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“Great, but we probably won't return”

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The Inn at Mama's Fish House
Ranked #1 of 6 Specialty Lodging in Paia
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed September 8, 2006

As third-time travelers to Maui, we decided to stay at Mama's to have easier access to the Upcountry, to seek a more authentic Maui experience than what we had in Wailea, where we were surrounded by so many mainlanders, and to have equal access to West Maui beaches and South Maui beaches. We now believe the one bedroom cottage at Mama's is probably ideal for a couple who plan to make only light use of the kitchen, or for short-termers who want a few days of easier access to Hana and Haleakala, or for people who would be happy with Mama's beach for lounging and are not looking to surf and snorkel all day.

For us, there are three centers of activity on Maui: Paia and Upcountry, stretching up through Makawao to Haleakala; South Kihei down to Makena; Lahaina up to Kapalua. We are outdoors people. We like Haleakala for hiking, Kihei and south for snorkeling and kayaking if there is not a south swell; Lahaina and north for surfing and for snorkeling if there is a south swell. There is nowhere central to stay among these three regions except for Maalaea, which has other drawbacks. When we schedule the trip, we can't predict which part of the island we'll be using most for beaches, because it depends upon the swell and the wind when we get there. We reasoned that we did not need a beachfront location because we are always driving to different beaches., and we don't need a swimming pool when we're snorkeling and surfing all day. Mama's has a beach, but it is a sunbather's beach, not a snorkeler's or surfer's beach. Mama's is near Hookipa, which is a great surfing beach, but for the solid local surfer, not for the person who surfs a handful of times a year.

We took a one-bedroom cottage at Mama's for two parents and two elementary-school age kids, staying 8 nights. The kids slept on the pullout couch and on an aerobed that we brought. The pullout couch sleeper woke up grumbling the first morning, so we ended up with two twin-size aerobeds on the floor. The cottage was immaculate, with attentive daily maid service. You could see their pride of ownership and high-end standards of service. A maintenance man stopped by one day to pick up the cooking grates from our gas grill and clean them. Aerobed linens were quickly provided, a futon that we did not have room for was immediately removed, and the maids took as much care making up the aerobeds as they did everything else. Mama's has security all night. There was no noise from the restaurant that disrupted us whatsoever. How they keep the bugs out, is a mystery. There were fresh flowers in the cottage.

The plusses: We saw a Haleakala sunrise that we would never have seen if we had stayed anywhere else, because we woke up in time to get there from Paia, but the additional travel time from South Maui or West Maui would have made us miss it. Upcountry was very accessible (Hana would also have been more accessible, were we interested.) We like the town of Paia, and we made good use of it on our way through it at morning and evening, but you do not walk Hana Hwy with young kids from Paia to Mama's, because of the distance and the lack of sidewalk. Mama's property is a lush environment. We had a front and back lanai, both completely private with beautiful landscaping and fragrant blooms. The front lanai had a generous overhang and table, was walled off with a large gate, and served almost as an extra room to sit and to store our watersports equipment, sandy footwear, cases of bottled water, etc. We did feel more "away" than we had in Wailea, where we felt surrounded by people from our home region.

The minuses: the cottage did not have a dishwasher, although we thought from Mama's website that it did. This was a bit of a drawback for us, as we eat all breakfasts in, pack lunches, and cook many dinners, and we like to have it as good as we have it at home (which is not using paper plates, nor washing a big sink full of dishes after every meal). The cottage was pretty cramped for four people. To leave the aerobeds out, we had to put the coffee table behind the dining table, cramping that area, and forego use of the couch. There is absolutely no view out of the one-bedroom cottage: from the living area, you look out the slider onto the walled lanai. From the bedroom and kitchen, you look out the window onto some other residential dwellings across the road. The trucks that service the back of the restaurant use that road. The cottage has central air. We used it, in part because of allergies, and I'm sure you need it, because the cottage is nestled in among so much foliage that there cannot be much natural ventilation. We also missed easy access to the farm markets in North Kihei and Honokowai. The farm market at the Queen Kaahumanu Center in Kahului was not as good. We like to get Kula produce at a farm market and eat it that evening, and we did not realize what a special part of the trip this was until this time, when it did not happen as readily. We just found it easier to hit the North Kihei farm market in the afternoon when we were staying in South Maui, and the produce was better. We also found in Wailea that the Safeway was on our way back to the condo every night, whereas at Mama's, we had to make a detour into Kahului, or use Mana Foods in Paia, which is a health food store. This was not a big problem, but as a vacationer, time is what you're paying for, so we want a location that maximizes our enjoyable time.

I am not at all sorry we stayed at Mama's, as it was clean, safe, and reasonably comfortable, and the price seems to fairly acknowledge the limitations. I have no complaints because they absolutely held up their end of the bargain on every aspect (except maybe the dishwasher). But I now see the benefit to our family of being within walking distance of at least one beach that we really expect to use for our watersports, and how much more relaxing it is to have a little more physical space and privacy, and how much we like to sit on a lanai and look out at the ocean or the hillside. As mentioned, the one bedroom cottage is probably ideal for a couple who eat out a lot, for a few days of easier access to Hana and Haleakala, or for those who like to lounge on a quiet beach without surfing or snorkeling.

The single biggest aloha experience of the trip was surfing with Rick, the owner of Hawaiian Style Surf School. I found him through the A3H Gold Card and he comes up on a website. We had a personalized, uncrowded, genuine surf coaching experience, tailored to each person's level, as opposed to the one-size-fits-all, adequate-but-impersonal tourist assembly line treatment we know from one of the big-name heavily promoted surf schools. If we return to Maui, we will call Rick as soon as we have booked the flights and lodging.

  • Stayed: August 2006, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Check in / front desk
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31  Thank WaterEnthusiasts
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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196 - 202 of 207 reviews

Reviewed May 22, 2006

Is you are looking for a plush resort then this is not the place to stay. However, if you are looking for a nice cottage on a beautiful beach with the nicest staff on the island - then this is the place for you. We spent four nights in a one-bedroom cottage. It had plenty of room for us - plus cable TV, A/C and a nice patio. The beach is positively perfect and the food at Mama's Fish House can't be beat.

  • Stayed: May 2006
    • Value
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7  Thank CAGAL626
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 13, 2006

We just returned from our stay at the Inn at Mama's Fishhouse and give the Inn *****. The staff makes sure that everything is perfect at both the resaurant and the Inn. We rented the smaller cottage and thought it was a good value. The cottage was large, very well appointed and very clean.

We arrived late, but someone stayed late to met us. A large fruit basket welcomed us to our room. There was an excellent attention to detail at Mama's, and this includes our cottage. We were amazed by the beautiful fresh flowers around our room everday. Although the company's main concern is the restaurant, the staff spoils the Inn guests as well.

Stay here before it becomes too popular to reserve a room!

We loved Paia. It is a real town, with real people. Not a facade. We met interesting people who were friendly, interesting, informed, and intelligent. Did I mention diverse as well? We also met some characters and thank god for characters in this world. We are not resort types and did not love our stay on the west side of the island. We found better restaurants on this side of the island. Recommend Mambo, Paia Fish and Manano(sp?) Bakery and Restaurant. Loved Mam's Fish House, but be prepared to spend $$$$. Good food, great attention to detail but overpriced. We did enjoy our dinner and the experience. Walk over to the surfer beach right down the road for some great entertainment.

We also recommend the Sunrise Bike Company in Paia. Paulo knows his history of the area, the people and places to visit. Sunrise does not make you travel in a group, a big plus is you have people who do not know how to ride a bike well or are afraid of going downhill. These types can be the only dangerous part of a bike trip down the volcano. Paulo also have brand new Trek bikes, a big step above other bikes we saw going downhill.

  • Stayed: March 2006
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    • Rooms
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15  Thank Market
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Rome, Italy
19
Reviewed October 26, 2005

I staied at the Inn for a week last July and the experience was simply perfect. The small cottage are really good and the bigger one on the beach simply georgeus.
To forget to have at least one dinner at the restaurant because it is one of the best, if not the best, on the island.
If I will be lucky enough to go to Maui again I will choose Mama's Fish House again for sure.

  • Stayed: July 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
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9  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 13, 2005

I was surprised that I found no reviews of Mama's Fish House Cottages since their restaurant is probably one of the most famous places on Maui (only slight exaggeration). I chose the Cottages mainly because it's very convenient to the Kahului airport. We'd just stayed for 2 nites in Lahaina and then 5 nites in Hana and wanted to have one last leisurely day/nite in Paradise before flying home. We stayed at the one bedroom Manini Cottage which doesn't have an ocean view, but is a very short walk thru Mama's grounds to their pretty, palm tree lined beach. I believe that there are a total of 9 guest units (most duplex types) on Mama's property inc. 2 guest houses (2 units in each: upstairs/downstairs) that have ocean views. In going to the business office to check in, we were a bit disappointed initially because it's located at the rear of the restaurant and the area looks very commercial, with a large employee parking area. However, the cottages are removed somewhat from that area and the exteriors of the non-ocean view units look like modest, but very tidy residences with plantings and trees surrounding them. We parked right in the drive of our cottage instead of in a parking lot. Our Manini Cottage turned out to be an absolutely perfect place to stay. All the rooms were spacious, very clean, and comfortably and pleasantly furnished--much like a nice condo unit. The cottage had a fully equipped kitchen, air conditioning, large screen TV, stereo, and a deligthtful, very private patio with table and chairs and a large (propane, I believe) barbeque. A most welcome amenity was our own private laundry room just a few steps out the back door--and no charge for using the machines. They even supplied detergent.

The management staff was friendly, helpful and efficient. As a welcome gift we found a huge fruit basket laden with all types of tropical fruit inc. a pineapple (which we took home with us--it was delicious), guava, mango, papaya, avocado, bananas, kiwi and many other items. The frig had bottled water in it, but there was a $1.50 charge for each--not a problem. Early the next morning a staff member unobstrusively delivered the local paper and placed a pretty star ginger flower on top of it. The only "complaints" I had were no box of tissues and the very thin wash cloths. We had the most restful, peaceful nite of our entire stay on Maui. I heard not one voice or car the entire nite--it was truly wonderful and exactly what we needed prior to a long return trip home.

Of course we had dinner at Mama's that night and it was as wonderful an experience as it had been in the past. Mama's just celebrated their 30th anniversary and they remain at the very top in food, service and in "island atmosphere". What a great, fun place to be! We noticed that the staff also seemed to truly enjoy working there and were having a great time themselves. The next morning before checking out, we walked along the beach and saw a double rainbow over the ocean.

Next time we return to Maui we'll do Upcountry and will stay at Mama's as it has the ideal, central location to get around the island--very convenient to get to the airport, Lahaina, Haleakala and even a big headstart on the way to Hana. The little town of Paia has a number of inviting cafes and restaurants, too. We also had a superb lunch at the Haliimaile Store, which is a short drive from Paia. But even if we never leave Mama's property, we would be able to experience a totally delightful time in Paradise--what a place!

22  Thank Forestvillian
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 6, 2005

We stayed in a one bedroom cottage in March 2004. It was extremely well equipted and even had beach chairs and umbrella and a grill. There was a washer & dryer (and detergent) and a private walled garden for outdoor dining. The full kitchen had everything you could need. There was a fruit basket on arrival , and a flower with your morning paper. The beach is nothing special, but the location is very central. The restaurant was excellent but expensive (also the most expensive meal we ever had) but you should try it one night. The staff was very helpful. I felt the $175/night price was very reasonable.

15  Thank lndlauria
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Bentonville, AR
328
Reviewed February 19, 2004

OK, so this was the most expensive meal my husband and I have EVER had. But it was worth it, I think. The location is SUPERB. Right on the beach. The fish is so fresh they even credit the boat that the fish came from on their menu. We each had a green salad ($12 ea.). My husband got Mahi-Mahi stuffed with lobster and crab. I got a very mild fish, Opaka Opaka, with some kind of crust on it covered in a cheesy type of sauce. I don't typically eat fish. But let me tell you, I am STILL thinking about this meal and it has been 2 weeks since we ate it. Entrees ran about $45 ea. By the time we got beer and a house glass of wine ($16/glass), we spent $160 including tip. Like I said - expensive. But hey, you are on vacation. Go enjoy it. Reservations strongly recommended. They were packed at 5 pm.

21  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Inn at Mama's Fish House

Address: 799 Poho Pl, Paia, Maui, HI 96779-9708
Location: United States > Hawaii > Maui > Paia
Amenities:
Beach Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 6 Specialty Lodging in Paia
Price Range: $310 - $964 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — The Inn at Mama's Fish House 5*
Number of rooms: 13
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Called, "The Hawaii of your dreams!" By Sunset Magazine, the Inn at Mama's Fish House is just steps away from the ocean on a secluded white sand beach. Providing the same warmth and charm you'll find in our award-winning restaurant, each cottage embodies traditional elements of Polynesian decor, local wood working, spectacular flower arrangements, and beautiful artwork. The casual comfort of the Inn at Mama's Fish House exemplifies the Aloha spirit of Maui. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Inn At Mama`s Fish House Hotel Paia
The Inn At Mama's Fish House Paia, Maui

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