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A week in Maui - How to choose?

Melbourne, Australia
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A week in Maui - How to choose?

Hi guys,

Really in need of some help with planning the Maui leg of our Hawaii trip this year!

We have seven nights in Maui split between Hana & West Coast (still deciding between Kaanapali, Napili and Lahaina) in September.

We would love to fit in lots of the big ticket items like RTH, sunrise at Haleakala, South Coast beaches/snorkeling/Molokini crater, Pipiwai trail, Old Lahaina Luau, eating out at Mama's Fish House, Merriman's Kapulua, Lahaina Grill etc but don't want to overload ourselves or spend too much time driving to and fro across the island as the hubby will be doing all the driving so wants a few driving free days so he can have a few drinks, relax and soak up the sun on the beach!

We will be spending the first few nights in Hana and are catching a small plane to and from Kahului airport to Hana so given that we are seeing this side of the island we'll probably end up leaving the actual RTH drive for another visit.

In terms of deciding where to base ourselves on the West Coast I know it seems a pity not to go actual beachfront (Kaanapali/Napili) but we were thinking Lahaina would work well as we could do beach during the day when the hubby is happy to drive places and then in the evenings we could easily walk down to restaurants/bars along Front Street, go to a Luau at either OLL or Feast at Lele one night and we will be there for the Friday Town Party as well.

So we would really value your local knowledge and guidance to help us make a few tough choices between the following:

- We have 2 full days in Hana (1 x beach day & 1 x day exploring Ohe'o Gulch, Bamboo fortest, Pipiwai trail) & 4 full days on West Coast so wondering if we should stay West side for beach time at Kaanapali/Napili etc for all 4 days or drive across to South Coast beaches for at least 1 x day.

- If we can only do one fancy restaurant for lunch or dinner should we make it Mama's Fish House or Merriman's at Kapulua? If we don't get to Merriman's in Maui we'll probably head to his Waimea restaurant on BI.

- Which Luau would you recommend between OLL and Feast at Lele? Quality food is probably our priority over entertainment but if there's not much difference food-wise then we'd be keen for whichever has the best show.

- Is Haleakala a must-see given that we're really not not early risers at the best of times as it looks like it we'd have to hit the road by 3:30am at the latest to make it across by 5:30am in time for a 5:45/6:00am sunrise. I think it would pretty much write us off for the day other than lazing by the beach/pool afterwards. Although we could potentially do this on our last day in Maui before we fly out from OGG to Hilo, BI at 1:40pm as we're not planning on doing much for the rest of the day other than checking into our cottage in Volcano and having a quiet night.

One other thing is I have heard parking can be tricky/costly at Kaanapali... So was wondering if anyone could tell us if it's plausible to catch the bus or a taxi from Lahaina to Kaanapali beach and roughly how much we should expect to pay?

I know, so many questions... it's getting late after a long long day at work so I really hope that all made sense?!

Any and all advice is greatly appreciated :)

Thanks so much,


Oklahoma City...
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1. Re: A week in Maui - How to choose?

Where are you traveling from? It doesn't show up on your profile. Generally, however, your first or second morning on island you are still on your hometown time zone and are waking up really early. That is when I suggest you do sunrise on Haleakala. I've never done it, but do enjoy sunset.

Lunch or dinner at Mama's is great, but I really enjoy Bev Gannon's Haliimaile General Store, too, although I don't consider either one "fancy". http://bevgannonrestaurants.com/haliimaile/

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2. Re: A week in Maui - How to choose?

What time is your flight back from Hana? Mama's is only about 20 minutes from the airport so you could have dinner there and then head to Lahaina. With your short stay I would put Haleakala in the "next time" category too or keep it as a "maybe" and decide if it feels right while you are there.

Here's the bus schedule mauicounty.gov/documents/21/060913_Web2_2013… but there is ample parking at Whaler's Village on Kaanapali and if you eat or shop you can get your parking validated.

Both luaus are great OLL is more traditional with a buffet and communal seating. FAL is more intimate with your own table and waiter...very eclectic menu and wonderful show. Which ever you choose make your reservations now.

San Diego...
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3. Re: A week in Maui - How to choose?

Looks to me like you will be in the car and on the move the entire time

Northern California
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4. Re: A week in Maui - How to choose?

Nothing is mandatory. We go to Haleakala, but never for sunrise or sunset. You've got a lot on your list for a short time. I'd say keep your list but plan to throw out half of it.

Hana is on the rainy side--that's how you get waterfalls-so you may not get a traditional beach day.

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5. Re: A week in Maui - How to choose?

If you want Merriman's, do the one on Maui. (Unless something good has happened to the one in Waimea?)

You can always *lunch* at any of these places. Lunch at Mama's is the same menu -- and you aren't driving 'home' in the dark. Feast At Lele *is* a 'big night out', maybe that's enough?

Lahaina Town is cute, but not a place I'd plan a stay around. Many of the Kaanapali hotels have shuttles in and out of Lahaina. (No need to stay 'in town', and distances are short if you're driving into town in the daytime.)

There's "West Maui" and there's "South Maui" -- both on the west side of the island. Since you are already splitting your stay with time at Travaasa Hana, I'd stick to just West Maui -- could be Kaanapali, Napili, Kapalua, even the Kahana area for less expense.

I still think you are bopping around too much. Your prior posts say you are coming from Australia and are staying Oahu, Maui and Big Island (both sides).

Kapaa, Hawaii
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6. Re: A week in Maui - How to choose?

Although not guaranteed, more than likely you will have great weather while in Hana in September. It's one of our driest months, even in a rain forest. I love that you are flying over, let us know how it went!!

If you are "foodies" then I would pick the Feast at LeLe. It's a Polynesian revue, Old Lahaina Luau is more of a traditional luau. If you are a picky eater, go to the OLL.

While on the west side if you find yourself with one day that you want to explore, do go down and check out the south Maui beaches. LaPerouse Bay is the site of the last lava flow on Maui. You won't see anything else like it on Maui. Go early, then if you still have a few hours, you could decide to go up Haleakala……or not!!

Melbourne, Australia
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7. Re: A week in Maui - How to choose?

Hi all,

Thanks for the great tips/advice!

We're going to keep most things on the itinerary but as a few people have suggested we'll just go with what we feel like doing on the day - with the exception of booking in a couple of set activities.

So here's how it looks:

Day 1: Arrive at Travaasa Hana @2pm. Check in. Pool time, spa treatments, early night.

Day 2: Early rise. Hire a Jeep from Traavasa for day trip down to Pipiwai trail, Ohe'o Gulch. Late lunch at Thai by Pranee. Chill at resort in evening.

Day 3: Yoga in morning. Explore Red Sands and Hamoa Beach for the day. Late lunch in Hana. Chill at resort in evening.

Day 4: Yoga & pool time in morning. Arrive in Kahului at 2pm. Pick up hire car and supplies at Costco. Kill some time around Paia. Dinner at Mama's Fish House at 5pm. Then drive across to West Coast & check in.

Day 5: Beach day at Kaanapali. Head across to Haleakala at about 3pm for 6pm sunset. Dinner at Haliimaile General Store.

Day 6: Beach day at Kaanapali. Feast at Lele Luau.

Day 7: Beach day at Kaanapali or South Coast (snorkeling). Lahaina for Friday night town party, drinks and dinner.

Day 8: Brunch somewhere around Paia. Flight from Kahului to Hilo at 1:40PM

If we're not feeling like it on the day we're more than happy to cut out either Haleakala and/or South Coast or switch up the days as we go.

Hubby's happy with the plans too and doesn't mind the driving time - to put it in perspective we quite happily drive 2 hours and back (4hrs total) in a day almost every weekend during Summer to get our favourite beach and used to regularly do the 8hr drive between Melbourne & Canberra on the weekends when we were working interstate.

It's getting cold over here now so keeping sunny thoughts of Hawaii in my head to get me through the winter chill!

Big thanks again for all the thoughtful responses!



Edited: 05 June 2014, 08:42
Maui, Hawaii
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8. Re: A week in Maui - How to choose?

Split up your three Kaanapali beach days, go to Napili Beach the first day because you might want to go back again, walk from Napili Beach to Honokeana Bay to snorkel, one of the best spots on Maui to see turtles, I like to go around 8:00 AM. You might also try Airport Beach (great snorkeling too) and Slaughter House beach too.

In Paia you should try the Paia Fish Market, very good and the line moves fast!!

When you go into Lahaina for the Friday night party, check and see if Willie K is playing at Kimo's, starts at 9:00 but get there about 8:30 for a seat at the bar.

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9. Re: A week in Maui - How to choose?

Not bad..............but a few comments for your consideration.

"Red Sand Beach" is clothing optional and has a rather set population of homeless living there. You may want to pass on this.

I don't quite get your Day four, sorry! You don't mention what you plan on getting at Costco, but with only a few days left here, I would skip it. If you want to buy gifts there-do it on the day you fly to Hilo. Another reason not to go to Costco this day is having your stuff in the car..........melting, perhaps??

I would pick up the rental car and do Mama's then-for a late lunch. You're going to have stuff in the car, and leaving it in a parking lot in Paia can be risky. Street parking in town is tough to get. So do a late lunch, drop back down the mountain (stop at Costco then if you must), and head to the West side. You will have a much better sunset on the West side than at Mama's.

Melbourne, Australia
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10. Re: A week in Maui - How to choose?

Thanks for the tips!

Bazza99 I will add Honokeana Bay to the list for the beach days while in West Maui and thanks for the tip about Willie K @ Kimo's - that sounds like a great way to finish up the Fri night in Lahaina!

Swmarket - I had no idea about Red Sand beach - might give that one a miss then!

In terms of Costco we were going to pick up some drinks, snacks, water etc - we'll get the fresh foods/groceries over at Foodland in Lahaina.

Thanks for the advice regarding not leaving stuff in the car around Paia - I have made arrangements for our bags to be stored somewhere safe while we kill some time in Paia before out dinner at Mama's.

Thanks again!