Planning a trip to Maui...Help!

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Jul 11th, 2007, 11:46 AM
  #1
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Planning a trip to Maui...Help!

I just returned a couple months ago from my first trip to Hawaii (O'ahu) and I absolutely loved it. My wife and I want to go back to Hawaii and this time visit a different island...we were thinking Maui.

How does Maui compare to O'ahu?

I also would like to try and get some help with accomodations and the time of year for our trip.

We were originally looking at the second week of March, but are a little concerned about the weather since it looks like this time would be in the rainy season. We are also considering the first week of May. Can anyone provide some insight regarding the typical weather in March vs. May?

We would be staying in Maui for 8 nights and I thought it would be fun to stay in 2 or 3 different places on the island. We are leaning towards condos since we could save a little money by utilizing the full kitchen that most of them come with. We definitely both love beaches and would like to stay very close to some nice beaches.

Does anyone have some advice on a couple different places to stay? Looking at a map I was thinking of choosing a couple places away from each other to experience and visit more of the island...maybe Hana, Wailea/Kihei and Lahaina. I'm not sure how the areas really differ...

Thanks in advance for any help you can give!
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Jul 11th, 2007, 11:57 AM
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Aloha! I would suggest trying to get some advice on the Trip Advisor boards as well. Although we haven't been to Maui yet (planning for May 08), most people would tell you that anytime is wonderful in Maui, but the March timeframe may allow you to do some whale watching (very popular mid-Dec-Apr, I hear). May just works better for us. Also, different areas of Maui have different amounts of rainfall; South Maui has less than other areas.

I am more inclined toward smaller hotels/bed & breakfast, vacation rentals. Our possible choices include:

-Resortquest Mahana - check VRBO/private listings too; with entertainment book - 50% off w/ direct bookings - near Ka'anapali
-Ho'olio House (hooliohouse.com) south of Lahaina
-Aloha Pualani Boutique Hotel (alohapualani.com) in N. Kihei
-Inn at Mamas Fish House (mamasfishhouse.com) - Kuau
-Bali Cottage at Cliff's Edge (cliffsedge.com) - Huelo
-Hotel Hana Maui (hotelhanamaui.com) - hana
-Hana Sunrise House (hanasunrisehouse.com) - Hana
Best wishes & please post your trip reports when you return!
Mahalo!
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Jul 11th, 2007, 12:29 PM
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I feel you cannot compare any of the out-islands to Oahu. There is a very different feel to them, more laid back, and the night life is not like you would find in Honolulu/Waikiki.

Your choice of Maui is excellent. There are many, many things to keep you busy. There are luaus to attend (I recommend the Hyatt's in Kaanapali), many water activities, the road to Hana, Haleakala sunrise and mountain bike rides, Iao Valley State Park, shopping in Lahaina, etc. I would highly recommend you go during whale season and take whale watch cruises on both a large vessel (Pacific Whale Foundation) AND a small private vessel. Both are different experiences and well worth it!

As far as I'm concerned, any time of year is the right time for your trip to Maui, however, we have been there in March and have had monsoon rains! You may not run into that. Can anyone predict the weather accurately? Going in May would reduce your chances of seeing whales offshore Maui, but then, what are your priorities? We have been there in November and January and had wonderful weather. Go figure.

As for accomodations, each time we've gone we've stayed at the Embassy Suites Resort just North of the Kaanpali Beach resort area in Honokowai. Just a five minute drive to Kaanapali Beach, shopping and restaurants. Their suites are very large with wonderful views and you get a wonderful free breakfast buffet each morning as well as free cocktails each evening. You can find all sorts of dining options on Maui... from a burger joint to five star restaurants... for lunch and dinner. Perhaps a condo towards the middle to end of your stay would help, especially if it has its own washer/dryer. (I hear The Whaler on the Beach in Kaanapali is nice for condos)

If you plan to stay in Hana, I wouldn't stay more than 2 or 3 nights there. It is "old Hawaii" and very quaint and tropical. Beautiful vegetation and dramatic scenes from the road. Go there, do all your sightseeing in that area, then drive on to another part of the island.

Wailea (can be expensive) and Kihei (more reasonably priced) also have some nice beaches.

As for staying in Lahaina, this is a very congested area, with minimal parking and not many offerings hotel-wise. I would prefer to locate a short drive down the road at Kaanapali Beach or Honokowai.

I hope this helps you a bit. Just make sure you thoroughly search all avenues (vrbo, condo rental agencies or directly managed properties) for the best price.

Aloha! and have a wonderful time!

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Jul 11th, 2007, 12:32 PM
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I really enjoyed staying in Lahaina, and would suggest you include that for a few days. It is a busy little tourist town, that has an interesting history. Lots of shops, restaurants, galleries, shows, a historic walking tour, artists showing under the banyon tree, etc. Some people don't care for it but I thought it was great!

A 1/2 day trip to the crater at Haleakala is the other "must do" I'd suggest.

I don't know how to compare the two, because when I've been to Oahu I only stay in Waikiki and have yet to see the rest of the island.
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Jul 11th, 2007, 12:39 PM
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We spent a week on Maui for our honeymoon in Wailea. We went in April and had great weather for our entire trip. Wailea is a nice area - very pretty. Of all the islands we've visited, Maui seemed to be the most sophisticated, romantic, and expensive. We did the sunrise at Haleakala, the road to Hana, snorkeled at Molokini, and went to the Old Lahaina Luau - Maui offers tons of activities to do. We stayed at the Maui Renaissance and were able to snorkel right off our beach.

We also took a whale watching excursion - April is the very end of the season, so I think if you go in May, you'd miss them. Have a wonderful trip!
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Jul 11th, 2007, 01:02 PM
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Thanks for all the great info!

Beach Lover, you amde the following comment: I feel you cannot compare any of the out-islands to Oahu. There is a very different feel to them, more laid back, and the night life is not like you would find in Honolulu/Waikiki.

I will have to say that this is a great thing. When we went to O'ahu we stayed in Waikiki, but what we loved were our excursions. Snorkling in Hanauma Bay, A trip Haleiwa, eating shave ice until I was sick, beach trips to sunset beach, a drive around on the highways, stopping at all the public beaches and taking in the views.

We never stayed up late a single night in Waikiki because we were always so exhausted from our busy days. Night life doesn't interest us.

Sounds like Maui will be great!

After looking at plane tikcet prices, I am also considering taking this trip as early as October...

So possibly October, March or May.
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Jul 11th, 2007, 01:09 PM
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Oh - I'm so excited to reply to this post b/c of all of my vacations, our trips to Maui have been the best!

I've been on two different 10-day trips to Maui, each being a very different experience (though both were wonderful). Our first trip out was our honeymoon. We stayed at the Marriott Ocean Club on Kaanapali Beach and it was phenomenal! The pool area was outstanding with waterfalls and beautiful grounds. It is located in the Kaanapali Beach strip of hotels, second from one end (the end hotel is the Hyatt - both the Marriott and the Hyatt have stunning grounds and very cool pools, but for us the Hyatt was just too far down... feels far away b/c their grounds are so big!). I should also note that our Marriott room had a kitchenette. The Kaanapali Beach (aka "Dig Me Beach") area is, in our opinion, the place to be. There is a beautifully manicured sidewalk connecting all of the hotel properties on teh strip, and each pretty property has its own set of restaurants and bars to offer. The beach is wonderful and there is a fun shopping area on the strip called Whaler's Village. Be sure to have the Hula Pie at Leilani's - its delish! Located on the strip is a tour company hut called Trilogy - by far the way to go when it comes to snorkling/scuba excursions. We did a full-day excursion including snorkling, lunch, dinner, snacks and champagne sunset cruising. Truly our trip highlight, in addition to the Hana Highway, which I'll cover in a moment.

During our second trip to Maui we stayed in a Condo in Kihei. It was a much different experience, which required far more independent planning. We still very much enjoyed our stay, but having to grocery shop, cook and research activities all on our own was a bit more labor-intensive than I expected. Not really a great concierge service, and the beaches in that end didn't have excursion stands so you need to look in travel books and reserve these on your own. Another thing about Kihei is that its far more residential. Kaanapali is a glamorous resort area, where as Kihei is a "livable" part of the island. I would never be disappointed in a trip to Maui, no matter what the accomodations, but I would definitely recommend staying in Kaanapali over Kihei.

Wailea is very nice, and definitely worth exploring, but I'd still recommend Kaanapali. The hotels are more upscale (ie Four Seasons) so the beaches are quieter and the properties are... well, also quieter. In addition, there are far fewer hotels over here, so its not the beachy, fun scene that you have in Kaanapali. Having said that, if you are, indeed, looking for upscale, quiet retreat, Wailea would be lovely, b/c it its pretty.

As for the "must dos"...

-Like I said earlier a Trilogy snorkle excursion is a must.

You'll for sure want to rent a convertible or wrangler (we've done both and they were both fun) to drive the Hana Highway. This is a georgous ride with tons of photo stops along the way (waterfalls, short rainforest hikes, stunning views, etc.). My suggestion is to leave early and bring snacks/drinks, as there are very few snack shops along the way and no restaurants. Note there aren't many street lights along this highway, so when it gets dark the drive is very tricky... hence make it an early start time (8 AMish). A couple tidbits about the ride... ABSOLUTELY purchase the cassette/CD guide and map. It sounds super cheesy, I know, but its full of super cool info and has many suggestions about good places to stop, or little side roads that are worth exploring. This can be purchased at the "famous" Shell gas station on your way to the Hana Hwy starting point. Well worth the $10-20!

There is a hidden red sand beach that I highly recommend seeing along this highway. Its located within the town of Hana, but you'll need to cross over private property to get there (so be sneaky; also its a bit of a hike but worth it). When you're in Hana, drive and park by their school. At the end of the school road there is a large grassy patch, and at the back corner (far end, ocean side) there is an opening in the grass/weeds - follow this through the Japanese cemetary and through some small gravel hills... after a few minutes you'll come to the clearing over the small red sand beach - very cool! Warning - it has turned into a nude beach so expect that from some people, but only a handful of people will be there anyway b/c its "secre". The red rocks form a water pool so swimming is wonderful and its just so pretty. Check out the travel book "Hidden Maui" for more specifics on this. Also - be sure to swim the 7 pools and don't be afraid to "rock climb" a little to get to the higher pools and waterfalls. A final tip about the Hana Hwy is that just beyond Hana you can visit Charles Lindberg's grave. Most travel books have the directions to it, and I think its worth a visit if it hasn't started getting dark by this point. You CAN drive the entire loop of the Hana Hwy as long as it hasn't rained in the last couple of days (though do have a jeep for it). The roads are fine, just narrow and part of it is gravel. However if you have the right car the drive is stunning and by this time of the day you might be able to catch an amazing sunset on your way around the southern side.

-If you are wine fans, its worth a stop at the Tedeshi Vinyards Winery. They have some very interesting wines made from passion fruit, and the "Hula o'Maui" pinapple champagne - yum! If you don't get there, know that the "ABC" tourist shops sell bottles of some of their wines, so you can pick up some to try there as well.

You'll have a wonderful time - enjoy ever moment!!

Aloha,
Bridgett
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Jul 11th, 2007, 01:12 PM
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I would seriously rethink staying in 2 or 3 different places if you are going for only 8 days. MAYBE 1 or 2 nights in Hana and the balance somewhere else (I prefer Wailea/Kihei). Especially if you stay in a condo, you would have the problem of food storage between check-out and check-in, as well as wasting valuable vacation time packing/repacking, etc. The island is easy enough to navigate around with a car and you can do day trips to any part of the island without having to change accommodations. This is just my opinion. Whatever you decide, have a great time.
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Jul 11th, 2007, 01:19 PM
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I agree with TAW that 1-2 nights in Hana and the rest somewhere else would be a nice mix (probably no need for more than that).

One of our Maui trips was in October and it was perfect weather!
*Bridgett
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Jul 11th, 2007, 09:34 PM
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MissBridgett, we are going in October too. Where did you stay? We are still debating between Kaanapali and Wailea. I am happy to hear you had good weather at that time of year. I hope that holds true for October 2007.
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Jul 12th, 2007, 12:34 AM
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MissBridget-Just to let you know-you can't drive all the way around when doing the road to Hana. The Paihi bridge is now open after the 2006 earthquakes but there is a baricade at the Kukuiula Bridge at Lelekea. We just drove that far about a month ago. It may not be open until 2009.

Beachlover-My DD and I stayed in a condo at The Mahana which is right now door to the Embassy Suites (now the Kaanapali Beach Club). We loved that area which is north of all the big hotels in the Honokowai area. It is much quieter than by Whalers Village. My daughter (who is 20) and I went down to Whaler's Village one night for dinner and you would think her being young she would like it. But both of us where really put off by all the people and the long wait at the restaurants. Maybe if she had been there with some of her friends it would have been different but we appreciated our nice quiet area. I would recommend looking on vrbo for condos at the Mahana, Maui Kai or other condos away from the crowds.

Everyone always says Maui is so touristy but the only time I felt that was at Whaler's Village. Lahaina was definitely for tourists but we thought it was cute and quaint. One thing I never understand is how visitors line up to wait for hours at restaurants they have at home. The line at Bubba Gumps was ridiculous but we found a nice restaurant overlooking the water where we only had to wait a couple of minutes.
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Jul 12th, 2007, 04:11 AM
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Napili is a lovely area with low rise condos (eg Napili Surf, Napili Shores) and couple of hotels (eg Napili Kai). The beach is glorious, there were lots of turtles, the area is convenient for Kaanapali and Lahaina and it's own small plaza with supermarket, coffee shop-all the essentials.
Kaanapali is a long strip of hotels, restaurants and shops which is not to everyone's taste. My sister usually stays in Kihei but it reminds me of a desert, being so dry although the views out to sea are lovely.
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Jul 12th, 2007, 06:55 AM
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" Also - be sure to swim the 7 pools and don't be afraid to "rock climb" a little to get to the higher pools and waterfalls."

I'd like to advise the original poster to be bery cautious of remarks like the one above. The Pools of Oheo in Kipahulu is not a water park and every year people are hurt and/or killed because they walk or hike off the established trails and scramble over the rocks in an effort to get to the higher pools. They fall off or are swept downstream. The area is subject to flash flooding as well. We were there in February and the pools were closed to swimming. I've read comments here and elsewhere that would lead me to believe that they have been closed frequently for safety reasons. Having a healthy respect for Hawaii's natural wonders will ensure a safe trip.

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Jul 12th, 2007, 06:58 AM
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BTownJ-

My husband and I just got back from Maui July 3rd and we want to go back already! We did lots of activities and stayed at a condo (Unit #661) at the Whaler http://www.alohacondos.com/whaler/ . I have a trip report, so if you want to search my name you will probably find it. The Whaler property is located on Ka'anapali Beach and although it is crowded we didn't mind at all. I know you are leaning towards a condo and imho that is a very wise choice. You can save money in food so that you can do more fun island stuff.
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Jul 12th, 2007, 07:28 AM
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ah...I see you have been bitten by the Hawaii bug. My husband and I have been to Maui 3x's now and just can't get enough. We spent a day on Oahu and Maui is just so much more relaxed...a lot more like island life should be.

We always stay at The Kaanapali Beach Hotel and can't rave enough about it. I wouldn't go to maui and stay anywhere else. It isn't "fancy", but the staff make you feel very at home and they have beautiful grounds, close beach access, and lots of free hawaiian activities that we really enjoy.

We have gone in July, November, and March/April. The best weather we had was in November. It was perfect. July was a pretty good trip too. When we went in March/April it rained 4 days of our trip...not little rains..HUGE downpours. Even flooded the lobby of the hotel. We had to find a lot of alternative indoor activities. One of which I recommend was the Kupanaha magic show at the hotel. It was awesome.

Best of luck on your plans...I am sure you will have a great time!

KBHmaui.com
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Jul 13th, 2007, 09:23 AM
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Maui is a great place to stay. All the Islands have their own personality; Maui seems to have a combination of several of the Islands. We have stayed in Kihei, but that was a few years ago was nice but would like to be closer to the ocean. Our friends stayed in Maalaea in March, didn't mention anything about rain, (I will ask them) but it was right next to the water and they could hear the surf!!! They liked the location to get to and from places without taking too long in any direction....but they said the whale watching from the lanai was great! http://www.vrbo.com/44927 this is where they stayed. We are looking forward to going there next year! Hope this was of some help.
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Jul 13th, 2007, 03:56 PM
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Most condo complexes have minimum stay requirements of 5-7 nights. Perhaps you could consider 2-3 nights in a very nice hotel, then the rest of your stay in a condo elsewhere on the island. I recommend May over March, unless you need to escape bad winter weather at home. I have been on Maui in both months. In March it is more crowded due to Spring Vacation, which seems to be be different weeks in different area, and therefore extends for most of the month. We had a fabulous trip just last month, with perfect weather, lower prices, and uncrowded restaurants. We rented a condo on a wonderful beach in So. Kihei, but took a "getaway" one night to the Grand Wailea. I prefer the extra space of a condo. We don't cook much, but enjoy the kitchen for an occasional light meal and for storing beer, pop, snacks, etc. Most condos have nice BBQ areas, also. Nothing like a grilled steak oceanfront, with the sun going down and the breeze blowing on your skin!
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Jul 13th, 2007, 04:14 PM
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Barbara,

Which condo in S. Kihei did you stay at?
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Jul 13th, 2007, 07:04 PM
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This was a big family trip. We had 3 units at Kamaole Nalu and one at Hale Pau Hana. These are bordering properties on Kamaole II beach. I wrote a pretty comprehensive review of Kamaole Nalu on Tripadviser. Not a luxurious place, but we have been there twice and like it a lot.
www. kamaolenalu.com
www.hphresort.com
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Jul 13th, 2007, 08:16 PM
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Thanks Barbara. The low rise units at Kamaole Nalu look nice.
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