I'm rather tired from traveling literally all day to get back to Chicago (2 layovers) but I'm home and wanted to write my review of our trip while still fresh in my mind.
My boyfriend and I were in Maui from 08/31 - 09/07. We loved it to say the least!!!! If we could figure out how to make decent money there - we'd be there already! (still working on those ideas).
I'm just going to give my opinion on the things we did but I think people should, if curious, try out everything and decide for themselves. . ..
We got to Maui with no flight snags and found the airport small and easy to navigate. We had a car rental through Thrifty and that was the only time we really had to wait around a lot. I would say it took us 45 - 60 to get the car and get out of there. We then drove to Kihei and checked into the Maui Coast Hotel. I LOVED this hotel. I thought the rooms were great as they were recently upgraded and the bed was the most comfortable bed I've ever slept on. My bed that I paid a lot for here still can't compare! Laundry on sight was also REALLY helpful and the location of Kihei I found to be great since the days we were staying there we were also doing the Road to Hana and then enjoying south shore Maui. I would HIGHLY recommend the hotel. We ate at Jawz Tacos that night and I found the fish tacos to be just OK. Nothing special. We were exhausted but we went to a few beaches to check them out (Ulua, Mokapu and Wailea). Went to sleep.
We had planned to do Haleakala sunrise on our second day there but, although we woke up early (every day), we were too tired to do the drive. So, that day was beach day! This was only my second time snorkeling and originally I went out w/o fins or a life vest (also not a great swimmer). Things were going well on Ulua beach until a wave came and I met my first sea urchin up close and personal! Yes, I had those lovely stingers stuck all over my thigh!! So, while my boyfriend pulled them out, I decided I didn't dig snorkeling :) I soaked in some vinegar (great by the way) back at the hotel. Then I decided since this was a focal point of our trip, that I would go to snorkel bob's and get some fins and a life vest. They REALLY hooked us up there (including not charging me for fins and fixing the masks we had brought from home). Back to the beach and this time I stayed CLEAR AWAY of rock! After checking out the beaches for the day, we decided to shower and get some food. One of the better dinners we had on the trip came from Cafe O'Lei right there in Kihei. I had the asian style short ribs and boyfriend had Prime Rib. Total about $68.00 for both of us and we were very pleased.
Day 3 - Road to Hana. Ok, so here's the deal. Maybe I'm the ONLY one out there but I was a little disappointed in the trip. First of all I think being a passenger and being nervous just ruined it for me. It wasn't that BAD but I am a paranoid passenger even here in Chicago. However, the dramamine I took made me REALLY sleepy for some reason so I had my boyfriend drive. He didn't think it was that bad but I was telling him to SLOW DOWN constantly!!! I thought the views were pretty but honestly, I liked the views driving West Maui just as much! It was cool to see the Black Sand Beach and stop for some fruit, etc. along the way but I think we both agreed one time was enough for us! They were doing tons of construction on the road and that was kind of annoying as we did sit quite a bit. The banana bread I got was just OK - I think I make better. I don't believe it was made fresh. We stopped just before Hana for the bread at Hana Farms. We DID however love their Banana Butter which oddly enough, we couldn't find after that. On the way back we stopped in Paia at Paia Fish Market which was good! I had the fried Mahi Mahi and we got Fish Tacos which were good (not amazing) as well. Later that night we had probably the worst meal on Maui which was from Da Kitchen. Just gross. Way too salty, weird texture on the Korean Chicken and as we took it to eat at the beach for sunset - we threw it out there. We did try Poi which was pretty bland. Not great not awful. At least we did that much! Oh, and then we stopped at The Shops at Wailea for ice cream at Lapperts and souveniers at ABC.
We had breakfast at Kihei Cafe, which I forgot to mention, was one of our favorite "spots" during the whole trip. We got up really early every day and there was nothing like sitting outside there, with hardly anyone out, and eating a good breakfast served to you by REALLY great and helpful people. We ate there every day while in Kihei. After breakfast we again snorkeled and I did some quick laundry (beach towels get gross FAST) before checking out and driving up to Kaanapali. We actually stopped at a Star grocery store and bought some portuguese sausage which we LOVED. We ended up freezing it and carrying it back with us in a cooler and I think it handled well. Anyway, we got some stuff at the grocery store and then along the way to Kaanapali, stopped at the shops at Ma'alea Harbor (spelling could be off - too tired to check). I got two tins of Hula Cookies for friends, coworkers. Oh, and their ice cream sandwiches are GREAT! We headed up towards West Maui to check into the Sheraton. The drive was very pretty! And now, having driven there I can say its VERY easy to navigate. You can't really go wrong as there are only a couple of "main" roads. The room at the Sheraton was ready by about 1 or maybe even sooner. I was SUPER pleased to see that we got an AWESOME room. I did not end up faxing the reservations manager but had called previously and spoke to a manager and she put in a request for building six for me. We got a king bed in room 6304. I'll post pictures soon - I'm not sure you could have a better view! We took some pictures and then did a tour of the property. Yes, we did get turned around but after the first day it was easy. Although yes it was a pain taking 2 elevators to get anywhere - we got over it. We loved it! I didn't find the bed to be as good as Maui Coast Hotel but all in all, after booking with Expedia, I don't think they give you less of a room by booking with a third party. Check in was easy - 5 mins max. After that we decided to do a little tour of Lahaina. We had mai tais at Mai Tai Lounge and then did the touristy pictures on Front Street (ie: Banyon tree). I can't remember if we snorkeled that day at Black Rock or not but we had dinner at Hula Grill (Barefoot Bar) and thought it was just OK. Just nothing special really.
Day 5, Friday, At this point we were starting to get sick of the restaurant scene so I got some cereal, milk and fruit at Safeway and we had our own lighter breakfast. We then snorkeled and saw some turtles, rays, and lots of cool fish. We then showered, changed and drove up to Kapalua to the Ritz Carlton for massages. Ah, that was amazing. We had massages in the outdoor garden hales and the sound of the wind and ocean was super relaxing. But it cost a pretty penny. Two lomi lomi massages came to $384! I found that to be high, but that also included the 20% tip they added in. After that we drove back to Lahaina for our favorite meal on Maui - Ma'la Ocean Tavern. Amazing! My boyfriend had a kobe beef cheeseburger and I had a balinese stir fry with 3 kinds of fish, brown rice, ginger and veggies. It was amazing. We missed the cliff diving ceremony AGAIN at the Sheraton...
Day 6, Saturday, we woke up at drove to Kahului for our Blue Hawaiian Helicopter tour. As a warning, I've determined I guess I DO get motion sick! I skipped the dramamine as it made me really tired and everyone else was fine on the flight but MY GOD, I've never felt worse! We did the West Maui/Molokai tour and I don't think it was the fault of the pilot but as soon as we started going through the mountains/valleys - I got pretty ill. I feel bad for anyone who bought the in flight DVD they take as I was in the back there gagging into the white bag! It took me an hour or two to feel good afterwards. The views were awesome (when I didn't have my eyes closed trying to think of happy thoughts). I wish now I had spent that $500 on more of the spa! :( Oh well! That day for lunch we went to Kimo's. I was expecting a lot more. I had a coconut crusted fish and my bf had ribs. They were just OK. The hula pie was good though. Is it sad that the two of us almost finished that thing????? We snorkeled again at Black Rock and hung out at the pool and managed to work up an appetite. We participated in their going green program so we had dinner at the hotel. We did the Teppan Yaki restaurant. I got lobster and my boyfriend got the filet mignon and the catch of the day combo which was better than my lobster. Then I got suckered into watching some college football at the bar at the Sheraton until it was time to go to sleep... I must say there was nothing else to do at night so why not!
Last day we got up, snorkeled for a bit and then just chilled out in the room. We checked out before 12 and went back to Ma'la in Lahaina to split another kobe beef cheeseburger for lunch. Then we drove back to Kihei for the longest day of our life. Our flight wasn't until 9:10 pm so we had ALL day to kill and neither of us felt like swimming/snorkeling after having packed up everything. We returned stuff to snorkel bobs and then drove down to our favorite Ulua Beach and just hung out on a grassy patch for awhile. Then we took a drive to check out Big Beach and some others along the way.. We then went back into Kihei and bummed around some little markets. We ended up at some Ocean Tavern/Grill having a few drinks to kill time. That seemed to work well and then we had dinner at some BBQ place in Kihei. Fat Daddy's I think? It wasn't that special.. overall, we weren't THRILLED with a lot of the food we got but wanted to try a lot of places w/o breaking the bank and some were good. . others not so much. We said our goodbyes to Maui and drove to the airport. Spent the last 20 hours flying/traveling and now I wish I was there...
Basically my advise to first timers would be to try everything but be prepared for somethings to not live up to your expectations! Expect to spend at least $100 per day on food, odds and ends, etc. You can do it cheaper but its fun to try a bunch of places. Stay in more than one part of Maui as all areas are so different! STAY AWAY FROM SEA URCHINS :) ABC has great souvenirs. If you see something you like, buy it then. You might not be able to find it again. Enjoy the slow pace of Maui and try to just go with the flow!
Sorry for the long report but I did so much research on TA, I figured SOMEONE would benefit!