Kea Lani Resort Maui

Submitted by Stacy B -  Omaha offcie

Nov 2013

I travelled with 2 friends and flew on Delta through Minneapolis and LA; we had a direct flight from Minneapolis to Maui.  The stop in LA was nice so that we could stretch our legs before continuing on for another 5 hours and not worry about making a connection. We had to deplane so the cleaning crew could do their thing.  TIP:  Make sure you take all your personal items, such as your phone that has your boarding pass on it (a new boarding pass can’t be printed when it’s a direct flight…FYI).

We rented a car through Enterprise and found our way to the rental car pick up area which is a little outdoor hike from baggage claim.  TIP:    The shuttle vans from all rental companies congregate around the backside of the building.  We arrived at night so it was a little tricky figuring out where to go even with the signs.  All the car rental companies are within 5 minutes of the airport.

It took about 40 minutes to drive from the airport to Wailea.  An easy drive even at night.  When we arrived at the Kea Lani, the valet met us immediately – said they were expecting us and knew our names (we were the last guests arriving that night).  We chose to valet the car ($30 a night to valet and $20 to self park)…$10 more was money well spent after a long day of traveling.  After a quick check-in process, we were taken to our suite; and the bellman, Deb, showed us the amenities of the suite from top to bottom.  She set up our luggage, made out the sofa bed, ordered more towels and another bathrobe; and while doing all this, gave us several suggestions on things to do and see. This was all within 15 minutes of arrival and set the tone for the entire week.

The Kea Lani is the only all suite resort in Hawaii.  Their standard suite is approximately 850 sq feet, has a separate bedroom with either king or 2 queen beds and a queen sofa bed that’s part of a large sectional sofa.   The lanai is huge…it wraps around from the living area to the bedroom and has a nice round table with 4 chairs (not plastic) and a lounger with small table.  The bathroom is very large...2 sinks, separate jetted tub and a walk-in shower.   There’s a door from the foyer into the bathroom and also from the bedroom.  The foyer has a 5 ft. marble counter top above a microwave and mini-refrigerator.  The refrigerator is a good size…comfortably held a couple bottles of wine, beer, soft drinks, water and fruit…all the basics!  Be sure to check out their oceanfront 2- and 3-bedroom villas with their own plunge pool and grill area.  These are, of course, popular with families and do fill up fast -  there are only 37 of them.


We rented a pool cabana for our first day – I didn’t want to do anything after a long travel day but relax.    I reserved the cabana in advance through the pool concierge and requested a specific cabana at the adult pool.  The rental is $150 a day (8:30 to 5 pm) with unlimited water, soft drinks, and fruit drinks provided in a lovely iced-down cooler.  You also get a nice plate of fruit.  The pool attendant will ask when you want the drinks delivered and then bring more ice when needed. We could be in the pool and then escape into the shade and lounge under the cabana whenever we wanted to without having to walk more than 3 steps.  And, of course, there is bar servicr.

We went on a 4-hr snorkeling tour one morning to the Molokini Crater and Turtle Bay.  $130 pp included all the equipment, instructions, guides, lunch, and drinks.  A   few days later, went on the sunrise bike ride down Haleakala…$150 pp.   I booked these in advance since we wanted to do both and I wanted to have “relaxing time” in between.  TIP:   Certain activities should be booked in advance, not only to avoid something being sold out but also to be prepared clothing wise.   We brought leggings, gloves, scarf,  and closed-toe shoes (required) for the bike ride since up at 10,000 ft it can be down right cold. The Kea Lani suggested Bike It Maui; they provided windbreaker- type pants and jackets and large gloves; but without our other layers, we would have been miserable. 

Bike it Maui picked us up promptly at 2:50 am…it took about 2 hours to drive from Wailea to the summit.  Sun rose that day at 6:19 am.  There is a small gift shop at the summit you can take shelter in if the weather is nasty, but you and 600 other people will jockey for space.  Our Bike It Maui guide told us the best strategy for staking out a spot to view the sunrise…one of the 2 guides was with us the entire time on the summit which apparently isn’t the case with some of the other tour companies.  Unfortunately, fog set in as we drove closer to the summit and it didn’t lift for sunrise.  The park ranger did a nice chant/blessing at sunrise…a very solemn moment that I can only imagine would have been close to mystical if I could have seen the sun!

After sunrise, we drove down to 6500 ft to start the bike ride.  We were given a motorcycle-style helmet and bike, signed our life away on a waiver form, and were given a thorough mini safety mini course on bike riding down a mountain.  With only 200 ft of actual peddling, you are coasting at 15-17 miles per hour most of the time, except around the curves (well, at least I slowed down there!).   The entire group stopped a few times to un-layer clothing and take pictures (Bike it Maui does not allow any cameras or phones on the ride…you keep them in the van).  Speaking of the van, it follows behind the slowest rider (and it wasn’t me) and the other guide leads the way.  So when cars are coming down the mountain, the driver tells the lead guide who then motions to the riders to move over if needed. We passed lavender fields, pineapple fields, eucalyptus woods…sensory overload!  This is definitely another great experience I recommend for semi-adventurous types.   At the end of the ride, we had a full sit down breakfast (it was about 9:30 am at that time) and we were back at the Kea Lani by 10:45.  Since I knew it was going to be a long day, we had rented the pool cabana again and could take naps in between pool time.

Dining experiences:

Mamma’s Fish House…a “must” for those that love fresh seafood.  Their menu lists each type of fish special, the name of the fisherman who caught it, and where!  The menu is determined by what is caught each day…the fish literally come still flopping to the restaurant.  Mamma’s is about 10 minutes from the airport so about 50 minutes from Wailea and 30 minutes from Lahaina.  Keep this in mind when making a reservation…and a reservation is absolutely necessary for dinner.  I made our reservation about 2 weeks in advance and could only get an 8:15 opening, which we took!  They are open for lunch, too.  The restaurant is oceanfront,  and I’m sure it has a completely differently feel in the day light; but we arrived after dark and could hear the ocean as we walked down from the parking lot…the path lit by tiki torches.  The atmosphere is very Polynesian inside without being cheesy.

Sarentos…less than a 10 minute drive from the Kea Lani and only 1 of 2 oceanfront restaurants in Wailea.  It’s an Italian restaurant which was a nice change of pace – but they still have seafood.  We had a table very close to the front so hearing the ocean and seeing the beach, water, and, of course, tiki torches was extremely relaxing.  So much so that we almost fell asleep…it was the night of our bike ride.   It would have been a completely different experience if they had stuck us in the back.     

Kihei Caffe:  Supposedly the “best breakfast on Maui”…and it was awesome.  It’s about 10-15 minutes from the Kea Lani, across the street from the ocean.  This looked to be the downtown strip of Kihei and reminded me a little of the Florida Keys…a very fun, laidback beachy-surfy type of atmosphere.  Lines can be long – you order inside first and then find a seat outside.  We had our food within 10 minutes.  TIP:  Try the French toast...huge portion with almost any type of tropical topping and inexpensive, relatively speaking.  Our bill was $48 for 3

Other tips to pass on.

The sun is brutal so lather on the sunscreen no matter how much of a tan you have.

Sunrises and sunsets are big deals on the islands so try to make at least one “scheduled” event.  The Kea Lani has a simple ceremony outside their lobby lounge each evening.  TIP:  Prime dinner time at restaurants is sunset so make reservations early if you want a nice view.

Big Beach…a beautiful stretch of golden sand beach about 10 minutes south of the Kea Lani.  All beaches in Hawaii are public; resort chairs and umbrellas can be rented from the resorts.

The “north” road from Kahului (airport) to Kapalua – not as well publicized as the “Road to Hana” but for my money, equally as harrowing!  It’s not for the faint hearted or large cars/trucks.  Several hairpin turns and 2 of the 20+ miles were one-lane roads.  It seemed the rule of the road was the car “coming up” had to back down until they could pull over on a very teeny-tiny shoulder!  There aren’t the waterfalls and hiking opportunities as the Road to Hana but you don’t have to backtrack either.  Magnificent views well worth the white knuckles.