Just like we are all looking for the perfect mate, perfect view, or perfect cup of coffee – it’s important to find a perfect lodging match when traveling. Do you want perks, local experiences, views, budget, space, or luxury? I stayed at 3 very different places while on my recent trip to Maui, and my experiences there may help you find the perfect match for your Maui lodging needs.
Even though Maui offers up some of the best luxury resorts and hotels around, during my most recent time there I stayed solely in condos in Maui. I know people love to take vacations and stay at luxury hotels and get doted on. I get it – that’s normal, people want to be taken care of, but that’s not normally my style. I think because I have no home, my biggest treat is when I actually get to stay in a home/apartment during my travels – that’s a real vacation to me! But for the rest of you ‘I-live-a-normal-life-in-a-home’ people, one of the best reasons to stay in a condo is to save money by having access to a kitchen. You can save about $10 per person per day on breakfast alone! On a 1 week trip for two – that’s $140 that can be spent on more important things like sailing, a museum, or many mai tais. Another bonus for me is that when I have control of my food prep, I tend to eat healthier and less.
I stayed at 3 very different condos over the course of 2 weeks in Maui – each had it’s own little perks and advantages. No matter what you are looking for – one of these may fit your needs (and your budget) on your next trip to Maui.
I was speechless as I walked around the 2 bedroom condo at Ka’anapali Ali’i – I felt slightly dwarfed in such a big space! As the bellman kept opening doors and showing me more rooms, closets, dens, and bathrooms I was in shock. Then came the grand finale, I opened up the fridge and saw it had food in it. My first thought was someone had not cleaned out the fridge and I was a little embarrassed – should I say something? The bellman saw the confusion on my face and informed me that it was all new food, and it was all for me.
The Ka’anapali Ali’i has a special breakfast package and my fridge was stocked with bacon, eggs, juice, milk, and fruit. Great for people like me who were arriving late at night. The kitchen was spacious and open allowing me to cook my eggs and see the waves crashing on the beach – perfection. If you don’t want to cook every meal yourself on your vacation ,don’t worry – there are plenty nearby restaurants such as Hula Grill (yummy!). Just walk up the beach and you’ll have tons of options.
Next to the beautifully manicured pool and lounge area you can’t miss the shiny row of grills which are another of Ka’anapali Ali’i’s unique perks. There are 4 grills available for guests to grill their own dinners by the beach in which they also provide paper plates, utensils, and spice rubs. They actually employ a “Grill Master” – a person who assists the guests with their grilling needs. The grill masters are there to give advice, keep the grills clean, suggest spices and cooking techniques – but they don’t cook the food for you. It’s a super place for guests to gather socially and enjoy the sunset while making dinner.
They also have a state of the art gym with daily classes as well as yoga and a spa and a tennis pro if that’s your thing. However I was a big fan of the running path along the beach. A concierge is at your disposal to rent snorkel equipment and help plan outings, and check out movies for use in your spacious condo living room!
It’s all about the food at Mama’s – arguably the best restaurant on Maui – but let me just tell you a little secret that not many people know about. Ssshhhh – are you ready – Mama’s not only has food, but it also has 12 condos/rooms they rent out in their little private area of paradise. It can fit a variety of budgets ranging from $175 to $550 a night. And people staying in the condos get a 15% discount at the restaurant. I stayed in a 2 bedroom condo with a lanai (balcony/porch) which looked out on the private beach and provided the gentle wave crashing ‘music’ that everyone yearns for. It was beautifully decorated in a Polynesian style that matches the famous restaurant – simple yet classy. And yes it made me want to break out my hula moves! I loved the homey feel of these cottages and room nestled in a little area of beach next to the restaurant. It was a completely different feel from the Ka’anapali resort area as this was much less touristy.
They provided beach supplies and a cooler if you wanted to walk outside your condo and spend the afternoon on the beach. I was also welcomed with fresh banana bread from the restaurant’s baker as well as was provided as a welcome bowl of fruit and other delectable things for breakfast. Mama’s personal house is right next to the condos with a lovely beach view – making you feel a part of the Mama’s family while there.
A couple of other perks to note, it’s a great location for getting up to watch and photograph the Haleakala sunrise, upcountry exploring, and the road to Hana. The other obvious perk is proximity to the restaurant itself – being this close you sort of experience the inner workings of the restaurant too – the fish deliveries coming and going, delectable aromas waft up to your lanai – a great foodie vibe.
Please, please splurge and eat at the restaurant – you will thank me I promise. It seats about 230 and serves lunch and dinner in a very open floorplan looking out on the beach. The fish is out of this world – probably because they have a Fish Guru, Mike, who purchases from local fisherman – a tradition for 40 years and multiple generations. The best part – I had food left over so I simply took it back to my condo kitchen and had leftovers the next day for lunch!
Want to know where the locals live in Maui – head to Kihei. This is a great little town with a long beach and a local charm. I was excited to get this chance to get a bit deeper into the local culture while staying at Sunny Maui Condos. It’s the real deal – no touristy frills such as a concierge, grill masters, or maid service – this is a much more independent option which also happens to make it much more local and affordable (rates from $99-$169). The condos are located across from the beach, where I would take sunset walks and soak up the quietness of the area and watch the canoe team practice their paddling.
Like all of the condos before I was welcomed with a bowl of fruit and coffee supplies, beach supplies, and coolers. But unlike the other condos it came with Viktoria, the manager of Sunny Maui Condos, who provided me loads of tips and places to go and see with a more local flavor as opposed to the typical tours. She told me about a unique opportunity to check out a Sunday tradition at Little Beach (warning – it’s a clothing optional beach), which holds a drum circle every Sunday including fire dancing and every other sort of eclectic that you can think of! The night I went, it was also home to the best sunsets I captured on Maui.
There was a washer and dryer in the condo – perfect for the longer term traveler. I loved being able to go to the grocery store and stocking up to cook my own meals after a week of dining out for dinner. I ate 2 of my 3 daily meals at the condo helping me save money. The location is very central – you can pretty easily get to any part of the island from Kihei. And if you want to get a dose of luxury, just drive out of Kihei and in minutes you’ll be in the upscale town of Wailea, featuring world-class luxury resorts, fine dining, and shopping.
During my time on Maui – I didn’t need the extra perks of the hotels, and instead enjoyed my perk of making myself breakfast in the morning and being able to wash my clothes and get good wifi access! Now you have a type of Maui condo to fit every need!
Which one would you choose?
Disclosure: I was a guest of Maui Visitor Bureau and Sunny Maui Condos for this trip. However all of the opinions expressed here are my own. I was able to choose my own activities that were of interest to me and my style of travel.