Maui, Hawaii - January 2016

Maui, Hawaii – January 2016

Our second travel stop this year was Maui. It was Elisa’s first time there and Mayne’s second (a shorter visit on cruise). So far, it is our second favorite Hawaiian island of the four that we have visited.

The vibe in Maui is more up-scale than the other islands. There is a good mix of city living available as well as rural, up-country living. My guess is that the real estate on Maui is the most expensive of the islands, since we saw many second, vacation homes in the millions of dollars. Compared to the other islands, Maui also seems to have the highest number of resorts/destination hotels.

I got the sense immediately upon arrival that Maui was a resort destination – evidence is this “Cocktails this way ->” sign in the airport.

Our first stop in the island was the beach area of Wailea. This was definitely a high-end destination, with a couple of beautiful beaches in a row lined with upscale resorts such as the Four Seasons, Andaz, the Marriott resort, and some others. We also spotted some condos on the shore which – upon checking the list prices on Trulia – found to be completely reasonable at between $5 – $30 million. Several even had the original, vintage 1990s gold faucets and carpeted bathrooms!

We didn’t stay in a dream condo, but we did cash in two free Hilton nights for a stay at probably the best hotel that we have ever stayed at – the Grand Wailea resort. We were greeted with free cocktails upon arrival and shown our deluxe room with a terrace.

The bathroom in our room had a large tub, shower and lots of marble.

The bedroom was good size and the bed was incredibly comfortable.

This was the view from our terrace overlooking the gardens (the whole complex was more or less a garden). We got upgraded to the deluxe room with terrace due to the Hilton Gold status which came with the Citi Hilton Reserve credit card.

Another view of the garden area. There are burbling streams and waterfalls throughout the complex which, combined with the surf at the nearby beach, created some nice white noise.

Some of the reflecting pools on the property.

This is the lowest elevation pool level of approximately ten pools, each at increasingly higher elevation. Apart from the variety, the neat part is all the pools are connected by waterslides and a lazy river in one spot so that you can start at the highest elevation and then float down to the lowest pool.

The beachside area ringed by palm trees.

There were a couple legit, long water slides as well as a scuba diving instruction pool.

This is the swim up pool bar. Around the corner were two grottoes each with a hot tub in them.

Tarzan swing above deep pool for diving.

Sunset on the Wailea beach. It’s the west side of the island so all the great sunsets are there.

It really was a beautiful hotel and while I probably wouldn’t pay the $550 room rate, it was definitely worth the credit card application which gave us the two free nights. Other than some walks on the beach, we didn’t do too much in the Wailea area since we wanted to take advantage of the resort.

The second part of our visit in Maui we stayed at an Airbnb property on the north shore in the Haiku area. It was true up-country Maui living, with a curving dirt road through the jungle to arrive at the property and lots of jungle noises at night. The property was mediocre but convenient to the north shore sights. If we came again we would probably stay in the town of Paia or Makawao, both of which have charming main streets with fun shops and restaurants.

We enjoyed an evening drive to Lahaina, an old whaling town on the westernmost park of the island. The city is situated in a natural gap between the islands of Maui, Lanai, and Moloka’i which makes a warm water breeding ground for humpback whales. We didn’t see any whales while there but we saw a dozen or more from the beach in Wailea. There is a great main street – Front Street – in Lahaina with good window browsing. Unfortunately, we only had the evening but we want to come back eventually!

The road to Lahaina goes around the border of an extinct volcano.

We enjoyed Fleetwood’s on Front Street in Lahaina, owned by Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac. They had a great oysters happy hour!

And some cheap, tasty cocktails.

Random photo of beautiful bougainvilla shrub, which are everywhere in Hawaii. Wish we could grow them back home!

A second roadtrip was up to the summit of Haleakala, another volcano with an observatory at the top!

This view is of the crater, which has cinder cones from a number of different eruptions over the ages.

More observatories – there was a large one being built.

The switchbacks up to the top were a little nerve-racking, although driving a sweet Nissan Armada helped! It’s a popular tourist activity to ride mountain bikes down from the top.

Our Airbnb had these cute little guys in it.

Apart from the resorts, we actually preferred the north shore of Maui to the rest. We would love to come back and stay a couple nights in Paia, and then in Hana if we really want to relax.

The north shore is where all the big waves are, and we enjoyed watching the surfers and picking up fresh fruit from the nearby market stands.

We took a long daytrip to drive the famous “Road to Hana” starting from Paia. It has to be one of the curviest roads in the world, and takes quite a while to drive. There are some good views along the way as well as some intense driving – especially when the locals are driving in the direction of Hana in the evening at break-neck speed. If we did it again, we would just find a hotel and spend a couple nights in Hana so we could drive back in the morning.

The curvy road to Hana.

Our favorite stop on the road by far is the grove of rainbow eucalyptus trees right by road. We were technically trespassing on the visit but it was right by the road and impossible to pass up.

The trees were fantastic.

Elisa with the trees.

Close up of the bark.

Hana itself was quaint and I am sure there is some fun stuff to explore that we didn’t see. The best part were the beaches, which were relatively calm, uncrowded, and nestled in between neat volcanic hills.

Hana beach.

View from beach in Hana.

Another beach in Hana.

Incredible sunset on the road back from Hana.

We hope that you enjoyed our photos! The next stop is Oahu and Honolulu!