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Trip Report Maui Trip Report-November 2011

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Hello to all,

My husband and I just returned from a wonderful trip to Maui. Neither of us had ever been to any of the Hawaiian islands before so we were very excited to embark on this adventure. We stayed 6 nights although we took the red eye back to the mainland on our last day so we essentially had an almost complete last day on Maui.

I booked our trip through United Vacations (flights, hotel, and car rental) and got a fantastic deal. Although I had always stayed away from Hawaii due to fears over how pricey it was, I feel if you do your research, you can snag some good deals and keep costs on the lower side.

We stayed at the Aston Mahana (Kaanapali Beach). It is a condo property managed by the Aston Hotel chain. It is no Four Seasons or other mega resort complex, but it certainly was nice and fit our needs. There were no daily parking rates and the resort fee was only $10 (I researched resorts where it was $25 a day). This included daily newspaper, parking, use of their DVD/video game rental (they had a machine in which you could rent new DVDs out on video along with Play Station games). This was great when wanting to relax and wind down in the room after a busy day out). What I loved about the complex though was that all rooms were ocean front, none of the extra spend $50 a more for a partial ocean view, $75 for an ocean view, etc. We stayed in a studio which was very spacious and had a complete kitchen with fridge, stove, and microwave. Our balcony was also great as we ate many breakfasts and lunches out on it.

The hotel was in the Kaanapali Beach area as I mentioned and was right across the street from a supermarket (Times) as well as some restaurants/cafes (we dined at Java Jazz and Pizza Paradiso). It was also next door to Dukes which is a great beach side restaurant, terrific spot for breakfast.

As we were coming from the East Coast (and traveling all day long!) our Day 1 didn't consist much more than driving to our hotel from the airport in the pitch dark (it took just under an hour) and then dining at the restaurant at the Aston Kaanapali Shores (it was right next door to our property). We were pretty beat and I found the food to be just okay although I don't think anything would have tasted excellent with how exhausted I was. Hopefully this is a good start.

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    It's a good start indeed and I'm looking forward to the rest of your trip report!

    We were in Maui this past summer and almost ate at Pizza Paradiso but ended up skipping it, how was it?

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    We really liked Pizza Paradiso. We ate there are returning from our all day Road to Hana tour. It was certainly quick and convenient. We ordered a medium Maui Wowie pizza which was great (essentially a Hawaiian pizza-ham and pineapple).

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    Day 2-

    Even though we had been up for almost 24 hours the day before traveling, we were awake by 6:30 AM local Hawaiian time. I completely agree that sunlight is the best thing for contending with jet lag. We walked on Kaanapali Beach and we both felt better.

    I kept our activities for our first full day there on the simpler side. We had a tour of the Maui Brewing Company brewery which was a neat and not necessarily a Hawaiian thing. The brewery is located in downtown Lahaina so it was certainly convenient to get to. Tours are offered only on Fridays and Saturdays although the tasting room is open five days a week (Tuesday-Saturday). The tour costs $10 and lasts for approximately 30 minutes. It ends in the tasting room where all participants are given a beer flight (a sampling of five beers on tap). If you're traveling with children or just don't care for beer, they also make their own root beer (which is what I had and it was delicious). My husband's favorite beer was the CoConut Porter. They have their own pub style restaurant on the same road, just in the opposite direction of the brewery. Anyone who goes on the tour is given a token that they can redeem at the restaurant for a free beer. We ate there that night for dinner and it was a good spot, immensely popular as it was quite crowded with both tourists and locals it seemed. It's located in a shopping center so free parking with plenty of spaces.

    After our brewery tour, we drove over to the historic Lahaina district and walked on Front Street for a bit. We did go to Ululani's for shaved ice and it was just as great tasting as I've read it to be. My husband opted for the coconut lover's combination (coconut, tiger's blood-cherry, and pina colada), I chose Keiki (kid's) rainbow (cherry, banana, and blue raspberry). There are two locations on Front Street, both are back a little ways so don't be discouraged if you don't spot them immediately. Needless to say we had more shaved ice before we left Maui.

    We did so some swimming at our hotel pool when we returned but that was one of the two days in which the wind started to get really strong and eventually lightly rain in the PM.

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    So I just had composed the entire day 3 but my Internet browser decided to freeze on me so here's attempt 2-ugh!

    Day 3

    We spent just about all of our third day in Upcountry. Although my husband was a bit adverse to this namely because being in a car driving for a bit on one's vacation in Hawaii didn't exactly fit into his mental scheme of things, it was a region of the island I was really interested in visiting.

    We started our day out at Alli Kula Lavender farm. Although it wasn't the time of the year for some of the lavender (the flowing fields of vibrant, dark purple lavender like you see in Provence), the gardens were still beautiful and extensive. It's Hawaii so no matter the time of the year you're still going to find gorgeous flora. You can walk the grounds of the farm on your own (they provide a map which lets you know about the areas you're looking at) or they offer a walking tour (there's about four tours daily). It costs $12 pp or you can save $2 by booking in advance. It lasts about 30 minutes. As it turned out, for the time my husband and I chose, we were the only ones on our tour. I'm glad we did the tour because the guide provided some interesting tid bits and also she snipped various flowers allowing us to smell them and eventually make our own bouquet.

    I also had reserved their picnic lunch. It's $28 pp (which includes the tour) and features your choice of either sandwich or salad for your entree, lavender flavored chips, lavender brownie and your choice of either a cold or hot beverage. While the food was good I'm not quite sure if it was worth the price. Instead I would probably recommend getting one of their lavender scones. They have an outdoor deck area and with their incredible views, it's a great spot to relax and soak in the scenery.

    After we finished at the farm, we headed onto Haleakala National Park. Although I had debated for the longest time on whether or not to do the sunrise experience there, I ultimately decided against it as I couldn't fathom the idea of waking up at 2:30 AM on our vacation (our body clocks getting us up at 6:30 AM due to jet lag was early enough).

    A word to the wise-nothing about Haleakala equates to a quick trip mainly because 1) you're driving up a very very steep volcano and 2) you really don't (or shouldn't) be going faster than 35 MPH so it takes a while. Once you get to the national park entrance, it's $10 per car to enter although if I remember the pass is good for three days and also at the sacred pools (I can't remember that name either, forgive me!). There are two visitors center on site which contain restrooms and gift shop areas.

    I think any time of the day (provided it's clear weather), the views from the top of Haleakala are incredible. You are literally above the clouds. And regardless of the time of day you go, dress warmly! We saw one woman who was wrapped in a towel as she was only wearing a bathing suit and she still looked like she was freezing. Its top altitude of 10,000 ft. is not going to feel like it does at the beach down below.

    Just a word to the wise-should you decide to drive yourselves, I recommend that the person doing the driving have nerves of steel. There are a lot of curves in which there are no overpasses and let's just say it's a long way to the bottom. Alternatively, you could also go on a tour and then not have to worry at all about the driving and also be able to take in the incredible scenery.

    After coming back down from 10,000 ft. we drove back to the Lahaina area and stopped at the Cilantro Grill (Mexican) for an early dinner. It's a great spot for a relatively inexpensive and quick meal. It's not table service, you place your order and then it's brought to you. Portions were generous and the salsa and chips quite tasty (they're freshly made and ours were still warm. There's also a salsa bar allowing each person to select his or her own salsas-hot, mild, etc). The restaurant is a couple of blocks up from Front Street and is located in a shopping center so parking is free which is a nice thing.

    That was about it for our day 3 although since we ate so early, we were able to come back just in time to catch an incredible sunset from our balcony.

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