Please enjoy a recent travel review from one of our agents, Zack Kemp, here at Travel Brokers.
This was our first time in Hawaii, and we decided to just do the Island of Maui. We were there for 7 nights and enjoyed every minute of our time there. We split our stay on the island, opting to spend the first 3 nights we were there in Wailea and the last 4 nights in Ka’anapali/ Lahaina.
We landed in Maui at 5pm Hawaii time (11pm our time). The Maui airport is, for the most part, very old. The nice part of this airport was the open-air design. Most of the airport had open-air windows and ceilings throughout, which allowed fresh Hawaiian air to hit you as soon as you got off of the plane. The rental car service is actually in a separate building that is about a 10
minute walk from baggage claim. They have a tram right outside of the terminal that you can take that will get you there in no time. By the time we got our bags and rental car, it was 5:45pm, and started to head to our resort in Wailea.
For the first 3 nights, we stayed at the AC Hotel by Marriott Maui Wailea. It is a newer, smaller property that opened in 2021 with tons of charm and modern designs. Upon arrival, we asked if there were any upgrades available. Before we had arrived, we had put in a request on the Marriott app for a room upgrade. They were able to upgrade our resort view room to a pool front ocean view room with a patio. It was the perfect surprise to start our vacation and all we had to do was ask. The room was very large and offered a king-size bed and sofa bed. The best part of the room was the large patio that was right outside of our room that had 2 very comfortable chairs and a small table overlooking the infinity pool and, at a distance, the ocean. The ocean was about a half-mile walk from our resort. The only real downside was having the pool right next to the parking lot.
Wailea is a luxury resort town with lots of golf courses, beaches, and luxury shopping centers. It is very quiet and laid back. A perfect way to start out a vacation after a 16-hour day of travel. The neighboring town of Kihei had tons of different food options and offered more of a rural Hawaii town experience. Kihei was not a great place for seeing sights, but some of the best meals we had were in Kihei.
The best thing we did in Wailea was visit Makena State Park. It is a MASSIVE sand beach which offers some of the best views and largest waves during our stay. It is separated into two beaches. Oneloa Beach (referred to as big beach) and Pu’u Ola'i Beach (referred to as little beach). The two beaches are separated by a tall volcanic cinder cone. We rented some beach chairs from our neighboring resort and sat on the big beach all day long taking in the waves. It costs $10 per car to park and $5 per person to enter the park. No advanced reservations were required to get in.
For those who might want to snorkel, Molokini crater is just offshore in Wailea and offers some of the best snorkeling in all of Hawaii. We did not snorkel here but considered it as an option. Wailea is also close to Haleakala National Park (a dormant volcano that offers Sunrise tours) and the Road to Hana (more about this later). Although we had a reservation to see the Sunrise atop Haleakala National Park, we opted not to go and sleep in instead (you try waking up at 3am on vacation.)
After we checked out of our Wailea hotel, we made our way to the Sheraton Maui Resort in the Ka’anapali resort area near Lahaina for the last 4 nights of our trip (about an hour drive from Wailea). Upon arrival, the valet employees hounded us trying to take our luggage and our car, and say that valet parking is free for the first night. We declined the valet parking because we wanted to find our way on our own. Before we arrived, we had put in another request in the Marriott app for a room upgrade. When we arrived at the front desk, to our surprise, they upgraded us from a resort view room to a deluxe oceanview room. Our room was very large but very outdated. The carpet was very old and dirty, the bathtub had rust spots in it, and the balcony furniture was very old and uncomfortable. We are not picky people so we did not mind at all and were still able to enjoy our room and our balcony looking at the ocean. The resort property itself is MASSIVE. So many rooms, so many restaurants, and a huge lagoon-style pool with plenty of seating. They also have their own luau that they host on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. We did not attend but were able to watch it from the grounds of our resort if we wanted to. This resort has direct access to Ka’anapali beach right at the black rock formations at the end of the beach where people would cliff dive and snorkel (you were able to rent snorkel equipment from the resort for $22 per day). I rented snorkeling equipment one day and was able to swim with all kinds of tropical fish and most importantly sea turtles. A definite must for anyone staying on this property. This was a very family-friendly resort with a more shallow, kid-friendly section to the pool.
The resort is a 5-7 minute walk along the beach to the Whaler Village which offers multiple shops, vendors, and restaurants. This was a very nice perk to have with staying right on Ka’anapali beach as we were never far from entertainment and food. Our resort was around a 10-minute drive from downtown Lahaina which offered more local restaurants and shops. Lahaina is also where most charter boats would depart from. It was very lively and you could tell that this area of Maui was where most of the tourists were.
We decided to drive the Road to Hana ourselves instead of taking a tour. We purchased a tour guide application for our phone called the “Shaka Guide” and we are so glad we did. It
cost $20 and worked based on GPS, so we didn't need to have cell service. The app would know where we were on the road and would start up based on where we were, offering local expertise about each stop and also what stops we should skip. It would also tell us exactly what to look for when we hit a turn like a hidden waterfall that most people don’t notice while driving, etc. The Road itself is much easier to navigate than what everyone says. You will hear stories about how absolutely dangerous and scary it is and how you will not enjoy your time because you will be so nervous the entire time. At some times, it was scary and nerve-racking, but it really was not as bad as everyone says it is. The entire road was paved and beautiful. It was by far, the most beautiful scenery that I have ever seen on earth. So many roadside waterfalls, trees, bamboo, etc. Make sure your clients bring lots of snacks and water along with them on the journey. The best and most notable stop on the Road to Hana was Waianapanapa state park (The black sand beach). We left our resort at 6:30am and got back around 6pm. By far, the best day in Maui.
Another great spot that I had never heard much about before traveling to Maui is the Iao Valley State Monument. It is located near the airport and offers some of the best views of the green mountains in Maui. It is a very small park but offers amazing views. It costs $10 per car and $5 per person to enter. There is a paved path that leads you up to a great viewpoint of the monument. They also offer nature trailers that lead up the river.
On the morning of our last day, we got notifications that our flight that was supposed to depart at 12:47p was delayed to 3:54p. This delay would make us miss our connecting flight in LAX so Delta tried to put us on a double connection through LAX and ATL. I got right on the phone with Delta and moved our flight to an 8:20p flight with one connection through Seattle. I then got a hold of Allianz to see if our plan would have reimbursement coverage for this delay. To our delight, they informed me that we were covered for up to $300 in expenses due to this delay. We then talked to the front desk of our resort and were able to get a 4pm check-out time for $200 and had a wonderful (expensive) dinner in Lahaina that will all be covered by our insurance company. We were able to enjoy our beach and pool all day long because we were protected by Delta Vacations and Allianz. Just another reason to get Travel Insurance.
Overall, we had a wonderful trip and cannot wait to go back to the Islands of Hawaii again in the future.