OPPS - not brief after all!!
The waves start serene and calm, then slowly become rough/choppy by early afternoon - the colored flag that alerted you to ocean conditions usually went from yellow in the mornings to split yellow/red then full red some days. Full red flag = no kayak or paddle board rentals.
Car: Rented standard size car on Hotwire for $250 Alamo but upgraded for $160 more for 4door jeep hard top at counter and enjoyed it thoroughly though we did worry about break-ins and was inconvenienced by not being able to leave anything in the car. Also it gets VERY hot with the top down so wear tons of sunscreen, reapplying constantly and wear a hat. Putting the top up/down is a pain so consider that as well. I know this is common Q here and my vote is, Go for It (jeep or convertible)! Especially if its your first time to the islands, it put us in tropical vacation mode instantly.
Weather: Not a drop of rain the whole trip! This time of year (January) nights and mornings are chilly so bring a sweatshirt. Bring swim shirts if you plan on swimming in the ocean - the water is cold.
Jet Lag: Most mornings I woke up at 4-5am but sun doesn't come up until 715ish so lots of downtown in the mornings.
Day1 - ruined thanks to snow at DFW. Rec'd robo call from American airlines at 530am that flight was canceled. Being so early in the day I was certain there would be an alternate route but alas, ended up spending first night at LAX motel.
Day2- apple maps leads us to the back of Makena Beach and Golf Resort where the road ends. Google maps takes us back to the front. 20 mins prior to check in time, room is not ready and no king beds available. Was offered upgrade to next room level for $83+tax but declined. Check in to our ocean view room, only to be facing the giant construction site at back of property and ocean only visible by craning neck and hanging over lanai railing. 25 wasted minutes later, get free 1 category upgrade, which isn’t much better and was mostly obstructed ocean view. Grrrr. Room is okay but noticeable older: no USB plugs, worn furnishings, but still nice. The common areas are much nicer. Beautiful entryway. Shops and Starbucks in the lobby area.
Day3-check out, drop off bags at Four Seasons, 40min drive back to Kahului for Blue Hawaiian helicopter tour of west Maui and Molokini. EXCELLENT!!!!! This ended up being the highlight of our trip. We got the two front seats next to the pilot,Tim, who was an amazing, informative, funny, entertaining tour guide with a very detailed history of the Hawaiian islands. Lunch at Da Kitchen - $18 whole fried opakapaka was pretty bland, yummy kimchee crab cakes. Based on other diners’ food, portions are absurdly big, probably enough for 3 to share. Dessert at Ululani’s Shaved ice – what’s the hulabaloo, its just a snow cone? Optional mac ice cream was great. I would’ve loved to have gotten some of that back home. 40 min drive back to Wailea. "Ultimate dinner" experience at 4S- amazing!
Day4- Old Lahaina Luau. What a waste. Excellent friendly cheerful staff but the food, drinks and show = what a snooze. Food was what you'd expect of a cheap cruise buffet, drinks watery, and show itself was boring so we left early. And yes, some of the dancers show a lot of skin!
Day5 - long drive back to Mala boat ramp in Lahaina (right next to previous night's OLL) at ungodly hour for diving in Lanai with Extended Horizons scuba. Excellent operation, had fun dive. Water is cold and boat ride is even colder. A warning to bring warm and waterproof clothes would have been appreciated. Return boat trip was absolutely miserable. Staff were superb. Highly and enthusiastically recommended! Ate pork buns take out from Star Noodle (30 min wait at 2pm) and then sat down and ate at Honu.
Day6 – 830am start for full 12 hours on Road to Hana all the way around. We had to drive all the way back to airport area - Kahului to get on southern route. Road is not even half as bad as we feared. We saw several sedans and convertibles drive by so the trip is definitely manageable without a jeep. Not as remote either. First 20 or so minutes was thru residential subdivisions. Stunning spectacular vistas that were far superior to northern route (possibly because we were more worn out by the afternoon). Should have been more organized - totally missed the red sand beach by Hana. Oh well, time to start building next trip itinerary! If you do the southern route to Hana and go all the way around, you are going backwards on the northern route, be aware that the signs mostly face the other way. We missed the Black sand beach by about 20 miles. Tried to eat at Paia fish market or anywhere in that town but parking seemed impossible so went to Coconuts in Kihie for fish tacos and fish and chips. Yummy.
Day 7- relax day. Excellent Couples massage at Spa Grande. Lunch at Bistro Molokini was aggravating. Slow or no service with just okay food. Hotel in general appears to be 4x more crowded than 4S but with same number of staff. More of an amusement/water park atmosphere than serene holiday. Tons of kids of all ages even though school is in session. Spa will validate parking.
Day7- outrigger canoe ride at 4S - lots of fun, highly recommended but wear lots of sunblock. Checked out and went to Costco. Absolutely do not go here just for souvenirs. Place was packed (are they giving stuff away?!? How is it so crowded in the middle of a normal workday?!?!?) Chaotic, loooong checkout lines, very limited selection of coffee and macadamia nuts. No 100% Kona coffee. Prices of mac nuts ($18.99) were only $1 to $3 less than ABC store ($21.99) but with much smaller selection. Got regular gas for $3.84 ($4.04 at other gas stations) which is big savings but again, long lines. Total bust and waste of precious few hours of holiday.
Enjoyed spicy shrimp from Geste shrimp truck at the picnic area around the corner with 3 homeless kittys. Tasty but it is actually spicy so beware.
No wait at airport, mine appeared to be the only flight. Very friendly staff. Free pineapple baggage check. No AA member lounge.
-5 degrees at home – what a brutal return back to real world.
Thanks everyone for all of your invaluable help in planning this trip of a lifetime!!!Edited: 5:53 pm, January 31, 2013