Travelogue: Kapalua and Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii

This is what awaits you when you fly into the Kapalua-West Maui Airport:

The view from the Kapalua-West Maui Airport

I wish I could show you a panoramic view of what surrounds the airport: ocean on one side, lush green hills on the other. So even though we waited a while for our ride to Enterprise Rent-A-Car (which isn’t actually at the airport but is housed in the Sheraton in Ka’anapali about 5 miles away), the view kept us company. My mother and I were visiting Maui the week before Thanksgiving for my cousin’s wedding, and we chose to fly into the smaller, one-runway airport on the Western side of the island (with a connection in Honolulu) even though it was more expensive than flying into Maui’s main airport in Kahului because it was more convenient to where we were staying in Kapalua, whereas Kahului is about an hour’s drive away.

We stayed at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, where the wedding took place. This was my first experience staying at a Ritz-Carlton, so maybe I was expecting something spectacular, but I wasn’t all that impressed. Don’t get me wrong — the property was very nice, and the service was excellent, but I think the property needs a facelift (apparently it was renovated in late 2007, so maybe I’m just not a big fan of the island theme).

This place is really big. It took us at least a good five minutes to get to the lobby from our hotel room. The Ritz-Carlton is part of the Kapalua resort area, which includes other hotels, restaurants, golf courses and tennis courts on a peninsular area akin to Rancho Palos Verdes in the L.A. area. It’s all very quiet, which is nice when you’re looking for a getaway. Anyway, the Ritz has a large pool area that overlooks the ocean, as well as a private beach. I’ve never understood why you’d go to Hawaii and choose the pool over the beach, so I spent my tanning time on the sand.

Private beach at dusk

Our room at the Ritz was sufficiently roomy, with plush queen-size beds and a sizable bathroom. There were two closets, too. Here’s what the room looked like:

Inside a Ritz-Carlton Kapalua room




Balcony. It was bigger in person.

View 1 from balcony

View 2 from balcony

One thing that I was impressed by was the food (at least some of it) at the Ritz. The Alaloa lobby lounge served up some good cocktails and some really great food. The Blue Basil cocktail, made with vodka, fresh blueberries and lemon basil leaves, and the Grapefruit Caipiroska, which is basically a grapefruit mojito made with vodka instead of rum, were both refreshing and had just the right amount of sweetness.

Blue Basil

Grapefruit Caipiroska

The ahi salad — a substantial piece of seared and spice-encrusted ahi on top of a bed of spinach, mangoes, teardrop tomatoes and macadamia nuts — may just be my mom’s new favorite salad. And the chicken cobb salad here is definitely now my favorite salad, hands down. How could you go wrong with a chicken breast topped with melted bleu cheese and wedges of butter lettuce adorned with avocado, bacon, soy beans and teardrop tomatoes? It’s to die for.

Seared ahi tuna salad

Chicken cobb salad

Despite the deliciousness I experienced at the lobby lounge, I wasn’t impressed with the hotel’s breakfast buffet at The Terrace restaurant. Everything was just kind of OK. However, my cousin got a freshly made Belgian waffle and it was great, so maybe the à la carte items are a better bet here for breakfast.

My mom and I had some time to check out the former whaling town-turned-tourist-trap of Lahaina, where we had last been 16 years ago! This jewelery/trinket shop had the funniest sign and was actually nicer inside than it looked from the outside:

Funny shop in Lahaina

Ululani’s Shave Ice was my favorite stop of this trip. The small storefront offered tons of flavors, including tiger’s blood (cherry and coconut), tamarind and green tea, as well as add-ons such as mochi, azuki beans, ice cream and a sweet cream mixture called Snow Cap.

Ululani's Shave Ice

Mom and I shared this one with passion fruit, guava and mango flavors was azuki beans and mochi:

Shave ice from Ululani's

One of my favorite places to have breakfast in Hawaii is McDonald’s. Yes, Mickey D’s. Instead of a platter of pancakes and sausage, Hawaiian McDonald’s restaurants serve up steamed whited rice, scrambled eggs, Portuguese sausage and/or Spam. And it’s good!

Hawaiian McDonald's breakfast

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Maya Meinert

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11 2010

4 Comments Add Yours ↓

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  1. 1

    I would love to stay at the Ritz Carlton ANYWHERE! But more than that, I WANT that shaved ice! 🙂

  2. Maya Meinert #

    That’s what I thought about Ritz-Carltons, too, but now I’m not so sure. Maybe I was expecting *too* much?

  3. 3

    AHHH Hawaii!!! I’m so jealous!!!!

  4. 4

    Oh Kauai! Probably my second favorite island to Maui. Looks like you had fun 🙂 Did you see any of those random chickens on the island?