Exploring Maui, Hawaii: a Stay at Travaasa Hana

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Pool and the Pacific at Travaasa

If you want to drive the Road to Hana at a more relaxed pace, and stay for a night (or three) in the Hana area, Travaasa Hana (formerly known as the Hotel Hana Maui) is the best bet for the luxury traveler. There are other options in town (including Airbnb properties), but if you want a full-service property, Travaasa is the way to go. Travaasa also offers a stay three nights and fly for free promotion that allows those who want to skip driving the Road to Hana altogether.

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One of the charming Ocean Bungalows at Travaasa Hana on Maui

Not all rooms at Travaasa are created equal. The Ocean Bungalows are located across the street from the main hotel complex, near the pool and fitness studio. They are more expensive than the Garden Junior Suites and worth every additional penny. Our first room was a Garden Junior Suite and only had a standing oscillating fan for cooling. It was tolerable but not pleasant.

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The Ocean Bungalows had lovely breezes coming off the water, and newly refurbished bathrooms. It was a much more pleasant environment overall. The ocean bungalow also had a spacious lanai (balcony) which was great for viewing the sunset or enjoying a drink.

Rainbow time lapse at the Hotel Travaasa Maui

I shot this time lapse of a rainbow appearing from my ocean bungalow at the Hotel Travaasa Maui.

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Rainbow views at the Hotel Travaasa Hana on Maui

While the Hotel Travaasa does not have it’s own beach, it’s a mere 10 minute walk from the property to Hana’s gorgeous Red Sand Beach (also known as Kaihalulu).

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Bed in an ocean bungalow

Hana is not a highly populated area and while all the hotel staff were very nice, service was uneven. The bellman who showed us to our room the first night (a Garden Junior Suite) did not point out where the hotel’s pool was located. When we ordered cocktails from room service, they failed to make note of our room number and we had to call back. The staff made up for the error by comping the round of drinks.

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Lovely renovated bathroom in the Ocean Bungalow

Tennis courts and a rec room are some of the other facilities on the Travaasa Hana property .

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Another view of the bedroom of an Ocean Bungalow at Travaasa

Travaasa rates can be all-inclusive or priced a la carte. We opted for a la carte and think it was the right choice. While there isn’t a wide selection of full service restaurants in the area, there are several food trunks that served tasty tacos and bbq that are perfect for lunch or a quick snack.

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The living room of the Ocean Bungalow at Travaasa Hana

All rooms come stocked with coffee makers and banana bread, a local specialty.

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The ocean bungalows at Travaasa

Travaasa also offers a schedule of cultural, culinary, and adventure experiences as well as fitness classes. Some are free, others are offered for an additional fee. There is also a spa on the property. I can’t vouch for any of the classes or spa services since we used Travaasa as a home base for Hana and spent most of our time off the property exploring the area. The spa and fitness class space did however look lovely.

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Sunshine on the Ocean Bungalows

I really enjoyed Hana and would happily stay at Travaasa Hana again. But I’d be sure to book an Ocean Bungalow and I’d want to have my car with me so I could continue to explore the area and not be isolated on the property.

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Entrance to Travaasa Hana

The restaurant on property was fine but not exceptional, and service is more laid back than you will find in the other resort areas of Maui like Wailea or Kaanapali.

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Breakfast at Travaasa Hana

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A view of the Ocean Bungalows at Travaasa Hana

Travaasa isn’t cheap but I’d happily stay here again. It’s not the place for you if you require five star service or strong A.C., but it’s a lovely place to use as a base to explore the Road to Hana and the Kīpahulu District of Haleakala National Park.

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Rocks along the walk to the Red Sand Beach

If you are staying at Travaasa, please keep in mind driving the Road to Hana after dark is dangerous and plan your driving time so that you arrive before dark. Hana doesn’t have a buzzing night scene but it a good night’s sleep can help you beat the crowds at some of the best attractions in the area by getting on the road early after a good night’s sleep.

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Maui’s Red Sand beach is a 10 minute walk from Travaasa

The vibe in Hana is chill and relaxed, so you just kind of go with it and enjoy the island vibe. It’s fantastic.

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Pink clouds at Travaasa Hana on Maui

Travaasa Hana Maui

5031 Hana Hwy
Hana, Hi 96713

Tel: 808-248-8211

Room rates start at $450

Exploring Maui, Hawaii: Island Signage- a Photo Essay

 

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Mile Marker 9: Quiet Trees at Work Sign 

I love amusing signage and was pleasantly surprised when several signs caught my attention on the Hawaiian island of Maui. I thought I’d share some of my favorites in a this photo essay.

The Road to Hana is arguably one of the all time great road trips. As an added bonus, there is some fun signage along the way.

At Mile Marker 9 on the Road to Hana, the Waikaimoi Ridge Trail is a nice place to stop and hike the easy 3/4 mile loop through the trees and jungle. There is also a great moss-covered sign that says Quiet Trees at Work. The sign works… I found myself listening to the trees rustling in the tropical breeze. I think they might have spoken to me.

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Mens and Ladies room signage, Hawaiian style

Just past mile marker 10 on the Road to Hana is the Garden of Eden Arboretum. The restroom signage is fun, colorful and outside the box. Island life may make people more laid-back and take a few chances.

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The mens room sign at the Maui Kahalui airport

The mens room sign that greets you at Maui’s Kahalui Internationa Airport immediately sets the tone for a vacation, complete with aloha shirts and a kakui nut lei.

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Street art in Ho’okipa

It’s not just the official signs that are inspired. I liked the gold street art with palm tree I found in the Ho’okipa parking lot.

Enjoying the breeze at the Arboretum

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Not all the signs were lighthearted. There are some hazards on the island and they are clearly marked.

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Caution for pineapples?

I liked this wet floor sign at the Andaz Wailea.

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The winner of the awkward name contest: Wailea’s Panties in paradise

Panties in Paradise was a nice lingerie shop. But it was probably named after a few too many mai tais.

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Surfboard signage in Hana

The signage on the island definitely added to the atmosphere. This BBQ hut in Hana had it’s hours listed on a surfboard.

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Left: Love on the rocks in Kihei Right: A makeshift sign at the Red Sand Beach in Hana

Some of my favorite signs were unofficial and organic.

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Coconut Glen’s Ice Cream

Coconut Glen’s sign on the road to Hana is much like it’s namesake vegan ice cream. Funky, alternative and catchy.

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Loved this funky fish-inspired signage in Paia

Signs might not be the stuff postcards are made of but sometimes they really give you the feel of the spirit of a place. I found that to be true in Maui.

Exploring Maui, Hawaii: Road to Hana Highlights– the Venus Pool

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Jumping for Joy at the Venus Pools

Some the best highlights on Maui’s famed Road to Hana are beyond the town of Hana. While most guide books will claim you can do this scenic Hawaiian road trip in 3 hours, I’d suggest taking at least two days. Spend a night (or three) in the Hana area so you can explore the area at your own pace and linger at the places you like.

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Hiking through sugar cane to the Venus Pool

One of the definite highlights of the area is Waioka pond, better known as the Venus Pool. The trail to this beautiful spot can be found on the ocean side of the Hana Highway, just past Mile Marker 48 and before the bridge. The hike is easy and interesting and it takes about 10-15 minutes of walking through sugar cane and lush greenery and past a weird looking shelter (that is an old bread oven) before you see the stunning blue pool fringed by rock.

Slo motion Venus pool goodness

If you plan on visiting the Venus Pool, be sure you bring shoes that can handle water and have traction. Some of the rocks can get slippery. Sunscreen and a towel are also useful.

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Splash at the Venus Pool (waioka)

We visited in late morning it was glorious. Based on the number of locals who showing off their cliff diving prowess, it is a gem appreciated by locals and visitors alike.

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rock climb, dive, repeat

The Venus Pool is a stunning shade of blue in the late morning light. The water here is slightly brackish since it partially filled by a spring and not just the ocean.

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It’s one of the most magical swimming holes I’ve ever seen. The Venus pond is deep enough that visitors jump and dive from various rock outcroppings

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Into the blue of Waioka (aka the Venus Pool)

I loved the Venus Pool so much I wanted to come back again. It’s a great spot for swimming, hanging out, or having a picnic. If you didn’t bring lunch, head back towards Hana and grab a bite at Bruddah Hutts BBQ, one of the best food trucks in the area.

Waioka (the Venus Pool)

Trail head located just past Mile Marker 48 on the Hana Highway.

Hana, Hawaii 96713

 

 

 

 

Exploring Maui, Hawaii: Ho’okipa Beach, Paia and Mama’s Fish House

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The beach outside of Mama’s Fish House

If you’re looking for something different from the mega resorts on Maui, I’d highly advise spending a day exploring Ho’okipa Beach Park and the charming town of Paia.  Ho’okipa is one of the best windsurfing spots on the island if not the planet. It’s also a favorite of surfers and people who just want to watch them while enjoying a day at the beach.

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Summer day at Ho’okipa Beach Park

I am particularly fond of the mix of locals and tourists at Ho’okipa Beach. There are even a few interesting food trucks if you need a quick bite to eat.

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Food trucks at Ho’okipa Beach 

Drink a coconut or grab a nibble, but don’t spoil your appetite. You’ll want it later.

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Another view of Ho’okipa Beach 

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Left: Getting ready to surf at Ho’okipa Right: Surfing rush hour

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Windsurfing at Ho’okipa Beach

Ho’okipa is located close to Paia, which a charming spot to browse, go shopping, or grab a shave ice.

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Sun’s out/buns out at Ho’okipa Beach

Bathing suits are cheeky this season. If you’re doing the sun’s out/buns out thing, don’t forget your sunscreen!

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Kampachi Ceviche at Mama’s Fish House

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After you’ve worked up an appetite at the beach, head to nearby Mama’s Fish House for a meal. Be sure to book ahead… there is a reason Mama’s is so popular!

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Left: Blue Hawaiian at Mama’s Fish House Right: the cute pineapple I found blended right in with the Hawaiian decor

While fresh fish is the specialty at Mama’s they also serve excellent short ribs as well as some island specialities like fresh poi and kalua wild boar.

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Grilled shrimp at Mama’s

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img_9419Left: Ahi poke Right: Fresh poi comes complimentary at Mama’s

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Mahi mahi and ahi Panang curry

This is great place to try a tropical cocktail. Mama’s version of the Mai Tai isn’t too sweet. The Blue Hawaiian is probably more photogenic than it is my taste.

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Tiki pineapple goodness at Mama’s Fish House

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Mama’s menu + pineapple = art

After a mai tai or two, I got creative and noticed my pineapple felt like part of the menu art at Mama’s Fish House.

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View from a table at Mama’s Fish House

Mama’s Fish House also has The Inn at Mama’s right next door, should you wish to stay in this charming part of the island. I plan on doing so on my next visit to the island.

Ho’okipa Beach Park

Located at Mile #9 on Hâna Highway (36).

Mama’s Fish House

799 Poho Place,
Paia, HI 96779
TEL (808) 579-8488
FAX (808) 579-8594

OPEN DAILY from 11am to 9pm

Exploring Maui, Hawaii: Sunset Stroll and Happy Hour Picks in Wailea

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The Mana Kai Maui during golden hour

During my amazing girls trip to Maui our base for the first few days was the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort. Our first night on the island we took a walk along the beach towards Kihei to enjoy the sunset views.

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Sunset fishing spot in Kihei

There are a couple of great happy hours in Kihei with stunning views. Sarento’s on the Beach and the 5 Palms at the Mana Kai Maui are both excellent locations to take in the sunset and enjoy an adult beverage.

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White sand beach during golden hour at Kamaole Beach Park

If you just want to stretch your legs, there are quite a few lovely public spots to take in the stunning views of Maui.

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Golden girls during golden hour

The public beaches are all easily accessible via foot including Kamaole Beach Park I, Kamaole Beach Park 2 and Kamaole Beach Park III. Walking through them is enjoyable because you’ll see plenty of locals playing in the surf and walking their dogs in these parks.
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Dog walk at Kamaole Beach Park

After dark, I highly recommend heading to the Andaz Maui where guests can enjoy roasting marshmallows poolside. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, it’s worth dining at Morimoto Maui for their sushi and Japanese menu (the hamachi tacos and chicken ramen soup are stand out dishes).

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Curves and clouds at Kamaole Beach Park

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Golden hour at Kihei’s Kama’ole Beach Park

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Toasting marshmallows poolside at the Andaz Maui

If you don’t want to do the walk after dark, an Uber X costs about $4 to take you from Kamaole Beach Park back to the Andaz Wailea.

Sarento’s on the Beach

2980 South Kihei Road
Kihei, Maui, HI 96753
Phone (808) 875-7555

5 Palms
2960 S. Kihei Road
Kihei, Maui HI 96753
Phone (808) 879-2607

Morimoto Maui
3550 Wailea Alanui Dr.
Wailea, HI 96753
(808) 243-4766

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