By Morgan Y. Lapp
Maui is a tropical paradise that thrives on the tourism industry. From whale watching to ziplining, there are many exciting attractions and activities available to visitors and residents alike.
But once the sun goes down, the options become more limited. There are a number of clubs and bars open in the evenings with live music, entertainment and dancing—but you have to be 21 or over to enter. If you’re under 21 on Maui, you’ll find a shortage of fun and safe entertainment options during the evening hours.
Maui youth are used to most businesses being closed by 7 p.m., but this isn’t the same for everyone. UH Maui College student Vanessa Gonzalez has a different point of view. Gonzalez moved to Maui in December of 2015 from New York City, where she says things are much different. “Most businesses close after midnight, so you can go shopping whenever you want, there’s a lot of coffee shops where teens can go and eat with their friends, if you go to the city there are lots of galleries and art exhibitions, and there’s lots of educational things to do after school,” she said. “In New York, things may be far… but it’s so easy to get to them,” she said.
Unlike New York, Maui’s public transportation system is not as reliable. Here the Maui Bus is the main form of public transportation. It has a very strict schedule and if one wants to go far it could take a very long time with all of the stops the bus has to make. This limits where teenagers who can’t drive can go. There are more things for young people to do in the more tourist-populated areas of the island, but all of these places can be difficult to get to if youth live centrally.
The average business on Maui closes around 7 p.m., leaving limited options for residents and minors to seek entertainment. In the past, there have been more events and gathering places for minors, such as monthly youth dances and an under 21 club, both of which were either free of cost or good for teenagers on a budget. They were safe, drug- and alcohol-free places for teenagers to meet and socialize. But these events no longer take place, which has only added to the issue of youth boredom.
There are some businesses that are trying to give the community more options of entertainment, like coffee shops and the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. The college has even started offering more events for students to attend like movie nights and holiday celebrations. One business that has recently started offering many different family friendly events is the Maui Coffee Attic.
The Maui Coffee Attic is owned and operated by John Henry, who has lived on Maui for 35 years. Henry and his wife have worked very hard to create a wonderful business that is a safe place for people to meet. They offer different actives on a weekly basis, such as magic shows, live music, video game nights and other family-friendly activities. “We try to offer all of our events family-friendly, no alcohol, no profanity,” Henry said. “That’s one of our goals here, to have a safe place to come to.”
Although Henry strives to operate a family-friendly business and offer different events to the public, he doesn’t necessarily believe that the youth here are lacking things to do. It’s his opinion that there is a problem with kids just going home and watching television, but if the youth get involved with church groups, extracurricular activities or find jobs, then they should be able to stay safe and busy. “It is difficult for youth to get jobs and that’s because of the way that the state makes it difficult for small businesses to stay in business, which would normally hire youth,” he said. “Because of that, the youth are not able to work and are bored… and I think if they could work, they’d prefer to work at night.”
Isabel Bayron is the vice president of the UH Maui College Student Activities Club (SAC). SAC is a club on the UH Maui College campus that organizes events and activities for students to participate in. During this past school year, SAC held many events, including a glow-in-the-dark dance, “Third Thursday” movie nights, the “Splash Blash” water party and several comedy shows. All of the events were free for students.
Bayron is 19 years old and feels that there is not enough for young people to do on Maui. “If there are events on Maui, they’re either not advertised or nonexistent,” she said. “There are plenty of things people over 21 can do, because they can drink and go to restaurants or bars in Lahaina, but for people under 21, it’s limited.”
Because Bayron participates in SAC and tries to get students to participate in SAC activities, she sees how hard it has become to actually get youth to attend. She believes that due to the lack of things to do, minors get in a cycle of going to school and then heading straight home, creating laziness for when minors are offered an activity at school.
Due to the lack of options available to them, Bayron thinks that young people are resorting to illegal activities. “I definitely see that minors are so bored out of their minds that they end up resorting to marijuana or alcohol,” she said. “There are not enough events that minors can go to… the only thing they could do is to get a part-time job to be kept busy and be socially active.”
Maui youth are faced with the struggle of boredom every day and there are not many activities for then to participate in. In the future, there will hopefully be changes for the under 21 crowd.
“I would love to see a range of advertised events, such as dancing, DJs, comedy shows, and music festivals,” Bayron said, “so that there are so many events on Maui occurring in one year that one person would not know what event they should attend first.”