Where should two lazy, crazy kids honeymoon in Maui?
June 15, 2010 2:38 PM   Subscribe

What part of Maui should we go to for a relaxed, romantic honeymoon? After a fair bit of research, we're thinking of renting a condo, probably on the West side, although even that's not firm. The question is which part of Maui? This thread has us leaning toward Napili or Kihei but since we've never been there before it all feels a bit like a shot in the dark, especially since condo rental sites like VRBO are so huge and confusing.

If we go with the West side of the island, VRBO lists Honokowai, Kaanapali, Kahana, Kapalua, Lahaina, and Napili. There's Kihei and Wailea on the South. The thread I read made Kihei sound lovely, but a lot of what I've read suggests that the South is really crowded and touristy.

We'd like to spend around $1200 for seven nights. It's important that we're within strolling distance of a pretty, comfortable, paddle about in the water and lie on the sand beach. We'd really love a patio. Access to a pool would be nice.

I plan on cooking a fair bit, so we need to be within an reasonable drive of a grocery store, but we'd also like to be a walk/easy drive from restaurants and other shopping.

We'd prefer something not super crazy crowded with tourists. We don't surf and don't have kids. We're basically lounge around somewhere romantic and picturesque, reading a book and sipping a cocktail types. Any recommendations for the town or condo complex that would suit us best?
posted by mostlymartha to Travel & Transportation around Maui, HI (23 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Stayed in Kihei back in April. Either Kihei or Kaanapali fits the bill with Kihei a little less pricey. BEST beach on the island for lounging, playing in the surf, snorkeling, is Wailea Beach south of Kihei. Any beach place you go in the price range you are talking about is going to be crowded so let go of that dream. You would have to pay upwards of $300 a night for uncrowded condo areas. My favorite site for researching Hawaii is the forums on TripAdvisor.com. Have a lovely time.
posted by eleslie at 2:44 PM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't know if this is an option, but based on your description of what you're looking for I'd recommend Kauai over Maui.
posted by doctord at 2:49 PM on June 15, 2010

Response by poster: doctord, we'd been looking at Kauai, but descriptions of rocky beaches, frequent rain, and a general sense of outdoorsy rusticness kind of turned us off. If that's not really the case, we'd very much welcome area recommendations for Kauai as well.
posted by mostlymartha at 3:01 PM on June 15, 2010

I'm planning to head over to Nā Pali late this summer so I've been looking around for vacation rentals. I was surprised to see many affordable and cool cottages on airbnb and not just private rooms as I previously thought. Several of the ones I looked at have nice kitchens and the owners I've talked to are pretty helpful.
posted by special-k at 3:03 PM on June 15, 2010

I stayed at Kaanapali many moons ago for my honeymoon and I really liked it. If you have a rental car you can go to Lahaina and be touristy and rent gear and then head back to the beaches. I found Kaanapali to be not crazy crowded in August. The beaches were lovely. I recommend exploring the island to find less crowded beaches and coves. Many if not all of the condos/hotels there seemed to have a pool.

More expensive but probably loads more private with not much to do but eat well and explore the beaches is to go to the island of Lanai. Maybe you could do that for just part of your stay for the desert island effect. I've not done this but had friends that splurged and spent their whole honeymoon there. Their photos looked amazing. I think they did get a bit bored by Day 5, though.
posted by amanda at 3:14 PM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you plan on cooking, you should pack an extra suitcase full of supplies, or ship one ahead of time. By the time things get shipped all the way out there from the mainland, everything is a luxury.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:18 PM on June 15, 2010

When are you going? Prices will differ.

If you definitely want to be able to just walk to a nice beach, then don't go to the place I mentioned in the other thread. (On the other hand, if you do eventually decide to drop that criterion for some reason, then I'd definitely recommend it--it fits all your other criteria nicely.)
posted by equalpants at 3:18 PM on June 15, 2010

Response by poster: Did I not mention we're going in September? Guess I didn't. But, yeah, September. Airfare from San Francisco to Hawaii gets quite reasonable after Labor Day. And yeah, equalpants, walking to the beach is important. We don't have to be smack on the sand outside our bedroom door, but we don't want to have to drive to the beach and then feel stuck there all day.
posted by mostlymartha at 3:24 PM on June 15, 2010

My wife and i honeymooned at the Hotel Hana http://hotelhanamaui.com/ It was the most amazing place. No Tv's, No alarm clocks. Snorkling and hiking close by.
posted by Paleoindian at 3:32 PM on June 15, 2010

> I stayed at Kaanapali many moons ago for my honeymoon and I really liked it. If you have a rental car you can go to Lahaina and be touristy and rent gear and then head back to the beaches. I found Kaanapali to be not crazy crowded in August. The beaches were lovely. I recommend exploring the island to find less crowded beaches and coves. Many if not all of the condos/hotels there seemed to have a pool.

This x2. We enjoyed our honeymoon in Kaanapali 17 years ago this August. We did a few touristy things, but overall we just enjoyed a lot of quiet time in a beautiful setting. Good memories :-)
posted by mosk at 3:34 PM on June 15, 2010

Whoops, forgot to mention about the crowds. I'm not really an expert or anything, so take this with a grain of salt, but of the portions of Hawaii that I've been to, the Kona side of the big island definitely wins in the lounging-around, relaxing-on-the-beach department. (Especially this beach. It's in an outrageously expensive resort, but there is public access.)

on preview:

Hmm, I got nothin', then. I've only driven to the beaches. Sorry!
posted by equalpants at 3:36 PM on June 15, 2010

I live on Maui. I recommend the Mana Kai. It is the last resort-type place in Kihei before Wailea. There is a nice beach and a small pool. I really do not like Kihei much. It is overbuilt and very crowded. But I would recommend the Mana Kai.

The beaches at Kaanapali are much nicer. If you want to go the the west side (Kaanapali side) try the Napali Point Resort. It is further up the coast from Kaanapali, but I like the area more.

Wailea is probably the nicest area to stay on Maui, but it is expensive. As for a hotel, if you can afford it, the Kea Lani is really nice. It fronts a nice beach and is near a lot of other interesting beaches and natural areas.

The Pioneer Inn is in the historic town of Lahaina (the entire town is a National Historic Site). If you like history and a noisy, funky town, it might be fun for you. It does not have a beach.

All the beaches on Maui are public. So even if your condo or hotel does not front a great beach, you can still go to one. Do not stay at the Maui Beach or the Maui Seaside. They are in the port town of Kahului and fairly depressing.
posted by fifilaru at 3:36 PM on June 15, 2010

I would have recommended the Hotel Hana, but is going through a bankruptcy. I would avoid it right now.
posted by fifilaru at 3:37 PM on June 15, 2010

what fifilaru said. I'd recommend Wailea if you can afford it, Kihei if you want something that's less Thurston Howell III-esque. Full disclosure: I stayed 2 weeks over Xmas/New Year's at the Wailea Beach Resort Marriott a few years back and it was stunningly drop-dead gorgeous plus everything-you-want amenities, solitude and walk-out-your-door-to-the-beach kinda thing, but OMGEXPENSIVE.
posted by lonefrontranger at 3:47 PM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's me again. I forgot this:

If you want something quite different try Ocean Breezes. It is literally right next door to where I used to live. It is in the jungle-ly part of Maui. The owners are really nice, the property is really nice, and the pool is really nice. There is no beach, in fact, the nearest swimming beach is Baldwin Beach Park, about 10 miles away. But this place is awesome, no crowds, no other tourists, nothing but peace and solitude. It is "the real" Maui. I find it dreamy. Anyway, memail me if you have any questions.
posted by fifilaru at 4:00 PM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you're going to be there seven nights, I'd recommend moving once. Find the beach place you like (lots of suggestions above) and then head up country for a night or two. I generally stay at the Kula Lodge, which has nice, somewhat small rooms and a good restaurant. Kula is on the way up to Haleakala, which you'll probably want to check out anyhow. Threre's not a hell of a lot to do in Kula but walk around the neighborhood and enjoy the general Maui-ness of everything, but you could spend a day there. There's a winery up the road a ways in Ulupalakua if you're into pineapple wine.
posted by lex mercatoria at 4:18 PM on June 15, 2010

My parents have a condo just north of Kaanapali; I've been there quite a bit over the years. Never spent any time near Kihei or on the other islands, so can't really give you much info about how they would compare, but can tell you quite a bit about the west side from a tourist's point of view.

Re having to drive to the beach: Don't worry about this, it will not be an issue. There's nothing inland tourists will be interested in; you'll likely spend your entire vacation within a stone's throw of the water. Ditto grocery shopping: if you have a rental car (and you probably should) there is easy shopping readily available anywhere. If you rent a timeshare or condo you'll have your own kitchen and dishes and the like. Ditto pools. You'd have to try pretty hard to find a place without a pool.

Lahaina: Busy tourist town. Go there once to browse the shops and art galleries; it's fun enough, but you probably don't want to stay right in town.

Kaanapali used to be sort of quiet and underdeveloped. This is no longer the case. At all. It's nice enough, the beaches are good and it doesn't feel shoulder-to-shoulder crowded -- you won't be stuck putting your beach towel two inches from speedo-guy's sandy toes or anything like that -- but don't go in expecting untracked sand and total privacy; a lot of hotel towers and golf courses have gone up in the last few years. Whaler's Village near Kaanapali is sort of an upscale outdoor mall; nice restaurants, good but pricy hotels. (I'm getting way too specific at this point, but there's a good place called Leilani's on the beach side; if you go, make sure you go into the building to the upstairs half; it's pricier but much much better food than the crowded patio downstairs.)

Napili is less developed and quieter than Kaanapali or Lahaina, but depending on where you're staying the beaches can be more rocky tidepool than sand. (On the other hand, you'll see a lot of sea turtles. I don't know what happened recently but it's like a turtle invasion up there.)

South of Lahaina is a long stretch of beautiful beach used mostly by locals; there are no hotels at all down there. If you're feeling too crowded in just hop in the car, go south, and pull over wherever.

One last thing: everybody jokes about the road to Hana. Do it anyway. The drive is gorgeous; the east half of the island is totally different from the west, it's all rainforest and waterfalls and people selling fresh fruit from their back yards. Don't worry about getting all the way to Hana if you don't feel like it, it's not much of a destination, but the journey makes a nice break for the day when you're too sunburned to stay on the beach.
posted by ook at 5:40 PM on June 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Long time Maui resident here. Per the previous thread you linked and my comments therein. You would be very happy at Maui Kamaole Condominiums. It's mixed use residents and visitors and an upscale happy place with all age demographics and very well designed. I can honestly say it is the nicest place I've ever lived. Its right on th cusp of the Wailea Resort and has some of the most beautiful beaches on Maui just across the road. You can walk miles in either direction along little trails that link one breathtaking beach after another, It is the sunniest part of Maui WITH a breeze. Kapalua, Naplili, Kahana, Honokowai, even Kaanapali are ok but you need to DRIVE everywhere if you want to get away from high priced tourist traps and resorts. This is also a rainier part of the island. Kaanapali Beach is not a local favorite. We leave that one to the tourists with good reason; we know its not that great a beach (blowing sand in the afternoon). Kihei is a nice mix of locals and tourists with everything within walking distance like health food store, coffee shops etc. You still have the high priced resorts like Wailea (where the Four Seasons is, etc.) literally within walking distance if you want a taste for the lush resort life. Wailea is a newer resort area. Kaanapali older. Mail me if you need more suggestions.
posted by Muirwylde at 9:00 PM on June 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

And It's not busy on Maui at all. Like everywhere, the economic downturn has affected us. Beaches are quite empty and the roads quite tolerable. As pleasant as I've seen it in a long time. It's a great time to visit.
posted by Muirwylde at 9:05 PM on June 15, 2010

One tip re cooking: Star Market is good for most stuff, but if you're a foodie (or you're looking for things you can get in the Bay Area but can't find at Star Market -- last time I was there it was the only place I could find ginger beer, e.g.) Mana Foods in Paia is your friend.

Actually, you should check out Paia regardless of whether or not you go food shopping there. Hands down my favorite spot on the island.
posted by asterix at 12:06 AM on June 16, 2010

I stayed in Kihei a few years ago and while there were plenty of tourists about, nothing was ever too crowded (and I hate crowds.)

You should know that waves can be pretty intense (like knock you down intense) so your paddles in the water might not be super-comfortable.
posted by callmejay at 6:20 AM on June 16, 2010

I stayed at this condo for a few nights and really liked it. It was much calmer than a hotel and had a nice public beach literally next door (so you could wade over). The little one bedroom places are nice--I had one with a garden view and really enjoyed sitting on the porch and checking out the waterfall/pond view.
posted by cndelia at 4:29 PM on June 20, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks all! We plugged everything y'all said into our Research-A-Tron, and in the end, the Maui Kamaole in Kihei won! It's got access to restaurants and shopping without being in a giant resort with exorbitant fees, is across the street from Kam III beach and a quick jaunt to others, and has beautiful grounds. We got a really fantastic deal on a condo that looks lovely and is owned by two very nice, very easy to work with people.

For future reference, if you're ever looking for great deals to Hawaii, traveling immediately after Labor Day is a really good idea.
posted by mostlymartha at 12:01 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

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