Our First Impressions and Adventures in Maui

Our roving retirement has led us to the beautiful Hawaiian islands for the next few months as we anxiously await our turn to get the Covid vaccine. I described the process and our arrival in Our Extended Visit to the Hawaiian Islands.

Impressions

It has been 15 years since we have visited Maui and many things on the island have changed. There is a new bypass road around Lahaina so you no longer need to crawl through town to get to Kaanapali. But it is still a long ride from the resorts to anywhere else on Maui. Whalers Village is still the main attraction on Kaanapali and Lahaina seems closer to the resorts than it used to. Kapalua is less of a draw than it used to be because there is no longer an extravagant brunch or great snorkeling there.

Lodging

For our three weeks here on Maui, we are staying in a studio at the Westin at the north end of Kaanapali. We decided on a room overlooking the kiddy pool, but we do have an ocean view. Sometimes the noise through the open door was a little annoying but most of the time it was just fine. Having a studio means we only have a partial kitchen and the biggest issue is the lack of counter space. Cooking dinner is a challenge. 

Recommendations

We asked you, our faithful readers, to recommend things for us to do during our stay. Naturally, we got a huge list of suggestions. Because we don’t expect to get back here for many years and I don’t want Mike to get bored, we decided that we would go do something on our list at least every other day.

Our stay isn’t like our prior week-long vacations where we would plan to do three things a day to get it all in before we had to go back to work. So, even though I’m still in my super annoying, uncomfortable knee brace, we set out to visit all of the places recommended and then some.

Our Routine

We did get in some pool time, which required getting up at the crack of dawn to run downstairs and get our towels on some pool chairs while they were available. This ritual seems to be a phenomenon turned art form in Hawaii and has always bugged the heck out of me. But at least we (read Mike) only had to do it every other day. The resort did have a good cleaning system set up for the pool chairs, but far fewer chairs than normal to ensure social distancing. On the plus side, there was actually a guy policing the chairs so you couldn’t reserve them at 7 am and then not show up until 9 am. They took your chairs if you left them empty for more than an hour. Yeah!!

Then, as with every other place we go, some of our time every week has to be spent working on our blog, handling the usual financial stuff, talking with family, and planning future lodging, airfare, and rental cars. We did manage to find time for a massage though, you’ve got to have your priorities.

Sightseeing Guides

Mike’s Friend Joe recommended the GyPSy driving guide apps for our visit. We decided to purchase a bundle for all of the Hawaiian islands. There is a different mobile application for each tour location. Here is how they work: when you get in the car for a drive somewhere on the island you start the application. Using GPS, even offline, the application plays commentary and gives recommendations and directions for points of interest and side trips based on your location. It tells which stops are worthwhile and provides historical information along the way. It is like taking a guided tour without the guide, uncomfortable van, shopping stops (I hate them), and the expense of a tour.

We have also been browsing the Lonely Planet guides and of course, I always look at Viator to see where the tours go. In fact, they are great for getting a list of don’t miss stops in any area. We also consolidated everyone’s recommendations by island and set out to do everything.

Whale Watching

Since whale season runs from December until April we figured we should take a whale watching tour right away to increase the odds of seeing whales. We took a tour out of Lahaina where I could get on the boat from a dock rather than walking through the water and up a ladder, which wouldn’t be good for the brace on my right leg.

It was awesome, we saw so many whales. These are Maui Humpback whales that breed and calve every year in the calm waters on the western side of Maui.

Driving to Wailea and Makena

Because of my leg, our next outing was an easy drive through Kihei to Wailea and Makena beach. I have to say the first few times I visited Maui in the 1980s, there was no development in Wailea. The beach at Makena was hard to get to and it was known as a “locals hang out”. But friends recommended visiting the lava fields past Makena beach. We might not have found the lava fields if it wasn’t for the GyPSy guide because the road got a little sketchy at the end.  Since I’m not ready for hiking or hanging out on the beach yet, we decided to return in a week or so and do more exploring.

We also decided to stop at the Grand Wailea Resort to check it out. We even trecked all the way to their beach bar for a drink.

Wandering Lahaina Town

While wandering isn’t my strong suit right now, we did spend some time driving around and walking in Lahaina Town. The town is the historic center of Maui and was a large whaling port a century ago. Today, there are restaurants and galleries. Walking through galleries is another thing that we haven’t been able to do for the last year. So we did as much as I could.

Slack Key Show at Napili

Another recommendation was to attend a Slack Key Guitar show at a little resort near Kapalua. The show was 5 musicians playing traditional Hawaiian music on guitars and ukuleles. These guys played separately and together for a couple of hours as the sun went down. It has been far too long since we actually got to listen to live music and it was a real pleasure.

Dining

As far as dining goes, things have been challenging. We were given loads of restaurant recommendations for Maui and we did our best to get everywhere. But seating is limited due to Covid and most restaurants require reservations. Once we figured this out, we made reservations for at least every other evening and we frequently had to eat around 5:00 pm just to get in at all.

All I have to say is fish. We are eating loads of delicious, fresh, local fish. Mahi-mahi is the most popular fish and we have decided to compare various versions of the Macadamia nut-crusted Mahi-mahi, because, why not?

Coconuts Seafood

Little local place for lunch in Kihei after PT, Ono sandwich.

Ono sandwich

1853 in Napili

After the concert for cheap drinks and poke.

Leoda’s for Pie

We never got lunch there but we did get some of their pie.

Plantation House Restaurant

My first “Macnut” Mahi.  The most memorable thing about dinner at the Plantation House restaurant at Kapalua was the Pineapple upside-down cake.

Kimo’s

Kimo’s has been open in Lahaina for as long as I can remember. They are owned by the same folks (Merriman) who own other restaurants in Lahaina and Kaanapali. The fish was good but their claim to fame is Hula Pie and even though we are watching our figures, we had to try one. It was really good but one was enough for a while.

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