All Aboard! Hosting the Disney Wonder

Untitled design (1)It had been a while, but we were extremely excited to welcome the Disney Wonder to Kahului Harbor week before last—for a day on Tuesday, September 15th, and then for an overnight on the 18th and 19th. It’s always a special treat to see the bright white, red, and navy blue Disney Wonder in port, and to hear its special “When You Wish upon a Star” refrain across town, rather than a normal ship horn. Yep, it’s a special ship all right, and we were honored to once again be selected as the featured land tour company for its Port Adventures while here on Maui.

After weeks of preparation, special training for our staff, and triple-checking all the details, we were ready to roll into the harbor and greet guests from the Disney Wonder, with warm smiles, aloha, and fresh flower lei. It was a beautiful sight to watch our shiny, detailed fleet roll out for a beautiful day at Haleakala, Upcountry Maui, and the Hana Coast. We hosted over two hundred guests over the three days that the Wonder was in port, and every tour was an absolute delight for both our guests and our Hawaii Certified Tour Guides!

Every guest had a VIP seat in an eight-passenger Luxury Limo-Van.

Every guest had a VIP seat in an eight-passenger Luxury Limo-Van.

Plenty of guests decided to take a leisurely day on the Road to Hana and join us for a Hana Picnic, for both family and adult-only departures. After departing from Kahului Harbor, our guides escorted our excited guests to Ho’okipa, to enjoy a light morning snack and a sip of coffee or an ice-cold tropical soft drink. From there, they started on the world-famous Road to Hana, and enjoyed the beautiful black-sand beach, a bountiful picnic lunch, and a refreshing swim at a natural waterfall.

Guests enjoyed a fun stop at the Ka'eleku Caverns

Guests enjoyed a fun stop at the Ka’eleku Caverns

Other guests wanted to enjoy the Road to Hana, but had a bit more of an adventurous spirit, and chose our famous Hana Cave-Quest. Along with everything on the Hana Picnic tour, they enjoyed a tour of Hana’s “best-kept secret,” the Ka’eleku Caverns. After exploring the network of lava tubes, formed thousands of years ago underneath the rainforest, guests enjoyed their lunch on the lush grounds of the caverns, surrounded by beautiful tropical foliage.

We also spent some time with our Disney guests at Haleakala and Upcountry, for our Summit Lavender Sojourn. They enjoyed beautiful morning views of the crater, a tour and a fantastic lunch at Ali’i Kula Lavender farm, and a tour of MauiWine. Afterward, they had a chance to stretch their shopping legs in quaint Makawao town before returning to the luxury cruise ship.

Finally, on the Friday evening before Disney’s overnight stay, we were thrilled to host around sixteen guests for a Haleakala Sunset tour—a romantic luxury tour that our Tour Guides enjoyed right along with their passengers! After an afternoon harbor departure, they enjoyed tours of Surfing Goat Dairy, MauiWine, and Ali’i Kula Lavender, where they also enjoyed a local wine and cheese tasting and a chance to mingle with other attendees and their Tour Guides. Of course, the main event was the beautiful sunset at Haleakala, just as peaceful and magical as the famous sunrise, followed by an elegant dinner at the Kula Lodge.

This incredible shot of the sunset at Haleakala was captured by our Tour Guide Scott!

This incredible shot of the sunset at Haleakala was captured by our Tour Guide Scott!

No matter which tour, we had an amazing time hosting the Disney Wonder, and it was a huge honor and privilege to be featured so prominently as a luxury Port Adventure provider. After months of planning, training, and behind-the-scenes magic, it was worth it to read the comments and compliments from our valued Disney Wonder guests:

“Many companies boast of how great their service is, but very few deliver. Finally one that not only meets your expectations, but exceeds them. … First class from start to finish.”

“Great day! Great lunch! Al is a wonderful guide. Very educational; very knowledgeable about [the] island, culture, etc. I really enjoyed it. Would recommend to friends and relatives.”

“[Michael] is one of the best tour guides we’ve ever had! Fun and informative.”

Both our Guides and our administration were excited, humbled, and beyond flattered to read comment after comment in the same vein from our Disney Wonder guests. We can’t wait to see that beautiful ship back in our harbor again, but whether you’re on the Wonder, another cruise ship, or are just enjoying our beautiful island life at a hotel, resort, or condo, you can expect the same level of service and luxury from any of our tours that our Disney guests experienced. Hope to see you soon!

MauiWine – A Gem on the Slopes of Haleakala

MAUIWINESometimes, a day Upcountry is in order, especially when it means escaping the heat in Central Maui for a few hours. This past Sunday, my family took a little trip to Ulupalakua to enjoy some views, some wine, and the peaceful, tranquil vibe of MauiWine.

Right away, you're greeted with the zen-like, quiet feeling that encompasses all of MauiWine.

Right away, you’re greeted with the zen-like, quiet feeling that encompasses all of MauiWine.

 

Situated on the slopes of Haleakala, Ulupalakua and the MauiWine grounds and tasting room are absolutely beautiful locations. Apart from learning about their wines and other products in the tasting room, we also enjoyed wandering around the grounds, exploring their unique plants and charming buildings and artwork scattered around.

I loved these beautiful wood sculptures along the walkway!

I loved these beautiful wood sculptures along the walkway!

The tasting room itself is beautiful, so of course I forgot to get a picture of it! With rustic wood counters, and rows upon rows of beautiful wine bottles, you get a lot of different impressions at once. First, it’s an old-fashioned, cowboy-esque home, first built as a Summer Cottage for a visit from King Kalakaua. Second, it’s a Maui-grown experience, with Hawaiian touches everywhere, and beautiful upcountry views out its sparkling windows. Finally, it’s an upscale, wine-tasting experience, where you’ll get a feel for their award-winning wines, and choose the right bottle (or three) to take home.

Learn about the history of the vineyard in the breezy anteroom before the tasting room.

Learn about the history of the vineyard in the breezy anteroom before the tasting room.

My husband enjoyed a full, three-pour tasting, and I opted for just a small taste of one. He enjoyed all of his, but we were both enamored with Lokelani, a crisp brut rosé, which I think will have to grace our Thanksgiving table this year. The helpful wine expert behind the counter told us that that one had just won a gold medal at the LA Wine & Spirits competition, and it was definitely apparent!

Even if you’re not a wine drinker, you can appreciate the absolutely beautiful landscape and views from the MauiWine grounds. It was certainly a journey to get there from our home in Wailuku, but once we were there, it felt like we were in another world altogether. If you’re ready to see what MauiWine has to offer, we suggest joining us on our Summit Lavender Sojourn. Your day will begin with a trip to Haleakala, where you’ll get incredible views of the dormant volcano bathed in morning light. Afterward, enjoy a visit to the incredible winery, before making your way to stroll through rows of lavender and enjoying an al-fresco lunch at Maui Lavender. Finally, after a stop in Makawao for shopping and gallery-viewing, you’ll return to your hotel, energized and relaxed after an upcountry day that caters to all of your discerning senses. Join us soon!

Solo Travel on Maui

solotravelThere’s some buzz recently about the increasing numbers of travelers who are going it alone—i.e., taking their major vacations by themselves. I must say, the thought of it sounds exhilarating! Although the focus of this article is on millennials, it highlights that people from all age groups are down to travel solo, all for different, excellent reasons. And the travel industry is responding; cruise ships are slowly starting to do away with their “single supplement” charge on certain voyages, and even Norwegian Cruise Lines (whose Pride of America is docked right here in Maui two days a week) has added single-specific studios for guests traveling by themselves.

If you’re among this growing group, we really hope you’ll consider Maui as a top choice of destination for your next getaway. There seems to be a misconception that Maui (and Hawaii in general) is just a “romantic” getaway, especially when compared to the more bustling island of Oahu. And hey, if your idea of the perfect solo vacation is bar-hopping and club-going, the Honolulu might just be the place to be. Maui, however, is so much more than just a couples’ paradise. If a quiet, peaceful, indulgent escape is your goal, then Maui certainly has what you’re looking for. Pristine beaches, top-tier restaurants, and unique spas await you on the Valley Isle—and so do we!

While you’re here, if you’re looking to take in some of Maui’s natural beauty in a small group, please give us a call. We love solo travelers, and we’ve certainly noticed the increase over the last few years! With a maximum of six to eight guests on each of our tours, the small-group experience led by a Hawaii Certified Tour Guide is perfect for those traveling by themselves. Although we do require a minimum to conduct tours, booking well in advance and being flexible with your dates should alleviate any issues with that. Popular tours among solo guests include the Summit Lavender Sojourn, the Hana Sky-Trek, and the Haleakala Sunrise. On each of our tours, you’ll be with a small group discerning travelers who, like you, want the very best for every aspect of their vacation. Guests on past tours have stayed in touch with each other for years, so be prepared to make a new friend or two!

Still in the planning stages? Drop us a line, and we’ll be happy to help you pin down a range of dates that will work for the tour that excites you the most. We’re also always happy to chat about other activities, sights, and travel tips, which can take a little anxiety out of plotting out your trip by yourself. We’d love to hear from you—and happy travels, solo superstar!

 

What’s For Lunch (or breakfast) on Tour?

summer tipsDuring a day touring the rainforest, or trekking around serene Upcountry Maui, you’ll likely get hungry. That’s why we serve at least one meal on each tour—you need your fuel! Some of the most common questions we hear from guests are about the food, so we know it’s on your mind before you book your tour. I’ve put together a detailed breakdown below about the meals and snacks served on our various tours. Read on, and hopefully all your food-related questions will be answered!

Light Morning Snack – Served on the Hana Picnic, Hana Cave Quest, Crater & Rainforest, Summit Lavender Sojourn, and Haleakala Sunrise*

Most tours offer a little something to munch before getting into the heart of the tour. For the day tours, the Light Morning Snack is either tasty pre-wrapped pastries, or a fruity pudding ring cake. They’re served alongside your choice of coffee, tea, or hot cocoa at a scenic location. While you’re enjoying it, it’s a great time to mingle and meet with your fellow travelers and your Tour Guide. Currently, space limitations in our Limo-Van don’t allow for an alternative gluten-free or vegan snack, so if you’re a no-go to gluten, eggs, or dairy, you may wish to pack a small snack along with you.
*Note, on Sunrise tours, the light snack is served at the Summit, and consists of the wrapped pastries along with warm beverages.

Breakfast at Kula Lodge – Served on the Haleakala Sunrise

After your Sunrise tour, you’ll be ready for a hearty, full, breakfast, so we’ve got you covered! A prix-fixe menu at Kula Lodge is included with your Haleakala Sunrise tour. You’ll choose from pancakes, waffles, omelets, bacon and eggs, and lighter fare like fruit and granola. Your breakfast comes with your choice of coffee, tea, or cocoa, perfect for thawing out after sunrise and comparing photos with your tour companions! Vegetarian options abound, but if you’re gluten-free or vegan, please let us know as soon as possible so we can contact the restaurant for you.

Breakfast at Café Mambo – Prix-fixe served on the Hana Ultimate, no-host served on the Haleakala Sun-Trek

Café Mambo is located in the ultra-groovy Paia Town, and offers a Latin-inspired menu in a modern setting, which is sure to get you in the mood for an exciting day of exploring. Our prix-fixe menu offers most breakfast standards with an international twist. Enjoy omelets, breakfast sandwiches, or griddle favorites like French toast and pancakes. You’ll find veggie and gluten-free options, but please be sure to let us know if you’ll need a vegan option, and we’ll make arrangements. Coffee, tea, and soft drinks are included with the prix-fixe breakfast.

Pacific Rim Cuisine Picnic Lunch – Served on the Hana Sky-Trek, Hana Picnic, Hana Cave-Quest, Haleakala Sun-Trek, Summit Lavender Sojourn, Crater & Rainforest, and the Kapalua Ridge Trek

We created our exclusive Pacific Rim Cuisine Picnic Lunch in conjunction with our professional caterer, and we’re so proud of what it’s become! The picnic lunch features two wraps, the Pacifica and the Southpointe, and guess what—you get BOTH! The Southpointe is a grilled herb-marinated chicken breast, along with Kula organic mixed greens, roasted corn and black bean relish, buttermilk ranch dressing, all inside a savory roasted garlic tortilla. Our Pacifica wrap features a seven-spice seared ono, with organic green leaf lettuce, black olive and caper relish, and a wasabi aioli, all in a sun-dried tomato wrap. Both wraps are filling and tasty, and are the perfect accompaniment to your al-fresco experience, whether you’re on a black sand beach or surrounded by fields of lavender. You’ll also enjoy a fresh garden vegetable pasta salad, chilled Maui Gold pineapple slices, and a fudgy macadamia nut brownie. Both wraps are available in a gluten-free rice wrap, and we offer a rice wrap chock full of veggies for our vegetarian and vegan guests. Lunch is enjoyed with bottled water and tropical soft drinks.

Lunch at the Ka’uiki Dining Room at the Travaasa Hotel – Served on the Hana Ultimate

For the ultimate dining experience in the secluded town of Hana, the Ka’uiki Dining Room is the place to be. Your prix-fixe lunch selection begins with an appetizer, including vibrant salads and fresh local fish. For entrees, you’ll choose between locally-grown beef burgers, chicken sandwiches grilled to perfection, or vegetarian or gluten-free wraps. Dessert is a choice of haupia (coconut cream) cake or gluten-free cheesecake. Lunch includes coffee, tea, or soft drinks.

Food FAQs:

What can you do to accommodate special dietary needs?

Almost anything, really! Please let us know what your needs are before your tour, so we can work with the specific restaurant(s) or our caterer and come up with a plan. Our most common requests are for gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan meals, and we can easily accommodate all of those! Right now, we are unable to accommodate requests for kosher meals, but we can direct you to Maui’s only kosher takeout service, who can work you directly to provide you with a meal you can take on any of our tours. Call us for details!

I would prefer not to have one of the wraps featured in the picnic lunch. Is that an option?

Yep! If you’d prefer to have two Southpointe wraps, or two Pacifica wraps, just let us know! We’ll also let your Tour Guide know, so he or she can easily serve you the correct meal.

Can you accommodate food allergies?

Please let us know well in advance if you or someone traveling with you has any food allergies. We will do our best to take steps to avoid contamination, but if you have any life-threatening allergies, it may be best to arrange to bring your own food. Some of our food does contain common allergens, such as soy, dairy, wheat, and tree nuts. None of our food contains any beef, pork, shellfish, or peanuts.

Where is the picnic lunch served?

The picnic lunch is served in a scenic, outdoor location, depending on your tour. You’ll be seated at a picnic table covered in a white linen tablecloth, and your food will be served on crystalline plates, along with real silverware and cloth napkins. We really take our picnics seriously, and we hope it’s one you’ll never forget!

If you’ve got other questions, please call us at 1-800-817-1234, or send us an email. We know that a meal can be a huge factor in choosing your tour, so we want to know what we can do to make sure you’ll have a delicious, worry-free meal while on your luxury Maui adventure!

Bon appétit!

Private Charters – YOUR Maui Adventure Tour!

Custom Private Tours in MauiIf you’ve taken the time to check out our tours, you may have found the one that’s perfect for you—and that’s great! Plenty of folks feel like the Hana Sky-Trek totally fulfills every idea they had of a day in paradise, or that there could not be a more perfect adventure for them than the Summit Lavender Sojourn. Maybe, though, you had something different in mind. A little from this tour, a bit from that tour, and then finished with something else entirely. Too bad we don’t have a tour like that, right? Hold up though—because we do!

If you don’t see exactly what you’re looking to do in one of our eight popular tours, call or email us, and tell us what your tour looks like. Our reservations staff are all life-long Maui residents, and are happy to help you plan your perfect Maui adventure. We love getting creative, and might be able to give you ideas for your tour that you’ve never thought of.

Here are a few examples of custom private tours we’ve put together for guests in the past:

  • A trip to Lahaina, with a walking tour of historic Front Street, time for shopping, and then a tasty lunch at a famous local eatery.
  • A tour to famous I’ao Valley and Kepaniwai park, with a visit to an ancient heiau, and then a stop for whale-watching at McGregor Point.
  • A tour of Haleakala at sunset, complete with a wine and cheese reception at the summit, and a no-host dinner at Kula Lodge afterward.

There are very few limitations to what we can put together for you, and we’re more than happy to arrange just about anything! Since we’ve been in operation for close to thirty years, we have close working relationships with helicopter companies, horseback riding tours, snorkeling companies, and more. If you’re looking to incorporate another activity into your Maui tour, we can help!

Whatever it is on Maui that you want to do, we want to make it happen. Call or email us with your ideas, and we’ll get started on a plan. We can’t wait to hear what you come up with!