Maui — Outrigger Kapalua Villas,
A Slice of Hawaiian Heaven
"I feel like I get five years of my life back every time I go to Maui", my friend Darin said when I mentioned to him that a Maui vacation was in the works.
I was headed across the Pacific Ocean from the “Mainland” to the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands, Maui. Turn back time? Could this actually happen in Maui? Perhaps one of the numerous waterfalls on this gorgeous island is the fountain of youth? I sure was hoping that Darin’s theory about Maui was right and I would return to California five years younger. More realistically, I was looking forward to a Hawaiian adventure filled with glowing memories, amazing friends, connecting with nature, and most of all, rejuvenation.
Hana Surprises With Iconic Hawaiian Rainbows.
I have trekked to the gorgeous Valley Isle of Maui before, I didn't necessarily feel the nervous and excited anticipation of setting my eyes on a new place for the first time, but more so, that warm and eager feeling of seeing an old friend that I haven't seen in a while. It is enthusiastic and familiar and is like no time has passed and yet you have so much to catch up on. Maui, you ‘ol friend, we sure have a lot to catch up on.
The first time I visited Maui was with my friend, Jenn. We explored the island as "Punkers in Paradise". We were blasting tunes from bands such as Social Distortion and the Ramones while hiking the sites in our black and white Converse and checkered Vans. In hindsight, probably not the best footwear to be navigating slippery, muddy terrain.
Spots Slate Pencil Sea Urchin At Molokini.
Our Kaanapali resort bartender suggested snorkeling and beach time on the NW side of the island, called Kapalua Bay. This was the first time I had heard of Kapalua Bay. We carefully followed the directions scribbled on a bar napkin; we parked the rental car and walked down the foot path to the beach. Kapalua Bay and its gorgeous blue water and golden sand came into view,. The azure water was way too inviting and we quickly found ourselves snorkeling in the oversized aquarium ,abundant with many tropical fish. We found cooling shade from the palm trees lining the beach, we lounged on the fine sand, chatted about life and our future dreams. I remember that day looking out to one of the points that flanks the bay and saying that one day I would come back and stay right here in Kapalua.
Fast forward many island tide changes later to the present day. I was at home in San Diego, hanging out with another friend, also named Jen, and she reminded me that it was her and her husband's 10 year wedding anniversary. Jen said she wanted to do something big to celebrate the astounding milestone. We sipped on Chandon Champagne, then she mentioned, "I don't know, maybe Maui”? It instantly took me back to that day at Kapalua Bay and I could smell the sweet Pikake flowers already. "Maui is incredible! If you want to go there, I know the perfect spot!” I replied.
Palm Fringed Outrigger Kapalua Bay Villas.
Here we were some time later, landing at the indoor/outdoor Kahului Airport on Maui. We were a group of friends on this journey to celebrate Jen and Noel vow renewals. A frolic in the sand, a swim in the big blue at the Kapalua Villas at the Kapalua Resort - a dream come true!
There are multiple luxury properties on the resort grounds within the expansive 22,000 acre Kapalua Resort. The Outrigger Kapalua Villas, the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, and the Montage Kapalua Bay are all options for glorious five star accommodations. Some guests have a slice of life’s lottery and are residents that get to dwell here year around.
The Outrigger properties are fantastic. I have had the pleasure at staying at several of them and I adore the American Dream story of Roy and Estelle Kelley. In 1929, the Kelley’s moved to Hawaii, saved, invested, and 18 years later built their first hotel, The Outrigger Waikiki which is one of my favorites. The Outrigger Resorts now have a variety of accommodations, not only in the Hawaiian Islands, but in many other parts of the world: overwater bungalows in the Maldives, palm roofed beach houses in Fiji, bay views in Thailand, to name a few. Here we were checking into the brilliant Outrigger Kapalua Villas with 20 of our friends.
Five star service right from check-in as our host shared with us information about the world-class amenities: the Spa Montage, hiking trails, tennis, golf, restaurants, shopping, and best of all, the glistening sandy beaches that are accessible from the villas.
We pulled up to the gate of the Bay Villas, put in the gate code and continued on our way to Villa 25. We parked our rented Chevy Impala that we baptized as the “Tame Impala” (after the band) adjacent to the stairs of our villa and unloaded not only our luggage, but the massive boxes of food and beverages from our Costco run by the airport. Beach fare for us and 20 friends.
Pines and Palms at Kapalua Bay Plantation Course.
I punched in the “magic” code given to us at check-in instead of a key to open the door; full length windows offered expansive views of the grassy green grounds and the sapphire ocean on the horizon. Our accommodations of our two bedroom, two bathroom villa was open, airy, comforting. We even had a surprising horseshoe shaped chef’s table in the kitchen with the stove in the center. This led to our friends pretending to be chefs at a Benihana restaurant, imitating the construction of the famous “Onion Volcano” on the flat top grill. Cracking open an ice cold beer, I opened the sliding glass door and stepped out onto the Lanai; the ocean waves pounding on the shore sounded like a symphony.
The Hawaiian sun raised our temperatures, so we wanted to dip our toes in the indigo blue water. Once informed of the hiking trails, our group took a nature excursion around the property to find that Bay. It was steamy and the fiery afternoon sun took hold. We hiked along a simple trail, crossed swarms of gnats that each of us inevitably consumed at least one capturing some pretty funny moments, and then reached a dead-end. Confused, we peeked around the corner to see that we were at the point of the famous Kapalua Bay. A wrong turn somewhere,; we backtracked through the gnats and found our way to the gilded sand of the Kapalua Bay.
Sea Stacks at Black Sand Beach at Wainapapa.
Just like a six year old on Easter morning, we ran to the water, a poignant way to start our island vacation. Ironically on the way back to the villas, we discovered an easier path that wasn’t quite as fun as our nature-filled walk, but was just as striking since the grounds of the Kapalua Resort are absolutely pristine.
We had the opportunity to visit multiple villas. We were all wayfaring for a very important reason, the vow renewal of our dear friends, the Jordan’s. Each villa is independently owned and managed by the reputable Outrigger Properties, but they are also individually decorated and unique to the owner’s design tastes.
I loved the Bay Villas, closer to the Pacific, but it was enjoyable to see all of the different villa floor plans, views, and décor. Our villa was updated and embodied the feel and colors of the islands, split with two bedrooms, one on either side with the living space in the middle. It was perfect for our little four-pack staying there: Monique, Javier, Ben and I. The amenities on site boosted the comfort level of our villa.
Hawaiian Macadamia Crusted Fish at The Plantation House.
One evening we took advantage of the BBQ facilities at the Kapalua Resort and Jen grilled up some delicious cheeseburgers on Sweet Hawaiian Rolls. A few of the nights we had dinner at the various restaurants about 15 minutes south in the beach resort area of Kaanapali. Most importantly, at dusk on the special day, we dined at the Plantation House at the Kapalua Resort.
Before enjoying a lovely group dinner at the Plantation House, the purpose of our trip was to not only get back 5 years of our lives, but to be a part of the Jordan’s special day. The day was gorgeous. The sun was shining. The flowers arrived, and on a grassy bluff overlooking the ocean, the touching ceremony was conducted by my favorite travel companion, Ben. The smell of plumeria was flowing with the breeze just as much as the love that we all have for Jen and Noel and the love they have for one another. The ceremony was sealed with a kiss and we took a shuttle to celebrate at the Plantation House. What an amazing place to view the Maui sunset! The restaurant is nestled above the 19th hole of the Plantation Course and is west facing to the sunset. The restaurant is warm and welcoming inside and the lanai outside evokes the spirit of a high end Tiki God.
The View at The Plantation House.
The Plantation House in 2015 was ordered the Diner’s Choice Award by the convenient tech company, Open Table. They serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and have an enticing Happy Hour from 3-5 p.m. \ in the Bar/Lounge; $4 and $5 beer specials, $6 cocktail specials, and a variety of appetizers, or as they are known in Hawaiian, Pupus, for $13 and under. The vistas alone make this a great place to enjoy any time of day. Since we were there for dinner, we were lucky enough to dine on Filet Mignon, Duroc Pork Chops, and of course, fresh Macadamia Crusted Hawaiian fish. The Plantation House Upcountry Butter Lettuce salad is noteworthy and can be split for two with its classic combination of bacon, tomatoes, shaved onion, and tangy blue cheese in a buttermilk dressing. All in all, I would say between the views, the service and the food, the Plantation House is recommended for a special occasion dinner.
In addition to the Plantation House, The Kapalua Resort has many wonderful dining options such as the famous Merriman’s Kapalua, Pineapple Grill, Sansei Seafood and Sushi, Taverna, and multiple options at both the Montage and the Ritz-Carlton. We spent a couple of the evenings indulging on Tropical Mai Tai’s and Lava Flows at the Hona Hou Bar at the Montage, which has stunning ocean and pool views neighboring the Pacific. It is intimate and the islands of Molokai and Lanai in the distance make for a great backdrop to watch the sun set. One thing to note about the Hona Hou is that it closes early, usually around sunset time.
Alii Nui Sailing Adventure at the Molokini Crater.
We were blessed to have many great experiences during this trip on Maui: visiting the famous surf break, Pe-ahi (also known as Jaws), snorkeling in the crystal clear waters of the Molokini Crater, driving the well-known Road to Hana with its abundance of water falls, tasting sweet Hawaiian banana bread, scaling a cliff to get to the sacred Red Sand Beach, and almost losing a wedding ring at the striking Black Sand Beach. The memories will be forever lasting.
On our last morning we found ourselves back on the lanai of villa 25, having a bold tasting Hawaiian Kona coffee spiked with Kahlua (this ended up the morning staple beverage) and gazing at that beautiful view of the ocean and Molokai for one last time before we hopped in the Tame Impala to drive across the island and get back to the airport — five years younger and back to reality.
To book your beautiful stay on Kapalua Bay in a condo or villa at the Outrigger Kapalua Villas Resort, click Aloha.
2000 Village Road
Lahaina, Hawaii 96761
Phone: 800-545-0018 or 808-655-9170
— Feature by Michelle Schoser, Jetsetter Magazine Correspondent; photos courtesy of Michelle Schoser, Ben Davis, The Maui Darren, and The Outrigger Resorts