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MauiPigFarmer Jul 18th, 2008 05:27 PM

REPOST: LONG Maui Trip Report / Returned 7-18-08
 
Hi Folks! I'm reposting this because it's not showing up when I search Maui. Not sure what's going on.

Before I go any further, here are links to pics: http://tinyurl.com/699yqv

Also, a disclaimer: if you are looking for a trip report from somebody who did all the "big ticket" Maui stuff, please surf on. We did all that stuff on our first trip (snorkel Molokini, expensive restaurants, Old Lahaina Luau, etc). We took this trip to slow down and weren't looking to "do Maui."

We spent the night in Houston at the Homewood Suites on Sam Houston near JFK the night before our morning flight. I would highly recommend it for anyone who uses the Houston airport. They had free airport shuttle, free parking and a wonderful nightly manager's reception with drinks and a full meal. We will definitely stay there again.

On July 9 we caught the 8:20 USAir flight bound for Maui, with a short layover in Phoenix. Both flights were uneventful, but VERY full. On the second flight we were able to upgrade to exit row seats for a little extra leg room. USAir charges for that upgrade online, but if you wait until you get to the airport it's no charge if those seats are still open.

We landed at 2:14 and Better Half proceeded to claim our rented convertible from Thrifty while I collected luggage. The convertible was our only planned splurge on this trip.

We headed out for Napili Bay with a stop in Lahaina at Long's for Maui Beef and liquor, and another stop at Safeway for the rest of our provisions. Total we spent $245 for groceries and drinks for the week. For those of you who haven't shopped on island before . . . yes, the groceries are high but not unbearable. We bought lots of fresh fruits and veggies. The only thing I refused to spend that much on was butter / margarine. Just couldn't pay $5 for it to use a few teaspoons!

We arrived at the Napili Bay condo complex about 15 minutes after leaving Lahaina. Condo unit #215. We found the unit to be nicely appointed and well stocked (including coffee filters and spices). The owner had even left us a beautiful welcome basket full of goodies. There was a nice view of the ocean from the lanai, and our unit was maybe 200 steps from the beach. The complex has gas BBQ grills and coin-op laundry right there for all to use. We felt we got a really good deal for $160/night.

After a sunset walk on the beach we ran down to Mama's Chicken & Ribs in the Napili Plaza for a quick dinner. I had Portugese Bean Soup and Better Half had the Roast Beef Plate which came with BBQ beans and Macaroni Salad. All of it was wonderful. Better Half said the Mac salad was the best he's ever eaten. I think dinner was maybe $15 - $18. Back to the condo for a drink / early bed night.

The next day (July 10) we got up early to get our walk in. We walked all the way down to Kapalua to the Ritz Carlton to watch sunrise, and then back to the condo for beach time. We chilled on the beach for about 4 hours. By early afternoon it was hot and crowded so we decided to shower and drive on further up the west side to see what was up there. There's PLENTY to see up there. Honolua Bay, Slaughterhouse beach, Nakalele Point (we didn't walk down to see the blowhole, but did stack some rocks). We did drive past where the state highway ends and believe me when I tell you that if you think the Road to Hana is narrow and curvy, you are gonna need a valium on this road. There literally is not room for two cars to pass. In fact, when we turned around (and boy that was fun, too) we had to sit and wait for two other cars to come around this looooooong bend before we could go. And then we had to pray that nobody came flying around the other side of the bend while we were trying to get out of there. Oh yeah, no shoulder and no guard rail either. I've never been so happy to see a "state highway maintenance begins" sign in my whole life! I'm glad I was driving because if I had been on the passenger side (cliff side) of the car on the way back I would've needed a drink or some counseling or something!

After that adventure it was back to the condo for a nap.

That evening we decided to venture into Lahaina to piddle around. We ended up in town a bit later than we had intended so we grabbed dinner at Aloha Mixed Plate. We split a BBQ mixed plate that had teriyaki beef, chicken, and korean ribs, 2 scoops of rice and macaroni salad. It was $9.99 and plenty for two people. Again, back to the condo for drinks on the lanai and early bed night (our body clocks still hadn't adjusted). We dedided that Friday (July 11) would be Road towards Hana day.

The next morning we awoke very early and prepared for our car trip by packing lunch and snacks. We were in Pa'ia by 6:15, determined to see things on this trip towards Hana that we had missed the first time. We weren't dedicated to getting to Hana, however, and figured on turning around whenever one of us got tired of riding.

Our first stop was the Waikamoi Ridge Trail. It was a very nice hike. The first half of the trail is improved with gravel pathways, the second half of the trail is still natural with many roots to climb over. We didn't do the extension that starts at the middle of the trail. This trail is very worthwhile, and one of the many things that we sped by on our first time to Hana.

Our next stop was the Kaumahina State Wayside Park. There are restroom facilities there and a nice overlook from which to take pictures. And for all you Kauai fans . . . there are wild chickens there too!

Our next stop was the Ke'anae Arboretum. Of course being so early we had the place all to ourselves. It was very cool to walk through but I should warn you to take mosquito spray if you plan on doing this. When we stopped at the stand of painted bark eucalyptus trees I could hear the mosquitos swarming in the tops of the trees! And any time you stop for even a second they cover you. After a couple pics of the trees we high-tailed it out of there and got back on the road. It is a nice little hike back in there, though. If only we'd had some DEET!

We immediately left down to Ke'anae Peninsula. This was one of the stops we remembered from the first Road to Hana trip. This time we had learned that a Tsunami had wiped out this village in the 40's and that the only building to survive was the church. On the way down we stopped on the side of the road and bought mac nut brownies from the end of somebody's driveway, and on the way back we bought Aunt Sandy's famous banana bread and some dried fruit at her produce stand. Get used to that on Maui . . . people sell things on the side of the road everywhere.

Our next stop was the Pu'u Ka'a state wayside park. In 2005 we stopped there and had lunch by the beautiful waterfall and pond where people were swimming. This time the waterfall is a trickle and the pond is dried up with grass growing between the rocks. We were beginning to notice some definite differences from the 2005 trip to this trip to Hana. No longer was the lush vegetation growing right down the rock walls to the road. Water no longer seeped from the cliffs.

We stopped at Uncle Harry's (yet another produce stand . . . I joke that this is what Better Half will end up doing in his retirement as he cannot pass one without stopping) and we noticed at the (now dry) stream beside Uncle Harry's the locals have erected signs that say "stop stealing our water" and "down with EMI." Apparently, East Maui Irrigation is diverting the water to the cane fields so the road to Hana is dry as a bone.

Our next stop was Nahiku Road out to the landing (about 2.5 miles of twists and turns). We stopped and visited with a couple local guys who were there for the day fishing. They had caught two octopus and were eager to show them to us. We sat with them and hung out for a while. They even offered to split their lunch with us. I've never met two nicer people. Just really great guys (Aloha Gerald and Sam).

Back on the road and to our next stop which was Wai'anapanapa State Park. We hiked down to the black sand beach (quite a strenuous little hike I might add, although it's improved trail) and walked through the lava tube and kicked around on the beach a bit. Swimming here is said to be dangerous but of course there were people in the water anyway. There is actually a very small area of sand and the rest of it is black rock. It's fun to stand there and listen to the waves roll the rocks back and forth. They make kind of a humming, clicking noise. Anyway back up the trail to look for a picnic table for lunch but they were all taken. We decided to drive on a little further to Hana and find ourselves a beach with some shade to spread out our picnic lunch.

We went through Hana and found ourselves at beautiful Hamoa beach. It's hard to get a good picture of this beach, but it is the prettiest beach on Maui. Just gorgeous. We found a tree and had our lunch, enjoying the sounds of the waves and the color of the water. There are restroom facilities at this beach as the Hotel Hana Maui brings it's patrons there.

At this point we turned around and headed back to civilization. I felt sorry for the folks we were passing on their way up who had no idea that wasn't the way the Road to Hana is supposed to look. It's brown up the sides of the mountains, the water is dried up, and the sound of rushing water is no longer to be heard. Before we left the island we heard the radio stations running PSAs to let people know that large trucks will be traveling the Road from Hana to Pu'unene bringing the scrap metal to the junk yards beginning July 21 and continuing for 6 mos. That and the lack of water would make me think long and hard about traveling the road to Hana in the near future. If you haven't been before, maybe. If you have and are expecting it to remain as lush as it does in your memory, pass on it.

It took us one hour and 40 minutes back to Pa'ia, where we stopped at Ono Gelato for some cooling off. Better Half had a mix of pineapple and lemon, and I had a mix of pistachio and mint. Delicious! We walked around Pa'ia for a while and then ducked into Mambo Cafe because we saw a sign advertising Maui Brewing beers and we were curious to taste them. Better Half had the Bikini Blonde lager and I had the Coconut Porter (a dark ale). They were ok. I didn't finish mine, and I'm not sure Better Half finished his either.

I have to say I'm not a Pa'ia town fan. It's horribly overcrowded, the traffic is awful, it's claustrophobic and it's the only place on the island where I get irritated.

Back to the condo for drinks and sunset (a ritual event for us), grilled Maui beef and the biggest decision we had to make was whether to have grilled corn with supper.

More to come, I need a break.



MauiPigFarmer Jul 18th, 2008 05:28 PM

By the way, thanks IAMQ and Sunshine for the comments. Next segment is on it's way!

ejcrowe Jul 18th, 2008 05:35 PM

Wow--you're officially the fastest trip report turnaround in Fodor's history! I'm enjoying the read, looking forward to more.

MauiPigFarmer Jul 18th, 2008 06:30 PM

July 12 was destined to be beach day again. We got up and did our walk, this time adding the walk through the Ritz to DT Fleming Beach Park. It rained on us for a while, but that meant that we were treated to a really beautiful double rainbow on the walk back. Back to the condo for breakfast. Naptime. To the beach for a few hours. Lunch. Naptime. You get the picture. We did skip over to Lahaina in the afternoon to do some research on tattoo artists, as we had decided to get memorial tattoos while on the island and wanted to talk to a few artists so as to make an informed decision. Back to the condo for drinks on the beach at sunset.

July 13 started out with a walk that was cut short by a heavy rainfall. After we dried off and the rain stopped we walked over to the Gazebo on Napili Bay for breakfast. I had read wonderful things about this restaurant here on this board, and knew that we had to go early to avoid waiting in a long line. We were there before the 7:30 opening time. We split white chocolate macadamia nut pancakes with coconut syrup, a big kahuna omelette (pepper jack cheese, portugese sausage, avocado, onion and bacon) and a slice of ham. So, so, so good. We were stuffed.

We came back and decided to pack a lunch and ride over to Haleakala. I wasn't interested in seeing sunrise from the summit (as that would've meant getting up WAAAAY earlier than I wanted to on my vacation) but I did want to see it at some point. The drive upcountry was absolutely stunning and I fell in love with the area. When we arrived at the summit it was socked in with clouds, but they did part for about 5 minutes so that was cool. We enjoyed visiting with the park rangers and reading all the informative signs. On the way back down we stopped at Sunshine Country Market and picked up some souvenirs that we hadn't seen anywhere else on the island (handmade soaps, candles, etc).

While we were out and about we decided to swing through Kahului to get souvenirs at KMart (there's a big tip for ya if you've never bought island souvenirs before)and then over to 'Iao Valley. The cruise ship was in for the day and there were people all over the place. 'Iao Valley was so crowded. Local folks were jumping off of the footbridge to a very small pool below that they had dammed up using a tarp and some rocks to weight it down. They've probably been doing that there for a hundred years but it made me nervous. Anyway, we took a few pictures and got out of there and went back down to the heritage garden to find a place to spread our towel for a picnic lunch. We didn't stay long there either. Again, there were people everywhere and some of the crowd was pretty rough. We ate and left. Stopped back through Lahaina for a little more research on tattoo artists and we found a tiny little shave ice place on Prison street tucked into the alley about 1/2 block back from Front. They introduced us to their volcano shave ice which is rootbeer syrup around the edges and cherry in the middle, all over the top of vanilla ice cream. We split a small and that bad boy was gone in about 30 seconds. Then back to the condo for beach / beer / sunset.

The next day (July 14) was another beach day. We did visit Lahaina in the heat of the afternoon as I wanted to see Hale Pa'i which is on the Lahaina High School Campus at the very end of Lahainaluna Street. I was a high school printing teacher for years and I didn't get around to seeing this museum last time so I wasn't going to miss it this time. They have the oldest print shop at the oldest high school west of the Mississippi. It was cool. I also stopped and took pictures of the high school campus to put up in my classroom for my students so that they can be jealous with me of the beautiful campus views those kids have. We met briefly with the tattoo artist we had chosen to get out tatts sketched, and of course we had to stop for another volcano shaved ice. This time I offered to buy the place from the woman that owns it. She thought I was kidding, but I really wasn't.

On the way back to the condo we stopped next door at Snorkel Bob's and rented snorkel gear for the next day as we had decided to get up and snorkel Honolua Bay before the tour boats got there. We figured any place with 4 or 5 tour boats posted up has to have something to look at, and it was only about 10 minutes north of our place. So we took our snorkel gear out to our beach to practice with that afternoon. We had seen hundreds of people snorkeling Napili in the days that we had been there and to be honest, I still can't tell you why. Visibility was probably 4 - 10 feet. I think I saw one fish. Better Half, however, did point out a huge jellyfish to me when we were about 100 yards offshore. He wasn't sure what it was. Ummmm . . . thanks dude for pointing it out but I'm outta here. LOL. We were done with the snorkeling for the evening!

July 15 we got up early and had our walk and breakfast, then set off to snorkel Honolua Bay. We were determined to beat the tour operators so we were there by about 8am. There's an old boat ramp that you can sit on to put on your fins. We snorkeled away from shore and for the first couple minutes I was thinking "well, what's the big deal here?" and then the bottom dropped away and revealed every possible color of coral and more fish than I ever could have imagined. Visibility was limitless. We snorkeled for at least 2 hours. The Trilogy boat did show up about an hour after we got there, but those folk stayed pretty close to their boat. We just couldn't get our faces out of the water. I told Better Half it was like snorkeling in an aquarium. I swear we saw every fish on the Snorkel Bob's chart that day (well, except maybe the shark!). We would have stayed way longer but I was freezing as the sky was overcast. By the time we got back to the shore there were a bazillion people everywhere. There was a naturalist there who was manning an information booth and we stopped to visit with her. At that point she had counted over 200 people in the bay since she had gotten there. We passed a steady stream of people coming down as we were hiking out. The moral of this story is GO EARLY. We've decided on our next trip to Maui we're going to rent gear for the week and go at least three or four mornings to Honolua. It made me want to go back to Napili Bay and yell at all those people snorkeling there "HEY FOLKS . . ANY IDEA WHAT YOU'RE MISSING JUST TEN MINUTES UP THE ROAD?" LOL

Ran back into Lahaina in the heat of the day (after nap and lunch and another nap) and just happened to pass the shave ice place and grab another one of those to split. Hmmmmm. Maybe me owning that place isn't such a good idea!

Back to the condo for our last sunset and our last condo dinner which was a NY strip Maui Beef steak that had been marinating in garlic and herb seasoning for days.

Our last day we awoke early and had our morning walk over to the Ritz, and this time turned up Office Road and added probably another mile. We came back for breakfast and still had lots of time to kill before checkout so we packed and cleaned up the condo a bit. We left a little early and hung out at the mall for a while before our tattoo appointments. We were at Skin Deep Tattoos at 2pm for our appointments, secure in the knowledge that we had chosen the right artist for us. Tony is a great guy, and very knowledgeable. We both liked his portfolio very much, and he spent a lot of time with us in planning. We were at the tattoo shop for about 3-1/2 hours or so. We're both very happy with the results. We had plenty of time to kill, so after leaving Skin Deep we drove to South Maui as neither of us had ever been south. We ended up back in Kahului looking for a restaurant that I had read about called "Da Kitchen." Finally we found it. The sign is only about two feet long! There we had the best meal we've eaten on ANY island. I can't understand why people aren't flocking to this place after they get off the plane like they flock to Hamura Saimin on Kauai. I had Penne Pasta in alfredo with grilled chicken. Better Half had Kalua Pig with rice and mac salad. And we split pork wontons with some sort of cream cheese dipping sauce. Oh My Lord! To cap off the meal we split a piece of Kona Coffee Mac Nut Pie. I was afraid that little waitress was going to have to roll us out of there, but she said it was ok because she was a certified roller. LOL. This place is full of local folks who frequent the restaurant enough to come in and hug the waitresses. It was a really wonderful place to end our trip. Take a right out of the airport, then your first left. It's in the little shopping center on your right, to the side of Maui BMW. If you can find Maui BMW, you can find this place.

On to the airport for a seamless rental car return and a first class upgrade on the 10:44 USAir flight. We figured if we were ever going to spend money on a first class upgrade now was the time so that we could actually get some sleep. After another short layover in Phoenix we were back to Houston for the 2-1/2 hour drive home.

Some quick thoughts after a little break.

MauiPigFarmer Jul 18th, 2008 06:32 PM

EJ I'm pretty religious about it because I do almost all of my trip research here on this board. I know how it bugs the regulars to answer a million questions but never hear back from the posters! Plus it's a good way to decompress and reconnect.

janisj Jul 18th, 2008 07:17 PM

There was no reason to re-post your report. There is just one forum - United States - not even an Hawaii forum, let alone one specifically for Maui.

And the search function won't work until the programming upgrades Fodors is working on are completed.

Both of your reports are equally "find-able" . . . .

MauiPigFarmer Jul 18th, 2008 07:17 PM

Some random thoughts . . .

West Maui is growing like Las Vegas. Cranes everywhere you look. I imagine that the next time we go we won't recognize the place.

There were a few times I felt uncomfortable this trip, like I was somewhere I didn't belong. Once was at 'Iao valley where only locals were swimming. Not that they wouldn't have welcomed me, but I felt like if I waded down there I might be intruding. Once again at the 'Iao heritage gardens where there were only locals. And maybe a couple other times. Better Half and I talked about this and we both feel it's because we did more "real" stuff this time and less stuff that's designed for tourists. All in all though, every time we sat down to talk to anyone local they were very open and gracious so the uncomfortable feeling was more than likely on me.

I know I said last time that I was going to move upcountry and farm pigs (thus the screen name) but I might move to Napili and farm Shave Ice instead. I truly do enjoy the west side of Maui, and I love that island more every time I go there. We started looking into some real estate areas and prices this trip. Not sure yet if it's just a pipe dream, or if it's really do-able. We'll know more when we get our chillens out of high school / college.

Napili Bay is CROWDED in the afternoons. It's good in the mornings, it's good at sunset. In between 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. Every tourist on that island with kids under the age of 10 is right there.

As an aside, turtles visit the bay almost every evening. There was only one evening we didn't spot any, and most evening we spotted 3 or 4.

The convertible was worth the splurge. I'm sure everybody else on the island thought so to as there were 569487663 white convertible Sebrings.

The Napili Bay condo was a perfect choice. There were a few families there with kiddos, but not as many as the surrounding condos. It's important to note that the Napili Bay has it's OWN beach access. Not every condo on that beach has it's own access. Some folks had to walk to the public beach access. We will rent in this complex again, and will very likely rent from this owner again. She is lovely to work with, and everything went without a hitch. She called when she had questions, and she made sure that everything we needed was at our fingertips. Her welcome basket even included coffee in case we hadn't made it to the store yet.

That's all I can think of right now. Please feel free to ask any questions. I'll be happy to share any answers I have. Thanks for reading, and thanks for all the wonderful advice that I get from this board from all you regulars.

MauiPigFarmer Jul 18th, 2008 08:29 PM

Oh and one more random thought . . . helicopters are everywhere now, more so than I remember in 2005. You'd think it was Kauai. In fact, Better Half and I came to refere to it as "helicopter-thirty" every time we heard one again.

odywithaj Jul 24th, 2008 11:01 PM

Thank you so much for your trip report!! I am planning my first trip to Hawaii and you helped make the decision between BI and Maui for us... DH and I are planning to go this Oct. we don't have kids and would prefer to stay out of touristy areas... got some great ideas that will need further research!!


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