After much planning and anticipation, Dave and I have finally launched on year one of our retirement travel adventure – finally!! We kicked off our trip with a wedding in Waikiki, HI where we spent two days exploring the touristy (but still beautiful) beaches, the aquarium, and as many beach bars as we could find (the Westin Surfrider was our favorite in case you’re wondering). Our hotel had a great view of the ocean, and we were treated to copious rainbows numerous times a day. We felt truly honored to be guests at McCoy and Veronica Bean’s wedding ceremony, and had a fun night hanging out with Dave Bean and his lady Debra before flying to Maui the following day.
Flying away from Oahu gave us the opportunity to see the island from above, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the sea – the shades of blue and green were mesmerizing and impossibly bright. The flight to Maui was quick and in no time we were in our rental car and headed to our apartment. We stayed in Maalaea, a less populated part of the island, which was a bonus, but shopping for groceries was more of a challenge. We managed to find a mini-mart so we could have coffee for the morning, and they had big, beautiful avocados so I bought a few to make guacamole.
We were blown away by the view from our apartment in Maui… our terrace looked across the water to the other side of the island, and the view was framed by swaying palm trees and a perfectly manicured lawn. The apartment was neat as a pin and tastefully decorated, and had all the amenities one could ask for, including comfortable beach chairs, fluffy towels, an umbrella and a cooler. We didn’t waste any time hitting the local beach, Haycraft Park, which was walking distance from our apartment. There was a small crowd of people with tents but 50 yards from them was a deserted, pristine beach as far as the eye could see. We were also pleasantly surprised by the local turtles swimming around the beach and spent a great deal of time trying to capture a picture of them. We found a spot under a tree and let Maalaea wash over us…we felt like the luckiest people in the world in that moment.
As the sun started to go down, we headed back to the apartment to get ready for dinner. As luck would have it, the restaurant shared a parking lot with a supermarket and we were able to stock up with groceries for the week. We enjoyed a lot of good dining in Maui, but also cooked breakfast each morning at the apartment, and grilled a couple nights on the apartment grills, which were cleaned every day.
The rest of the week we spent reconnecting with my old friend Chris, who gave us a lot of tips for good, secluded beaches, and took us sightseeing a few days. We took the ferry to Lanai one morning and relaxed on the quiet beach there, which is also a marine sanctuary. Chris and Dave snorkeled and Dave said it was as good as anything we saw in the aquarium. We also spent two days exploring the beaches of Makena near Wailea, which is much more of a resort town. Those looking for luxury hotels and golf should definitely consider staying in Wailea. Everyday we had great weather but could see dark storm clouds on the mountains just behind us. We were very glad we were staying on the sunny-side of Maui!
Based on the beaches we visited, below is my observations of each:
Haycraft Park beach (Maalaea, Maui): Very secluded and great for sunbathing and turtle watching. Not a great swimming beach due to the rocks/corral in the surf, but if you wander away from the popular swimming spot (which has the most people), you can find spots in the surf that are swimmable. We did just that and were treated to our own private beach and swimming spot. This beach does not have lifeguards or bathrooms but there is some parking.
Makena Big Beach (Makena, Maui): This is a popular beach for good reason: the swimming and body surfing here is really good due to the sandy surf. You will likely find more crowds here, but there is decent public parking and port-a-johns and a lifeguard. Further beyond Big Beach is Little Beach. We didn’t check it out, but heard from our friend Chris who lives there, that this is also a clothing optional beach.
Oneuli Beach or Black Sand beach (Makena, Maui): This beach is very secluded and the road to access it is narrow with potholes, but it’s different and pretty. It has a bit of a Mars-like landscape. This beach also does not have a lifeguard or bathroom facilities but there is public parking. We saw quite a few snorkelers here and the area has a reputation for good snorkeling along the rocky coast.
Maluaka Beach (Makena, Maui): This is a small beach that has swimming and snorkeling. The sandy section of the beach is small but not a lot of people come to this beach. There is parking across from the Keawala’i Congregational Church as well as bathroom and outdoor shower facilities. I did not see a lifeguard at this beach.
Hulopoʻe Beach Park (Lanai): This beach is on Lanai. To access Lanai from Maui you can take a ferry from Lahaina. Lahaina is a cute beach town with a lot of shopping and dining options. There will be a lot of tourists and parking can be a challenge. When you arrive in Lanai, you can walk or take the shuttle to Hulopo’e Beach. There is a marine sanctuary at this beach so the snorkeling is very good. There are also public restrooms here, but no lifeguards.
Maui was an incredibly relaxing trip for us – we went to a different beach almost every day. There is plenty to do for adventure seekers and hikers, but we spent our week exactly the way we wanted to start our adventure.
Next stop – San Miguel de Allende, Mexico!