After the heavy rains of Vancouver’s spring, an island getaway was required and delightfully therapeutic. It is quite remarkable what a little island breeze and some warm sunshine does for the spirit. Vitamin D in tablet form in no way compares to warm Hawaiian sunshine infusing your body, so the opportunity for a four-night getaway to Maui fit the bill wonderfully.
I’ve always recommended that travellers rent a car in Maui. It is a big island so you will need it if you want to explore or golf. And once you start adding up shuttles, taxis and bus fares over the course of 7-14 days it often is the more economical option. However for this trip we only had three full days on the island so we decided to try the pedestrian route.
From the Kahalui airport over to our hotel in Ka’anapali, shuttles vary from 21-95USD while a taxi is between 130-170US/direction. The trip is just about an hour. Our vacation specialists can coordinate these details for you and determine what’s best for your holiday.
We stayed at Honua Kai Resort & Spa. As with many Maui properties, this resort is a mixture of private units and the hotel managed units but you wouldn’t know the difference. No timeshare sales here, rather a very relaxed and comfortable resort located north of the Sheraton resort nestled between Ka’anapali Beach club and the new Westin Ka’anapali Resort right next door. If it is your first trip to Maui, the resort offers a daily orientation for guests at 8am, in the main courtyard, giving you lots of information for the resort and the island.
The Honua Kai Resort and Spa is a condominium property meshed with additional services of a luxury hotel. On site you can find the iconic Duke’s Beach House, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, the Aina Gourmet Market Café if you prefer to do the cooking yourself, as well as front desk check in and a full service concierge for your special requests. Configured with studio through to three-bedroom suites the Honua Kai’s beachfront to the Pacific Ocean. So after strolling on the sandy beach or snorkeling in front of the hotel you can make your way back to the 38 spacious acres of the property and take in some pool time from the waterslide to the waterfalls or the adults only area there is also the kids area including fountains and sandy beach with the shallow pool for the kids. The team at the pool hut can help you with your water toys, floaties, boogie boards and snorkel gear. Rentals are available by the day or the week, so check out what package is best for you, if you don’t pack your own.
The resort is also one of the seven resort stops for The Outlets of Maui’s shuttle, providing service between Ka’anapali and Lahaina’s Front Street, from 10am to 10pm daily. For just 3 USD/person/trip it is a super way to explore west Maui while leaving the driving to someone else. And the kids ride for free if they are 12 or younger. www.Outletsofmaui.com
For the first day we took it easy. A stroll south from our resort, we stopped at the Castaway Café, located within the Maui Ka’anapoli Villas property and beachfront. The Castaway Café has been open since 1994. It was a little less than a mile from our hotel and an easy walk. Wait for a patio table outside with the spectacular beachfront views of Molakai and Lanai. We enjoyed avocado toast and poached eggs along with a half stack of Paradise pancakes – topped with pineapple, macadamia nut, bananas and Haupia sauce, you can finish them off with a drizzle of maple or coconut syrups, if you must. It is worth the trip and the prices are reasonable. The portions are generous and the food is fresh and well prepared. Nothing cookie cutter about this café’s offerings. This café touts themselves as a “Best Kept Secret” favourite for locals and returning guests, but I may have spilled the beans as you now know too!
After breakfast, we continued south and walked to Whaler’s Village and then back to the resort for some pool time. The boardwalk makes this an easy trip, with only a small diversion off the path, and 2 miles between Whalers and the resort giving you easy access to the shopping and dining options at Whaler’s Village while working off a few of the tropical cocktails you may try during your stay. 4 miles roundtrip and along the Pacific Ocean, it was the best way to easy into island style.
One evening we hopped onto the Outlet shuttle for the 20 minute ride to Lahaina’s Outlet Malls, where a short walk along Front Street brought us to our Maui Princess for a two and a half hour sunset dinner cruise. Departing at 5:30pm and back by 8:00pm it is a reliable option for dinner and back early enough for another adventure if you want to maximize your island time.
They have done these cruises for many years, and it is a well-oiled operation. Dinner orders are taken when we booked the excursion – chicken, fish or beef. Your entrance wrist band includes the first drink. If you upgraded, your two extra drinks are tickets off your wristband that you give to the bartender. Tables were reserved so there was no awkward moment trying to find a table to occupy. The only trepidation may be your table-mates but you are on holiday and it only is two and a half hours, so have fun! Our table-mates warmed up very quickly and our evening was lively. Live entertainment was provided by our guitarist and he welcomes requests. The only criticisms were the seating, and the tip request. The patio tables and chairs were bolted to the floor, perhaps in anticipation of rough seas or a rowdy passenger list? And at the end of the evening the blatant ask for a tip was off putting. Otherwise our evening was enjoyable. Fares currently vary between 69-189USD/person and something as simple as cocktails and appetizers or as extensive as a Royal Feast and the vessels can vary from a sailing adventure, or a catamaran or a cruiser. There are a number of different cruises to choose from, so decide what is important to you.
Looking for a soft adventure? Wednesday morning we headed out for our Outrigger Canoe ride with Ali’I Maui Outrigger Canoes. With a maximum of five guests, and our two guides, we met up for our early morning trip. No free rides here. You are one of the ‘mua” (Hawaiian term for ‘stroker’ of the boat) working to propel yourselves through the Pacific waters. We made our way out along the shoreline and paddled our way up and around Black Rock and beyond with the current on our side. Looking for the turtles along the way, the waters were lovely, turquoise and clear. With a short stop in one of the coves, we were able to slip into the water for a little swim and cool off before it was time to return to the boat. Surprisingly easier to return to the canoe that one might imagine, don’t be afraid of getting into the water. James and his team shared with us a narration of the islands and observations of the conditions tailored each group. Describing how the islands have changed, sharing stories and the traditions James and his team were a delight. And the guides are all certified First Responders. I’m so glad we paddled our morning away. What a fun trip we had on this trip of approximately two hours!
Want to soak up a little more Hawaiian culture and music with a luau? Myths of Maui Luau at the Royal Lahaina Resort is a lovely way to spend the evening. The luau was a lovely evening for a Hawaiian buffet with plenty of choices and filled with many of the traditions that we attribute to luaus including the Imu Ceremony to unearth the Kalua Pua’a from the in-ground oven after it has been roasted in the traditional method for hours. While it is not an intimate setting for a romantic dinner, this is a super option for the whole family and set against the sunset backdrop framed with tiki torches. With a buffet dinner with plenty of choices and lots of island treats, spend your evening enjoying live Hawaiian music and settle in for one of the most traditional stage shows featuring dances from across the Polynesian islands from New Zealand to Hawaii and as sure “fire” finale makes this a lovely evening.
A deliciously adult slushy beverage might have been my favorite discovery at Leilani’s on the Beach, at Whalers Village. The Cocount Grove was a treat! I’ve done some digging and learned that libation is a pleasantly palatable combination of vodka, cream of Coconut, pineapple juice, ice cream and Kahana Mac Nut Liquer blended and garnished with a float of Chambord. I’m still dreaming about these.