Maui, Hawaii

When I Went: May 16-21, 2011

Was That the Best Time of Year to Go? We went late spring/early summer. I don’t think there is a bad time to visit Hawaii, as the weather is always beautiful.

Why I Went There: My sister had just graduated college, and it was her graduation present from the family — at least, that was our excuse to go.

Who Went With Me? My family (parents and my younger sister)

We Stayed Here: We stayed at the Ka’anapali Beach Club, just north of Lahaina on the northwest side of the island. The hotel was awesome. They have a great pool with plenty of room to relax around and a waterslide and volleyball net. There is a bar next to the pool that has happy hour every day. The beach is right outside the hotel and offers great views of the islands across the ocean. There are plenty of shops within a 10-minute walk and a grocery store close by.

You Won’t Want to Miss: Old Lahaina Luau: This is one of the original luaus on Maui and draws a big crowd every night. For dinner, there is a long buffet that features traditional Hawaiian food. They roast a pig before the show and have a ceremony for pulling it out of the ground. The food is amazing, and there is plenty of it to go around. It is also all-you-can-drink tropical drinks or local beers. The dancers in the show were entertaining. The luau focuses on the history of the Hawaiian Islands and Hawaiian culture.

Parasailing: There are many parasailing companies set up along the beach in Ka’anapali. We chose UFO Parasail, based on a recommendation from the hotel staff. The staff at UFO was very funny on the boat and made the experience better. You can fly at 600, 800, or 1,200 feet above the boat. We did the 1,200 feet fly, and it was incredible. The views are amazing, and looking down you can see well below the clear, blue water.

Golf: Hawaii has some of the most scenic golf courses I have ever been to. We played two courses—Wailea Gold Course and Kapalua Plantation Course.

Eat Here: Aloha Mixed Plate: This is a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Lahaina right next to where the luau is. They offer a really good happy hour and have a local special every night. The food is traditional Hawaiian, and the portions are huge for the price. We actually ate here on two different occasions because we liked the food so much.

Cheeseburger in Paradise: This is a staple of the Hawaiian Islands and a must-stop for lunch or dinner one night. The one in Lahaina is located right on the water and offers great views while eating. They always have a local musician singing covers during lunch and dinner. The hamburgers are great, nothing special, but people stop for the name and atmosphere more than the burgers. Make sure you get a local Maui beer to enjoy with your burger. And buying a T-shirt is a must after eating.

Leilani’s: This is where we ate our last night in Hawaii. Located in Whalers Village, this restaurant has a lower level that serves bar food and an upper deck that has steaks and seafood.  We opted for the upper deck and were not disappointed. The views of the ocean are incredible, and try to dine during sunset. My family all ordered seafood, and I ordered a steak. The seafood is all freshly caught and cooked to perfection. They ordered Mahi Mahi and some other local fish that I don’t remember the name of. My steak was perfect as well. They have a wide range of desserts to choose from, although we were too full after eating to enjoy any. This restaurant is a little more expensive ($120 for our family) but definitely worth it.

Play Here:  The beach: There is nothing much more relaxing than laying on the beach with a drink in your hand. Numerous beaches line the coast. Most hotels have their own personal beach for their guests. Or there are public beaches that are popular among the locals. Along the beach are umbrellas for parasailing, jet ski rentals, local shops, and more.

Wailea Gold Course: This course is on the southern end of the island. As you drive into the course, the road is lined with palm trees and leads up to a clubhouse full of windows. The course itself is not along the water, but offers some great views of the ocean. As far as the golf goes, this course is the most challenging of the three at Wailea. There is natural lava rock throughout the course that provides challenges off the tee and for approach shots into the greens. The course was in great shape and would be good for someone who is an intermediate-to-good golfer. For beginners, I would recommend the blue course, which is more open and forgiving of wayward shots.

Kapalua Plantation Course: The most scenic, most challenging, and most fun golf course I have ever played. This course is home to the PGA tour Hyundai Tournament of Champions every year. Walking in the clubhouse, you are greeted by the crystal trophy that is awarded to the winner of the PGA event. As you continue in, the walls are lined with photos of all the past winners of the event. Then you come to the pro shop and see the first tee and the view. Every hole on the course offers an photographic view, and I was sure to capture most of them throughout the round. The course itself was in great shape, and they were already preparing for the PGA tournament in January. With more than 7,400 yards from the back tees, this course offers a challenge to players of all levels. I convinced my dad to play from the back tees, since I dont know when I will get to play this course again. I would recommend this to any golfer. It is definitely worth the pricey green fee.

If I Went Again: There are two things I would do differently. First, I would have scheduled our tee time at Kapalua for early in the morning. We teed off at 11:14 am, and the wind was already blowing 20 mph. Since the course is on the north shore of Maui, the winds off the ocean pick up in the afternoon and make the already challenging course that much more difficult. The second thing I would do is the sunrise bike ride down the mountain on Maui. About 2 hours before the sunrise (so probably 3:30 a.m.), people start heading to the top of the mountain. There you are supposed to get some of the most breathtaking views of Maui and the sunrise over the ocean.

How Did You Get There From Dallas? It was an eight-hour direct flight with two movies shown onboard.

Other Tips For Fellow Travelers: Maui is an extremely relaxing place that offers entertainment for people of any age. Whether it’s golf, shopping, or just relaxing at the pool/beach, you will not be disappointed. We had an amazing time on Maui, and I can not wait to go back.

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