Not my favorite hotel in Hawaii. This was a real let down after coming from the Kauai Marriott and the Waikiki Marriott. The hotel is not on the beach, you have to walk left or right to get to the beach. However if you get a room close to the ocean you are really close (100ft) to the rocks and ocean. The pool area is not one large area, but rather broken up into small pools spread out across the property. The infinity pool is for 18 and up only and 100 dollar cabana chairs. There is a slide for kids that is good for an hour or too, but it is by the baby pool and closes at 6, far away from the only good family pool area. This hotel is good for a business conference, but not the best for a family vacation. Maybe OK for couples. On the plus side, the beach does have great snorkeling. The front desk is overworked, there is always a line and I could see the stress. The room is Ok, but for being newly renovated they still have tube TVs and the wall paper is not perfect, as it is bubbled by the vents (two rooms). The first room we had was a great view, but it was over the loading dock?.so guess what we got to hear the beep, beep of delivery trucks while sitting on the balcony. Service ?frond desk I give them a A for effort, but their manager sucks. I feel sorry for them. Valet and bellman, an A, very responsive. Food??the upstairs restaurant was a B+, decent service, good food, but pricy (great view at sunset). What sucks was downstairs, and F. They have some new rules that they can not have any entertainment and they can not serve real food, that competes with upstairs. And good luck getting service by the pool, the one old bat came by once in 5 days. I either brought my own, or went to the bar. If you had not gone to one of the really nice Marriott??s this would not be a real downer, but after staying at one of their better properties in Hawaii it is hard to be excited about this one. The other factor is that Maui is much more expensive than Kauai or Oahu, and it feels like little California, not Hawaii.
So we read a couple of guide books. One written by locals said that the only way to see the Napali coast was to sail from the North Shore. The deal is that the Port Allen cruises spend more time going along the beach not the Na Pali. There was some big legal deal so only a few companies can go out of the North Shore (Hanalei bay).
They were right. As soon as we left out almost the whole 5 hours we were along the Na Pali
Captain sundown looks kind of like a lost redneck from the south, but his son and nephew (the crew) are safe, professional, organized, and customer service focused. Their boat is great, and with only 15 people it is not too crowded. We met at a gravel parking lot, from there they had a pick-up with seats in the back to get us to the beach. From there they had a skiff that took us out to the catamaran.
The waves were large, but we sailed out. I was glad we did not take a smaller boat. It was great to not have to use the motor for the first of the ride. They stayed further out on the way out so you can get a feel for the size, and safety/control since they are sailing. On the way back you are going against the waves so the motor is used. They get pretty close, so you can really see the beaches, rocks, caves, etc.
They gave you a simple lunch, but the bread was deli bread not plain, and fit the day/event.. The nephew was great about bringing around fresh fruit, dinks, and picking up the trash so it did not end up in the ocean. No easy feat with the boat tossing about, and I would not want any more with all the movement and wind. They have Great customer service. Also they let you ride on the nets for the ride back. What a great ride and experience. And after the trip the beach was great to hang out at for the rest of the afternoon. No hotels, only houses. So non-commercial/touristy.
Also note that some hotels are not allowed to recommend the north shore tours. Not sure if it is kickbacks or what, but do your homework without the hotel on this one.
And I almost forgot, the snorkeling was out of this world. We saw tons of fish, and two turtles. They do not make you wear life jackets, but do have noodles available If you want some floatation help.
This is my favorite Marriott, and I stay in their hotels a lot. We have now stayed here on two trips for a week each. It is a great place for a family vacation, great down time. The pool is awesome with an island in the middle, and 4 hot tubs. And the beach is right there, so easy to go back and forth. The beach is kid friendly, not rough. On the weekends the locals come in and they are friendly, not rude like some other places I have been. During the week the beach is wide open.
Kauai as a whole is one of my favorite islands. However this is not the island for single people or those looking to party. Oahu or Maui is better suited for that. This island is local, laid back, and relaxing. It is not little California like Maui, they actually still have locals here?.and they have Aloha spirit. It has more miles of beach that other islands too. If you are good with a drink from your room, or the local beach bar then this is the place for you.
Food, there are a few restaurants, we liked Dukes here at the hotel, and right across the street is a couple of other less expensive options (walk down the beach path past Dukes). We also found a couple of places a short drive away, but definitely not a Mecca of dining entertainment. Also beach rentals are reasonable (1/2 what they are in overpriced Maui). $20 an hour for a paddle board.
We did the sunrise tour. Up at 1:30am, leave at 2am, get there by 3am. And then you meet Frank. This guy has more energy and enthusiasm at 3am than I do all day. Very professional, happy, and organized. Frank had all of us assigned rain gear, backpack, full face helmet and sized for a bike by 3:30 and we were on the bus and van for the ride up. Sleep no. Frank talked the whole way, telling us what to look for on the way down, how not to die, and how to get back?.kind of important stuff, along with some funny / corny stuff. The best one was advising us to allow our ??sweetie? to lead, and that doing so would insure the guy would not leave her behind?.averting a pissed off ??sweetie? at the end of the ride.
They have this planned right. Frank provides exuberant customer service. He tells you where to go to get the best pictures, what setting for your camera to get the best pics, and takes multiple pictures of you and your group/family,
They then take you to a second overlook for more pictures, where he has some very creative ideas that work. I tell you Frank goes all out. All the while the people who drove up leave, the other bike tours hurry up and get down the mountain. So we get on our bikes, and then go at our own pace down the mountain?.with minimal traffic passing us as it all left. This was the way to go with my 11 year old son and wife who does not like heights. We stopped at the lodge way down. Awesome macadamia nut pancakes.
Yeah it is early, but well worth it. What a great adventure, and yeah it is 23+ miles, but 98% downhill, really was not bad at all. However I am glad we did a couple of 10 mile rides before we left to get ready. I would not do this if you have not ridden a bike in 20 years....it is a long ride, curves, and you have to watch for cars, some of which are still in mainland hurry up mode.
After reading the above review, I still went to Hula Hogs, as some of the other places had shut down and the others were far away or pricy. I did look over the 6 bikes that were out front checking out tires, brakes, etc. Overall the bikes were not brand new Avis fleet quality, but more of a mix of ages but in good shape. I would say the worst was what you would find in a garage in America where you have a person who rides their bike (not just polished up for show). The two fuel injected bikes were in beautiful shape.
Out of the 6 bikes, two were fuel injected, one the brakes were almost there, and one was getting to close on the back tire for me. Other than that the brakes looked good, paint was good, tires good. These bikes are ridden, but not ragged out.
So I rented one of the Road Kings for 6 hours, and rode the heck out of it (did not even stop for lunch) around the west side of Maui, and up Haleakala. The bike ran great, no issues. The owner was the guy out front washing the bikes. He said his wife rides the bikes all the time, and he really tries to keep the bikes in good shape. After all he would have to come get it if it breaks down.
I typically ride a sport tour bike (Honda VFR), so when I headed out, my thought was to ride the west side of Maui, as I ??heard? that was a nice ride. Figured I would get used to the bike before heading up the curves on the mountain. It did not take too long, and I was good to go. However for the fellow tourist who may not have read about the west Maui roads, it is not for the faint of heart. The first part was great all the way up to Honolua ?..the last 10 (felt like 30) or so miles is what the road to Hana used to look like 30 years ago (or at least what I envision from the stories). One lane (I had to stop and squeeze to the side to allow an oncoming car pass) no yellow line, no guard rails, blind corners, falling rocks, and sheer cliffs. I dragged the foot boards on the 180 switchbacks that had a 6% incline. It was a thrilling ride, although I was caught of guard. After that trip the run up to 6500 feet was nothing. Easy ride.
All in all great ride, great experience, and for $117 all said and done for 6 hours of fun and adventure, you can not beat it.