Hawaii Trip, September 2002

These are a compilation of unpolished notes I took on my flight home from Hawaii earlier this month.

Day-by-day Notes
Maui Advice
Kauai Advice
General Advice

Day-by-day Notes

Someday I'll add pictures.

Sunday, Sept 1

Travel day, LAX to Kahului, Maui. Rental car a Chrysler Sebring convertible. Hotel was Kaanapali Beach Hotel in west Maui.

Monday, Sept 2

Got up early for Haleakala sunrise, too many clouds, unfortunately.

Tuesday, Sept 3

Visited Maui Plantation and the state park at Iao Valley

Wednesday, Sept 4

Bike ride *up* Haleakala (see separate report)

Thursday, Sept 5

Snorkeling cruise to Molokini AM. Quick drive to Haleakala to see craters - weather was a lot nicer. Old Lahaina Luau at night.

Friday, Sept 6

Road to Hana. Saw the Oheo pools at Haleakala National Park past Hana. Drove back, wish we spent an overnight at Hana.

Saturday, Sept 7

Short bike ride AM. Relaxed daytime, did some packing for next leg of trip. 'Ulalena show at night

Sunday, Sept 8

Flight to Lihue, Kauai.  Rental car a non-convertible Chrysler Sebring this time. Hotel was Hanalei Bay Resort on north shore. Dinner in the town of Hanalei.

Monday, Sept 9

Short bike ride AM. Drove out to the end of the road on the north shore. Switched hotels to the Sheraton in Poipu on the south shore.

Tuesday, Sept 10

Movie tours 4x4 tour plus Island Helicopters flight.

Wednesday, Sept 11

Short bike ride AM. Drove to the end of the road on the south (west?) shore. Drove to Waimea Canyon and Kokee State Parks.

Thursday, Sept 12

Boat ride and snorkeling along Na Pali Coast. Visited the lighthouse on the north shore. Sunset at beach near Princeville Hotel.

Friday, Sept 13

Wailua Falls visit and cheezy boat tour of Fern Grotto.

Saturday, Sept 14

Travel back to LA.

Maui Advice

Car - A convertible is a must here. Dollar had a Chrysler Sebring, it was fine for us, but I know you'll want better. I saw some Ford Mustang convertibles around, I assume they were from Hertz.

Hotel - Due to the layout of the island, you're going to spend a lot of time driving around no matter where you stay - unless you're going to spend all your time at the beach. The area around Kahului would at first seem to be a good central spot, but that's just the town with the airport, Office Max, Home Depot - you get the idea. East Maui is way out there, too far away (except for one night in Hana, see advice below). Therefore, most people stay in the west and the south. South Maui is slightly closer to many of the attractions, but the weather is a little hotter and drier, and the beaches aren't as nice as west Maui. So we stayed in west Maui. The town on Lahaina has a happening nightlife and many restaurants, etc. - but there's very little beach. Therefore, it was off to the resorts to the north. We stayed in the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, just to the north of Lahaina. Nice hotel, and not too pretentious. Their slogan is "Maui's Most Hawaiian Hotel", and they live up to it pretty well.

Weather (summer) - With the exception of the eastern part of the island, much of Maui was a lot drier than I expected, although September would still be part of the summer dry season. The sun is strong - even though the temperature in the shade may be in the pleasant mid 80s, you will feel the sun scorching your skin. Did I say bring sunscreen? A wide-brimmed hat with a chin strap for driving around in the convertible and for boat rides is a good addition to sunscreen.

Food - A major disappointment. The resort areas of west Maui had few choices other than hotel food, so we often ventured to Lahaina for meals. The touristy places were decent but expensive. Believe it or not, Bubba Gump's was the best of the touristy places with respect to amount and quality of food and price. The hardest part was finding someplace to eat when you were either tired of the touristy places, or wanted something smaller for lunch without having to resort to fast food. I would go to Denny's for a sandwich over Maui Tacos (the worst tacos I've ever had) any day.

Other Maui tips

bulletWe went to Maui first so that on our first full day we could get up early to make the 2-3 hour drive up Haleakala to catch the sunrise (while the time change was in our favor). Steal the hotel blankets, it was about 40 degrees at the summit and windy!
bulletOr catch the sunrise as part of one of the Maui downhill bike tours - they pick you up at the hotel and take you up in a van for the sunrise, after which you hop on the bike for the downhill. (They provide helmets and raingear.) The only problem with their sunrise tour is that the initial descent can be *cold*, although they do provide gear. I can't recommend a company because I didn't do the ride with any of them.
bulletStock up on sodas, sunscreen, snacks, etc. at the Big K right near the airport. You can get a cheapie styrofoam cooler there too.
bulletStay overnight in Hana. The drive to Hana really does take that long - it's the stops along the journey, not the destination. Otherwise you won't have time to hike to the falls in Haleakala State Park.

Kauai Advice

Car - Since Kauai is wetter than Maui, we saved some pennies by not getting a convertible on this part of the trip. Still, a convertible would have been OK, as rain showers were only occasional and brief. There are some four wheel drive possibilities on the island - I didn't do any research to see if there was enough to consider renting a four wheel drive Jeep.

Hotel - The Hanalei Bay Resort on the north side of the island was nice, but we relocated because our bedding and smoking preference could not be accommodated. (We were also glad to leave because we got the impression that all they cared about was selling their timeshares.) The only hotel that had openings was the Sheraton Kauai Resort in Poipu on the south side of the island, so we took it. Good choice, and some of my favorite perks were the free "get up and go" continental breakfast, tennis courts, and internet access.

Weather (summer) - Overall, slightly cooler than Maui. The lush north can see brief showers anytime, the south and west are fairly dry. Wettest in the interior, obviously.

Food - *Much* better than on Maui. Coconuts near Kapaa is good, so is Zelo's Beach Cafe in Hanalei. Postcards Cafe in Hanalei was slow, but still good, reservations suggested. There's an excellent sandwich place in the Old Hanalei School building whose name escapes me. Per advice of locals, definitely avoid Maria's Mexican in Lihue, as well as the Jolly Roger. Only tourists go to Bubba Burgers, supposedly Dwayne's has better burgers.

Other Kauai tips

bulletBoat ride to see the Fern Grotto was cheezy. Probably would have been better to rent a kayak and paddle up the river to the grotto.
bulletBe sure to plan around the Lihue rush hour traffic.

General Advice

bulletWe got the cars and hotels as a package deal. Not my preferred way to travel, but you essentially get the rental car for free compared to pricing it out separately. This worked OK in Maui, but we had some problems when we got to Kauai - the hotel gave us a smoking room with two twin beds. Turns out that Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays doesn't guarantee bedding arrangements (which the AAA booking person might have mentioned, but we don't recall) nor do they guarantee smoking preference (which we know they *definitely* didn't tell us). Pleasant Hawaiian let us change hotels, that part went smoothly - we'll see how the partial refund goes when we get back. We'll probably stay away from these packages in the future.
bulletThe package deals can include a flight, but we got cheap flights through my wife's work travel agent (about $320 each round trip).
bulletWatch out for those timeshares! There's a reason those booths in strip malls are selling cheap tickets!
bulletAll beaches in Hawaii are public, even though it may be difficult to get past the resorts to get to them. Some of the resorts have token public parking areas and a public access way to the beach.
bulletWould I/we go again? It was nice going to Maui once, but I probably wouldn't go back. I'd visit Kauai again.

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Page Last Edited (though probably not for content): 14 September 2010