Kauai & Maui, Hawaii

October 24 - November 2, 2015



Ying and I flew to Hawaii on Saturday, October 24th to visit two islands we missed when we last came here in 2013.  Our OAK-LAX-LIH flight arrived in Lihue, Kauai on Saturday evening where we rented a car and drove a few miles to the Garden Island Inn at Kalapaki Beach where we checked in for two nights.  The owner was very friendly and suggested several places to eat and visit while we were in the area.


Sunday morning, having yet to adjust to the three hour time difference, we were up early and walked over to Kalapaki Beach.  The Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club dominates most of the area so the beach is very will kept.  We ate breakfast at the Kalapaki Beach Hut which apparently is a local favorite but for what it cost to eat off paper plates with plastic forks, we probably could have had the buffet breakfast at the Marriott.


The Kalapaki Harbor is only a few hundred yards wide, but it does have waves large enough to surf.  As we watched the early morning surfers, a large Princess Cruise Ship was escorted into the port by several tugs and tied up for the day.  I was glad we had had breakfast and walked around the area before thousands of tourists descended on the area.


We returned to our hotel to get our car and drove west to Waimea Canyon.  I had hoped to stop at the old sugar cane refinery but it closed several years ago.  We headed up the mountain stopping several times at overlooks to see the canyon as it got larger.  At the end of the road we parked and walked out on the trail to take some pictures of the Napali Coast, but decided not to hike the trail which I had done ten years ago.  On the way back to Lihue we had planned to visit the National Botanical Garden but discovered it was closed on Sundays.  We ate lunch in Poipu and then returned to our hotel.  After a rest, we walked over to Kalapaki Beach and had dinner at Duke's.  We are fortunate to have had excellent weather so far, but the forecast is changing.


Monday morning it was overcast and drizzling.  We packed and checked out of the Garden Island Inn and drove to the office of Jack Harter Helicopters where Ying had booked a one-hour helicopter tour of the island.  Harter is one of two companies that flies with the doors off their helicopters giving customers an unobstructed view.  The flight was scheduled for 9:30AM, but there had been a bad automobile accident that morning and the only highway on the island had been closed while the accident was cleared to they were running 45minutes behind schedule.  This actually work well because as time went on, the skies cleared and by the time the flight took off, there was blue sky above.  I waited on the ground for Ying to return and when she did, she was bubbling over with excitement, exclaiming that this is the best thing she has ever done!

After the flight, we drove north to Princeville where we checked into the St. Regis for one night.  This hotel is beautiful.  Our room overlooks the ocean and is very comfortable.  We swam in the pool and the ocean and took lots of pictures.  It rained on and off during the afternoon but it did not make much difference since we were swimming anyway.  We ate dinner at Makana Terrace overlooking the ocean.


Tuesday morning we were back at Makana Terrace having breakfast.  Ying had a private palates session at 9:00AM while I returned to the pool.  At 11:30AM I drove Ying out to Princeville Ranch where she had booked a 3 hour horseback riding trip out to a secluded waterfall.  I returned to the hotel and checked out.  I drove west towards Haena State Park.  Along the way I saw a group of people gathered on the beach looking at a 33-foot sailboat that had wrecked and washed up on the shore during the heavy surf of the last two days.  The name of the ship was the Serenity.  I had lunch and then returned to pick up Ying at 4:00PM when her horseback ride was complete.  We drove to Coconut Beach and checked into a Courtyard for our final night on Kauai.  We ate dinner at the hotel, swam in the pool and went to sleep early as our flight to Maui was first thing in the morning.


Wednesday we checked out, drove to the airport and returned our rental car.  We took the 47 minute flight to Maui where we rented another car and drove to Wailuku and checked into the Old Wailuku Inn.  The Inn is a small B&B and our room is nice, but Wailuku does not have the 'old town' flavor that Ying was hoping for so she is not excited about this place.  We did have a good lunch at A Saigon Café and then returned to watch the Republican Presidential Debate.  In the evening we ventured out to Dragonfly, a local Chinese restaurant which was awful.



Thursday morning we had breakfast at our B&B, and then set off on the Road to Hana, on the far side of Maui.  We planned to circumvent the Haleakala Volcano along the shore which is about a 100 mile drive, but the road is so narrow we often had to stop to allow oncoming vehicles to cross the hundreds of one-way bridges.  Ying read that there are 600 curves along this road.  Our first stop was at Hookipa Beach Park, Maui's best surfing location on the North Shore.  There was some kind of event taking place as hundreds of surfers were in the water taking advantage of the first big swells of the season.


We continued on through small towns that had names but no business districts.  There were many roadside stands and we stopped at one to buy coconuts.  After several hours we arrived at Hana and had lunch at Travaasa Maui, an upscale hotel with a casual atmosphere.  Several tour groups also arrived for lunch during our visit.  After lunch we continued our tour along the South Shore.  The vegetation was not as lush and jungle-like and the road had less curves, but there is one five-mile section which is not paved and has no guardrails and any mistake would send you over the cliff into the Pacific Ocean.


We successfully completed our tour and returned to our hotel in Wailuku by 4:00PM.  For dinner we returned to A Saigon Café for Vietnamese food.  There was a Halloween Party going on in the bar with many patrons dressed in costume.


Friday morning we had breakfast with three other guests at the B&B, and then checked out to move to Lahaina.  We had planned to drive the long way around the island, but were told the road was not passable so we took a more direct route.  As it was still early and we would probably not be able to check in until afternoon, we drove up to Kapalua and toured the Ritz-Carlton.  The Ritz-Carlton is the site of the Xterra World Championships to be held this Sunday, November 1st and the hotel is busily preparing for the event.  The Xterra World Championships are the final of 100 Xterra triathlons held throughout the world each year.  This event features a 1-mile rough water swim, a 20-mile mountain bike ride and a 6.5-mile trail run.  Entry fees run around $500 for both professional and amateur athletes.  Top prize for professional athletes is $105,000.  After our tour we returned to Kaanapali where we checked into the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa for our final three nights in Hawaii.

The Sheraton Maui is beautiful.  Our room has two balconies, one of which overlooks the ocean.  There is a natural rock outcropping which extends out into the ocean from which people dive from a height of 25 feet into the water.  We had a light lunch at the pool and swam for a while before heading out to the Hyatt Regency where we had reservations for their luau.


We took the shuttle to the Hyatt as parking is very tight in this area.  The Hyatt is about a mile away, but is still facing Kaanapali Beach.  The luau was less than what I expected from the Hyatt.  The food was average and the pork was cold and dry.  The show was well done but the overall experience was not worth what we paid.  We took the shuttle back to the Sheraton after the show.


Saturday Ying took a palates class and then we met for breakfast.  After breakfast we went to the beach where I rented some gear and went snorkeling in the ocean.  There were lots of tropical fish and I saw one large sea turtle which can within a couple feet.  There were several local boys cliff diving off the Black Rock jetty and Ying took several pictures.  We had Haute Dogs for lunch.


In the afternoon, we had planned to take the shuttle to Front Street in Lahaina to shop and watch the 37th annual Halloween Parade and festivities.  There were so many people from the resorts that wanted to go that the shuttle service was overwhelmed so we shared a cab with two other couples.  The taxi dropped us off in downtown Lahaina where the police had closed off all roads leading to Front Street.  There were already thousands of people lining the road, many of whom were dressed in costume.


We walked along the street going in and out of shops as we waited for the parade to begin.  It was hot and humid making many costumes uncomfortable.  Many people had young children and apparently shop owners were handing out candy to children for trick or treat.  The parade started around 4:30 and consisted of a fire truck, several Rotary floats, a high school band and some baton twirlers.  But then all the costumed people fell in behind the official parade and that was actually more interesting.  The people paraded up Front Street to Banyan Tree Park where there was a stage and master of ceremonies.  The events continued well into the night, but we decided to return to The Sheraton early so we would not have to wait in long lines to get back later.


Sunday we had breakfast again at Black Rock Breakfast Buffet and then took a walk down to the Whaler Shops and back.  Feeling somewhat guilty that we had'nt exercised much on vacation, we went up to the Sheraton's Health Club and worked out for a while.  Ying showered and took the shuttle into Lahaina for an afternoon of shopping.  I relaxed at the pool and then took a later shuttle to meet her at Ruth's Christ Steakhouse where we had dinner reservations.

Monday morning I went back to the Health Club and spend a half hour on the Lifecycle.  We had breakfast and then I took a final swim in the pool.  We packed and checked out of The Sheraton at 11:30AM and then drove back towards Kahului.  Since our flight was not until 4:45PM, we had time to drive to the 10,000-ft summit of Haleakala.  The 75-mile round trip slowly winds up the dormant volcano in a series of switchbacks.  We passed through a cloud layer and were rewarded with spectacular views in all directions.  We were only able to spend 15 minutes on the summit as I still needed to buy gas and return our car.


We arrived at the airport in time to have lunch.  Our flight was direct back to Oakland where we were met and taken home by 12:30AM.


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