Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
This recently renovated condo property in bustling Lahaina, with bare minimum amenities and no beach access, is best for those who want quick access to the town's lively nightlife, shopping and restaurants.
Outrigger Aina Nalu's 134 refreshed condos are priced a hefty notch lower than many to the North in Kaanapali, but the property has fewer amenities. It's five to 10 minutes from the beach by car, and the property seems to discourage small children. Though there are two small pools that are on par or better than most Maui condos, the only other main convenience is an activities desk for booking excursions and dining reservations. This is a good choice for vacationers planning to spend most of their time outside the hotel and wanting quick access to Lahaina's lively bar scene at night. The Lahaina location, though touristy, offers Maui's best nightlife and its closest approximation to a bustling city -- it's full of shops and restaurants along the harbor, and has a more exciting live music and bar scene than other towns in Maui.
Outrigger Aina Nalu is a solid home base for travelers who plan to do lots of off-resort activities. Though it doesn't offer the history and charm of Lahaina's other primary lodging options -- the Pioneer Inn and the Plantation Inn -- it does offer full kitchens for those who want to dodge pricey resort meals, plus the pools are larger. Those who want the perks of a condo but prefer better beach access and more resort features -- like on-site shops, restaurants, and activities -- would do better to check Kaanapali's Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort and Marriott's Maui Ocean Club.
Friendly, informative 24-hour front desk
The front desk staff greets guests with a welcoming and informative check-in, including complimentary postcards that they'll stamp and send free of charge and a quick property orientation. But once you're settled in, there's little help to be found: This is a condo rental, not a full-service hotel or resort. An Expedia-run activities kiosk is located next to one of the pools to help guests plan excursions or book nearby events and activities, and check-out housekeeping maintains the units and grounds, but there's no bell staff, room service, or pool service.
In Lahaina, a historic whaling town now filled with bars, restaurants, art galleries, tourist shops, and Maui's best nightlife (but no beaches)
The Aina Nalu Resort is just outside downtown Lahaina, a bustling whaling port during the mid-19th century and former capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Today, this touristy seaside town is home to some of Maui's best shopping, dining, and nightlife. Chain restaurants like Bubba Gump and Hard Rock Café coexist with local establishments, like scrimshaw sellers and shave-ice shops, and art gallery exhibits pay tribute to Lahaina's past as the whaling capital of the Pacific. In the center of it all is a huge, banyan tree that arches over an entire city block.
Front Street is the main drag of Lahaina. This half-mile-long stretch is packed with everything a tourist could need, from activity desks to souvenir shops and fresh island cuisine. Well-preserved, 18th-century buildings give it a historic feel -- most of the town has been designated a National Historic Landmark -- and its many attractions, retail stores, and excellent restaurants make it a must-see for every Maui visitor.
The nearest beaches are five to 10 minutes away.
Lahaina isn't about beaches. It's a former whaling village fronted by a large harbor and filled with shops, restaurants, and Maui's best nightlife. Some surf schools run lessons out of the harbor, but the nearest swimmable beaches are five to 10 minutes away.
Newly renovated, with standardized decor and amenities
As Maui condo rentals go, these are in great condition and consistent décor and amenities mean no surprises (unlike at properties like Aston Mahana at Kaanapali, where individual owners choose décor and amenities). Studios and one- and two-bedroom units are average size and were renovated in 2007. They include full kitchens in all but the studio units, spacious bathrooms that include washers and dryers (but no bathtubs, only standing showers), and Dell flat-screen TVs with DVD players.
The Aina Nalu's features are about as minimal as they come. It has two pools, which is more than the few other Lahaina hotels can say, but otherwise there's just an activities desk, a lounge area, and free Wi-Fi in the lobby and by the two pools. Free wired Internet access is available in guest rooms. The good news is that the pool area is far more relaxing than at one of Maui's giant resorts -- there's no battle for lounge chairs, no crowds at the towel stand, and no constant noise. Though the pools are small compared to Maui full-service resorts, they're fairly standard, or better, than at similar condo properties. For more extensive on-site features, pay a little more for the resort-like amenities at time-share properties such as the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort and Marriott's Maui Ocean Club.
Not a good choice for families with young kids
Though cheap for Maui, Aina Nalu's family-friendly amenities and services are well outdone by other time-share/condo properties like the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort and Marriott's Maui Ocean Club. The latter both offer better children's amenities for a small jump in price, and Kaanapali's huge beach and choice of nearby activities is better aimed at younger kids than Lahaina's bumping nightlife and touristy shops.
Rooms were renovated in 2007, and everything from furniture to carpets still seems brand-new. Check-out housekeeping is efficient and effective.
Full kitchens, but no on-site restaurant
There's no restaurant on-site, but all units (except studios) have full kitchens that include dishwashers, microwaves, stoves, and ovens and are stocked with dishes and silverware. Studio units have a microwave and full fridge.
This refreshed condo property in the bustling, touristy town of Lahaina has fair-size, affordable studio, one- and two-bedroom units and two small, pleasant pools, but offers a bare minimum of amenities and services -- and the nearest beach is a five-minute drive away.