We departed on a crisp fall day (November 7th to be exact) from Newark Liberty airport on an early morning flight to Maui with a stopover in Chicago O’Hare. The flight to Chicago was short and sweet, and so was our layover. My husband is a huge Chicago Bears fan so he loves being in Chicago, even though we were just in the airport. The flight to Maui was a long 9 hours – but since we were in a wide-body jet we had the two-top seats just to ourselves which made it really nice.
We arrived at Kahului airport at around 3pm Hawaii time. We were greeted with warm breezes and bright sun, yay! We usually never check our bags when we travel, so getting out of the terminal was a breeze. I quickly changed into a sundress and flip flops when we arrived. I usually keep a change of clothes in the outside pocket of my carry-on suitcase because I want to feel like I am on a tropical vacation as soon as I arrive!
We made our way to the Alamo counter where we had rented a convertible for the week. The rack rate of the convertible was actually rather high. I had tried to use priceline.com to get a better rate, but for some reason during the week we stayed there, the car rental prices just were not in our favor. In the end I managed to use corporate discounts to book directly through Alamo.
We left the airport in our bright electric blue Chrysler Sebring convertible, top down of course! The first stop before going to our hotel was a local restaurant chain called Zippy’s. It’s located not too far south from the airport and we wanted a quick bite before heading further south to Kihei. When we were on Oahu together years before, we discovered Zippy’s and thought it was a great combination of tasty local comfort food, fast service, and cheap prices.
The Kahului Zippy’s was relatively new-ish, and had a nice, pleasant, bright atmosphere. We sat at a booth and I ordered the small fried saimin, and hubs ordered the beef chili over white rice. A lot of food is served with rice in Hawaii (as opposed to other starches like potato), and being Chinese and an overall rice-person, it gets an enthusiastic thumbs-up from me. One thing I must must always get in Hawaii wherever I go is lillikoi drink (passion fruit), so I was very happy when our waitress brought over my tall refreshing glass of lillikoi, whoopee! A great start to vacay! Now I am one of those insane people who takes pictures of my food before eating it. I usually take pictures of interesting things I eat with my phone and post them on Facebook (yes I am one of THOSE people). Hooray for yummy food! Here’s some food shots:
The saimin was really good and the small portion was a nice size to tide me over until dinner. Since the portions in Hawaii are so big in any case, I think you can probably call it a regular size lunch portion on the mainland. 🙂 It was served with kamaboko (japanese fish cake), spam, cabbage and green onion.
Zippys is known for their chili. I don’t know what makes it so special, but it has a less “Southwestern” taste to it. I hear the secret ingredients are soy sauce and mayonnaise. Weird right? It tasted great though!
We left Zippy’s and headed on down to Kihei, but not without me picking up a few pastries to go at Napoleon’s lamisil tablets Bakery, which is part of Zippy’s. They had seasonal treats and the pumpkin coffee cake looked too good to pass up! I got myself 2 of those!
The drive to the Maui Coast Hotel was about 30 minutes, give or take. We brought along a Garmin GPS unit so driving around was very easy! Definitely highly recommended. BTW, don’t get a fancy one, get a cheap one for traveling in case you lose it or it gets stolen! (Nowadays the GPS feature on your smartphone or one of the many GPS apps, works brilliantly).
We entered the Maui Coast lobby, which was quite airy and spacious, and checked in. The process was quite smooth and we brought our own luggage to our rooms which were on the first floor. They didn’t have anything else available with a king bed, but we didn’t really mind. Our mindset was more or less that this hotel was just our “base” since we’d spend most of the next few days outside of the hotel anyways, so we didn’t really need anything too fancy. The room was very clean, with new furniture, flat screen tvs, mini fridge, and microwave. We manage to find parking outside the corridor to our rooms as well so it’s never a far walk to our car. We didn’t really have much of a lanai (balcony) since we were next to the parking lot on the first floor, but we never used it either. Bathrooms are small, but everything was new and clean. Sorry I don’t remember taking any pictures of the room We were really tired at this point.
We unpacked a bit and settled in for a nap. Well, hubs napped since it was pretty much like 2am NY time by that point. I watched TV: I was mesmerized by the Hawaii Channel, that channel that caters to tourists which has information about restaurants, tours, and sights about the island you are staying on. I recognized a few places that we were definitely going to, like Haleakala and Hana, as well as a few restaurants we were planning on trying. Great channel!!! I watched it all the time to see if there was anything I missed (the channel repeats the information over) At around 8pm local time, we got up and got dressed to get some dinner. I wanted to check out Café O’Lei, so we drove about a 1.4 miles to the restaurant. It was packed! Tons and tons of people. We asked about a table for 2 and were told we could sit at the sushi bar with no wait so that’s what we did since we were rather tired and didn’t feel like waiting long. We started with fresh dinner rolls (nice and warm), and I ordered the soy-butter ahi with white rice, and hubs got the Asian style short ribs. As an appetizer, we got the Café O’Lei tower, which was 3 tiers of deep fried goodness: tuna roll, fried calamari and fried coconut shrimp. The tuna roll had too much rice but otherwise the food was tasty and the portions huge! We had to take leftovers back to our room. Overall a good first dinner, albeit a bit noisy.
After our hearty dinner, we went back to the room and slept…and slept! We woke up at around 5am for our next adventure…the Road to Hana…on Day 2!!
Read our entire Maui 2009 adventure.