Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Hawaii 2019: Maui Part One

Oahu | Kauai | Maui Posts | Maui Oceanfront Marathon Report

Hawaii is a 9 hour direct flight from Chicago.   A flight to London is shorter.   This is one of the reasons we never visited Hawaii.  In half the time we can get to Jamaica or The Bahamas.   We've also convinced ourselves over the years that Hawaii would be too commercial and we wouldn't enjoy it.  We had two-and-a-half weeks during this trip to explore three islands so we had a good chance to decide if Hawaii was going to be a repeat destination.

We were sharing the Maui portion of the trip with three other couples.   Holly was running the Maui Oceanfront Marathon for her 50th State Marathon.  Stan was joining her in the race while the rest of us were here for the fun. Since Lee and Laura arrived from San Diego they were the advanced team greeting us Illinois travelers with leis at baggage claim.  

For the next 6 days/nights we'd split up between two rental cars to explore Maui. The actual renting of the car brought no joy to the experience.  A crabby shuttle driver splitting us up between two buses caused Dave to text “I hate Hawaii”.   The long line and slow progress at the counter added fuel to the fire.  Just stop being friendly and chatty and process us! 

We stayed in Kihei, near Wailea and south of Lahania.   This gave us quick access to the start line of the marathon.  Our accommodations were in condos at Kihei Kai Nani Complex.  Each couple secured a condo via VRBO.  We were not excited to use VRBO since we like the security of having an actual hotel reservation in-hand vs. relying on an owner who can yank your reservation for any reason.   But the price was right and our condo was very nice.   We walked across the street to the beach and dining/bar options were close-by (dinner was next door at the Zagat-rated Coconuts Fish Cafe.   If we were to go back to Maui we would prefer to spend half the time in Wailea and the other portion of time in/near Lahaina.

We decided we would try to catch sunrise on 
Haleakala the first morning.  This meant getting up before 3am so we could make the long drive and secure parking.  Since we were still jet-lagged waking up was not too much of an issue.   What was an issue was the 30-something degree weather at the top of the mountain.  Freezing for a half-hour was worth it for the spectacular sunrise over the ocean (or crater as we were told by Lee).  On the way back we had breakfast at an unlikely place - the Pukalani Country Club.  Several of us tried Loco Moco - a local dish of rice, hamburger, gravy, and fried egg.

The rest of the day was spent provisioning at the grocery store, attending the race expo at the condo across the street (where the race director lived), and sitting on the beach with our "coffee" travel mugs (alcohol not allowed on the beaches in Hawaii).  For dinner we wanted to have pizza at the South Shore Tiki Lounge, but Friday @ Happy Hour with live music meant the place was packed.   We settled for the Irish pub next door (Dog and Duck) and received some hit-or-miss meals.   At least we made it back the South Shore after dinner for some Mai Tais.  Since the evening was still a little early we checked out Moose McGillicuddy’s next to our complex. They had a half-way decent draft beer selection with the charm of a Chili's.

The next morning we traveled north to Lahaina.  The town reminded us of a mini Key West without all the bars.   Front Street had nice shops and restaurants to browse and the tour pier was situated to give visitors a nice view to historic buildings, mountains, and islands in the distance.  We took a zodiac tour with
Ultimate Whale Watch.  This was a great find by Jan, allowing us to be on a small nimble boat vs. one of the bigger ferries.  Before we left the harbor we saw a male, female, and baby whale.  We were lucky to have some close-up views and Dave got a few seconds on video of the male whale underwater.  At one point the crew stopped the boat to drop an underwater microphone so we could hear the whale songs.  Finding whales in Maui at this time of year was pretty easy.  Unfortunately we didn't get any breaching action.   The 2 hour tour was a bargain at $40/pp compared to other excursions we have been on.

Dave doctored this picture.  He wanted one with the tail showing and mountains in the background to match a similar photo he took in Alaska.
Lunch was on the rooftop at Fleetwood's on Front Street.  Next time we go to Maui we are rope-dropping (Disney term for getting there for opening) this place and planting ourselves at the bar for a nice lunch.   The elevated seats looked over the ocean, distant mountains, town, and gave a perfect view of the singer on stage.   We all enjoyed our meals and the atmosphere.  Of course some of us saved room for shaved ice or ice cream from Local Boys / Lappert’s.  Since the next day was race day we left town early in order to relax back by the condo before an Italian dinner at Fabiani’s in Wailea.

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