Just got back from eight great days on Maui! The best decision we made was bumping up our flight from Monday to Saturday. I don’t know what we were thinking flying out on Monday. Foolish :).
Since we’ve been to Maui twice before this trip was focused on lounging by the pool, sunning at the beach and eating, a lot. Though we did go offroading to “shipwreck beach” on an offshore island… We tried to go night diving but it was too murky and kiteboarding but it wasn’t windy enough then likely too windy. Oh well!
We started off our stay at Makena Beach & Golf Resort and then moved to the Fairmont for our last three days.
Makena Beach: We thoroughly enjoyed out time at Makena Beach. It is definitely one of the smaller Wai Lea hotels but that’s nice because it makes it way more relaxed.
I was bummed you couldn’t see the ocean from the pool area, but on the plus side, the pool had decent service, okay drinks, was never crowded and you could get a little cabana thing for free. I quickly grew tired of the background music though. They need to cut that out.
The beach was nice because it too was uncrowded, easy to get chairs, though you had to pay for an umbrella and the snorkeling was really good. Makena Beach is the beach that a lot of the boats stop at to go snorkeling.
For the first part of our stay we had a “premium oceanview room” which was okay. For the second half we had an “oceanfront room”. We highly recommend the oceanfront room! You can even hear the ocean from bed, at night, with the doors closed.
Other pluses, free wifi, free bikes and free valet.
The rooms at the Fairmont are definitely way larger, way nicer, and the grounds at the resort are huge. But I wasn’t as blown away by the service as I was hoping. Even though we only visited the Four Seasons, they did a better job remembering our names than the Fairmont.
It was nice that you could get an umbrella on the beach for free. And apparently you could drink on this beach, but not Makena. However, the pool side service was slooow…
Other negatives, $15 wifi, $25 valet.
Molikini Grill Sunday Buffet: We started off our trip with this breakfast buffet. And wow, what a great way to start! Ahi Poke, crab legs, scallops and more. In hindsight, this was a great deal at $40/person. Highly recommend.
Coconut Fish Cafe: One of our more affordable dinners, it was still very good. $12 for two monstrous fish tacos. Worth the line and the wait if you’re looking for something low key.
Cuatro: Bring your own wine! (And there’s a grocery store next door if you run out.) And some of the best seafood we had too. Too bad it is in a Kihei strip mall but fortunately it won’t totally break the bank. Some of the best service we had all trip too. We highly recommend.
Monkeypod: We went here twice so that should say something. Their food is sourced as locally as possible. Best Mai Tai too. And likely one of the best burgers we’ve ever had anywhere. Don’t worry we had plenty of seafood for appetizers :).
Kimo: This is a reasonably rated, reasonably priced Lahania restaurant. The best part wasn’t the food but that it is right on the water with a great view of the sunset.
Duo at the Four Seasons: The raw bar (available Thursday, Friday and Saturday) isn’t cheap at $69 a person but it is all you can eat freshly shucked oysters, lobster tail, crab, ahi and more. If you love seafood you’ll love this. Just don’t go back for a third plate. Two is plenty :).
Nick’s Fishmarket: Chelsea’s friend Amy got married at the Fairmont and the reception dinner was at Nick’s. I was seafooded out at this point and got the filet and it was great!
Haleakala: We woke up at 3:15 AM to drive for an hour and half, climb 10,000 feet (by car) and still didn’t make it up in time to get into the upper parking lot! We were one car shy of making it in and had to settle for the lower lot :(. None-the-less, I’ve probably seen too many spectacular sunrises while backcountry skiing for this to be the moving experience that everyone describes it as. Also, be sure to bundle up. It really is cold up there! Perhaps we just didn’t catch a good morning, but my recommendation would be to skip sunrise and catch a sunset instead.
Lanai: Lanai, an island that is a 45 minute ferry ride from Maui, seemed like a cool day adventure. There’s supposedly dolphins often in the bay, and 4wd is required to get to many of the island sights. Unfortunately it is a $60/person ferry ride (roundtrip) and renting a Jeep isn’t cheap ($159/day + gas is $5.80/gallon!) I enjoyed our time there but the off roading proved dusty and bumpy. And there were no dolphins :(. But the snorkeling was good. However, in our rush to not miss the ferry we lost a snorkel.
Scuba Diving: We did a two tank dive with Pro Diver, who we’ve been out with before. Hit up Molikini and Red Hill. Saw a shark, some turtles… After diving at Maui a number of times I think it is time we branched out to some other diving locations. Do note, that we recommend Pro Diver, they only take six divers on their boat so it isn’t nearly as crowded as the competition.