A December 2003 trip
to Maui by bebebloom
Quote: It was truly enchanting in Maui the day we were driving on Highway 30 to Kapalua. Right in front of us is a most awesome sight, a rainbow with the most vivid colors streching side to side as if beckoning us to come and find our pot of gold. In this magical Island of Maui even rainbows looks mystical. Maui, the Valley Isle, offers everyone much to explore and experience. From the top of Mt. Haleakala to the spectacular white sand beaches of Napili and Kapalua. From the wondrous sights of its countryside to the fabulous shopping and dining in West Maui.
As days unfold, it is easy to discover that Maui, with its azure ocean, white beaches, lush countryside, royal resorts and picturesque towns, is there to tantalize. There is much too much to discover and activities to do in Maui. Whale watching is a big industry; there is also snorkeling, rafting adventures, catamaran ride, hiking and biking down Mt. Haleakala. The summit of Mt. Haleakala with its seemingly endless vistas is wide open for exploration. This is where prickly pear cactus and the unique silversword plant can be found (the island abounds with unique flora and fauna), and the colors of lava are vivid reds and purples. Mt. Haleakala is maybe one of the most awesome places - at an ear-popping 10,023 feet, it tops far above the tree line and the mercury can drop below freezing. There is also the much-talked-about and said to be the most awesome sunrise at the summit. But being a late riser, for now, I must content myself with the wonders of Mt. Haleakala after sunrise.
As fantastic as the sights of Maui's countryside are and the endless activites that the outdoors has to offer, save some time in town. We discovered that for an island covering only 729 square miles, Maui is like a miniature continent possessing fantastic natural and historical diversity. Visit the historic beachside town of Lahaina. This was once the major whaling center of the Pacific. Enjoy the many shops and galleries on Front Street. And for lovers of the art, Lahaina has also an active art scene. It is also hard to ignore that nearly everything in Maui seems to be open to the breezy air - restaurants, food markets, fruit stands along the roads, shopping centers, art galleries, even hotel lobbies.
Driving on West Maui from Wailea to Maalea to the sandy beaches of Napili and Kapalua is a treat in itself. It is a very picturesque drive; bring a picnic basket and stop by one of the many beachside picnic area and enjoy a beautiful, lazy afternoon with your family under the swaying palm trees.
And if you brought your golf clubs with you it is a short distance to both Kapalua or Kaanapali Golf Courses.
Best Things About the Resort:Kahana Falls Resort was developed with only 70 units, and because of this there is a sense of closeness and intimacy. The staff was friendly and there were no timeshare hypes. The location was good and a grocery store nearby a few minutes south of the resort on Lower Honoapiilani highway helped tremendously. Although the location of Kahana Falls Resort may not be ideal for beach lovers, the beach is just across on the other side of the street. It is also a few minutes drive to the best beaches of Kaanapali, Napili, and Kapalua.Resort Experience:Kahana Falls Resort had been aptly given Gold Crown designation because of its excellent amenities, great facilities, high quality service, and proximity of the resort to many destination places. The resort covered three guest buildings; the Hale Kipa (guest house) is a no view two-story frame structure adjacent to the gazebo and the game area, the Aloha building, the Falls building, as well as the main building called the Clubhouse. The grounds were lush and beautifully landscaped with water gardens and there were pathways in the garden area and between buildings, which were well lit by torches at night. The free form swimming pool with two waterfalls, although small, was kept clean and was rarely busy. There was also a children’s pool with a small waterfalls and two sand bottomed whirlpool spa, one open 24-hours. The Koi pond was full of mesmerizing kois, especially at night when they all congregate together trying to sleep. At the intimate garden area near the koi pond were three barbecue grills and seating area perfect for a small group barbecue.
The Clubhouse was for check-in. It was also where the concierge desk, activity room, and a fully equipped fitness center were located. Although I was not impressed with the fitness center’s claustrophobic location in the basement, it was very clean and hardly ever busy.
Our accommodation at #207A was exceptional, and only a short walk to the free parking area. It was a one bedroom/one bath unit in the Falls Building. It was ideally located in a corner, giving us a panoramic view of the pool area, koi pond, spa, barbecue area, and lush tropical landscaping. I loved our big lanai just above one of the pools, and the sound of cascading water provided us with nice tranquil respite every night after a full day of endless discovery and adventure. It also provided me with a sense of security. From our lanai I was able to relax with an interesting book and watch our son splashing in the pool at the same time.
Our unit, at 681 square feet, had a big kitchen with terracotta top eating counter and two high chairs. It was fully equipped with good quality kitchen appliances, microwave, refrigerator, and everything else (we needed including herbs and spices) to make our stay pleasant and homey. It had a good size dining area with a big glass top dining table and four comfortably upholstered chairs.
Our living area had plenty of space to move around even with the pull out bed fully spread out. The living room had an entertainment center with a 27-inch remote control cable TV and DVD/VCR rack stereo system. There was an air-conditioning system and a ceiling fan. There was also a washer/dryer and iron/ironing board. The bedroom was appropriately decorated with white washed furnishings providing plenty of storage space. It also had a 20-inch cable TV. Although the only bathroom in the unit was inconveniently located in the bedroom, it was very spacious, had a hair dryer, and was fitted with a Hydrothermal Therapeutic Spa.
The staff was very accommodating, helpful, and pleasant. Daily fresh towels, garbage pick-up, and light clean up are provided. Upon arrival, we were offered a morning orientation, which we graciously declined, no pressure here. The front desk had the "Road to Hana" tape available to guests if they decide to go.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 15, 2004
4260 Lower Honoapiilani Road
The SeaWatch Restaurant has expansive indoor dining room called "The Grille Room" with comfortable lounge-style seating and an open interior. It is decorated with two large murals illustrating the surrounding natural beauty of the scenery as well as beautiful and colorful paintings of renowned Maui Artists. The Grille Room opens to the lanai with large glass doors to welcome in Maui's warm tradewinds. Dinner al fresco at the lanai is available all year round and is complemented by whitewashed oak tables and chairs. It is where one can take full advantage of the incredible sweeping view beyond. The ambience of the restaurant is further enchanced with two lushly landscaped water features just beyond the lanai, the sound of cascading waterfall providing a tranquill dining experience. The ambience of both the restaurants' dining areas is tropical, elegantly casual and perfectly romantic. Accompanying this memorable dining experience is a spectacular horizon which lights up the Maui skies in varying colors of orange during sunset every evening.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 13, 2004
100 Wailea Golf Club Drive
Wailea, Hawaii 96761
+1 808 875 8080
Attraction | "Ulalena, Maui Myth and Magic"
"Ulalena" is a spellbinding thetrical journey that weaves together images of Hawaiian mythology and history into a celebration of nature and the spirit of the human imagination. The story begins with the mythological creation of the Hawaiian islands then rolls through successive voyagers who made the Islands their home. From the first Polynesians to the early European explorers, to the many immigrants from around the world who are brought to the islands to work in the sugarcane fields as the demand for sugar increases who have found their way to the shores, and finally to us. See Pele, the volcano goddess, exploding, reflecting a turbulent century. After her devastation came a time where life begins again under the peaceful luna light of Hina, the goddess of the moon. Ulalena is an exploration of other places and other times, both mythical and real.
Ulalena is an incredible show that shouldn't be missed. It is a feast for the senses and a show the whole family could enjoy. It is a production that is alive and sometimes demands audience participation. My 8-year-old was fascinated and enthralled by it. If you decide to go, buy your tickets through Activity World (from Lahaina and Kaanapali Tel: 667-7777, from Kihei and Wailea Tel: 874-7400) - they have the best, first five rows of premium front/center seating. Regularly priced at $58, discounted to $45 and kids under 12 are free. Although we paid the full price through Activity Zone and our seating was on the side, the theater is not large, so we still got a good overall enjoyment of the show. The live traditional Hawaiian music has a surround sound, providing every seat with a sense of intimacy and interaction with the performance.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 4, 2004
Maui Myth & Magic Theater
878 Front St
Lahaina, Hawaii 96761
+1 808 661 9913
Lahaina, with a very walkable waterfront area and a mixture of historic sites and tourist attractions, is a great place to spend the afternoon or evening. Stroll along Front Street, where galleries and tourist shops abound. Stop by one of the many restaurants and drinking holes and have a "Maui wowie," a delightful drink with a combined taste of mai-tai and pina colada. Dining in Lahaina is very diverse, with lots of fish and seafood on the menu; restaurants feature everything from Hawaiian cuisine to the latest culinary trends. Do not miss Lahaina's famous Banyan tree planted in 1873 - it now shades 2/3 of an acre.
Drop by Lahaina Cannery Mall, an air-conditioned shopping center featuring some 50 shops selling jewelry, fashion, gifts and crafts, and international dining and food court. There is free keiki hula show every Saturday and Sunday at 1pm and hula shows on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7pm.
For lovers of the art, every Friday night, from 7 to 10pm, art galleries in Lahaina celebrate Art Night. This is a great opportunity for visitors to meet resident artists and see their latest works as well as enjoy refreshments served at the galleries. Lahaina is also a prime point of debarkation for whale watching, snorkeling, and sailing tours. The harbor is busy, with dozens of catamarans, sailboats, and ferries to Lanai sailing out daily.
Royal Lahaina Luau begins at 5pm. When we arrived at 4:30pm, there was already a short line forming outside the luau grounds to get in. A small table with a fountain of tropical drink was set up on one side, and a local in full native regalia making straw hats for extra entertainment. Beware, the hats are not free; price varies depending on the complexity of the design. At 5pm, the doors to the outdoor dinner theater opened and two aloha hostesses welcomed everyone with leis made of shells. There were photo sessions offered as we entered the gate, because this luau would have been our 5th, we graciously declined.
The luau grounds were supposedly one of the best because of its proximity to the beach. However, I was not impressed with the cattle run style of seating arrangements. The long tables were arranged to maximize the number of people it can occupy. The white picnic plastic chairs were jammed together so tightly, I was in fear our table would be one of those towards the back. Luckily, we have been assigned a hibiscus table and relieved to see that it was one of the best tables right in front. We got the 1st 3 seating in the very front. It could not have been fun for those sitting jammed in the middle, especially at those tables in the back. I wondered if they saw how beautiful the performances were.
Free drinks so diluted with water were served. There were no worries about getting drunk on free drinks here. The food was served cafeteria style under Nipa huts. The all-you-can-eat-buffet food was fairly good and had varieties including the standard Kalua pig cooked in the imu(underground oven), shredded and served with an array of side dishes. There was the standard fare of poi, teriyaki chicken, beef, lomi-lomi salmon, full salad bar, and different desserts. And children's food including hot dogs, French fries, and meatballs were also available.
The Royal Lahaina had an outstanding Polynesian revue, complete with the sound of a conch shell, lighting of the torches, beat of the pahu drum, and the presentation of the Kalua pig on the stage. There are Tahitian, Samoan, and Hawaiian performances from past to present. Stories and local Hawaiian legends were presented with dynamic performances. The mistress of the ceremony was very entertaining and took us on a mini tour of Hawaii and the Polynesian Islands. The grand finale was an awesome, spectacular fire dance.
The show ends at 8:30pm. Tickets are normally $72. however, if you get them through Activity World (808-667-7777), it is discounted at $49.95 and children under 12 are free 1 per paying adult. They also have the best front-and-center table seating reserved.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on January 15, 2004
Royal Lahaina Luau
Royal Lahaina Resort
From the entrance, follow the visitor guide park map and begin your tour walking counter-clockwise starting at the surge zone.
The surge zone was a small lagoon with a water feature which mimics pounding waves that can provide delicate marine life with shelter from predators in the open waters. Immediately to the right, go inside a building which housed the awe-inspiring living reef display; an exhibit of Hawaii’s tropical fishes and living coral reefs. Here, we saw the vivid living colors of such beautiful fish as butterfly fish and the strange-looking yellow margin moray eel, we marvelled at the beauty in the shape of a triton’s trumpet and the magnificent spines of slate pencil sea urchins. I have never imagined the beauty and color of all the different corals under one exhibition: cauliflower coral, antler coral, blue coral, wire coral, finger coral and many, many more.
Then outside again to the turtle lagoon, where we got a close-up view of the most common sea turtle in Hawaii called honu (green turtle), named for the color of its body fat. Then a large outdoor pool called stingray cove, home to stingrays and eagle rays. It was shaded to protect the rays’ sensitive eyes. Next was the whale discovery center, an interactive experience with the humpback whales as they make their annual migration from Alaska to the warm water of Maui, where they mate and bear their calves.
Then into a large 50-foot-long clear acrylic tunnel for a simulated journey of the Open Ocean; a 750,000-gallon saltwater aquarium. Here we got an awesome 240-degree view of sharks, majestic rays and hundreds of other fishes and a lone diver feeding the sea creatures; predators and prey co-existing seemingly peacefully.
Maui Ocean Center
Highway 30 at Ma'alaea Harbor Village
Maui, Hawaii 96793
Attraction | "The Road to Hana"
The Road to Hana was a slow trek of 52-mile coast route. The first quarter of the trip from Kahului was uneventful. After the little town of Pa'ia, the road passed by several beaches that are internationally renowned for wind and bodysurfing, and then through placid plantations and farmland. Soon, however, the highway begins a series of switchbacks through dense tropical rainforest, then the road to adventure began. The Hana highway is no more than a narrow road that snaked around more than 600 hundred dizzying hair-spin curves, dangerously too close for comfort, twisting and winding over 54 one-lane bridges, lush vegetation, taro fields, and waterfalls. The drive overwhelmed the senses, and gave me a euphoric sense of conquering the road. Not recommended if driving with small children.
Early on we stopped at one of the first fruit stand we saw and discovered that it was the entrance to the Twin Falls. We found out that the walk to the falls was approximately 25 minutes, and we thought the hike was worth the adventure. During early conversation with the fruit stand proprietor he mentioned the abundance of ripe guava fruits along the way and gave us permission to pick some as long as we leave nature in its original state. The hike on the wide dirt road was enjoyable, and the falls were mysteriously beautiful.
Next we drove through the Garden of Eden, a private sanctuary like garden with many interesting tropical plants native to Hawaii. It also provided us with a panoramic view of the Puohokamoa Falls, hiking trails, and beautiful vista of the blue waters beyond. Admission fee was $7/person.
The trip delighted the senses with panoramic vistas of the rugged coastline and mountain wilderness. The drive was a photo opportunity with lush tropical jungles and waterfalls abound to be enjoyed. If we can only find a safe road stop wide enough to park three cars at the same time.
The road straightened out as we got nearer the village of Hana. We drove to Hana Bay, where we saw many families gathered for a lazy afternoon of picnic. We prepared our lunch baskets while the children frolicked on the black sandy beach. They marveled at the rocky black lava deposit along the coast, which was full of interesting marine life. After lunch, everyone had had enough and lost interest in anything that involved further sightseeing. Now the drive back, no one looked forward to several more hours of hair spinning curves. Did I mention that one of the kids had a major throw-up on the way up?
The trip was worth the experience once in a lifetime, perhaps for the driving experience itself rather than the panorama. If I had a prescient knowledge of what was ahead, I will not do it again. The panorama was indeed beautiful but we have seen better without the added danger of the twists and turns of the Hana Highway.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on January 16, 2004
Road to Hana