I tend to book places when I get a good feeling about the place. Kihei had a pretty name, it was close to the airport (our flight arrived at 11pm) and I managed to find a condo on the beach for a reasonable rate. We like small hotels especially in Hawaii: the type that feel like you’re living in a condo but still have hotel luxuries. Sometimes in bigger hotels you end up with a fancier room but might have to trade off the view for the same price and then take elevators up and down millions of floors every time you want to go to the beach which is difficult with young ones in tow.
Our spacious loft-style room at the Aston Maui Lu was definitely a little older, but it was clean and it had a spectacular view. Ours was on the corner so it was literally steps from the beach.
I was a little worried when I read some of the ratings but I noticed that this hotel seemed to have rooms across the street from the beach and I can imagine you would have a different review if you stayed in a room over there. For us, the loft-style ocean-view rooms on the beach side were an excellent value: especially during humpback whale season (approximately December-March). I think it would be difficult to find this type of view room for this price anywhere else on Maui.
We didn’t really think much about the whales when we booked but then I saw this article about the best places to see whales and when we were hanging out on our lanai in the morning the Bean noticed ‘dolphins’ playing in the water. But they weren’t dolphins, they were ginormous breaching humpback whales spouting in the distance. And after that we noticed that there were spouts everywhere and we spent a lot of time just playing on the beach and watching the whales.
We were so entranced by these sighting we arranged an impromptu tour and from our hotel-base it was a quick drive to the Maui Ocean Center (Ma’alaea) where we had a fabulous tour with the Pacific Whale Foundation.
We spotted numerous whales over our two hour tour (even though in my phone pics they only look like spots, I swear we saw huge whales breaching!) and a naturalist even talked with the kids about the whales they saw. For about 45 dollars for the family this was an excellent adventure. (And the kids were free. I think if you re-booked for another tour you also ended up getting 20% off and there are more perks if you join the Ocean Foundation, but the hubby said I have too many memberships.) We liked this tour so much we ended up taking a longer snorkeling tour later on in our trip but a two hour tour is a great way to see if your kids actually like being on a boat for that long.
A short drive from our hotel we also found a really neat boardwalk. One morning when it was a little too early and too chilly to go in the water we took a walk along the wooden bridges through the wildlife preserve then walked back along the beach. And of course we also saw whales spouting in the distance here as well.
For eateries in Kihei, we loved the Kihei Caffe. It is cash only and I think there can be long long lines but the breakfast was super delicious. Their mac-nut cinnamon buns are made onsite and the hubby’s veggie scramble was divine. I tend to eat papayas with granola and yogurt in Hawaii and I love that the kids meal was only 2.95.
We also re-visited Ululani‘s shave ice, one of the only things I remember from our first trip. The outlet in Kihei is fairly new and it’s near a fruit stand and an ABC store. I swear these people may have the best shave ice in Hawaii. I’m usually a Matsumoto’s fan (North Shore, Oahu) but Ululani’s ice is probably the fluffiest ice I’ve ever had. I wish we had shave ice like this in Seattle.
And after we stayed at different locations around the island, we decided Kihei is definitely the most central because we drove near there so many times as we journeyed around the island.
(PS. the Aston Maui Lu did not have a kitchen but had a small fridge. I always think we’re going to need a kitchen when we travel but I forget you have to cook and clean and for all the times we’ve had kitchens I don’t really use them. The simplest thing is just to buy a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, and a local-themed jam, ie. guava and if I save on lunch, then we can splurge on a fancy dinner, or something like that.)
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