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Magical Moments in Maui, Hawaii

Hawaii has always been somewhere that I wanted to go – and I had the perfect opportunity when a very good friend asked me to be her Maid of Honour at her upcoming wedding – in Maui. It was a short 5-day trip, but I know I will be back at some point.


Maui is not a cheap place to visit, and I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to afford it. But after cashing in my credit card reward points, opting for something other than a hotel, and creating a realistic budget, I had the best time of my life – and most importantly, I was able to be there for my friend on her important day.

The one thing we did decide to splurge on when in Maui was a helicopter ride around the island.

I had never been in a helicopter before, but this was completely worth it and without a doubt, the highlight of our trip. We were treated to some of the most spectacular views I’ve ever seen – gorgeous waterfalls, lush rainforest, coral reefs, cliffs, etc. I highly recommend you go on this tour, and it was only $94.99 each!? That’s cheaper than most other helicopter tours I’ve seen advertised in other places like Vegas or Mexico.

In order to save on money, we bought groceries for our breakfasts, and to make mixed drinks. We ate all of our dinners out because we were with friends, and because I love food! :) Although, the next time I’m in Maui, I want to cook more meals in the condo in order to save more money.

We ate all of our dinners out just for the experience of being on vacation together for the first time (besides our short trip to Vegas last winter). The next time we go to Maui, we will cook all of our meals at the condo in order to save money.

Here is a list of the restaurants I went to:

  • Pearl’s Korean BBQ (Queen Ka’ahumanu Center, Kahului) $7 – this was in a food court. The portions are so big that I had enough for a second meal, and the food was actually pretty good.
  • Hula Grill (Lahaina) $40 – I went for dinner with our friends, and we all ate off the Chef’s tasting menu (appetizer, entree, dessert for $25 from 5-6pm). We also ordered drinks, which I immediately regretted because they were not worth it. The restaurant is located right by the ocean, which got a bit busy with foot traffic. The food was pretty good, but it was somewhat overpriced. Even for the tasting menu.
  • Pineapple Grill (Kapulua) – the company I worked for offered to treat me to a nice dinner out while we were in Maui, as a thank-you for all the hard work I had done over the summer. It was located in Kapalua Resort, and I thought it was a bit of a weird location, but was still very nice. The menu was pricey, and I wouldn’t have gone there if I had to pay for the meal myself. But the food was delicious. I ordered the lamb for dinner with a glass of wine, and had their #1 rated pineapple upside down cake for dessert. Dinner of two ended up costing over $200 after tax and tip. :|
  • Aloha Mixed Plate (Lahaina) $10 – the prices are unbelievably good, and the menu has such a variety of food and they give you so much of it that you wonder how they even make a profit! Most items on the menu were Asian-inspired. I called to order take-out (wanted to relax on my deck!) and it was ready in 15 minutes, despite being such a busy restaurant. It was such a good value that I know I’ll definitely eat there again. It seems to be where a lot of locals eat as well, and a really cool place to visit if you’re on a budget but still want to go out somewhere for dinner.
  • Sansei Sushi (Kapalua) $30 – I was recommended this restaurant by a friend of mine who owns a condo in Maui. And it definitely didn’t disappoint. The prices were also quite reasonable ($12 for a fancy roll, $6.50 for a normal roll), and the waitress said that after 10pm, everything on the menu is 50% off – too bad I didn’t know that before we went! :) The rolls were unique and interesting, and it’s about what I would have paid for a nice sushi dinner in Vancouver. Also, I would definitely suggest making a reservation, because when I left there were at least 30 people waiting inside and outside of the restaurant.
On an evening stroll through the town, we encountered a dance performance. It was awesome!
On an evening stroll through the town, we encountered a dance performance. It was awesome!

We went to Flemming Beach for the day with our friends. It’s just north of Kapulua and it was absolutely stunning. Of course, all the beaches on Maui are beautiful, so I guess it doesn’t really matter where you go. :)

Flemming Beach, Maui, Hawaii.
Flemming Beach, Maui, Hawaii.
A little crab on my beach blanket. Flemming Beach, Maui, Hawaii.
A little crab on my beach blanket. Flemming Beach, Maui, Hawaii.
Flemming Beach, Maui, Hawaii.
Flemming Beach, Maui, Hawaii.

We stayed in the Kaanapali Beach area of Maui, Hawaii – about 10 minutes north of Lahaina and 45 minutes from Kahului Airport. It was the perfect location – a gorgeous drive up the coast, and much quieter than farther south along the coast in Wailea. Plus the beaches were the best on the island in my opinion. :)

The condo unit was in a complex called Maui Kai, and I found for rent from a private owner on VRBO.com. And after driving around for 5 days, seeing where our friends were staying, and walking along multiple beaches looking at other hotels/condo units, I can say for sure that when I come back to Maui, I’ll stay at the Maui Kai.

The view of the beautiful ocean from the bed of our studio suite at Maui Kai Condos.
The view of the beautiful ocean from the bed of our studio suite at Maui Kai Condos.

It’s the closest condo/hotel to the ocean (the water literally sprayed up over the sea wall, just beyond our balcony), offered friendly staff & condo owners, all the amenities we could have ever wanted, and at a price that just couldn’t be beat. All of the units were fully oceanfront, and our studio suite had literally every kitchen gadget available (including a rice cooker!), a flat screen TV, king sized bed, and boogie board gear.

Half of our stay cost $100/night, and the other half cost $130/night. For that price, you wouldn’t even get a partial ocean view room anywhere else – whereas we were literally 5 ft. from the ocean on the ground floor. It’s not a fancy building, but it only has 10 floors (less crowded), and lots of free parking. Words cannot express how happy I was with the accommodation and my first experience using VRBO.com.

The sunset from the balcony of the condo.
The sunset from the balcony of the condo.

I fell in love with Maui, and cannot wait to go back. I enjoyed going during the low season, because the weather was still fabulous, and I didn’t feel crowded with a ton of tourists – I can just imagine how busy Maui gets in the winter when everyone is looking for a sun vacation. :)

The next time I go, I might want to try camping for a few nights – partially to help reduce costs, but mostly because I love camping. And what better place to camp than on the beaches of Maui?

Breakdown of Expenses:

  • $322.50 – Accommodation: 5 night condo rental booked through VRBO.com. There were two of us staying in the room, and this is my half of the cost.
  • $727 – Transportation: round trip flight booked through Expedia. This cost also includes my half of the cost for a rental car.
  • $264 – Food: this included $87.50 worth of groceries & alcohol, plus 5 meals out.
  • $0 – City Transit: none – we rented a car.
  • $94.99 – Entertainment: 35 min. helicopter ride.
  • $0 – Miscellaneous: none.

– $250 credit card bonus points

TOTAL COST: $1,158.49

Krystal Yee

Krystal Yee is a travel blogger and personal finance expert with substantial media credits to her name. Lover of off-beat travel, hiking, French macarons, barefoot shoes, and her iPhone. Excel spreadsheet addict. She is currently living in Vancouver, plotting her next adventure.

Comments

Melinda

Hey Krystal,
I am curious how you packed for this trip. I have an upcoming trip also and am trying to keep things minimal. Any suggestions? Thanks!!

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Eric

Love that you did the helicopter ride! I never even thought of doing that all the times I went to Maui. The next time you go though, make sure you check out Haleakala! You can go up there in the early morning to catch the sunrise, and it’s amazing. Then you can also bike ride down the volcano..how often can you say that! It’s an awesome ride and there’s services that give you a ride up to the top of the mountain WITH your bike, so all you’ll have to do is ride down the mountain :).

As for food, i say one place you should check out next time you’re there is called “Da Kitchen”. It was featured on Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods, although it’s not too bizarre. They have a deep fried spam musubi which is amazing. All the portions on the menu are huge! You can seriously make 2-3 meals out of it. I’m planning to go there soon too, so I’ll be writing some stuff up as well!