Maui, Hawaii Travel Review
For the last 2 months I've been reading on the island of Maui preparing for a trip with my 17 year old daughter. I wanted this to be an incredible experience and it was. Thanks so much to everyone who's advice was available for me! I also used Maui Revealed and found it very helpful.
We flew into Maui and spent the night at the Maui Seaside hotel. We planned to drive the road to Hana the next day and it was a very convenient place to spend the night. The rooms weren't amazing but they were clean and comfortable.
I rented an economy car rental in Maui through Thrifty rental, and because of a luggage problem we arrived there kind of late. They upgraded us to a convertible for free--it was incredible!! I think the drive to Hana was twice as good because of the convertible. We were careful to never leave it open, and didn't have any problems with theft.
We spent two days on the road to Hana and spent one night in Hana. When I go back (who knows when) with my husband we will probably spend 2 nights in Hana because there were still things my daughter and I didn't see. We loved all of the waterfalls, the blow-hole at Wai'anapanapa Park, the black sand beach, and the red sand beach by Hana Bay. We drove back around the south side of the island. What a drive!!! It was very exciting and I was glad that we made it back to a good two lane road before dark.
Our first big adventure was the powered hang glider flight at the Hana Aiport. I'd really vacillated on doing this because it was so expensive ($115 each) but I decided to just go for it. It was very cool. The best moment happened on my flight right as we got into the air--two whales were breaching just below!
In Hana we stayed at the Hana Maui Vacation Rentals-- one bedroom with a small kitchen. It was very nice & clean and the owner was pleasant and helpful.
The next night we started our 4 day stay in Kihei. We stayed at the Kihei Kai Nani at a unit booked through www.vrbo.com. It was a completely positive experience. The condo was nice, clean, and had everything we needed & more.
Our next adventure was a whale watch with Pacific Whale Foundation. It was very windy but we saw an amazing number of whales. It was fantastic.
On Monday we went up and did the zipline with Skyline EcoAdventures. It was a blast. The guides were really funny and the group was a nice size. I was really glad we did this. When we were done zipping we drove the rest of the way up the volcano and hung around to watch the sunset. It was cool to see--it was very cloudy and so the color wasn't as intense as I'd hoped. But it was still neat to be above the clouds watching the sun set. We were wishing we had coats and gloves, though--it was COLD!
Our major goal after arriving in Kihei was to snorkel as much as possible. We snorkeled 9 times at 8 places in 5 days. We rented our stuff from Maui Dive Shop and they were very helpful. We rented the "deluxe" packages with the snorkels that are better in choppy water and were very glad we did. We were never bothered at all by choppiness. We also rented wet suit tops, which were only $15 for the week. We stayed warm longer, didn't have to use as much sunscreen, and they made us more buoyant. As we were getting ready to pay for the equipment the person at Maui Dive pointed out that we'd spent enough that we now qualified for a free snorkel excursion with them. I didn't expect that it would be worth much, but since we didn't have anything to do our last afternoon in Maui, we scheduled it then. More about that later.
Our very favorite place to snorkel was Ahihi Cove & then Ahihi Bay, in the Ahihi Nature Preserve. We saw incredible fish & coral in the cove, and as we moved just a little out of the cove we saw turtles and a bit eel.
Our next favorite place was the area between Kamaole 1 & 2. I was amazed at the fish we saw there, and we saw several eels as well.
We snorkeled one morning at Chang's Beach and the 5 Caves area. We saw lots of big turtles--that was great. But there weren't as many fish there, and we ended up going back to Ahihi Cove that day.
After reading (extensively) on this forum I'd booked the Wild Dolphin 1/2 day snorkel excursion to Lanai with Hawaiian Ocean Rafting. The raft was lots of fun--not very many people and fun captain and crew. We were supposed to go to Manele Bay to snorkel & hopefully see wild dolphins. Unfortunately, the weather changed while we were on our way to Lanai and and we weren't able to go to Manele Bay. The captain of the boat took us to an alternate site where we saw amazing reef but not so many fish. Then she took us to a place north of Lahaina where we saw 10-12 turtles at once. On our way back to Maui (from Lanai) we saw quite a few whales, which was great too. We were disappointed not to go to Manele Bay, but thought that the captain did as well as possible under the circumstances.
In the afternoon we went to the Maui Ocean Center and really enjoyed ourselves. We would have spent more time there if we could. (But weren't willing to give up any snorkeling to do it!)
Our last morning we had planned to snorkel at Black Rock but the weather change had kicked up the surf and there was no visibility. Our free snorkel trip in the afternoon with Maui Dive was supposed to be at Coral Gardens, a place just offshore a couple of miles from the harbor. Because there wasn't any visibility they took us to Molokini instead. I'd read a lot of lukewarm reviews about Molokini so I wasn't prepared to be wowed, but it was a great experience. We saw whales on the way and then a pod of dolphins! Molokini was just so clear it was unreal. We saw a good number of fish and incredible coral. On the way back we also saw a lot of whales--lots of tail slapping. So our free trip was really great.
Our last stop was at Mr. Pineapple in Kahului. I wish I'd know before our trip that you can check pineapple free when you're coming back. Mr. Pineapple can also mail pineapple if you're looking for someone to do that.
We were so sad that our trip was over, but we were also exhausted! We really packed a lot into our 8 days there and it was better than I could ever have hoped.
I hope that this review is helpful. Maui really exceeded my expectations and I can't wait to go back someday with my husband.
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