Hi, my name is Catherine, and I started a blog to document our life and then went to Maui for eight days in June and never posted a single photo of it. But I don’t actually mean never, because here they are! Luckily, my parents had just gone to Hawaii for their 35th wedding anniversary earlier this year, so they had all the info we could need on all the islands, but we just concentrated on Maui the entire time. I have broken this trip into discrete activities or days, and the first installment is our first day on the island! So let’s start at the very beginning, shall we?
Will wearing a suit was a packing efficiency measure, the success of which is TBD.
Ok guys, the journey from the East Coast to Maui is loooooong. And it’s not even fun like it is to get on the “big bird” to go across the other pond, because we were just on a normal plane. (There were movies, though, and I loved How to be Single because it reminded me of my New York days, and I don’t care who knows it.) We opted to minimize the amount of work we missed while maximizing our Maui time by flying to L.A. on Friday night, staying right by the airport, and then leaving at the crack of dawn Saturday from LAX. When we arrived, we got our rental jeep (the younger tourist’s Hawaii convertible) and headed straight for Da Kitchen for lunch. Our time was totally off, but that actually worked out well in this instance, as we arrived at 11:00am, and there was a line out the door almost immediately after we got our table. We were tired, but we had a great lunch (I believe I had a soy burger?), hit the KMart for supplies (aka more sunscreen), and headed to our hotel.
We stayed in Kapalua, which is probably the most secluded area on the west coast of Maui, which also means it’s one of the furthest to get to from everything else, but oh my was it worth it. There was a walking path that started right from our hotel that went along some incredible cliffs, and most mornings we had it almost all to ourselves. The hotel staff greeted us with leis and fruit tea, and we walked through the open breezeway directly to this view.
We got settled as quickly as possible (except that when I am staying a full week or more in one place, I like to unpack and make myself at home) and rallied to check out the island! Our first stop: Ka’anapali Beach. This is probably the most developed and popular beach on Maui when it comes to shopping, restaurants, and crowds, (lots of sailboat tours coming in and out, an actual outdoor mall, a string of beachfront restaurants, multiple weddings, and tons of beachgoers) but it was so, so beautiful. Plus, it was such a nice change of pace from our secluded and quiet hotel. This was like our downtown bar scene for the week.
Honestly, this was just unlike any beach either of us had ever been to. First of all, you have mountains/volcanos in the background, obviously. But also, the waves were just SO STRONG! I always thought not turning your back to the water was kind of silly if you are right on the shore and can swim, but that only lasted until I got ripped off my feet with a bikini full of sand a couple of times. Toto, we’re not in Seaside anymore.
Ka’anapali Beach is framed by the Sheraton Maui (pictured) at one end and the Hyatt at the other. There’s a very long and beautiful stretch of beach in between (with aforementioned beachfront bars and restuarants) lined by a paved walking path for tourists’ convenience. Other than here, most of the beaches in Maui are not at all the width and length we’re used to in the Gulf. They are short little alcoves between rocks that you can’t walk around, and the sand real estate is narrow between the ferocious waves and the rocks behind you. There are still plenty of places to relax and be a beach bum, of course, but we actually found that for us, this trip was better enjoyed as an active adventure than a relaxing getaway.
This is Black Rock, which is right in front of that Sheraton I just showed you. There’s great snorkeling around the rock, but you can also climb and jump off of it if you’re willing to scramble to get back up!
Of course, one of the main things we kept marveling about was how blue the water is there. I almost toned down the color on my RAW photos so it doesn’t look like I doctored them up like a crazy person, but this is the color! It’s just nuts! We talked about it for eight straight days.
This afternoon was most about getting the lay of the land for future adventures, so we moved on down to Lahaina to explore downtown on our way to our luau! Lahaina is one of the few real towns on Maui, and it (and even some of the buildings) has been here since it was the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom in the early 1800s! There were also parrots.
This 1901 Pioneer Inn is part of the main Front Street thoroughfare. Front Street is just a darling strip of shops, restaurants, bars and views.
Probably the best choice we made that day was to stop by Cheeseburger in Paradise on the water for a break and some refreshment. THIS WAS OUR TABLE! We had our first mai tais of the trip, watched the sailboats go by, and listened to the waves hit the building right beneath our window (which can’t be great for the building!).
This little Hawaiian man was so happy to let me try my first mai tai out of him. And more of our table’s view!
Next stop: this crazy banyan tree. This thing was planted in 1873 and is, believe it or not, just ONE tree!
Will by the tree
More Will by the tree
Both of us by the tree
We also stopped by Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice for the best shave ice ever, anywhere for a pre-dinner treat because YOLO. It was the first of many delicious shave ices throughout the trip (many from this place because it was the best), and I am a child, so I ordered flavors like bubble gum and watermelon that reminded me of childhood. Yum.
The Feast at Lele Luau
Next up, we had to walk a little way down to this little shopping center for our Feast at Lele Luau. We checked in at this breezy restaurant where more mai tais were being served as part of a cocktail hour of sorts.
The feast itself was being set up on the beach as we were gathering. This is the more upscale luau offering on Maui, and the dinner is served at your seat in courses, not as a buffet. The rest of the luaus are buffets that are more crowded, and since we decided to do this on our first night on Maui (while we still had the enthusiasm to do touristy things), we thought the sit-down option would be more relaxing for weary travelers.
We were ushered in, given more leis, and seated at a private two-person table. I have heard the other luaus are cheesy, but this one wasn’t. I definitely definitely recommend it!
In an epic feat of pulling off a tourist photographer that was actually worth it, the luau had photographers on the beach to take portraits. Yes, please!
Note: This backdrop is real.
The food was delicious and served in courses for each of the nations that has ruled Maui (Aotearoa, Tahiti, Samoa, and Hawaiʻi) with corresponding music and dance from that nation. Our waiter also came by our table constantly offering us more drinks from the open bar, but we aren’t huge drinkers so we probably didn’t get our money’s worth of the unlimited drinks portion of the ticket.
There was some pre-show intermittent dancing, which was delightful.
We enjoyed our first couple of courses before the actual show and just watched the sunset, which I appreciated the chance to do sans official luau festivities.
The sun setting as people took portraits.
Eventually, when it got decently dark, the show started with dancers arriving by canoe.
The food, drink, and dance were amazing, culminating in an epic fire dancer. I’m not going to lie, though, I was exhausted when we left and ready to hit the hay after an incredible first day!
Stay tuned on Tuesdays for future installments of our Maui trip!