Archive for November, 2009

Big Beach is located south of Wailea at Makena State Park. There are a couple different parking lots, although they seem to fill up very fast. So get there early if you want a good spot. We ended up circling around the lot until someone left and a spot opened up. But of course being on vacation we were in no hurry, and it was certainly worth the wait for a beach like this.

Big Beach was one of our favorite beaches to photograph.  During both of our trips to Maui it was certainly not a place for swimming. There were no lifeguards, even though it is one of the biggest and busiest beaches on Maui. Not sure what the story there is. And there are no full facilities here either, only porta potties.

But as you can see, Big Beach is quite a sight. This photo was fairly early in the morning, just as the crowds were starting to pick up.

20090413_999_82The photo above is looking to the south from the trail over Pu’u Ola’i. This is the trail to get to Little Beach, but makes for a great spot to take photos of Big Beach as well. I also saw a few turtles swimming and got the photo below just before they disappeared around the corner towards Little Beach. The kid who was snorkeling looked quite surprised to come face to face with a turtle:

Turtles at Big BeachThe photo below is looking to the North towards Pu’u Ola’i.

2008 04 18 223It was a great beach to enjoy the sun, sand, and scenery. And also to people watch and walk in the surf. My brother tried swimming in 2008, and had some troubles making it back to shore. While they were there a girl got thrown into the ground while swimming, and apparently ended up with a broken hip. So as I mentioned before I do not recommend swimming here at all. The snorkeler in the photo above was doing fine out in the water, but the problems start at the shore when getting in our out of the water, where the waves crash hard.

I found a great site for checking out the ocean conditions around Maui, and the other islands as well. It has aerial photos, beach descriptions, hazard ratings, and of course surf conditions.

But like I mentioned before, Big Beach was a great place for people watching, enjoying the sun, and watching the waves…

2008 04 18 209

In 2008 above, and 2009 below.

Big Beach, Maui

I also found a pretty good website for Makena State Park.


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The Maui Ocean Center was another great place we visited during our wedding trip of 2008.

The aquarium starts out with the fish you would find in a tide pool , and works its way down to the fish you would find at the depths of the lower ocean. We saw sea urchins, seahorses, sharks, turtles, angler fish, puffer fish, and much more.

My favorite part of the entire place was the massive shark tank found towards the end. There are numerous species of sharks, manta rays, tuna, and many more types of fish swimming about. You even get to walk through a tunnel at one end of the shark tank. There are literally sharks, rays, and fish all around you. It is definitely a sight to see.

They have a pretty good sized gift shop at the end, where you can find all sorts of souvenirs.

There is a bit of a mall right next door to the aquarium as well. One thing I would be sure to check out is Hula Cookies, where they make cookies and ice cream. You can even order two of their fresh cookies, and get them to put them in a bowl with some of their ice cream in the middle. Best ice cream sandwich ever.

Hula Cookies Ice Cream Sandwich

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The Seawatch Restaurant has been sold and renamed ‘Gannon’s – A Pacific View Restaurant’. As I haven’t been there since it was re-opened I am not sure whether things have changed or not. But Susan Jencks is still listed as the wedding co-ordinator, so it should still be a good place for wedding receptions.

Original Post:

After a lot of research on the internet, especially theknot.com, we decided on the Seawatch Restaurant in Wailea as the location for our wedding reception. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we were married on the beach during April 2008 at Secret Cove south of Wailea.

We had a morning wedding to increase our chances of having the beach to ourselves – a plan that worked very nicely. After the wedding we went to the beach for the day, and then on to the Seawatch for dinner.

We had booked the Seawatch well in advance for our reception dinner. They were very good to deal with, which I suppose can be expected since they do so many weddings. We talked with a few other restaurants during our planning in order to find the best place for our reception. But Susan at the Seawatch was far and away the best to deal with so we decided to book there.

As impressed as we were with their booking service, we were even more impressed once we arrived on our wedding day. The Seawatch is located on the Wailea Gold Golf Course, which is very well kept. It is uphill from the ocean, which leads to some amazing views – with the green of the golf course and palm trees leading to the blue of the ocean and sky. You can also see Molokini and Kaho’olawe in the distance.

20090412_987These photos show the great view, in addition to the Lower Lawn area.

20090412_969Our reception was held at the Lower Pond. We were happy to find it was the wedding area with the best roof coverage. Although if it was blowing in during a storm you might still get wet.

In the end it didn’t matter, since there was no rain on our wedding day. But it might be something to keep in mind just in case. The Upper Pond is partially covered, but the Lower Lawn area is not covered at all. However both of these areas – especially the Lower Lawn – are better suited to bigger parties. We had a party of thirteen, and there was plenty of room for us at the Lower Pond. They had the table setup with a round table at one end, with a long table at the other end.

They will decorate for you, but my wife chose to do it since she enjoys decorating, and wanted to save a bit of money. So when we got there, it was an empty table with only a white table cloth, plates, glasses, and silverware.

Shauna had ordered some orchids and monstera leaves from Paradise Flower Farms up in Kula. She also ordered some woven lahula boxes from Alaina Kai and had them sent ahead of time to our wedding planner. She used some of the flowers and some ribbon to decorate the boxes:

Brown Ribbon Lauhala Box Wedding Favor
We used chocolate covered macadamia nuts from Costco as the candy for the favor boxes. We also bought a number of pineapples from Costco for the centerpieces. She brought some floral wire from home to make a ring of flowers to place at the base of the pineapples. It ended up looking quite impressive.

Apr 16 2008 0339Since the Seawatch requires that you choose a menu when you book with them, she was also able to make custom menus and found napkins to suit the color scheme at home prior to our trip. We chose the Plumeria Wedding Menu.

The food was very good. The drinks were very good as well. We had the Kula Greens for a starter. And most of our group tried either the Filet Mignon of Beef Tenderloin, or the Macadamia Crusted Island Fish for dinner. I managed to try a bit of both, and had a hard time choosing which was better. Hard to go wrong with either of those choices.

Anyhow, here is a view of the lower pond area, with the Wailea Gold golf course in the background. I also enjoyed checking out the pro shop there. It was a very fancy course.

Apr 16 2008 0343We ordered our wedding cake through Maui Wedding Cakes. I believe they have some sort of deal with the Seawatch, where you have to order through them and the Seawatch picks up the cake and takes care of that end of things.

We ordered a square, two tiered chocolate macadamia nut ganache, with chocolate covered strawberries. It was the best wedding cake we have ever eaten. (The fresh macadamia nuts and strawberries had a lot to do with that.)
Wedding Cake by Maui Wedding Cakes
The cake was amazing, and the fresh strawberries were unlike any strawberry we had ever tasted. (all the fruit we had in Hawaii tasted so much better)
Wedding Cake by Maui Wedding Cakes On our return trip of 2009 we looked into getting another one of these cakes. But they did not come small enough for just the two of us, so we decided against it. But if we ever go in a group again we will be getting another one of these for sure. Again, other than the tiki torches, my wife did the decorating, so I am not sure how the Seawatch itself decorates.

Apr 16 2008 0506

Below is a view of the Upper Pond area. You can also see the Lower Pond area in the upper right of the photo. On our wedding night, the wedding group at the Upper Pond had a musician playing. However, with the Lower Pond being so close, we were able to enjoy the music as well. It worked out perfectly for us – we had plenty of room, a roof over our heads, and still got to enjoy some live music.

20090412_981All in all we could not have been more happy with our wedding reception at the Seawatch Restaurant. We would recommend it to any couple looking for an amazing reception dinner location to celebrate your wedding. Just be sure to book early.




Non-wedding related review of the Seawatch:

During our 2009 trip we decided to go back to the Seawatch for breakfast. Once again we were impressed with the atmosphere and the incredible views. As a regular restaurant we found the food to be a bit overpriced though, as is the case with most of the restaurants in Wailea. We both ordered the crab benedict. It was good, but for almost $20 a plate we had hoped it would taste quite a bit better than $8 per plate smoked salmon benedict we had tried for breakfast at Maui Coffee Roasters in Kahului a few days earlier.

We will likely go back to the Seawatch again on our next trip, mainly to revisit the site of our wedding reception. But it seemed that weddings are definitely their specialty, and as I already mentioned, we would recommend the Seawatch to anyone for an amazing place to have a wedding reception.

Shauna has many more photos from our wedding reception at the Seawatch on her Flickr account here.

She also has more photos of the wedding favors and decorations here.

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On the way down from the Haleakala Sunrise we were looking for breakfast. So of course we consulted with our Maui Revealed Guidebook to find a good place to eat. After reading their review, we decided to check out Maui Coffee Roasters. It was one of those decisions that didn’t seem like much at the time, but ended up as one of the favorite places we found.

Maui Coffee Roasters is located at 444 Hana Hwy, near the intersection of the Hana Highway and Dairy Road. It is on the North side of Dairy Road, and the West side of the Hana Highway, for those who are good with directions. Here is what their building looks like:

20090410_723It turned out to be one of the best places we found during our entire trip. The prices were good, the food was great, and the coffee was amazing. They roast their own coffee next door, so it doesn’t get much fresher than that.
Maui Coffee Roasters

We both had their smoked salmon benedict the first time we stopped and could not believe how good it was; especially since it was only seven bucks. We actually thought it tasted better than the almost twenty dollars per plate crab benedict we tried a few days later at the Seawatch Restaurant in Wailea. We also tried some of their sandwiches and muffins. Needless to say, we did liked everything we tried. But of course we always kept going back for the coffee.

Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict:
Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict @ Maui Coffee Roasters

I don’t drink coffee so I usually had a fruit smoothie. Of course, those were very good as well. By the time Shauna got the camera ready I was well into my smoothie already…
Maui Coffee Roasters

Even though we were staying in Kihei, Shauna kept wanting to go back to Kahului to get one of their coffees. Seemed a bit out of the way to me, but we kept finding excuses to travel that direction.

I also made sure to enter a review for them on Tripadvisor, as they did not have a review at that time. A few other people have since given them great reviews as well. So if you do check them out, be sure to enter a TripAdvisor review of your own to help spread the word.

On our next trip to Maui I am pretty sure that Maui Coffee Roasters will be one of the first stops we make. It would definitely hit the spot after the long flight. I can hardly wait…

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During our first trip to Maui, we found one of the best restaurants we have ever been to Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Kihei. We stumbled on to in by accident during our wedding trip in 2008. We had wanted to go to the nearby rib restaurant, however it was full so we ended up at Sansei.

It ended up being one of the best meals we had eaten, possibly ever. Shauna had the Mango Crab Salad Handroll that night (and pretty much every other time we went back as well). I had the Grilled Fresh Hawaiian Ahi with their Shrimp Cake, shown in the photo below. Wow. It was amazingly good.

Sansei Seafood and Sushi Bar, Maui We went back a few nights later during our 2008 trip. We tried the Ahi Poke, California Roll, Rainbow Roll, and of course the Mango Crab Salad Handroll.

So of course on the first night of our 2009 trip we went back to Sansei.  Just for old times sake we had many of the same things we had tried during our previous trip… Ahi Poke, California Roll, Rainbow Roll, and Mango Crab Salad Handroll. It ended up being every bit as good as we had remembered.

Before we went into the restaurant, we were looking at the menu outside and noticed that they have a discount night from 5-6pm on Sunday and Monday nights. Most of the items are 50% off. So of course we went back again our second night to enjoy the discounted prices.

We ended up going to Sansei four times during our ten night stay of 2009. The rainbow roll and california roll showed below were two of our favorites. (We are not too adventurous with our sushi.)
Sansei Seafood and Sushi Bar, Maui
We did not find a bad item on the menu, and can highly recommend the Grilled Fresh Hawaiian Ahi with Shrimp Cake, Ahi Poke, California Roll, Rainbow Roll, and Mango Crab Salad Handroll, Sunomono salad, Seared Ahi Salad, and Maui Style Teriyaki Beef.

I tried the Maui Style Teriyaki Beef on our last night. It was one of the best things I ate the entire trip. I let my wife try a piece as well – but just one piece – and she agreed it was amazing. It will certainly be one of the first items I order on our next trip to Maui.

Overall, we went to Sansei six times during our eighteen nights spent on Maui. We also went to the Sansei Restaurant in the Marriott at Waikiki Beach on Oahu. They were just as good, although we liked the island of Maui much more than the island of Oahu, but that is another story for another post.

The restaurant in Kihei will always be one of my favorite restaurants anywhere. Any seafood I eat now just does not compare. There is nothing like well prepared fresh Hawaiian Ahi.

I absolutely recommend Sansei to anyone who is a fan of seafood or sushi. It is on South Kihei Road across from Kalama Beach Park. They are one of Tripadvisor’s top rated restaurants in Kihei.

Their website is: http://www.sanseihawaii.com/index.html

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My wife chose Secret Cove as the location for our wedding based upon the photos and information she found while doing some initial research on the internet, especially on theknot.com. This beach is also known as Makena Cove and Paako Beach. It was appealing since it is small, scenic, out of the way, and generally not as busy as other Maui Beaches can be.

Once we got to Maui, we could hardly wait to check it out for ourselves. So of course it was the first place we visited on our first day. We were very excited to finally be able to see it in person.

Secret Cove Beach Maui Destination Wedding Northern Pixel Photography

Access to the beach is through a stone wall just south of Big Beach. You come over a bit of a hill, and into a small dip. There is parking along the right side of the road up against the stone wall. You walk through the wall in a bit of a tunnel, and then come out under a tree to a spectacular view.
Entrance to Secret Cove (Pa'ako Beach), Maui

It was more perfect than we could have ever imagined. Even the photos do not do it justice. Here is a panoramic shot taken from the rocks along the left side of the beach looking back towards the road and Big Beach:

Hawaii Secret Cove

It was an ideal wedding location for our small ceremony. We decided on a morning wedding, to increase the chances of getting the beach to ourselves – which turned out to be a very good idea – we were the only ones there during our entire ceremony. Although with the morning sun behind the trees there were more shadows in the morning. At sunset the sun faces the beach, although the blueness of the water might not show up as much then. Just something to keep in mind for your wedding photos, whether you want a background of amazing blue ocean  or one of Maui’s sunsets. Either way you can’t go wrong though.

The waves were crashing pretty hard on our wedding day, which only added to the atmosphere of it all. It is hard to describe the feeling of being married on a beach, barefoot, while listening to the waves crashing on the rocks. We had a perfect Maui day, with only a slight breeze and hardly a cloud in the sky. I had to stop a few times just to look around and take it all in.

Here is a photo showing the harpist who played during our ceremony, with a view towards Molokini in the distance…

Secret Cove Beach, Maui Of all the photos we took at this beach, this one below is one of my favorites. It was taken during our return trip in 2009. This was the only day we visited when it was calm here. The waves were impressive every other time, except on this day…

20090411_808 It was so calm I had just started heading to the car to get my snorkeling gear. But then the large waves returned, and convinced me to just enjoy the view from shore like usual. The photo also shows one of the few sandy entrance areas into the water, although I do not recommend swimming here. The waves come crashing through it pretty good, so it did not seem like a good idea to fight through them for a swim. (But I really wanted to, and still do… perhaps next time.) But there are plenty of good swimming beaches on Maui, so no need to push my luck trying to get out at this one. Perhaps this is why this beach is often much less crowded than most of the other Maui Beaches – it is much more suited to weddings than swimming.

The photo below was taken in 2008 a few days after our wedding day. It was raining pretty good, and the waves were crashing even harder than before, and coming up the beach quite a bit further than usual…

Secret Cove Beach, Maui

During our last night in Maui of 2009 we decided to head back to Secret Cove to view the sunset. It turned out to be one of the better sunsets we had seen, with some of the most colorful sunset photos we took during our time in Hawaii.

20090413_0370There was one lucky couple getting married during this sunset. Hopefully their photos turned out as good as ours did.

Secret Cove SunsetI would recommend this beach to anyone looking for a great place to be married. It is an amazing location, and an experience that will never be forgotten. As I mentioned before you will have a much greater chance of having it to yourself if you have a morning wedding. One evening we stopped there to check things out, and there were three weddings going at the same time. Which of course makes it much harder to take good photos without getting other wedding parties in the background.

Kimberly from Aihara Visuals was our wonderful photographer. We couldn’t have been happier with the photos and the service we received from her and would recommend her to anyone. Her and her husband took over 500 photos during the few hours we booked them for. And all of her photo packages come with a DVD containing all of the photos. She took the wedding photo on my About page.

Her website is: http://www.aiharavisuals.com/

For our wedding ceremony we used Makena Weddings. They are also a husband and wife team, and they did a great job. Reverend Al does the ceremony, and Laurie does the planning end of things. She helped us with the flowers, hair/makeup, marriage licensing, and the harpist who played at our ceremony. They have many packages and options to choose from.

Their website is: http://www.4mauiweddings.com/index.htm

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it. As always, please let me know if you have any questions or comments, and feel free to check out my other posts from our time on Maui.

For wedding couples, if you haven’t already checked it out, another post you may be interested in reading is for the Seawatch Restaurant where we had our wedding reception.

Also, Shauna and I do Wedding Photography as well now, and would be happy to have an opportunity to photograph a destination wedding at this amazing beach. Our website is http://northernpixel.zenfolio.com/ 

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We went to the Old Lahaina Luau during our 2008 trip to Maui. It was one of our favorite experiences from any of the Hawaiian Islands. We got there quite a bit early which helped us get a good parking spot. We just went to the mall across the street for a bit to pass the time before the Luau started.

The atmosphere at the luau was very good. As soon as you walk in they give you a lei and a drink – and the drinks were very very tasty. A fresh tropical fruit drink is about as good as it gets. Since we were staying at the Maui Banyan in Kihei – about 40 minutes away – we had a few designated drivers for our group. The bartender had no problems with mixing up some amazing fruit drinks without alcohol. I certainly didn’t hear any complaints from those who were enjoying the alcoholic versions either.

I booked our tickets well in advance, so we were seated in the front row of the seated tables. The only ones in front of us were a row of mat seating on the ground, which because they were seated on the floor, they were not in our way at all. It didn’t look like there was a bad seat in the place:

Apr 17 2008 494The Imu – where they cook the kalua pork:

Apr 17 2008 522The ceremony was very busy with people crowded around, so I didn’t get any good photos once they started digging. I was very happy I checked it out though, as not everyone in our group did. They seemed disappointed as I described watching the ceremony to them.

The buffet was very good. I tried everything on the menu, although some things were a bit different, like the Octopus salad. One of my favorites was the Ahi Poke, and of course everyone enjoyed the Kalua Pork. I filled my plate a couple times and ended up completely stuffed.

The entertainment was amazing as well. They did a very good job of telling a number of Hawaiian stories. The dancers and costumes were all very good. Although we didn’t get very many good photos since it was dark and they were moving pretty fast. A few turned out good though:

Old Lahaina Luau

The entire luau experience was an event to remember; one that I would certainly recommend to anyone visiting Maui. Many other people on Tripadvisor also recommend them as they are one of the highest rated in Lahaina. The entire night was one of the most memorable experiences during our time in Hawaii. It was well worth the cost and we will likely go back once again on our next trip to Maui.

Their website is: http://www.oldlahainaluau.com/

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