Where to Stay, Fine Dine, Transportation and Activities in West Maui- January 2014

Lodging in West Maui


On your next visit to Maui, here are our great tips where to stay and fine dine in West Maui.  Check out the Maui Kai, just north of Kaanapali.  They offer an assortment of condo sizes and there is no place that is closer to the beach and ocean.  You walk out of the lobby to the beach and down the steps and the water is within 20 feet. There is plenty of beach space just north or south to lie down and only a couple minutes walking distance. I loved just walking out of the condo and jumping into the ocean.  Amenities included a pool/Jacuzzi, game room, cable TV, free coffee every morning in the lobby, free Wi-Fi in your room, free movie rentals and a warm staff to help you with any questions or needs.


Toni, their concierge was super helpful.  The bus stop is a 5 minute walk to take you north or south to whalers village only about 10 minutes and only $2 per ride or $4 per day.  The condos are fully equipped with a kitchen and balcony. The best feature in our opinion was hearing the waves of the ocean every night while you are relaxing or going to sleep as you can leave your balcony sliding door open while locking the screen door.  There is no better sound.  If you choose a nice walk, you can head down the beach to the walking path that will take you to the Sheraton and Whalers Village about 2 miles down.   The condos are great for families or just to have more space and an extra room with their one or two bedrooms.  More at www.mauikai.com

Our next stop in Maui was the beautiful Napili Kai resort condos north of Kaanapali and adjecent to Kapalua.

The rooms are incredible and you can even choose from ocean front so you can walk right onto the beach or ocean view where you can have a great view while listening to the waves at night when you go to sleep.  The rooms are very updated and modern with a full kitchen and balcony. Our room had a ceiling fan, murphy bed pullout, flat screen tvs and a remote shade closer to block out sunlight from the window.  This place is fabulous and caters to families.  Their biggest draw are family reunions where everyone can be near each other in condos as the staff does a great job organizing that with the more advance notice as possible. 


The lobby is very big and staff is super welcoming and friendly. If you need a ride to your room or the beach, they are happy to arrange a golf cart for you in a short time.  Another great feature is there is a free Kapalua shuttle that picks up and drops off to the Napili Kai as well as the city bus right outside the front door.


Their main beach is right near the Sea House restaurant as it is a nice bay with swimming and small waves for the most part. We ate at the Sea House for breakfast and it was a treat. The chef is a big fan of breakfast so you will see many creative items on the menu like frittatas and german pancakes (pictured below) to chocolate chip/macademia nut pancakes and other specialties.  Do not miss the incredible puppus (another word for tapas) happy hour served from 2-5pm and it can get crowded as it is very popular.  Many delicious affordable dishes and drinks to choose from including crispy chicken wings, crab cakes, sweet potato quesadillas, clam chowder, asain chicken salad, mushroom ravioli, a garden basket with veggies, hummus and edemmame and quite a few others.   http://seahousemaui.com/

Take the coastal hike to see many of the other bays around Kapalua as the start of the trail is at the far end of the complex going north.  The first beach you hit has been voted one of the best beaches in the world we were told as the water is very calm, warm and full of corral and fish so great for snorkeling and swimming.


More at www.napilikai.com  to reserve your next trip to maui as you will be very satisfied with this resort.


The Best Western Pioneer Inn located at the Lahaina Harbor is the place to stay when taking or arriving from a ferry or just to be centrally located. It is not your typical Best Western as it is nicer than one would imagine with free wifi, a swimming pool and decent sized rooms make this Inn a great place for lodging.

There are not a lot of options in Lahaina and we highly recommend the Pioneer Inn. Don’t miss their nice breakfast in their restaurant with a variety of pancakes, oatmeal and egg dishes. For rates, reservations and more information, go to http://www.pioneerinnmaui.com/

The Mahina Surf is located north of Kaanapali and just south of Kahana right on the coast. Beautiful views, spacious rooms and friendly staff make this a very welcoming place. A nice saline swimming pool and nearby bbq’s make it very cozy.

There is a beach where you can swim about a 5-10 minute walk away and most days, you can see turtles right nearby the resort condos.  If you are looking for a more secluded place away from the action with great amenities, check out the Mahina Surf.  More at http://www.mahinasurf.com/

Fine Dining in West Maui

If you have never been to Roys on any of the Hawaiian Islands, do yourself a favor and make sure to visit one of their locations for what will be an incredible dining experience.  The menu changes daily depending on what fresh fish they get in.  Choose from a variety of delicious appetizers from the spicy tuna roll, sautéed calamari or five spiced duck breast.  Roys has moved to the Kaanapali beach club location as they used to be in Kahana. The open-air kitchen and big windows over-looking the golf course make a nice setting.


The fresh fish choices include Ahi, Mahi Mahi and their consistent butterfish. They will also have what catch comes in like ono, monchong and my personal favorite opakapaka, which was one of the best tasting fish and preparations I have ever had in my life.  You cannot go wrong as executive chef Joey Macadangdang does a wonderful job with sous chefs Ryan Rupp and John Balisco in the kitchen.  Our server Barry and staff did a great job and managers Jim and Matt were so hospitable with our visit.  Two other ways to go are the prix fix menu which is 4 courses and can be paired with wines or the mixed plates which offer a variety to sample multiple dishes like Roy’s classic of 3 fresh fish offered in smaller portions with different preparations, surf and turf or Roy’s seafood collection of shellfish.  Last but not least, go for the decadent chocolate soufflé as you will see is out of this world.

      More at www.roys.com

Luau at the Sheraton Kaanapali    The Maui Nui Luau is offered Mondays, Wednesdays, and seasonal Fridays from 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM. Situated beachfront on award-winning Kaanapali Beach the Maui Nui Luau shares the music, dance and history of the islands right here at the foot of the famous cliff diving point, Black Rock. It is the only luau where you can see the cliff divers from the luau at sunset.  World renowned Polynesian entertainment producer Tihati Productions presents the best in Hawaiian & Polynesian song and dance, including the spectacular fire knife dance. Enjoy Hawaiian arts and crafts and experience an authentic Hawaiian Imu Ceremony. The food is delicious and setup buffet style with salads, fruits, hot entrees of mahi mahi, chicken or beef, veggies and fried rice. There is a dessert table with a nice variety and of course and open bar.


The luau is very family friendly located right next to the beach with a beautiful setting and atmosphere. Starting with a pareo fashion show, this Maui luau show will entertain you for the rest of the evening. Masterful drummers evoke the sounds of Polynesia as you enjoy dances fro Tonga, Tahiti, Samoa, New Zealand and of course Hawaii. Whether you prefer the mesmerizing beauty of the hula or the heart pounding dances of the Maori, there is something here for everyone. For tickets and more info, visit the website below and you will have a great time.


The sleeper restaurant of the trip was the Maui Fish and Pasta located at Whalers Village in Kaanapali.

The reason we mention that is the last time we came, it was called another name but since been taken over by DK restaurants group (same group that owns Sansei in Kapalua). The fresh fish was some of the best we had and by far the best pasta around as it is homemade and not over-cooked. For starters, go with the burrata cheese salad, beet salad with small local tomatoes and ricotta cheese, flash fried brussel sprouts (I don’t even like brussel sprouts but loved theirs) and the crispy kale.

Don’t miss their large jumbo prawns with fettuccine in a tomato cream sauce and the catch of the day was Kompachi with ramen noodles, which was out of this world. I had never heard or seen this fish before on any menus but it was flavorful, light and delicious. The staff and service was great while the bartenders Robin and Alex were two of the friendliest I ever met and they also made great drinks.

There are a lot of choices for dining but this place is not to miss. www.mauifishandpasta.com

Pacific Os at 505 Front Street is one of the best restaurants you will dine at in Maui. They have their own local farm and pick up a lot of fresh produce everyday there. The fish is phenomenal as well as the nice ambiance.

The view of the ocean and you can walk on the beach in between courses.  The local ahi poke and Maui onion salad are two great starters.  They have 3 preparations of their fresh catch of the day and I suggest the m and m that is in this delicious curry sauce. The outside patio dining is right next to the beach and what a fantastic setting. The service and staff are top notch and the food is out of this world.  Pacific’o is not to miss and right on the beach in Lahaina.  If there is one place to dine at in Lahaina, this is the one.


Hula Grill located at the end of Whalers Village in Kaanapali is part of an association of restaurants but the consensus says their food and service was superior than their counterparts (Dukes and Leilanis).  The Manager Will was very welcoming and he was going around to many of the tables to see how everything was.  We loved the barefoot lounge as you dine in the sand listening to live music while enjoying great food and drinks.

You can dine inside, as the menu is a bit more expansive including a variety of fresh fish prepared a few different ways. I tried the Ono tandoori style and the fresh opakapaka combo dish grilled to perfection with a side of garlic Raman noodles. The appetizers including the hoison sauce lamb chops, fresh local Maui onion and Maui tomato salad was out this world. The big island pizza, which comes with cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, squash and fennel is a must.

Chef Peter Merriman creates his own twist on some of the classic dishes. Their cocktail menu includes their classic mai tai and blue vodka specialty drink that went well with the food. The setting is incredible right at the beach and of course do not miss the ice cream sandwich for dessert, which is their own take on the mud pie.  More at http://www.hulagrillkaanapali.com/

Sansei in Kapalua- This sushi hotspot located near the Ritz Carlton in Kapalua is off the charts. We can see how they have won many awards for the creativity and tastiness of many of their dishes.  We had the dynamite roll, crab raman and seared white tuna to start.  The service was very good and the down to earth atmosphere playing 70’s-80’s music gives is a very laid back feeling.  The fish is super fresh including the Ahi tuna and Mahi Mahi.

Try one of their specialty cocktails, sake or local wines to accompany your fantastic dining experience. It was the best sushi and right up there with the best restaurants we dined at and reviewed.  It is a very family friendly place or adult/couples dining experience so it caters to everyone.  They offer a 25% early bird special on all items from 5:15-6pm every night that keeps the place packed.  Sansei is part of the dk restaurant group and they do a great job providing high quality of food with a friendly and fun atmosphere. We also loved the roasted eggplant.  The sushi menu is very extensive but you cannot go wrong with panko crusted ahi with spinach or any of their specialty hand rolls. They have won many top choice awards at the taste of Lahaina. Our waiter Jens was very knowledgeable and helpful with the huge menu and options. More at http://www.sanseihawaii.com/

Koas in Lahaina on Front Street is the same owner as Gazebos (see the next restaurant below).  We really enjoyed a great dining experience on their open rooftop. They also have seating downstairs but if it is a nice day or night which it usually is in Maui, go for the upstairs.  Our server was very nice and the food was very good. They had a variety of fish specials with their special koa spice rub as I had the local fresh swordfish.

Other suggestions were the seafood pasta and some of their meat dishes. For starters, we tried the baby beet and kula green salads which were very good.  The steamed clams were delicious while we watched the sunset over the ocean while also enjoying one of their specialty cocktails.

Do not miss their fantastic banana ice cream pie for dessert (pictured above).  They also serve breakfast, lunch and happy hour so make sure you pay a visit.   http://koasgrill.com/

Gazebo– This little breakfast and lunch shack located at the Napili Shores resort is a gem. Guests and locals flock here to savor many great varieties of simple dishes and lines can be up to 30 minutes plus sometimes. Their banana and macadamia nut pancakes looked amazing. Our server suggested some of their signature dishes such as the fried rice with 3 kinds of meat and scrambled eggs on top. Unless you are splitting this at least 4-6 ways or want to take some home, the half portion is plenty. The hamburgers are a must and the southwest chicken salad was fantastic. They don’t have their own website but trust me when I tell you it was very popular.

Mala restaurant near the Lahaina Cannery has some of the best food on the island. Chef and owner Mark Ellman (pictured below) has won many cooking awards and prides his place on the high quality of food and great dining experience. This was our second visit as we came three years ago and it was another superb meal.


We went for lunch and had some incredible creations from their signature ahi bruchetta with pesto hummus on flaxseed bread, their tasty pizza, alii Hawaiian mushrooms and fresh catch of the day which was Mahi Mahi. Menus and more at http://www.malaoceantavern.com/

Once back on the ferry ride, we arranged Speedi Shuttle (the best shuttle company around as we booked them for our inner island rides as well as airport transfers.  They are the way to go if you don’t rent a car as their drivers are very professional and informative.  They are punctual and you get an email confirmation with all of your exact details.  If you are staying anywhere from Lahaina to Kaanapali to Kapalua, they will provide transportation for you as you don’t need a  unless you plan on doing some side trips. But even then, you can rent one for the day. The city bus is very convenient and safe so you can get around. You will save on the cost of renting a car and it is also easier if you have kids so you don’t have to lug around the car seats.  For more info, go to www.speedishuttle.com  to book your trip out in hawaii.


Hawaii Activities

The sugar cane train is great for kids as you can catch it from Lahaina or Kaanapali. It blows steam and hoots its horn and everyone loves that. One way rides last around 40 minutes and it is located across the highway. More at www.sugarcanetrain.com


The Maui Ocean Center is a fantastic indoor and outdoor attraction that includes great aquariums and activities for the whole family. Our favorite was watching one of their staff go into the big tank with all kids of fish such as sharks and stingrays and be involved in a talk with a monitor where all of the people are as kids get to ask questions to the scuba diver.

They also had a feeding of the turtles and talk about them. Roam around to see many species of fish and hands-on attractions.    www.mauioceancenter.com 



Gemini Chaters offers sunset sailings, whale watching tours and snorkeling adventures.  We chose the snorkeling trip for our second time and it was very fun.  We even saw many whales so it was a 2-1.  You depart from the beach at the Westin Hotel and take off to one of the captain’s spots to enjoy great snorkeling, friendly staff and a nice lunch with open bar on the way back.  They provide all the gear including prescription masks and instruction. You need to bring any towels, your swim-suit and sunscreen and you will be ready for a great journey.  We highly recommend Gemini and it is great for a group of friends, any couples and even families for kids as they carry smaller sizes of life-vests and gear.  They have been in business over 20 yrs and we can see why with their great tours, organization and customer service.