Thursday, June 2, 2016

Hawaii: Maui

After 6 nights on Oahu we flew to Maui for 7 nights.  We spent one of those days doing the Road to Hana, one of our favorite vacation things ever.  Time (ever so timely) to talk about the rest of our time on Maui!

Where We Stayed:
We stayed in Maalaea which is pretty centrally located - in the middle of the southern coast.  It's not a very touristy area though and while we were ocean front, it wasn't in a swimable area.  We mainly did this to save money... $100/night for oceanfront in Hawaii is pretty hard to pass up.  It was perfectly fine, our condo was nice and the views were fantastic:

BUT I'm not sure I'd stay in the same area again or recommend it.  It was nice be more central so we could get to the other major tourist areas easily but it was also a pain to have to drive anytime we wanted to swim in the ocean.  Or eat.  Or do almost any tourist thing.  When our niece was considering Maui for her honeymoon we told her to stay somewhere else. 

The exact VRBO we rented isn't online anymore but we stayed in the Milowai (apparently prices have gone up in the last 9 years).  

The first thing we did, post landing and checking into the condo, was drive to a Wal-Mart for a few groceries AND to pick up my reserved copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which had just come out that day.  I had pre-ordered a copy for my sister back home and she called me at 5:30am Hawaii time (11:30am to her) to tell me it had arrived.  But I had to go to a Barnes & Noble or Boarders in Hawaii for mine.  Such a sacrifice.  It was very, very exciting. (Please excuse the Xavier shirt, fellow UD grads, it was a gift from my sister.)    Although we didn't start reading it for a few days because I wasn't ready for it all to be over.

Beautiful sunset over the West Maui Mountains driving back from our Wal-Mart/Harry Potter run.

Where we ate: Peggy Sue's in Kihei.  1950's themed restaurant diner with a good burger (Matt ate A LOT of burgers over our two weeks.).
Would we recommend: Yes, if you are in the area, nothing to go out of your way for. 

We started our next morning, a Sunday, with Mass at Saint Theresa's where we sang some in Hawaiian (or tried to sing, for us) and there hula dancers for a song (reminded me of the liturgical dancers UD would have for big masses...) I would recommend if you are in the area and need or want to go to Mass.  It was an nice experience besides also fulfilling the Sunday obligation.

What we did: drove part of the Western coast of Maui, stopping at beaches or wherever.  

Would we recommend: We would end up driving the entire coast later in the week and this was just a teaser/checking out the island.  It was gorgeous.  Good if you want to explore and not just sit on the beach!

What we did: Walk around Lahaina

The largest banyan tree in the US. 

I really enjoyed Lahaina, it was one of my favorite part of Maui (besides the Road to Hana).  It was so quaint and cute.  We would stop here again later in the week (on my birthday) and I really enjoyed all the time we spent here.  If/when we get to go back, I'd consider staying within walking distance of the town because I really like being in walkable areas on vacation - not having to drive to eat or shop.  We also found some ABC Stores which weren't as plentiful on Maui and we kinda missed! (It had been a whole day since our last stop.)

Would we recommend: Yes!  Doesn't need to be a whole day but a few hours would suffice for most people, especially if you are the shopping type.

Where we ate: Plantation Inn in Lahaina.  It may have gotten an upgrade since we went since I don't remember it being that fancy.  We did get to eat outside, right on the water which was pretty fantastic.  I'd love to stay here on our next trip but pretty sure it would be out of our price range.

What we did: Swam/laid out at Slaughterhouse and DT Fleming Beaches
I am mainly mentioning this because Slaughterhouse is just a horrible name for a beach.  It doesn't sound like the kind of place you would want to go.  The latter had better facilities and the waves weren't as crazy.  And the name doesn't sound like you are going to die.

What we did: Maui Ocean Center

This was the only thing we could walk to from our condo (other than the beach mentioned below) and of course we did it.  We saw a lot of fish while snorkeling but never anything more exciting than that (no turtles, much to Matt's disappointment).  This way we could see some more animals, safe and behind glass, how I tend to like them (although the small fish we saw snorkeling didn't bother me).  There were enough exhibits to keep us busy for a few hours and we got to do our first under water tunnel thing (when the fish can swim over your head).  We had multiple stingrays swim right over us which was pretty cool, and, again, my preferred way to see them.

Would we recommend: Wasn't a bad stop but not sure it's worth the current $28 price tag (we didn't pay nearly that much, I believe).  But if you are desperate to see some sea life and not have to worry about them touching you (like me), it's worth a little time. 

This was the beach closest to our condo, about a 7 minute walk.   We walked down for sunset; it was gorgeous.

What we did: Snorkeling at the Kam II Beach Park
This was my birthday and it's hard to beat snorkeling in Maui while turning another year older!  It wasn't as easy for me as Sharks Cove on Oahu (I recall telling Matt I felt like I was snorkeling in a washing machine, as much as we were getting banged around in parts) but it was a lot easier getting in and out of and we saw a decent amount of fish.

Would we recommend: maybe our best snorkeling on Maui.  It was a nice place.  You just might get a little banged up.

Where we ate: Lelani's on the Beach

This one might go back to Island Dreamer for the reasons why we went here...but the food was also fantastic.  I honestly couldn't tell you what we had for lunch but we were eating practically on the beach.  In Maui.  So it would have to be pretty bad to be a bad experience.  We did have the Hula Pie for dessert which I would absolutely recommend.  We shared a piece and I still felt like I should only eat veggies for the next week to make up for all the sugar.  It was fantastic but glad calories don't count on a birthday. =)

Would we recommend: luaus aside, one of our most memorable meals in Hawaii

What we did: Shopped in Lahaina
I wanted to souvenir shop on my birthday!  So we did that.

What we did: Drums of the Pacific Luau

I really wanted to do a luau for my birthday and this was one of the higher rated ones I found.  We drove up to a nice resort in our not so nice Jeep Wrangler (although a definite step up from our Geo Tracker on Oahu).  It was definitely a nicer place than our condo.

This luau had drinks included (mostly mai tais but I'll take what I can get) and was a little showier/flashier than the PCC luau on Oahu but still, pretty great food and the show was great.  Leis weren't as good (I specifically wore white so the plumeria lei would stand out...then we just got shell leis, which are hanging around our bedroom mirror with the dried plumeria ones).  I still want to learn how to twirl fire.

Would we recommend: I feel like a luau on Hawaii is a must.  This was a good one.

Since we had "free" drinks (and we definitely take advantage of free drinks), we walked the beach for awhile afterwards before driving back.  We found this swinging bridge over one of the resort pools and found it hilarious.  We may have gone back and forth over it multiple times. 

What we did: Sunrise on top of Haleakala 

What we could see when arriving at 5am

We got up at 2:50am, after an "free drinks" luau to finally see the sunrise (this was our 2nd or 3rd attempt at getting up so early).  We left the condo at 3:20am, got to the top about 5am.  It was a long, cold drive.  You typically don't need to pack many layers for Hawaii so we didn't have much.  I also was wrapped in a beach towel.  It was cold but absolutely, positively worth it.  We were early enough, about 45 minutes before we saw a peek of the sun, that we got a good spot and then waited in the cold for the show.  And it was spectacular.  There were clouds and the way the sun played off of them was just amazing.  It was a beautiful 20ish minutes and then we drove back.

This is a Silversword and they are very rare. 

The drive back down was pretty too, although I did fall asleep at some point (sorry, Matt).

Would we recommend: YES!  Maybe our second favorite thing on Maui, after the Road to Hana.  It's worth the long drive and crazy early hour.

What we did: Iao Needle State Park

When I took the picture below I remarked that it looked like what I remember the Smoky Mountains looking like.  Then we visited there six years later and I thought "Yep.  Looks like Hawaii."  In this one little part. 

Would we recommend: It was a fine stop but wouldn't be at the top of our lists.  I really wanted to see the Iao Needle.  Not entirely sure why.  But it was fine.

What we did: drive the entire western coast of Maui, all around the top and back down the middle of the island.

This drive was recommended in the Maui Revealed book (get yourself that book if you are going to Hawaii, there are different ones for the different islands).  The book gave us many places to stop, some more off the beaten path places and it was a fun day of driving and stopping.

This was a blowhole where the waves pushed up through a hole in the ground.  It is a dangerous thing to get too close to because the waves could pull you back under and there is basically no way to save yourself then.  When we were there we saw many school-aged kids playing waaaay too close to the hole for our comfort.  It was cool to see but we didn't stick around for long because we both felt like we were going to see a kid get sucked down the hole.  But that aside, it was cool.

This was farther north than most of the resorts and was pretty deserted.  We saw very few people once we hit a certain point.  The views were fantastic and the air was SO FRESH after spending days blowing over the Pacific. 

These were the Olivine Pools (the guidebook mentioned in this description is the same one I've mentioned.)  It was really pretty and must have been before they got too popular/well known because we only saw a few other people there.  The hike down to them from the road was pretty difficult, a lot of climbing over sharp rocks, but the pools were really cool to see.  They were crystal clear.  We estimated (without getting in) that they were around 20 feet deep and we could see the bottom perfectly.

This is was the hike down.

We finished driving the coast, around the north-west coast of Maui to get back to a town.  It was very deserted up there and I think we were on dirt roads for awhile.  Not at all what you typically think of when you think of Maui.

Would we recommend: There were some cool and gorgeous sites along the way (our niece still has my Maui book so we may have stopped at more, I can't remember).  If you are looking to see some things off the beaten path, away from crowds.  Definitely fewer people than the Road to Hana!

What we did: Snorkel at Black Rock
I don't have any pictures of it since we didn't take a camera but we spent our final afternoon on Maui snorkeling at the famous Black Rock at Ka'anapali Beach.  The beach was gorgeous (Ka'anapali is the beach most used by Hawaiian royalty, back when there was Hawaiian royalty.  I can see why.).  The water got deep pretty quick and we saw a lot of fish.  It was also really good snorkeling, but with being deeper it was harder to get to than the Kam II Beach we snorkeled at earlier in the week.  But we would recommend.

What we did: fly home =(

We had a short flight back to Oahu and then a lovely 8-10 hour layover there due to a canceled flight.  It was not the ideal way to spend our last hours in Hawaii but we also had too much luggage to try and leave the airport and drag it all around.  So we stayed and took turns reading Harry Potter.  We had started reading it together, taking turns with chapters ou tloud but then Matt fell asleep early one night and I just kept going. 

That's Matt reading an actual book.  It needs documented every time it happens.

I obviously would not recommend the long layover.  We left our Maui condo about 9am on Saturday morning and finally got home, home, to our house in Indiana about 7pm on Sunday.  It was a very long trip home.  We had a wonderful Hawaiian adventure but were also VERY glad to be home.  Nothing like ~32 hours of traveling to take you out of vacation mode. 

What we would recommend:
1) The Road to Hana, definitely
2) Sunrise at Haleakala
3) Snorkeling somewhere
4) A Luau
5) Visiting Lahaina (I'm not sure Matt would recommend that one but this is my blog opinion wins)

Someday we hope to go back.  Hawaii, both islands we visited, is probably at the very top of all the places I've ever been in my life.  Way to peak at 24 and vacation #2...

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