Hotel Review: Napili Kai Beach Resort

I’d be lying if I didn’t say this was our favorite place we stayed on Maui.  The Napili Kai staff welcomed us warmly and authentically.  They congratulated us on winning the trip from the MVCB, which I thought was a nice touch.  The spirit of aloha runs through the place.  Staff were happy and smiling.  They really seemed to like their jobs and their guests.  The guests were nice.  People acknowledged our presence with a smile or a “hello”, which was definitely lacking in other places we stayed.  Families were playing on the beach together and not having public meltdowns like we had witnessed elsewhere.

View from the front door. (Photo provided by Napili Kai Beach Resort)
View from the lanai. (Photo provided by Napili Kai Beach Resort)

Our condo was a very well designed studio with a functional bathroom and kitchen.  It was small but it never felt like it was too small.  There was a small lanai where we were able to lounge and watch the ocean while sipping coffee in the mornings.  Oh, did I mention we took full advantage of the free coffee and tea in the main lobby every morning?  There are many activities for guests to take part in at the resort.  On Wednesday nights, guests have the option to mix and mingle with each other and resort management while sipping on free mai tais. We ran into a few Oregonians, including a gentleman and his wife celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.  During the weekdays at 10a, a member of the staff gives a presentation on different aspects of Hawaiian culture. We were able to attend one on spear fishing which I found to be informative and interesting. Beach towels, snorkel masks and coolers are available for use by guests, and if you need flippers, you can rent those at Snorkel Bob’s just down the street.  I didn't get a chance to try out the putting green, but it looked like a lot of fun.

Spear Fishing Presentation

The Sea House Restaurant on site has a full menu featuring breakfast, lunch and dinner plus a happy hour menu full of locally sourced food.  We were fortunate to experience two meals at the Sea House Restaurant.  

Our first meal was breakfast.  Breakfast is one of my favorite meals of the day, as I have said here before.  There is a reason the Sea House Restaurant has been selected Maui No Ka 'Oi Magazine's 2011 'Aipono Gold Award for "Best Breakfast".  The food was delicious.  There were so many choices and everything looked so good, it was hard to decide.  I finally settled on the Haleakala Pancake, which isn't a true pancake, per se.  It's an oven baked pancake from a custard batter with caramelized cinnamon sugar, pineapples and bananas.  And it was huge!  I could barely eat all of it.  It took up an entire plate and was about an inch thick.  
Haleakala Pancake.  Absolutely delicious!
 We spent our last evening in Maui at the Sea House Restaurant having pupus (small plates) and drinks to celebrate the end of our trip.  I'm also a big fan of a good happy hour with reasonably priced food and drinks.  We found both of these things at the Sea House.  We were fortunate to get a seat outside with a lovely view of the ocean and each selected a couple of pupus to get started.  I had the coconut shrimp and the poke nachos.  For dessert, I tried the pineapple tiramisu.  My travel partner had the butter lettuce wraps and Molokai sweet potato quesadilla, followed by the chocolate lava cake for dessert.  All of these pupus were served quickly and with a nice presentation.  I really loved the poke nachos.  It was a creative way to eat poke (which I love!) and if I hadn't stuffed myself with everything else, I would have had a second order!


Coconut Shrimp
Poke Nachos
Pinapple Tiramisu
Molokai Sweet Potato Quesadilla & Butter Lettuce Wraps
Chocolate Lava Cake
Fruity drinks!
Our final sunset in Maui was a memorable one.  It was preceded by a twenty minute rain storm and then it stopped pouring down long enough so we could take pictures like this:
A perfect ending to a perfect stay at Napili Kai Beach Resort.


Resort Information: Napili Kai Beach Resort, 5900 Lower Honoapiilani Road, Lahaina, HI 96761, (808) 669-6271 


This trip was won by me from the Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau.  This was NOT a press trip.  There was no expectation or requirement for me to write about my experiences, but I am.  Accommodations, car rental, airfare and snorkeling trip for two were all a part of the package.  I brought along a good friend of mine who shares a similar travel philosophy.  The original trip was for six nights, but we paid out of pocket for two extra nights accommodations and car rental.  We were responsible for all of our food (except for breakfast at the Sea House Restaurant), gas and other expenses while on the island.  All opinions are mine and you will find me to be quite honest about my experiences.

A Taste of Maui: Kihei Caffe

Kihei Caffe was another gem I found on A Maui Blog.  I love breakfast.  It's one of my favorite meals of the day.  Sometimes I even eat breakfast for dinner, I love it so much.  I knew I wanted to eat out for breakfast a few times while in Maui.  Kihei Caffe made my list when I knew we would be spending two nights in Kihei and because the prices are perfect.
Be sure to order inside before taking a table.  This place gets packed in the morning!

We were lucky there wasn't much of a line when we arrived.  We had enough time to scan the menu on the wall before stepping up to the counter to order.  I was torn between the banana/macadamia nut french toast and the pineapple/coconut french toast.  I asked for advice from the woman at the counter and without hesitation she ordered the banana/macadamia nut french toast!  I also ordered a glass of POG, the nectar of the gods in Maui (passioinfruit, orange, guava juice) and a cherry turnover to go for later in the day.

The menu is simple and delicious.
After ordering, we found a seat outside and in a very short amount of time, our food came out.  It looked amazing and I was wondering how I was going to eat it all.  I noticed there was a syrup container nearby but it had an opaque white liquid in it. I wasn't quite sure what it was, but I was suspicious it might be a coconut-based syrup for the french toast.  There wasn't anyone around to ask, so I grabbed it and poured a quarter-sized bit of it on my plate and dipped my finger in to taste.  Sure enough, I was right!  Coconut syrup!  My day became a 100% better after that.  The french toast was perfectly cooked.  It was not too mushy inside and had just the right amount of batter on it, grilled to a light, golden brown on the outside.  I devoured it in one sitting, dipping each piece into the coconut syrup I poured on the side of my plate.  If I didn't have manners, I would have licked the plate too, it was so good.

Look at that! All kinds of deliciousness on one plate.
Location: Kihei Caffe, 945 South Kihei Road, Kihei, Hawaii 96753 (open 5a-3p daily)

This trip was won by me from the Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau.  This was NOT a press trip.  There was no expectation or requirement for me to write about my experiences, but I am.  Accommodations, car rental, airfare and snorkeling trip for two were all a part of the package.  I brought along a good friend of mine who shares a similar travel philosophy.  The original trip was for six nights, but we paid out of pocket for two extra nights accommodations and car rental.  We were responsible for all of our food, gas and other expenses while on the island.  All opinions are mine and you will find me to be quite honest about my experiences.

A Taste of Maui: Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop

Before I left for Hawaii I made sure to check out local Maui bloggers.  There are quite a few.  One of the best ones is A Maui Blog, written by Liza.  The best part of Liza's blog is her "Where Locals Eat" section.  I made an extensive list from her recommendations.  When I travel, I try to eat local as much as possible.  In Maui, it was the only cost-effective way to eat.

One of the first places we ate was Leoda's Kitchen & Pie Shop, just south of Lahaina.  It's easy to miss if you don't know where it's at.  We actually drove right by it on accident.  Leoda's has been open since November 2011 and from what I can tell, the majority of tourists haven't caught on to what an awesome place it is...or maybe it's just far enough outside Lahaina, they don't know it's there.
Seating area.
Water station with biodegradable cups!
Closing time, pie choices were limited but still delicious!
They are known for their sweet and savory hand pies, along with sandwiches, burgers and salads.  Prices range from $3.75 for a mini pie to $15.50 for their cheese steak sandwich.  I went for the chicken pot pie and washed it down with a Vanilla Bean Dry Soda.  We took a 5" berry pie home for dessert (and they even included some whipped cream on the side!).  The chicken pot pie was delicious.  It featured a flaky, savory crust with plenty of chicken and veggies inside.  I was completely stuffed after eating it.  The berry pie was equally delicious with a light, flaky crust and perfectly sweet berries.

Chicken Pot Pie with a Dry Vanilla Bean Soda
The best part about Leoda's is the friendly staff willing to give their recommendations.  I really liked the vibe, too.  It reminded me of a restaurant I would find back home in Portland.  For a split second, I actually thought I had time-traveled home.  Bonus points for having biodegradable water cups, as well as using locally sourced food!

How to find it: If you are heading towards Lahaina, it will be on the right hand side of the road (820 Olowalu Road).  It's easy to miss and I found that Google Maps on my cell phone was slightly off.  If you see the fruit stand, you've driven too far!  If you are coming from Lahaina, then you'll know about the grove of trees along the highway.  As soon as you start seeing a lot of trees, slow down and start looking to your left.  There are no places to turn around if you miss it!

A Taste of Maui: Tasaka Guri Guri



Before I left for Maui, I had dinner with a friend who is from Hawaii to get some "local" tips of things to do.  One of the top things he listed was to pay a visit to Tasaka Guri Guri.  It's one of those places I am hesitant to talk about (kind of like Dave from whatsdavedoing) because it's one of those places the locals seem to know about and maybe it would be a good idea if not everyone knew about it.  But I can't help myself from sharing.
Look for this sign in the Maui Mall.
This is the two-scoop cup.
Guri guri is a frozen treat best described as "a little heaven in a dixie cup".  There are two flavors, strawberry and pineapple.  It is served in a dixie cup which is sized based on how many scoops you get.  Scoops are $0.60 each, and we usually had two scoops when we stopped in.  Yes, you heard that right.  I think we went there at least three times.  I tried to come up with excuses to go through Kahului so we could stop.  On a warm day, it's the perfect treat to satiate a sweet tooth and nosh on something cool.


How to find it: Head to the Maui Mall (70 E Kaahumanu Ave) and park near Long's Drugstore and Whole Foods.  If you are in the parking lot and see the Whole Foods on the left and the Long's Drugstore on the right, go straight, then take a right and you will see Tasaka Guri Guri at the end on the right, next to the pet store.

Hotel Review: Makena Surf

Our second stay in Maui was at Makena Surf, located just south of Wailea and about as far south as you can get in West Maui before hitting dirt road.  Our condo was a spacious 2 BR, 2 BA unit on the ground floor with a view of the ocean.  It was in close proximity to the pool and hot tub, which we took full advantage of on our first night.  Our next door neighbors were a Canadian family from Calgary, Alberta, otherwise, we didn’t really see anyone else while we stayed there.  This particular resort area is known for being quiet and relaxing...and it was.  The condo came fully equipped with every amenity one would find in their own home, including a washer and dryer.  Our favorite part of the condo was the lanai (patio) featuring a propane grill and outdoor furniture.  We used the grill to make a delicious meal after a day spent hiking around Haleakala National Park.
Master bedroom.
The kitchen.
The lanai.  Perfect for hanging out and grillin'.
       
Due to the nature of our trip, we were moving every two days to different properties.  This proved a bit of a challenge because we were hesitant to leave our luggage in the car while we were out and about sightseeing due to high break-in rates on the island.  We really appreciated the flexibility of the folks at Destination Resorts (who manage Makena Surf).  They allowed us to drop off our bags early so we could spend our day in Upcountry before checking in.  David and his co-workers were easy to work with and very welcoming when we arrived.  They even delivered our bags to the condo, so all we had to do was pick up our keys and head over to the property after a long day of sightseeing.
    
Would I recommend this resort?  Most definitely. This is the place to go if you enjoy solitude. It is quiet with plenty of space in between condo units.  It’s really close to Big Beach and some great snorkeling. The condos are the perfect size for a small group of friends or a family.  There is a high end shopping mall in Wailea and regular grocery stores in Kihei, about fifteen minutes away.
My most favorite sunset picture in Maui.  This capped off a long day hiking in Haleakala NP.
Resort Information: Makena Surf,34 Wailea Gateway Place, Suite A102, Wailea, Maui, HI, (808) 891-6200 

This trip was won by me from the Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau.  This was NOT a press trip.  There was no expectation or requirement for me to write about my experiences, but I am.  Accommodations, car rental, airfare and snorkeling trip for two were all a part of the package.  I brought along a good friend of mine who shares a similar travel philosophy.  The original trip was for six nights, but we paid out of pocket for two extra nights accommodations and car rental.  We were responsible for all of our food, gas and other expenses while on the island.  All opinions are mine and you will find me to be quite honest about my experiences.