Decided to write up and share a trip report of our honeymoon. Had a fabulous wedding in Palos Verdes, CA (a city near Los Angeles) on Saturday, 9/7, then headed off to San Francisco for a few days starting on 9/8, and then to Maui for 7 nights starting on 9/11. The San Francisco part of this is a bit more detailed since I had less to remember and wrote most of that part of the report on the flight to Hawaii. You can read that portion of this report over in the San Francisco forum.
A little less detail for the Maui portion as I waited until back in LA for a few days before starting to write most of it (had hoped to write each night in Maui but didn't quite work out that way), and had a longer period to go back and remember. Hope the level of detail is appropriate, and it can make for an enjoyable read and helps some other travelers & forum members.
Which reminds me, this is a good point to stop and thank everyone who patiently answered some of my questions in this forum that I posted in preparation for this trip, especially my crazy questions about what roads were where.
Day 4, Wednesday 9/11 (continued from post in SFO forum): Arriving in Maui, picking up rental car, off to the Sheraton Maui hotel, getting settled
Arrived at Maui airport (OGG) - weather was quite hot. We walked to rental car shuttle area - waited for Enterprise shuttle - which we took for a few minutes to their lot - very rural area. So far DW was not impressed with Maui, but fortunately that would soon change. Went in to rental office while DW waited, waited in line for a few minutes then big Hawaiin guy helped me - turned down all the fuel and insurance stuff, went outside, he offered me a Ford Focus but I pointed out had prepaid for a larger car class (Nissan Altima, Chevy Impala etc.) - he claimed he misread the paperwork and agreed to give me an Altima - drove car over to where DW waiting and off we went.
We had elected thanks to the good advice in this forum to stay at the Sheraton Maui. Tried iPhone navigation to Sheraton but iPhone didn't know where that was so we looked up address and entered manually. Drive of about 30 miles. The immediate vicinity of the airport had a lot of traffic lights. We seemed to hit a red light at each one and each was at least 2 minutes - sort of frustrating when waiting to get to hotel to start vacation. but eventually got on to the main highway where we drove for a stretch of around 20 miles before turning on to Kaanapali Parkway where the Sheraton was perhaps 3/4 miles later. In retrospect great scenery on this drive but were a bit too busy concentrating on the road to take it in.
Arrived at Sheraton, got car valeted. They told us to valet and go get our room since we may need to park elsewhere. Complimentary valet parking for the first night. Got ticket and went in to front desk. Worth noting that as soon as you walk into the hotel lobby, which is open-air, if you had any doubts that you're in paradise, they'll vanish immediately (https:/…IMG_0813.JPG). The lobby here, and the scenery you can see from it (mostly the hotel property but also the beach and the ocean) is just stunningly gorgeous - what a way to start things off!
Found out room not ready yet, check in time not until 3PM - it was only 12:45ish at this point. So decided to use restroom and then get lunch. DW bought a small flower hairpiece at this point in the hotel lobby. After that we went to hotel gift shop (Lamont's) and bought a few souvenirs and some sunscreen. Then we walked down from the lobby which was on the 3rd floor to the hotel's courtyard - views from the whole place amazing. Eventually made our way past the hotel's meandering pool etc. onto the sand, and started walking south as the concierge had told us. Eventually ended up at the Whaler's Village shopping center about a 5 minute walk from the hotel, but DW was wearing open-toed shoes and the sand was burning hot. Took my shoes off and experienced it long enough to understand why she didn't want to walk on the sand. We scrambled closer to the water where the sand was damp and cooler, but eventually made our way to a paved path (we later learned how to reach this path from the Sheraton without ever hitting hot sand). Arrived at Whaler's Village. Found restaurant (Leilani's on the Beach -- https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-EjtYXxWU6Rk/Uj-9aYMTLlI/AAAAAAAAKko/5TT0ZoBdxKA/w1298-h862-no/DSC_2707.jpg) ate there - had teriyaki pineapple burger - good, fresh beef, teriyaki sauce good and spicy - forgot what DW ate. Great view from the restaurant, right on the beach. Menu and decor of the restaurant reminded me a bit of the Island's restaurant chain in LA, but a lot nicer and with a view that in LA can only be dreamed about. Service a little slow to get started and seemed a bit disorganized, but food was quite good and view was excellent, plus nice decor in the place. Not sure why we never made it back here to eat again since the service issues at the end of the day were pretty minor.
Back to hotel to check in. Parking guys had told us to find room location first before self parking, since there are two lots you can self park in at the hotel and we'd want to chose based on room location. Now having the room parking guys hooked us up with bellhop who took us on the somewhat long (but not too long) walk to our room. He gave us the lay of the land, told us how to get over to the fitness center, etc., and was really helpful, so we gave him a nice tip. Worth noting that we had an ocean view room on the 4th floor of building 4 at the Sheraton. View from the room and the balcony pretty amazing (https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-Iw66_prDKbw/Uj-9z8LrUjI/AAAAAAAAKn0/PNNegUgmhGs/w1298-h862-no/DSC_2895.jpg
Ended up walking back to Whaler's Village to the ABC store which I think the bellhop had mentioned to us, bought some bottled water and other food. Also discovered Honolulu Cookie Company's store here (https:/…DSC_2271.jpg). They make nicely packaged shortbread cookies in about 16 different varieties and they had free samples of about half of them. Samples were all very good so we bought a box and started a frequent rewards card with them, which gives free cookies after you spend $50 or $100 - we were well on our way towards that "goal"!
We walked back to the hotel and our room, then headed down to the beach at about 5:30 to take pictures and in anticipation of the Sheraton's nightly cliff-dive ceremony, which I had learned about through research and the Bellhop had pointed out to us. Ceremony consists of a young local man in native dress walking around the property with a torch (https:/…DSC_1243.jpg), lighting various other torches along his way. He eventually walks across the sand, ascends black rock and then dives into the ocean off its peak (https:/…DSC_1285.jpg). A very nice thing to watch but I guess we weren't so blown away by it, as we could have watched it any of the other nights we were there but only saw a small part of it again on our last night, I think.
In any case I don't remember going out to eat this night, I think we went back to the hotel room and ate food we had bought at ABC earlier. Worth noting at this point if I haven't already that our room had a nice mini-fridge that's completely available for guest use - not one of those mini-bar fridges that's mostly filled with snacks that set off sensors that charge you if you even touch them.
In any case, this is a good time to talk about the hotel in a bit more detail. The property here is gorgeous - they say this is the first resort built in west Maui and they sure chose the best spot. Black Rock (a lava rock formation that juts out into the sea from the beach) is gorgeous, and this is the widest part of Kaanapali Beach. The grounds are great, tons of flowers, palm trees, open grass and a meandering, coral blue colored pool that passes under bridges, has a water slide or two and seems to be about 5 different pools connected together with water pathways. Views are gorgeous everywhere - of the beach, the ocean, of the islands of Lanai and Molokai off in the distance, and of the lush, green west Maui mountains. The fitness center, important to us, is well equipped with about 5 treadmills, 5 elipitical machines, 3 recumbant bikes, and several weight machines and free weights. The hotel is ever-so-slightly let down by the rooms themselves, which are slightly on the small side and a little older feeling, but still very nice. The rooms (at least the one we had, for which we were paying the ocean-view rate) were more than redeemed by their giant balconies with great views of the pool area and the beach, and the ocean, and of Lanai, and.... sigh - just wonderful. I must have taken the same basic picture of the view from the balcony over and over every morning and every evening, the view is just that spectacular.Edited: 23 September 2013, 15:44