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November 26, 2012 at 01:14 PM

Thanksgiving in Hawaii: Three Days in Maui

Guides, Hawaii, Holidays, iPhone, Maui, US Travel

Our next stop during our Thanksgiving holiday in Hawaii was the neighbor island of Maui. The four of us left Oahu early Wednesday morning for the 25 minute Hawaiian Airlines flight to Kahalui Airport. Its a fact you'll spend much more time checking in, going through security and boarding than you will on the flight, but its the easiest way to get from one island to the next, and with flights every half hour, there are plenty of options. Despite such a short flight, everyone gets a beverage but sadly there's no in-flight movie.

After leaving the airport, we headed over to the Road to Hana (we did not drive the entire Road to Hana) to watch the surfers riding the huge winter swells that begin this time of year. We drove up to a popular spot called Jaws (because the waves will chew up the lesser surfers) in hopes of watching the tow-in surfing, where a jetski is used to pull surfers out atop the larger waves. After much careful navigation, the road became impassable and since I was unclear on my insurance coverage, we turned our Dodge Charger back before getting stuck. The road was littered with less fortunate vehicles, so we opted for a stop at an easy roadside point called Ho'opika to watch safely from the parking lot.

Note: click on any photo to enlarge.

Morning over the Ho'okipa Lookout (click to enlarge)

Surfers seeking a wave below the Ho'okipa Lookout

Watching the surfers at Ho'okipa Lookout

On the road to Jaws: I hope he opted for the loss/damage waiver (iPhone photo)

After a bit of surf (watching), we headed over to our hotel in the southern part of Maui in a development called Wailea. Wailea has a terrific beach, great weather and tends to be slightly less crowded than Kanapali in the north, but because of the holiday weekend there were still plenty of people around. The weather was terrific the day we arrived, but by Thursday (Thanksgiving Day) it was overcast and slighly rainy during much of the day.

The view over Wailea

Among the fountains at the Grand Wailea

The open grounds of the Grand Wailea

Palm trees in Wailea

Wailea Beach

Thursday morning we were up early for a 6:30AM snorkel trip to the Molokini Atoll. Molokini is the remains of a long-dormant volcanic crater that has since sunk beneath the ocean. Its ringed shape makes it the perfect bird and fish sanctuary and is some of the best snorkeling in Hawaii. The site is incredibly popular and sees thousands of visitors per day. We took the early trip to beat the crowds and although our boat was full, we were the only ones out there. The water was a bit chilly, but perfectly clear. After about a half hour at Molokini, we headed over to a giant sea turtle preserve and saw many of them as well. John brought his underwater camera, but I forgot to download those photos so I'll pass them along later. The nice part about the early trip is we were back at the hotel by 9AM, just in time for breakfast, a nap and watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade.

As the weather was unsuitable for beach going, we drove up to the small seaside town of Lahaina in northern Maui. If you've been to Pier 39 in San Francisco or Times Square in New York, then you've pretty much been to Lahaina. The fact that there's a Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant gives me confidence in that statement. About a third of the stores were closed for the Thanksgiving holiday, another third were out of business and the remainder weren't terribly noteworthy. Lahaina looks to have falled on hard times and I can't say I'd recommend it.

Carey, John & King Kamehameha

Kris, Jessica & King Kamehameha

We had planned to spend our Thanksgiving dinner attending the Grand Wailea's giant Thanksgiving Luau, but it had sold out weeks before so instead we made plans to have dinner at Mama's Fish House in Paia. Mama's is one of the top-rated restaurants in Hawaii and it certainly doesn't disappoint. Its a beautiful restaurant on a terrific setting and serves amazing food and drinks. In retrospect it was far better than attending the luau (a luau is a lot of fun, but the food tends to be pretty mediocre).

On Friday our plan was to rise early (around 3AM) to watch the sunrise from the top of the Haleakala Volcano 10,000 feet above Maui. Its a breathtaking experience weather permitting, but the forecast was for rain all night and overcast skies the next morning. With mixed emotions we slept in and missed the sunrise. Although the weather that day on the beach was terrific, we never did see the peak of Haleakala all day.

We headed back to Oahu on Friday afternoon to meet up again with Matt before our return to New York the following Sunday. On our way out of Wailea, we stopped to take a few group photos; one nice one for the family, and of course one goofy one for anyone who knows us.

Carey, John, Jessica & Kris upon leaving Wailea

The same group after too many Mai Tais


The Grand Wailea: A Waldorf Astoria-branded property, this place was ok. Great location and terrific grounds The Grand Wailea


Tommy Bahama: Maui branch of the island-themed restaurant chain: Tommy Bahama Grand Wailea
Lappert's Ice Cream: Famous Hawaiian ice cream: Lappert's Hawaii
Monkeypod Kitchen: Casual Hawaiian dining: Monkeypod Kitchen Wailea
Mama's Fish House: Easily our favorite restaurant in Hawaii: Mama's Fish House
The Flatbread Pizza Company: fast, casual roadside pizza: The Flatbread Pizza Company

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Thanksgiving in Hawaii: Oahu & the Dole Plantation

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Thanksgiving in Hawaii: A Few Waikiki Favorites
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