Marvelous Maui: Date Night with the Best Sunset

For our Complete Hawaii 2017 Itinerary- visiting O’ahu & Maui-Click Here.

Snorkeling

We started our morning off snorkeling- while we have some of our own decent gear, we didn’t have the room in our main suitcase for it, so our friends were kind enough to lend us their goggles, snorkel, and mask!

We just went to the beach off of a condo complex in Wailea, right by our hotel. We got there nice and early, hoping to see more fishes. We think that maybe because of the time of year, the reefs weren’t as vibrant. We’re going back this year (2019) and plan on doing a SCUBA excursion!

Makena Beach

After getting up so early for the snorkeling adventure, we were pretty exhausted and just wanted to relax for a bit, so we went back to Makena for a beach nap and some tacos.

There was this fish taco truck — Jawz Fish Tacos just parked in the lot at Makena Beach. At first, it was weird because they put cheese on a fish taco, which I’d never had before, but it tasted really good because the red snapper that they used was fresh caught!

DIY Cocktails

We all know how expensive hotel drinks can be- since we were fresh out of school and new to the work place, our budget was very set. Instead of buying $15 mojitos every day from the pool bar, (we only split a mojito twice!) we opted to swing by a few ABC convenience stores and get local liquors to mix with the fantastic fruits that we were buying from fruit stands every day!

*Note: we were able to go pretty crazy for being on a budget, but only because we really thought through each each and every purchase, and were fortunate enough to have friends who lived in Honolulu and we could spend half of our vacation with them.

Lunch. South Maui Fish Co.

Back before I learned how to take good food pictures or how to edit the photos, we went to this incredibly delicious food truck. I could have eaten this fish every damn day! Be sure to check out the website before you go, they’re only open a few days a week because the proprietor goes out and catches the fish one day and serves it the next!

Driving Up the Coast

It was about a 1.5 hour drive from the hotel in Wailea to our restaurant in Kapalua, along the way, we decided to stop and wander a few of the towns!

Lahaina

We started out in Lahaina, snacked on a Dole Whip, and wandered the town, looking at all of the art and jewelry shop, and when it started pouring rain, we visited Down the Hatch– a super kitschy Tiki / Sports bar. We finally got tiki man glasses!!

Next, we buzzed through Whaler’s Village- the shopping center at Ka’anapali in Lahaina. But we left there super quickly so that we could watch the sun set over the lookout at Merriman’s Kapalua.

*Note: if you go to Lahaina with your family, they have a cute movie theater with free movies on Tuesdays- perfect for a stormy afternoon.

Dinner. Merriman’s Kapalua.

The food at Merrian’s was out of this world! We looked up when the sun would set, and scheduled our reservation for about 30 minutes afterwards. We sat on the patio by a fire pit, got a few pupus and a round of Mai Tais and watched as the sun went down.

Apart from stellar views, the food was out of this world. I wish that I could remember exactly what we ate, but don’t worry, we’re going back in early October and I will write a proper review then!

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Marvelous Maui: Eating Our Way Through our First Day

Our third day in the Hawaiian Islands was our First Day on Maui!

As I’ve mentioned, we don’t like to sit still for long, and we recognize that with our crazy work schedules, we only have a limited amount of time for vacations, so we choose to make the most out of that little time wherever we go. With that being said, if you are planning your own Hawaiian Vacay, do not-by any means- feel the need to stick to our itinerary! Know yourselves, the kind of vacation you’re after, and plan accordingly. Our general rule of thumb:

1 fun-tivity + 1 relaxing thing + 1 dining experience = the perfect day!

Leaving O’ahu & Traveling to Maui

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We narrowed our stuff down to 1 big suitcase and 1 carry-on tote-size bag each. We were staying with friends on O’ahu, so it was easy to pare down like that, and leave the suitcase on O’ahu. If you plan on island jumping, I recommend speaking with the concierge at your hotel to see if you can check any spare bags with the bell hop.

Note: We wanted these smaller bags so we could throw a good bit of stuff in our rental car and take it with us. We knew that once we left our hotel in the morning, we would be out and about most of the day and would need a change of clothes, water bottles, towels, sun screen, and chargers.

Island Air 6:00 am flight to Maui.

  • This super early was totally fine because, once again, we woke up before dawn. It was an easy uber, two seconds through security, and we were off to the romantic part of our trip. It was just a 22 minute flight and the flight attendants were really cool because they gave us tropical juices, local coffee, and pointed out things outside the windows! Other islands, the history and formation of the state, etc. It was fun 🙂 Checked bag: $25.00
    • *Note: Island Air has since shut down, however Hawaiian Airlines also offers inexpensive island-hopping flights!
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We got our car and first thing we did was drive through Kehei towards Paia (town). We rented a Hertz car using a vacation package booked through Expedia. For 3 nights at the Grand Wailea, 4 days of our rental car, and two round-trip plane tickets, we paid about $1500!!!

Breakfast in Paia

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Breakfast: Paia Bay Coffee.  

  • This place was cute because it had a gorgeous mural across the street and all of the seating looked like it was in the middle of a jungle
  • Cheap, fairly basic coffee. The most froo-froo coffee drink would probably be a latte or cappuccino. We also got a nutella/cream/strawberry stuffed fresh croissant, and it was delectable!
  • The croissant was so yummy! IG.

*Note: We should have gone to Wal-Mart or Costco immediately when we landed, but we weren’t thinking about it. We stopped at the local gas station & bought a bottle of Aleeve (should have brought some, but we knew we’d want it after the hike) and a bottle of sunscreen (we just didn’t have the weight in our suitcase before!)

Funtivity Time!

Funtivity: Twin Falls hiking trail at Mile 2 on the Road to Hana

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We chose not to drive the road to Hana because that would have taken at least 1 full day, if not two and we just didn’t have that kind of time when there were so many things we’d rather have done.

There was a great farmer’s stand at the entrance & we got a smoothie! (At the exit, we also got some more fruits for the drive/ to make drinks at the resort)

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This hike was cool, we wore gym clothes, brought the gopro and hiked the first bit in to the little fall. But, if you go up farther, through the gate that says “experienced hikers only” you’ll find a bigger fall. Most people don’t jump off that one. We did, and it was truly exhilarating. Be careful though, scope out your landing spot first so you know you’ll have a deep enough place to land!The jump off the big falls.IG.

Cost.Parking. Free. Smoothie. $5. Fruit. $2. Postcards. $2. = $9 BRING CASH.

*I wish that I’d had a fanny pack or small hiking backpack with me. I did have a good-size (mid?) fairly water-proof crossbody purse that we managed just fine with on the hikes, but a backpack or fanny pack would have been easier since the crossbody moved a lot and sometimes pulled me in funny ways

This is my first attempt at a YouTube video… Enjoy the screams!

Fruit stands on the sides of the roads.

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  • Yeah. We stopped at every single fruit stand that we found.
  • BRING CASH- they mostly work on the honor system.

Funtivity

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Tour: Surfing Goat Dairy Farm.

Kyle was really skeptical about this because he really doesn’t like goat cheese. I love it, so i was excited.

It was fun though! We got to feed baby goats, see where they milk the goats and watch the process of making the cheese! Then we also go to do a tasting, and it was super good! A lot of restaurants on the islands use their cheese.

Cost: Tour. $26.04. Postcards. $5. = $31.04

Lunch

Lunch. Paia Fish Market.

  • We went back to Paia for lunch! This place had some super yummy fresh fish options (good grilled fishes too!). Excellent fish and chips and excellent Definitely cheaper at lunch than at dinner, also from what we’ve heard, people didn’t have as good of experiences at dinner as we did at lunch.
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Wandered Paia. Went into little shops, explored.

Wal-Mart.

  • I repeat. We should have gone here sooner. But we stopped by for a few essentials:A case of water, a cutting board, a knife, 2 towels, some spray sunscreen, a pineapple. (we needed the board & knife to make cocktails :p)

Relaxing. Makena Beach.

Not really any photos from Makena on day 1, we just really wanted to relax and soak it all in.

Time to Check-In to the Resort.

Resort: Grand Wailea.

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  • Back at the hotel, after we got checked in and settled in our room, we chilled and popped a bottle of champagne that we’d brought…. From Atlanta. Yes, we were willing to go all out on the resort, but wouldn’t pay their prices for the alcohol. Haha. We toasted and got ready for our photo shoot.
  • I cannot possibly write enough good things about this resort. The pools were amazing, the beach was private, it was walking distance to the nearby shops and happy hours, Humuhumu is one of the best restaurants that I’ve ever eaten at… They even provide sunscreen at the valet stand so you can re-apply before hitting the road for adventures!
    There is the first (only?) water elevator in these pools, and the pools connect through water slides and lazy rivers, in the middle of which is a swim-up bar behind a waterfall. Heaven! I’ve also had one of the best mojitos of my life here! I’ll post a video later in this series about the resort and pool!
  • So. While I LOVED this resort. It was gorgeous, so affordable with our Expedia deal, in a fabulous location, had restaurants, was breezy, open, and included a deluxe sunset photoshoot. If you decide to book here, be aware that there is a resort fee of $30/day and (if you rent a car- which you pretty much have to) a valet fee of $30/day. Additionally, anything that you spend will have an excise tax. So each of those are really $31.25
  • Cost:Resort Fee. $31.25. Valet Fee. $31.25. Bellhop tip. $5.

Photos with Pacific Dream Photography.

  • Our stay came with a free photoshoot. (We had Anna, she did a fantastic job).
  • The shoot was a ton of fun, and really captured “us” nicely. The pictures cost ~$80/piece, sadly.
  • But even Kyle walked into the sales pitch thinking that we would, at max, buy 1, and that they would try to sell him really hard. They didn’t at all!
  • They also made a beautiful video of our shoot that captured not just the still shots, but also video clips (similar to a “live” picture on an iPhone). That was really expensive. But we both admitted that if we were there to get engaged, go on a honeymoon, or were there with our kids (or if I’d had a job at the time), we definitely would have bought it, that’s how awesome it was!
  • However, the only negative was that they changed our time of the photoshoot (so we only got 30 minutes) because the sun was setting earlier in September than it was in May when we had scheduled the appointment. It was frustrating that they emailed us when (1) we were staying in the hotel and they had that information, so they could have communicated that way; (2) they had our phone number and could have called; (3) we don’t check our email while on vacation and they emailed us that morning, so not even a few days in advance when we might have seen. However, 30 minutes with Anna was plenty as she took fabulous photos!
  • CostFree-$160
  • Tips:Wear a flowy dress. IG.
    • Check out HeatherKCookPhotography for tips on doing your make-up for a photoshoot.
  • The photos turned out amazing!

Sunset cocktails in the room.

Dinner. Humuhumunukunukuapua’a (aka Humuhumu)

  • This is the restaurant at the Grand Wailea.
  • We got a seat with a view of the sunset and had one of the few truly fantastic service experiences that we’ve ever had. It was tapas style, (or at least that’s what we focussed on).
  • I think our waiter’s name was Justin. And we could not sing his praises enough.
  • He even timed our small plates so that they came out in the order that optimized our experience. (e.g. even though everyone around us had already gotten bread, he brought out our crudo small plate first because you should have crudo before). He guided us with a kind but firm hand through the menu and it was a very pleasant experience actually!4 cocktails, 2 crudo, seeevvverrrallll other dishes, dessert. $171.67.
  • We’re honestly scared to go back because we don’t want to not have the same impeccable service! Justin- if you ever read this, please know that you made our dinner experience truly magical.
  • Kyle’s Review:
  • Overall- 4 Stars
  • Food- 5 Stars; Service- 5 Stars; Ambiance- 4 Stars
  • “A little empty since we were there at the beginning of the slow season, but the great food made up for that. What really put our experience over the top was the outstanding service we received from our waiter, Justin. He was perfectly attentive without being overbearing, which is a hard balance to strike. He gave great advice after taking the time to get to know our taste, and paced our meal perfectly even though we chose to order a bunch of small plates and one entree instead of a more traditional coursing. I’d come back just to experience his service again.”
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Staying on Eastern Time to Get the Most out of Honolulu

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Have you been to the Pearl Harbor Memorial? What did you think?
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#HawaiianVacay Day 2.1- Pearl Harbor Memorial Museum
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We were still on Atlanta time, so we woke up around 4:30, which turned out to be a good thing!
By 6:30 am, we’d showered & gotten ready and called an Uber (not expensive) to go to the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. Note: If you get to the memorial too late, you’ll have to pay; even later, and they might cancel the boat ride out to the memorial because of the wind.The first ~200 persons tickets are free. Including the uber, it took maybe 2-3 hours. Cost: Ticket: Free. Postcards: $1.05. Uber to/from Pearl Harbor: $30(?) Total: $32.00

As a side note, for graduation, my dad got me a new mirrorless camera, the Sony a6000 and that is what I used for most of the pictures from this trip! (Although, sometimes I just used my iPhone and at the time, I had the iPhone 6s.)

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Oh my goodness, one of the best parts of this whole day was the fantastic Uber we got returning from the National Memorial. It was completely Hawaii Five-O themed, played the theme song, and was decked out with paraphernalia inside!

After exploring the Pearl Harbor Memorial Museum, we went back to our friends’ apartment and decided it was time to venture out to our first beach!

Back at the apartment, our friends were awake and we changed to go to the beach.

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  • Waikiki Beach. I mean, you just have to do it.
  • Paddle Boarding. later on we also rented surf boards, paddling was so much easier! The main reason we went for these was that the surf was pretty flat. Our friend got us the military discount.Rental. $40.
  • Cost: Parking. $15 at the Zoo.
  • Photography: while in the water, we used the GoPro Hero5 Session.
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Lunch: Nico’s Pier 38.

  • This one is a touch out of the way. But it was the BEST fish that we had in Hawaii, and we had a TON of pretty amazing fish (Kyle said it was 100% the best raw fish, bar none, that he’s ever had in his entire life!).
  • So, it’s completely worth going there!
  • If you’re not into raw fish, they also have a restaurant with cooked foods and fishes :). It’s a cool place and if you sit outside, you can see some docks and piers and stuff. Pretty neat and seems like a mostly-local place.
  • Cost:Parking: Free. Poke Bowls: (~.5-1.o lb fish) $15. Total: ~ $30.
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Funtivity: Koko Head Trail.

  • This was a super intense, almost straight-up hike. It was AWESOME though.
  • This hike also had some seriously incredibly beautiful views! It’s definitely work, and it was hard and a little freaky at some points. But it was really breathtaking and I would definitely do it again.
  • Cost: Parking: Free. Hiking: Free.
  • Pictures: IG IG 
  • Fav Gym Clothes: Fabletics!

Dinner: Moku Kitchen.

  • This was a very casual-dining experience in this neat little shopping center that looked like it had been consructed out of shipping crates.
  • It’s by Peter Merriman, who has 2 other restaurants (I’ll reference them later)
  • It combines traditional hawaiian, polynesian, and southeastern asian flavors. Get the duck tacos. You won’t regret it! Kyle’s been trying to replicate them ever since!
  • Photos: IG.
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