Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hawaii Review Part 2: Maui

I'm finally back to do the review for our Maui portion of the trip. Some information will be duplicated to make sure that those only looking for Maui info will still find it here. We decided to stay 11 nights total, 5 in Kauai and 6 in Maui. I would not call this a "budget trip" by any means, but it is entirely possible to go to Hawaii with an average budget. There were places we decided to spend the extra money and places we decided to save, but feel free to ask any detail questions. I'm happy to answer anything and have not left anything out on purpose. Lastly, before I get into the details, the Maui Revealed and Kauai Guidebooks (the small blue books) are a lifesaver! There is also a Big Island version as well. They are worth every penny...even though we borrowed ours from family :)


We purchased round trip tickets through Delta using Carl's frequent flier miles. We had to pay a few small fees for ticketing and to move a few of my miles over, but otherwise those were free. This was a huge savings as tickets for us would have cost anywhere from about $700-$1000 a person. The flight landed in Kauai and departed out of Maui which saved us a little bit since we only had to buy one way inter-island flights as opposed to round trip.

{rental car}
I forgot to touch on this in the Kauai review. We rented from Avis as that is what Carl uses for work. We get decent upgrades, so it is an easy choice for us. On Kauai we just took the standard upgrade with no extra charge. On Maui, though, we spent a little more and they upgraded us to the Mustang Convertible. Definitely worth the cost. The Road to Hana alone made the cost worth it. Make sure to book your car in advance as they can book up...and then you could be out of luck! I wouldn't say you absolutely need a car on the island, but it was definitely a nice option for us and we absolutely would have had to rent one for a couple days at least.

Oh the dreaded hotel debate. We knew we wanted to stay part of the trip in a condo (Kauai) and part in a hotel (Maui). The debate came in at the cost. I gave Carl three options. 1.We could stay a a nice, recommended hotel for a very reasonable cost. 2. We could stay at a really nice resort, but in a room with a standard view- garden or possibly partial ocean for a bit more. 3. We could go all out, stay at the nice resort, with a spectacular view, and pay for it. At the end of the day, we went with 3. We had already saved on the tickets and went a bit budget in Kauai by renting the condo, so here is where we splurged. It was worth every.single.penny. Waking up to this is like nothing else in this world (at least for me).

Readers, meet the Sheraton at Black Rock. Located right on Ka'anapali Beach, it has it all. Location, view, and sights. We were greeted with 2 free drink coupons since our room wasn't ready yet, even though we were hours early. Once we got to our room, which by the way was butted right up to Black Rock, we were in paradise. It was so private and beautiful. We honestly could not have asked for more. We were the 4th up, 2nd in from the left.

The grounds of the Sheraton are pristine. Unfortunately, they were renovating one of the pools while we were there, but it didn't spoil our trip one bit. The beach is footsteps away and it's hard to beat a view of the beach, ocean, Lanai (island in the distance), and nature all while sitting next to the pool drinking a Blushing Lilikoi and taking a dip in the the freshwater pool when that gosh darn sun was a little too warm. Talk about having problems ;)

Included in our package was the daily breakfast buffet for two. AMAZING. Fresh fruit, omelet station, breakfast burrito fixings, cheese, breakfast entrees and more were available every day. If we had to pay for it separately, we probably wouldn't have done it, but I'm really happy it was part of our package as it was very convenient and a great way to start our day.

Each night, a ritual is performed where a diver jumps off Black Rock at sunset. Definitely memorable, and a great opportunity to get some photos! (See the diver?)

If you followed those rocks to the right, you'd be right on our balcony :)
Talk about a sunset pic!

I'll talk more about the food and drinks on premises in the restaurant section.

As for groceries in Maui, we didn't do much. We were in a hotel, so it was sort of a non-issue. We did, however, save a few bucks by walking to the ABC Store in Whalers and buying beer and drinks. It was nice to have a drink before walking to dinner or when we got back, and it is quite a cost savings!

{island locations}
Like I said in the Kauai review, that island was a bit different than I expected. As we were driving down the coast in Maui I had a perma-grin on my face. Carl looked over and said "THIS is what you were expecting, isn't it?" I said "Yup" making sure to not lose my smile. Maui, folks, is EXACTLY what I wanted for our vacation. It's quiet while still having bigger city amenities. It has charm and beauty while still feeling pampered. Don't get me wrong, I love Kauai! But Maui...oh Maui holds a special place in my heart. I could live in Maui. Seriously. The island consists, kind of, of two areas. The larger part of the island and then the west side of the island. The airport is right in the middle of the two sections. We stayed on the west coast. Another hot spot for tourists to stay is the south area, although I can't say anything about it because it was the one area we didn't visit. The entire island is quite easy to drive around...except for the northeast area after the Road to Hana...I'll talk about that later.

There isn't much to say. If you have a complaint about Maui weather, you must complain about everything ;) No really, the weather is awesome. We might have seen a handful of rain drops but they passed quickly. It was always warm to hot with a perfect breeze. I rarely even needed something warmer than my sun dress in the evening. Enough said :)

Sights of Maui. Well. I may not be the expert on this. Here is why. Kauai- as you saw in the review, was very on the go for us. We were constantly going to do SOMETHING. So when it came to Maui, we did a few sight things in the beginning, but by the last 3 days I told Carl "I want to sit in this poolside chair until it's time to go." He was cool with that. We had been so busy moving, we had barely relaxed and just enjoyed doing nothing. We did do the Road to Hana, that will get it's own section. We also spent a good portion of our time in the town of Lahaina. You have to go there! It is an adorable town with great shops and restaurants. We spent hours down there. Be sure to hit up the Tiki Jade shop and the Maui Vintage Clothing store. Both awesome spots with great owners! It is also the home to the huge Banyan Tree. Another must see! Whalers Village is a smaller area with shops and restaurants, definitely worth a visit.

Banyan Tree:

Like I said, Maui was much more low key for us. We did a Luau at the Feast at Lele and we were going to do ziplining but canceled it. Like I said...low key. The Luau, though, was amazing! We both loved it. We were a touch skeptical that it would be really commercialized and more of a tourist trap, but trust me, it wasn't like that at all! Even Carl loved it, and a luau is definitely not his kind of thing. The entertainment was great, the food was delicious and the drinks were delivered steadily. With taxes and tip, I think the total was around $250 for the both of us, so that might be a little more than other places, but I thought it was worth it. get lei'd!!

{road to hana}
It's a must do. Ask anyone that has been. Imagine so many waterfalls that by the last one you barely want to get out of the car. Yep. That many waterfalls. Having a convertible was great since we could see all the views. Make sure you bring your camera (duh), sunscreen, a change of clothes, good hiking sandals and some money. It is $10 to get into the park where the Seven Sacred Pools are, and you will definitely want to do that! Not to mention, you might want to buy banana bread at all the road stands :) This section could be posts long itself, but really, do yourself a huge favor and buy the Maui Revealed book. Trust me. As for the drive itself, everyone warned us of the very narrow and curvy roads with many one way bridges. I was nervous going into it, but honestly it wasn't bad at all. Once you get to "the end" which is really up to you when it ends, you can either turn around and go back the way you came, or drive all the way around. We went around. It is about 14 miles of dirt roads. Much of it is one lane. Watch out for crossing cattle. It is not an easy drive, but the sweeping mountain and ocean views make it worthwhile!

Just a few of our MANY photos:

Seven Sacred Pools
Three Bears Falls
Black Sand Beach

Honestly, the only one we saw other than on the Road to Hana was at the hotel. It is miles long...what else did we need to see? :) There is great snorkeling right by Black Rock and if you are good at rock climbing, you can jump off the cliff. It was the top item on my list of to dos, so of course I did it! That's not me standing on the lower's just me mid-air from the higher rock. Definitely WAY higher than it looks!

Again, we tried a lot of them :) I'll just be straight up with you, no lying.

Leilani's- in Whaler's Village. We timed it for the sunset as they are perched right on the beach with a perfect view. Make sure to request a balcony edge seat for the best spot! The food was great! I had steak and shrimp and Carl had local fish, monchong. Both were really, really good! My only suggestion is that if you order steak, order it one temp lower than what you normally get. I'm normally a med-rare girl, but I ordered things rare. Fish is their specialty!

Cliff Dive Bar- at the Sheraton. This was just quick and easy for us to have lunch and drinks by the pool. It is not cheap, but not ridiculous when comparing to other places in Maui. If you are staying at the Sheraton or spending the day down by Black Rock, it's convenient. The Chop Chop Salad is HUGE!! Drinks are $9-$10 and beer I think is $5. Lunches range from $10-$20.

Maui Brewing Company- Let me preface this with one thing: I hate beer. I've tried. We don't like each other. We're done making the effort. Carl, on the other hand, loves it. We are fortunate to live by more micro-breweries than we can count on our hands., and some good ones at that. So, enough chatter, Carl was not impressed. We went mostly for the beers, but they are nothing special. Fun to say we went, good to say we tried, but nothing all that impressive. Food definitely wasn't special.

Hula Grill- in Whaler's Village. This was one of my favorite dinners! Carl had Ono and local swordfish and I had the Ono over a Chinese Spinach Salad. Both were great! We also had the lobster and scallop pot stickers. I could have just eaten like 20 of those! Definitely a must if you go there! Note: There is a more casual (not dress wise- menu wise) section and more formal. We opted for the formal menu- glad we did that!

Black Rock Steak & Seafood- at the Sheraton. The Sheraton offers to skip your maid service in exchange for a $25 food credit. If you make your reservations for 5:30p or 9:30p they will increase it to $35. It's a great green movement they are doing and we took part in it one of our days. The dinner was just ok, had we not had the $35 credit, we would have been very disappointed. We were definitely not impressed like we were with their breakfast.

Roy's of Maui- located 10 minutes down the road from the Sheraton. If you happen to get to Maui, please don't miss this spot. It gets quite a bit of hype, and rightfully so. We had a sushi roll for a starter. I would have eaten 10 more of those. The martinis are great and the service is impeccable. I had the Pesto Crusted Monchong and Carl had the Moi. We even splurged on dessert...although at that point, I was already satisfied!

Carl's dinner at Roy's

Kimo's- in Lahaina. OMG. I wish we had found this spot sooner. They have awesome lunches for really reasonable prices. I had the coconut crusted island fish and Carl had a basil, lemon fish. I think they were both Mahi Mahi. You can't beat the view, the price (for what you got) and the flavor!

View from Kimo's table:

Cool Cat- in Lahaina. It's a cute burger diner. Good food. Huge portions. Although we both felt like crap after leaving there. That's what happens when you've enjoyed spectacular meals all vacation with really fresh, and healthy fish. Nothing against their food though!

The only ones we encountered were the sun and sharp rocks. There wasn't a day we weren't coated in either 50 or 30 spf. We both still came home with a nice little tan. Don't ruin your vacation trying to get bronze. We had a mini 1st aid kit from Target that was easy to throw in our backpack and was used to fix a sharp rock wound as well as some flip flop injuries :/

I kept saying the entire trip- "man, I am so happy with what we brought!" A few things that made the trip so enjoyable were as follows:
*2 Klean Kanteens- drink water, drink water, drink water! Trust me. This made it super easy and eco-friendly!
* A small backpack- we bought this one and it was GREAT! It was the perfect size for our 1st aid kit, a towel, cameras, sunscreen, phone, wallet and our kanteens fit perfectly on the side.
*LOTS of bathing suits- Carl had 3, I had 5 :)
*Limited dress clothes- I had a few dresses, didn't even need them all. Hawaii is VERY casual
*Lots of sunscreen. We had two sets of 50spf and one bottle of 30spf, plus one for the face. It was the perfect amount.
*Keens- great for hiking and dried super quick!
* Oh I forgot in the Kauai review. MY HAT! It was a lifesaver! It was the perfect shade while laying out by the pool for my face and ears. I will never travel without a hat again...not to mention, I happen to think it's super cute.
*Sarongs- you know, the flat cloth material dress things? Yeah. I wore those all the time. Beach cover up, in the room, wherever.

Those are the main things that I was really happy having.

So that's it folks. Maui in a in a blog post, but like I said, I didn't leave anything out on purpose. If you want more information, please feel free to ask questions! If you want more pictures of something in particular, again, happy to share, I just didn't want to bog everyone down. I'm sad the trip is over, but I feel completely happy with the memories. We are already trying to figure out how and when we can get back!! Hope the reviews can help some future travelers :)


  1. What a great review! Sounds like you all had an amazing time! Thanks for taking the time to give so many details! This will be so helpful for those traveling to Hawaii!!

  2. Wow~sounds like a wonderful vacation! Great pictures as well:)

  3. Glad you had so much fun...I heart maui too...and will say Amen to all you said. We stayed farther south then you...but spent a day at the Black Rock...and snorkeled and saw a reef shark...and then quit snorkeling:)

  4. Thank you for this!! We are going to Maui for our honeymoon in November. I am going to bookmark this post for the restaurant recommendations and such. I can't wait to go and try some of them!


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