Because we had some Hawaiian Air frequent flyer miles, we decided to put them to good use by island-hopping over to Maui for a day. We’d never been to Maui and wanted to explore as much as we possibly could in a single day. Regrettably, we didn’t have time to do much.
First things first: we wanted to start our trip off with a full stomach. Since I had some IHOP gift certificates, we knew exactly where we wanted to eat once we landed in Kahului (OGG) Airport. I made sure to locate IHOP on a map (and even printed it out) before we came to Maui, just so we wouldn’t spend forever trying to find it. Little did we know that IHOP was part of the Maui Mall. There was no visible sign from the street, and because of this, it took us about 45 minutes to finally locate this disguised restaurant. I knew from that point forward that our day trip in Maui was going to be rushed.
For those of you who have read my Café Hanalei entry, you know how much I dislike spending money so extravagantly on meals. Well, I’m delighted to say that we had a wonderful (and affordable) breakfast at IHOP. After about an hour, we knew it was time to "hit the road".
When I planned for our trip for Maui, I knew we simply would not have time to drive the Road to Hana, nor visit the Haleakala Crater. Our only other alternative was to visit West Maui. We did exactly that with a little side trip to Kihei and Wailea cities to see a resort we were interested in. Our first impressions of Kihei were not favorable. I’m sure there will be many people who will disagree with me, but we didn’t like this location at all. The houses were run-down, and it seemed to be crime-ridden. With this reason in mind, we were no longer interested in the resort we wanted to visit. We spent 10 quick minutes there and proceeded on our journey to Wailea.
Wailea was the complete opposite of Kihei. Where as Kihei was run-down, Wailea had well-manicured lawns and beautiful houses everywhere we turned. We knew that if we ever decided to stay in Maui, Wailea would be one of the places we would like to visit.
Our next stop was to the Maui Ocean Center, which is located on Ma’alaea Road in Wailuku. If you have never been to the Maui Ocean Center, you should work this place into your plans. They are open 365 days a year from 9am to 5pm, and to 6pm in July and August. While small, it is uniquely designed and well worth the cost. Ticket prices are $20 per adult and $13 for children ages 13 and up. Seniors ages 65 and up would only pay $17 per person. There are many places online where you can get these tickets cheaper (hint, hint). The Maui Ocean Center is divided into two exhibits: Living Reef and Open Ocean. Everything you see here is alive and from Hawaii. From living corals to manta rays, you see a vast amount of sea life in these well-thought-out aquariums. Our favorite was the tunnel located in the Open Ocean exhibit. You walk through a 54-foot see-through tunnel where you’re surrounded by ocean life. It’s surreal.
Should you need a souvenir or food, Maui Ocean Center has it! Buy a souvenir or two at their Maui Ocean Center Shop and a bite to eat at their Ma’alaea Seascape Restaurant. They are both located on-site and are extremely convenient to visit before you continue on with your journey.