Note: I started writing this post a week ago, but never posted it because: (1) it’s a recap of my vacation and I wasn’t sure if anyone would want to hear about that on a running blog; (2) even though I hope my reviews/thoughts might be helpful to somebody out there, some of it does get a bit laborious (and boring, IMHO); (3) it’s a bit, “LOOK AT ME & MY AWESOME VACAY!!!” – which is something I try to avoid. All that said, I personally enjoy reading about other people’s vacations and especially seeing photos, and since I’ve written the darn thing anyway, here’s the post! Hope you enjoy it!
Hi y’all! It’s been real quiet around here, mostly because the Gypsy Runner and I went to Maui for 5 days last week. It was our first *real* vacation in ages, without any plans to see friends or family, or attend any official functions. WOOT! Before I forget all about it, I wanted to write down some highlights for future reference – both for myself or for anyone planning a trip to Maui.
The basics: we booked a travel package through Pleasant Holidays, which included roundtrip flights (OAK – OGG), 5-night stay at a condo, and 5-day car rental with Hertz. Because it’s considered low season in late spring (and also in mid-autumn, FYI), we got an amazing deal. I priced it out a la carte and we would’ve paid at least $400 more. That was also assuming we went with a cheaper car rental – both in terms of rental company and car size.
We stayed at the Lahaina Shores Beach Resort, a 7-story, 200 condo building at the southern end of Lahaina. It was conveniently located, about 1/2 mile easy walk to “downtown” Lahaina, where all of the shops and restaurants were. We had a studio that had a full kitchen and a spacious bathroom. It was a bit dated, but clean. There was also a pool, a hot tub, and beach access, though the beach at Lahaina Shores wasn’t the best. We stayed in a condo managed by the hotel side of the resort; there are tons of units available through VRBO, so it might be worth it to check those out.
I enjoyed staying in Lahaina, since there were a lot of good restaurants close by, and it was nice to walk around at night. It helped that all of the people hawking goods and tours weren’t all that pushy or in your face. I think it’s a good place to stay for couples. Families might do better in Ka’anapali or Kihei. I also thought that Lahaina was centrally located and made it easy for us to explore other parts of the island.
Even though Maui is a small island, there are a lot of things to do and places to see. We decided to prioritize the beach and water-related activities — and also eating! I lobbied for doing the road to Hana, and I also went to the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm on my own one morning while the GR watched the Warriors playoff game. We decided to skip the famous sunrise at Haleakalā Volcano because it would involve getting up at 2:00 a.m. and we weren’t even guaranteed that it would be a good one! For cost reasons, we also skipped expensive excursions such as boat tours and ziplining. I don’t have any regrets about how we chose to spend our time.
So instead of rambling on even more than I have already, here’s a list of hits and misses from our trip. Luckily, there are a lot more hits than misses!
- Snorkeling: ‘Ahihi Cove and Makena Beach (south Maui). We saw a sea turtle at Makena!
- Beaches (swimming, lounging): Big Beach (South), Kahekili (West)
- Eats: Nalu (Kihei), 808 Grindz (Lahaina), Mama’s Fish House (Paia), Fish tacos at Lahainaluna Cafe (Lahaina), Ululani shave ice (Lahaina)
- Waterfall: Wailua Iki (Road to Hana) – mostly because we had it to ourselves.
- Coolest tree: Banyan trees
- Super friendly locals! I sorta expected an anti-tourist fake friendliness, but most of the people we interacted with had the aloha spirit.
- Happy Hour at the Sea Horse Restaurant in Nipali. Piña coladas and fried calamari FTW.
- Best value: $6.99 poke bowl at Foodland!
- I almost lost my iPhone at the Maui airport! After we landed, I was so excited to change out of my jeans and sneakers and into shorts and flip flops that I left my phone in the bathroom stall. Oops. I didn’t realize I left it until we were waiting for the Hertz shuttle, at which point I rushed back into the airport and had to get TSA to help me, since the bathroom was after the security checkpoint. Luckily, the phone was still in the same stall, and the security officer retrieved it for me. Whew! That would’ve been an awful way to start the trip!
- $20 coconut by Big Beach. Always ask how much something is before you order it!
- Road to Hana. I wouldn’t say that this was a total “miss” because we definitely saw some cool things, but I don’t think we went about it in the best way. We started too late, got caught up in the crowds, and could’ve done better with a 4WD vehicle — even though all of the guidebooks say that a regular car is fine. We survived with our Nissan Altima, but a Jeep or a SUV might have been better. I also think it’s too much in one day; it would’ve been better to split up into two days and get to some of the sights before the crowds.
- Chilangos Mexican food in Lahaina. Ugh…worst meal I’ve had in ages *anywhere*. The GR’s cheese quesadilla came with lettuce in it. LETTUCE. We stopped trusting Yelp reviews after that.
- If you plan on renting gear, see what kind of package discounts are offered. We rented from The Snorkel Store, which had a flat weekly fee for snorkel sets, boogie boards, beach chairs, and an umbrella. Their definition of a week is 3-8 days, so rent early and return at the end of your trip!
- Beach musts: hat, towel, and sunblock. Everything was twice as expensive in Maui, so bring some from the mainland.
- The sun is very, very strong in Maui. Sun protection is a must!
- As I stated above re: Chilangos — don’t trust Yelp reviews. Because of all of the tourists, there’s no context when someone says, “It’s the best Mexican food I’ve ever had!” That can mean a lot or nothing at all, depending on where they live and if their only access to Mexican food is Taco Bell.
- Plan activities based on weather and surf conditions. For us, snorkeling conditions/visibility were perfect early on, and got progressively worse, at which point, the GR switched to boogie boarding. This was another perk of renting gear for the whole trip, so we had the flexibility to switch between activities, depending on conditions and which beach we were at.
- Foodland grocery store has great discounts for members, and all you need to become a member is give them your cell phone number. There’s no card and you don’t need to sign up. So easy!
In summary, if you like warm, clear water and beautiful beaches, Maui is for you!