Note - This is now the oldest trip on the site, dating back to1995. Remember that when dealing with prices and such. I have no updated information at this time.
Our son, Tim, had always wanted to see Hawaii. This year he got his wish as we found a good deal for a week's stay in Maui. For $569 we got a week's stay at an oceanfront room in Kahana, a rental car, and airfare on ATA. This was all booked through Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays.
The flight over was fine. Nothing special but nothing really bad about it either. The only complaints is that it is on a very crowded L-1011 and ATA's idea of what a bulkhead seat is is very different from mine. On the plus side, the flight over was direct to Maui, without having to stop in Honolulu, and the flight attendants were courteous.
On arrival in Maui I headed over to pick up our rental car at Alamo. The line was about 15 people long when I got there and grew quite a bit after me. 30 minutes later, I picked up my wife and son from the terminal.
Our hotel room was in Kahana on the other side of the island past Lahaina and Kaanapaali. It is listed as a condo, but that would be too generous of a description. Basically, our room at the Kahana sands was just that...a room with a king size bed, a murphy bed, and a tiny kitchenette crammed into the corner.
The room was a bit of a disappointment. It was kind of dingy with cigarette burns in the drapes. The building itself has very limited access for chairs. 2 parking spots, a ramp, and an elevator (with one step to negotiate). The room itself had no special accomodations. On the plus side it was on the beach but overall, we were disappointed that a company as well known as Pleasant Hawaiian would book such a dingy place in its packages...even if it was very low priced.
Being optimistic, we try to spend as little time as we can in the room...we are in Hawaii afterall...and get out to do things. Nearby is a dive shop, Snorkel Bob's I believe...that rented snorkeling equipment. The equipment was top notch, the price a bargain, and they throw in a map of local dive spots.
I had been to Maui when I was a teenager and remembered a superb dive spot near the Bhuddist temple on the outskirts of Lahaina. When I asked at the dive shop about this spot, they said it had been ruined by pollution. But more on this later...
Saddened, we went to the nearest spot on the map, Kapalua Bay. The last time I'd been here, Kapalua Bay was out in the boonies. Only a small wooden church marked the spot. I remembered a supremely delightful day spent bodysurfing here as a teen.
Now the entire area is a plush resort with many condos and a championship golf course winding around. The small wooden church is still here, but the rest of the area is completely unrecognizable to me. Coming from Los Angeles, I know how this can happen.
There is a very small dirt parking lot where the public slobs like us can park...public access is still guaranteed to the beach if grudgingly...and we luck out with a spot before it's full. Negotiating the wheelchair from here down to the beach is very tricky and just barely doable. We finally make it to Kapalua's crescent shaped stretch of sand.
Still, we have fun and continue this pattern all week as we head up and down the coast to the dive spots highlighted on our map.
Mid-week, we take in a luau at the Royal Lahaina resort in Kaanapaali. This was a lot of fun. Although I suppose it was not as "authentic" as the luau advertised in Lahaina, it was still a blast. Not cheap (nothing here is, see Random Notes below for more), the price still included dinner and unlimited drinks...always a plus on vacation! Since we went on a Wednesday, Tim got in for free.
The food was good, the drinks cool and refreshing...and when the bartender saw me drop a dollar bill in his tip jar, he made sure I didn't go back to my table before fortifying our drinks heavily with extra rum.
Dining here can be problamatic. It's not that there aren't any good restaurants...there are plenty...but that they're all so expensive, even the bad ones, and without knowing where to go you can blow a lot of money on a bad experience easily.
Cooking in is also not a pleasant option. Groceries here are ungodly expensive.
We did find some places that we can pass on to you.
Our top pick for good food and value is BJ's on Front Street in Lahaina. Good food, coupled with great live music and reasonable prices. The catch? It's upstairs with no elevator. A couple of beefy looking Hawaiian waiters are more that happy to get anybody upstairs though.
Kimo's is also good and last but not least, check out Lahaina Coolers for a very different menu at somewhat decent prices..
We found Cheeseburger in Paradise way overpriced and overrated.
We took the drive to Hana...wasn't quite as fun as we thought it would be...and took in an Omnimax movie in Lahaina that could have also been better.
Our last day on the island, we decide to take a submersible tour. After 45 minutes of breathtaking underwater scenery, our ship stops and everyone is invited up on deck to jump in for some snorkeling.
The snorkeling is beautiful, in fact the best on the trip. Just as good as that day many moons ago when my dad took us off of the WWII wharf next to the Bhuddist temple that the dive shop said was now gone due to pollution.
And why shouldn't it be beautiful? When we get on up on deck from the underwater area, we see where we are...just off of that WWII wharf next to the Bhuddist temple that we had dived on that day long ago...