Maui, Part I: Checking into the Royal Lahaina & Makena Beach

It all started with the coolest wedding invitation we have received.  This invitation didn’t arrive in a regular flat envelope.  It arrived in a small box.  And instead of being printed on paper, it was carved out of wood! The invitation, made by the groom himself, was for Gary’s wedding in Maui.  When we got the invite I said, “I guess we better think about it and see if we can go.”  But George replied, “I’m going, you can come with me if you like.”  So it was decided, we were going to Maui!  Neither of us had been to Maui before, and it’s nice to have an excuse to take a tropical vacation!

July 4, 2011

Our flight departed LAX on the morning of July 4th and we arrived in Kahului Airport by mid day.  We picked up our rental car and stopped off for lunch in Kahului at Ba-Le on Dairy Road, a Vietnamese/ French restaurant in the food court at Maui Marketplace,  with surprisingly tasty sandwiches!  They were reasonably priced, too.

After eating we drove to Kaanapali on the West side of Maui, to see if our room was ready at the Royal Lahaina.  We chose to stay at the Royal Lahaina Resort, since it was close to Kahekili Beach Park, where the wedding was to be held, and in the more affordable range of accommodations.  From the reviews it  sounded like the two towers were nice, but the cottages were run down and didn’t keep the mosquitoes out.  We had reserved a room in one of the towers with a garden view, but I was skeptical as to whether they would honor our reservation.  When we first tried to check in it was still well before 3pm and the rooms hadn’t been cleaned yet.  We were told we’d have to wait 45 minutes and that we could have lunch at their restaurant.  We explained that we had just eaten lunch on the way there and then-ring- the receptionist got a call that a partial-ocean-view room was ready.  And so we were upgraded to a room with a view and got to check in right away!

I was pleasantly surprised when we saw our room.  It was the nicest place we’d stayed at in a long time!  Even in Hawaii we like to go with budget accommodations, knowing that we won’t spend much of our time in the room.  And I had gotten accustomed to $7/night rooms in India, so by comparison, this was luxury!  There was a nice clean bathroom with coconut scented toiletries, wooden furniture, a flat screen TV, a large bed tidily made up with bring white sheets, and a balcony with chairs and a table, from which to enjoy the view of the ocean.  I got right to unpacking our suitcases and moving into our new home for a week.  After a short nap it was time to go for a walk to explore the beach!

Tower at Royal Lahaina Resort

To get to the beach we just had to walk through the pool area and…

Heidi near the pool area at Royal Lahaina Resort

..ta-da!  The ocean!

Beach in Ka'anapali in front of Royal Lahaina, looking towards Black Rock

We both were trying to keep open minds about the beaches in Maui and not act too jaded, but the beach was quite a bit smaller than expected, and that sand just wasn’t the powdery soft sand like in Thailand.  Once you’ve been to Thailand, it’s just hard for anything else to compare.  But we were here to enjoy the beach, so on we ventured down the beach towards Black Rock.

g&h on the beach in Ka'anapali, Maui

That evening we were still tired from our early morning flight, so we decided just to eat dinner at the restaurant at our hotel, instead of driving into town.  The food at the Royal Ocean Terrace Restaurant and Lounge wasn’t that good.  George’s pasta tasted about equivalent to Pasta Roni from a box, so we decided not to eat there again.  The set-up is also a bit strange, since people going back to their rooms from the pool walk through the dining area.  The best part of the meal was the torch lighting ceremony and the hula dancer performing.  Welcome to Hawaii!

July 5, 2011

The next day it was time for an adventure!  With only one week in Maui we would have to pack the sightseeing in to see all the places we hoped to visit.  A week may be a normal amount of vacation time for an American, but we had gotten used to extended trips, where we would spend up to a month in one location.  I was glad I had convinced George to make the trip 7 days instead of just 6, since it didn’t add that much more onto the package price. (We paid for the plane tickets, hotel and car rental as a package through Expedia.)

Our first outing was to Makena Beach (Big Beach) on the south side of Maui, in search of sea turtles.

Makena Beach (Big Beach), Maui

We didn’t find any sea turtles here.  The waves were breaking on the beach so strongly that it was difficult to get into the water with flippers on, so we didn’t snorkel for very long.  We sun bathed on the beach for a while until the afternoon wind got so strong that we were getting sand blasted.

g&h with Makena Beach (Big Beach) in the background

Then we decided to walk to the more secluded Little Beach.  BEWARE: Some patrons of Little Beach like to go nude.  The conditions were a bit better at Little Beach, with less wind and not quite as strong waves.

Later that afternoon we headed back up to the northwest side to checkout Dragon’s Teeth which is located behind the Ritz Carlton.

Dragon's Teeth

I thought George might be able to get some cool photos there, but he wasn’t too impressed.  So we just took a quick look and headed back to our hotel.

For dinner we went into Lahaina, intending to eat at a restaurant on the ocean, but the wait was super long and the staff disinterested in our business.  So we ended up at Aloha Mixed Plate, where we enjoyed both the food and service.  Be prepared to wait 45 minutes to an hour for dinner in Lahaina!

Sunset while waiting for dinner in Lahaina
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