Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Day 1 to 7

My Solo Maui Trip!

Arrived at OGG airport in Maui, got my baggage and proceeded to Alamo Car Rental shuttle.   I loved that the shuttle guy takes your bags on and off the shuttle for you, as well as this very nice man offered to help me as well...on top of the bags for his whole family!  Only one person in line ahead of me, so it was a fairly quick process.  They upgraded me to a midsize, which at first I thought was too big, but it turned out to be a fabulous car!  So, I headed out to find Whole Foods.  Of course I got lost! Completely lost.  I was pretty pooped at this point too, but somehow I found my way. ( It's not easy being a driver and a navigator in a place I've never been before, but I soon learned to check the map ahead of time and write down all the turns and directions before heading out so all I had to look at was one little piece of paper ). Whole Foods was as great as always, except here I can buy alcohol too.  Booyah!  Got some yummy organic apple cider and some wine.  Loaded up on all sorts of yummy stuff, and then headed out to The Whaler.  It's only one long straight road from here to Kaanapali, so didn't get lost this time.  This is when it really hits me....I'm here!  And that drive is so beautiful.  Saw Maui Tropical Plantation on the right as I drove by and hoped I'd get there this trip, but it didn't work out.  Will go next trip for sure.  It was getting dark by the time I left WF, so was worried I'd be trying to navigate in the dark, but as it turned out I had this amazing sunset to look at as I drove to Kanaapali....gorgeous!  And I arrived there in twilight. They gave the exact room I asked for too...Tower 2 higher up facing the courtyard, and it was renovated too.  Absolutely fantastic room.   I hit the hot tub after settling in and relaxed.

This is the view from my lanai, room 1164.   And below is the inside of my room.

Day 2

First thing's first...gotta head out to the beach!  The Whaler had no rental guy that day, so went next door to the Kaanapali Beach Hotel and rented a lounger and an umbrella.  Only $26 for the whole day, whereas the Whaler is quite a bit more. Go figure.

Very strong winds this day, so had to actually wear something over my suit as it was making it quite cool.   I checked out the ocean as well, but the surf was way too strong for me. 

Okay, this pic isn't of that actual day, but this is in front of the Whaler on a different day.  You get the idea. Most days the waves were way, way bigger than this, with people actually surfing.  I'm not that brave.  I just wanted to swim.

After a couple of hours there I decided to go and get a massage.  On my walk earlier in the day down the boardwalk I spotted these places right ON THE BEACH that give massages.  I decided to get the 50 minute massage for $115 from the Hale Mana.  I believe they're part of the Marriott.  I'm a massage therapist myself so am pretty picky, but this girl Kelly was excellent.  It was lovely to actually receive a massage instead of giving one!    The boardwalk is right behind you and ocean is right in front of you.  She closes all the curtains whilst you undress and climb on the table and drape yourself with the sheet.  Then she comes back in and opens all the drapes so it's completely open and you feel all the breezes and hear the waves.  Absolutely fantastic experience! Highly recommend it.  10x better than getting one in a stuffy massage room.

Then, back to the beach and my lounge chair for an afternoon of relaxing (even more!) and reading my book.   Oh, I did manage to get sunburnt.  In the shade!!   lol  It doesn't take much, so used sunscreen quite liberally everyday from then on.

One thing I'm finding is that there is romance everywhere.  All these couples are holding hands....young and old alike.  I saw a couple of weddings being set up, and one bride and groom as well.....they got "Maui'd " the sign would say.  It's just one big love fest everywhere you look. I did not see one other solo traveler (that I was aware of) in the whole trip. 

Decided to head to the Hula Grill for happy hour.  I didn't have the guts to go at dinner time when its dark and all the couples and families are there, so I decided to go when it was less busy and still light out. Yummo!  I got the fish tacos of course, cause that's what you have to do at the Hula Grill on your first day, and listened to the music and enjoyed the ambience.

After the Hula Grill it was time to go check out Whaler's Village.  I had heard on TripAdvisor that the Honolulu Cookies were amazing, so headed in for a taste test.  OMG!  Those things are addictive.  I went in everyday for a taste And I did bring 3 boxes home in my carry on for gifts.  Super yummy shortbread cookies.   They had special Xmas ones too, peppermint and something else.  Not as good as the originals, so stuck with those. 

I also heard that the Kaanapali Beach Hotel had a free hula show everynight, so headed over there at 6 pm to check it out.  Only a few people, but it was nice to hear some authentic Hawaiian music.  I did notice on my trip that none of the shops played Hawaiian music.  It was all Christmas carols, or modern music. Even the restaurants played modern music.  Except for the Vintage Hawaiian T shirt store in Whaler's Village. They had great Hawaiian music playing, which of course got me in the mood to buy more stuff.  

I got a beer and watched the show for about half an hour. It got quite cold at this point, so I was glad I had my sweater on.  

Wanted to go check out the astronomy show on top of the Hyatt, but it was overcast for the next few nights, so it never happened.  Sat and Sun night were more clear, but the show is from 8pm to 10 pm and I was way too tired by that time of day.  My routine had me up by 6 am every morning since morning is so gorgeous.

Day 3

Was out the door by 8:45 am to go to Lahaina.  Got a 3 hour spot right on Front Street at 9 am, and lots of shops were open already.  Got lots of trinkets for friends.  Also found Maui Girl on Front St is great for clothing! The ABC store right across from it is seems to have way more stuff than the ABC Store in Whaler's Village.  

Went to KOA's on Front Street for lunch.  Had the absolute best coconut shrimp of my life!  Seriously, a 10 out of 10 on the yummy scale.  It was the appetizer portion, but huge.  

Lahaina waterfront.

This was the car I drove.  Loved it. 

They have amazing art galleries in Lahaina, but this one with the work of Vladimir Kush was astounding.  I loved it so much, I was literally crying in the art gallery.  No lie.  Amazing work.  The woman there was kind enough to email me a couple of his pieces.  The Geneaology Tree and the Ray of Hope.  I would copy them here but I don't think that's allowed.   I'm posting a link here though if anyone is interested in seeing his work

Vladimir Kush

Was in Lahaina for a good 5 hours, so just went back and hit the Whaler pool for the afternoon.

Day 4

Decided to head south to look for a calm beach to swim in, because there weren't any in my area.  I finally got to see what Kihei looked like after hearing about it for so long.  Also loved seeing all those hotels I keep hearing about, like the Surfside.  Kihei has a great vibe to it, and saw a few places I wanted to stop at on my way back.  I kept going all the way down to Wailea, as I was headed for Polo Beach in front of the Kea Lani.  I heard they had complimentary loungers for everyone, but you do have to rent your own umbrella.  The day I went it was quite cloudy and cool, so no need for an umbrella.  Small beach area, but it was quite calm so I was able to finally go in the ocean. 

I spent an hour and a half there and then toured the Kea Lani, and then went and did some shopping in the Shops at Wailea.  This is probably my least favourite part of Maui.  I felt like I was walking through a plaza in Beverly Hills or something.  The Wailea area is a newer developed part of Maui and very upscale.  I did not enjoy the energy here at all.  In fact I couldn't wait to get out of it.  This is just my opinion of course as I know some people love this area.  But not me!  I drove back up to Kihei and stopped at Hawaiian Moons Natural Health food store, thanks to TA.  What a great find!  They had a fantastic salad bar and hot food bar so stocked up for the rest of the week.  Delicious food too.  I was sitting in my car devouring some sesame chicken and rice when a few locals came to stand close to my car and talk.  They were sort of surfer dude types, so it was fantastic to get a local flavour and feel from them.

I did go back into Lahaina later in the day for a bite to eat and to see more of the area.  I ended up eating at Cheeseburger in Paradise.  I order the fish taco.  BIG mistake.  It was waaaaay too spicy and hot.  My mistake.  One should probably order a cheeseburger from Cheeseburger in Paradise.

Day 5

Decided to head north, up to Kapalua Bay, again in search of calm water.  I absolutely LOVED Kahana and Napili.  It's got that old authentic vintage Hawaiian feel going on.  It reminded me of when we would travel to Hawaii in the 1970s.  This is more of the Hawaii that I remember, almost like the Halekulani in Waikiki way back in the day.  More inviting and comfortable.  I was in the Kapalua Bay parking lot by 8:30 and there was no problem finding a spot.  The Bay looks quite calm in the pic below, but it gets rougher as time goes on. 

The Kapalua Coastal Trail head starts here too, so walked on that for a while.  It's super windy and quite amazing to watch the strength of the ocean whip against the rocks. 

Yes, there is a little hut that rents umbrellas and loungers to non guests here, and at a reasonable rate, but it was still too rough for me.  I talked to the rental guy, and he said I could stay close to the sides where the snorkelers go, but that there's a lot of sharp coral there and could get cut, so be careful.  Yeah.....nope!  

So, decided to walk over to Napili Bay instead. Walked through Merrimans.  Wow!  Would love to come back with a partner one day and come here. Gorgeous.   Anyway, Napili Bay was much calmer, so plopped down on a beach chair that I was not supposed to use, and spent some quality beach time here. Gorgeous area, and so peaceful.  Love the Napili Kai as has that old school vintage Hawaiian vibe that is authentic and wonderful.  I was right beside the Sea House too.  Would love to go back there one day as well. 

On the drive back I decided to stop at one of those string of hotels in the Honokawai area, cause they looked so cool.  I stopped at the Sands of Kahana.  For a budget hotel I really, really liked it.  All open air, and great grounds with a big open air restaurant overlooking a large pool.  Plus, they have a big grassy area with loungers overlooking the ocean, and lots of shade to boot.  The Whaler does not have any shade really....and no loungers strewn about like the KBH or this place.  They also had lots of ocean front condos with big lanais, although some of the condos face the parking lot, so be wary of those.

I was starving, so decided to stop at The Maui Fish market that I kept reading about in TA.  I ordered coconut shrimp, because I seem to be on a bit of a run with them.  They were $14, and quite good.  Not as good as Koa's though.  Koa's shrimp were a 10, and their sauce was a 10.  I think Koa's has ruined me for coconut shrimp for life. I'll have to come back just for them :-)

I did a tour of all the hotels and grounds in my area.  I would not go back to The Whaler simply because of the pool situation.  It's very small and you just don't get that 'paradise' feel from it.  They also don't have much in the way of grassy areas or shade. Still, the hotel itself is wonderful with a great staff and my room was amazing.  I think my fave hotel was the Sheraton. 

Amazing pools, with pool bars and people bringing you food and drinks with umbrellas in it, as well as a great beach and good location too.   I also really liked the Westin Resort.  Would stay there too, but Sheraton had bigger grounds and more space and more of a paradise feel to it, IMO. 

Speaking of that paradise feeling, I spent some time at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel next door.  That place is heaven.  Really, really good energy and such an amazing peacefulness.