Beautiful Kapalua

Kapalua Resort on Maui is a truly beautiful place with beautiful beaches, luxurious resorts, comfy condos, great restaurants and championship golf courses.

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 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 Logo Sign
Kapalua logo sign

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 Resort Cook Pines
Beautiful Cook pine trees line the entrance at Kapalua resort with the Bay Course on the right
Kapalua Cook Pines
More Cook Pines
Kapalua Villas
Ridge Villas at Kapalua

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.

Kapalua Church
Scenic church at Kapalua 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!

Beaches of Kapalua

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.

D. T. Fleming Beach
D. T. Fleming Beach, near the Ritz Carlton Hotel
D. T. Fleming Beach Park
Pretty public park at D. T. Fleming Beach
D. T. Fleming Beach
Scenic spot at D. T. Fleming Beach with beautiful pine trees
Oneloa Bay
Scenic Oneloa Bay
Oneloa Bay with Lanai in the distance
Oneloa Bay with Lanai in the distance. Note the beautiful sand dunes here.
Kapala Oneloa Beach
Natural Beauty at Oneloa Beach
Kapalua Bay
Kapalua Bay, America’s Best Beach in 1991 – the Montage Hotel is also nearby
Napili Beach
Napili Beach, next to Kapalua Bay and just outside the Kapalua resort

Kapalua Golf Courses

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.

Kapalua Bay Course at Pineapple Grill
Our view of the Bay Course at Pineapple Grill on Mother’s Day morning
Kapalua Bay Course
The Bay Course on Hubby’s golf day
Kapalua PGA Plantation Course
Our view of the PGA Plantation Course during dinner at the Plantation House one evening
Kapalua Plantation Course
Plantation Course

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.

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Our Condo in Maui

Our great condo at The Ridge Villas at Kapaula

Our flight arrived in Maui after dark, and we were greeted by Hawaiian music performers and hula dancers right in the airport in Kahului.  The baggage claim area was open-air, and finally feeling the slightly cool tropical air after our very long day of flying was such a treat for us once again.  We had no issues at baggage claim or at the car rental desk, and we were quickly on our way in our full-size car to the other side of the island and our accommodations for the week.  We opted for yet another new place to stay on this trip, and booking through Costco’s travel site enabled us to get a good rate with our rental car included in the package.  As we arrived in Lahaina, we made a very quick stop at a local grocery store to pick up just a few items before heading on to our condo.

We stayed at the Ridge Villas at Kapalua on this trip, and I highly recommend the villas to anyone looking for a nice condo for vacation in Maui.  On our two previous trips many years ago, we stayed in condos at Kaanapali and Kahana, but we liked our condo here and the entire Kapalua resort even more.  It is a little pricier than the other two places we stayed, even in present day dollars, but for this special belated anniversary trip, it was a real treat for us.

Kapalua Ridge Villas
Entrance to The Ridge Villas at Kapalua
Ridge Villa in Kapalua
Our Two-Story Condo

We stayed in a one-bedroom ocean view gold villa, and I am glad we opted for the gold unit and not a standard unit.  Gold units are upgraded a bit from the others, and after staying in a gold villa, we would likely not be satisfied in a condo with furnishings older than what our gold unit had.  Even in the gold unit, we found the sofa cushions were already past their life expectancy, as we would sink down too far in them when sitting.  The other chairs in the living room were better, and overall, it was fine for our needs, since we were seldom sitting in the living room anyway.  The rest of the condo was great, including the comfy king bed in the master suite upstairs.  I’ll just let the pictures tell most of this story.

Mahalo for Removing Your Shoes
Removing our shoes when entering the condo is a routine thing, no matter where we’ve stayed in the islands.
Living Room, Kapalua Ridge Villa
Living Room
Dining Area, Kapalua Ridge Villa
Dining area and nice upper windows to bring in more light
Kitchen, Kapalua Ridge Villa
Full kitchen with granite countertops
Living Room, Kapalua Ridge Villa
Opposite living room view with stairs to second floor
Kitchen View, Kapalua Ridge Villa
Another view of the kitchen
Kitchen Area, Kapalua Ridge Villa
Inside the kitchen
Pineapple, Kapalua Ridge Villa
Our welcome gift was waiting for us in the fridge, and it was so good!
Master Bedroom, Kapalua Ridge Villa
Master Suite
Master Suite, Kapalua Ridge Villa
Master Suite
Master Suite, Kapalua Ridge Villa
Master Suite
Master Bath, Kapalua Ridge Villa
Master Bath
Master Bath, Kapalua Ridge Villas
Master bath, one of two separate sink areas
Master Bath, Kapalua Ridge Villa
Master bath
Lanai, Kapalua Ridge Villa
Downstairs lanai where we ate breakfast every morning except one
Lanai, Kapalua Ridge Villa
Downstairs lanai
Upstairs Lanai, Kapalua Ridge Villa
The lanai just off the master suite had even better views of the nearby beaches.
Panorama, Kapalua Ridge Villa
Panorama view of the island of Lanai, as seen from our condo. What a great view at breakfast each morning! Click on the picture for a larger view.

 The villas also had a small pool nearby with a nice covered area with gas grills for cooking.  We enjoyed a quick dip in the pool on several occasions to take a little cool break from hiking or sightseeing.

Pool, Kapalua Ridge Villas
Pool in walking distance of our condo

We always prefer staying in condos in Hawaii, as we find that we are more comfortable, have more of the conveniences of home and save a little money on food vs. staying in the hotels, which are usually even more expensive than the condos we’ve stayed in.  On this stay, we also had a washer and dryer in a closet in the master suite, which allowed us to do a quick load of laundry each day.  We were able to pack fewer clothes from home with this convenience, and we also went home at the end of our week with most of our laundry already done.  Anytime we visit a beach, we always enjoy staying in a place where we can wash out our clothes and swimsuits each day, and this trip to Maui was no exception.

While this covers our nice condo for today, I will have more to share soon on the wonderful Kapalua resort and the Kapalua Coastal Trail, as we enjoyed pretty much enjoyed everything that Kapalua had to offer during our stay.  I also have much, much more to share about our week in Maui, too!

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Traveling to Maui

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.

Lunch at SFO
A great lunch at San Francisco International Airport

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.

Flying Into Golden Hour 1

Flying Into Golden Hour 2

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Flying Into Golden Hour 4

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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!

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Marvelous Maui

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.

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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)
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The Epic Road to Hana – Indescribable Beauty*
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Hiking at Wai’anapanana State Park near Hana*
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Beautiful Kapalua Resort*
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Our Nice Condo*
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Hiking the Kapalua Coastal Trail*
(Not your typical hiking trail)
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World Famous Beaches of Kapalua*
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Quintessential Hawaii – Old Lahaina Town at Sunset 20150511_185324
The Historic Banyan Tree in Old Lahaina Town
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The Terrifying Forbidden Drive*
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My Spa Day – Relaxing and Refreshing*
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Epic Hawaiian Sunsets*
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Our Journey to Maui*
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Mother’s Day Sunset Dinner
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The Best Restaurant in the World, Seriously
(Happy Birthday to Me!)
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Plantation Dining* 20150513_184515
 Our Hawaiian Pizza Tradition* 20150511_173900
Breakfast with the Birds
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Flowers of Maui
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A Bittersweet Mother’s Day*
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An Unexpected Gift*
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Memories of Days Gone By in Maui
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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.

Stay tuned for all the fun in Marvelous Maui!

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Running Away For Mother’s Day

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.

Welcome to Kauai

Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge 3
Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge, Kauai
Kalalau Lookout at Kokee State Park
Famous Kalalau Lookout at Kokee State Park

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.

Leaving Kauai

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!

D
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