The Banana Bungalow & Wailuku – Diamonds in the Ruff

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We got off our long, exhausting flights, we hailed a cab, and then told our driver the address of our hostel…“you’re staying where?! The Banana Bungalow is HORRIBLE! Let me find you another place to stay this week, Days Inn maybe?!”

NOT what we wanted to hear after a 10 hour flight and days of research we poured into this trip. I started to feel a sinking stomach starting to set in, as I was the one who found The Banana Bungalow in the first place and pushed us to stay there. My friend and I thanked our driver for her concern, but assured her that the bungalow was where we wanted to be dropped off. We had already paid for the week anyways.

I often wonder if this lady was paid a cut from Days Inn to bring in tourists to their hotel, but I am so glad we did not get suckered in and trusted The Banana Bungalow…it was a fantastic place to stay! At first, I will admit, I was sceptical, but by the end of our 10 blissful days on Maui, I was more in love with the bungalow than ever. To this day, The Banana Bungalow holds a special place in my heart, and I cannot wait to one day return to it.

Hawaiian Hostel Experience: The Banana Bungalow

I had never stayed in a hostel previous to this trip. I actually never dreamed I would ever stay in a hostel, which sounds very snob-like of me, but I had heard horror stories over the years on the safety & cleanliness of hostels from backpackers I have met on my travels. Am I ever glad that I took a chance and allowed The Banana Bungalow to persuade me otherwise!

To the person reading this who also says they will never stay in a hostel: this review and all my future ones hold my honest opinions on the places I stay. I am a girl who cannot even go camping for a night! This should give you an idea on my standards when I stay at a place. The Banana Bungalow not only fit the bill, but it met my neat-freak standards as well.

For sleeping accommodations, the bungalow has a couple of options. There are dorm rooms and private rooms. I stayed in a private room, which had two twin beds in it. They also have another two twin bed room, along with one queen bed room.

For dorms, most of them have four beds, where there are two rooms that have six. There are also women only dorms available. The great thing too about the bungalow is they also provide bed linen. I didn’t realize, being a first timer in the hostel world, that some hostels do not provide sheets and it is up the traveller to supply their own. Lessons learned right!

For the washrooms, the bungalow has nine showers available in their total of six bathrooms. I know you are all dying to know – what were my thoughts on the washrooms. Surprisingly, I found them to be okay. I was expecting the worst, but the bungalow cleans them every morning so they were always kept well. In my opinion, go for the four washrooms up on the second floor. I always used these ones, since our room was just down the hall, but each of these washrooms were private, one toilet, one shower, rather than the several showers in a row like the ones downstairs.

Despite my surprise gecko encounters when I showered or right when I was tucking myself into bed at night, I thought both the bedroom and washrooms were both pretty decent!

The facilities of the Bungalow were also more than what I expected! Here are some perks in what the Bungalow had to offer:

  • 30 minute walk from closest grocery store (Safeway)
  • Bus stop was only a ten minute walk away – we took the bus everywhere to get to beaches and shopping areas. Good price and you got to where you wanted to within a reasonable amount of time!
  • Coin Laundry
  • Payphones
  • Free parking for those who rent vehicles when visiting the island
  • Free Luggage Storage
  • Quite Time from 10 PM to 8 AM – yay sleep!
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Free pancake breakfast and coffee each morning
  • Free Kegger party every Friday
  • Tropical garden with picnic tables and hammocks to lie in – great place to relax and eat your meals
  • A hottub – but it wasn’t working when I went…according to other blogs, it wasn’t working when they visited either, hmm…
  • Pool table, ping pong table, and foosball table
  • Large kitchen with gas cooktops, refrigerators, sinks, dish ware, utensils and pots/pans – all free to use!
  • Outdoor BBQ grill
  • And for the best part … FREE daily tours of Maui – hostel employees drive around guests each day on a different tour in their passenger vans

List of Tours the Banana Bungalow Provides:

Monday – Iao Valley Hike

Tuesday – The Road to Hana

Wednesday – West Maui (Snorkelling Opportunity)

Thursday – Turtle Town (Snorkelling Opportunity)

Friday – Paia Town Visit

Saturday – Haleakala Volcano Crater Hike

Sunday – Big Beach, Little Beach 

Prices

The prices of the hostel were also reasonable, considering all that you get included above! Especially those FREE TOURS! I was looking how much each of those would cost if you were to pay a company separately – almost $100 each! You honestly get the bang for your buck at the Bungalow!

  • Dorm Room – $39.00 USD/night
  • Private Room – $89.00 USD (1 person)/night; $99.00 USD (2 ppl)/night

The People

I got to meet some amazing people on this trip. Thanks to the wonderful world of Facebook, I still get to keep in touch with some of them! If there was one reason alone why I would stay in a hostel again, it would be because of the people you get to meet and link up with from all across the world. I got to meet people from as far as Australia, Switzerland and Sweden, to as close as San Francisco, Las Vegas, even Quebec (got to practice my French quite a bit on this trip!)

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All in all, the friendships you make in hostels when travelling are unforgettable memories – if you are on the fence between choosing hostel or hotel, go hostel!

Located in Wailuku

The Banana Bungalow is located in the heart of Wailuku. Wailuku is located west of Maui’s capital Kahului and it is at the border entrance of the Iao Valley. At one point in time, in the early 20th century, Wailuku was once a main tourist destination on Maui. However, because of the rise in popularity of resort towns like Ka’anapali, Wailuku’s tourism rate dwindled and now there are no hotels really in this city. Thank goodness for the still up & running Banana Bungalow!

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At first, Wailuku did not rub me the right way. I had heard it was a rough town, it was dirty, and being in the middle of the island, it was not that typical island town that just screamed the Hawaiian vibe and theme. But you know what? Wailuku captivated me. Yes it is a town that has a bad rep, but I feel that Wailuku is quite often overlooked. It is a quaint place that has sweet Hawaiian charm, as well as  hidden places that make it so wonderful in my eyes.

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Shops and restaurants  down the main streets and some side streets made Wailuku what it was for me. Food trucks with Coke in glass bottles, banana bread bakeries, quaint coffee shops, ukulele stores, and pizzerias owned by men with New Yorker accents. I loved how each of these places were not franchises or chains, but rather individuals all working hard to make their little businesses thrive. I am always one for shops like these!

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Not far, just a short bus ride away from Wailuku is a small beach that not many tourists venture out to, but one mostly locals use at their leisure – Sugar Beach.

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Quiet, peaceful, and postcard perfect, if you can make your way out to Sugar Beach for part of the day, you won’t regret you made the journey. There are no lifeguards at this beach, so go into the water at your own risk. We just simply enjoyed laying on the sand and walking along the shore, taking in that beautiful Hawaiian view we had been dreaming of since forever.

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If you travel to Wailuku’s city centre, just in front of one of the bus stops you can spot a couple of eucalyptus trees. We barely got to see these beautiful things on our Road to Hana tour, because there isn’t much space to pull over and get out to see them. We basically just did a slow drive by and behind the glass of a van was as close as I got to seeing them.

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The bark of the eucalyptus tree is quite unique. It is smooth, but flaky, as it sheds new layers, peeling back to reveal gorgeous new colours and keeping up the appearance of a rainbow. This phenomenon of so many different colours happens as the newly exposed bark slowly ages. The bark first changes from bright green to a darker green, then to a blue to a purple, and then to pink-orange tones and shades. Finally, the colour becomes a brown/maroon colour right before exfoliation (peeling of the bark) occurs. This process happens on different parts of the tree and at different times, therefore the colours are always constantly changing. Due to this, the tree never has the same colour pattern twice, making it like a work of living art – if only I could get a ukulele made out of this kind of wood?!

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And now for my favourite part of Wailuku – the waterfall…

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Just maybe a 10 minute walk from the hostel is this beautiful, freshwater pool and falls you can swim around at to cool off on those hot August days. You can ask workers at the hostel and they will point you in the right direction of this gorgeous spot, some may offer to take you there themselves.

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A place that seems only locals really go to and Banana Bungalow tourists, this waterfall makes for a nice spot to just come to and relax.  The most beautiful and enchanting place I have ever seen.  With how secluded it was and how it was a locals’ getaway, I felt like we were being let in on one of Hawaii’s many best-kept secrets.

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. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Was your first hostel experience just as positive?

What has been your favourite hostel to stay at?

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