Kapalua Resort on Maui is a truly beautiful place with beautiful beaches, luxurious resorts, comfy condos, great restaurants and championship golf courses.
In my previous post, I shared about our nice condo in Maui on our trip back in May, and one of the aspects that made this particular condo experience one of our nicest ones to date was beautiful Kapalua resort itself, where our condo was located.
Kapalua is the last resort area in the northwest corner of Maui, past the popular Kaanapali and Kahana resort areas. While those last two areas are more densely populated, Kapalua is further out and away from most of the heavier traffic, and it also sits in one of the prettiest areas of any of the Hawaiian islands we’ve visited. Various sites and places in Kapalua have won awards for quality, and we understand why now. Kapalua is a special place of conservation and preservation, not just a tourist destination. The Pu’u Kukui Preserve at Kapalua is one of the largest nature preserves in Hawaii, and unfortunately, we did not make it there on our trip.
Kapalua has so much to offer, including truly fabulous beaches, beautiful natural scenery and amazing landscaping, golf courses, two luxury hotels and condos/villas in two different locations – Kapalua Accommodations, good restaurants in varying price ranges in both the resort and the hotels, a nice store for groceries and souvenirs, concierge services, a free resort shuttle and a more upscale store for clothing and other items. There are also a couple of small churches, including one that was quite picturesque on Mother’s Day morning.
While other resort areas on the island have activity until well after dark, Kapalua is more peaceful and quiet, since most everything shuts down early in the evening, except the nicer restaurants. I should mention that the five-hour time difference from home, for us, was actually a great thing. While we adapted a bit to the time change, we had no problem getting up early in the mornings, relatively speaking, which enabled us to have the entire day without feeling like we actually got up early. Coming home? Well, that was a different story as far as jet lag!
We visited the three beaches in at Kapalua for the first time, D. T. Fleming Beach, Oneloa Bay and Kapalua Bay, and on a previous trip, we also went snorkeling at nearby Honolua Bay with friends. Honolua Bay is just north of the resort area and is a little harder to access, but it is a gorgeous place. Honolua Bay and Mokule‘ia Bay, both Hawaii State Marine Life Conservation Districts, are amazing places and with ancient lava formations, coral formations and great marine life. It is a must see place, in my opinion, but on this trip, we opted to see new beaches and forego snorkeling. We also visited Napili Beach on this most recent trip, which is not far from Kapalua Bay and is very nice.
We chose D. T. Fleming Beach for our one afternoon at the beach during our trip, and we had so much fun playing in the waves there. It was nice to also have big shade trees, picnic tables and public restroom facilities nearby there. If we return to Maui sometime, we will try to spend more time Kapalua Bay, if possible. Oneloa Beach is a bit rough for swimming with no life guard on duty, but it is amazingly beautiful with its beautiful protected sand dunes. We had a great view of Oneloa Bay from our condo, too.
All beaches in Hawaii are public beaches, even the beaches that front the nicest hotels, and we liked the beaches at Kapalua better than any other beaches we visited on our previous trips to Maui.
The two golf courses at Kapalua, the Bay Course and the Plantation Course, are amazingly beautiful, and the Plantation Course is a PGA course where the Hyundai Tournament of Champions is played. But not only are these courses beautiful, they are both certified sanctuaries by Audubon International, “protecting 23 species of birds and helping preserve native plants and habitats,” according to Kapalua.com. The tall Cook pine trees lined most all of the courses in both locations and are quite a sight to see.
I hope to share about the Kapalua Coastal Trail in a separate post soon, as it was a great hike along the ocean. It is not your typical hike, and we truly enjoyed hiking the entire trail twice during our stay.
A great stopover at SFO, followed by a great flight with amazing window views at sunset over the Pacific Ocean
Our journey to Maui took us on a slightly different flight path this time, as we intentionally opted to travel through San Francisco International Airport instead of Los Angeles International Airport. The more I fly through SFO, the more I like it and appreciate what it has to offer. It is such a great airport with awesome traveler comforts, like comfortable seating areas, great shops and restaurants and many electrical outlets to recharge a phone or laptop and easy gate connections, at least for what we’ve needed in the past. If possible, we will likely connect through SFO on any future trips when possible, too.
Let me add how very difficult it is to stay on a low-carb eating plan while in San Francisco, the home of Boudin, even when at the airport there. I love how so many airports these days really reflect the food culture of their area in a quality way, and SFO is a great example. I took a one-week break during this special trip and made a vow to walk as much as I could while we were gone to help mitigate the effects of that decision, with good results.
We did not see our bay area kids on this trip, which was the only sad part of the trip for me. It was all the worse when our plane flew right over the area where they live, too. I was just there a month earlier, though, so I really should not complain.
For me, the highlight of the flight to Maui was the most amazing golden hour over the Pacific Ocean. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a magnificent display of transitional color from an airplane window, or anywhere else for that matter. I literally watched the sky and ocean go from their normal hues to varying golden shades over the course of about thirty minutes, snapping pictures with my trusty camera phone. Yes, I am that annoying person that routinely takes pictures from my window on the airplane, even though in this case, I doubt my photos can even begin to accurately convey what I saw. Watching the Belt of Venus appear and then disappear was just fabulous.
I had no clue at the time that this was going to just be the first of many amazing times at sunset for us during our week in Maui. We made a point to be in some great viewing spots each evening around sunset as much as possible, and what a memorable time we enjoyed every single evening. Our sunset memories will definitely be one of my special memories from this trip, and I’m looking forward to sharing those experiences here soon!
A pictorial overview of our wonderful week in Maui
What a wonderful time we had on our week-long trip to Maui back in mid-May! It was a much-needed getaway for both of us, and Hawaii did not disappoint once again. Even though Kauai has been our go-to destination in the islands in more recent years, we thoroughly enjoyed returning to Maui after a twenty-year absence. We had no digital photos of Maui, so it was also a great opportunity to put my camera to work once again after putting it away for too long.
I have so many photos and stories from the trip, and for that reason, I will share our Hawaiian escapades in a series of posts as time permits. This was also the last time that I used my Canon Rebel XTi, so this project will also be a little tribute to the wonderful years I spent with my first good camera. I learned a lot about photography with that trusty camera, often the hard way, and I hope to continue learning even more with my new camera and lenses. We even took some pretty decent photos with our phone cameras when I didn’t have the good camera with me. My goodness, how phone cameras have improved in recent years. They still don’t do the great job that my good camera does, but it’s so nice to always have a camera with us.
Below are some of the places we saw and things we did during our week in Maui, along with some teaser photos. Items denoted with * were new experiences for us, while others were repeats of favorite places and things to do. Most of these topics will probably make an appearance in a later post, as most are fun, interesting, touching or beautiful in their own way.
Haleakala National Park and Crater*
(aka Driving from Sea Level to 10,000 Feet in an Hour) The Epic Road to Hana – Indescribable Beauty* Hiking at Wai’anapanana State Park near Hana* Beautiful Kapalua Resort* Our Nice Condo* Hiking the Kapalua Coastal Trail*
(Not your typical hiking trail) World Famous Beaches of Kapalua* Quintessential Hawaii – Old Lahaina Town at Sunset The Historic Banyan Tree in Old Lahaina Town The Terrifying Forbidden Drive* My Spa Day – Relaxing and Refreshing* Epic Hawaiian Sunsets* Our Journey to Maui* Mother’s Day Sunset Dinner The Best Restaurant in the World, Seriously
(Happy Birthday to Me!) Plantation Dining* Our Hawaiian Pizza Tradition* Breakfast with the Birds Flowers of Maui A Bittersweet Mother’s Day*
An Unexpected Gift* Memories of Days Gone By in Maui
We had no set plans for our time in Maui, with the exception of two necessary dinner reservations on Mother’s Day and our departure day for my birthday dinner, but despite our lack of planning, our week ended up being a great combination of leisurely mornings at the condo, followed by activities that we felt like doing each day. In hindsight, our daily activities ended up being a great itinerary for anyone that would like to visit Maui, as we ended up doing and seeing more than either of us originally thought we would and never got tired doing it. There is only one thing we did that I would not recommend at all. You can likely guess what it was by the items I listed above. Let’s just say that I will never solely rely on Garmin when driving in Hawaii in the future.
May always brings Mother’s Day and my birthday about a week later, and May also seems to be a good time for Hubby to take off from work, and we’ve definitely learned that it is advantageous to visit popular summer destinations in May before vacation crowds hit. Taking a long trip in May, then again around the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, works well for us these days, and we use our remaining vacation days with weekends and holidays in the RV the rest of the year. Combining days off with weekends and holidays has helped us to really maximize our travel opportunities and keep Hubby from losing so many vacation days each year.
As we discussed where to go and what to do for our week of vacation in May this year, I told Hubby that all I wanted to do was be gone on Mother’s Day weekend and hopefully the following week, if possible. I didn’t care where we went, as long as I didn’t have to spend that weekend at home for my first Mother’s Day without my mom. I suspected that this would be a hard time, and I was correct in that assumption. I probably even underestimated how hard it is right now leading up to this first Mother’s Day without Mom. The closer we get to Mother’s Day, the harder it is for me. I swear that Mother’s Day ads are everywhere! Mom’s marker was finally updated with her date of death last week, and that only seemed to really drive home the point that she is truly gone in my mind. It was really hard to drive out to the cemetery to take the updated photos, and I bawled like a baby while I was there. Fortunately, no one else was around to watch.
As we discussed travel options for our May trip a few weeks ago, we were looking forward to possibly finding yet another new RV destination to explore. We started discussing some options to visit a new Texas state park or two in the RV or even fly back to Denver and see Rocky Mountain National Park again, as well as more of the Denver area. We even talked about booking a cruise. There were pros and cons of each option. Then, out of the blue, Hubby suggested a Hawaii do-over.
I first thought Hubby was kidding, and I reminded him that we just went to Kauai last year. After my mom fell early last year and fractured her hip, we completely cancelled our initial plans for a 35th anniversary trip consisting of a week in Kauai, followed by a weekend in the bay area to see the kids. A few months later, though, after she healed faster and better than expected, we re-booked a trip fairly last-minute in May, but we were only able to spend two days in Kauai before heading to the San Francisco area for the weekend and touring Big Sur with the kids. It was a great trip, especially our weekend with the kids when I felt much better, but we were both a little disappointed to not have spent more time in Hawaii as we originally planned. In addition to only having two days there, I was sick at my stomach for the entire five-hour flight from Los Angeles, that first night in Kauai, and part of our first day on the island.
Still, despite everything, we truly enjoyed our brief time in Kauai and even dined at one of our favorite little restaurants on our last night on the island after my stomach settled down for good.
Even though we adore Kauai, we decided to look at another island destination this time, since we visited Kauai last year, as brief as it was. Our second favorite island is Maui, so we looked at some lodging options and found what we believe will be a great one-bedroom condo for us for the week. We prefer condos when visiting Hawaii, and this should be a nice resort experience, suitable for the anniversary trip we really wanted last year. We have not visited Maui in about twenty years, when we took the kids on an island-hopping trip and saw Oahu, Kauai, Maui and Hawaii. What a fun trip that was, too.
We’ve both had a pretty rough year so far, and it will be good to just get away and hopefully decompress. I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as far as estate matters are concerned and closed my part on the rent house on Tuesday afternoon. After some out-of-town family members sign their documents and return them to the title company, the house will finally be mine. Hubby is nearing the completion of some extra job duties he temporarily inherited last year when another manager quit unexpectedly. The timing for that development was just terrible for him, but he made the most of it and did a great job, cleaning up a huge mess that the manager left behind, all while we dealt with Mom’s illness and passing.
I think I’ve underestimated what Mom’s passing has been like for my hubby, too. His mother passed away over a decade ago, so my Mom was our Mom for all that time. She spent all of her holidays with us, not just me, and I think he wants to just run away somewhere for the week like I do. We know what the first year is like after losing a parent, since we’ve done it three times before this year. It is just hard, so hard. I have also learned that after the first year, it does seem to get better, or at least be more tolerable, since all of the “first times without the parent” are finally over. New routines will have time to start developing, estate matters will be done, and life can go on. I know it’s going to be much different this year, though, since we no longer have any living parents. It is very different so far, to be perfectly honest, and it may take both of us longer to adapt this time. We’ll see.
Anyway, we are going to disappear for a week to paradise, leaving on the Saturday before Mother’s Day. I am so grateful that we can go back to Hawaii, especially right now. I have much to be thankful for these days, especially my hubby and my little family that I love with all my heart. While I wish we could all be together this week, just like we did a few years ago in Kauai in this same week, but perhaps we will find a way to make it happen sometime in the future. Our goal for this trip is to just relax and have some fun.
I never expected to return to Hawaii this year. Hawaii is a trip we only make every five years or so, if not longer. Hubby outdid himself this year by suggesting we go back, and I’m looking forward to a special week with him, for sure. Kauai (and Hawaii in general) is one of my all-time favorite “happy” places, and Hubby loves it there, too. It’s pretty much impossible to not be happy while in Hawaii, and I hope that proves to be true once again on this trip.
I have scheduled one post for next week about our most recent RV trip to Lake Colorado City State Park, but I will most likely be offline until we return to moderate comments and read posts by others. See you in a week, and Happy Mother’s Day!
“Two days in Kauai is better than no days in Kauai,” or at least that is what I kept telling myself after we had to change our outgoing flights due to inclement weather in Denver last month, causing us to lose the better part of a day on this fabulous island. We actually had three nights and two and a half days there, after the flight change, and we made the most of our brief time there, especially since this was our third trip to this special island.
On this particular trip, we wanted to just get away for a little relaxation and relaxed sightseeing before heading to the bay area of California to see our daughter and son-in-law, and that is exactly what we did with our brief time on the island. As it turned out, this is actually an itinerary that I would highly recommend to others that might have only two or three days on the island, with the possible exception of quick visits to Poipu Beach, Waimea Falls and/or Wailua River State Park, all of which we have seen on previous trips to Kauai. Unfortunately, we had to cancel a planned lunch visit at Gaylord’s at Kilohana near Lihue on our arrival day, since our flight did not arrive until 7 pm that night after the flight was rescheduled. We hope to go back again sometime and dine there and see this beautiful place that came highly recommended by a friend.
In an earlier post, I shared about our experience at LAX and our subsequent flight to Lihue, both of which were definitely not pleasant. But despite those experiences, we were just thrilled to finally be back on Kauai once again around 7 pm Hawaiian time, as it had been six years since our last visit there. Kauai is one of those special places that we “connected to” right away back in the 1990’s, and we will likely try to return for a visit as often as we can do so for the rest of our lives.
The Marriott: We spent our first of three nights on Kauai at the beautiful Marriott hotel and resort, which is only a ten minute drive from the airport. This is a truly fabulous hotel, and it was even gorgeous at night. We opted to stay here on our first night for two reasons. We had never stayed at this gorgeous place before, and they had a $199 special for that night. We also wanted to visit Waimea Canyon State Park and Koke’e State Park before driving to Princeville, where we would stay the next two nights, so staying near the airport saved us quite a bit of driving time. As it turned out, staying here was also a God-send for me, because I was so sick at my stomach when we arrived that I don’t think I could have made it on the longer drive up to Princeville anyway. I was never so glad to see a bed and some nausea medicine in my life. 😉
After finally taking some medicine to help settle my stomach, I slept like a baby that first night. The next morning, we ate breakfast by the amazing pool with a great view of the ocean just in the distance. Despite the fact that my stomach was still a little “iffy,” I enjoyed a good Eggs Benedict and a cup of Hawaiian coffee. Eggs Benedict is my favorite breakfast food, so things were now off to a great start.
After breakfast, we took a long stroll around the property, and we had a particularly nice stroll along the beach and through the beautiful garden. The hotel put out cups of fish food for the Koi fish, so we grabbed a small cup and fed the fish for a few minutes, along with several other hotel guests.
After winding up our tour of the property, we opted to go ahead and check out of the hotel to continue with the rest of our time on the island, starting with out next stop at Waimea Canyon State Park.
Waimea Canyon State Park: The “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” is a must-see in my opinion, and it is an amazing sight. We stopped once again at the popular lookout point where Waipoo Falls can also be seen in the distance at the far left in the photo below. Photos just cannot do justice to a place like this, as the canyon continues to the right, all the way to the ocean several miles away.
After taking a few more photos, we then continued on up the mountain to Koke’e State Park and the Kalalau and Pu’u o Kila Lookouts.
Koke’e State Park / Kalalau and Pu’u o Kila Lookouts: The view from the Kalalau and Pu’u o Kila Lookouts, which are only about a half mile apart, still remain the most impressive views of nature that I have ever seen, without a doubt. The dramatic drop from the 5000 foot lookout points directly to the Pacific Ocean below, and through the beautiful Na Pali Coast State Park land, is nothing short of breath-taking. While many people stop at the Kalalau Lookout and never proceed to the end of the road at the Pu’u o Kila Lookout, we actually prefer the fabulous view at Pu’u o Kila. You are not confined to a small area behind a fence, and you can actually see a more unobstructed view up there. This is also where the Pihea hiking trail begins. If you bring small children along, be especially careful at Pu’u o Kila, as the terrain is much rougher and there is no fence to protect people from falling over the edge. It is a very long way down, too! Wear good tennis or hiking shoes at Pu’u o Kila, or just visit the Kalalau Lookout if wearing flip flops.
As we spent some time up here at Pu’u, our view was partially obstructed by clouds once again, just as it did on our last visit here, but the clouds did not bother us. Literally being up in the clouds at this place is an unforgettable experience on its own.
After leaving the lookout, we made a brief lunch stop at the cozy little restaurant in Koke’e State Park and enjoyed both a good sandwich and the wildlife there, including many of the famous wild chickens that are now found pretty much everywhere on the island. “What’s Up with All the Chickens? A Bit of Kauai History!” tells more about how this plethora of chickens on the island came to be. Trust me, they are everywhere!
After lunch, we drove about two hours, which is about as far as you can drive around the island, up to the amazingly beautiful Princeville resort area on the north shore to check in at the Westin resort for our next two nights on the island. The entire area along the northern part of Kauai from the small town of Kilauea to Haena State Park at the end of the road is nothing short of paradise to me, as the scenery is absolutely spectacular. Just think of the scenery in Jurassic Park and that is what you have here, as that movie was filmed not far from this area.
Princeville Resort: Princeville is a large resort area on the north shore, and this is where we like to stay on the island. The small town of Hanalei is a short drive to the west on the other side of Hanalei Bay, but the resort area actually has a nice little shopping area with a good grocery store nearby, too. More information about Princeville can be found at the link provided. If you want to stay at a top hotel, pull out your wallet and stay at the St. Regis on Hanalei Bay. We dined there on Mother’s Day on our previous trip, and it was fabulous. I would also highly recommend the fun activities at the Princeville Ranch nearby, too. On our last trip, my daughter and I took a guided horseback trip with them through some beautiful inland countryside, followed by an energetic hike to a hidden pool and falls where we even went swimming. It is a special memory that I will always treasure with her, and we had a fabulous time.
Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas: This was our first time to stay at this beautiful resort, and our second time to stay in a condo in Princeville. After our first trip to Kauai in the 1990’s when we stayed with our small children on the east coast, we knew that we would most enjoy our time here on future trips by staying in the Princeville area on the north shore, especially if we could rent a cozy condo. Condos are the most prevalent lodging option in Princeville, and staying in a condo absolutely fits our style for a laid-back vacation like this. We previously rented a larger condo for the five of us in our family from The Cliffs and Princeville and would absolutely rent from them again if we took everyone in our family back again.
Kauai North Shore General Store Pizza: After settling into our condo, we drove to the shopping center in Princeville and ordered a couple of take-out pizzas from the Chevron station (aka the North Shore General Store). Yes, we ordered pizzas at the gas station store! This is something that I read about online from another traveler, and we decided to give it a try. The small store actually has a brick pizza oven in the back, and we found that we were not the only ones ordering take-out pizzas that night. They cooked our two small pizzas while we bought a few items at the grocery store nearby, and we just picked the pizzas up when we were done. This was the first pizza that I had eaten since I started my diet back in January, and it was so good! After dinner, we took a quick walk around the property, and at 9 pm, which still felt like 2 am by our time at home, we headed for bed.
Hanalei Bay: We did not have time to visit Hanalei Bay on this trip, but I grabbed a quick photo of it from the lookout point on our drive to Ke’e Beach. We visited this beautiful spot on our previous trip six years ago, including Mother’s Day brunch with my whole family at the amazing St. Regis Resort there, and that will always remain one of my most precious memories ever!
Ha’ena State Park / Ke’e Beach: This is my favorite beach in the entire world and what I like to call my “happy place.” It is such a dramatic view to see the tall mountains that literally sit right on the ocean at the end of the beach. This is where the famous Na Pali Coast begins, including the epic hiking trail that goes for about eleven miles along the Na’Pali coast. Ke’e Beach is as close to a perfect place on this planet as anywhere I have ever been, and if it was possible to go and not have to almost fight for a place to park, it would be absolutely perfect.
Hanalei Valley Lookout: This famous view can be seen just off the side of the road in Princeville. On our previous trip, my husband and I actually drove along the road seen below for several miles through the back country on a beautiful drive.
After our morning at beautiful Ke’e Beach, we came back to the resort, ate the rest of our pizza from the night before, and enjoyed a couple of hours at the pools on the property. We also enjoyed visiting with another couple from Texas for much of that time, too.
Anini Beach: After our nice, relaxing time poolside at the resort, we decided to check out a new-to-us beach nearby that we still had not seen on our two previous trips to Kauai. The drive to Anini Beach was a beautiful drive, and if we ever go back to Kauai and stay at Princeville, I think we will definitely try to spend some time at this nice beach and possibly try some snorkeling.
Hanalei Dolphin Restaurant:We discovered this great seafood restaurant in Hanalei on our previous trip in 2008, and we did not hesitate to go back and eat there for our last dinner on the island on this trip. Once again, the seafood was delicious, and the sunset ambiance along the Hanalei river was so very nice, too. On our previous trip, in addition to dining here, we also purchased fresh fish from their fish market at the back of the building to grill back at our condo.
Hanalei Shopping – Ching Young Village: After we checked out of our condo the next morning, we took advantage of our remaining time on the island to first buy a few souvenirs in Hanalei at Ching Young Village, where we also purchased some souvenirs on our previous trip. We found some good quality shirts and hats at a small store there once again.
Kilauea Lighthouse and National Wildlife Refuge: This is yet another of my favorite places on the island, and I’m glad that we found a few minutes to stop here once again before we had to leave for the airport. I’m very fond of lighthouses and do not get to see them very often. This is such a beautiful and peaceful place, and it was a perfect farewell stop for us. It is one of the most scenic lighthouses in the world, and the bird watching is magnificent, since it is also a wildlife refuge. It is a popular stop for tourists, for good reason. We arrived just before 10 am and waited outside the gate until the refuge opened for the day. That was a great time to visit, since there were few others there that early in the day.
Lihue Airport: One of the best things about arriving and departing from Kauai is the airport itself, in my opinion. You know you are in paradise when the main areas of the airport are open-air and have beautiful flowers growing all around.
We grabbed a quick bite of lunch in one of the restaurants at the airport before boarding our next flight to San Francisco and the rest of our trip. We would soon meet up with our daughter and son-in-law for a beautiful weekend in Big Sur for the first time!