This was our sixth trip to Maui, our absolute favorite Hawaiian Island. Friends asked what more can you find to do. Plenty, believe me. But we also learned the pure joy of Polynesian Paralysis…doing nothing.
by two cruisers on August 16, 2013
A while back I wrote an Igougo story or tip comparison review of Maui lodgings, called "Maui Make House". I stand by all my reviews with this exception: I have now found the indisputable winner of our favorite place to stay. My husband had declared that this would be his last "big" trip, so we decided to do it up right. First Class airfare, shop till we drop and stay at the best place we could find. We found it in Lahaina at the Pu’unoa Beach Estates. A word of warning: it is expensive. A word to the wise: it was worth it. Our party of three stayed 11 nights (got a free night for staying longer that 9 nights) for a total of $8165. I’ll help with the math….$742 per night…or $247 per person per night. OK, that compares to staying at Bally’s in Vegas. That is my rationalization and I am sticking with it. On the bright side, there were no hidden costs to pay on arrival and the parking was free! Pu’unoa Beach Estates is located in Lahaina on what the locals call Baby Beach. Our small lawn is separated from the beach by a hedge with two gates. There is a second lawn beyond the hedge and then trails through the beach vegetation takes us out to a hard packed sand beach and the most gentle swimming beach on the island. Maybe on all the islands! All beaches on Maui are public accessible. We found four beach access points while we walked the beach. The locals love this beach as a place to bring families, teach little ones to love the water. That is how the name Baby Beach evolved. Marilyn and I daily walked from one end of the beach to the other and back. I loved to walk out in the gentle water and enjoy the gentle rise and fall as small waves came in. Beyond a breakwater we could see surfers and snorkelers Pu’unoa Beach Estate is a short block off of Front Street. If you know Lahaina you know everything is on Front Street! We were within walking distance of The Banyan Tree Park, harbor, shops, restaurants, entertainments and groceries. We did drive to the grocery for major purchases! When we weren’t walking on the beach or walking Front Street, we were loving life on our lanai or in the condo unit. Our unit had two bedrooms and two baths; four lanais; a large and well-equipped kitchen with eat at counter and dinning room seating; a comfortable living room. We had 3 TVs with DVD/VCR players. Besides a stash of DVDs, CD, and VHS tapes in the unit, we could check out more from the office. We had a laundry room with washer and dryer and a counter for folding. Aside from the utilitarian features we had lovely pieces of art decorating the unit. One closet had a shelf of games and another of books (including Maui guide books) that we could use. My husband’s favorite feature of the décor were 3 electric window shades on the lanai walls of the dinning room, living room and master bedroom. Theycould be raised or lowered by pressing a switch. Although one night he put them down before Marilyn had come back from her walk and she found herself shut out. Bad boy!We met three of the employees here. The office staff lady checked us in, answered lots of questions and pointed out special features. The maintenance man helped us sort out the confusion of too many remote controls for the entertainment center. The manager helped us with borrowing items from the office and extended our departure time because we had a very late flight out.One fault. This is a gated community. We needed to punch in a code to open the gates to enter. I have short arms and the keypad is located on a curved rock wall. We were afraid to get to close to it and scuff the rental car. So rain or shine, one of us had to pop out of the car to punch in the code. Awkward.
We ordered our tickets on-line at a cost of $106 a piece. The next step was to register at the Front Street shop and then we walked to the dock. Rows of seats are set up in front of the Atlantis Stand. At the appropriate time we are welcomed, instructed and led down the pier to board a shuttle boat. Our guide had a wonderful sense of humor and a good voice that carried over the engine sounds. He told us what to expect to see. He even gave us a short talk on the physics of light to explain why everything we would be seeing is pretty much blue. Our shuttle boat approached another boat that served as the marker for the submarine. We watched and waited and soon a lighter colored spot appeared in the water. That spot was the rising submarine. We cleared space on board so the sub passengers could board our boat. Then we were allowed to cross a plank and descend a ladder into the sub. File in and take a seat. Marilyn and I were seated so we could share a porthole view. They closed the hatch. Ok, I’m getting excited now! What surprised me was the little change in feeling there is. We descended and saw lots of blue out the window. Occasionally I would see a school of yellow fish and coral shapes. Once we all gasped when we saw a shark motionless on the bottom. Rumor circulated the sub that Mr. Shark was not real. Picture taking was a waste of time. But I did it anyway. I was fairly disappointed with the results. That changed when we found the sunken Carthaginian. Bill and I had toured this boat, rerigged as a whaler, when it was in Lahaina Harbor. Atlantis bought it when it had fallen into disrepair and they got permission to sink it. It would become a habitat to lure sea critters. There were starter coral all over the old metal ship and we did see some fish moving in and out of it. We even saw SpongeBob SquarePants, that sighting made a lot of kids and adults happy. Yes sinking the Carhaginian saved this ride from being a total wipeout. I will do my fish watching at the Maui Ocean Center from now on.On thing I did enjoy was the search for plants on the bottom of the ocean. When we found vegetation instead of coral, the captain set the sub down, on the bottom at 123 feet. I can now say I have been on the bottom of the sea. On our return trip I enjoyed the lovely island of Maui. Our trip took I hour and 45 minutes. Children must be at least 36" tall. All the kids on board seemed to enjoy it and best of all no one got sea-sick. There are package deals available that includes a luau.
Moose McGillycuddy’s is at 844 Front Street in Lahaina.We wanted lunch and decided to go with a recommendation of a former co-worker. One problem. The restaurant is on the second floor and we had a steep stairway to negotiate. One good thing. Being on the second floor we had a fun new perspective on Front Street Lahaina. Marilyn and I each had sliders with a side of onion rings. For sliders they were quite generous and I had left-overs for my next two suppers. Other than the view, I don’t think there was anything special about the place that you can’t get somewhere else on street level. Blue Lagoon Tropical Bar and Grill is in the Wharf Shopping Center just opposite the Banyan Tree Park at 658 Front Street in Lahaina. What is has going for it is location. It is located on the lower level of the center but can be reached by ramps or elevator. Like many Hawiian restaurants it is indoor/outdoor depending on at what table you are seated. We asked for shade. They provided good music and good service. I had a Teriyaki chicken plate lunch and I’m sure Bill went for the Kalua pork. They aren’t memorable good or bad. Lunch for two with beverages and tip was $31. We could have saved $4 by going to Aloha Mixed Plate, but that is a long walk from here. When in Maui and you have secured a parking spot, make do with what is close by. If it is a great meal, you have found a new treasure. If it was only so-so….so what…you are on Maui look at the beauty around you.
Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop is a new find on this trip. It has been around long enough to win a best of Maui award for desserts, and to develop a good following. We stopped in for a take out treat and had to wait in line about twenty minutes. The parking is haphazard and not paved. They are located at 820 Olowalu Village Road alongside Highway 30. If you have been to Maui before you may remember a hole in the wall French restaurant with a good reputation. This is the same building. Leoda’s has established a good reputation to for sweet and savory pies. The menu isn’t limited to that. Deli made to order sandwiches, Leoda’s Favorite Sandwiches, Burgers, Hoagies and Hot Dogs all using local ingredients are the bulk of the menu. Rounding out the menu are salads, unusual sides like fried mac n cheese and reuben lumpia add an unusual twist. We bought Olowalu Lime Pie, Coconut Cream Pie and Banana Cream Pie. Instead of cut pieces they were individual 3 inch or 5 inch pies. I have had more flavorful lime pie, but the other two raved about their choices. We had every intention to come back here for meal before leaving. But even with eleven days to work with we ran out of time. I think if we fly in again we should stop here on the way from the airport to our lodging. Sandwich prices range from $6 hot dog to $15 seared ahi. Chicken savory pot pie goes for $8.50, the beef is considerably more. House made pies vary due to size and ingredients, minis are $4.75 and it goes up from there. There is a children’s menu.
On one of our leisure days we took a drive from Lahaina to the paniolo (cowboy) town of Paia. This started out as an agriculture center, but now has a mix of art colony, tourist shops, and is known as the world capitol of windsurfing. It is also the last town before entering the long and twisting road to Hana. Parking can be a challenge but we found a lot just as you come into town. Even early in the morning the lot was pretty full. We shopped and had coffee and shopped some more before driving down to Ho’okipa to watch the windsurfers. Both Bill and I scored treasures in the shops. I found some beautiful placemats at Maui Hands. Be bought a wood walking stick with a carved dolphin for the handle. He found that at Mandala Ethnic Arts at 29 Baldwin Ave. There was another antique store to check out. Paia Trading Company is located on 106 Hana Hwy. I had hoped to find something uniquely Hawaiian but it all looked like our grandmas’ cupboards. Over the years I have always made a point of shopping at the Maui Crafts Guild where I have found several treasures. Being a cooperative that means the artists exhibited take turns runnig the store. It is always fun to talk to them about their work. The guild is located on the ocean side of the highway as you approach from Kahului.Our coffee stop was Anthony’s Coffee Co. also located on the Hana Hwy. We managed to get the window seats overlooking the street. We had a pleasant view of the small town with lots of surfboards and windboards being transported to the beaches. Traffic was heavy and unrelenting. Also available are breakfasts including lox and bagels, croissants, wraps, omelets and waffles. They also serve lunch and ice cream. We should have skipped breakfast at home because this menu looked pretty good. Moving down the road we stopped at Ho’okipa Beach Park located at Mile 9. We started to pick up the twists and turns of the road to Hana. At the top of one rise we turned into the upper section of the park. Lots of parking here and even a lunch wagon and craft tables, Unfortunately due to unusual surf and wind conditions there was only one windsurfer out there for us to watch. Marilyn and I decided to go for a hike and we followed the cliff edge fence trail down to a point where we could look down on some tidepools. On the way back we stopped to admire the flowering and fruiting trees along the path. Leaving the park we drove down to the lower level where the windsurfers launch. All the picnic tables were full of family gatherings. This certainly is a popular place for local families. One good thing about Maui…if the thing you came to see isn’t there, there will be something else to look at. One day we took a whale watch. Didn’t see any whales but we saw lots of dolphins and flying fish and the beautiful coast of Maui.On the way home we stopped at Zippy’s for a late lunch….but that is another story.
I laughed till my sides hurt.While planning our trip I had recommendations from two friends and our travel agent. All of them said, "This may sound strange, but one of the most fun things to do on Maui is go to a magic show at Warren and Annabelle’s." It did sound strange, but we followed up on the suggestions. We bought the Royal Flush Package that included an appetizer meal, two drinks and the magic show for $103 per person. It is possible to buy just the show tickets. The waitress allowed us to pick and choose items from the appetizer menu. That helped me avoid the dreaded shrimp allergy. I picked crab cakes and chicken satay with pineapple that were good. There was a kalua pork wrap that was pretty tasteless. Vegetarian plates are available. We also got to select one of the six desserts. Each of us was given two playing cards. We could trade them in at anytime for a beverage of choice. I selected a Maui Madness umbrella drink for pre-show and carried a ginger ale into the show. While we ate our meal in the comfort of Annabelle’s library, one of our hosts took song requests and was accompanied on the grand piano by the ghost of Annabelle. It was a pretty good trick and a not bad singer. At showtime we were lead into the auditorium and "arranged" by the hosts. The front row seats were given to people who had agreed to be part of the show. The night we were there Warren wasn’t. We did get to see two entertaining slight of hand artists. John George was good with the tricks and patter. However, the second act Dana Daniels was hilarious. He worked with his partner a psychic dove, whose only job was apparently to be the butt of jokes and a distraction. Dana was so funny I laughed till my sides hurt. I would get under control and then hearing another woman laughing the same way would start me in again. My friend Marilyn suggested it might have been the Maui Madness I drank. Well, maybe, but Dana was funny. At first you weren’t impressed with his magic skills as he established the humor pattern. It wasn’t long before his tricks elicited gasps as well as laughs. This is an adult only attraction and it takes about 4 hours. Parking was validated by Warren and Annabelle’s and was easy to find in the huge lot shared by Hilo Hatties. Theater is located at 900 Front Street with entrance off the street. We then gathered in an upstairs lobby (there are both stairs and elevator). The staff knows what they are doing and the process of getting us checked in and into the theater was swift and in part entertainment itself.
Forty-nine years ago when my husband and I started traveling together our souvenirs were post cards and found treasures like pine cones and rocks. Things have escalated since then. We both love to shop. He doesn’t buy as much as I, however he enjoys the hunt. On our six trips to Maui we have found shops that have become dear to us. It is also fun to find new things. Shopping can become a chore if over done, we would do a little every day or so. Sometimes if I saw something I liked but wasn’t ready to commit, I would put a note on my I-Phone, than I could find the shop later. Works for me. Lets break shopping down into categories:TREATS: Honolulu Cookie Company makes tasty little cookies good for a treat for you or to take home for a gift. My favorite flavor is Lilikoi Mango but Kona Coffee flavor is a close second. They are located in Whalers Village, the airport, and on Front Street. ABC Stores sell Macadamia nuts in several size containers and at the best prices. We buy and ship home two flavors I can’t get in Iowa, Butter Candy Glazed and Maui Onion & Garlic. Hilo Hattie’s also sells mac nuts, but what I buy there is white chocolate /pineapple candy. Napoleon Bakery has wonderful malasadas and many more pastries and sweets with favorite Hawaiian ingredients. Oh, Broke da mouth!CLOTHING: Blue Ginger is my new favorite clothing store for women. Style, fit, fabric and attitude are perfect. Bill’s favorite shirts have come from Tori Richard. Both of those stores are at Whalers Village. I always stop at the Crocs store on Font Street they have many many more styles that I have found available at home. Some of them are kind of sexy and all are comfortable for beach and sidewalk walking. Our friend is addicted to Crazy Shirt shops. She hit every one we saw and amassed a wardrobe of shorts and shirts. Bill and I each bought a Kliban cat T-shirt there. Hilo Hattie’s also is a source of aloha wear, but I highly recommend you try it on before leaving the store. Some good-looking shirts are cut skimpy. Others look and fit great.SOUVENIRS and ART: My first stop shopping in Lahaina is the Courthouse Gallery and gift shop. This is located across from the harbor in Banyan Tree Park. There is a poster competition yearly in Lahaina where artists submit works and the winner has a limited number of prints made and sold for $30 each during the first year and lower thereafter. When they are sold out that is it. Over the years I have bought four of their posters at $10 apiece. Besides being a wonderful memory for me, I get lots of compliments from visitors. I have heard there are available higher quality prints, but I don’t know details. My husband has bought pottery art at this gallery. Maui Hands has three locations. My favorite is at 612 Front Street in Lahaina. All the art work in these stores are made locally. They have a variety including jewelry, prints, pottery, metal sculpture, glass and cloth items. These are all good quality items and have enough range in styles; I bet you could find something you like here. Whalers Locker is a unique shop mixing prehistoric fossils to antique scrimshaw to modern designed jewelry. I found a silver pendant designed by Ron Laes. It is called Aloha Makamae or Precious Love. Two traditional petroglyph characters form a heart shape. This shop seems to attract a lot of guys. Totally Hawaiian Gift Gallery at the Whalers Village offers lots of temptations. The highlights are the locally designed quilts and bed spreads using traditional Hawaiian quilting style. Under lock and key are precious Ni’ihau shell leis. I was surprised at the color range. Koa wood products are another favorite of ours. I am particularly fond of handcrafted items made by Tutu Nene. I have a full size Nene goose and a potholder both with lovely abstracted interpretations of the Hawaiian state bird. Martin and MacArthur is another shop specializing in koa wood. One unique item is koa wood watches and watchbands. There are three locations on Maui: Whalers Village, Shops of Wailea and Westin Maui. Prices are high, but so is the quality. Lush is a chain store selling fresh handmade cosmetics. What drew me there was perfume. I had been looking for tropical perfume to take home. They cheer me up on cold winter days. The Plumeria perfume I normally buy seems to have evaporated off the face of the Earth. The perfumes I have tested in other stores had an unpleasant sharpness to the scent. The Lush saleslady took me on a sniff tour of their selections. A bottle of each scent was sitting under a wide-mouthed tumbler. You hold the tumbler up to your nose to inhale the essence. After sniffing all, we started to eliminate and narrow down the search. That was a fun experience and less confusing than spraying various parts of your arms. My favorite was 25:43. It cost $42 for 1.1 fluid oz. well worth it, Not everyone enjoys shopping but then not everyone enjoys snorkeling or zip lining either. It’s your vacation, have a good time!
We were located in Lahaina, which is a perfect jumping off place for day trips in many directions. One day I promised my friend a real surprise from our usual sightseeing. We headed North on Hwy 30 (Honoapiilani Hwy). The drive itself is interesting leaving the aged and rustic buildings on Front Street and passing modern strip malls, condo complexes, and Norfolk Pines. We turned back toward the ocean on Office Road. Where that meets Lower Honoapiilani Road we turned right and quickly turned into a parking lot beside a golf course. We had reached our surprise destination. Now we walked. By hiking along the edge of the golf course we first paused to observe a hedge enclosed ancient burial grounds…no trespassing. Continuing on we stopped to admire DT Flemming Beach in Honokahua Bay. This is one of the highest rated beaches on Maui…and pretty too. Onward we hiked on the trail until we reached the lava. Walking across the lava is tricky business. I would recommend wearing tie shoes or sandals that can be tightly cinched so you have less problems on rough terrain. Why I brought her her was to see the amazing lava formations called Dragon’s Teeth. Formed when hot lava flowed into a churning storm driven waves and winds. The shapes that formed are tooth shaped and stand in a row along the edge of the cliff. The lava also is a peculiar white color also probably caused by aeration of the molten rock. Not only are the teeth interesting to look at, the very rocks we walked on and by were a geologists joy. After lots of exclamations and explorations it is a long walk back to the parking lot. We met others heading out and they asked if it was worth the walk. Oh, yeah!We had worked up an appetite and our next stop was at the Gazebo in Napili at the Napili Shores condo resort. We had another long walk here, but it was on sidewalks through the resort’s common ground and you could see our objective. This very small restaurant has a good reputation. People stand in line for 30-45 minutes to get a table. But then they have a wonderful view to enjoy. This narrower part of the channel between Maui and Lanai is a favorite place for whales and of course whale watching. We missed whale season, but enjoyed the beautiful dark blue waters framed by palm trees. They are only open from 7:30 am to 2:00 pm, which accounts for the long lines. Back to the food. Once seated inside we enjoyed a number of their specialties: pineapple pancakes, banana pancakes, and Portuguese sausage. Oh yes, they have POG to drink. My favorite Hawaiian drink is a combination of passion fruit, orange and guava. We have also eaten lunch here and it was terrific, too. The waitresses all are lively and seem to enjoy chatting with table after table of tourists. While we were eating our waitress undid a rope tied back on a support pole and lowered a big fake spider down onto our table. No one jumped, but we all laughed. A table groaning breakfast for two with tip cost us $36. After eating we walked along the shore overlook tide pools and beach.Refreshed from a good meal we continued on Lower Honoapiilani Road, enjoying glimpses of private homes, condo and resort complexes. Every once and a while off to the East we would see a small shopping area. We stopped at one in the same shopping area as McDonalds (Kahana Gateway Center). There is a store here. Leslie’s Family Funwear, that sells reasonably priced aloha wear and other souvenirs. I think this place is also popular with the local population, too. Many years ago I bought a dress here that I have worn on this trip. Today I found one the same style and in another lovely print. Sold!The third highlight of our day trip was the UPS pack and ship store at 910 Honoapiilani Hwy. They are open 8:30 am - 6:30 pm. We were preparing for our eventual departure to the mainland and knew our suitcases would no longer weigh under 50lbs. Even if I could get all my stuff in the suitcase I wouldn’t be able to lift it! UPS is the shopper’s best friend. We have used them on Kauai, Oahu and Maui. Check the local phone book for hours and locations because we found that changes. Every UPS pack and ship we have used has taken great care with our precious possessions. Nothing has ever been lost. We did break the head off one turtle candy dish, but I salvaged it with super-glue. I should have pointed out he needed special headgear. They also help keep the costs down for you. We needed an oversized box for length but not height. The clerk cut the box down so he wouldn’t need to add bags of packing peanuts. We were grateful.
Every time Bill and I travel we look for consignment or antique stores where we might stumble on some indigenous treasures or finds for our collections. Fortunately our travel companion Marilyn also liked these shops. We decided to make a day of it, searching Maui for treasures you can’t get on Front Street. One thing we forgot was the element of Hawaii time. Our website searches listed open times, but apparently that is just a suggestion. We sat outside a couple of places waiting for them to open. The first store we gained entrance to was Rainbow Attic at 1881 S. Kihei Rd in a small strip-mall. This was a mixed bag of consignment items, more of a thrift store. Some of the items looked like garage sale leftovers. It also smelled bad, like unwashed clothing. No purchases here. Our next stop was at La Jolie Maison at 357 Huku Li’i Place at the Kihei Trade Center. Awesome! This store had lovely pieces of quality furniture and décor. There was a heavy leaning to Oriental style, but still the range was wide. If I lived in Maui I would love to decorate my home with items found here. I did find a Savonarola chair I would have loved to take home. But talking with the manager I learned shipping would be prohibitive. We didn’t find any small items. Bill announced that he was hungry and he spotted a small café across the way. We dutifully followed his directions and headed to the Blue Moon Café at 362 Huku Li’i Place. The breakfast crowd had dispersed and the lunch hour was yet to come, so we had the place to ourselves. Our waitress was a newbie to Maui, but had all the confidence of every small town waitress, that all was right with the world if you have a cup of coffee. We decided to call it brunch and ordered breakfast for lunch. Bill had a plateful of scrambled eggs, bacon and pancakes. I was thrilled to find Spam on the menu. Hawaiians eat more Spam per capita than any other state. (I learned that at the Spam Museum in Minnesota). Marilyn tried it too…at least one or two bites before giving up. It is not for everyone…can I have your leftover? The place was clean with lots of space between tables. Service was slow, but that gave us time to chat with the waitress. Breakfast for two with lots of coffee and a generous tip was $26. Our next destination was across the island in Wailuku. This is the "normal" Maui town north of the airport town Kahului. It has some lovely art deco and arts and crafts buildings. At one time North Market Street was referred to as Antique Row. That doesn’t seem to apply anymore, as there are lots of empty storefronts. We visited two diverse shops. One specialized in jewelry and small art objects. Again the styles displayed leaned heavily to the Oriental. Very nice looking pieces, but nothing went home with us. The other store, Bird of Paradise Unique Antiques lived up to its name. This is an old fashioned junk to antique shop, dusty books, dusty dishes, and dusty tools all along narrow aisles. The shop owner and a couple of regulars didn’t budge from their coffee drinking chairs. We heard lots of shop gossip as we picked through the items on the shelves. I did find a unique antique to take home. It is a Japanese flower arranging frog. It is made of intersecting circles of metal, very pretty on its own. Only after I carried my treasure in my purse for the rest of the day did I question my wisdom of buying a lead weight to pack in my 50lb only suitcase!
I have a tip for you, if once was good, twice should be too. I may have written reviews of these places before, so this is just a reminder that they are worthy of a revisit or another meal. We went back to these places at least once on our eleven day stay.Food: Pioneer Inn – location across from the Banyan Tree Park and the Harbor; good food; historic setting; occasionally live music. Aloha Mixed Plate - traditional Hawaiian Plate Lunch served on paper to cut the cost; good view and atmosphere. Zippy’s – local favorite with extensive menu range; in the lobby is the Napoleon’s Bakery (malasada heaven). Bubba Gump - great ocean side location; humorous wait staff; lots of Forrest Gump trivia and terrific Fish n Chips. Leilani’s - ocean side dining at the Whalers Village; good food and fun to watch the parade of tourists on the sea-walk. The Gazebo – tiny restaurant with long lines but it is worth the wait; great breakfast-brunch menu and fantastic view especially if the whales are here.Attractions: Jodo Mission – serene setting with beautiful buildings; across the street is the austere Pu’unoa Sand Cemetery and there is access off the street to Baby Beach. Maui Ocean Center – plan a big hunk of your day here; awesome exhibits; beautiful marina to watch while having lunch at Seascape Ma’alaea Restaurant and a fun gift shop.Whaler’s Village – good shopping at Ka’anapali; many food court and restaurant choices; and best of all, the Whaler’s Museum. Pacific Whale Foundation – take a boat ride even if you don’t see the whales or dolphins, just seeing the beauty of Maui, Lanai and Lahaina from the sea is worth the ride. Their prices are low compared to charters.
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