Maui Wowie: Our Two and a Half Days in the Tropics

A few weeks ago, Sean and I went to Maui for the weekend. I think you'll find that there are a couple of crazy things in that sentence: the first being "Maui" and the second being "for the weekend." (Well, technically it was a three-day weekend, since we left early Friday morning and came back Sunday, but still; I think that's the largest amount of ocean I've crossed for the smallest amount of time.)

Now, Sean and I had both been to Hawaii before, but each of us had had what is possibly the least authentic Hawaii experience ever; Sean had stopped there on shore leave back in 2001 when he was still in the Navy---which meant he spent 24 hours drinking in Waikiki and probably eating at, like, Outback Steakhouse or something, seeing as he'd just arrived on dry land for the first time in three months---and I had only been once for work. I know what you're thinking—Hawaii? For work? Oh, I feel so sorry for you—but let me tell you, it is a cruel tease, going to Hawaii for work; you're running around in one of the most relaxing places in the world and you have absolutely no chance to relax. In fact, when I got back from that trip, I remember thinking that I might have been the only person to ever visit Hawaii without getting in the water once.

So when Sheraton invited me out to Maui last month to spend a romantic weekend with Sean at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, I don't think I have to tell you what I said. (But look, just in case I do have to tell you: I said yes. YESYESYESYES. Then I stopped saying yes long enough to make a last minute trip to Target for sunscreen and bathing suits. For both of us. I admit it, I totally became that woman who emailed her husband pictures of swimming trunks from the Mens' Clothing section of Target. These? These? These? How about these? Then I threw in a joke pair of Speedos just for kicks.) 

We left San Francisco very early on Friday morning and landed around 10am in Maui. Leaving San Francisco for, well, anywhere is always a fraught experience when it comes to airplane outfits, because it's pretty much always going to be about fifty degrees warmer where you land than it was where you took off. In this case, I wore my standard flying uniform of skinny jeans, black tank, and big black wraparound cardigan---to be taken off when I arrived, obviously---which was obviously too much for the TSA agent who eyed me suspiciously as I handed her my boarding pass. "You're wearing black?" she said. "To Hawaii?"

Ah, our fiftieth state has a dress code, does it?  I had no idea!

Four and a half hours later, we touched down in Maui, where we were immediately greeted with fresh leis. I tell you, if there's anything that helps you with that tricky transition from real life to vacation life (you know, that's the one where neither money nor calories count), it's walking around an airport with a garland of fresh purple flowers around your neck and not giving a damn what anyone thinks.

We picked up our rental car---we chose a convertible because...well, why not?---and headed out to find the hotel. The Sheraton is about a 45-minute drive from Kahului airport, but it's a truly gorgeous one; we stopped once for shave ice, and about fifty thousand times to take pictures of the scenery. Thanks to the convertible, we even got the beginnings of a farmer's tan.

Walking into the hotel, it was like someone had stuck a pin in both of us and all the stresses and strains of the last few months leached out; we felt ourselves visibly relax. 

The lobby and common areas are huge and airy and open, with fantastic panoramic views of Kaanapali Beach. I spotted the pool, which winds itself throughout the resort, and had to physically restrain myself from jumping in.

We took a golf cart to our room and settled in a little before hitting the beach. The room was bright and very comfortable, but the real feature was the spacious balcony that looked straight out over the sea.

We spent the rest of the day lounging by the pool, ordering mai tais, and soaking up the sun. While I did see a good many kids at the resort, I appreciated how easy it was to....well, to distance myself from them, honestly. The pool is large enough that the kids just sort of disperse around it, and you can easily pick a quiet little corner in which to read your book (Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, as it happens; I read the entire thing) and get mildly, pleasantly buzzed on drinks containing hunks of pineapple and tiny umbrellas.

When we got back to the room, a surprise awaited us: it looked like a big green pinata, but in fact turned out to be a selection of Hawaiian snacks all wrapped up in an enormous banana leaf. It was pretty much the greatest thing ever; we had macadamia nut cookies, Maui potato chips, and bottled water to take to the pool for the rest of the trip.

Sunset at the Sheraton Maui is sort of a big deal; the hotel is situated right in front of the legendary Black Rock of Kaanapali and every night there’s a cliff dive ceremony to honor the last chief of Maui, Kahekili, who proved his spiritual strength by jumping into the ocean from the top of the rock. In case you need any more incentive---what, a guy jumping off a rock isn't awesome enough?---the Black Rock Bar offers a happy hour from 5pm to 7pm, so you can sip a pina colada while watching the action. Yes, that is what we did. Like you even had to ask.

After the ceremony was over, we went in search of dinner. Wondering what life was like outside the resort's grounds, we walked the five minutes along the beach to nearby Whaler's Village, a sort of outdoor mall area with plenty of ocean-facing restaurants. The sunset was glorious, one of the best I'd ever seen. Apparently it wasn't a fluke either; it was just as good the following night.

One of the things I really wanted to do in Hawaii was to eat as much pineapple as humanly possible. Is there a record for competitive pineapple eating? I wanted to break it. I was lucky, then, that the buffet breakfast the next morning supplied it in spades. Just to mix things up a little, I also got a spinach omelette from the omelette-making station. I have to tell you, I love a good omelette-making station; I'm not sure what it is about them, but it just seems so luxurious. It's like having a private butler, except his only job is to make you an omelette, and you only get him for five minutes.

Breakfast digested, we started our second day at the Sheraton with a little light snorkeling around Black Rock, after renting snorkels and masks from the watersports counter at the hotel. We had originally wanted to go diving, but Sean's contact lens broke off in his eye---excuse me, BROKE OFF IN HIS EYE, I think that warrants all caps---the day before we arrived, so he was wearing his glasses the entire time. He figured he could probably snorkel without them, but didn't trust himself to dive. It was kind of a bummer, particularly when we saw how fantastic the marine life was around Black Rock, but snorkeling gave us a pretty good taste of it.

And anyway, we were about to get our adrenaline from something else.

The day we arrived, we'd seen people parasailing out over the ocean. "Want to try it?" asked Sean, fully expecting me to say no. I am, however, surprisingly adventurous when it comes to these sorts of things---I informed him coolly that I had actually already tried parasailing: when I was eight, on a beach in Malaysia, put that in your pipe and smoke it, buddy---and so we headed over to the hotel concierge to sign up.

Then we had lunch at the bar by the pool, because if this was going to be my last meal, I was certainly going to splash out and order the chicken on top of my caesar salad.

With a side of extra courage.

We met the rest of our parasailing crew at the end of the beach, just outside the restaurant where we'd had dinner the night before. We were a nice small group: along with the two of us, there was a teenage girl, both her parents, and her grandmother-—who, yes, went up in the air as well. Man, I thought my grandma was cool for doing yoga.

Parasailing itself turned out to be fantastic; I'd only done it before from the beach, but in Maui you take off from the back of the boat; it's sort of like how I imagine it would feel to be a kite. The wind picks you up and then you're off, floating high above the ocean. We took a tandem ride, which meant we were all alone together at what felt like the top of the world.

Before we went back to the room to get ready for dinner, we made a quick stop at the Link@Sheraton, which is a lovely, breezy lounge that offers free wifi along with stunning views over the beach. If we hadn't been in Maui for such a short time, I would have made this place my home base and set up shop there for an hour or so every day to catch up on email and the Internet.

For our last night, we put on our fancy clothes and had dinner at the Black Rock Steakhouse, whose tables open directly onto the verdant lawn. We diverged long enough from our pina-colada-and-mai-tai streak to order a cold bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, which we drank while tucking into salads, seafood, and filet mignon, and watching the sun go down across the Pacific.

Back at the room, our mysterious gift-giver had materialized again, leaving two miniature bottles of champagne and some strawberries dressed charmingly in chocolate tuxedos. Did you ever think a strawberry could be cute? Neither did I. But there you go. It was the perfect late-night snack.

Before we left, I wanted to check out the gym, so on Sunday morning, I ventured down to the Sheraton Fitness Center for a quick workout. It's large and spacious, and if you have to work out on vacation, this is the place you want to be doing it. 

I'd remembered, however, that a Gym In A Bag had been delivered to our room on our first day (I'm hoping it wasn't a hint), so after 30 minutes on the elliptical machine, I headed back to see what it was all about. Guess what? Even bicep curls are super fun when you can do them on your balcony over the ocean.

We left the Sheraton Maui reluctantly on Sunday morning, fully relaxed and reconnected, despite the fact that we'd only really had two days away together. Whenever I go on vacation, I like a healthy ratio of lying-on-the-beach to Doing Things —and by "a healthy ratio," I mean that there's slightly more lying-on-the-beach than Doing Things; it is a vacation after all—and this was truly a hotel where it was easy and intuitive to do both. Sure, we sat in the sun for hours on end, moving little other than our drink-picking-up hand, but we also made sure we stayed active and did a few new and exciting things. Heading back home, we both agreed that it felt like we'd been at the hotel for much longer than we actually had—and hopefully next time we will be.

Want to win a dream trip of your own? Head over to BlogHer for the chance to win a 7-night trip (worth $2,550!) to the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, or to one of five other Sheraton properties. Rules are here. Tons more Maui pictures are here.

Aug 15, 2011

Looks like such fun! I'm headed to Maui for New Year's, so I was excited to read about your trip. Love your red striped dress, by the way!

Aug 15, 2011

Oh man, I could use a trip to Hawaii after the year I've had.

Glad you had a great time and got some sun time in (since SF isn't exactly a sun lovers heaven).

Jan Ross
Aug 15, 2011

Oh My God!! I'm so excited I might have to resort to ALL CAPS BECAUSE I HAVE STAYED THERE TOO! The great pool, the fabulous pineapple, the Whaler's Village! Yes, yes, yes! Guess you didn't have time to go into the town of Lahaina but that's fun to do as well. Biggest banyan tree I have ever seen and you can get a free shell necklace at Hilo Hatties. That resort is truly a wonderful place to relax. Glad you had a good time as well.

Dawn K
Aug 15, 2011

We celebrated getting 'mauied' (GAH I'm a dork) by honeymooning in Maui. If I close my eyes and focus enough, I can smell the sweet scent of the sugar cane fields.

I ate my weight in pineapple as well. Beyond delicious!

trudi guindon
Aug 15, 2011

Love Love all the wonderful phots taken on your amazing trip !! I could onlt dream of a vacation like this . My kids would be in awwww and I would nearly faint I'm sure !!

yours truly, melissa
Aug 15, 2011

Sounds pretty amazing!

Aug 15, 2011

So I know James Franco does a lot with his time - acting, writing, getting his PhD - but I had no idea he was driving boats for para-sailing guests in Maui. Hehehe.. No really, does anyone else think that looks like James Franco?!

We want to go to Hawaii this winter very badly. Never had a honeymoon, and we could really use one. This just motivates me to book the room already!

Aug 15, 2011

How fun! We love Maui. We honemooned there and it was beyond fantastic. Best vacation ever. I drank my weight in mai tais. :)
That red dress is marvelous. Where is if from?

Aug 15, 2011

Fitness in a bag sounds like a great idea. I have never been to Hawaii but would love to go, it looks so beautiful!

Nothing But Bonfires
Aug 15, 2011

Ellyn, he DID look like James Franco, you're right! Even more so in real life.

Sarah, my dress is just from TJ Maxx a few years ago.

Aug 15, 2011

This sounds amazing. But holy crap, is Sean's eyeball ok?!

Amy --- Just A Titch
Aug 15, 2011

Your hair looks so pretty long!

Aug 16, 2011

I had to put aside my brief jealousy at your awesome trip to covet your red TJ Maxx dress too. I have had an on/off relationship with Hawaii. It started when my parents insisted that I get a job while I was home for the summer. Then they planned a family vacation to Hawaii and acted put out that I couldn't up and leave my two month job for a week. A few years later my relationship with Hawaii was on like Donkey Kong, and I was lucky enough to go three years in a row (once to Kauai, once to the Big Island, and once to Maui & Honolulu). That was ten years ago and I haven't been back since so I think it's safe to say that Hawaii and I are off again. I would love to go back but can't decide which island to grace with my presence. You definitely made a strong argument for Maui though!

Aug 16, 2011

I am not sure there are enough words in the English language to adequately describe my intense jealousy on reading this, as I sit in my not-at-all warm and peaceful frontroom in drizzly dreary Cardiff!

Pretzel Thief
Aug 16, 2011


Do I ever hear ya on the omelette-making station business!

My husband and I were on Hayman Island for 4 days in late Feb (yes, you must go, it's fantabulous) and the omelette making station at the Hayman resort was just...WELL.

Perfect, perfect, PERFECT.

Your Maui holiday also looks all kinds of perfect and I'm rapt you and Sean got to have such a wonderful getaway! YAY!

marquita herald
Aug 16, 2011

Looks like you had a terrific time! Just FYI - your goodies were wrapped in ti leaves (not bannana leaves) and the Hawaiian word for that bundle is "puolo" ... it's commonly used for gifts of food or lei. Hope you can visit during whale season some day - nothing like seeing one of those magnificant creatures breaching to turn a grown adult into a screaming child!

Aug 16, 2011

I'm here to tell you that you can, in fact, eat too much pineapple. I had an unfortunate incident on Koh Tao in Thailand a few years ago where I ate so much pineapple I got some sort of freaky blister INSIDE my mouth. Not good.

Looks like a fab trip! Why can't Hawaii be 4.5 hours from NYC?

Tim and Diane
Aug 16, 2011

Diane and I married on the Black Rock lawn at the Sheraton Maui in April (10 days) ... We loved the Sheraton.. Truly a beautiful location. June 2012 we will be returning for 10 days...

Aug 16, 2011

Maui! For the weekend! AWESOME! I'm so happy that you two got the opportunity to do that! The pictures are lovely and I, too, am coveting the red dress.

Aug 17, 2011

You are completely rocking the long hair... it looks fab-YOU-lous! Love that pic of you holding the gym bag.


What an amazing vacation!!! I am trying to convince my fiance that we should go to Hawaii for our honeymoon!!!

Aug 19, 2011

It looks like you had an amazing time! I love Maui, it's one of those places you wish time would stop when you are there and never have to leave!

Aug 20, 2011

Gorgeous! It's on the list of potential honeymoon venues!

Dianne Hands
Aug 20, 2011

Love all the info and pictures about your mini vacation...Maui is one of the places on my bucket list I would love to visit someday...My dream is to be able to have a family vacation there with all my children and grands...oh it doesn't cost anything for a granny to dream ..

Aug 26, 2011

I would love to go to Puerto Rico and stay at the Sheraton Hotel. It is a beautiful and exotic location and very Americanized.

Brian Kiever
Sep 05, 2011

My wires dream, one day.

Marion Ward
Sep 10, 2011

Wowee, would I ever love to go to Maui and stay at the Sheraton. It looks like a fabulous resort that pays attention to detail and making sure their patrons are happy. How nice to have the surprise of champagne and chocolate strawberries. I can just imagine myself on the balcony with my husband enjoying them now, ahhhhhhh...

Tari Lawson
Sep 16, 2011

Maui looks awesome but that is so far from here. I think I would pick Puerto Rico instead.

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