Back from Maui

North Kaanapali Beach
North Kaanapali Beach

Wow, how quickly a five-night visit passed! As I reflect back on the last week, I can hardly believe how much we did in such a short period of time, with thanks again to the Maui Visitors Bureau and their partners for hosting us.

I want to give you a preview of posts to come with a brief summary of our visit.

Where we stayed

Our first three nights were in Wailea at Wailea Beach Marriott Resort and Spa. This 22-acre, oceanfront resort is located on a peninsula between Ulua and Wailea beaches. The resort has five pools with my favorite being their serenity (infinity) pool. In between our busy schedule, we were glad that we were able to find about 30 to 45 minutes to enjoy this pool.

Cabana for rent at the Wailea Beach Marriott Serenity Pool
Cabana for rent at the Wailea Beach Marriott Serenity Pool

Our last two nights we stayed in Honua Kai Resort and Spa in North Kaanapali Beach. This luxury, all-suite resort had us feeling like we were living like a rock star. We were upgraded to a two-bedroom, two bath, ocean view suite with a gourmet kitchen, upscale decor and extra spacious lanai. We did not want to leave Honua Kai Resort!

View from our lanai at Honua Kai Resort
View from our lanai at Honua Kai Resort

Where we explored

Tuesday:

We toured an organic farm, O’o Farm, in Maui’s cool upcountry at Kula. The variety of produce that the farm grows to supply three Maui restaurants is amazing. After touring the farm and picking some salad greens along the way, Chef JJ prepared a gourmet lunch that we shared on picnic tables. Read our full O’o Farm tour review.

Our O
Our O’o Farm guide Ancil

While we were near the entrance of Haleakala National Park, we decided to drive up to the crater. We have been to the summit area three times previously for sunrise, but had never been up in the middle of the day. The advantage of being at the summit at mid-day is that the weather is warmer.

Andy purchased a GoPro camera for this trip. While we were at the crater watching the clouds roll in and disapate, Andy took this time lapse video.

(Email subscribers: click here to see the video on this post page.)

Wednesday:

From Polo Beach fronting the Fairmont, we took a kayak and snorkeling tour with ProDiver Maui. I had wondered how in the world we would get in and out of a kayak out in deep water, but our guide, Chris, coached us through the process without a hitch. It was beautiful being out on the water and then in the water to snorkel. We saw several honu (sea turtles), an octopus, sea urchins, starfish, but the big highlight was seeing a manta ray, which Andy captured on video with his GoPro. Read our full review of Wailea kayaking and snorkeling with ProDiver Maui.

(Email subscribers: click here to see the video on this post page.)

In the afternoon, we took a hike through the Waihe’e Coastal Dunes & Wetlands Refuge that is being restored by the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust. This beautiful coastal hike is open to the public and access is free. If you are looking for an opportunity to volunteer while you visit Maui, the land trust invites you to help them restore this culturally significant site on Fridays from 8am to noon. For more information, call 1-808-244-LAND.

Waihe
Waihe’e Coastal Dunes and Wetlands

Thursday:

Ah, waking up to yet another gorgeous day in paradise with a full slate of activities to fill the day. The morning started with sailing on a canoe made by modern materials in the ancient Hawaiian sailing canoe style with Hawaiian Sailing Canoe. One thing I liked about this canoe compared to others we’ve seen/experienced in the past is that there was no motor whatsoever. The canoe was powered by paddling and the wind in the sail. In addition to the sail, we got a chance to snorkel again.

After checking out of the Marriott, we headed up towards West Maui with a stop at Maui Ocean Center. Our last visit to the ocean center was in 2005, so it was great for us to get a chance to tour again and get fresh photos and a video.

One of the many salt water tanks at Maui Ocean Center
One of the many salt water tanks at Maui Ocean Center

We were supposed to have taken a tour on Atlantis Submarine, but a road closure due to a fatal accident didn’t allow us to get to the tour in time. We were directed to drive the beautiful but somewhat treacherous Highway 340 around northwest Maui.

The rugged northwest Maui coast.
The rugged northwest Maui coast.

We take every opportunity to admire the night sky whenever we’re in Hawaii, so we were excited to take the Tour of the Stars at Hyatt Regency Maui. Through their $10,000 telescope we saw 10 million stars, literally. We also got a great view of Saturn and her many rings.

Friday:

Our big adventure of the day took us up to Makawao to Pi’iholo Ranch for a two-hour walking horseback ride. The ride led through the rolling hills of a working cattle ranch and through a eucalyptus forest. I got to ride a very gentle natured, $48,000, one-eyed horse named Boomer. Andy’s horse, Mudslide, was a little more headstrong which gave Andy the chance to hone his riding skills.

Horseback riding in Makawao with Pi
Horseback riding in Makawao with Pi’iholo Ranch

Saturday:

At last, we had some free time to enjoy the beach! We rented loungers and an umbrella on the beach fronting Honua Kai. The weather wasn’t very cooperative, but we were determined to enjoy the view and the sounds of the ocean anyway.

Where we spa’d

Oh my goodness. We have a new favorite spa and it also happens to be one of Maui’s best kept secrets. From here on out, every time we visit Maui, we intend to visit Kapalua Spa. We enjoyed a couples massage following our horseback ride. The timing was perfect. I’m going to have to rein in my enthusiasm at the moment, but let me just say that the facilities, staff and way the spa wove in Hawaiian culture is the absolute best we’ve experienced. Read my full Kapalua Spa review.

A cascading waterfall into the hot tub of swirling sea salt water
A cascading waterfall into the hot tub of swirling sea salt water at Kapalua Spa

Where we dined

We enjoyed many amazing meals during this visit. We can recommend:

  • Celebrity-owned Mala at the Wailea Beach Marriott for breakfast and dinner with great food and great elevated ocean views.
  • Nick’s Fishmarket at the Fairmont Kea Lani has great food and a very unique dessert presentation with flaming strawberries to dip in chocolate sauce and whipped cream.
  • Kumu Bar & Grill at the Wailea Beach Marriott offers a nice poolside lunch with ocean views.
  • For a change of pace, Beach Bums at Maalaea Harbor creates just about any barbeque dish you could think of in a lively atmosphere.
  • Duke’s Beach House at the Honua Kai Resort on Kaanapali Beach offers delicious food in a casual, oceanfront atmosphere. We can recommend Duke’s for breakfast and dinner. Breakfast is a particularly good value here. When you go for dinner, you must save room for a slice of their famous Hula Pie for dessert.
  • For snacks, picnic supplies and freshly made sandwiches, we recommend Aina Gourmet at Honua Kai Resort. The quality of food was excellent and the prices are reasonable.
  • We made yet another stop to one of our favorite Maui restaurants, Pineapple Grill in Kapalua. It’s as yummy as always.

Here’s the vine video of flaming strawberries at Nick’s Fishmarket

(Email subscribers: click here to see the video on this post page.)

Whew! Can you believe we covered all that in just five nights? We’ll be posting more details about this trip in the days and weeks to come.

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