Return to Paradise (Part 1) - Maui

My husband and I visited the Islands of Maui and Kauai in 2009. We spent 4 nights in Maui (3/30-4/2) and then took an InterIsland flight to Kauai for three nights (4/3-4/5). We then returned to Maui for one more night (4/6) before flying back to Dallas.

March 30 - Arrival In Maui

Kahului to Wailea - Hold Your Nose in Ma'alaea

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Princess00 on May 10, 2009

Our first day in Hawaii was mainly a travel day. We arrived in Kahului mid-afternoon. After stopping by the Alamo rental car to pick up our Sebring convertible, we started the short trip to our hotel in Wailea. The highway stretch from the airport to Wailea was a lovely drive (with the exception of that off-putting sugar mill and landfill around Ma’alaea). With the Pacific Ocean on our right and the heights of Haleakala on our left, we enjoyed the crisp cool air offset by the hot sun through our open roofed vehicle.

Upon arrival in Wailea, we turned into the Marriott, which was located oceanfront between Wailea and Ulua Beach. We took a look around the hotel before heading to an early dinner.

Service is Lacking

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Princess00 on April 11, 2009

My husband and I stayed at the Marriott in Wailea, which was located oceanfront between Wailea and Ulua Beach, for four nights. The hotel does not have a beachfront location, but there was a short walking path to both beaches located north and south of the property. The grounds were well maintained, but were almost ‘sparse’ by Hawaii standards with a well manicured grass lawn and tropical plants situated in beds around the property. It felt very clean and well cared for, but it was certainly not lush. My opinion of the hotel was that you could pick up the property and plop it down anywhere else in the U.S. and it would ‘fit’. Meaning that, to me, it did not feel like "Hawaii" – no lush tropical feel, no tiki wood, no tropical floral prints in the rooms. The only area that ‘felt like Hawaii’ was around the open-aired lobby, where tall banyan trees shaded an open area with a small koi pond and waterfall. At night, the staff would light tiki torches around the property, including the lobby, creating a soft, calm glow. We booked a standard garden view room, but were upgraded at check-in to a partial ocean view next to their recently built serenity pool. The view from our room was lovely and ‘partial’ view from inside the room became a full ocean view when sitting outside on the lanai. Inside the room, the bathroom was well maintained, the shower was clean and the entire space looked to have been recently updated with white linens on the bed and soft down pillows. My husband did complain about the bed that it was too soft, but it didn’t bother me. The only concern about our room amenities was the television, which was outdated and had a remote that barely worked, but it didn’t bother us since we certainly didn’t book a trip to Hawaii to sit in our room and watch tv. My one complaint about the hotel is the service, and after one full day at the property, we had to adjust our expectations on service to align with the level the hotel was offering. Once we did that, it was a nice stay. As follows, is what prompted us to adjust our expectations on service: You can decide for yourself, based upon what rate you are paying to stay at this property, whether this is acceptable to you or not. Our second full day in Maui, we visited Haleakala to watch the sunrise. Upon return, we noted that our room had been cleaned, but they had failed to provide us any washrags. We called the front desk to ask for someone to bring us some rags. The front desk answered "Aloha, I am currently helping a guest, may I place you on hold?" upon which I replied "No thank you, I will call back later." We decided to forego trying to get some rags and headed out to Wailea beach. Upon return, I was very ready for a shower, so I called again, but this time I called using the At Your Service button on the phone. A lady picked up the phone and our conversation went as follows: "At your service, how may I help you?" "Yes, I would like to see if someone could deliver some rags to our room." Accusatory tone – "What do you need the rags for?" Response "Well, the staff cleaned our room this morning and there were no rags in the room for us to use." "What are they for? Why do you need rags? Still accusatory. I politely responded "To bathe with? I just returned from the beach and would like to take a shower and have no wash rags. If someone does not want to bring us any, I can use a handtowel, but I would prefer to use a wash rag to clean up." At this point, her tone changed, "Oh, I am so sorry ma’am, I thought you had spilled something in the room and were trying to clean it up on your own and wanted to offer our assistance in helping you clean. We will have those washrags to you immediately … How many do you need?" My response "two will be fine." At your service: "We will have them to you immediately." Thirty minutes later, we still had no rags and I was ready to take my shower thinking we should have called before we went to the beach if it was going to take this long. At this point, I am covered in sand and suntan lotion and frustrated. So, I left the room and walked to the concierge desk at the lobby. Standing there, the concierge looked at me and asked how he could help. I replied that I called for some rags to be delivered 30 minutes ago and they had not yet been sent to my room and did he have any rags to give to me. The concierge then called someone, hung up, and told me that they would be delivered immediately. I gave him a skeptical look and he then frowned at me and replied "Ma’am, if I had rags at the desk, I would give them to you." You can make your own opinions of whether my expectations were too high to expect at least an ‘I’m sorry’ from someone.

Other than that, the stay was nice … if you are looking for a clean property in a good location in Maui where you can rest your head in the midst of enjoying everything this island has to offer, the Marriott is a good place to stay. If you are expecting to be treated with some level of service beyond just the normal check in and check out, this is not the place. The property is just too large with too few staff to accommodate a high level of service.
Marriott Wailea Beach Resort & Spa
3700 Wailea Alanui
Maui, Hawaii
(808) 879-1922

Kihei Town - Just north of Wailea

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Princess00 on May 10, 2009

After freshening up from our flight, we headed to Da’ Kitchen in Kihei. Kihei is a small beach town located just north of Wailea, about a 10-15 minute drive up the coastline. It seemed like Kihei was a more local town than Wailea. It also had an increasing amount of condos to stay at rather than the big resorts. The 'vibe' in Kihei, compared to Wailea, is much more laid-back. It seemed to us that Kihei had the most restaurant options ebedded within small open-air shopping locations where you could pick up all sorts of locally-made goods. Our favorite thing to do in Kihei was stop by Local Boy Shave Ice in Kihei Kalama Village around sunset. Then, we would walk across the street to the beach park and sit along the shore, enjoying our flavorful shave ice while watching the sun descend behind the horizon.

Great Plate Lunch - Our Favorite in Maui

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Princess00 on April 11, 2009

We visited Da’ Kitchen our first night in Maui. It was located in a strip shopping mall in Kihei. The location and the setting are nothing special, but it was nice and casual for our first night as it had a walk up counter and served the local ‘plate lunch’ type meal. My husband ordered the kalau pork and I got the fried Mahi Mahi plate lunch. Both were served with a big scoop of rice and macaroni salad. It was a delicious meal. The Mahi Mahi was piping hot and served with a fabulous tarter sauce and the pork had a nice briny salty flavor that worked well with the rice. During our trip, we tried Aloha Mixed Plate (not recommended) and Honokowai Ozazuya Deli (okay). Da’ Kitchen was by far our favorite plate lunch place during the whole trip. I suggest taking it to go and driving a short distance north to eat at one of the beachside parks. It is definitely a must try – good price, huge servings (big enough to share), and great taste.
Da Kitchen
425 Koloa St., #104
Kihei, Maui, Hawaii, 96732
(808) 871-7782

Local Boy Snack Shop

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Princess00 on April 11, 2009

Local Boy was located in Kihei Kalama Village. This being our second time to Hawaii, we made it our goal to eat shave ice every day. Local boy came highly recommended and for taste, quality of shave, and price, it was a good pick. The flavors of the syrups were consistently good, the shave of the ice was nice and soft and the price (3.50 sm/5.50 lg) was the cheapest of any we had during our stay. Our only complaint was the ice cream scoop at the bottom, which was usually barely even noticeable it was so small. But given that they did not charge extra for the ice cream or the cream "snow" on top, it didn’t bother us too much. We highly recommend Local Boy and if we every return to Maui, this will certainly be a stop we will make again. Very good shave ice.
Local Boy Snack Shop
1941 South Kihei Road
Kihei, Hawaii, 96753
(808) 875-6731

March 31 - Haleakala and Wailea Beach

Sunrise Was Not What We Expected (We Are Chickens!)

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Princess00 on May 10, 2009

Our second day, my husband and I woke up at 2 am (yes, crazy) to drive to the top of Haleakala. Located 10,023 feet above sea level, the Haleakala crater can be seen from almost anywhere in Maui. The clouds that form on its north face is the source for the rainfall for the Road to Hana waterfalls on the north shore.

Sunrise at Haleakala – Not the Best Conditions for a Good Sunrise

In pitch black, we arrived at the base of the mountain. Neither of us had every driven up a mountain before and not sure what to expect. Upon entrance into Haleakala National Park where the visitor center was located, it was still pitch black, windy, and had started raining. My husband began to question our sanity, but I urged him to continue on. After the visitor center, switchbacks on the road increased and the road narrowed. Clouds forming just below the crater became thicker and thicker as we ascended, with increasing winds and rain. Soon, the visibility in front of us completely became enshrouded with clouds. The only thing we could see were the yellow reflectors in the center of the road guiding us like breadcrumbs to our destination. Since we could not see, there was no option but to just keep going and pray those little breadcrumbs would not suddenly go away. Finally, we were at the top of the crater. We headed to the lookout point to watch the sunrise. Basically, the clouds kept rising as the sun rose, leaving us slightly disappointed with the ‘majesty’ of it all. It was nice, but not spectacular and the fright-fest we endured ascending at that early in the morning left us thinking it was something we should have not done for the result we got. I think, however, that our experience of the sunset was tainted as we probably did not have the best conditions for the ‘out of this world’ experience I had heard so much about. Also, dress warm. We had hats, gloves, a jacket, and long underwear, and it was still freezing standing in the dark waiting for the sun to peek above the crater. Further, if you bring a camera, make sure it is fully charged as the cold does drain your battery quicker than normal.

The Summit, Crater, and Drive Down - Lovely and a Must See

Once the sun rose, it warmed up and the crater came into view. At the top, the views of the island of Maui and the ocean below were amazing. As we slowly descended, we stopped as much as we could to enjoy the lovely lookout points along the way. The terrain at the top of the mountain is almost like being on another planet – rough, red, and covered in interesting arid plants (like silverswords). In spite of the drive up, we really enjoyed visiting Haleakala National Park. Actually, we almost laughed seeing the switch-backs in daylight as there was nothing we should have been scared of. If you decide to wake up early and see the sunrise, just know that it is dark, windy, and cloudy and once at the top, you might not see an amazing sunrise. If it is worth the early wake up call on your vacation, then go for it! Hawaii is all about adventure. The sunrise part was not for us, but had we had the amazing sunrise we hoped for, it might have changed our expectations. As for the rest, it was certainly something we enjoyed seeing and I can’t imagine visiting Maui and not seeing Haleakala.

Also, if you are also visiting Ohe’o Gulch during your trip, be sure to save your Haleakala ticket as it is valid at both locations.

Bike Company Observation – Do your Research

We chose not to bike down Haleakala as we had heard some things about the dangers of this activity. I really did not think the actual bike ride seemed dangerous; however, certain tours did not give the appearance that they were as ‘safe’ as others. We saw one couple using a tour that told us their ‘bike was terrible’ and then watched the husband fix his wife’s chain and break that had broken before they headed down a very steep hill. This same tour had a guide that showed the group how to work their bike at the top of the mountain, then got in a van and stated ‘see you at the bottom’ and left them to fend for themselves. This is compared to another company that stayed with their group the entire time and stopped along the way to provide a brief narrative of the sites of Maui. So, be sure to do your research if you are considering this option as there is a big difference between tour companies. This difference, it appeared, also impacts the level of safety for this activity.
Haleakalā National Park
Po Box 369
Makawao, Hawaii, 96768
(808) 572-4400

Good Breakfast

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Princess00 on April 11, 2009

Kihei Café is located in Kihei Kalama Village. It is a small outdoor café that serves mostly breakfast and coffee drinks. We found ourselves stopping by Kihei Café quite often. Our first stop was after our visit to Haleakala National Park, and we grabbed a quick bite of their raspberry twists (yummy) and a mocha coffee drink. The coffee was very good and prompted us to return the next day for a full breakfast where we ordered the banana macadamia nut pancakes (okay) and an omelette with peppers, cheese, and sausage (good). I also got another mocha coffee. It was a great convenient spot to grab a relaxed breakfast or a quick coffee. No complaints.
Kihei Caffe
1945 South Kihei Road
Kihei, Hawaii, 96753
+1 808 879 2230

Good Lunch Spot

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Princess00 on April 11, 2009

We visited Pita Paradise our second day in Maui. Located in Kihei Kalama Village, the pitas were fresh and hot and the help was friendly and sociable. The flatbreads were fresh and tender and there were a variety of choices of meat. My husband had the pork and I had the local fish special. It was a nice lunch option. Probably not our favorite place to eat during the trip, but the food was fresh and tasty and we had no complaints.
Pita Paradise
1913 South Kihei Road
Maui, Hawaii, 96753
(808) 875-7679

Good for Families

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by Princess00 on May 10, 2009

After our visit to Haleakala National Park our second day in Maui, we decided to enjoy Wailea beach next to the Marriott in the afternoon. It was a relaxed afternoon. Wailea beach is fronted by the Four Seasons, the Fairmount, and the Grand Wailea, so you know it is a good beach. The beach was filled with tons of families and it was a nice place to people watch. Personally, I did not think the beach was that picturesque, but the views offshore were lovely. Later in the afternoon the surf starts to heighten , but it was not so strong that it became un-swimmable. In my opinion, Wailea beach was not the ‘prettiest’ (I like Makena better for scenery), but it was a great place to take some kiddos and have an easy afternoon at the beach close. It was also the closest beach to our hotel (the Marriott)
Wailea Beach

Maui, Hawaii

Best Meal In Maui

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Princess00 on April 11, 2009

We had heard mixed things about Mama’s … mainly stemming from the cost of the food. Well, it was the most expensive meal we have every had, but was it worth it? Absolutely yes. Every step of the meal, from location to service to food was top notch. The restaurant is what I would describe as casual elegant with soft lighting and warm woods. No white table cloths or stuff feel … the atmosphere was unmistakably Hawaii. The entire restaurant is open to the oceanfront, affording a lovely view of the beach and the soothing sounds of the waves crashing along the shoreline. I had the best fish I have every tasted in my entire life at this restaurant – Opakapaka – upon which no other fish dish we enjoyed during our entire trip could live up to the fish I ate at Mama’s. We started with their Shrimp Won Tons with macadamia nut dipping sauce as an appetizer and then moved on to salads. I had the Waipoli Baby Romaine and Big Island Heart of Palm Salad with Reggiano Parmesan vinaigrette and Nathan had the Haiku Tomato, Maui Onion and Point Reyes Blue Cheese Salad with virgin olive oil, eighteen year old balsamic vinegar and pine nuts. My husband is not a big fan of tomatoes so when the waiter told him they could do ‘whatever he wanted’, he asked that they add some greens to the tomato salad. Both salads were fresh and light, but my husband’s was amazing. The greens, combined with the sweetest, most flavorful tomatoes, sweet maui onion and blue cheese just burst in your mouth with flavor. We moved on to entrees and my husband ordered the Mahimahi stuffed with lobster, crab, Maui onion and baked in a macadamia nut crust. I ordered the Opakapaka sautéed with Kamuela tomatoes, white wine, garlic and capers. We both agreed that my opakapaka was the better of the two dishes. Although I was beginning to get full, I stuffed every flavorful, light, buttery bit of fish in my mouth, savoring each bite and wishing there was more when I was done. We finished with the Polynesian Black Pearl and the Banana Macadamia Nut Crisp, both of which were excellent. In total, our meal cost $260 (which included drinks) and was the most expensive meal we have ever had. Why so much? Well, the quality of ingredients partially accounts for the cost, but overall, we felt the extra price related to service. Mama’s has their service so efficient; you don’t even notice when they are there and when they are not. Our waiter started off our meal with "We can do whatever you want. Just ask." And we felt like we were the only people in the restaurant and we had the full, undivided attention of the staff. As we finished each item, there always seemed to be someone standing off to the side watching our table to make sure that empty dishes were cleared and our water was full. And it was smooth and precise – no water sloshing onto the floor as the glass was filled or a waitstaff reaching over you to grab your glass to fill it. There was not one time I had to stop my conversation with my husband or lean back from my chair to accommodate a waitstaff trying to service our table. My husband believes that to accomplish this, they would watch for a lull in conversation or a point that the diner would look away and swoop in to handle their service so you would not notice they were there. It was the best service we have every received at a meal and justified the cost. If you are looking for a lovely meal, on a beautiful beach, with great service, this is the place to go. If you are going to run the numbers in your head off the menu during the meal and flip out at the price when you are finished, then don’t bother. This is a place to go in with the expectation that it is going to be expensive, but it will be worth it. We visited knowing that it would be our ‘splurge’ romantic meal for our trip and were very pleased with the outcome. It was our most favorite meal on the trip. Loved Mama’s! As a side note, a couple nearby ordered one appetizer, salad, entrée and dessert and split every course. So, if you want to try Mama’s and not flip out at the cost, this may be a nice option. They appeared to have their ‘system’ down and I would imagine it would be a good way to enjoy the restaurant, come home full, and only pay half the price. Very smart ‘budgeting’, IMO.
Mama's Fish House
799 Poho Place
Maui, Hawaii, 96779
(808) 579-8488

April 1 - Makena Beach

Our First Try at Snorkeling

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Princess00 on May 10, 2009

Our third day in Maui was our beach day. Determined to visit Makena beach, which from photos, appeared to be the prettiest beach in South Maui. However, Nathan and I both wanted to try snorkeling. After chatting with a local dive operator yesterday, we were told that Ulua Beach right near our hotel would be a good spot to start. So, after a hearty breakfast of Banana Macadamia Nut Pancakes and an omelet at Kihei Caffe, we rented some snorkel gear for the day. From the hotel, we walked north to Ulua Beach which is just a small sandy strip lined by a few really upscale Wailea condominiums. The reef was on the north face of the beach. It took us a short while to figure out how to breathe with the gear (freaky knowing that you can breathe underwater), but once we mastered it, the water was calm and clear. We saw tons of small, colorful fish flittering around the beautiful coral reef. We probably snorkeled for a about an hour until the surf began to pick up slightly and a large group of snorkelers showed up. They began to kick up so much sand, visibility disappeared quickly so we waded back onto shore and decided to head to Makena to bake in the sun. It was our only time to snorkel on the island b/c of the rough winter surf, but we both decided it was enjoyable enough that we would pursue a snorkel trip next time we had the opportunity.

Salt & Pepper Sand and 360 degree Views

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Princess00 on May 10, 2009

Makena (or "Big Beach") was located just south of Wailea. We quickly found the parking lot on the north end of the beach and walked down to the shoreline. Makena was different than most beaches in the area as there are no resorts located on the shoreline. With your back to the ocean, looking up, you could see the south side of Haleakala. The beach was beautiful from 360 degrees! The length of the beach extends 2/3 of a mile long and it has about a 100 foot sandy width. At the north end was an easy cliff where you could climb up for a bird’s eye view of the entire length of the beach. Further north, over the cliff, was Little Beach, which is clothing optional. Makena beach had beautiful golden sand peppered with small black lava rocks. The water was crystal clear blue and had a sharp surf that made it difficult to swim, but fun to wade in. We enjoyed watching the local boys in the surf near the cliff as they would boogie board in the surf. It was one of the prettiest beaches on South Maui; however, it is not a swimmer-friendly beach. If you are looking for a beach where young children can swim, this is not the place to go. If you are looking for gorgeous scenery, this beach is a must see!
Makena Beach
Makena Road
Maui, Hawaii

Delicious Sushi - A favorite Meal of Our Trip

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Princess00 on April 19, 2009

My husband and I recently discovered that we enjoyed eating sushi about a year ago. Being from land-locked Dallas, we were looking forward to trying sushi in Hawaii, where fresh fish and products are so readily abundant. Sansei came highly recommended and it lived up to its expectations. I was surprised by the location and the interior of the restaurant. I was expecting this really trendy, cool restaurant with modern touches located on some fancy stretch of Maui beach. However, the restaurant is humbly located at one end of a shopping center strip mall. Upon entry, the interior was clean, with a sushi bar on your right and tables located throughout the remainder of the space. The décor was more casual and laid back than we expected from looking at photos on the website. This was not a bad thing, though, just different from what we were expecting. The only glitch on the dining was that I had made a reservation for dinner that night; however, upon arrival, they did not have our reservation. The hostess quickly made up for it by finding us a seat with no wait, though. However, be sure to confirm your reservation prior to arrival if you don’t want to risk a wait. The waitstaff was friendly and helpful in recommending choices, but the menu also was nicely laid out with descriptions of what was in each roll (good for novice sushi eaters like us). The hardest part was deciding what to order as everything offered was deliciously described. We ordered the Panko Crusted Ahi Sashimi Sushi Roll as a starter and were not disappointed. After looking around, this appetizer seemed to be the most popular choice. The ahi was fresh and the roll was very light and tasty and different from your normal ‘sushi.’ I almost wanted to drink the sauce that was served with it, it was so good. My main thought on this meal was that sometimes with sushi, the sauces get really heavy and overwhelm the taste of the roll. Sansei did an excellent job of balancing light sauces with their rolls so you could enjoy all of the ingredients in each bite. We ordered a few special rolls and a few ‘traditional rolls’ (like the Spicy Tuna Roll). Their special rolls were creative and flavorful and their traditional rolls were very fresh and well prepared. Each item that was presented to us was also an artful pleasure to the eye. The food was colorful and beautifully prepared and tasted as good as it looked. We looked at the menu and photos on their website beforehand and the photos accurately depict the lovely food they serve. We ordered a variety of rolls and stuffed ourselves silly, finishing our meal off with their Tempura Fried Macadamia Nut Ice Cream. Overall, it was an excellent meal and one that we would certainly like to have again on a future visit! On a price level, Sansei’s rolls were also very reasonably priced. We had sushi shortly after returning from Hawaii and the price difference was comparable to what we pay in Dallas.
Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar
1881 S Kihei Rd Ste Kt116
Kihei, Hawaii, 96753
(808) 879-0004

April 2 - Road to Hana

Great Stop Before Road to Hana - Coffee and Lunch

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Princess00 on February 23, 2010

We stopped at Anthony’s Coffee in Pa’ia Town for a quick breakfast on our way to Hana during our stay in Maui in April. Anthony’s offered a nice selection of coffee drinks and hot breakfast options. Wanting to get moving onto Hana, we opted for thier cold breakfast option of donuts and éclairs. My chocolate éclair was very fresh, soft and had a plentiful and delicious Bavarian cream center. Anthony’s also offered a packed lunch that could be eaten on the road to Hana later that day. We purchased a turkey sandwich to split, knowing that the food options would be limited that day and that carrying a lunch with us would provide us with flexibility to eat at our leisure, making the day even more relaxed and enjoyable. They also offer a cooler (for $10 a day) to rent that must be returned at the end of the day. We chose not to do the cooler and risked the sandwich spoiling, but there was nothing to worry about. The sandwich was very well chilled and still cold by the time we decided to eat a few hours later. At lunch, we realized that the sandwiches they served were actually good – which was a surprise given that they basically have a monopoly on the food options for Hana. If you are planning on traveling the road to Hana, this is a must stop on your journey. Order breakfast and then grab a lunch to go. It will make your day so much more relaxed than searching around Hana trying to find a roadside stand to eat at (many of which were closed the day we went). Their food is tasty, fresh, and the location is perfect to grab and go. A nice start to our day!
Anthony's Coffee Co.
90 Hana Highway
Paia, Hawaii, 96779
+1 808 579 8340; +1

So Many Shades of Green!

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Princess00 on February 23, 2010

Day 4: April 2 – Road to Hana

Taking the recommendations of those who have traveled Hana as well as our helpful guidebooks, we were in Pa’ia Town by 7:00 am, ready to start our Hana journey ahead of other travelers. Having not eaten breakfast, we found a coffee shop in Pa’ia called Anthony's Coffee Company. We stopped for a small bite of breakfast – éclairs and muffins. Anthony’s also offered a packed lunch (and cooler) that could be eaten on the road to Hana later that day. We purchased a sandwich, knowing that the food options would be limited that day and that carrying a lunch with us would provide us with flexibility to eat at our leisure, making the day even more relaxed and enjoyable.

We had heard many horror stories about the Road to Hana, but were determined to give it a try. Hana was one of the main reasons I wanted to visit the island of Maui instead of some of the other islands we had not already seen. We picked up a great guide book that proved to be extremely helpful on our journey - Hana Highway Mile by Mile: The Road to Hana & Beyond. This book was written to designate certain stopping points along the road to Hana that might be of interest to tourists. Using this book, which is very small and portable, we were able to read about a destination, look at the * review (1* to 5*) and determine if it was somewhere we wanted to stop based upon the amount of time we had and whether it seemed interesting to us or not. Because we had arrived on the road rather early, we did not experience difficulty with finding a spot to park our car at the more popular sites, which was a complaint that we had heard often from other travelers. The day was lovely and sunny. For nature lovers, I can’t imagine not taking this road. The lushness of the surrounding coastline is something that cannot be fully described. I had never seen so many different shades of green in my entire life. Many people have commented that you can see Hana by just driving a few miles in and then turning around; however, the road changes and winds and as you move further along, you see different aspects of the Maui coast. Initially, you see the weaving road along the coastline – crystal blue water juxtaposed against the tall black cliffs covered in green foliage. Then, the road winds further inward where water gushes forth into spectacular waterfalls. There were times when the lava rock literally seeped water. As you travel farther along, you come to the famous black sand beach at Wai'anapanapa State Wayside Park and then move forward past Hana to 'Ohe'o Gulch and Kipahula Area. Also, we were sure to stop at one of the local stands to purchase some banana bread. Not only was it delicious, but it gave us the energy we needed to get through the day before we stopped for lunch. Notable sites along Hana that we stopped at:

Waikamoi Ridge Trail (Ko'Olau Forest Reserve) - Shortly past mile marker 9, we stopped at the Waikamoi Trail, a beautiful, short nature walk through trees, bamboo, and ferns with scenic overlooks at various points along the way. This was a good place to stop for a quick stretch of the legs. It provided a lovely lookout point along the trail.

Mile Marker 14 and 16 – Coastline Views: Between mile markers 14 and 16, we stopped at several pullouts that provided really beautiful lookout points. This was the perfect location to view the winding highway along Honomanu Bay. If you don’t have time to stop at each lookout point, at least try to stop at one.

Ke'Anae Peninsula – This was a short diversion drive off of the Hana road that took us to a small peninsula of black rock. If you have the time, it is a nice stop, but if you are running short on your day, it is not a necessary destination, IMO.

Waterfalls – The inner section of Hana is filled with so many waterfalls. I love seeing the rushing water, so we stopped at each one to take in the sites. Each waterfall is different and unique and due to the heavy rainfall up on Haleakala, there were many little surprises along the way that were not marked as ‘stopping points.’ My favorites were probably Three Bears Falls and Wailuaiki Falls.

Wai'anapanapa State Wayside Park – my husband and I decided that this beach is listed as one of our ‘top beaches’ we have ever visited. I can’t say that we are ‘beach experts’, but we have seen a few gorgeous beaches in our time. When we arrived at Wai'anapanapa State Wayside Park, it was time for lunch, so we opened our sandwich we had purchased that morning and at lunch at the park along with finishing the rest of our banana bread. There were lots of picnic tables in this area where we could sit, relax, and take in the sites. I was surprised because I always believed that the black sand beach was the only ‘site’ at this location; however, the surrounding area is just as amazing. We stated on the east shore and took a couple of pictures before heading down to the beach. The beach is well maintained and easily accessible; however, it is not swimmable and there are warning signs everywhere noting as much. There is something absolutely splendid about this location – black lava rock against bright blue water and the most interesting bright green plants growing out of the rock. After spending a little bit of time on the beach, we headed to the east side up a small trail. At the top, we were amazed to find sheer cliffs where the strong north shore surf was crashing up, forcing a strong spray of salty water to where we were standing. It was a splendid display of the powerful ocean and the strength of the cliffs. All in all, we spent about an hour or so at this location and had a hard time leaving.

Red Sand Beach - I also wanted to visit the Red Sand beach in Hana town because the photos looked so spectacular. This was the only stop on our trip that I would not recommend – especially if the ground is wet. The trail is very limited with sheer drops into the ocean below. If you are scared of heights or have a ‘cautious nature’ this is not the hike for you. I ended up, at one point, on my knees in the red dirt grasping at little tree roots to get through a very worn out part of the trail. By the time we made it to the beach, I was too scared to take the last part of the trail to the bottom for fear I could not get back up. My husband did and said the beach was lovely. It was a beautiful and unusual site, but not one that is worth the risk. Also, if you are not a fan of ‘clothing optional’ beaches, this is not the place to be. Due to its secluded nature, there were many swimmers that decided to forego swimwear.

'Ohe'o Gulch and Kipahula Area –'Ohe'o Gulch was located about 15 minutes past Hana. The road narrows and began to get rather bumpy, indicating less attention to maintenance. As we had visited Haleakala previously, we kept our ticket and used it to enter the 'Ohe'o Gulch area. A short walk took us to the pools which were closed that day due to rainfall. It was a nice stop, but at this point, we had been on Hana all day (it was mid- afternoon) at this point, and were beginning to get worn out.

There are two options on how to leave Hana – go back the way you came or continue around the east and south face of Haleakala. After experiencing the bumpy roads past Hana, we had read that certain portions along the east and south face could get rather treacherous and are often closed due to rock falls. So, we opted to return the way we came. It takes a full day to really ‘see’ Hana, but our return trip was accomplished in about 1-2 hours. By that time, we had become comfortable with the road, drove like a ‘local’, and made fast time. It was on the way back that it started to rain and we were thankful we had gotten up early that day as many people were just making their way along the road to see certain sites. With the downpour, it looked pretty miserable for them and what they saw (which we saw earlier that day) looked pretty disappointing due to the weather.

All in all, it was one of our favorite days on our trip.
Road to Hana
Hana Highway
Maui, Hawaii

Decent Food, Not Memorable

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by Princess00 on February 23, 2010

We visited this restaurant located in Kihei after a very long trip along the Road to Hana that day. It had come highly recommended by many travelers for its good price point and food quality. I think because of the strong reviews, my husband and I had really high expectations for this restaurant and it ended up not really meeting those expectations. The food was good, but not great. The restaurant is located in a shopping mall in Kihei so there was no amazing view. The interior of the restaurant was nice, but not overly memorable and I felt like the tables were a little crowded to close to each other. All in all, it was an okay dining experience but not somewhere that we would re-visit on a future trip. I would certainly not guide people away from the restaurant, but I would not list it as a ‘favorite’ of the trip.
Cafe O'Lei Kihei
2439 South Kihei Road
Maui, Hawaii
(808) 891-1368

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