Maui 2006
9 days in Maui, May 27 - June 4, 2006.
FeedbackBy Preston Hunt, 04 June 2006

See trip pictures

Highlights: Snorkelling, hiking, surfing, boogie boarding, reading on the beach, sightseeing, and relaxing. Bargain accommodations, hardly any mosquitoes, not getting sunburned.

Lowlights: Being afraid of getting nipped by a shark in the murky water. Glue-like waterproof sunscreen. Road noise in condo during the day.

Next time: Go before May to see the humpback whales. See dolphins at La Perouse Bay. Bicycle down Haleakala (maybe). Check out the Seven Pools.

Getting there

Hawaiian Air has a direct flight to Maui from Portland ($400). Short and sweet: About 5.5 hours to Maui, 4.5 hours to get back. Got a surprise at National Rent-a-car where we received a free upgrade to a convertible (woo hoo!).

Accommodations

Aimee found two great places for us to stay using craigslist: Two nights on the north side of the island in Haiku ($95/night) and the rest of the time on the southern side in Kihei ($80/night) at the Kihei Nani Nai condominium (see pictures and rental info). Both places were really nice and we would highly recommend this alternative to the pricey mega-resorts and hotels. The condo in Kihei was right across the street from Kamaole Beach II and had an ocean view. The traffic from South Kihei Road was a bit noisy during the day, but it quieted down ok at night.

Familiar faces

On our first day there, we met up with the Burkholder clan (Mimi, Dan, Celeste, Dick, Gail) and walked the boardwalk past all of the big resorts in Wailea. We then met up with Nate and Nicole (celebrating the tail end of their honeymoon) for dinner at Maui Thai. Ran into Chuck Smith, Debbie, and Courtney at the airport (shared the same flight home), and also learned that Nancy Bartlett was there at the same time. Small world, etc.

Sightseeing

Drove the rode to Hana (crazy twisty, 3 hours to go 50 miles) and stopped for numerous vistas and excursions along the way, including a hike through a luscious bamboo forest, the Arboretum, and Hoopkia Beach (famous for the 70-foot "Jaws" waves). Rained on and off throughout the drive. Often smelled fresh ginger while walking about. Saw lots of tropical fruit, like mangos and papaya.

Drove up to the top of Haleakala (which somehow killed the rental car, necessitating a quick trip to National to swap it out). It's a long drive, 2 hours+ each way. Passed through wonderfully fragrant eucalyptus groves. Stopped to gawk at a tow truck pulling a ranger's car up a huge cliff (nobody died, the car had been left in neutral and rolled off the side). Drove up to 10,023 foot summit and snapped some photos. Took a brief hike and a trip through the visitor center for the essentials: Shield volcano, most massive in the world ("bigger" than Everest), last eruption in 1790, etc.

Snorkelling

We were lucky that the best spot for our favorite activity was in South Maui (where we were staying). We snorkelled at La Perouse Bay, Aquarium (had to hike 30 minutes across the sharp lava each way), Five Graves, Ahihi Bay/Cove (hands down best snorkelling spot), Ka'anapali (Black Rock), and in front of the Maui Prince Hotel.

Snorkelling was generally excellent: Saw tons of yellow tangs, humus, black triggers, spotted puffers, moorish idols, unicorn fish, a few turtles, yellow eye tangs, and even a moray eel and an octopus. The water was fairly cloudy for a few days due to a big south swell that stirred up the sand. For the most part, Maui is mostly reef with very little sand and this usually makes for very clear snorkelling water.

Maui water feels surprisingly chilly at first, then you adjust and are fine for about 30-45 minutes, after which you start to feel cold again. Going to take a shortie wet suit if we go back this early in the season for extended snorkelling.

Hiking

In addition to the mini hikes along the Hana Highway, we did a larger trip up the Waipee Ridge Trail on the West Maui Mountains. Easy access and yet only ran into a few other people. Most tourists stay in the mega resorts I guess. Beautiful hike through Captain Cook trees, ferns, and other tropical vegetation. Encountered first trip casualty when Aimee was stung by bumble bee.

Surfing

Drove up to Lahaina, saw that the surf was good, and spontaneously rented boards, booties, and rashguards ($20 each person for about 3 hours). All of the surfing on Maui is reef or rock (no sandy bottoms), but in Lahaina most of it has been smushed down over the years so it's not too dangerous (just make sure not to dive off the board if you go down). Waves in Lahaina were 1-2 feet Hawaii system (3-4 feet everywhere else) and we both did well at getting up consistently. Now if we could just learn how to turn...

A few days later we rented again just up the road from our condo at Kalama Park: Better deal this time, $20 for all day rental (our arms still pooped out after several hours though). Surfing was equally good on account of the same south swell that was making the snorkelling cloudy.

Boogie boarding

Our rental condo had a couple of high quality boogie boards, which we kept in the trunk and used whenever the urge struck and the waves were good. Tried Baldwin Beach, supposedly awesome boogie boarding, but the seas were calm when we went.

Our first really big waves were at Big Beach (Makena), definitely BIG and expert conditions. Probably 5 foot waves, which feels super scary on the boogie board as the wave crashes you toward the shore. The waves were a little too rough for Aimee (especially after an incident when her whole bathing suit was ripped off).

We also had some pretty good sponging (what surfers call boogie boarding) at the beach near the Maui Prince. We had gone there because it was a popular turtle spot (and we did see some), but the water was pretty cloudy. So we boogie boarded instead. We also taught a little girl who was hanging out near us how to boogie board--it was fun seeing her enjoy it for the first time.

Beaches

We were staying across the street from three pretty good beaches, Kamaole I, II, and III. Most nights, we would walk along the beach and catch the sunset. Other notable beaches were Ka'anapali, Big Beach (very nice), and Baldwin Beach (very beautiful with lots of private little alcoves, probably Preston's favorite beach). Wailea Beach (near the Grand Wailea hotel) was also pretty nice. A short hike from Big Beach revealed Little Beach (a nude beach), which was an interesting experience.

Pretty much every beach on Maui is nice. They all have decent parking and most have good facilities including that oh-so-cleansing fresh water shower. The beaches near the resorts are pretty crowded as might be expected. Almost all beaches thin out after 3 or 4pm -- they're practically deserted until sunset.

Restaurants

We did our grocery stopping at Safeway (more or less same prices as the mainland, with some BIG exceptions of course) and cooked dinner in the condo several nights. We also ate at a great restaurant in Paia (neat hippy town); Maui Thai (great!), Cafe O'Lei (great, ate there twice!), and Canton Cuisine Chinese Restaurant (not good) in Kihei; and Cheeseburgers in Paradise (good!) in Lahaina. Grabbed fast food a couple of times, including Maui Taco (Aimee loved it, Preston didn't). All in all, food was pretty good in Maui.

Expenditures

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