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Critique my (first ever) Maui trip

Critique my (first ever) Maui trip

Old Sep 9, 16, 9:45 pm
  #1  
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Critique my (first ever) Maui trip

My wife and I just booked a trip to Maui for 6 nights beginning Thanksgiving Day. We're 2 adults, no kids, reasonably adventurous. This is our first trip to Maui so I'm looking for some insights.

I do not plan on trying to do "everything" this time around:

Thursday 11/24
- Fly BOS-PHX-OGG, arriving 3:30pm local time
- Pick up rental car
- Check into Courtyard Maui Kahului Airport (2 nights)
- Pick up supplies locally and find dinner somewhere (Da Kitchen Café?)

Friday 11/25
- Temptation Tours Sky Trek tour AM (bus tour on road to Hana, helicopter back), finish by 2:00pm
- ??? (nap)
- Dinner at Mama's Fish House

Saturday 11/26
- Watch sunrise from Haleakala Summit (6:42AM, plan to arrive by 6AM, depart 4:30AM from hotel)
- Get breakfast at La Provence or Kula Lodge & Restaurant on the way down
- Check out of Courtyard, drive & check into Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa
- Dinner at Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman

Sunday 11/27
- Wife wants to go snorkeling /snuba - currently looking at Pride of Maui morning tour
- Check out Lahaina town
- Dinner at Lahaina Grill
- Return rental car

Monday 11/28
- Relax poolside
- Dinner at Nick's Fishmarket Maui

Tuesday 11/29
- Relax poolside/beachside (Maluaka Beach or Big Beach?)
- ???

Wednesday 11/30
- Check out of hotel
- ???
- Depart OGG - PHX - BOS 11:30pm HI time - so we have a whole day to spend

I have a some questions:
  1. What is the best tactic for finding the cheapest rental car? Any particular website? I am a Costco member, and also realize prices may drop as the date approaches
  2. Any particular car type required to drive up Haleakala - I'm assuming it will be pitch black and slow going, but we're from Boston so that's nothing new. We currently have a Civic so I'm not used to driving an SUV or Jeep.
  3. Should I return the rental car and do daily rentals? Parking at the Marriott is $25/day in addition to $30/day resort fee. Ultimately an extra $100 won't kill us, but I'd like to save some money where possible
  4. How are the lodging choices? I figured we'd save a couple hours of driving the first 2 days staying closer to the airport. My wife picked Wailea over Kanapaali - not sure which is "better" for first timers. I really do want to relax and enjoy quiet for a couple of days.
  5. Any recommendations on snorkeling/snuba? We are not avid swimmers by any means
  6. How are the restaurant choices? They were all available on Open Table, so I booked them just to have something - would love some good local spots.
  7. What else did I miss?

We booked the flights already, but the hotels are refundable - I have about 50k SPG points (and am Gold) and 90k UR points that we can spend. I'd imagine I need to start booking the tours and stuff soon-ish.

All suggestions are appreciated!

Last edited by xyion1; Sep 10, 16 at 8:26 am
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Old Sep 9, 16, 11:42 pm
  #2  
 
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1. Book early. Book as soon as you 'think' you're going to Hawaii. You can cancel any time anyways. Hawaii rental price spike up / down unpredictably so I always book the second I think I'm going there. Then use Auto Slash website or manually check regular to get the price down. I normally book the cheapest category due to gas price.

3. Don't do daily rentals. Cheaper to do weekly, plus you do need a car anyways to go anywhere in Maui.

4. I would not stay around airport. Try to AirBnB or get a timeshare deal from Sheraton or Hilton. You don't want to fly all the way there to be in an airport hotel. We stayed in both Westin / Sheraton using points (massive though). But if you can get a 'invite' to do the timeshare deal, I think it's worth the commitment.

5. Buy/ bring your own snorkel online and just do it on the beach. Cheap. If you stay in Sheraton / Westin Maui area, just go out to the black rock. Put on the gear and stick your head in. And you'll see fish/ turtles, plenty. Snuba is fun but expensive.

6. Excellent choices (I'm tourist). Love Mama's house. Love Monkey Pod. Google the local plate lunch too. Love getting poke from supermarket and eat in the hotel balconies.

7. Hana highway maybe? I was so nervous during that drive (I'm a nervous backseat driver) but have to admit it's an awesome drive. More important is to not over book activities. Maui beaches are great and just the drive around is ahhhhhh.

Also lay on the beach after dark. We stared at the Milky Way in total darkness, listening to the wave. That to me is priceless, and the reason why I have to go back.

Have fun! (I just got back from Oahu, and I am depressed not being there now).
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Old Sep 10, 16, 8:06 am
  #3  
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thanks adamak!

1. I'll book the rental now, for a week. This will cover transport to/from snorkeling & back to the airport so it's probably worth the parking fee.

4. Regarding staying by the airport - its only for 2 nights. I figured that since we are going to do Road to Hana (via Temptations Tours) day 1 and Haleakala day 2 being there would save a good 45 minutes off drive time from the resorts on the west side of the island. The rest of the trip we will be staying in Wailea Marriot in an Ocean View room - it should be almost finished with renovations by then.

5. My wife has her heart set on snuba, so snuba it is. Since we'll be down on the south end of the mountain - any tips for snorkeling there?

6. Glad to hear I picked OK places to eat...is the local plate lunch a menu item somewhere, or the name of a place? Great tip on the poke and balcony.

7. We're going to do Road to Hana / Hana Highway as part of a tour (no driving for me!) and then helicopter back so it only takes about 5-6 hours. Now I'm excited to just lay on the beach and see the stars too. I'd imagine its OK to have alcohol on the beach, either provided by the hotel or brought ourselves (no glass bottles).
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Old Sep 10, 16, 8:30 am
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DINING: We have done the Fleetwood's on Front Street rooftop dining/sunset ceremony a couple times and have enjoyed that. I'm not sure it is worth a second drive up to Lahaina.

We really enjoyed the Merriman's and the Pineapple Grill in Kapalua, but that is a haul from the south end.

Our favorite dinner at Wailea was Gannon's.

Monkey Pod has great happy hour specials if you can stand eating early.

BEACHES: For just relaxing on the beach, the beach just north of the Marriott seemed least crowded. For water activities the beach south of the Marriott had the best rental prices and numbers of activities.

The Marriott pool servers seem to have fantastic training. Quick service, correct orders before taking new ones, learning and remembering names . . .

WAILEA V. KANAPAALI: I've done Kapalua and Wailea. We've driven by and eaten near Kanapaali. For relaxing Kapalua > Wailea > Kanapaali. Wailea has some services and more choices though so that is where I would go on a first visit.

CARS: I just book one a few months out and start checking for price drops a month or so out. Once a last minute deal saved $50. Once I kept my original.

FUTURE TRIPS: You are wise to build in relaxation days. That said:

There is an interesting hike near the Ritz in Kapalua. A shuttle can take you uphill then you can hike down through various scenery.

You can take a ferry from Lahaina to Lanai. It lets you off near an absolutely beautiful beach. There is not much else to do there, but you can visit a beautiful beach, get a boat ride, and check another island off your list of places visited.

Last edited by highops; Sep 10, 16 at 8:44 am
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Old Sep 10, 16, 8:36 am
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Also, we took a shuttle up to the sunrise ceremony and biked down. We are both late 40's and semi-fit (daily long walks, but nothing particularly vigorous) and we did fine. You'd need to get up earlier.

We took a Hana Tour that returned via the south part of the island. At time the scenery was kind of monotonous, but it was an interesting contrast with the rainforest of the SE. The last stop is a winery. The drawback is that it takes all day. Well, and no helicopter.

Last edited by highops; Sep 10, 16 at 8:41 am
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Old Sep 10, 16, 11:47 am
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Thanks highops!

I just randomly booked Lahaina grill, so changing it to Fleetwood's isn't a big deal if its recommended, I'll also check out Gannon's. Out res at Monkeypod is currently 6:45 - maybe I'll make it 6pm and head over earlier for Happy Hour, or maybe we'll head to the later HH after eating elsewhere.

I'd imagine we can rent/use chairs & umbrellas at the beach south of the Marriott - I'm considering picking up some cheap items from Target (or similar) just to use during the trip.

I got a car for $240 all in for 1 week through AutoSlash and will continue to monitor.

Good to know about the beach just north of the Marriott (which seems to be closer too).
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Old Sep 10, 16, 11:54 am
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Mama's fish house is definitely going to be a highlight, I always go when I'm there. Expensive - but great time
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Old Sep 10, 16, 12:45 pm
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Originally Posted by xyion1 View Post
Thanks highops!

I just randomly booked Lahaina grill, so changing it to Fleetwood's isn't a big deal if its recommended, I'll also check out Gannon's. Out res at Monkeypod is currently 6:45 - maybe I'll make it 6pm and head over earlier for Happy Hour, or maybe we'll head to the later HH after eating elsewhere.

I'd imagine we can rent/use chairs & umbrellas at the beach south of the Marriott - I'm considering picking up some cheap items from Target (or similar) just to use during the trip.

I got a car for $240 all in for 1 week through AutoSlash and will continue to monitor.

Good to know about the beach just north of the Marriott (which seems to be closer too).
Costco and other big box stores are right near the airport so buying beach supplies, bottled water, and breakfast food is easy.
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Old Sep 10, 16, 1:03 pm
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I suggest switching Friday's and Saturday's activities. With the time difference, you'll be going to bed early Thursday night and be awake early Friday morning, making Haleakala a better choice for that day.

Originally Posted by adamak View Post
4. I would not stay around airport. Try to AirBnB or get a timeshare deal from Sheraton or Hilton. You don't want to fly all the way there to be in an airport hotel. We stayed in both Westin / Sheraton using points (massive though). But if you can get a 'invite' to do the timeshare deal, I think it's worth the commitment.
Staying at the Courtyard is a good strategy for the first two nights and will save you money or points. Even if you got a timeshare deal, it's way too late to book it for when you're going. Besides, Hilton doesn't have a timeshare on Maui (although it's coming in a year or two).
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Old Sep 10, 16, 1:07 pm
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Originally Posted by highops View Post
Costco and other big box stores are right near the airport so buying beach supplies, bottled water, and breakfast food is easy.
Yeah - I noticed that. We'll plan on that for arrival day - I planned to get supplies (water, etc) but I'll check out the beach gear as well so we can be a bit more flexible with where we hang out. Probably pick up a couple $10-$15 folding beach chairs and just donate them to the hotel when we're done.

Originally Posted by linsj View Post
I suggest switching Friday's and Saturday's activities. With the time difference, you'll be going to bed early Thursday night and be awake early Friday morning, making Haleakala a better choice for that day.

Staying at the Courtyard is a good strategy for the first two nights and will save you money or points. Even if you got a timeshare deal, it's way too late to book it for when you're going. Besides, Hilton doesn't have a timeshare on Maui (although it's coming in a year or two).
That's a good point regarding the time difference. My rationale for doing the Hana tour first was that we'd just check out from the Courtyard before we headed up Haleakala and use the car all day as opposed to checking out then parking the car at the heliport for 6-7 hours with our luggage sitting in the trunk in the heat. I suppose either way will have us heading towards Wailea around the same time (1-2-ish) so it's likely a wash.

There was a vary favorable price drop at the Marriott resort hotels between Saturday & Sunday nights (I guess due to Thanksgiving?) so we did end up saving about $300 by staying at the Courtyard for 2 nights + less driving time...seemed to make sense to me.

One more question - I have AT&T and will be using an iPhone 7 - is coverage good enough to use that as navigation (google maps)...I'll save some offline maps but would hate to drive off the side of a mountain or something.

Last edited by FlyinHawaiian; Sep 14, 16 at 5:11 am Reason: consecutive posts merged
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Old Sep 11, 16, 2:19 pm
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Originally Posted by xyion1 View Post
One more question - I have AT&T and will be using an iPhone 7 - is coverage good enough to use that as navigation (google maps)...I'll save some offline maps but would hate to drive off the side of a mountain or something.
I can't remember any problems. We've had ATT both trips.

Well, actually south of the hotel on the trail by the Grand Wailea it was hard to play Pokemon Go.
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Old Sep 11, 16, 3:16 pm
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Originally Posted by highops View Post
I can't remember any problems. We've had ATT both trips.

Well, actually south of the hotel on the trail by the Grand Wailea it was hard to play Pokemon Go.
ah - luckily we haven't been bitten by the Pokemon Go bug yet.

Any recommendations on a Luau? I was 50/50 on going to one, and I believe the one at the Marriott has moved due to the construction and has been getting poor reviews of late.

My friend recommended the The Grand Luau at Honua'ula - it seems kind of expensive at $116/head...this is in line with other Luau's, I'm just not sure if its a must do.
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Old Sep 12, 16, 7:27 am
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I haven't been to a luau on Maui, but lots of people I know who have say the Old Lahaina one is best: https://www.oldlahainaluau.com.
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Old Sep 12, 16, 12:03 pm
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Originally Posted by xyion1 View Post
ah - luckily we haven't been bitten by the Pokemon Go bug yet.

Any recommendations on a Luau? I was 50/50 on going to one, and I believe the one at the Marriott has moved due to the construction and has been getting poor reviews of late.

My friend recommended the The Grand Luau at Honua'ula - it seems kind of expensive at $116/head...this is in line with other Luau's, I'm just not sure if its a must do.
We went to a luau on the Big Island. It's just not for me. I don't care for buffets and the entertainment was broadly South Pacific and not just Hawaiian. My wife really enjoyed it. My daughter was glad to have gone once so it really is a YMMV situation. I think Costco sells discounted tickets to some luaus. You might investigate that.
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Old Sep 12, 16, 11:16 pm
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For your drive up Haleakala, be sure to get there early. There's a lot of tours that go up there, so it will actually be busier than you would expect for 6am.

And dress warm - it will be cold, and could easily be below freezing before the sun comes up.

I did have a rental car's brakes start to fail coming down from there on my last trip! And the replacement car had a slow leak on one wheel. That was with Enterprise.
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