As the weather gets colder here in the midwest, let's go somewhere warmer this Travel Tuesday. Maui, Hawaii! Johnny and I traveled to Maui after going to Coachella this April (crazy, I know). Some parts of the trip were not as expected! Disclaimer, I am NOT by any means complaining, but rather giving you my honest review of where I stayed and what I saw. Read on for my overall impressions of Maui and recommended things to do!
We stayed at the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Villas. This was part of a deal through my American Express card, so we didn't get to browse resorts when making travel plans. The Westin Kaanapali is a time share resort, so the villas are set up like apartments (bedroom, living room, balcony, bathroom). They are very quiet and close to Kaanapali Beach, which is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. There are several pools and restaurants on the property. This all sounds great, but overall, I wouldn't go back. Why? First of all, the food wasn't great. I have noticed this at several Starwood properties over the past year. Very disappointing because I love to eat! The second reason I wouldn't go back to this resort is based on the way I travel now--as a younger couple. This resort was geared more towards big family groups with children or older couples who liked a very quiet atmosphere. The rooms, while spacious, were almost too homelike; Johnny and I prefer less space and more luxe decor and amenities like balcony hot tub and in-room bar.
Our favorite part of Hawaii was traveling the Road to Hana. This is a sometimes precarious but always scenic highway that hugs the coast of Maui. We rented a convertible, which made for a fun drive through the mountains and jungle. If renting a convertible, I DEFINITELY recommend bringing a hat if you don't want your face to be sunburnt (not a cute look, and bad for aging gracefully). There are several stops along the Road to Hana with gorgeous beaches, hikes and food stands. We climbed sea caves at the black sand beach, swam in ridiculously clear turquoise water at the red sand beach cove, and hiked through incredible bamboo thickets near Hana. Our hotel had a printed guide at the concierge that we took on our drive. The sites are marked with mile markers, so sometimes finding these spots is a little difficult, but that's part of the fun! Expect to plan a whole day for the Road to Hana, and start as early as possible so you don't end up driving this sometimes one lane road at dark!
Coming in from Coachella, we were pretty tired, so a lot of our time was spent lounging by the pool or on the beach or rejuvenating in the spa. Kaanapali beach was a great place to be located. The water is crystal clear, and giant sea turtles live steps from the shore and are easily seen with snorkeling gear.
The concierge recommended several "touristy" activities. We declined most of these as we don't really enjoy jumping on the bandwagon. However, we did do a sunset cruise which was a lot of fun. We also tried out the Old Lahaina Luau, but did not have a good experience as we were seated at a table with a bunch of loud kids, and then got rained out before the main show started.
Like I said, we had bad luck with food on our resort. For the most part, we went to a grocery store and bought food for our room. We did venture out to eat a couple times. Try The Gazebo Maui for breakfast! Mama's Fish House is always popular for a nice dinner, but make reservations!
If you are a young, active couple like Johnny and I, Maui might not be the place to spend your entire Hawaii trip. The flight is LONG and you want to make the most of your time. A return trip to Hawaii for me would definitely include some island jumping to find more hikes and sights. However, if you are more of laid-back vacationer who just wants to take in the beach with a Mai Tai, or if you have a family with children, Maui should definitely be on your list!