Sip a little bubbly. Savor some sashimi. Groove to spicy tunes. Kiss your date at the strike of 12. And, if you're at the right island vantage point, delight in fireworks exploding into the night sky. Here are a few hot tips on where to go. Some are early in the evening, perfect for the whole family.
Gannon's: A Pacific View Restaurant in Wailea will be the place to see and be seen from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. on New Year's Eve. Plus, you'll have fabulous views of the Wailea fireworks.
Owners Joe and Bev Gannon will throw a fun bash that includes a late-night buffet, four drink tickets, party favors and dancing to music by DJ Dan.
Alice Cooper (left) will be back again this year at Mala Wailea’s annual New Year’s Eve party with his band and other surprise guests. He’s pictured here with Mike Myers at last year’s event. The tickets are going, going . . . gone at $500 a person.
Photo courtesy Shep Gordon
"We'll feature a big antipasto station for starters," says Bev. "And we'll have various pastas such as crab cannelloni and butternut squash ravioli."
Revelers may also sink their teeth into hand-carved prime rib and ham served in mini buns at the chef action station, and top it off with pick-up sweets.
"The DJ will get you dancing with top 40 tunes, and right before midnight, we'll pass out white-cheddar and fig grilled-cheese sandwiches and Kobe-beef sliders," Bev says. "It will be a blast!"
Cost is $125 per person, plus tax and tip. Call 875-8080.
The bad news is, Mala Wailea's New Year's Eve "party of the year" has just sold out as of press time - and the wait list to try and get in is a mile long. But the good news is, it benefits Maui Arts & Cultural Center and Maui Food Bank.
It's also noteworthy as it will be celebrity studded as usual. Alice Cooper headlines with his band, Tom Arnold emcees, and other rock icons and A-list movie stars will be in attendance - all paying $500 per person for the noble causes.
"I am looking forward to returning to my favorite island, Maui, and enjoying one of my favorite restaurants, Mala Wailea," says rock legend Cooper.
"I'll eat a lot of Kobe cheeseburgers and paella. New Year's Eve is always lots of fun. I never know who is showing up. Except I know this year my whole band is coming. The show will rock!"
Situated directly on Keawakapu Beach in Kihei, 5 Palms will get you up close and personal to the Wailea fireworks from any seat in the house - if you want to extend the party into 2013.
"This year, we will feature a four-course dinner with an appetizer of tenderloin poke and sushi combo plate," says Moki Chong Kee, general manager.
Entree choices are filet of beef tenderloin in wasabi-uni butter; seafood crusted catch in lobster-butter sauce; rack of lamb with miso and blue-cheese sauce; slow-roasted prime rib with horseradish cream and au jus; or vegetarian pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and parmesan cheese. Dessert is Pele's molten-chocolate lava cake.
Cost for the first seating at 5 to 6:30 p.m. is $79.95 per person. The second seating from 7 to 9:30 p.m. costs $129.99, which includes dancing to hot DJ music and a table into the new year. Add tax and tip to both seatings. Call 879-2607.
5 Palms in Lahaina will offer exactly the same oceanfront experience, sans the fireworks. Call 661-0937.
Ka'anapali Beach Hotel will entice diners with its New Year's Eve Celebration Supper from 6 to 9 p.m. with a four-course feast in Tiki Terrace. Highlights are shrimp-poke salad, seafood lawalu, koala lamb chops, seared opakapaka stuffed with crab, and more.
Then finish with decadent award-winning banana-caramel eruption or rich chocolate fudge cake. Cost is $57.95 per adult, and $36 for children (ages 6-12). Call 667-0124.
Or ring in 2013 with its The Future is In the Past Party from 8:15 p.m. to 1 a.m. with welcome cocktail, beer, wine or soft drinks, tableside magic, champagne toast, balloon drop, strolling musicians. flash-mob hula, three-course dinner and breakfast.
Kathy Collins will be emcee. Wilmont Kahaialii will spin tunes. Tickets start at $155. For more details, call 667-0128.
Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa will also do a dinner buffet from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Highlights include Keahole lobster bisque, snow-crab legs, herb-crusted beef and tropical Ambrosia. The buffet costs $85 per adult and $42 per child ages 6 to 12.
The good news is, adults 21 and older may then get into the 2012 Countdown party from 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. for free with DJ Scotty D and N8 Castro, midnight balloon drop and more. Others will be charged $25 per adult.
Call the Sheraton's reservation line on Oahu at (808) 921-4600.
Indulge in a champagne toast and play with party favors at Buzz's Wharf in Maalaea, when you order the four-course New Year's Eve menu from 5 to 10 p.m. Live music by Tarvin Makia will entertain.
Begin with soup or Asian-spiced seared ahi salad with lilikoi vinaigrette; appetizer of Buzz's famous prawns wrapped in shredded phyllo dough with tropical gastric and pineapple chutney.
For the entree, you may choose pan-seared, tri-peppered filet mignon with Maui onion mash and Grand Marnier demi glace; or herb-marinated grilled lobster tail with uni cream sauce. Dessert is honey-lilikoi mousse or unique disassembled strawberry shortcake. For reservations, call 244-5426.
For something different, ring in the New Year at sea, aboard a fun and festive Pacific Whale Foundation cruise.
You may choose from two options: The New Year's Eve Cocktail Cruise out of Maalaea Harbor (viewing the South Maui fireworks) or the New Year's Eve Dinner Cruise from Lahaina Harbor. Starting times are 10:15 or 10:45 p.m. The fun includes live music, up to three cocktails per adult, a champagne toast and food.
"Nature adds in a nearly full moon," says Anne Rillero, communication manager. "And brilliant stars will reflect upon the vast Pacific. In all, it's a unique, island-style way to ring in 2013."
Cocktail Cruise appetizers include filet mignon strips, shrimp cocktail, crudite with roasted-garlic ranch dip, taro rolls and crackers, Maui onion and spinach dip, brownies and cookies. The ticket price also includes juices, sodas and iced-filtered water. The price is $79.95 per adult.
Pacific Whale Foundation's Dinner Cruise will also feature two boats departing out of Lahaina at 10:15 and 10:45 p.m. You choose which one you want. The dinner cruises include the same drinks and music scenario as the cocktail cruises, but you may savor a four-course sit-down feast. Appetizers are baked spinach dip with freshly baked focaccia, followed by salad of island-grown greens with tangy Maui onion dressing.
Entree choices are steaks or teriyaki chicken breast grilled onboard, fresh local blue marlin or shortbill spearfish in garlic-soy cream sauce; or vegan sesame-cilantro tofu in mango sauce. Cost is $109.95. Book online at www.pacificwhale.org
100 Wines upstairs next to The Melting Pot in the Lahaina Gateway center will take you around the world with a seven-course international feast with wine pairings from 5 to 10 p.m.
Rings of fire will be good 'ol American onion rings with buffalo sauce served with Sofia Blanc de Blanc. Then you'll travel to France for mushroom-chickpea pate, the Middle East for lamb skewers, Australia for ground kangaroo, Italy for duck prosciutto pizza. You get the picture. Cost is $70 per person, plus tax and tip. Call 661-8181.
Pineapple Grill in Kapalua will present a four-course dinner with Dom Perignon Brut for $375 per couple; or Louis Roederer Cristal Brut for $425 per couple. Oysters on the half shell, Tasmanian trout and Peking duck are featured. Call 669-9000.
Last but not least, Plantation House Restaurant in Kapalua will be the place to see golf pros and celebs alike on New Year's Eve. That's because it's the PGA clubhouse for the Hyundai Golf Tournament that tees off Jan. 3, and many will already be on island to relax with family and friends.
Executive Chef Jojo Vasquez will present a special New Year's Eve tasting menu as well as regular menu starting at 5:30 p.m. Begin with onion-crusted ahi with butternut-squash custard; followed by pork belly with lentil and frisee salad; then seared kampachi with Hamakua-mushroom congee and crispy garlic and leeks; short rib with carrots and ginger with root beer syrup. Dessert is chocolate-hazelnut tart with Kona coffee ice cream with caramel. For reservations, call 669-6299.
Hau'oli Makahiki Hou, "Happy New Year," everyone!