Well, it's been a nice vacation. Not quite as relaxing as I hoped, and I didn't get as much work done as I would have liked, but still good. And tomorrow it's back to work. Unfortunately, there's been some issues since we got home...but I'll talk about that another time. Today, let's get some more of the travelogue finished.
Around Maui: Haiku
Haiku is the town on Maui were my parents' place is. It's up in the mountains near Makawao (another artsy tourist town, though smaller than the others) and there isn't really much of a town, so to speak. Though there is a large park with an enormous playground. It's really not a tourist destination and there isn't much of anything to see. That said, if you're in the area visiting Makawao or some such, there are a couple of good restaurants. My top recommendation there is Nuka, a Japanese place that, though not entirely authentic, is good and has a very creative menu. Though it's only open for dinner, doesn't take reservations, and tends to fill up quickly. So you really need to get there around 4:30 or so if you want to avoid a wait.
January 4th (Friday): The Mill House
My mom had been wanting to go to the Mill House for a while so she decided to take Connie and I before we left Maui. So what's the Mill House? It actually reminds me a lot of the Dole Plantation back on Oahu if you're familiar with that (or read my travelogue entry on it). Basically, it's an old farm and mill house that's been converted into a tourist attraction. There's a huge gift shop, and a few smaller gift shops scattered around the area amidst some nice little tropical gardens you can walk through. It's a pretty place, and there's a zip line course and some bus tours of the farm (naturally, those cost). The biggest draw though, is the restaurant. It's a farm to table place with a very creative menu and neat decor. Really good food (some Italian, some Japanese, some fusion, etc.) and a great view. A little on the expensive side, but if you're ok with that it's certainly worth a visit. If you're not going to eat at the restaurant, it's hard to say if visiting the Mill House is worth it. It's a pretty setting, though Hawaii is hardly lacking those, and there's nothing special about the gift shop or anything. There's other (probably better) zip lines around too. Though there is the farm tour if that sounds interesting. Anyway, we had a great meal and Zack got to run around and chase birds for a while afterwards, so it made for a fun stop.
If I remember right, there's two more travelogue entries to go so I'll try and get those posted later this week.
See you Wednesday!
Only a few days left in Hawaii... It'll be nice to be home, but I can't say I'm thrilled about leaving the beach and perfect weather for winter in Virginia. This is looking to be another busy semester as well. But hey, I've got Kingdom Hearts III to look forward to. Might take me several months to get through with my limited game time, but I'm still pretty excited. PV updates will probably not be interrupted by travel, though I suppose there's a slight chance I might miss an update later this week depending on how things go.
And now back to the travelogue.
December 31st (Monday): Drums of the Pacific Luau
As a birthday present, my mom got Connie and I tickets to a luau. We left Zack with my parents and headed to Wailea. It's the part of the island with the fanciest resort hotels. There's also a shopping plaza with all the high-end name brand stores if that's your thing (the rest of the shopping areas on Maui tend to be either boutique or fairly ordinary). The luau was at The Grand Wailea resort and we got there a bit early to look around. You know, as much as I love having free places to stay in Hawaii, the downside of getting to stay with my parents (or living here, back before I moved to Virginia) is that you don't get to stay in the fancy resorts. The Grand Wailea is right on the beach and has beautiful grounds and an awesome water park style set of pools (connected by slides, a lazy river, and the like).
The luau itself took place in a grassy courtyard near the beach, making it a good spot to watch the sunset. Connie and I went to a luau once before, shortly after we started dating, at the Hilton on Oahu. The Grand Wailea definitely had the nicer setting (though in other ways, they were pretty comparable). Anyway, they started letting people in around an hour before the meal. Since Connie and I had checked in fairly early, we ended up with some of the best seats you could get without upgrading to a premium package. While waiting for the main events to begin, they had some tables featuring local crafts, a place to try out a traditional Hawaiian game (similar to lawn bowling), and an open bar. Now, from my own experience and what I've heard, luaus and other similar events usually give you a couple of free drink tickets and after that you have to pay. Drums of the Pacific, however, gives you unlimited drinks for the entire duration of the luau, which is rather impressive. Now, if you've been reading my travelogues for a while you may know that I don't really drink alcohol (no deep reason, I honestly just don't like the taste), but they offered virgin versions of a number of different cocktails (in addition to the standard punch and soda), so I had fun trying some different ones.
The buffet, when it started, was nice and orderly and they had three sets of tables to keep lines to a minimum. The food was pretty good, especially for a buffet, with a nice mix of traditional and modern Hawaiian items (poi, Hawaiian rolls, mac nut crusted fish, teriyaki chicken, etc.). And, of course, there was a dessert bar as well. During the meal, there was live music and a bit of hula dancing as a lead up the main show.
The show was divided into a number of different acts including, of course, various types of hula. There were also some more unique performances that I wouldn't have expected in a luau show such as ribbon dancing and this poofy dress cloud dance (which I've never seen anywhere). Like most luaus, it ended with fire dancing. While it didn't have as many fire dancers as the Hilton luau, the one they did have was quite good.
All in all, it was great luau (not that I've been to very many) and a fun night out. Nice for Connie and I to get away by ourselves for a change. If you're looking for a luau on Maui, I'd certainly recommend it. I'll also note that, at least when I was there, the local Costco had tickets at a very good discount.
January 2nd (Wednesday): Lahaina
Wailea is the fanciest resort area on Maui but there's one other town with a lot of beachside hotels. Not quite as fancy as the ones in Wailea, but still pretty nice. That's Lahaina, another old town converted into an artsy tourist destination. My mom took Connie, Zack, and I there to hit the beach and look around a bit. Parking by the beach was a bit of a pain. There's a free parking lot at one of the hotels (the state of Hawaii requires that), but it's tiny. Some of the hotels had pay parking, but we found a nice shopping plaza that validated parking with a purchase, which is clearly the better deal.
Black Rock Beach is one of the nicer ones I've visited with good views, a long stretch of beach, clear water, and really great sand. The area around the black rock at the north end is also supposed to be a good snorkeling spot. We didn't make it quite that far, but my mom and I did try snorkeling a little bit where we were set up and it actually wasn't bad. Nothing spectacular, but there were some simple reefs and a good number of fish.
After a nice morning on the beach, we swung by Maui Brewing Company for lunch (as a note, if you're like me and don't drink, they have really good root beer, ginger beer, and cola) then drove to downtown Lahaina, where we lucked into a very convenient parking spot. Lahaina's main drag is right along the coast and features a long strip of old buildings converted into restaurants and boutiques. Wish I could have taken more pictures, but we hadn't brought the stroller so I was too busy keeping Zack under control as we walked around. Anyway, it's a nice town and makes for a fun stroll. There were some pretty interesting places to shop and eat as well. One especially notable feature is the town's banyan tree (the largest in the US), which fills an entire block all by itself.
We had a nice time and I'd like to go back to both visit the beach and explore the town a bit more. If you're planning to visit Maui, I think Lahaina would be a pretty nice place to stay (especially if Wailea is a bit out of your budget), though it's a little far out from many of the island's other attractions.
That's all for now. See you Wednesday!