Had no trouble finding the rental car shuttle from the commuter car terminal, and thanks to the fact we arrived at a different time from the mainland flights, there was no line to get the car. Thanks to the same website we were renting from Alamo again, and they tried to up-sell us from a “standard convertible” to a Camero for over $100 a day. Um, no thanks. When we got to the lot, we were extra thankful – the standard convertibles were Mustangs, which were just fine…although the choice was only black or white. We picked the white, and off we went.
The drive to our hotel, the Sheraton Maui in Lahaina, was about 30 minutes give or take, and soon we were there and valeted the car. The wait to check in was only a couple people, and soon it was time to play let’s make a deal…I mean check in. No, there were no rooms ready, but we’d been upgraded to a “standard ocean view” near the back of the property with two beds. I asked about a suite, and yes, we could have an Ohana suite near the back of the property with a “partial ocean view” but only with two beds again. I pressed, and she said there were also “deluxe ocean view suites, and let’s see if I can give you one.” She came back from the back room, and said unfortunately it would be an upcharge of $250 a night…but I can do it for $200. She could sense I was less than thrilled, and I asked if that was all she could do…then she offered it for $100 a night…given it was nearly 1,000 sq ft, a corner room with a view of the beach and ocean, I decided to go for it.
It would take about an hour to get the room ready, so she gave us a 35% off coupon for the poolside bar as well as welcome drink coupons, so we could grab lunch while we waited. Some tasty nachos were definitely on order, but we asked the waitress what she’d recommend. “Oh, you can get doubles FYI with those drink coupons…and I highly recommend the Old Fashioned Mai Tai.” I decided to give it a go….and drank nothing else for the next three days. Make with top shelf rum and shaved ice, it was absolutely delicious.
After about an hour I got a call that the room was ready, so we finished off our drinks and headed up to check in. Except, the line was now 30+ people deep, and when we tried to go to the platinum check-in line it nearly started a riot. The agent tried to explain to the people in line, but when they’ve been waiting on line for a long time, it’s understandable they were upset at the fact there were no more agents. They told us we could go around the corner to the valet to check-in, so we did.
It turned out not to work so well…he only could see the original upgrade, and not the suite we’d been waiting for. We had to come back two times, because he gave us keys to the wrong room. Nearly 45+ minutes later, however, we were finally to the room…with an amazing view:
The rest of the afternoon, we relaxed on the beach and just took it easy, enjoying the hotel and taking it easy. That evening, we met my friend Rita for dinner. I hadn’t seen Rita in over 20 years since she’d moved to Maui, and it was a real treat getting to catch up over some delicious beers at the Maui Brewing Company:
The next morning we got up fairly early, and after grabbing some Starbucks we headed out to drive the Road to Hana. It’s a nice drive on some pretty winding roads, and the frustration is you spend a good deal of time stuck behind people who might not live up to your driving skills.
Our first stop was at Twin Falls, maybe 30-40 minutes into the drive, where we were told the hike in to the falls was maybe 15-20 minutes. We stopped first at a small overlook:
Then, about ten minutes later, we were approaching the falls. The final part was maybe 50 meters or so through knee deep quite cold water, but it was gorgeous and refreshing:
On the way out, about an hour or so later, we saw a rather amusing sign:
We continued the drive, and maybe another 30 minutes on stopped at an overlook on the ocean, where there was some fun graffiti on the guardrail:
Driving on, we’d stop every little bit to see more waterfalls, views of the ocean, etc. It was a really amazing drive, probably three hours or more on the way there including all of the stops. Some of the stops we made:
By the time we got to Hana, we were absolutely starving. We’d heard there were really no great restaurants, but Yelp recommended a Thai place. Yes, a Thai place called Nutcharee’s Authentic Thai so we gave it a go. It was basically a covered picnic area with Nutcharee and friends cooking over open fires…it was authentic and delicious. I had seared ahi tuna in red curry:
Matt had vegetables and chicken stir fried with noodles. Both were delicious:
After lunch we decided to start driving back, along the other (south) side of the island. We’d heard it was a very rough drive, but decided to give it a go…we could always turn back and came the way we’d come from if it got too bad. Just outside of town, there were some wonderful beaches:
There was also an amazing tree on the beach:
Then, we started the drive. The first 8-10 miles or so were on a pretty good paved road, and then…it was dirt and gravel. I’ll let the pictures speak for themself, but it was easily the hardest, most technical, and scariest drive I’ve ever done. The road was gravel and dirt in most places, torn up asphalt in some, and usually around one lane to 1.25 lanes wide in most places. Fortunately not too much traffic, but it was still tough. On top of it, there was a good 15%+ grade in many places that would take sharp turns around corners you couldn’t see with no guardrails. It was downright terrifying in places:
Finally after about two hours on this section of road, things got better, and turned mostly to asphalt:
Some local Hawai’ian wildlife:
We got back just in time to enjoy a really nice sunset on the beach:
We were too exhausted at this point to venture out for dinner, so ended up eating at the poolside restaurant again before crashing relatively early.
Up early the next morning to yet another amazing view:
Rented a cabana on the beach for the day, and soaked up the sun and played in the water until it was time for lunch. A few mai tais, and it was time for a nap on the beach. Woke up, and went snorkeling for a couple of hours or so right off of Black Rock, where we saw all kinds of fish including an octopus and several turtles that swam right up beside us. I could kick myself for forgetting to bring my underwater camera on this trip. Ugh!
On the way up to the room, I couldn’t resist a picture with the cutouts:
Dinner at the hotel again, because we had an extremely early flight the next morning. It had been a long day in the sun, but an amazing trip. Maui far exceeded my expectations, and I can’t wait to go back again soon!