Maui review

Maui – The Beaches

When we were planning our honeymoon we had it narrowed down to Maui, Kauai, Cancun, and Costa Rica. Costa Rica got eliminated pretty quickly, even though we both really wanted to go. We just didn’t want to spend 10+ hours flying from Portland to Houston to Costa Rica then to drive hours to get to the coast. Cancun was crossed off because it was the start of hurricane season and not that I was particularly worried about a hurricane, I just didn’t want to travel that far and have it rain every day!

So it came down to the two Hawaiian islands. We went to Kona a few years ago and loved it but one of the downsides were the beaches. They were definitely not the postcard perfect, sandy beaches I imagined. There were a few nice beaches we found but they were quite a drive from where we were staying. We found one beach we liked and ended up going back to that one several times because the rest of them were so rocky. Kauai is my dad’s favorite island and so many people raved about it. But we also heard some not so great stuff about it (i.e. boring, not much to do, not touristy, really windy, etc). It was such a polarizing thing. We decided to go to Maui because we KNEW what we were getting–there were no mixed reviews. You were getting perfect beaches and touristy stuff. Okay by us!

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We stayed in a condo in Kihei, south Maui, and I am glad we did. There were so many great beaches near us and we didn’t have to drive an hour to get there. It was easy to go out to the beach, swim, snorkel and then 10 minutes later be back at the condo taking a shower. I would definitely stay in Kihei again. It was more relaxed than Lahaina.

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Big Beach/Makena

When we first arrived in Maui Monday afternoon we picked up our rental car, made a stop at Costco and Safeway, grabbed a snack at Da Kitchen, and then went to our condo. It was like 3 in the afternoon by this time and we immediately changed and went to the beach.

Our condo came with every beach toy you could want. Great snorkel gear, frisbees and balls, beach mats, beach chairs, boogie boards and umbrellas.

Big Beach was beautiful. Picture perfect. Gorgeous white sand that felt like we were walking through softened butter. The parking lot was large and easy to find a space and the walk to the beach was short. The beach was uncrowded and so large that even if it was crowded you wouldn’t be on top of your neighbor.

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It was a fabulous “time to unwind” beach. Not a fabulous swimming or snorkeling beach. The waves were huge. It could have been the time of day, too, but the waves and shore-break were just too big to attempt swimming and definitely not snorkeling. We just kind of splashed around in the warm water and relaxed on our beach towels in the sunshine.

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It was also pretty windy.

 

Kapalua Bay Beach

The second day of our trip we went to this beach. It was up near Napili/Kaanapali north of Lahaina. It was in a resort heavy area but the beach wasn’t overly crowded. Maybe on a weekend it is.

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This was a fabulous beach! There was great swimming and snorkeling and there were two giant sea turtles right at the shore that would pop up out of the water. I also saw a few turtles while I was snorkeling around looking at the neon colored fish. It was way cool.

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The only downside was that it was so far from our condo. It was about an hour drive from Kihei, where our condo was.

Ulua Beach

This was a great little hidden beach in Wailea. It had great snorkeling and swimming.

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We went to this beach twice. What I loved about Maui was that most of the beaches had great facilities. Bathrooms, several outdoor showers. They were clean and well maintained. A lot of them had lifeguards. They also had good parking options. Some of the bigger ones even had multiple parking lots. We never felt like we couldn’t get a place to park. Ulua Beach had a good lot and we got primo parking twice.

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Picture perfect, right?

Kamaole Beach I

Our condo was directly across the street from Kamaole Beach 1. It wasn’t a great beach for swimming or snorkeling. The waves were huge and the water was super murky. However, it was GREAT for boogie boarding and just splashing around. The beach was fairly small and could be crowded. It shrank even more when the tide came in and spots got limited.

Robyn's Birthday

We could see the beach from our lanai, which was an amazing way to eat breakfast every morning. 🙂

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Robyn's Birthday

Mostly we just walked on this beach at sunset. It was perfect for that.

Wailea Beach 

Hated this beach! It was tagged as one of the “best beaches in Maui” and I so don’t get it. It was in Wailea (fancy resort area south of Kihei) and the beach was in front of the Four Seasons and Grand Wailea Resort (which looked amazing). So why did I hate this beach?

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Mostly the people. It was a small-ish beach and it was pretty crowded with guests from the Four Seasons. None of the beaches in Maui are private, but it definitely felt like a private beach. The people were just gross. Seriously. There was this woman that was yelling at her nanny on her cell phone who was apparently watching one of her kids up at the pool and she was ignoring her other two little kids playing. Then the wait staff came by where the lounge chairs and umbrellas were set up taking food and drink orders. It was just SO NOT what I wanted.

Plus the waves were really big and didn’t look great for swimming or snorkeling plus there were a bunch of gnats flying around that were really gross and annoying. It was the only beach we experienced any of this type of unpleasantness and we didn’t stay long. We packed up and back to Ulua Beach 5 minutes away.

Maluaka Beach

This was our last beach of the trip! It was one of my favorites. The beach itself was amazing. It was a little difficult to find but once we did, I was glad. It was in front of the Makena Golf Resort (which is actually where we considered staying before we decided to do a condo instead).

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The beach was super quiet and chill. It was mildly crowded but never felt crowded. People were chill and respectful and everyone was having fun.

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We got there around 9am on our last day in Maui and ended up staying until almost 2pm! We loved it and didn’t want to leave. The swimming was fantastic. The water was pretty calm. Later in the day the waves got bigger and it was just fun to jump around and ride the waves.

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I did a lot of snorkeling and saw some fish and one turtle. We ate our picnic lunch on the beach and then I went out for one final snorkel/swim round. I had a great time swimming around the rocks on the south end of the beach. I decided I was done and we packed up and started to go. That’s when I saw this:

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Um…? What?

So apparently a shark was sighted RIGHT WHERE I HAD BEEN 5 minutes before. Like for reals. Someone else on the beach said that it was spotted and then someone else said that there was a turtle bitten in half (not sure if I believe that part).

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A lifeguard was out in the water on a jet ski telling everyone to get out of the water and he was zipping around looking for the shark. I never saw it but…that was kind of freaky. Good thing it was our last day! CRAZY.

Best Maui Stuff

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The flowers in Hawaii are so amazing. I loved seeing all the vibrant flowers and taking pictures of them. I really wish we could grow some of them at home! Just going out for walks I could smell the gardenia and jasmine and plumeria. So wonderful. I miss it already.

This post is about some of the fun (some of the not fun) stuff we did in Maui. We really spent most of our time on the beach and I am grateful for that. With all the wedding planning and stress, all I could think about was how much I wanted to be a on a sunny beach.

Ho’omana Spa Maui 

We wanted to get massages next to the ocean. I knew that places like the Four Seasons, Hyatt, etc would have this option but for a really expensive price tag. We knew we wanted to get massages on our trip and the second day we were there we started researching it.

Michael booked us at Ho’omana Spa for a 2 hour couple’s spa retreat. The price was right, the downside? It wasn’t by the beach. In fact, it turned out to be in Upcountry near Makawao. Also, Michael had gotten sunburned the day before at the beach. We considered canceling it (especially because of the sunburn) but didn’t and I am so glad we didn’t cancel. It turned out to be my favorite thing in Maui.

We drove up a winding country road, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. The spa was nestled between residential houses and farms. It was a little odd at first but once we got in there, it was fantastic. It was a house that had been completely converted into a spa.

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It felt like we were in the jungle, too. Way different than down near the beach. Everything was lush and green, the flowers and plants were giant. It was also raining. While we waited for our appointment we sat on the back deck overlooking their amazing garden and drank some ginger-infused water.

Then it was time for our 2 hour couples retreat! We were led into our massage room where we were instructed to change into the big, fluffy robes, and then were led out back to the bath house. It was amazing. The little bath house was quaint and enchanting and had a clear plastic roof so we could see and hear the rain.

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Inside the bath house there were two giant marble tubs. They gave us these little bath sachet bags with lavender and lemongrass from their garden to infuse the bath. We had more of the lovely infused water.

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It was so amazing. Words cannot describe just how magical it was to be there. After our baths we dried off and went back to the massage room. Time for the scrub! We laid on our tables and I got the body polish. They poured warm oil on my body then scrubbed my body with their homemade lemongrass body polish. Then she cleaned off the scrub and rubbed body butter all over.

Because Michael had a sunburn he skipped the body scrub and did their “sun treatment” instead. I think he said they put coconut oil and aloe on his body.

Next up: Lomi Lomi Massage. I’d never heard of it before. The massage therapists started with singing and chanting. Then they started the massage. It was the best massage I’ve ever had in my life. Hands down, the best. It was basically your typical massage but slightly different–the strokes felt very fluid. It’s hard to describe. It was just different.

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Definitely the highlight of the trip and if we ever go back to Maui this is our first stop!

Sacred Garden

We stopped here after our massages and had our picnic lunches, then walked around the Sacred Garden. It was really beautiful and I loved seeing all the different flowers. There were amazing statues, too.

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It was a really peaceful place and we just wandered around for awhile checking everything out. There were spots for meditation and prayer. Or you could just look at all the pretty flowers.

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I’m kind of in love with these statues! I think our garden might need one next year. 🙂

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There was also a giant labyrinth outside. Michael and I spent some time walking the whole labyrinth and it was just a fun, low-key, relaxing thing to do.

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It’s worth a visit if you’re in the area and it’s free. There is a gift shop, if you want to buy something.

Kelii’s Kayak Tours

We had a lot of options to pick from but we went with Kelii’s tours because it was highly rated online and the price was right. We registered for a 2.5 hour kayak/snorkeling tour. The day we were supposed to have the tour, the weather was a little iffy. There were dark clouds and some sprinkles. We were informed that it never really rains all THAT MUCH in Maui, so we shouldn’t be worried. I’m glad we didn’t cancel it.

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It turned out that we were the only ones that booked a tour that particular day. Perhaps others were scared off by the weather forecast. So we ended up having a private tour and it was awesome! We met our guide at Makena and he gave us a quick kayak lesson and we were off.

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We were in a two person sea kayak, which was fantastic and fun. Also, I much prefer the sea kayak to the other one I’ve tried. It was so much easier getting in and out of it and it was just more comfortable. We kayaked around and made our first stop. I don’t remember where we stopped.

We did some snorkeling in the middle of the ocean and saw tons of colorful fish and sea life. The coral was amazing and it was just such a good experience, and it was nice to have a guide with us. We got back in the kayak and we went to another location where we saw TONS of giant sea turtles. Then we went to another location to look at the lava tubes under the water. At this point our guide got out of his kayak and dove deep under the water to bring up some sea life to show us. He actually handed us a sea urchin, a star fish and one other thing I cannot remember what it was! He handed it to each of us to hold and then OH MY GOD I realized it was alive. Like they started moving in my hands! Haha! Duh, right?

He put them back in their spots on the ocean floor and we kayaked back to the shore.

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It was such a cool experience. I’d say this was our second favorite thing on the trip.

Iao Valley/Iao Needle

This was a cool little day trip. It was like $5 to get in and the hike is very short (I don’t know that I’d even call it a hike) but it was worth a visit. It was a very different world than the rest of Maui. It looked like Jurassic Park!

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It was more of a park than a hike. There was a short climb up some stairs to the view point, a bridge, and then a garden area. There was a lot to see and I enjoyed it.

Lahaina

Wasn’t overly impressed with any of it. We did walk the Front Street shopping area one day and did the touristy stuff. The old Banyan tree is definitely worth a visit! Pictures do not do it justice.

Robyn's Birthday
Robyn's Birthday

I don’t know that I’d want to stay in Lahaina or spend a ton of time there, but it is worth a visit.

Haleakala

We wanted to drive up to the summit to see the volcano. We packed a lunch and planned on hiking so we skipped our run and didn’t go to the beach. Unfortunately, we never got to hike.

The road up the volcano wasn’t what I’d call fun. I tend to get a little car sick on really windy roads and this one was difficult. Lots of switchbacks and blind curves. I also started to feel a little uncomfortable as the elevation climbed. My ears would pop but I was having some ear pain as we climbed.

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It was kind of crazy because the weather changed drastically as we drove up. Temperatures dropped rapidly (and it was in the 50’s when we got to the park). We also spent most of the drive in clouds. Mist so think you could see just in front of the car and that was it. It was a little scary. Very limited visibility.

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We got to the park, which was at like 7.000 feet. I was feeling a little light-headed but hoped it would pass. We parked and I got out to use the bathroom. I was definitely feeling the effects of the elevation. Dizzy, headache. In the bathroom I started to have some double vision. That was SCARY. I thought, “Oh my god, I’m going to pass out and Michael won’t know where I am.” I went back to the car and Michael said he was feeling the effects, too.

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There were some cool looking plants and I was bummed we weren’t going to be able to explore. We sat in the car with the windows down (and clouds floated through one window and out the other–it was so odd to SEE it) and ate our picnic lunch, waiting to see if we got better. Nope. We both agreed there was no way it would be safe to hike.

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Sadly, we turned around and drove back down. It was disappointing for sure. I cannot imagine what it’s like at the summit where it’s 13,000 feet if 7,000 feet made me feel super sick! It took us both about 2 hours after we were back at sea level to feel normal again.

Road to Hana

We only did 7 miles of the Road to Hana. Again–windy, scary, narrow roads and car sickness are just not how I want to spend my vacation! We tried to see a waterfall (but couldn’t find it) and the Bamboo Forest trail to hike (and didn’t find it) so that’s when we turned around and went back. I do wish we could have seen some of the waterfalls and hikes that Hana promises but it wasn’t worth it for me.

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There was so much to see and do and we definitely didn’t get to cross everything off our list. I guess we’re saving that for our 5 year anniversary trip back! 🙂 Hope you are all enjoying these photos.