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.
- 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