Hawaii Diaries #11 – Inter Island Travel and Hopping to Maui

Flying to Maui

Turns out inter island travel is easy which is convenient since we have to do it twice and this move from Kauai to Maui was the first one.

We were up pretty early to pack and get going. Bob, a friendly cardinal came out to say goodbye as we got on the road.

The vistas behind the house are something I’ll remember fondly from this trip. Our place in Princeville was pretty awesome and I took one final look at the great view in front of it before we got going.

inter island travel

It was 9 A.M. and our flight to Maui was at 1 P.M. so we had plenty of time. My wife wanted to pick up a snow globe from Kauai so made a pit stop in Hanalei before we got going.

The drive to the airport from Hanalei is just north of one hour. We probably could have stopped in Kapa’a for a quick bite. However, I’m the anxious type who likes getting to the airport ahead of time in case something goes awry.

We were there more than 2 hours before the flight. Lihue airport is pretty small and the car return took us 5 minutes from the car drop off to stepping into the airport after our shuttle trip.

The Hawaiian Airlines rep who check us in was quick and we were through security in ten minutes. There was a pretty big line, at least 30 people, but the TSA pre-check line was empty so we cut right in front of everyone. FYI, TSA pre-check is totally worth if you don’t have it and travel at all.

Once inside, the airport has something like ten gates and almost no food options.

Hawaii has these cool partially outdoor airports so you get fresh air as you walk around the gates but there’s not much to do there. It’s four bad food places in the center, two stores and paths that go left or right depending your gate.

That means we sat there and watched Netflix on our phone for a few hours while waiting for our plane. This is an easy airport so no need to arrive super early like we did. Next time, we’ll probably just get here an hour ahead of our flight.

That’s been my experience with Hawaii airports so far. These island airports are tiny. Inter island travel is very easy. The check in process is painless, the TSA lines are short and the airports are small. Rental car agencies are nearby too. You still have to take a shuttle but it’s a short ride each time.

The flight to Maui was short – maybe forty minutes. We took off and I couldn’t even finish a TV show before we were landing and deplaning. There was a bit of turbulence coming into Maui, probably something to do with trade winds or whatever.

Our car on this trip – the Ford Fusion! It has a back-up camera but no car play making directions more annoying.

Once on Maui, our first stop, just like on Kauai was Costco. We picked up some breakfast items then headed to Kihei, the site of our AirBnB.

This place is a bit less impressive than our places on Kauai. It’s a generic condo, a bit dated and without much of a view. However, a short walk across the street, we have this and that’s pretty cool.

That’s the beauty of Hawaii. You’re never more than a few minutes away from awesome vistas in any direction.

My first impression of Maui is that it’s less unique than Kauai. Kauai felt like being on another world while Maui feels more familiar. It has more of a city feel right outside the airport then becomes more of a resort town in other areas we drove through. There’s still cool things around and big mountains in the distance but it’s definitely less tropical than Kauai.

Just like on Kauai, there were a ton of geckos everywhere, scurrying away as we walked through the courtyard of our place.

We didn’t have much planned on our first day so we unpacked and drove around a bit. Dinner was at The Mill House at Maui Tropical Plantation.

The cool thing about restaurants in Hawaii is that many have such great settings. This one was this tropical area with a mass of birds singing in the trees.

The restaurant used to be an old sugar mill and they use a lot of the equipment from said mill in their design.

There’s plenty of outdoor seating to enjoy the views as well. It’s quite a large place and it was packed when we got there for our 6 P.M. reservation.

We were early so we had to wait to be seated and explored a bit before dinner.

There’s plenty of ducks, unique birds and I even saw a small turtles in the pond; it’s a real neat place.

The restaurant is a farm-to-table type place with a set menu and a few specials each day. It’s split into smaller, medium and large plates. The wife and I went with two small and four medium plates and found it was a bit too much for us.

The food started with a really delicious house made sausage with awesome mustard.

The other small plate was a fish profiterole. Neither me nor my wife cared for this dish; it had a really fishy flavor with an odd sauce.

The medium plates came out next. First up was the fish crudo; it was hamachi this night and was delicious.

Next up was the Kalbi Steak with a papaya salad.

The meat was quite good and tender but the side salad was a bit too sweet for me.

I was already getting pretty full when the next two dishes arrived as the “medium” plates were pretty much entree sized.

I had the pork belly.

It was a good dish although there should have been more pork belly.

My wife had some pasta with a beef ragu.

There was a ton of meat in this dish and I always like to see that in a pasta dish.

Overall, it was a good meal even if we got too much food and a few dishes missed the mark. The atmosphere in this place is real cool and the food is solid. I always like places where you can try plenty of dishes and get a feel for the restaurant.

It’s too bad we’re not here longer as they do a weekly chef’s table dinner on Saturdays. It’s a 6-8 course meal for a set price. I’d definitely check it out if we stayed in Maui longer but we won’t be here that long.

Overall, it was a fun day for one that include some inter island travel. I think it might be easier to plan your flights closer to night time so you miss less but that’s something to know for another trip.

The plan for tomorrow is to do the road to Hana although the weather doesn’t look great so we’ll see how that goes.

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