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For those of you who are "Budget Minded" (cheap), here is a beginner's guide to Maui.
This is "Poor Man's Maui". My wife and I recently traveled to the lovely island for our 1st anniversary. In the past year, we were married in Jamaica, paid off our student loans, and bought a house! WE ARE NOW POOR! We have steady jobs, but in the process of enjoying life, growing up, and getting COMPLETELY out of debt (Then back in again with our house purchase), we have squandered away most of our savings... But we're still young and want to travel before babies come along. So we did LOTS of research and found out how we could do a nice trip to Maui, the most beautiful place on Earth, for around $2,500.
Here are our costs:
$1,050 - Plane tickets, round trip coach airfare for two, from Omaha, Nebraska to Kahului, Maui, Hawaii. Purchased on Expedia.com
$600 - 6 nights in the "Dreams Come True on Maui" Bed and Breakfast. $95/day + taxes
$195 - 7 Days car rental - 2007 White Mustang Convertible through Alamo - purchased through bidding on Priceline.com - $20/day + taxes and fees.
$103 - Gasoline - Gas was $3.75 in Maui, and the steep hills EAT gas, but it's all worth it.
$200 - Food for 7 Days. We may have spent more here than at home, but we bought lunchmeat, bread, butter, and cheese and had picnic lunches every day, and ate out somewhere every night! When we ate out, we would split something small and large, as to leave no left-overs.
$130 - Souvenirs and Gifts - One-of-a-kind stuff we decided we should get in case we don't go back (GASP)
$110 - Golf Green Fees + Club Rental + Ride along - AWESOME golf courses
$0 - Snorkeling morning trip to Molokini
$0 - Royal Lahaina Luau
$0 - Beach access
$0 - Parking
$0 - Breakfast - Included with B&B amenities
$0 - Equipment Rental - Snorkels, Body boards, Flippers, Towels, Chairs, Goggles included in B&B Amenities.
$2,388 - Total price for our ENTIRE TRIP.
You MUST take a GOOD CAMERA to Maui! If you are taking a $2,400 vacation like us, a $400+ camera/battery/memory card investment is WELL WORTH IT!! Everywhere in Maui is a GORGEOUS picture waiting to happen. I am SOOO happy we got a little camera we could take everywhere with us and take GREAT pictures with. We also know a few little tricks to make our pictures come out better, so take some time to learn photography and the utilities of your camera!
To view about 120 pictures of the 1,390 pictures we took go to the website for this section.
This is a WONDERFUL bed and breakfast! The furnishings were NICE AND CLEAN, the hosts were AMAZING, and we could NOT have had a better experience! Tom and Denise were a wealth of knowlege, and were even kind enough to let us borrow their copy of "Maui Revealed"! On Maui, a B&B is the ONLY way to go, as roads will take you almost EVERYWHERE on the island! And you will NOT want to stay in a crowded, stuffy condo or hotel. Get out and SEE THE ISLAND, and rent a car, and stay in Tom and Denise's "Dreams Come True on Maui" Bed and breakfast!
This is the PERFECT way to start saving money! Don't spend lots on a place you will only be in a few hours at a time to simply sleep and keep your clothes stored.
I'm sure you already know this one, but just to reiterate its importance, here it is.
Here on TripAdvisor.com, I did the research to find our low-budget/high-quality bed and breakfast, $20/day convertible, cheaper plane tickets, and lots of advice and opinions about what to do.
Here's the best tips we received:
1. Find the Hotel/Bed and Breakfast right for you. - Read the reviews, get what you want, don't go in blind. For example: We recommend a B&B on Maui, but All-Inclusive in Jamaica for transportation/safety reasons.
2. Car Rental companies have discount codes and the like ALL OVER the Internet. We just bid $20 on a convertible from Alamo on Priceline, and we got a NICE brand new 2007 Mustang Convertible! A convertible is a MUST-HAVE for Maui, it's easier to enjoy the weather, views, and lifestyle! It was also good for us to take pictures out of while driving.
3. Buy the book, "Maui Revealed" well before your trip, and READ IT! Don't wait until you arrive, or on your plane ride. There is a WEALTH of information there, and it is 99% accurate. We wished we would have read more, sooner, as we could have spent more time enjoying the island, and less time with our nose in a book trying to find the coolest beaches and waterfalls... and there ARE beaches and waterfalls that are cooler than others! You can find this book in almost ANY bookstore.
We did not stop at every single beach, but we did see many of them in person, or while driving... Anyway, as amateur beach-goers, here are are our opinions on what beaches are best for specific purposes...
Best Secluded Sunset - Wailea Beach - This beach gave AWESOME colors, and there were only about 10 people on the entire stretch of beach.
Best Beginners Body Boarding - Polo Beach - After walking down to the beach, you can to left, over some rocks, and there is a beach with little traffic, and the waves get to be decent-sized around the noon hour. There were a few locals here, and they were great to watch for quick do-it-yourself lessons. There were outdoor showers back up the walkway, so you can get the sand out of the appropriate hard-to-reach places. The scenery is also GORGEOUS.
Best beach to relax on - Kaanapali Beach, right next to the Hyatt. There are only a few people along this stretch, and you CAN go in the water here, but we just stayed up on the nice, short, soft grass and enjoyed our picnic with BEAUTIFUL blue sky and water, and nice palm trees for shade.
Best beach to get sun, people watch, and listen to waves - Big Beach - Tons of white sand, clear water, and high-crashing waves makes this a pretty popular place. We were there at 9:00 AM, and only about 15 people were there. Between 10:30 and 11:00 AM, almost 100 people had showed up. It's okay though, its HUGE.
Maui Revealed talks about each beach very intimately, and if we had more time we might have a favorite snorkeling, swimming, and drinking beach... Maybe next time!
Tom, the owner of Dreams Come True on Maui Bed and Breakfast, recommended this drive to us as nice little adventure. We took it, and he was RIGHT.
This is the road north of Kapalua, and it takes you all the way around the Northwest Maui shore, all the way back to Waiehu and Wailuku.
I will say, this drive is NOT for the faint of heart or weak drivers. I am a strong driver, but my wife was a bit of the faint of heart... Needless to say this drive was a little traumatic for her. She refers to it as, "The Time We Almost Died". She's a bit dramatic, we NEVER almost died, but it was a bit rainy, and it was one-laned driving (one lane TOTAL, and YES it is driven from both directions), and there was a 2000 foot drop to the ocean side of us without a guide-rail the entire time, and there were jagged cliff-side rocks to the land-side of us, and the road could only be driven at about 5 mph as the road would wind in and out of the jagged cliffs... so DRIVE THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK, there is some danger involved. At one point, an oncoming car wanted by, and there was not room, so I had to back up a few hundred yards to a place in the road wide enough for them to pass, so expect this if you take this drive, but this also happened on The Road PAST Hana to O'heo Gulch.
Aside from the risky road, this was THE MOST BEAUTIFUL DRIVE I had ever taken. The views of the black-rock cliffs were breath-taking, and there were many places to pull over and take pictures, although we couldn't as it was rainy, and we didn't want to get much red clay on the inside of our rental Mustang.
This drive only took a couple hours, and it was DEFINITELY worth it to me, the driver, but not so fun for my wife, the worrier. So choose wisely, if you have time on some clear afternoon and are around Kaanapali, take the drive and enjoy a side of Maui that only a select few get to see.
We stopped at a place in Lahaina, knowing it was a time share outlet, wondering what their "deals" were. To our surprise, the benefits were AWESOME. Again, this is "Poor Man's Maui", so we were looking for DEALS.
The shop was located on the corner of Prison St. and Front St. in Lahaina (Free parking on Prison St, by the way). They were advertising $19 luaus and $14 snorkeling... Those are the options we were interested in, but they had LOTS to choose from, from Helicopter rides to $100 in food certificates to restaurants around Maui.
The final result ended up VERY beneficial for us. We got BOTH snorkeling AND the Luau free!
Snorkeling was a 7:00 AM trip, with free donut/ bagel/ fruit/ fruitjuice breakfast, free bbq lunch, and $1 drinks. The equipment was all free, except for the $10 wet-suit rental (My wife needed this as she has NO fat to keep her warm.. I, however, did not need a wetsuit), and they did offer waterproof cameras for $15. This was on Frogman II. They took us to Molokini for an hour-long morning snorkel session, then another hour session at 'Turtle Town", where we got to swim with LOTS of sea turtles (We saw 5 different turtles, within 5 feet of us, all on our little swim). We got back to shore around 1:00 PM.
The Luau was "The Royal Lahaina Luau" and it was nice. It started at 5:30 PM, so we lined up at 4:30 PM and were about 15-20 people away from the front of the line, but there were about 100 people behind us by 5:30. We got right in, and right away, there were servers bringing around free alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks. You could buy large pineapple mugs for $12, refillable all night, but we're POOR, so free plastic cups it is! The show was GREAT, the sunset was BEAUTIFUL, and it lasted about 3 hours.
Our little time share meeting only lasted 2 hours, and it was in the hotel lobby, at a private table with wide open ceilings, birds flying around, and a few leisurely people coming and going. We sat with on Sunterra sales representative and he explained their "points" system, and how it wasn't a traditional "7 days for 7 days" timeshare. If we were rich, we might really consider this specific time share, but we don't know that we'll go on vacation every year, as our families only went on like 3 vacations EVER, so it isn't really such a benefit to us. They did say that there is a tiered point system, so if you went to a location less extravagant than Maui, your highly-valued Maui points could upgrade your room type, and add more nights to your stay, which is a GREAT idea, way to go SunTerra!
All in all, our 2 hour meeting from 1pm to 3pm was WELL WORTH our 6 hour snorkeling adventure and 3 hour Luau.
Wal-mart in Kahului was the BEST place for souvenirs and gifts! I know Wal-mart is the devil, and they ruin places, and all that... BUT they buy a LOT of local stuff and stick it in a little section the size of their electronics section and the prices there were better than ANYWHERE else we went! There were cheap bowls, cards, magnets, calendars, t-shirts, hats, aloha-wear, EVERYTHING. We picked up a LOT of stuff there, as we had looked EVERYWHERE else on the island and Walmart was our last choice. Great as a last place to stop before going to the airport!
First, don't take this road unless you realize it IS going to take an ENTIRE DAY, OR MORE! We kind of wish we had planned a night or two in Hana, but only being in Maui for 6 nights, we didn't want to hassle with moving all our luggage.. Oh well, we got PLENTY of the Road to Hana in 1 day.
MAKE SURE you read "Maui Revealed" WELL BEFORE ever taking your trip. Write down notes word for word in bullets, and it will be MUCH easier to navigate all the tricky places the waterfalls are hidden.
We left at 8:00 AM from Kihei, 8:30 from Kahului (MAKE SURE YOU FILL UP WITH GAS, IT WILL TAKE ABOUT A WHOLE TANK). We arrived in Hana after seeing about 7 waterfalls at around 2:30. It is only 60 miles from Kahului to Hana, but TRUST ME, it WILL take longer than an hour. The roads are winding, you have to pull over for fast locals, and you HAVE to stop to see the waterfalls! We went past Hana on to O'heo Gulch, which cost $10 to get a pass to the state park, but that pass lasts 3 days if you want to go to the top of Haleakala (the big volcano). We stayed there about an hour (Which is why we wished we had stayed. There were a LOT of people there. If you can get up and go right to the seven pools before the crowds, I'm sure it's AMAZING.
Anyway, we, under the advice of Tom, left around 4:30 to beat the traffic coming back, and had a nice breezy drive back home, which took about 2.5 hours, driving non-stop.
All-in-all the trip was GORGEOUS.