Friday, October 2, 2009

Maui Trip Report... Finally.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Arrived in Maui around noon. Picked up baggage (everything made it, thankfully)and hopped on the Budget shuttle to pick up our rental car. After a brief scuffle with two Budget employees regarding Adam being allowed to drive (he’s 24, they said you need to be 25 to drive or else pay a $27 daily fee), we were off to our resort with our spiffy white Mustang convertible (they waived the fee in the end). As we drove we were quickly awestruck by the beautiful scenery in Maui. The lush mountains and the bright blue of the ocean kept us antsy to get to check-in and to that beach as soon as possible!
At last we arrived at the Westin and checked in. The hotel desk clerk was a bit on the rude side. We asked if there was a possibility of an upgrade and she said there was nothing else available. I asked if even a partial ocean view room was available, and she just said no. I mean, I understand if they don’t want to give us a freebie upgrade, fine, whatever, but we could have been willing, paying customers. I sincerely doubt that there were absolutely no rooms available. It’s low season on Maui. Eh. Slightly miffed, we headed to our mountain view room on the 3rd floor. It actually turned out favorable for us, as we didn’t have to spend a ton of time in the elevator, and the mountains were in fact beautiful. The room was nice and clean, the bed was white and fluffy; we were pleased.
At this point we were starving so we changed into our swimwear and traipsed down to the poolside restaurant, ‘Ono. We noshed on nachos and a chicken wrap, fully prepared to spend an exorbitant amount of money on food. The check wasn’t that bad. Perhaps we’re a bit jaded, what with all the fine, expensive dining we do. Ha!
The time to frolick beachside finally came and, holding hands, we ran into the ocean. Amazingly glorious does not begin to describe that water. The clarity, the blue-ness, the temeperature… perfection. We spent the rest of the afternoon playing in the ocean and the fantastic pool at the Westin. We caught our first Maui sunset and afterwards decided to eat a little something at their nicer restaurant, Tropica. Adam had the crap cakes (lol) and I had some sort of flatbread pizza-like item. Very good. For desert we had lilikoi cheesecake made with goat’s milk. Divine.
Exhausted, we fell asleep around 9pm that evening, exuberant from our first day in paradise.

Thursday, September 3, 2009
We easily awoke around 5:30 am and sauntered off to Black Rock for some snorkeling fun. On the way we picked up a couple sticky buns for breakfast (along with two sodas, $20). We rented a snorkel belt for me since I’m not the best swimmer, and plopped ourselves into the water. Almost immediately we saw some colorful fish and after a few minutes, even a manta ray! We swam out a bit further, and after a while I began to tire. I had a little difficulty battling the current to get back to shore, and once I was back I began to feel nauseated so I laid out for a bit. The sun had a calming effect on me, and I felt better quickly.
We decided to venture out for some more snorkeling at a place called Honolua Bay. Beautiful forest-like entrance. The snorkeling was decent, though not nearly as clear and varied as at Black Rock. Maui Revealed, our travel guide indeed advised that snorkeling here could be hit or miss. I enjoyed seeing the beautiful coral here though. I didn’t get sick at all this time from snorkeling, and I discovered my swimming skills were quite good without the snorkel belt, which was favorable, since we had only had that other one for a two hour rental.
We took the road up a bit further north to see the Nakele blowhole, which was blowing about 15 feet in the air while we were there. At the blowhole Adam picked up some banana bread and coconut at a stand, to tide us over. Still starved on the way back we drove through McDonald’s for a happy meal and returned to the hotel to relax.
That evening we had reservations for a sunset dinner at Leilani’s on the Beach. We cannot say enough wonderful things about this place. The service was fantastic. The ambience cannot be beat. We shared the fried zucchini appetizer, I had the chicken with risotto and Adam had mahi mahi. We loved every single bite. As a treat they brought us a free dessert, Kimo’s hula pie. It looked like a large ice cream cookie slice, promising enough. It tasted completely ordinary and unimpressive. Naturally, I won’t be arguing with free, so no problem there. Overall, one of, if not the best dining experience of our trip.

Friday, September 4, 2009
The day began very early as we had planned a snorkeling trip to Molokini with Trilogy, based on their excellent reputation and reviews. The boat ride to the crater was pleasant, and the cinnamon buns they served were delicious. The highlight of this trip for me was when Adam went to the bathroom. After a couple minutes I turn around and see that my husband was driving the boat! Truly hysterical. I have never seen him so happy. He was grinning ear to ear and had taken his shirt off. He informed me he was going for a “Captain Ron” look. I began questioning the tour operators’ judgment at this point, but they pointed out that there wasn’t anything nearby for him to run into or anything, so we should be alright. Should.
The snorkeling at Molokini was nice for a short period of time. Amazing coral, but very little variety of fish. Then Adam said he was feeling nauseated so we headed back into the boat. Naturally, I began to feel nauseated as well. The Trilogy team decided to take us to a second location, a so-called Turtle Town. On the way there, a fat Asian woman decided to puke her brains out on the boat. Two feet from the side of the boat, and she couldn’t get up and puke over the edge. I saw it. Every bit of it. I want to puke now even thinking about it. But at that time, the nausea worsened after seeing all that nonsense.
I spent a little time in the water at the second location, and was delighted to see a turtle swimming from the boat, and under water saw plenty of beautiful yellow fish. Adam had taken ginger root and this worked miracles on him, so he was able to venture a little farther out. This is where one of his main trip highlights took place. He was up close and personal with two turtles, and one even swam alongside him! He also saw a manta ray in the water doing backflips. I was laying curled up in the fetal position on one of the trampolines on the boat. They served lunch, and I tentatively picked at it. Caesar salad, grilled chicken, rice and a roll. I ate the roll and a few bites of salad, thinking that not eating anything would make my nausea worse. Then I heard someone remark about how tasty the rice was, and, well, I had to try it. It was so delicious! I couldn’t help myself so I got seconds. Insert blushing face here.

They couldn’t sail back to the dock fast enough for me. After they put up the sails on the way back, though, the wind blowing in my face helped immensely and I felt better. We rushed back to the hotel to shower and rest. I think we napped for a bit and then relaxed at the hotel. For dinner that evening we went to the highly recommended Kimo’s in Lahaina. We shared a pulled pork appetizer, and I had the chicken and ribs. Adam tried the Ono and was pleased with the results. They gave us another beautiful ocean-view table and we watched the sun set over the water. We enjoyed the meal, yet concluded that Leilani’s, the sister restaurant to Kimo’s, was much better.
Oh, and I nearly forgot to mention the horror: If you’ll note, we were given the Kimo’s hula pie for dessert at Leilani’s the other night. We sat there at dinner in nervous anticipation that we’d be presented with another one of these lousy pies as a honeymooner’s gift. We tried everything imaginable to discourage our server from bringing us one. I loudly mentioned how full we were. Adam asked about the cheesecake. I believe at one point I made mention of distaste for chocolate. And lo and behold, we were given no pie. We somehow left a bit ruffled that we didn’t get a free pie, lousy and all.
We explored Lahaina for a while and went to bed early that night because we had Hana the next morning!

Saturday, September 5, 2009
We woke up bright and early (4:45) to drive the famed road to Hana. So much happened that day that it’s all a blur. I’ll just make a list of notable sights we saw:
Twin Falls – Nice, our first stop along the road. Adam had to use the bathroom here. Overrated and glad we didn’t spend much time here, per the suggestions from Maui Revealed (seriously, this book gave us excellent advice).
Fruit Stands along the Road - I mean, not like I eat fruit or anything, but these were so fun and colorful. And Adam had a thing for lilikoi, which is passionfruit.

Ching’s Pond – Jumped into the water in this somewhat murky waterfall pond. Adam jumped in with our small digital camera. Bad, bad. The water was cold, but I’m so glad I did it. It was quite a rush!

Waianapapa State Park, aka Black Sand Beach – Awesome! This was one of the things I was looking forward to the most of the trip. The sand was really black! And the water so blue. And the greenery around so… alright, you get the point! Stunning. The signs in front warning of Man of War stings served to freak me out from spending too much time in the water, but I did get to do a little frolicking.

Pocket Red Sand Beach – Maui Revealed showed us how to get to a little pocket red sand beach, versus going to the actual large one. The road around the larger one was blocked off so we ventured to this one and were so glad we did. We had it practically to ourselves, and again, so stunned by the color of the sand and water here. Beautiful.
Hamoa Beach – Salt and pepper sand here and a bit of a messy beach, but the water here was awesome. Very shallow for a long portion, and great waves for boogie boarding. Unfortunately, we had no boogie board with us!
Seven Sacred Pools – Really cool spot. Adam even jumped off a rock into the larger pool! Had to climb over and negotiate several slimy rocks to get there, but totally worth it.
And various other amazing views, of course.

We ended up paying for our last stop in the end, because the time we finally left to head back home was around 4:30. We didn’t get back until nearly 8 pm. It began pouring rain and that served to make the already nerve-wracking road even more insane. We made it back safely, and entirely exhausted. We ended up ordering room service for dinner which was completely mediocre, with my Maui onion soup appetizer being completely inedible. We didn’t care much as we passed out promptly after chewing our last bite.

Sunday, September 6, 2009
We decided to take Sunday easy because of all the running around we did the previous days. The weather was a bit cloudy in the morning, but that didn’t keep us from taking our snorkel gear to the other side of Black Rock, called Kahekili Beach . Best. Snorkel. Spot. Ever. We saw tons of different fish here: big, small, yellow, spotted, neon colored with stripes… you name it. Loved this little gem.
Played back at our beach and pool in the afternoon and noshed on some delicious onion rings poolside. Really great with their coconut ranch dipping sauce. Late in the afternoon we went to check out Banyan Tree in Lahaina, where we bought some souveniers.
That evening we went to our planned luau, the Feast at Lele. I would so highly recommend this experience and especially this particular luau. And we didn’t even much like the food! The dancing and environment is so festive and I would argue should be compulsory for the true Hawaiian experience.
We had the best seats in the house, front and center, too! Which actually was a bit frightening during the fire-dancing portion of the show. The dude dropped his fire baton like twice! I was sitting there anticipating having my eyebrows singed off the whole time. Thankfully, they remained intact! Oh, and at one point Adam was chosen to receive a peace offering of a palm frond, which I just knew would happen. Adam always gets chosen for stuff like this! Very memorable indeed, and worth every penny.

Monday, September 7, 2009
This day was designated as our South Maui day. We drove down early and went to Wailea Beach first. Really great beach for frolicking (what can I say, I love me some frolicking). The water was calm, shallow, warm… fun! I will note that the water wasn’t nearly as clear as further up north where we were staying in the Kaanapali area, nor as the beaches on the road to Hana. Fun for kids for sure. We decided to be super sneaky and check out the Grand Wailea’s swimming pool. Nobody checks or anything, and it was still quite early and empty. We went for a swim in their pool and concluded that we loved our hotel much more.
We headed a bit farther south to see some other beaches but weren’t finding anything fantastic. Snorkeling at the spots recommended in Maui Revealed wasn’t turning up much, and by this time we developed an appetite for an early lunch. We went to Ferraro’s at the Four Seasons because 1. It’s the Four Seasons, and we had to take a peek at the grounds, and 2. It’s the Four Seasons and we like to be hoity toidy. Great bread. Somewhat unresponsive service. At least for something of the Four Seasons echelon, that is. At this point we determined that we had seen enough of South Maui and were much more impressed with West Maui. We made a stop at the shops at Wailea and left with a nice new pair of polarized Ray Bans for Adam.

At this point we both began feeling pangs of sadness that our trip was going to be ending soon. We’d just been having the time of our lives and it was going to have to come to an end eventually. Boo.

Dinner reservations were made at Sonz at Swan Court at the Hyatt per our concierge's recommendations. Very beautiful and romantic environment. As an appetizer we shared Surfin’ Goat Cheese Ravioli, per many guide books’ rave reviews, and we were pleased. I had the Spaghetti with Filet Mignon meatballs, and Adam tried the Opaka fish, which he loved. My pasta was absolutely amazing; best spaghetti and meatballs I’ve ever had. And I got the small portion for $15 and I couldn’t even finish that (and if you’ve gathered anything about us, you’d clearly deduce that we’re big eaters). A great deal! Naturally with savings like this, dessert is naturally in order. Crème brulee, my fave. And hello, you can’t go wrong with that. Unless you dump a bunch of fruit schmutz on it, which some places manically insist upon doing. But this, my friends, was not one of those places. Yummy!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Ah, our last full day on Maui. We knew we had to hit up our new favorite snorkel spot, Kaheliki Beach Park. We enjoyed this and said our goodbyes to it (until next time!).
Adam Really wanted to try jet skiing on Maui so we gave it a go. I was in fear that the thing would throw us right off, so I begged Adam to let me drive after a while. And would you believe that the first thing I did when driving was turn too abruptly and hurl us into the water. It was fun either way!

At some point we also said goodbye to the onion rings by the pool. So good, I had to have them one last time! We strolled Lahaina and did a little shopping in the afternoon.
We had a late lunch at Cheeseburger in Paradise, since we made reservations for a late dinner. We did this so we could catch the sunset on our own, quietly on the beach. I had chili cheese fries, which Adam remarked were the best he’s ever tried, and I would have to agree they’re quite delicious (I don’t want to throw that best card out yet). Adam had the fried shrimp and liked them just fine. Perhaps a bit more than fine!
Our last sunset was just lovely. We took it all in and vowed to return again to this wonderful place. It was such a romantic moment, and we ended up laying there until it was dark out. We got to hear the drums from a nearby luau, and became completely entranced by our surroundings. At some point music from a nearby restaurant started playing and we danced for a bit under the stars. We nearly lost track of time, and realized we needed to head to our last dinner in Maui, at Lahaina Grill.

At first I was ambivalent about the place because we had to wait an additional 15 minutes past our reservation time. Perhaps we were spoiled since we didn’t have to wait at a restaurant the entire time we were there. And then we were seated, and the seats were beyond uncomfortable.
But then. Then they brought out the bread and their heavenly herby butter. The best bread and butter I’ve ever had at a restaurant. That’s saying a lot. I’ve eaten a fair share of bread and butter in my time. I decided to try their Maui onion soup, a little hesitant because of the nasty experience I had back at the hotel. This was just splendid. It really gave my all-time favorite, Ruth Chris’ French onion soup a run for its money. Adam started with the Seared Ahi sashimi and he was in heaven as well. For our entrees I had a chicken dish and he had the Kona roasted lamb. I didn’t particularly go gaga for the chicken, though it wasn’t bad or anything. Perhaps I was full from the loaf and a half of bread I’d just devoured. Adam didn’t go nuts for the lamb either, but I loved the mashed potatoes that accompanied his dish. We were much too full to even consider dessert. This was perhaps the priciest meal we had during our trip if you don’t count the luau, and at that it only came to $140 (alright, that’s relative. And we didn’t get alcohol). Very delicious and we would definitely return.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009
We woke up bright and early to pack and hit the beach one last time before flying home. Grabbed a ham, egg and cheese wrap from the little stand at the Westin and spent some time on our beach. We almost considered not going in the water, but we had to, just one last time. The water was beautiful and we really enjoyed our last dip.And seriously, this had to be the last picture of us swimming in Maui? I look like I'm about to drown for realsies.

Anyhow, we picked up our luggage from the room, checked out and returned the rental car. Hopped on the flight back home, where I typed up this trip report. Looking forward to sleeping in our bed tonight (but not as much as we’re looking forward to returning to Maui soon).

I finally got this copied and pasted on here from Adam's laptop. I don't even have the energy to go back and revise, so hopefully everything I wrote up there is accurate!

If you really read through that entire post, I commend you. You must truly not have anything better to do with your day. Smooches!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I admit I didnt read ALL your post, but Im so glad that you and Adam had a great time!! Cant wait to see pics, as I know you are really good at taking tons of pics :)