Upon arriving in Maui we decided it would be a good idea to get a short mid-week run in before the race on Sunday. After 3 grueling miles we stopped and walked - not ideal motivation with a half marathon in just days. Despite the race starting at 6:45am the weather was already warm (low 70's) and it would heat up significantly more when the sun came out at about 7:15am. We knew it was going to be a tough race early as we were both sweating before hitting mile 1 (very unusual for us). The scenery during the race was mixed because while it was very scenic to run next to the ocean the course was on the shoulder of the highway (not a closed course) which made for a fairly crowded run and the inhalation of a lot of car/truck fumes. By the half-way point we were both starting to feel the effects of the increasing heat and the sun really began to beat down on us. Once we reached the turn around (loop course) we were expecting to be out of the wind, but instead the winds seemed to shift into our faces again. By mile 9 the heat was taking a hard toll on Kristin and it seemed like the water stops couldn't come soon enough. With a 5k to go I completely zoned out decided to run hard in order to get out of the sun/heat. I'm not sure how I managed to find my legs, but I did gain some motivation from passing other runners and seeing how much pain and agony everyone else was enduring. The last mile seemed to go on forever, but finally I saw the finish line and while I knew I would finish in under 2 hours I was now focused on Kristin. Once I crossed the finish line I circled back and found Kristin keeping a very solid pace a few minutes from the finish. I glanced at my watch and told Kristin that she needed to push herself but that she would make it under 2 hours. Kristin was silent and focused but as I ran the final 0.5 mile to the finish with her I knew she was ecstatic to be finished (she even gave the cameras a nice 'hang loose' as we crossed the finish line).
Highlights: The race finishes right next to a beach area which provides a perfect post-race ice bath to soothe the sore body and lower your core temperature. Just make sure to take your shoes and watch off before you float in the ocean and drown your aches with some soothing saltwater.
Day 1 (Monday):
Da Kitchen (Kahului), tried the fried spam musubi (sort of like a sushi roll with fried spam instead of raw fish) and the Kalua pork (pulled pork) with a side of potato mac (potato and macaroni salad). The fried spam was interesting back lacked serious flavor (needed a fair amount of soy sauce) but the Kalua pork was very tasty. Large portions (split an appetizer and an entrée), fairly priced and a convenient stop to/from the Maui airport (OGG).
Day 2 (Tuesday):
The summit at Haleakala for sunrise. A fairly white-knuckled drive up the side of the steep volcano in the pitch black through winding roads. It was pretty cool to be above the clouds for the sunset, but it was freezing (~30 degrees). The drive down was much more enjoyable (look out for bikers and cows as you descend) as it didn't feel like we were going to drive off of a cliff and we were able to see the city in the distance.
Tip: This is a good first day in Maui trip since you will likely be up early anyways and you will want to be at the summit at least 30 minutes before sunrise (parking does fill up and there are no secondary parking areas). Bring a jacket, hat and gloves as the temperature is very cold at the summit. Also, for all you caffeine freaks there is a Starbucks in Kahului (on the way from Waliea and Lahina) which opens at 5am.
Bistro Molokini (inside the Grand Wailea hotel), sampled the fish tacos and nachos and the fish and chips. Both were fresh and tasty and the views from the restaurant were really spectacular, but you do pay for those views when the bill comes.
Wailea Beach is a very relaxing beach directly behind the Grand Wailea. The waves are not as large or strong as Kaanapli Beach and it never felt too crowded. There is also free public parking (we never had a problem finding a spot) just south of the Grand Wailea (look for the Wailea Beach sign).
Day 3 (Wednesday):
Snorkeling at Molokini Crater and near McGregor point (through the Pride of Maui). This was a fantastic day trip where you are taken via boat to two separate snorkel spots where we were able to swim with tropical fish, giant sea tieless and even a shark! Also, in route to our snorkeling stops we saw so many whales that I would recommend this over a whale watching tour. The morning tour was our favorite activity in Maui and is highly recommended (8am-1pm). In addition to snorkeling the tour includes a light breakfast of muffins and juice, a grill-out lunch of burgers, hot-dogs, pasta salad and fruit, and an open bar after the last snorkeling stop.
Tip: bring your own towels (everything else is provided on the boat including snorkel and fins) and if it is chilly rent a wetsuit top on board ($10 and well worth it). Also, if you book online at least a week in advance you will save ~$20 per person (coupon code Discovery7 from their Facebook page will save you an additional 10%).
Capische (inside Hotel Wailea) offers contemporary up-scale Italian/French cuisine. The Hawaiian pink snapper (opakapaka) was absolutely fantastic (not a fan of red snapper, but opakapaka is actually a white fish) and the views from the restaurant patio (located on the hillside not at the beach) were some of the very best in Maui. If you are going to try one fine dining option in Wailea this is a good bet and a very romantic setting. Be prepared for average entree of $40-$60.
Day 4 (Thursday):
Tutu's Snackshop (Hana): There are very limited lunch options in Hana. The food at Tutu’s was ok (pulled pork with rice and scrambled eggs with rice) but we would recommend bringing sandwiches for a picnic at one of the three highlighted stops in the "road to Hana" below.
Road to Hana, definitely worth the long, winding and narrow drive (plan at least one full day for this trip). One of the best parts about the drive is the fact that you can stop every few miles for a short hike or to look at a waterfall, which really helps to breakup the drive. Some of our favorite road side stops included:
1) Just after mile marker 25 turn left onto Nahiku road (drive about 2 miles and park near the church, then walk down to the water 0.5 mile to see an amazing coastline with pristine blue waters crashing against the rocks). Keep an eye out for dogs - Kristin found a furry friend that walked all the way from the church to the water with us.
2) The black sand beach at Wainapanapa State Park (just after mile market 32 on the left hand side; walk the short trail loop to the cave and jump in the fresh water pool, make sure to swim under the cave a few feet to see the red painted ceiling; then head down to the beach and check out the lava tube on the right hand side of the beach).
3) The red sand beach at Kaihalulu in Hana (a bit of a challenging 10-15 minute hike to the actual beach, but a red sand beach is very rare. You may find locals hanging loose in more ways than one at this remote beach).
Tip: the town of Hana is fairly small, so a picnic lunch at one of the three stops along the way would be ideal.
Mama's Fish House (Paia) was our favorite restaurant on Maui for the Hawaiian ambience, food, friendly wait-staff and beach front location. The fresh fish (we tried the ono, a delicate white fish, and the ahi tuna) was fantastic and it looked like every option on the menu was just as good. While the laid back Hawaiian style is ever present the average entree ranges from $30-$50.
Tip: Make sure to ask for a complimentary sample of poi with your meal as this purple paste is a food every tourist needs to experience. Best cappuccino on Maui.
Day 5 (Friday):
Maui Brewing Company (Lahaina) offers a variety of locally brewed beers and fairly simply pub food (the grilled mahi mahi sandwich is actually frozen and not fresh, but still tasty, the chicken Caesar salad was only ok). The coconut porter is outstanding (A- rating from Beeradvocate), worth a try even if you don't fancy a porter. The restaurant lacks outdoor seating or any real Hawaiian ambience.
Tip: In addition to the brewpub the Maui Brewing Company also offers free beer tastings at its main brewery location (next to the Sugar Cane Train depot).
Kaanapli Beach is a great place to relax in the sun and offers some of the best snorkeling outside of taking a boat guided tour.
TIP: parking at Whaler’s Village (only parking near Kaanapli Beach) is $2 per 30 minutes or free for up to three hours with a $10 purchase from any Whaler’s Village shop. We highly recommend going to the Honolulu Cookie Company (20 cookies for $11) to get your parking validated while enjoying some delicious and “semi-free” shortbread cookie goodness.
Lahaina is a port town bustling with people and quaint shops along Front Street (main strip). Make sure to check out the Banyan Tree which is over 60 feet tall, stretches almost an acre across and has 12 major trunks in addition to a massive main trunk.
Tip: parking is free along Front Street (parallel parking) for 3 hours, but if no parking is available there are a number of pay lots in the area as well.
Ululani's Hawaiian Shave Ice (Lahaina) is likely the best shaved ice stand on Earth. Natural flavored syrups, not sugary, huge serving sizes and very fairly priced. Worth a stop as your stroll the shops in Lahaina. We particularly recommend the pineapple, mango, passion-fruit and li hing mui (dried plum flavor popular in Maui) combination. If you are going to sample shaved ice in Maui go here.
Aloha Mixed Plate (Lahaina) offers a variety of fairly priced mixed plate options (mixed plate meaning Hawaiian, Japanese, Filipino, Korean and Chinese dishes on one plate with a side of rice). The restaurant is located right on the beach and offers spectacular views, especially for the price. We tried the coconut prawns and the chicken Thai chow mein – both were good and neither of us was able to finish our whole meal. A good value dinner option.
Tip: The restaurant offers dining very close to the beach; however alcohol can not be served off the main patio area (nice views of the ocean from either place).
Day 6 (Saturday):
Lava fields (from the last volcanic eruption in 1790). The roads are terrible (glad we had an SUV) but it is pretty amazing to drive through a field of volcanic rock on both sides. There are a few places to stop on the way to/from the lava fields to snorkel, but be careful the corral reef is high and a bit tricky to navigate without fins. Once at the lava fields take a short hike along the water for some great ocean views. Keep a lookout for neat things that have washed up on the shore – Mike found a whale’s tooth!
Whaler's General Store (at the shops at Wailea) this is a great shop/deli in the Wailea area and one of the very few places you can get a sandwich (fresh, tasty and cheap Boar’s Head meats) and large water (1.5 liter bottle for $0.99) without dropping $30 on lunch. Highly recommended stop before a trip to the beach or a planned picnic.
Matteo’s (Wailea) is one of a very few Italian restaurants in Wailea that does not require a reservation. The service was terrible (~50 minutes for spaghetti and meatballs). The food was ok, but nothing special. Not recommended unless you are willing to wait.
Day 7 (Sunday - Race Day):
Lulu’s (Lahaina) is an open-air bar (roof but all the sides are open so you can bask in the sun and catch a glimpse of the beach and ocean) with traditional pub fare. The menu does contain a 32oz burger which is free if you can finish it in under 10 minutes (burger, bun and all the fixings). Lulu’s had about 30 TV’s playing the Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers game – a good place to catch any sporting event.
Paia Fish Market (Paia) offers extremely fresh fish grilled to perfection. The opakapaka dinner plate was very tasty and a perfect last meal in Maui. The seating is a bit odd – long tables that you share with other patrons, but the food is worth it. Nice dinner option as there are really no scenic views outside but the inside décor (old world Hawaiian and fisherman) will keep you entertained.
Tips: Buy the guide book "Maui Revealed". This book contains just about everything you would want to know (including a ton of non-tourist attractions that are awesome). Maui Revealed was recommended by almost everyone we talked with (both from Maui and tourists) and I was shocked to see how many people were using the book during our trip. Buy this book.
Hawaii Half Marathon Medals
January 23, 2011: Maui Oceanfront Half Marathon