Peachhead™ Approved Vacations: Vacation in Maui, 2013
Every year we visit Maui for the winter holidays. Last year we discovered a wonderful new place to stay, the Honua Kai Resort. We rent from an individual owner named Brian; here is a link to his unit: http://www.vrbo.com/274261. His unit is great--it is a corner unit so it has a wrap-around balcony with a great ocean view, and the unit itself is very large with a full kitchen, 2 bedrooms and bathrooms, and a washer and dryer. It is also equipped with baby gear, games, beach items (ice chest, beach chairs, snorkel gear), and games for the kids. This is a great place to stay when traveling with the family. Another favorite place to stay in Maui with the family is the Westin Kaanapali Villas. It is a timeshare property so I usually buy a week from a friend who owns a timeshare, but you can also rent directly from the hotel. Here we also rent a 2-bedroom unit with a full kitchen, living room, and washer and dryer. There are bbq's on the property and a variety of pools to have fun in, including a pool for toddlers. Tip: If you like to hang out on the beach instead of the pool, you can rent lounge chairs from the resorts for $10 per day, or you can rent a Tommy Bahama beach chair from Snorkel Bob's ($26 for 2 chairs for the week). This will give you much more flexibility if you want to go and explore the island.
We always visit a little Chinese restaurant nearby called China Bowl. This is a nice casual little place to grab some dinner. Kobe Steakhouse is one of our favorite restaurants to visit with the kids. It is a Benihana-type restaurant where they cook the food at your table. The food is delicious.
There is a new restaurant on Front Street in Lahaina called Sugar Cane Maui. We ate there on Christmas and they had a special Christmas menu as well as their regular menu. The food was different but all very good. The prime rib special was very good. I enjoyed the Maui Wedge salad (very large portion) and the Chef Chin's Ahi Nachos. If you can get Mace-o as your server, you are in luck. He was so on top of everything, gave great recommendations, and was a pleasure to work with. He helped to make our meal all that more enjoyable.
After our dinners on Front Street we would usually stop at Hawaii Gelato for some of the most amazing gelato. This is a great way to end the evening. Seahouse Restaurant is my favorite place to go for breakfast. It is located in Napili right on the beach, so not only do they have the most amazing chocolate macadamia nut pancakes, but you get an incredible view while dining as well. After breakfast we hung out one day on the beach there. The water is very calm and enjoyable (be sure to bring a raft to relax on the water in). We discovered that the Seahouse Restaurant also has a great happy hour from 2-5 p.m. that we really enjoyed.
A new restaurant opened up on Front Street in Lahaina called Koa's Seaside Grill. It is owned by the same owners as Gazebo (known for their banana macadamia nut pancakes and fried rice). The restaurant overlooks the water. We sat upstairs next to the railing overlooking the water, a beautiful evening setting. We started our meal with the Caesar Salad, which was a nice size (so much so that we ended up sharing it and we all loved it). We also ordered their prime rib, which was really fantastic. Every bite was so flavorful, and the meat was a good cut. We had a very enjoyable dinner, great service, and wonderful ambience. We loved it so much that we returned for dinner a couple more nights and breakfast, as well.
Another favorite dining spot in Lahaina is Honu. It sits overlooking the water. They have great pizzas, so we started with a margherita pizza for an appetizer. They are also known for their ahi bruschetta, which was wonderful. The squash soup was great as well. The special of the night was lobster mac and cheese, so of course we had to have that as well. Wonderful meal.
Mama's Fish House is another favorite of mine. It is located in Paia, closer to the airport. You must make reservations in advance; however, we got lucky and were able to get seats at the bar. My favorite dish on the menu is the Beef Polynesian, which is seared tenderloin served in a grilled papaya. I am still dreaming of it.
We discovered a new restaurant in Napili called Iron Imu BBQ, located at the Napili Shores Restaurant. If you like BBQ ribs and brisket, this is the place to go. It is very casual and affordable. The owner is a sweetheart. He comes around to greet everyone and help you decide what you want to order. You read the menu on the chalkboard, go to the counter to order, and then they bring the food to you. There is even a big room for the kids to play in, complete with toys. I ordered the Â½ rack dry rub rib, which tasted fantastic and was even better when I added the sauce. My husband had the brisket and loved it as well. Your meal comes with 3 sides. The mac and cheese was my favorite.
Activities and Entertainment
The Maui Theatre in Lahaina had 2 shows being performed: Ulalena and Burn'n Love. Ulalena is a beautiful show that tells the history of Hawaii. It is told in such a lovely way with beautiful music (played live), dances, and aerial acts. Watching the performer move so gracefully on the aerial silks to the beautiful music was hypnotic. The staging is unique wherein they use a backdrop screen and moving floors to bring you into the scene. The evening was mesmerizing. Burn'n Love is a new show at the Maui Theatre. Darren Lee, who has been performing Elvis since he was 15 years old, puts on a wonderful show singing all of Elvis Presley's famous songs. There are dancers with fabulous costumes who bring even more energy to the stage. A back screen shows video footage of Elvis and sound clips of his interviews. Darren Lee was very entertaining as he sang, danced, and interacted with the audience. If you look around, you see the entire audience smiling and moving along to the music.
One of my favorite evening events for adults only is the Warren & Annabelle's Magic Show, located on Front Street in Lahaina. I look forward to attending this show every year, and each year I am as entertained as I was the first time. When you first arrive you will need to find the secret passage into Annabelle's Parlor, where you can wine and dine before the show. In the parlor, Annabelle, the â€œresident ghost,â€� will entertain you as she plays tunes on the piano based on the guest requests. You are then led into an intimate theatre where Warren performs up-close magic. While the magic is entertaining, it is Warren's quick wit humor that captivates everyone. He is probably one of the funniest guys I have seen. His humor, along with his great facial expressions, keeps everyone laughing the entire evening. The magic is mind-boggling, but his humor is what you will be talking about long after you see the show.
In the evenings we love to visit Fleetwood's on Front Street for live music on their rooftop deck. Every night at 6:00 they perform a beautiful torch lighting/sunset ceremony where they bring a bagpipe player out and a Hawaiian native who talks about the Hawaiian cultureâ€¦very spiritual.
Another place that is known for live music is Stella Blues in Kihei. We went there one night for happy hour to see Randall Rospond perform. He is an amazing guitar player and singer. I found out he also plays at Fleetwood's and a couple of other places in Kihei, so you should definitely look him up if you like live music.
Java Jazz is another place we enjoy visiting at night to listen to live music. The owner, Farzaad, plays incredible guitar if you are lucky enough to catch him playing.
One of the things I have always wanted to do while visiting Maui was The Road to Hana; however, we never wanted to drive it. Valley Isle Excursions offers guided tours for the Road to Hana. It is a full-day adventure (11 hours) but the time really does fly by. They start out by picking you up at your hotel early in the morning. You then go to a place in Kahalui for a light breakfast (muffins, croissants, and fruit). After breakfast you begin the tour. You are taken in a very comfortable 12 seat van to all of the different highlights in Hana. Joe, our guide, is a Native Hawaiian and was wonderful in telling us about the Hawaiian culture, different spots we visited, and the plants and trees. I personally found his own story fascinating. He is one of 16 siblings and he ended up marrying his brother's wife's sister. His entire family had many kids so when they get together for family reunions, it can be upwards of 500 family membersâ€¦that is one heck of a family get together. I especially loved when he told us about when his sister, who has 12 kids, asked him to take her kids for the summerâ€¦he asked how many, she said all and of course he did â€œbecause you don't say no to family.â€� Our day was spent stopping at a number of different sites where there were beautiful waterfalls, a black sand beach, Charles Lindbergh's gravesite, a winery, and so many other great spots. We stopped at a place for lunch where they served warm chicken and salads. The entire day was marvelous. I am so glad we didn't have to drive those roads, as some of them are quite bumpy and narrow.
I am always looking for new adventures for the kids when we visit. Recently a trapeze school opened up in Lahaina, called Emerald City Trapeze (across the street from Star Noodle and the Safeway shopping center). My girls were very excited to spend the morning flying on the trapeze. They even attempted the catch at the very end, and both of them made it. It was very satisfying for them to accomplish this feat. The staff was great and it was very well run. This is definitely a fun way to spend a couple of hours.
After breakfast one morning at The Sea house Restaurant in Napoli we decided to hang out at the beach there. This beach is so beautiful with very calm waters--no waves, clean water, so much fun. We brought our raft and inner tubes and had fun floating in the water. The girls wanted to try stand up paddle boarding so after asking around we found out there is a place nearby (walking) that rents the boards. We were lucky in that they had one left. They give you a quick lesson on how to use it and off we went into the water to try it out. The girls had a lot of fun sitting on it, laying on it, and eventually, standing on it. It was one of our best days on the beach. The place we rented from is called www.808Boards.com. They do run out early so you can call first to see if they have any left. The main number for the company is 808-283-1384 and the number for the shop right by the Seahouse Restaurant and Nipili Beach is 808-667-0808. They offer free delivery and pick up if you want them to bring it to your hotel. You can rent by the day or by the week.
Another fun day adventure is Nakalele Blowhole, which is located ½ mile past the #38 mile marker. Located 1200 feet from the road and 205 feet down towards the ocean is the blowhole. It is a fun climb down (mostly on dirt and rocks). Try to plan on going on a day where it has not had a heavy rain, as it will be very muddy and harder to climb. We had such a great time climbing down and then getting sprayed from the blowhole. It is a beautiful drive there as well.
Another day we explored Black Rock, which is located at the Sheraton Hotel. The water is very calm and clear. It is a great place to go snorkeling. One thing we discovered on this trip is that it can get cloudy and rainy in Kaanapali; however, if you drive to Lahaina (15 minutes away), it might be sunny and beautiful. We rented 2 beach chairs from Snorkel Bob's for $25 for the week and when it got cloudy by our hotel we hopped in the car and drove to Lahaina and just plopped down on a beach by the road.
Hawaii can be quite expensive so here are some ways to save money. Grocery shopping can be quite expensive so be sure to sign up for the free memberships the stores offer to save extra money. Safeway and Foodland Farms offer this discount. (Safeway is the same parent company as Vons and Pavilions.) The Times store does not offer a discount card.