An October 2005 trip
to Maui by emptynest
Quote: There are dream vacations, and then there are vacations that never actually go away. Maui with my extended family is an experience that will be a part of us for a long time.
We had a week on Maui and wanted to make it memorable. We were fortunate to have a lot of good advice from hotel staff and others we met on the island. Traveling with extended family meant that we had three couples and three of our three children who all had ideas of what to do on Maui. Luckily, we all agreed to the 'first' rule, which was no activities are mandatory group activities.
The road to Hana was an incredible experience. We were challenged to drive it and 'conquer' it, and some of the men in our group were strongly opposed to any other means to Hana. We met a local who called it 'divorce highway,' and it was the title that changed the plan. We booked a tour with Ekahi Tours, and were so fortunate to have Kekai as our tour guide. Not only did he know all of the legends about the trip, but he also knew everyone!
The trip to the top of Halelakala was also memorable. I am not usually a morning person, and this was no exception. We had to get up at 2am to leave our hotel and be at the top of the volcano by sunrise. (We actually could have left about an hour later and still seen the sunrise). I had very minimal expectations of the morning and mostly wanted to stay in the car and keep warm. The thermometer in the car read 40 degrees at 5am, but I think it was quite a bit cooler than that. After waiting about an hour, suddenly, bursting through the clouds was the sun. It was silent, but I could almost hear the orchestra--what a glorious moment in my life. Some of us considered biking down the volcano, and some of us were adamantly opposed to doing this. The ‘next time’ for many will be to bike down the volcano.
Of all of the opportunities to bike, ride horses, tour, shop, swim, and snorkel, we found that the best part of the week was to experience with the ‘locals’ the connection to the beautiful land and renew our family connections. Our large family group drew a lot of questions in this land of honeymooners. We found the locals that we met immediately bonded with us and our “ohano,” or family.
Hotel | "Kaanapali Beach Hotel"
Before leaving (and after making the reservations) I read all of the reviews possible. I was not sure what to expect, since some were a bit discouraging. We visited many of the hotels along the beach while going for walks, and I would not have traded my experience for all of the glitz and glamour at the other hotels. The Kaanapali Beach Hotel is a special experience. If the goal of your trip is to have the perfect hotel room in the perfect building, then this is not the place for you. If your goal is to experience the beauty of the island, to experience local arts and crafts, and to feel like a part of a family, then this is the place.
Sure, the rooms could be updated, but why? The view of the ocean from the patio doors is incredible, and the view of the mountain from the walkway cannot be topped by any interior decorating. The hotel staff encouraged us to attend a welcome breakfast for free on our first day there, and we expected it to be a high-pressure sales event of some type. Instead, it was a helpful overview of Maui and the opportunities, events, and an introduction to staff at the hotel who were able to help us get connected with whatever our goals were.
The hotel has a church service Sunday mornings, we had no intention of attending this, since we were encouraged to find a local church and benefit from the local Hawaiian cultural influence in a worship service. It was too easy to stay at the hotel and worship in the beautiful gardens, hearing the waves crash onshore a few feet away. And it was such a great experience, too.
I did not meet anyone on staff who was not helpful. They even had a good understanding of the emotional and physical demand it is to travel to Maui from the mainland and worked hard to make our check-in very smooth and simple. They pointed out that the time change can cause people to feel anxious and tense, and they do not use that time to make any kind of suggestion or demands but encouraged us to attend the breakfast the next morning. This is a small detail that shows the depth of their understanding of what tourists need!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 23, 2005
Ka'anapali Beach Hotel
2525 Kaanapali Parkway Lahaina
Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii 96761
Restaurant | "The Gazebo"
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 23, 2005
5315 Lower Honoapi'ilani Road
Maui, Hawaii 96761
Restaurant | "Hula Grill"
Hula Grill Kaanapali Beach
Lahaina, Hawaii 96761
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 23, 2005
Ka'anapali Mixed Plate
Ka'anapali Beach Hotel
Maui, Hawaii 96761
Restaurant | "Lelanis"
Leilani's on the Beach
2435 Kaanapali Parkway
Maui, Hawaii 96761
Attraction | "Maui Tropical Plantation"
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on October 23, 2005
Maui Tropical Plantation & Country Store
1670 Honoapi'ilani Highway
Maui, Hawaii 96793
We used the Ekahi Tours to experience the Road to Hana after hearing that the alternate name for the road is 'divorce highway'. The alternate name comes from couples driving the curvy, narrow roads, drivers rarely can take their eyes from the road to “look at the beautiful…” After 25 years of marriage, we felt that although our marriage is stable, it might be nice to both enjoy the sights. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and friendly. He also was able to express to us his pride in his homeland and his desire to teach tourists about the Hawaiian culture and the land. He was open about his frustration with natives and mainlanders alike wanting to make the island one big resort. He graciously shared with us the back roads to Hana and the history and legends about the area.
The waterfalls were beautiful, and the rainforest was amazing. I can’t imagine trying to navigate the highway watching for traffic, especially the tourists! During the road construction, this was especially challenging, but he continued to use the construction as an educational time for us to understand why the road isn’t widened, why construction is a challenge, and how some recent landowners want to develop the rainforest. The tour offered opportunities to hike in the national forest to the Pools of Ohaeo, Lindberg’s grave, and have lunch along a black sand beach. We also had the chance to travel along the ‘other side’ where rental cars are not allowed, viewing the desert like region of Maui’s back coast. The next adventure might be on our own with a rental car, but nothing can beat learning from the best!