This view from the new Andaz Maui at Wailea is proof positive why so many travelers enjoy staying on Maui’s south shore. Beautiful beach with incredible scenery. Makes me wish I could play “tourist” more often.
This view from the new Andaz Maui at Wailea is proof positive why so many travelers enjoy staying on Maui’s south shore. Beautiful beach with incredible scenery. Makes me wish I could play “tourist” more often.
If there’s one thing I wish I had more time to do these days, it’s golf! Getting out to play once a month is a major accomplishment, so when the opportunity to play arises, I try to make the most of it. As was the case during our recent family vacation to The Valley Isle. We had one free day to hit the links so we headed to Kaanapali Golf Resort’s Royal Course for some fun in the West Maui sun.
My friends Ed Kageyama (Kaanapali’s General Manager) and Melissa Ludwig (Kaanapali’s marketing manager) were kind enough to host my family and me for the round. This was everyone’s first time playing the Royal Course – also the home of the Wendy’s Champions Skins Game in January – so were were quite excited to tee off at 7:30 a.m. And needless to say, we had a great time. Heck, I even somehow managed to shoot a sneaky 79 (thank goodness for par 71 courses). All around great day enjoyed by all.
What follows is my five reasons you should tee it up at Kaanapali’s Royal Course. Here we go…
NO. 1 – FRIENDLY STAFF AND FUN COURSE
The first thing I noticed upon arriving at the course was the staff’s warm, welcoming spirit. It wasn’t forced. It was more like being greeted by your uncles and friends….like coming home. We had fun talking story with the cart guys about things back on Oahu, they shared tips on playing the course, and Assistant Head Pro David Havens even found a stiff shaft, 8 degree driver for me to use for the round. Sweet!
The course itself is a fun track. We decided to play the white tees since the skill level of our foursome was all over the place. Generous fairways, not much water hazards, and not all that long to be honest. But you know short holes can be deceiving and the ones here need to be handled with care or else a big score lurks on a 340-yard par-4. There are some good elevation changes on this course too, which makes a solid second shot and distance control important…two things I’m not always the best with. But as expected, the course was in perfect condition…hardly a weed in the fairway and beautiful, fast, and true greens. Keeping your ball in the fairways is key as the rough, albeit not that tall, is still penal.
NO. 2 – GPS IN THE GOLF CART
It goes without saying that one of the most helpful pieces of information any golfer can have on the course is an accurate yardage from tee to green. If you’re like me, half the time your playing your second shot from the rough…on the other fairway or nowhere near a yardage marker…which can make getting an accurate distance tough. Well, not at Kaanapali. All golf carts are equipped with state-of-the-art GPS systems that give you all the yardages you need to know, enables you to keep score, and keeps your foursome on schedule by letting know how far ahead or behind your group is. Awesome!
NO. 3 – BONDING TIME
One of the main reasons I don’t play a lot of golf these days is because of the time commitment. Days can get long when you take into consideration time to get to the course, the actual round, then the usual 19th hole shenanigans. But, when I do get out there, I’m quickly reminded how that quality time on a golf course can really be an incredible bonding experience for family, friends, and colleagues. There’s tons of time to talk story and you really learn a lot about someone’s character out there. Bottom line…it’s worth the time investment as long as you’re playing with the right foursome. 😉
NO. 4 – FOOD AND BEVERAGE CARTS ARE AWESOME!
One of the things you don’t see at too many golf courses anymore are the food and beverage carts circling the course throughout the day…bring happy golfers snacks, food, and BEER! So when the cart girl came upon our group at Kaanapali with refreshments, we had no choice but to patronize…twice during our round. That’s all I’m going to say about that. LOL! But the convenience of having the beverage cart come to you during your round is a service I wish more courses would offer.
NO. 5 – FOUR HOUR ROUNDS ROCK!!
Nothing beats a four hour round of golf where the pace is brisk and not rushed. No waiting for the group in front to tee off on every…single…hole…like is the case at many of Hawaii’s municipal and public golf courses. I’m the kind of golfer who appreciates an efficient round and my scores reflect that. My family and I enjoyed a round in just a little over four hours. We probably could have finished faster, but we wanted to take it all in. This gave us plenty of time to do our guy thing in the morning, before catching up with family and friends at lunch and having the other half of the day to explore Maui. While you may pay a little more to play a resort course, it’s worth it if you value time. I’ll take a four hour round over a six hour round any day!
So there you have it. My two cents on why you might consider a round of golf at Kaanapali’s Royal Course. You’re probably thinking this can apply to any resort course in Hawaii…and you’re probably right.
The takeaway: Get out, tee it up, and enjoy the 80+ golf courses Hawaii has to offer. Some of the best golf you’ll play anywhere in the world. But don’t take my word for it. Check it our yourself!
I’d love to hear your Hawaii golf stories too, so feel free to share them here. In the meantime, keep ’em in the short grass!
Upcountry Maui has to be one of the most beautiful places in all Hawaii. Small towns like Pukalani, Haliimaile, Makawao, and Kula, that define the area on the slopes of Haleakala offer a glimpse back in time, each with a distinct personality and charm. Art galleries, restaurants, bakeries, and locally owned retail shops are what you’ll find here. Costco and Walmart don’t exist in Upcountryland. Crisp, cool mountain air keep things comfortable. The spectacular scenery alone is worth the drive.
We spend a lot of time Upcountry when we visit Maui since we stay with family living there. On our recent vacation to the Valley Isle, we revisited some of our favorite places. Here’s the photos…
If you’ve not been to Alii Kula Lavender Farm, you need to go. It’s a peaceful oasis with acres of manicured lavender fields and panoramic views of Maui’s south shore. It also smells really nice when you step outside of your car.
Just down the road from the lavender farm you’ll find Kula Country Farms. This small roadside store offers up fresh and delicious produce from the area. The Kula Strawberries for $3/container are always a winner…sweet and juicy. We like stopping by to pick-up vegetables and fruits to last us our time on Maui.
As lovers of cheese, visit Upcountry wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Surfing Goat Dairy. The kids enjoy petting the goats and roaming the area. Us adults love sampling the cheeses and talking story with the Kafsack’s when they aren’t busy milking the goats. The feta is a favorite of ours, but there’s all kinds of styles and spreads to choose from. They also have a lunch menu in case you’re hungry. You won’t be disappointed.
This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of amazing Upcountry Maui adventures to be had. Watching the sunrise and sunset atop Haleakala and hiking the crater is another adventure to consider. Tedeschi Winery and Ulupalakua are just a few more miles up the hill.
What are some of your favorite Upcountry Maui spots? I’m always looking for a new experience the next time we visit.
Haleakala Braised Lamb and Kula Tomato Ragu over Handcut Pasta from Market Fresh Bistro in Makawao – Just incredible! It takes three days to braise this beautiful piece of lamb and the results are self evident. Tender, flavorful, and served on a bed of delicious homemade pasta. If it’s on the menu, I highly recommend ordering it. The farm to fork experience here with friends Dania Katz of Edible Hawaiian Islands and PR guru Charlene Kauhane made the meal even more special. Menu doesn’t get much fresher than the one here.
We recently took a much needed vacation to Maui for a few days of rest, relaxation, fun, family, friends, exploration and of course eating! And boy did we eat well enjoying a couple family dinners in Kelly’s aunty’s garage in Wailuku, while making the most of the remaining time noshing at new and familiar eateries around the island. I managed to document the entire eating adventure on Foodspotting, however, for this post I decided to reduce it down to the 12 favorite things I ate on the Valley Isle. Tasaka’s Guri Guri Ice Cream would have made list had it not been for the sad fact that they were closed the entire time we were there. 😦 As was Sam Sato. But I digress. Let’s get to the eating.
Teri Beef and Chicken Katsu Plate from Cafe 808 in Kula – A favorite stop of ours for a plate lunch whenever we’re exploring upcountry Maui. Solid food, casual atmosphere, and guaranteed to fill you up. Come hungry!
Strawberries from Kula Country Farms in Kula – Always fun to stop by this roadside market to pick up fresh fruits and veggies. On this day, we picked up some strawberries which were so sweet and juicy. I also managed to snag some delicious beets which were roasted and devoured at dinner. NOM!
Pepperoni Pizza from The Outrigger Pizza Company in Pukalani – I was hoping I’d find a food truck on Maui and it didn’t take long to stumble upon this wood fire mobile pizza oven in the Long’s Drugs parking lot up in Pukalani. Serving up made to order pizzas using the freshest ingredients and cooked in under 90 seconds, I didn’t hesitate to jump in line to order. I liked the texture and flavor of the crust and the tomato sauce and toppings were ono. You can find the oven upcountry on Wednesdays. Check website for business hours.
Cream Horns from Stillwell’s Bakery and Cafe in Wailuku – All I can say is you need this! Creamy custard surrounded by flakey pastry dough and dipped in chocolate. While this would make anyone an instant hero at any party, these also make great omiyage for family and friends…if you’re traveling to the neighbor islands.
Garlic Noodles from Star Noodle in Lahaina – This place was another highly recommended stop on our eating expedition and I’m glad we stopped by. Handmade noodles in a delicious garlic sauce and topped with garlic bits and green onions…need I say more? I didn’t think so. I could eat this again, and again, and again, and again. If you’re hungry, you’ll want to order the large. Sharing optional.
Stick Donuts and Cream Puffs from Komoda Bakery in Makawao – Sometimes you just crave something familiar and comforting. This is a great place to find it. Nothing fancy. Just great tasting and satisfying pastries to start the day.
Mountain Apples from some friend’s tree – One of the real treats of the trip was snacking on fresh mountain apples from one of our aunty’s friend’s tree. I hadn’t had one of these in years and biting into one brought back memories of growing up on the Big Island. If you can get your hands on some at a market or a friendly neighbor’s yard, don’t pass up the opportunity.
Peter’s Signature Maui Cattle Co. Burger from Monkeypod Kitchen in Wailea – Who doesn’t love a good burger and this one is a winner! Great flavor and toppings. The only thing is I wish it came with fries (you need to order that ala carte). I’ve been a fan of Chef Peter Merriman since eating at his original restaurant in Waimea on Hawaii Island. When I heard about his new restaurant in Wailea, I knew we had to go. It is an impressive space with the scent of the wood burning oven wafting through the entire dining room. The menu is focused on local and sustainable ingredients and it’s evident in the quality of the food. A great place for a casual lunch or a romantic dinner. Oh, and there 36 handcrafted beers on tap…served at 29 degrees Fahrenheit. Awesome!
Chili Fried Chicken from Pukalani Superette in Pukalani – I’ve heard great things about the bentos at this place, but never had the chance to try them until this trip. Believe the hype. The chili fried chicken was flavorful, crispy and finger licking good. So was the chow fun. Get there early though as things can run out by mid-morning. A great stop for grub before heading up to Haleakala.
Pork Chops from Tiffany’s Bar & Grill in Wailuku – Just look at those pork chops…don’t you just want to lick our screen? Another family favorite for great food and good times. Reminds me of the Original Side Street in…no frills when it comes to looks, but the food is delicious and the menu is huge. Go check ’em now go!
And there you have it. There’s so many great places to eat on Maui I wish I had more time…and money. Please share your favorite spots to grab a bite and why. I’m already working on my list for the next visit. Until then, eat well.
When our zipline guides George and Luke joked about it being Joe’s (pictured above) third day up on the mountain strapping guests into their harnesses and sending them flying high through the West Maui mountains, it only made our group of 10 first time zippers that much more anxious. The additional jokes about how the trees below will soften the fall in the unlikely event of an accident only compounded the butterflies in my stomach. But truth be told, we were safe and in good hands and “greenhorn” Joe was an excellent guide. By the time the group reached the third zipline, my butterflies and fear of heights had vanished. Adrenaline had kicked in. This was also the case for the rest of the group.
Let’s get a couple things out of the way. I’m not the biggest fan of heights and I’ve never ziplined before. Kelly and her family did the ziplines at Kapalua Adventures earlier this year and had a lot of fun. So my visit to check out a new client Skyline Eco Adventures on Maui a couple weeks ago was one of great excitement and fear. I’d been told by owner Danny Boren and others that their line was one of the more “adventurous” ones on the island. “What the heck did that mean?” I thought to myself. I soon found out after committing to do both of Skyline’s courses – eight zips in Kaanapali in the morning, followed by five zips up on Haleakala in the afternoon – for a total of 13 incredible zipline crossings in one day. Here’s a few photos I took at both courses and a video highlighting some of the fun we had.
As they say, go hard or go home, so I made the most my time on Maui. The three-hour Kaanapali Skyline Adventure course winds its way down Mount Kahalawai over verdant valleys at a leisurely pace with spectacular views of West Maui and Lanai. This would prove to be a great way to start the day. The eight ziplines progressively get longer and faster starting at about 350 feet and ending at over 1,100 feet. But the most exciting and unexpected thing about the experience was the harness system Skyline uses. You’re literally strapped in at you waist and given the freedom to control how you twist and turn down the line by steering with the carabiner.
No two zips are alike…I went down a few straight, sideways, and backwards…which added to the thrill and excitement. The entire group had a great time and gave the tour 20 thumbs up. I documented my Kaanapali adventure on Twitter with commentary and photos which you can find here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
With my adrenaline still going, I jumped in my rental car and booked it up to the Hakeakala Skyline Tour for another five zips just after noon. This tour was much shorter at one and a half hours and featured a much tighter course in cooler mountain conditions. If you’ve been upcountry on Haleakala, you know the air is much crisper up there. The lines aren’t nearly as long as the Kaanapali course with the longest at just over 750 feet, but the thrill and excitement was just as intense. About a dozen of us took to the course. For most it was their first time. For a handful they had come back to do it again with friends.
The first four lines prepare you for what was my favorite zipline of the day…the fifth and final run that you saw in the video above. Talk about WOW! Perched high above the final destination, this line featured quite a drop and a boomerang effect for extra excitement. You go pretty fast on this line too (someone said up to 50 miles a hour). As the ladies rushed off the platform, some of the men in the group (including yours truly) had a sudden rush of butterflies in our stomachs again. But when all was said and done, we all made it, enjoyed it, and left wanting more! Again, I documented this Haleakala adventure on Twitter here, here, here, here, here, and here.
So there you go. If you want to overcome your fear of heights while enjoying some serious adventure, consider a zipline tour. It worked for me. Hawaii’s got plenty of them on Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii’s Big Island. They’re all different in their own way so be sure to do your research before you book. Some have you seated in a swing type seat going straight down the line, while others give you the freedom to maneuver around. Whatever you chose, be sure to bring your camera and take lots of photos. The views are priceless.
And before saying aloha, I leave you with some helpful zipline tips from my friend Sheila Beal who authors the GoVisitHawaii.com blog. She had the opportunity to zip on Kauai and provides some great reminders about being in Hawaii’s great outdoors.
In most cases, pictures speak louder than words, so I’m going to let the photos do the talking in this post.
But first a brief overview of what’s going on here. The Kam family enjoyed spending time this past weekend at the Sheraton Maui. It was a mix of business and leisure as I attended the Hawaii Hotel and Lodging Association’s Annual Membership Meeting and brought Kelly and Ensen along too. Ensen was especially glad Uncle Jon flew up to join us and was excited to cruise with Maui Grandma, Uncle Frank, and other family as well. By the end of the trip, I realized I hadn’t taken many photos though we were on the go-go-go most of the time. For what it’s worth, here’s a handful that documents our time there.
New toys awaited Ensen at Maui Grandma’s house.
We had a goal of eating Tasaka Guri Guri ice cream everyday we were there, but failed. We only ate it once but we ate a lot. Just for the record, Maui Grandma and Uncle Jon were with us. Four scoops mix (strawberry/pineapple) for the big kids…two scoops for Little E.
Our room at the Sheraton Maui in Kaanapali Resort was great. Tons of space for the family to chill out and beautiful views of the West Maui coastline. We had perfect weather too which didn’t hurt. As for the awesome pictures of Little E and me swimming in the pool…err…we’ll keep those in the family vault for now. 😛
We even took some time to relax and play on the oceanfront lawn.
Watched the locals folks jump off legendary Black Rock.
Here’s some photos I took with my new Canon EOS Rebel T1i. I’ve got a long way to go in figuring out all this technical camera stuff and the fancy settings, but I did manage to take some pretty neat looking pics.
All in all, a great weekend trip to the Valley Isle. I should also note that we had tons of fun at the Maui Brewing Company which serves up great food and some of the best local beers in Hawaii. Strategically, there are no photos from those experiences. 😉 But trust me, we had an awesome time!
Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’re probably aware that traveling to your favorite vacation destination is now more affordable (and probably cheaper) than ever. Airlines, hotels, activities, and attractions are bringing down rates and adding value in an effort to entice visitors to get off the sofa and travel in this challenging economy. Those with the means (or attitude) to kick the “recession” in the behind and continue with their vacations to places like Florida, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York know what I’m talking about. And Hawaii is no exception!
Despite being a dream destination for many, Hawaii’s perception as an expensive vacation spot has likely kept some from coming. While I think terms like “expensive” and “cheap” are all relative, one thing is certain. Those who are planning a Hawaii vacation today are realizing they can have their cake and eat it too. You don’t have to sacrifice quality of the experience for price. Hawaii is offering both.
A good example of this was highlighted in an Associated Press story headlined “Hawaii hotels offer great (and bizarre) deals” examining some of the creative ways the tourism industry in the Hawaiian Islands is staying competitive and the significant deals being offered. Just search Google or Bing and up comes tons of Hawaii travel specials. And if you’re on Twitter, the hashtag #hideals (short for Hawaii Deals) brings up further examples of the great island savings available out there on a regular basis.
So with all the great Hawaii vacation deals available, is it enough to tip the scale and get people traveling? Will people pay for an incredible vacation experience or settle for a mediocre one to save $$? I decided to ask the question on Facebook and Twitter and got some interesting responses. Here’s the feedback from Facebook:
Folks on Twitter had similar comments:
Not surprisingly, folks are looking for an incredible vacation experience at a good value. Some will save their money until they can afford that trip. Others will use rewards programs to make the trip a reality now. Shorter trips are also an option. And some are going to travel regardless of what the economy is telling them.
Is it enough to tip the scales? Only time will tell. Bottom line is the tourism industry is rallying to keep travel affordable to places like Hawaii (Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, and Hawaii Island) and other popular destinations. Get while the getting is good! Now is the time to go, so what are you waiting for?