Beachgirl86's Maui and Kauai Trip Report

Aug 24th, 2006, 09:53 AM
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Beachgirl86's Maui and Kauai Trip Report

Hi everyone

We returned home this past Saturday from 2 wonderful weeks in Hawaii, 7 nights each in Maui and Kauai. This was our third trip to Hawaii, our second time to Maui and our first to Kauai. We have also visited Oahu and the Big Island twice each, and are from the Boston area.

MAUI: August 4-11. Admittedly, we were very lazy on this whole trip, and did lots of laying out and reading...just swimming in the pools and ocean. We didn't even really leave West Maui this time around.

HOTEL: We stayed at the Sheraton on Kaanapali. We got a great rate of around $200/night through Hotwire and Priceline. For the price, this was an excellent hotel. Last time, we stayed at the Hyatt, and we much preferred the Sheraton because of Black Rock and because it is a closer walk to Whaler's Village. It is also much more spread out than the Hyatt. We did get upgraded to an ocean view in Building 2, although we had 2 doubles instead of a king.

The thing we loved the most was being right at Black Rock. We love the Hapuna Prince resort on the Big Island because of it's combination of great beach and snorkeling on-site, and the Sheraton was the same way.

SNORKELING: Honestly, the snorkeling at Black Rock was EXCELLENT. Some of the best we've had in our 3 trips. It was much better than it was 2 years ago, I thought. We went every morning or afternoon, and although it was very crowded, once you rounded the bend around Black Rock, it got much less crowded. We saw all kinds of fish, HUGE sea turtles, and on 2 days, we saw ENORMOUS spotted eagle rays. The eagles rays were graceful and lovely, and they were just stunning. It was our first time ever to see them. And the sea turtles were the biggest we have ever seen in Hawaii, one of them had barnacles growing off of his face. One of them swam in close to shore, and people were following him, feeding him, touching him.....it was awful. My husband and I were enraged as these are endangered species and you are not supposed to touch them in any way. They are glorious animals.

KAANAPALI BEACH: A great beach overall for swimming, snorkeling, and laying out. The Sheraton has -- BY FAR -- the best stretch of the beach. We did think that it was more crowded than 2 years ago. Maui overall just seemed busier than last time we were there...the traffic going into Lahaina was worse than ever.

EXCURIONS: The only one we did on Maui was the Pacific Whale Foundation to Molokini and Lanai. This was not our first choice as we did this exact same trip 2 years ago. We had originally booked with Four Winds because they don't do a 2nd snorkeling spot, they stay at Molokini all day, which is what we wanted. But their engine went out the week we were there, so we grabbed the last 2 spots on PWF's trip to Molokini and Lanai. Molokini was good, although I thought it was better 2 years ago. I remembered Lanai being excellent snorkeling on the last trip, but this time is wasn't great and it was just too rough. The food on this particular trip isn't that great, and they are VERY stingy with it. (We did a Fairwinds trip on the BI last summer, and it was much better in this regard.) And the crew, although I applaud their conservation efforts and their cause, were downright rude at times. We LOVED this trip 2 years ago, and this time, thought it was just okay. The one wonderful thing was that when we pulled into Lanai, we saw a huge pod of spinner dolphins. They were amazing and beautiful, and everyone cheered when they did their spins.

Next up....restaurants!
beachgirl86 is offline  
Aug 24th, 2006, 10:18 AM
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Welcome back! I've been looking for your trip report. We are leaving Monday for Kauai and Maui. I'm glad to hear the snorkeling at Black Rock was good - we stayed at the Sheraton two years ago and are staying there again this year. We did see sea turtles a few times at Black Rock on our last trip, but overall there weren't that many fish, especially compared to some places on the Big Island.

I'm looking forward to your report on Kauai - this will be our first time there. We have been concerned that there wouldn't be enough for us to do because we like to stay busy but, after planning the trip, I don't think that will be the case.
texasaggie00 is offline  
Aug 24th, 2006, 10:52 AM
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You will have a great trip! Seems like you are in the same position we were -- having been to Maui 2 years ago and then going to Kauai for the first time! I promise to finish the entire report by this weekend so you have it before you leave.
beachgirl86 is offline  
Aug 24th, 2006, 11:03 AM
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Beachgirl - Welcome back. Been trolling around looking for your trip report. Can't wait to read more. We did a snorkling trip with Trilogy and can highly recommend them if you go back to Maui. They are great fun and the food is ONO. Keep writing! School's about to begin (aren't you a teacher?) so you'll have less time to write a long report.
sherrie is offline  
Aug 24th, 2006, 11:08 AM
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sherrie: We actually tried to get on Trilogy, but they were sold out! We got the last 2 seats on PWF for that day. Next time, I would like to try Trilogy or Four Winds. And, yes, I am a teacher, so I have less than 2 weeks left before I start work and grad school again!
beachgirl86 is offline  
Aug 24th, 2006, 11:25 AM
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RESTAURANTS: One of the reasons we keep returning to Hawaii is that we LOVE the food there. We are not huge fish eaters at home, even though we live on the water, but when we are in Hawaii, we eat fish almost every night! We picked a lot of our nicer restaurant choices based on other reviews, and menus we looked at online.

HULA GRILL: We ate here several times for lunch and dinner through out the week. It's a great setting, either in the Barefoot Bar or in the Dining Room. For lunch, we always got crab and mac nut wontons, DH would get a pulled pork sandwish, and I would get a fish taco. ALWAYS fresh and excellent. For dinner, we tried different fish dinners....mac nut mahimahi, ahi, ono, opah, and all were excellent. This is one of our favorite restaurants in Hawaii, both this one and the one in Waikiki. Both are excellent...the Maui one has a slight edge because it serves lunch, but the Waikiki one has the edge for dinner, I think. The dinner menu there is a bit better. The scallop and lobster potstickers are to die for! For dessert, we enjoyed the brownie sundae and the creme brulee in a pineapple.

CHEESEBURGER IN PARADISE: Again, we like this restuarant on both Maui and Waikiki. We ate here twice for dinner, and I really think it was the best it has been. The cheeseburgers were bigger than before (it seemed) and the toppings we got (bacon, avacado, blue cheese, mushrooms, etc...) were all fresh and delicious. The only annoying thing about this restaurant is that they basically sit you with other people to pack everyone in. They definitely have incredible turnover here. And it's a cheaper, which is a nice change some nights.

PACIFIC'O: We ate here on the night of our 2nd anniversary, and it was very good. There was a wedding on the beach at sunset so that was nice to watch on our anniversary. The waiter also bought our dessert and brought us out a lovely card from the chef congratulating us. We got beef satay for an app (good), DH got the Pasta Moana (pasta and seafood, VERY good), and I got a fresh fish. The service, setting, and stmosphere were all excellent, but I think we preferred I'o's food better. I'o is the sister restaurant next door.

I'O: We switched here from Nick's Fishmarket on our last night. We ate at Nick's last time and loved it, but we didn't feel like making the drive into South Maui this trip. The service here was also excellent -- they actually created a new table outside for us so that we could eat outside on our last night on Maui. While we enjoyed both I'o and Pacific'O, we felt that I'o had the edge for food. The crabcake appetizer with goat cheese was the best crabcake I have ever had, and I get them everywhere, both on vacation and here at home. I got the Scallops a la Bondage, DH got a fresh fish. For dessert we had a chocolate pate that was rich and delicious!

SHERATON RESTAURANTS: We grabbed lunch a couple of days pool-side at the Sheraton's bars and grills. The food was always good, but not great.

BREAKFASTS: We had breakfast included at the Hyatt Kauai for our 2nd week, so for this week, we just filled our fridge with cereal, milk, fresh fruit, and snacks. We wanted cheap breakfasts so we could have nice dinners!
beachgirl86 is offline  
Aug 24th, 2006, 11:35 AM
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SHOPPING: I know some people think they are tacky, but we LOVE Front St. in Lahaina and Whaler's Village. They are both convenient and fun. We really enjoy walking around both either before or after dinner or lunch.

We bought lots of cheaper souvenirs at ABC (calendar, t-shirts, mac nuts, etc...) and made a few other nicer purchases as well. DH bought me a necklace for our anniversary at the Maui Tiffany's, and we bought some sunset photographs for our moms. ABC is a lifesaver for all things!

SCENIC DRIVE: One day, we decided to drive past Napili, Kapalua, Honolua Bay, etc... and see what was there. The drive was lovely, and we ended up watching a gorgeous sunset from some empty seaside cliffs. Definitely a must do! There weren't a lot of people on the road, and it was very pretty.

FINAL MAUI NOTES:
* The Sheraton was an excellent choice for us. We will absolutely stay here next time we stay in West Maui.
* I think I would like to try a South Maui resort in Wailea next time, maybe split with the Sheraton? We have explored West Maui a lot now, and would like to experience South Maui as well.
* Having visited all of the 4 major islands once or twice now, we both agree that Maui is the most well-rounded island of them all. It has everything or nothing, depending on how active or lazy you want to be.
* It did seem like West Maui (Kaanapali, Lahaina) was much more crowded and traffic-y than it was even 2 years ago. We managed to avoid it at peak times, and we still really loved Maui and all it has to offer.
beachgirl86 is offline  
Aug 24th, 2006, 11:44 AM
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Yay for the report, welcome back. I can't wait to read the rest.
amelie is offline  
Aug 24th, 2006, 11:49 AM
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Your Maui trip sounds great. We liked Kaanapali (stayed in Wailea last time). I loved being able to walk to dinner and shopping and the drive to Lahania is such a short distance away. If you ever decide to go the condo route, the Kaanapali Alii was great. We will definately stay there again, but you need to reserve a "premier" condo, meaning it has been updated. In Wailea, we stayed at the Kea Lani. It was nice too, but I think I preferred Kaanapali. Thanks again for your report. Looking forward to the Kauai portion. Enjoy the remainder of your summer. Sounds like your Fall is gearing up to be very busy.
sherrie is offline  
Aug 24th, 2006, 12:23 PM
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Beachgirl!! E Komo Mai back home.
Add me to the llist of those who've been awaiting your TR
Can't wait o read it in detail...gotta leave soon to earn money for thos trips.
Only downside is the Sheraton sound so wonderful. We'd decided, despite our love for Hawaii, to do short October trip to Paris/London. Now you've gone and made a return trip to Maui VERY enticing. And you can't snorkel in Paris or London.
Big mahalos BG86 for taking time to post. Look forward to your Kaui feedback, 'specially if you liked the Hyatt as much as we did.
CaliNurse is offline  
Aug 24th, 2006, 12:57 PM
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Sherrie: So, you prefer Kaanapali to Wailea? Are there less people/traffic/crowds in Wailea, or is it about the same? We like the proximity to Black Rock, Whaler's Villege, and Front St. in Kaanapali.

CaliNurse: I am going to Paris in Feb. actually with my mom and stepdad. I will have to look for your trip report after Oct.! Maui and the Sheraton were fantastic, you will have to make it to the Sheraton at some point soon! And, yes, we LOVED the Hyatt on Kauai -- so much so that we didn't see nearly as much of Kauai as we planned to!
beachgirl86 is offline  
Aug 24th, 2006, 02:53 PM
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KAUAI: August 11-18.

HOTEL: Grand Hyatt Kauai. This was our first trip here, and when we arrived, we had visited Maui, Oahu, and BI twice each during our past few summers. We decided to stay at the Hyatt because it was one of those hotels that I always wanted to visit. It is expensive here, but because I got the Sheraton for a steal, I wanted to splurge at the Hyatt. We got a garden-view room for $359/night with breakfast for 2 included. Our room was not ready when we arrived, so they gave us a buzzer like in restaurants and said they would buzz us when our room was ready! When we got buzzed, we were told that we were upgraded from GV to a full ocean view!! The room runs for $650/night. We were THRILLED, as I never hear about upgrades at this hotel. We were on the 5th floor, and although our room was quite a walk from everything, it was totally worth it for the view. It truly was a full ocean view.

POOLS and GROUNDS: This was one of the reasons I picked this hotel of course. Simply amazing....an adult pool with cushined chairs, an action pool, and a saltwater lagoon. All beautiful. Lots of jacuzzis and hidden caves and waterfalls....truly a resort you could never leave! The grounds were beautiful. We have stayed at 5 or 6 different resorts in the Hawaiian islands, and for hotel alone, this one wins! We spent most of our time at the adult pool, which was quiet and had those great chairs! Also, cabanas were free and first come, first serve. The other nice thing was that you didn't have to lay towels out at 7 a.m. to get a spot. There was always something available. This hotel and the Hapuna Prince on BI are the only 2 hotels I've been to in Hawaii or the Caribbean that I have been able to say that about! Honestly, I can't say enough about how much we loved this hotel and this pool! Service at the whole hotel was outstanding.
beachgirl86 is offline  
Aug 24th, 2006, 03:10 PM
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ANARA SPA AT THE HYATT: Absolutely heavenly! I will confess that I was a spa newbie, but I am now hooked! For my 28th birthday, DH set me up with the Anara Sampler, which was a Swedish Massage, a facial, and a body wrap. They were all amazing! We went back later in the week to get 2 more massages, a sports one for DH and a lomi lomi for me. All were outstanding! The service at the spa is impeccable. Everything about it is lovely. They are actually expanding the spa, so I can't wait to see what it's like when it's all done. When you get a spa treatment, you can attend classes, use the gym, use the locker rooms, sauna, steam room, jacuzzi, etc...The locker rooms have outdoor lava rock showers and everything you would need after a shower.

EXCURSIONS: We chose a Capt. Andy's morning snorkel and catamran cruise to Na Pali. Very expensive, but a great day. I chose a catamaran over the helicopter tour for 2 reasons: 1.) I wanted to see the marine life from the boat and 2.) Helicopters and their possible crashes make me a bit nervous. The snorkeling we did wasn't great, but OH MY GOD...that Na Pali coast! Pure beauty and awe-inspiring. DH and I agreed that there is nothing quite like it. We thought they were gorgeous. We were lucky enough to see turtles, and 3 or 4 DIFFERENT pods of spinner dolphins through out the day. One pod had a little baby dolphin that was doing spins and copying its mother...so cute! We were also thrilled to see a monk seal and her pup. They are so rare and endangered, and we saw them swimming in the ocean together. The captain said that there are only about 20-35 of them around Kauai, and in about a week the mother would leave the pup to fend for himself. Overall, I would recommend Capt. Andy's...although the captain did feed the fish with bread at the snorkeling site which I though was strange. Also, the lunch was cold cuts and pasta salad, not a hot lunch. Still very good, though.

WAIMEA CANYON: We did this after our Capt. Andy's trip since we were close to the lookout. Also definitely worth a trip, we got some great photos here. The colors are magnificent.
beachgirl86 is offline  
Aug 24th, 2006, 03:44 PM
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Beachgirl: Wailea is way less crowded which was good, but I'm the sort that likes all the chaos of lots of people. I just enjoy it all. Wailea was very relaxing, but we found that we drove around too much getting to other places to eat, etc. Of course it was our first trip to Maui and I hadn't done as much research so we were "green" and didn't know just where to go, etc. I think that might make a difference. This trip, we really enjoyed Whalers Village and Hula Grill and and being only a few minutes from Lahaina. I'm sure you would love Wailea just as much as Kaanapali, but in a different sort of way. The hotel choices are terrific and you can really enjoy being pampered at most of them. JMHO.
sherrie is offline  
Aug 24th, 2006, 06:20 PM
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Welcome back bgirl. I made it home too. Excellent report. Don't forget pics.
8-)
jamaltay is offline  
Aug 24th, 2006, 08:03 PM
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thanks for a great report! now i'm considering the maui sheraton for our stay around thanksgiving....
lynnejoel1015 is offline  
Aug 24th, 2006, 11:19 PM
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First, Happy Belated 28th Birthday, and Wedding Anniversary. What a way to celebrate both!
Re: the Hyatt: Did you stay on the "Shipwreck wing" or the "Poipu wing" (the side nr the Anara Spa??
Which if any of Hyatt's restaurants or bars did you try? My son and DIL, who are your age, loved Stevensons Library for nighttime drinks (and peace and quiet away from their kids).
BG, so glad you loved the Hyatt, as I recall you asking here about it. Also, glad you tried and enjoyed the road north of Kapalua. So few people hed up that way and it's just lovely, isn't it? The farther you go, the more different--a world away-- from Kaanapali resort area. Both great, but different aspects of Maui for sure.
(p.s. Paris next??!!! Folks at Europe TT Forum are great source of info! Since you are going with Mom and stepdad, please consider renting an apt. You'd love it! E.g. google "parisperfect" We stayed at one of their apts. Wow! ok, nuff off-US topic forum--see ya in "Europe"
CaliNurse is offline  
Aug 25th, 2006, 04:58 AM
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Beachgirl:
Enjoying the treat of your tropical report on my two favorite islands. For me, it's Maui in February and then Kauai in May. Although I've rented a condo in Poipu, I'm planning a one-night treat at the Hyatt. Your comments have reassured me that the splurge will be worth it!.
Based on your comments about "more people and traffic" in Kaanapali, I think you are definitely a candidate for the quieter pace of Wailea. Beaches are fantastic. Good snorkeling at Ulua Beach and others. Like Kaanapali, there is an oceanfront path that fronts all the lovely hotels. It has beautiful vistas looking out over the tropical foilage and ocean. There are plenty of shoppping and eating options at Shops of Wailea and/or the other hotels. If you haven't already done so, next time take a drive to Paia, Makawao, and Upcountry to experience yet another of the varied charms of the island.
Barbara5353 is offline  
Aug 26th, 2006, 12:57 AM
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ok.. let me start by saying thanks for a great report beachgirl! I know this is a bummer thing to post, but when I read about the barnacle on the turtle you saw, I felt compelled to share this information about a terrible disease that has been killing the poor honu..
http://www.turtles.org/sickbay.htm#resources
...malama honu..
sea_wahine is offline  
Aug 26th, 2006, 06:04 AM
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Thanks for the report! Any restaurant and shopping recommendations on Kauai? Was the water fairly smooth on your NaPali Coast trip?
texasaggie00 is offline  

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