An amazing vacation to Maui, Hawaii – Day 1

It took me a few days to reflect on my experiences in Maui before sitting down to write about them. I like to let things settle, and I’ve come away with the fact that Dave and my trip to Hawaii was far too short. In addition to that, we didn’t schedule it well. We left mid-week and returned mid-week, which meant we had no days of rest or transition between our various work commitments. Don’t get me wrong, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat, but the fact that we book-ended it with work is just something to consider avoiding when we plan our next vacation, which will hopefully be sooner rather than later. 

Quite frankly, I have so much to share about all of the fun and activities that we experienced during our five nights on the island, that I need to do it little-by-little. We’ll call this “Maui week” on A Lady Goes West, and I hope you enjoy it. Today, it’s all about our first day traveling to Maui …

If you’re going to go to Hawaii, fly Hawaiian

When Dave and I were first starting to talk about going on a vacation to Maui, he was insistent that we fly on Hawaiian Airlines. I’m so glad that we did, because this airline totally improves the Hawaiian experience. In addition to the soothing music, friendly staff and full meals (quite tasty), the check-in is much faster than my beloved Southwest. Right before Dave and I flew out of the Bay Area, he decided to spring for exit-row seats for us (which is an upgrade you can purchase), so we had a ton of leg-room for the five-plus hour flight. And although we didn’t sleep as much as we had hoped after a 4 a.m. wake-up call, we sure were comfortable and well fed. Oh, and there was no WiFi on the plane, so Dave played games on his phone, and I read. It was nice to be unplugged!

DAY ONE

Arriving to Maui and heading straight to the food

Everything was easy about our travel to Maui. We had no lines at the airport, breezed through security, had comfortable seats on our flight, picked up our bags in no time and rented a mid-sized car with zero hassle. That being said, we followed the itinerary (yes, I had created and printed out a full itinerary, because that’s just how I roll) to drive straight to the town of Paia and have an early lunch at Mama’s Fish House. Yet, because we arrived before the restaurant opened, we walked on the beach and soaked up the hot and humid Hawaiian air before finally heading in to dine. That initial walk on the beach was the first time we encountered women in thong swimsuits, and it was a sight that continued throughout the trip. Who knew?

Dining at Mama’s Fish House in Paia

A few people had told Dave and me that we needed to eat at Mama’s, and believe me, this place did not disappoint — so thanks to those folks. We had a perfect table with an ocean-view inside the huge and beautifully set up restaurant, and we each ordered an adult beverage (before noon, woohoo for vacation!). After a little toast, it was time to dig in.

Mama's Fish House in Maui via A Lady Goes WestThe colorful table-cloth, friendly service, fresh food and perfect setting made Mama’s just what we needed after arriving on the island.

Shown above you’ll see some of our food. In addition to complimentary cold ginger soup and the warm bread served with every meal, we also ordered the lobster guacamole, various sashimi and then split a massive ahi tuna sandwich and sweet potato fries. Those sweet potato fries were absolutely incredible. The sweet potatoes were purple, and something about them made me swoon. I ate nearly the entire plate of fries and from that moment on began this feeling of being “totally stuffed” that Dave and I carried with us for the rest of the trip. Good thing I wore nothing but loose cotton dresses with a little extra room.

Suffice to say that Mama’s is definitely worth the visit, although the prices are pretty steep (unfortunately something we just happened to be used to because we live in the Bay Area of, course). It was a great kick-off to our island vacation. And with our full bellies, we began the 45-minute drive to our hotel, which I missed mostly because I was napping. Whoops!

Checking in to The Westin Maui Resort & Spa

Dave and I knew we wanted to stay at a Starwood Hotel, being that I used to work for the brand as a copywriter, so it was easy to select The Westin on the Ka’anapali coast as our resort of choice. This hotel has an incredible lobby with a koi pond, several pools and tons of rooms and came with great reviews. Through our various and wonderful Starwood connections, Dave and I got upgraded to a top-floor room with an ocean-view, and it was perfection. Of course, we spent very little time in the room, but enjoyed that patio at least once-a-day. (We also hung our wet bathing suits out there to dry, as any normal person would.)

The Westin Maui resort via A Lady Goes West blogDave is totally a “view” person, so he spent plenty of time just staring out the window of our room. And that Westin bed? Plush and wonderful! We’re not used to sleeping in a king though, so it felt a little big.

We ended up pulling up to the hotel in our rental car around 1:30 p.m., and check-in wasn’t until 4 p.m., so we stored our stuff with the valet and walked around the resort. We also wandered over to Whalers Village, directly next door to our hotel and browsed through the shops, complete with some cookie sampling and window shopping for jewelry. We finally got a call just after 3 p.m. that our room was ready, so we headed back to the hotel to get situated and also get ready for our early evening plans.

Getting into the Hawaiian spirit at Old Lahaina Luau

My blog friend Gina recently went to Maui and told me about the fabulous entertainment of the Old Lahaina Luau, so I was sure that I wanted Dave and I to check it out. Luckily, the sweet folks at Old Lahaina Luau reserved us a spot and hosted us on our first night of the trip. *Thanks, Old Lahaina Luau for the tickets! 

We arrived at the luau just before 6 p.m. and checked in. (By the way, although we rented a car, we ended up taking cabs for our evening activities so we didn’t have to worry about parking, and although expensive, cabs are very easy to get.) Once we got to the luau, we were immediately delivered a delicious fruity cocktail and were welcomed into the events area. There were musicians, photographers, artists and even authentically-dressed Hawaiians circulating and socializing with guests. After being shown our seats and taking a few photos, Dave and I walked around and even watched a roasted pig being taken out of the ground during a fun little ceremony.

Old Lahaina Lua via A Lady Goes West blogIt almost looks like scenes from a movie, right? It’s not. Just the most gorgeous set-up in Lahaina. At the luau, you have your choice of table seating or traditional seats on the floor. Dave wanted the chairs, and I’m glad he did, because it would have been a long show for two tired travelers if we were sitting on the ground all night.

From there we refreshed our beverages and went to the buffet, which was open for all table-by-table. The food included pork, fish, chicken, poke, veggies and more and was totally fresh and just what you would hope for at a luau. We dined on our food and chatted with the people across from us at our table, who also happened to be from the Bay Area. Right around the time we finished eating, the live entertainment began. During the course of the show, a plate of tiny desserts was delivered to our table for everyone to share and our drinks were refilled by a waiter. So basically, we were given everything we needed from the comfort of our seats, which is exactly what we wanted on vacation. However, I will admit that I prefer larger and more decadent desserts, so that was perhaps the only downfall of the whole luau experience, and a point that was likely overlooked by most people in attendance.

As far as the show was concerned, my initial reaction was to say that the dancers in the Old Lahaina Luau know how to move. It was totally mesmerizing to watch their super-fast pulsing movements to the beat of the live drums. While there was a story taking place during the luau following the evolution of the Polynesian people and their migration to contemporary times, the dancing was just so intriguing I hardly noticed a narrative. I seriously could not take my eyes off of their hips gyrating around — both the men and women. So much talent!

Old Lahaina Lua experience via A Lady Goes West blogDo you know how excited I was when I got my lei? I wore it with pride and so did Dave. Because when in Hawaii, you’ve got to sport some flowers.

The show concluded a little after 8:30 p.m., and we were totally pooped being that we had been up for so many hours (outside of my cat nap in the car) and flown from the Bay Area. Right when it was over, we headed out and hopped in a cab back to the hotel, which was only about 10 minutes away.

We left full, entertained and super satisfied with our night. Especially because the folks at Old Lahaina Luau sent everybody home with a little package of freshly baked banana bread, which is a norm. Good stuff!

We truly enjoyed ourselves on this first night, and it was the perfect way set the tone for our Hawaiian adventures. I will say that there are a lot of options available for luaus in Maui, and I can now see why Old Lahaina Luau came so highly recommended. 

Old Lahaina Luau shot by A Lady Goes West blogDon’t you want a glamour shot like this of you on vacation? Ha! When you walk around the luau area before the show, there are tons of professional photographers waiting to take your picture with props. You can check out and purchase the prints at the end of the show. Well clearly, this one had to come home with us. Copyright goes to the Old Lahaina Luau team.

More Maui adventures coming your way

That’s about it for day one of our trip to Maui! I’ll be sharing more details on our adventures over the next few days, culminating in a Maui Travel Guide post, which you can reference if you ever plan a trip in the future. And all of these posts will live on my new Travel page, so check it out. Have a lovely day, my friends! I’ll see you back here tomorrow!

Questions of the day

Have you ever been to Maui?

What’s been your favorite vacation?

Do you make itineraries for your trips?

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51 Comments

  1. I have to start by saying I LOVE that you created and brought an itinerary. I want to travel with you JUST for that reason. I do it for most of my trips and it just makes things so much better! Not to mention, I rest very well knowing there are plans in place.

    Day 1 sure sounded and looked like a hit! Thanks for sharing. I look forward to the rest of Hawaii week!

    Xoxo.

    1. Hi Courtney! I make detailed agendas for many things … it just works. πŸ™‚ hahah! And of course, my Mom had our itinerary in hand so she could know where we were at all times! Happy Tuesday, lady!

  2. Awww that sounds like so much fun already. I have been to Maui but that was back in high school. I’ve never flown Hawaiin airlines but it does sound like it would make the experience that much better.

    1. Hi Marielle! Glad you’ve been to Maui before, but hopefully you can go again as an adult and enjoy it even more, of course!! Have a lovely day! πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Lexie! Never say never! We waited for a long time to go to Hawaii because of the expense and ended up being able to make it happen now that we live so much closer. It’s actually cheaper to fly to Hawaii than back home to Florida, believe it or not. Put it in your bucket list! πŸ™‚ Hope you have a great day, lady!

  3. Ohhh, so jealous of this trip. I’m dying to go there! I have bookended vacations too and we will never do that again. You really need a few days to recover and get mentally back in the game. Glad to hear SWA is your fav πŸ™‚ My husband is a pilot for them!

    1. That’s so cool your hubby is a Southwest pilot, Sue! Yes, that’s normally the airline we fly because of the loyalty program and the free snacks, of course. And NO bookending a trip again ahaha. Glad I am not the only one who didn’t enjoy that and complained about it. Hope you’re doing well, lady!

    1. Hi Jen! Oh yay! Totally cool that you’ve been to the luau before. It was a great way to start our trip. Hope all is well, lady! Have a fabulous day!

  4. This looks like an amazing trip and it’s only day 1 recap! I would love to go to Hawaii! I’ve never been, but that flight is very long from PA, haha! Not only that, but expensive πŸ™ I know it will be worth it for sure! The Luau looks like so much fun!

    1. Hi Heather! Exactly! We thought Hawaii was WAY too far when we lived in Florida, but now we’re closer. But there were a lot of people there from the East Coast — they had much more jet-lag than we did heeheh! Hope you make it one day!

  5. What a great trip! Sounds like the travel process was nice and stress-free which is always good. I don’t usually have an itinerary for trips besides a few place that I want to visit and maybe one event booked. I usually just like to leave it open and see what happens! In the past, I would plan everything and it was much more stressful and I missed out on stumbling upon different areas. Nice recap!

  6. My grandparents used to have a condo in Maui that they’d go to for the winter. It was always such a treat going. I wish I was back there now! I think spending time there was one of my favorite memories. I only make itineraries if it’s a new place and there are certain things I want to see and do. Otherwise, I like to relax and try my best (ugh I’m so type-A) to go with the flow. Beautiful pictures!! Can’t wait to hear about the rest of your trip!

    1. Hi Jamie! Oh how nice that your grandparents had a place in Maui. That’s awesome! And yes, it’s nice to just relax, and I scheduled in some “free time” on our itinerary, but we really needed it because we had so many activities. Hope you have a wonderful day, lady! πŸ™‚

  7. How fun! We went to Hawaii in February but stayed on the big Island outside of Kona and had a blast! The Love Nugget asks to go back almost weekly. I agree. Hawaiian airline is awesome! Although I’ve never flown there any other way, that’s the general consensus I heard from everyone. Looks like a great beginning to your trip. Especially that restaurant. Yum!

  8. Looks amazing! Maui has been on my to-do list for a while. Last year when we were planning our “tropical” vacation, it was between Maui and Bora Bora. Bora Bora won out that time and was amazing, but I am eager to get over to Hawaii at some point as well! I am definitely an itinerary person when it comes to big vacations. I feel like I’ve gotta plan so I don’t miss anything! πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Lindsey! Wow! Bora Bora sounds lovely as well, so I’ll add that to my list hahah. And YES for planning the activities and being organized – I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  9. I LOVE MAUI! My husband and I went (with my in-laws) during the summer of 2013 for about 12 days. We stayed in Kapalua but we spent a lot of time in Ka’anapali! It is so beautiful and there are so many amazing and beautiful sights (and sites) to see and things to do! Have fun!!!!

    1. Hi Ashley! Oh cool! 12 days is a long time! Good for you! I wish we had stayed that long!! πŸ™‚ Hope you have a nice day, lady!! Thanks for saying hi!

  10. Looks so fantastic, and I’m loving your Luau dress!! The hotel view looks great as well. Lool about the King size bed… we have a Cali Kind, in which I barely have any room… between the guy and the pup- biggest bed hogs ever!

    1. Thanks, Jessie! My dress is from Dillards! And we’ve always had a queen-sized bed, so anything else feels huge hahah! πŸ™‚ And no dogs in the bed for us! Although Rudy wouldn’t take up much room hahah!

  11. What a fun time! So glad you guys had a blast. Maui is the one Hawaiian island I haven’t been to… I’ve been to Kauai, Oahu, and The Big Island, all of which are amazing in their own unique ways. I’d love to visit Maui at some point too though. The endless seafood and pineapple were some of my favorite parts when we were in Hawaii…and you can never go wrong with the views!

    1. Oh man, Ash, the pineapple was SO GOOD! I loved all of the food! That’s awesome you’ve been to so many of the islands. Now I want to see more of them! πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks so much, Jacklyn! I love to look at pictures of people on vacation too, because it makes you excited about your next one! Hope you had a nice long weekend, lady! πŸ™‚

  12. You two are GLOWING! I love learning about peoples vacations so that when I go to plan mine I have so many ideas in mind of where to eat and what to do πŸ™‚ Thanks for all the tips! Enjoy πŸ™‚ xo C

  13. You look gorgeous!! Love that dress. I’ve only been to Honolulu twice. So, next trip will be Maui or Kauai. Funny story about our first trip. We were 20 years old. I flew out there and met my husband there after a 6 month deployment. We went to rent a car and they wouldn’t rent one to us because we were too young!! Haha! So, we had to take public transportation everywhere. The second time we went back we were finally old enough to rent a car πŸ˜‰ I LOVE to travel and we travel quite a bit. I would have a hard time picking a favorite vacation. I really enjoyed a trip we did to Europe a few years ago including Germany, Italy, and Austria. But, then again I really love just driving across the U.S. and seeing all there is to see here. There are so many places to see in this world – not enough time to see them all!

    1. I hear you, Melissa! So many places to see and not enough VACATION time or money to do it all. I wish. I need to get back to Europe, having only been once in college for a summer. And how funny you were too young to rent a car!! hahahh! I love it!

  14. My husband and I visited Maui in August 2013. We went for our 25th Anv. The island is everything you dream of and more. We spent 12 days having the time of our lives. A few of my favorites include . Swimming with the sea turtles, big beach, black rock jumpers, Hana and the upcountry. One day we hopped on the ferry to Lanai. It was very reasonable and Truely a hidden gem. We visited shipwreck beach and sweetheart Rock plus the garden of the gods ! This was easily my favorite day.

  15. Ahhhh!!!! I’m totally Hawaii obsessed πŸ™‚
    I went to Mama’s Fish House this last trip to Maui…. stayed at the Westin my first trip… and have been to the Old Lahaina Luau all three trips πŸ™‚ We did the luau with our entire family the night before my wedding.

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