Maui wowee - Honua Kai resort

Posted by Stacy Baas on February 19, 2013 1 Comment

Our nearly 3 year old is a generally happy kid. Easy-going (mostly), optimistic and pretty content. But I know when she’s really happy because that’s when she starts to sing. Not a performance, but singing to herself – often mixed up lyrics - just barely above a whisper. Something like:

“A-B-C-D-E-F-G-how I wonder what you are. One for the master one for the dame, one for the little boy who lives down the lane. Now I know my ABCs…”

It’s her purr. When I hear it, I know that life is good.

I tell you this because she sang for 6 days straight while we were in Maui last week. It was such a good trip – mostly because of where we stayed – that I feel I have to write about it.

First, you need to know that we’re not really resort people. On our travels we’ll book a few days here or there, but eventually we start to feel a little trapped on a resort. VRBO is our usual go-to, because we like to have a home-like atmosphere and a reason to get out and explore. But the last time we went to Hawaii we realized that the resorts have the best access to many of the best beaches, so we decided to give one a try this time. However, we still wanted a condo-like experience – at the very least a suite – so  we could put the kiddo to sleep and still be free to stay up, drink wine and watch Real Housewives. But when we looked, the suites offered at most beachside hotels were WAY out of our price range.

Then we found Honua Kai.

I’ll start with the rooms. Every room is either a one-, two- or three-bedroom suite, so the idea of having a refrigerator or (heaven forbid) a cooking appliance other than a microwave in the room isn’t treated as an upgrade. And the suites are awesome. Not total luxury, but nicely appointed, spacious, clean and comfortable. The kitchen has full-size, brand-new Bosch appliances and every suite has a washer/dryer which got a lot of use on our watch. The bathrooms are nice with walk-in-showers (great for the preschool set) and deep soaking tubs (great for tired parents). We booked a one-bedroom, but arrived to find out we were upgraded to a two-bedroom, which just meant we had another place for my husband to spread out his belongings.

Next, the location: I don’t know a lot about Maui, so I didn’t know if Kaanapali beach would be OK, good or great. Turns out it was perfect. Gentle waves, long sandy beaches, a beachwalk for morning runs, and views to Moloka’I and Lana’I in the distance. We had several whale sightings while we were playing on the beach. There were a few small storms while we were there, but that just meant RAINBOWS. The most incredible, hang-around-for-a-couple-of-hours rainbows. I saw the rainbow’s end for the first time in my life…on the front lawn of the resort. Then I saw a dude walk through it. I don’t even know if he realized it, but I bet later he was all, “Man, I feel different. Somehow more colorful.”  Yep, that was our location. 

Kaanapali Beach, with views to Lana'i.

Double rainbow above the resort lawn.

Oh, and super close to Lahaina (which means Star Noodle for all you Top Chef fans out there), down the street from a grocery store, a short walk to the Royal Lahaina Luau…you get the picture.

And then the resort. All I can say is whoever designed it knows what it’s like to be a parent of a 3-year-old and desire a vacation that makes your kid happy without being Disney themed. Koi ponds (with a daily feeding that kids can participate in), big lawns, not-too-hot hot tubs, wading pools, lap pools, a waterslide, waterfalls, and waitstaff that deliver drinks straight to your deck chair. There is even a “quiet pool” for people who unwittingly show up without kids or are simply trying to escape theirs for a bit. We had so much fun exploring, and our little person just loved being able to try out her swimming skills in so many different, interesting venues. 

Daily koi feeding.

As for food, the on-site restaurant was beautifully positioned for sunset views and while resort-priced, was delicious and comfortable. The on-site A’ina Market had a perfectly curated selection of pantry-fillers, kid-favorites and vacation-only treats. Their coffee comes from the plantation across the street and by all accounts from my coffee-snob husband, was great.

There was a kids’ club that we peeked into and never used. But I can see that being a fun rainy day diversion or a great babysitting service for parents-only snorkeling excursions, etc. There’s also a spa and additional restaurant in the works, which we didn’t miss during our stay but would be happy to see if we go back.

Lastly, the people. Everyone at Honua Kai was super friendly, even the security guy who reset the smoke alarm after I left a piece of toast under the broiler while I went downstairs for a swim. (Sorry, Honua Kai! I’ll use the toaster next time!) And the people who stayed there were invariably warm and generally nice to be around too. On vacations like this one, I often want to be an introvert, but I found myself looking forward to socializing with folks at the pool. 

When we left, our daughter asked, “We come back to Hawaii soon?” And my husband answered, “Yes, hopefully very soon.” The true sign of a successful vacation. Aloha!


Pool view.
Ample seating for cherished loved ones. 



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Posted by Mark on May 11, 2016


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