Finally finished up my trip report. Thanks to everyone here we had a great trip!
My husband and I went to Maui to celebrate our 10th anniversary and my 40th bday. Kiddos spent their time in CA with grandparents. hoooray! ;) Our trip was from Thurs 3/28-Fri 4/5. We had to get our kids on their flights to CA first (from PDX), so we didn't land in Maui until nighttime.
I'm really gluten intolerant, so if I eat any gluten/wheat products I'll be fetal position for a day or two. Not a great way to spend a vacation. Been there, done that and would rather it didn't happen again. So I'll make sure to include food info in case that's helpful for someone else. That said, this was one of the easiest trips to eat gluten free. People knew what I was talking about and/or really knew ingredients to prepared food. Hands down, Monkeypod Kitchen was the best dining experience for me. More on that later...I found this blog helpful with food info: http://www.glutenfreemaui.com/dining/
Makena Beach and Golf Resort:
We stayed at the Makena Beach Resort in Wailea (http://www.makenaresortmaui.com), ocean front room, booked via Costco. Based on the reviews here on TA, we called multiple times to make sure we weren't placed in front of the construction on the north side. ** They do their room assignments the day before you arrive, so make sure to call on that day if you can. We forgot but called early the morning of our arrival. We ended up with a fantastic room. We rented a soft-top Jeep, through Alamo, also via Costco. Oh, and the book Maui Reveled was our Bible along with their app for my iphone. www.hawaiirevealed.com We used both of these things constantly. It was awesome!
I'm not sure if everyone is drinking happy juice at Makena Beach Resort, but I could not get over how nice and friendly the staff was here. We came across ONE person who didn't seem to fit the mold, she wasn't very helpful, and we avoided her like the plague. This was the perfect place for us to stay.... casual atmosphere, a good, friendly vibe and gorgeous beach right out our door. Valet and self park are free, no resort fee, free wi-fi. My only complaint was the water temperature in our room shower-- totally fluctuated and I love my hot showers. It wasn't a deal breaker, but was a bummer. I agree with other reviews that the pool isn't great, it's just way too small for a hotel that big. It wouldn't have been a big deal, but we got hit with some big time wind and we couldn't stay on the beach and headed to the pool. no space for us. not a big deal, but would have been nice to have a bigger area. I could see how some people might feel a bit isolated, but we loved it. We had our own rental car, so it wasn't an issue getting around the island. The hotel offers a free shuttle to other spots in Wailea, which we used a few times in addition to a couple taxis for the nights we didn't want to drive.
Our package included buffet breakfast, which was great. They were open starting at 6:30, so it was nice to have something so close before starting our day. The setting was great, it's Maui after all! Wait staff was fantastic. Food included made to order omelets, fruit, juices, oatmeal/cereal, waffles, breads, muffins, hot dishes (ie eggs/potatoes, bacon) miso soup, tofu, rice. I usually ordered eggs (they'll do scrambles, over easy, etc.) or ate oatmeal with coconut and blueberry compote (YUM!!) with some fruit.
Day 1, Friday-- West Maui and Costco!
We didn't have anything planned so we jumped in jeep and headed to West Maui. They day was off and on rain, but we had the top down for part of the day. We're from Washington State, so a little rain is not a big deal to us! ;)
This was my first time to HI, so we just had fun driving around. We did the full loop, which was great. Stopping at Nakalele Blowhole and the Olivine Pools, got some banana bread at Julies for the Husband. The drive was gorgeous and I'm so happy we went all the way around. We were on the mountain side, and since we were in the jeep, we just pulled up on the side of the mountain and let everyone pass us. easy, peasy!
We weren't able to hit Costco when we landed since it was too late, so we decided to go there at this point. We're big Costco fans anyway, so it was fun to see what they stock. We found the Poke Bar and the woman working it printed out all the food labels for me to check. The Limu Poke was gluten free so we got that and another one my husband liked. The rest had soy sauce, so it was a no-go for me. The garlic shrimp Poke were fine too. I always travel with food/snacks so we had poke and crackers for lunch and it was fantastic! I also grabbed some Maui Onion chips, coconut vodka (OMG this is so good!) macadamia kisses, and some sarongs to take back home. We also bought a great little waterproof camera (Fuji Film XP). It rocked!
We headed back "home" for a bit then headed to The Shops in Wailea for dinner on our free shuttle. So I'll just say we felt like we were back in Orange County, So Cal. Not exactly our favorite place, but we were hungry and it was close by. Someone suggested Longhi's but looking at the menu, it wasn't super easy for me to eat there and we really wanted more casual. We headed over to Cheeseburger in Paradise/Island Style and bellied up to the bar.
Devin, our bartender was fantastic. I noticed they had a few items listed under a Gluten Free section, but it was all basic fare. I asked him if there was someone I could check ingredients with and he sent over the manager, Jackie and she was sooo nice and accommodating. Her friend has Celiac so she totally understood and we figured out I could have the Kalua Pork Nachos. hooray! It was super yummy and I was excited to be able to eat something more Maui-ish without getting sick. They called us a cab (the shuttle only runs til 9:30) and we headed home happy, loopy and full.
Day 2, Sat. -- Kaiser & Monkeypod Kitchen
My husband woke up really congested and with major respiratory issues and had been coughing all.night.long. We spent half the day on the phone with our insurance trying to figure out what we needed to do within our insurance guidelines. Learned that our insurance is reciprocal with Kaiser so we had to head up to Kahului to hit urgent care. Thankfully we were in and out, my husband had bronchitis, and now needed to use an inhaler, but at least it wasn't an ear infection. And we were close to Costco at lunchtime again! so we got some more Poke. LOL
We took our time getting back to Makena and meandered our way down Kihei along the coast.
We had reservations at Monkeypod Kitchen (booked through OpenTable) www.monkeypodkitchen.com We decided to get there a bit early and hit Happy Hour for cheapy drinks and 1/2 off appetizers. The wings were to die for! sooo good. We sat down around 5:45 and had a great sunset view. Our waitress, Piper, was fantastic and very knowledgeable about my gluten free issues. Not only did she fully understand what I was talking about, she said they could basically modify most items on the menu to fit my needs. Wait WHAT? modify other items? This was a dream for me. My husband got their special (modified GF) a local Opakapaka (Snapper) with a mango citrus butter sauce, mango pepper salsa over rice with edamame salad in a chile dressing. I got the Grass Fed, Hormone Free Peppercorn Rubbed Filet Steak with Kona coffee honey butter, Spicy paniolo onions. Between the perfect service and amazing food, this was top notch! Our meal during our trip and my husband said the best dinner we've had since I had to start eating gluten free (over two years now.) No dessert as we were totally stuffed.
We asked Piper where else we could go, close by, that wasn't The Shops-like. She suggested The Triangle in Kihei. It was still pretty early so it was a bit sleepy. We did see an acoustic Maui gangsta rapper at the Irish Pub. no joke. I just couldn't stay there. So we went to Tiki Lounge and had a drink, ran to Foodland for some juice and Lychee Mochi ice cream (the more expensive line IS gluten free, but not the cheaper one) yum!!
Day 3, Sun. Easter-- La Perouse Bay, Coconuts in Kihei
We had originally planned on doing the Molokini snorkel trip on Kai Kanani this day, but before we ran to Kaiser, we asked our concierge to re-book the sail for the end of our trip since we knew something was up with my husband and the trip would be tough for him. It ended up being choppy and super windy, so this actually worked in our favor. It wasn't a problem, but this left us with another day and no plans. We decided to head out to Le Perouse Bay and see what was south of our hotel. We walked in a ways and loved the lava rock beaches. We hung out for a bit and headed back to the hotel to change. Off to Kihei for lunch.
We were originally going to Maui Brick Oven, which is 100% gluten free, but it was closed. We saw Coconuts close by and I remembered reading it was gluten free friendly, so we headed over. www.coconutsfishcafe.com so glad we did! Those Fish Tacos to die for! We're from SoCal so we are used to good fish tacos, but these were really great! I now dream of these tacos and on a mission to figure out how to do a copycat at home-- any suggestions?? :)
Day 4, Monday-- Lahaina
We had a sunset sail booked with Teralani, again through our Costco package. Had I realized it wasn't near our hotel, I wouldn't have included it, but it was fine and we planned on just doing Lahaina that day since we needed to go to Whaler's Village in Ka'anapali. We hung out at the beach in Makena for a bit, then headed out. We parked in the big parking garage and bought some gifts for our kiddos at ABC to validate parking. Walked around for a bit, then grabbed a bite at Kimos www.kimosmaui.com -- I had the shrimp and beet salad. soo good! We ate at the bar, that's how we roll ;) I had a coconut wireless cocktail. YUM!! My second mission is to recreate this drink! We headed out and then realized we didn't see the Banyan Tree Park, even if we just drove by. We backtracked to the other side of town and found a spot right along the park! Checked out City Hall (lots of great old photos and info) and then headed up to Ka'anapali for our sunset dinner sail on Teralani.
It was super windy but we tried not to worry about it. We went to check-in and were told that they had canceled the sail--- mentioned something like "they probably tried to contact you, but you were all out having fun on vacation." (and um, no, no one contacted us on our cell phone, which they had or at our hotel) They said we could either re-book or get a refund. At least I found some great, inexpensive jewelry at the craft fair (in front of the hotel next to the village) All items were $10! But that really made our day a bust since we planned it around this sail. We immediately called our hotel concierge to see what other night was open for a sunset sail since this was a must-do for us. Our concierge said the only thing available was on the Alii Nui--- at double the price. Oh well. book it!
Day 5, Tuesday
We planned on doing a day of hanging out at Makena again, I mean we're staying at this great location, it would be a shame not to enjoy it! The hotel was offering free snorkel and scuba lessons every morning at the pool. We rented snorkel gear for the day and wanted to try it out in the pool, so the lesson was a perfect opportunity for a trial run. We had Brandon, from Maui Dive Shop www.mauidiveshop.com and he was woooonderful. Super friendly and a great instructor. It was just me, my husband and a boy in the lesson. After the lesson we asked about the scuba lesson, since it was free, why not? Apparently they only do them every other day now and on the other days, they do Huka lessons. Basically snuba (hybrid of snorkel/scuba) but with a much longer hose, about 30 feet. The hose is connected to an air tank on a little raft. DH couldn't do it since he had bronchitis, so I went solo and was the only student in the class!
I can't even begin to explain how much more comfortable I was doing the Huka instead of snorkel, a total shock to me and my husband! Brandon was such a great instructor-- totally encouraging and helpful. I had such a great time we decided to do a outing right after the class with Brandon as our guide. My husband followed along on top with snorkel gear. We went for 45 min and got down to 27 feet! Saw a turtle and lots of cool fish right in front of our hotel. I felt super comfortable with Brandon and my husband had a great time having the little raft to follow :) This was the highlight of my trip! I never in a million years thought I would love it so much, but I am actually thinking about getting scuba certified! It was totally life changing for me.
It was hard to top my morning, but our night came to a close tie. Justin, from the Alii Nui crew, picked us and another couple up for our sunset dinner sail. (they provide free shuttle service) www.aliinuimaui.com Again, so friendly! The other couple we picked up in Kihei was awesome and I knew we were in for a good night. To say I was thankful that the Teralani canceled would be an understatement. There were 15, yes 15, people on our boat. Our Captain, Captain Morgan, for reals, was awesome (can I say awesome, great, etc. any more on this TR??) as were the other crew members in addition to Justin: Shidasha and Lyle. We just had so.much.fun. with them and were totally enjoying the entire trip. We were so comfortable, I felt like we were hanging out with friends. 993daveb did a great review on their listing here on TA.
We found some whales and Captain Morgan headed over for us to see them. Not one, or two, but THREE whales (mom, baby and a huge escort) were all breaching and slapping. We were all in amazement watching them. We then realized we had three PODS around us. so cool! Then it was time to eat. Even here, they knew about some GF issues. I stayed away from the "unknowns" and just had salad, prime rib and some veggies. oh yeah, and cocktails. :) I guess on other dinner sails you don't have a place to sit down?? We had tables, but choose to sit on the roof and take in the views. I really didn't want the night to end.
Day 6, Wednesday-- Hana and Costco :)
We set out to do the Hana Loop about 6 a.m. ran down to breakfast, only to realize they didn't open until 6:30. The staff was so kind, they went to the back and grabbed to-go containers and let us pack some stuff that was already out-- fruit, oatmeal, some rolls and most importantly- Coffee!! :) We left our room info and off we went!
We didn't hit any traffic, which was great and the drive was pretty easy. Since we were so early, we didn't really have any places to stop roadside, good thing we had our food from the hotel. One of the car valets gave us a CD to listen to for the trip and I was really glad we had it. She also recommended going out to Ke'anae Peninsula. It was gorgeous, of course, and had bathrooms, reeeeally clean bathrooms. hooray! Next stop was Nahiku Road to the coast. Looooved it! We also stopped at Kahanu Garden ntbg.org/gardens/kahanu.phpn as a last minute decision and was really glad we did. sidenote: they now open at 9 am since they were getting so many people showing up early.
We ate some packed snacks and then headed out again. off to the Black Sand Beach at Wai'anapanapa. By this time we were hanging with the tour vans, but it was fine. Most of the people did not go to the freshwater caves like we were. We easily found them and joined a guy and his son. I was a bit nervous about jumping in, but it was fine (about 5 feet of water and not freezing cold) One of the caves had a display of multiple colors, like it was painted, the other had a stone throne. I haven't been able to find any information about the colors and most of the reviews are simply about the black sand beach. That blows me away, since we spent very little time on the beach, but were totally awed by the cave pools and spent a good amount of time checking them out. We went over to the beach for a bit and then headed over to Hana for lunch at Hana Ranch. I wasn't expecting much based on the Maui Revealed review, but we were pleasantly surprised. I had a chopped salad and my DH had a fish sandwich that was really tasty. Service was fine.
We took the outer loop along Koki and Hamoa Beaches. Hamoa didn't have any good waves and since my husband was looking to bodysurf, this was a bust for us, so we kept going. We missed the Venus Pool-- oops! It was around this point that we saw some construction. It was just a detour and we didn't have to stop, just move over to a different lane. Our last two stops were Ohe'o Gulch/7 Sacred Pools and Lindbergh's Grave. Ohe'o was paaaaaacked, but we still enjoyed it. Most people didn't swim out into the big pool, so we were able to easily get away from the crowds. Lindbergh's grave was very cool and we were literally the only ones there. There's a nice little park beyond the cemetery too.
We took the south side loop and it really wasn't a big deal. We have been on country roads much worse. It was hard, packed gravel in patches, seemed to be asphalt on the inclines and descents only, not a lot of holes and they weren't huge. At mile 32 there was a brand spankin new food truck! Kau Kau Lani in Kapuo is a mother/daughter business and they were so sweet. We loved getting some chili (GF!) and rice, with mayonnaise of all things on top. but hey, when in Rome.... we chatted with them a bit and wished them luck as it was their first day of business. I promised to include them on my trip advisor report and yelp them ;) The views were great so it was the perfect place to stop.
The views were spectacular on the backside of the loop and it was amazing to see the difference in scenery on this side. I highly recommend taking the plunge and driving the full loop! We got to enjoy sunset views over the Big Island. We got back to Kahului and guess what? Costco was still open! LOL we grabbed some more Poke and Coconut vodka (one extra for the trip back!) I was also intent on finding some Rosalani Huipia ice cream at Foodland. done. and done.
Day 7-- Molokini and back to Monkeypod
Our last day we had our re-scheduled Molokini Snorkel trip on Kai Kanani. www.kaikanani.com Conditions were perfect, glassy and sunny. Getting picked up right in front of our hotel was awesome. Our crew including Captain Kerry, Dave, Ozzie Dan and Ferrell, were top notch. (I guess you don't get to work on Maui sailing trips unless you are great! ;) They had out breakfast foods, but we ate at the hotel and I couldn't give you specifics other than I couldn't eat much of it. I'm guessing since we were so close by starting at Makena the Capt was able to change things up a bit. They decided to start at Turtle Town instead of Molokini as there were a ton of boats already at Molokini and this would allow us more space to spread out.
We were able to be up close and personal with two large turtles and tons of fish. Then off to Molokini. The water was crystal clear and we saw TONS of fish and a White Tip Reef Shark! Dave from the crew, estimated it was about 5 feet long. Very cool! We headed back on the boat and started drinking some cocktails and grabbed lunch (bread, cold cuts, tuna salad, potato salad (watch out GFers, there was pasta in it!) Caesar salad w/croutons, chips, etc.) On the way back we saw LARGE whales breaching in the distance.
After the trip we headed to the pool bar and hung out with Lucky the bartender. This guy just cracks me up. The other guys working the pool area were so nice (shout out to Big C!) and fun. We just hung out talking with them and some other guests as they came and went from the bar. We found another guest who had been on the snorkel trip with us and mentioned that we should hit Monkeypod again for Happy Hour (AND go by the Kai Kanani store for our free gift from the trip!) bonus. She decided to get her family and join us, so off we went.
Note to self.... drink water. ;)
Monkeypod was fantastic again, and the wings were d'lish. Mission #3, duplicate these wings!
We finished the night on our lanai, with more coconut vodka and some more Hapuia ice cream.
and called it a night.
We had such a fantastic trip. We left a week ago and I'm still singing the Maui Blues. I'm drinking Kona coffee out of my Kai Kanana coffee mug, my husband made Poke for my bday dinner and I'm listening to Ekolu on Pandora. yes, I'm in total denial! LOL Again, many thanks to everyone on here, TA is such a great community and resource!