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Just back from Maui. Trip Report

San Jose, California
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Just back from Maui. Trip Report

We just returned from a very enjoyable 7 night stay in Maui. Family of 4 with kids at age 6 & 8. Practically all research and preparation for the trip came from this board. Many thanks for your valuable postings.

CONDO

We stayed Hokulani #218 at the Honua Kai. The many positive reviews of the Honua Kai are right on. The place is practically new and it shows. The condo was nicely furnished with contemporary furniture and a kitchen full of quality appliances. We ate in for breakfast every day which saved us much time & money. Also having an in-unit washer & dryer was near priceless for our 7 night stay. On prior travels, we normally stay at hotels which means we have to pack enough clothes for the duration of our trip. With a washer & dryer, we could have gotten by with only 2 of each type of clothing. Now I feel for any stays more than a few days, a condo is the way to go in Maui!

Choosing a south facing unit to avoid the trade winds worked out perfectly. The afternoon winds were indeed fierce but we felt little of it on our lanai. In fact we kept the lanai doors open most of the time for fresh air.

We booked through Chase’N Rainbows and the experience was perfect. A few weeks prior to the trip I was given all the details needed for the condo and all of it worked out flawlessly. I had forgotten to reserve beach towels when I originally booked. I called them and the towels were delivered the next day. A pleasant surprise was the condo came equipped with 3 boogie boards, sand pails, 2 beach chairs!

CAR RENTAL

I know Alamo is popular here for their self checkout kiosk but I found a better rate from Avis. They offered a compact class car for $210 OTD for a week. I was expecting huge lines to get the car but there was no one there! The longest delay at Avis was turning down the agent’s attempt to sell me on a car upgrade, insurance, GPS, child seat, and fuel option! They gave us a Nissan Sentra and it was more dinged up and dirty than I’m accustomed to cars rented in the mainland. However, after a week of numerous trips to the beach and muddy roads, I learned why these cars get so dirty.

WEATHER

Temperatures were a perfect mid 80s F and down to low 70s in the evenings. It was t-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops the entire time except 45 degree up at Haleakla. Prior to the trip I checked the local weather forecasts and it called for 10-20mph winds. Some mornings were calm but it was blowing pretty strong up around Kaanapali the entire week. I'm talking about hang-on to your hats kind of wind! Calmest day was the day we were flying out!! Are these winds typical for this time of the year?

GROCERIES

I followed the advice from many here to stop by Costco & Walmart. That worked out perfectly after getting out of the airport. Just be careful not to over buy. We ended up with way more food than we could use during the week. Also Costco is doing some parking lot construction so traffic was a mess in there.

FOOOD

Duke’s

We had dinner here on the first night. After a long travel day, we just wanted to sit down somewhere and relax. Duke's was the perfect place to have a few drinks and dinner. Food and service was excellent. Having Hula Pie and watching the sun set made for a perfect evening. The kids really enjoyed their cheeseburgers too.

Aloha Mixed Plate

I heard this was a good place to try and was not disappointed. Inexpensive but good food served in a nice outdoor market-like atmosphere. For some reason I expected this was more of a local favorite but all I saw here were tourist. This is located right next door to the OLL.

Star Noodle

Only place we dined at twice. This restaurant is located in the back of a relatively new commercial warehouse zone. Once you find it, it feels you have discovered some place kind of hidden gem of a place. Drinks, food, and service were excellent. We enjoyed their specialty cocktails and kids loved their malasada & dipping sauce. This is a popular place so expect to wait for table. First night we waited 20 min. Second time we waited close to 45 min. Service was very friendly here. The bartender and my son had fun exchanging hand signals.

Fish Market

Saw mention of this place a few times on this forum. After snorkeling at Kapalua Bay we swung by to pick up some food for the condo. From the outside, the place didn't look like much. I was a bit skeptical about the place but went ahead and ordered some fish burger and fish sandwiches. Got back to the condo and found the fish burgers were amazing! The kids are not fans of fish but they devoured a half burger each. It was a perfect lunch after a day of swimming and snorkeling.

Honokowai Okazuya & Deli

This is another often mentioned place to eat in Maui. This was the place I wanted to try the most because of the glowing reviews. We came here after another morning at the beach for 3 orders of food to go. We had the teriyaki steak, chicken katsu, and BBQ chicken. Thought everyone was pretty good except the wife felt everything was a bit too greasy. The heavy meal help put us in the mood for an afternoon nap.

Kula Lodge

After a late morning visit to Haleakla, we stopped by here for lunch. I've read many times the food here is so-so and it's a tourist destination. I guess because we are tourist, we really enjoyed this place. We got there around 2pm so the place was pretty empty. Between us, we shared a burger, a pizza, and grilled cheese sandwich. We thought the food was pretty good and the view from the dining room was spectacular. Afterwards we roamed around the lodge grounds and art gallery downstairs. Kula lodge was another perfect lazy afternoon lunch.

Flatbread

After visiting Twin Falls on the way to Hana, we turned back to find lunch in Paia. Flatbread was the first recognizable restaurant in my prepared list of places to eat in Paia. Kids agreed to pizza and so it was an easy choice. Wife is into organics so she loved what the menu had to offer. The two pizzas we ordered were some of the best I've had in a while. We would definitely eat here again in the future.

Ululani's

None of us have had Hawaiian shaved ice so this was a must try. After driving by a few times looking for the place, we find Ululani on Front Street. I was expecting to wait in line for a while but there was no one there! Kids each got a small which was more than they could eat! Our favorite flavors were mango, strawberry, and pineapple. To be honest, the shaved ice isn't much different than an icee or slurpee in the states but they were sure enjoyable on a hot afternoon. Definitely a must try while in Hawaii.

LUAU

Drums of the Pacific (Hyatt)

This time will be the first for the family so I was looking forward to this. Thanks to this board, I got in on the $99 TravelZoo deal. We got to the Hyatt about an hour before the Luau was to begin. It took us a while to find out where to go because we needed to redeem our Travel Zoo certificate. After getting our tickets, we were told to stand in line along a pathway outside of the luau grounds. The 30-45 minute wait along a busy pathway standing in the sun was unpleasant. It was around 5:30pm when they began letting people in. We were given our glasses of watered down Mai Tai and kids their sugary punch. We had dinner and watched the show but the whole thing was sort of a letdown. The food wasn't that good and the atmosphere just didn't feel all that nice. The luau is held in the back of the hotel near the beach but you can't see the ocean because they built what a volcanic rock formations all around the luau. And those cheap flexible plastic patio chairs & tables didn't really contribute to a quality experience. About halfway through the show the couple sitting next to us left early and I felt like leaving too if it wasn’t for the fire knife act at the show’s finale. Luckily we only paid $99 for the luau so we didn't feel too ripped off. I'm confident to say we'll never go to this luau again no matter what deal they offer.

Grand Luau (Grand Wailea)

We had no plans to attend a 2nd luau but wanted to do something special for our last night in Maui. The plan was to have dinner at Mama's but I asked the kids what they wanted to do. They said LUAU! I figured the cost would be about the same between Mama's or another luau so a LUAU it's going to be! First we dropped by the counter at OLL but were told they are fully booked for the next 2 weeks. At that point, I was about to give up on another luau until I remembered how enjoyable my first luau was 15 years ago at the Aston Wailea hotel. Got on the computer and learned it's now called the Grand Luau in Wailea and Costco sells discounted tickets $75 each. Not cheap but better than paying full price. At Costco we get two adult tickets which also entitles a 25% discount off children tickets.

So the last night in Maui we make the drive from Kaanapali to Wailea which didn't take as long as I expected, around 35 minutes. Check-in began 1 hour before the luau started when we are assigned seats and given wrist bands. Unlike Drums of the Pacific we were free to roam the Grand Wailea grounds until dinner time! The 1 hour wait went by quick as we explored the immense and beautiful grounds of the Grand Wailea Hotel. We returned to the luau where we were greeted with shell lei, led to our table, and an open bar!! This time we are dining on a nice lawn area overlooking the ocean. Tables and chairs are what you might find at an outdoor wedding. The open bar offered blended pina coladas which were nice and strong. Virgin drinks were available for the kiddos. The wife and I are really enjoying this and the kids are having a blast running around the open area. Soon everyone was invited to gather around the imu to unearth the pig which the kids thought was the coolest & disgusting cooking method in the world! The type of food served was about the same as Drums but the food here is much better. Warm foods were actually warm and cold foods were still cold. Dinner was good and the show's host was far more engaging and entertaining as well. After the show we were free to take pictures with all the show performers which we thought was pretty nice of them to offer. Overall a great luau experience for the entire family.

SIGHTS

We didn't have much planned which worked out perfectly for us. In the 7 days we mostly spent time at the pool & the beach at Kapalua Bay. We made a late morning visit Haleakla which was socked in with fog/clouds. We made it to Twin Falls on the RTH which was enough for the kids to see the "rainforest" or "jungle" as they call it. Strolled along Front street of Lahaina a few times too after getting shaved ice.

That pretty much wraps up our 7 night in Maui. The kids have said they would like to visit Maui again next summer but stay 2 weeks instead of just 1!

Maui no ka oi!

San Diego...
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1. Re: Just back from Maui. Trip Report

Thanks for the report. I too have the same complaint about Drums of the Pacific. The long wait in the sun.

Kapaa, Hawaii
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for Maui, Hana, Oahu
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2. Re: Just back from Maui. Trip Report

Thanks for a wonderful report, bwhaler!! Appreciate it.

Camarillo...
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3. Re: Just back from Maui. Trip Report

>> To be honest, the shaved ice isn't much different than an icee or slurpee in the states but they were sure enjoyable on a hot afternoon. <<

What?! You speak heresy, sir!! Just kidding :-) Next time try it some ice cream in the bottom and Kula cream on top!

Sounds like you had a terrific trip. And thanks for the review on the Grand Luau in Wailea. I haven't seen that show reviewed in here in ages so it was nice to see what you wrote about it. "Drums" has enjoyed a nice reputation for years but I've seen more and more remarks like yours lately. Perhaps the Hyatt is getting a bit complacent about it.

Thanks again for taking the time to come back in and report on your trip.

washington
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4. Re: Just back from Maui. Trip Report

Thanks for the great report! I'm with VC on the luau reviews, much appreciated.

Alaska
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5. Re: Just back from Maui. Trip Report

"We didn't have much planned which worked out perfectly for us."

Wow....I love your vacation style! Relax and eat at all my favorite places....thanks so much for the great trip report! Sorry about the first luau.....glad the kids got to go to a better one! Deb

Brisbane
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6. Re: Just back from Maui. Trip Report

Sounds like the perfect holiday! Thanks for the trip report.

Chicagoland
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7. Re: Just back from Maui. Trip Report

Thanks for all the useful information. I know the islands have been experiencing more wind than usual -- would be worse in that particular area.

Maybe you'd like to see more of South Maui next time!

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8. Re: Just back from Maui. Trip Report

Two weeks sounds really nice, one is not enough! Sounds like a great time! :)

San Jose, California
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9. Re: Just back from Maui. Trip Report

Thanks for all the positive comments. Next summer is still far away but we already have some ideas of what to do differently if we visit Hawaii again. Oahu is an option but I can't imagine spending more than a few days on that island. Aside from the Arizona memorial and the Polynesian Cultural Center, I can't think of anything else I want to experience on that island.

Assuming we go to Maui again, we indeed might consider staying in Wailea or Kihei. I get the feeling it's less windy on the south side. As for a luau, I think OLL would be a good choice for the family. While dining at Aloha Mixed Plate, we could hear almost everything going on at the OLL located right next door. I got a sense OLL is an intimate and quality luau experience.

And one last thing. Most people talk about getting souvenirs at the ABC stores. We indeed picked up some things there but we discovered Walmart has a souvenir section with even better prices.

Indianapolis...
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10. Re: Just back from Maui. Trip Report

I love the details. :D Thanks for sharing!