anapali. It's tucked away off the main highway and looks like a tiny college-town pizza joint.
While small, Dollies boasts TVs in every direction with satellite, WiFi, delicious pizzas and calzones, not to mention some gorgeous wait staff. I wasn't the only Michigan fan who got the tip on Dollie's. In fact, there were both Tigers fans and Wolverines fans there, which made Kahana feel just a little like Ann Arbor for a couple hours.