Thought I'd share some observations and tips from our first few days here in Maui.
Car rental. Tried thrifty for the first time. Booked through autoslash.com and got a crown Vic for $175 for 8 days, plus taxes.
Flights. Upgraded to business class on flight from San Fran to Maui, worth every penny for that space. Didn't bother paying for the upgrade on the leg from Chicago to San Fran.
Restaurants. For some reason our old standbys are just ok this year. I thought our meal at Aloha Mixed Plate was dry and tasted like warmed up leftovers. Stella's in kiehei overpriced and slow service. Cheeseburger in lahaina had a downright grumpy bartender upstairs and the waitstaff seemed to be infighting near the bar. It wasn't it's usual "happy, fun" place.
The good news is that the new places we tried really stood out.
Cafe O'Lei had one of the best meals. It is very unassuming as its in the upstairs area in the Rainbow Mall. A bit heavy on the sauce on the Ahi but delicious and great waitstaff.
Mama's Fish House is outstanding. Probably the best Onaga I've had. Save room or share the dessert called The Black Pearl and get your cameras out to take a picture of it. It's rich though. Ask for an outside covered table. We initially got seated next to a large table and it was loud but they graciously moved us to a much quieter table for the 3 of us. This is a great restaurant to take people to "show off" Maui. Very tropical feel to it.
Beaches. Maybe due to websites like this, but the once secret places are no more. Mile marker 14 is packed and the snorkeling is good, little to no waves makes it less intimidating. Wish they had a porta potty nearby though.
Ulua is where I could hear the whale songs under the water. Spectacular. Huge construction going on nearby on the Andaz resort. Won't be done til spring 2013. Parking at this beach is bad, have to walk a ways.
Big beach was enjoyable. From every beach,you can see the whales. Didn't hear them after the first day though.
The beach walk in wailea is nice but it's a narrow walk and you are always dodging joggers. Can't be fun for them either.
Sights. If you get a chance take that drive way past kahana and kaanapali, you will see some great photo ops. We usually stop just before the very narrow road because someone has to back up if you keep going!
Swap meet: always enjoy getting a bunch of proteas and Hawaiian flowers for $5 to enjoy the whole time at the condo. A similar bouquet at home would easily run $150.
Didn't do my homework and we were in lahaina when a cruise ship was in port. Way busy. Check the schedule if you want to avoid that.
Tourists. A note about tourists. If you don't live here, you're one, as am I. They can make or break whatever condo or hotel you choose. They can be loud and obnoxious ignoring others around them, or they can be polite. So even though you spend a lot of time researching the perfect place to stay, it won't do much if the people next door crank their tv up or talk outside your door at 6:30 every morning. Point is, you could have a wonderful place but it's only as good as those renting around you.
Paia: while waiting for a parking spot a car drove around us and took the one we were waiting for! Then we were enjoying our lunch at Paia Fish market and they have those long picnic type tables you typically share. A lady and her husband sat at our table and she proceeded to bring up politics to us and totally trash our viewpoint. We couldn't get away from her or paia fast enough this year!
So could we all try to be better tourists?!