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Aloha Campers in Maui?
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Mathew Zelezen
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2009 10:40 pm    Post subject: Aloha Campers in Maui? Reply with quote

Does anyone have experience with Aloha Campers in Maui?
The little lady are I are heading to Hawaii in April and the above mentioned company rents out Westys to tour around the island.
My wife actually found it (damn I love that woman) but there are no testomonials and some bad reviews about actually finding a place TO camp in Maui.
Anyone else hear about this?
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2009 11:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Been to Maui on windsurfing trips, camping in the island is not like camping in the mainland, it is kind of sad, usually people with low or no resouces or stuck in drugs take up camping places living in tents the best way they can near the beach, good weather favors them year round. It doesn't happen everywhere and it is not always unsafe but it is something to watch for. In any case I wouldn't doubt to rent a westy in Maui if I had the chance. It is the right vehicle to explore the island and in general it is safe. Lots of tourists year round.

I believe Aloha Campers is a sister company or satelite office from the westy rental place in the Bay Area. They have almost the same website.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2009 11:42 pm    Post subject: Aloha Campers Reply with quote

My wife and I went on our honeymoon on Maui and Kauai. We rented a campervan from Aloha campers for 6 days upon arrival in Maui and loved it. The van was fine, everything worked and it ran great. They are located in an interesting part of town. We had our shuttle driver from the airport drop us off at what was essentially a junkyard/repair place down a side road. The other passengers must have thought we were nuts as they headed off to their all inclusive resorts. But the guys there were very friendly and had all of our paperwork ready to go. After a brief once over with the van we were on our way. We ended up camping for two nights just south of Lahaina in an actual campground near the beach. Nothing fancy. We weren't able to find a ton of spots to sleep for the night. The BEST part of this whole trip is being able to stay the night out near the seven sacred pools at the end of the road to Hana. Most of the tourists don't arrive there until 10am or so. We stayed the night in a huge grassy field (see photo below), had a fantastic thunderstorm (nothing like heavy raindrops hitting the fiberglass roof that is 1" from your nose and staying bone dry), and then had the whole place to ourselves the next morning until tourists arrived at 10.

So yes, I would recommend them. Great time. Plus you don't have the convertible mustang with the Hertz sticker like all the other tourists. Smile

-cory

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 12:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We rented 2 Westfalia campers last year from Aloha Campers in Maui, the vehicles that we had were well used, the fridges did not work but they supplied a cooler to keep your stuff cool. Both vans ran OK but looked a bit rough.

We had lots of fun but the hardest part was finding a spot to park the van to overnight. There is only one campground on the island where you can pay and for the other State Parks you are suppose to buy permits at some central location. You are not suppose to camp anywhere else, although Aloha Campers says that you can camp on the beach as long as you have a fishing rod nearby, but the local cops said no, you have to have it in your hands all night.
Some of the locals tried to chase us away one evening, but after a discussion changed their minds because we had a baby on board in one of the vans and we could not find another place to stay, others were still yelling or honking their horns all evening.

For the last couple of nights, we hung out with the homeless people on a parking lot, great people!

Aloha Campers should arrange for places to camp with property owners, it was a bit stressful at times.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 12:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was in Maui last year, without a van.

Before the trip, I emailed one so-called van rental business repeatedly to ask about rentals. Never a response. Not impressive. I dunno if it was Aloha campers or not. If it was, good luck to Coryosth for getting through to them.

It was striking how few campsites I saw, and I was looking. But if you ask locals and get creative, I am sure you could score some nice places to park.

For the next trip, we plan on returning to the Big Island and renting a Westy from this place:

http://www.gb-adventures.com/

Yep, "gb" = Gene and Gary Berg, the legendary VW maestros.

Though I've never been there, Big Island seems to have more camping options and a greater variety of scenery.

If you end up in Maui, post here and tell us your story . . . with some kewl photos, of course.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 2:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The girlfriend & I did this last April!

We flew to Maui on the now-defunct ATA airlines, and got a shuttle to the Aloha campers yard. It's pretty much exactly as has been described here, we were a little unsure that we were in the right place, but sure enough we saw some campers sitting there waiting.

Ours was a white '91 that was in decent condition.

It really was awesome to have a westy to tour the island. Just perfect for beach life.

The only problem we had was as madspaniard describes, the camping situation there is unfortunate. The only "official" campgrounds are a couple "beach parks" that you can buy permits for very cheaply (I think they were $6/day). One is up north east of the airport, and is a large park next to a famous windsurfing area...unfortunately they close all the parking at night except for one small lot that gets cozy with many folks who are living out of their cars. We had no problems, but it certainly was not comfortable. If you have a tent, you can go set up wherever though, and we wished we had one the night we were there...for sure.
The other park is south of Lahaina a good bit, on the south-facing part of the island. We spent a couple nights here, and this is what is in the van pics below. It would have been a perfect spot if it were not so close to the road. Besides that, we were directly on the beach. Porta-pots only though.

About 5 miles south of this park, there is a private campground that our friends stayed at most nights.

It's sad that there is not one or two proper campgrounds on the beach, somewhere on the island.

We tried to find a spot to crash south of Kihei on the beach via the Aloha campers recommendations, but had no luck.

By far the best spot was out in Hana. There is a National Park there, and once you pay the entrance fee, you can camp for free for a week I believe.

The road to Hana is awesome...highly recommended.

Overall, we loved it, but the worry of finding a decent place to sleep each night was stressful. Now that we know everything, it would be easier, but still not ideal. If there were one good campground there, I would do it again in a heartbeat...

I would recommend Aloha campers. They were straight and easy to deal with. It's a small casual business.
I drive a stick, but would recommend asking for an Auto for your rental.
Our camper ran fine, had all the accessories (even the side door mosquito screen), they provided an ice chest, and lots of local maps and info.

We're going to Kauai this year and staying on a farm.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We were on Maui last month and though we did not rent a Westy I did meet and speak with another Alaskan there that was renting one. They visited three Islands with it, Oahu, Hawaii, and Maui, and reported that Maui was the toughest Island to find a place to camp. If we had not had other arrangements including the use of a beachfront condo in Kapalua we might have rented one also. I am not sure if anyone else has mentioned it but there is a campground up by the entrance to the volcano. Reports from people that stayed there are that it is reasonably priced and well maintained.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I rented a camper in Maui and I would not recommended to anyone. The place a rented from try to give me one but it was in horrible conditions so I asked for another one. The person working there said I could pick any of the one in the lot but to tell you the truth they were in pretty bad conditions. They were dirty and smelled bad. I picked the one that look the best and was on my way. I rode for about two hours and it die, so they came and pick me up and I tried it again. They gave a camper that made a lot of noises and would not go above 30 miles per hour, if you tried to push it would make this horrible sound. Nevertheless, I went to a camping site and found out that the campers could only be in the parking lot, every one else there had a tent and that seem to work out much better since they could get very close to the beach. I return the van the next day and rented the car and some camping gear and went to Hana. Looking back there was no way the camper could have made it in the road to Hana, beautiful and it may be and it is beautiful, it is very windy and steep.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 3:19 pm    Post subject: Aloha Campers Reply with quote

We recently returned from a week in Maui, renting a Westfalia from Aloha Campers. Ariel was pleasant enough when we arrived to pickup our rental. The first Westy we received was a greyish/ blue manual shift model that was "extremely" dirty.

We discovered there was an additional passenger onboard the first night. Turns out that it was likely a RAT as we had purchased mousetraps which were evaded, sticky mouse pads that the critter also evaded and then had to purchase large Rat traps. We requested a different vehicle, which Ariel did provide us... a burgundy coloured automatic Westy. This one was "far" cleaner!

It's true that legitimate camping is virtually non-existent on Maui, however we managed to secure beachfront spots most nights.

With regard to Aloha Campers, we are currently seeking a reimbursement for 3 days of disrupted vacation time and sleep (especially when the rodent ran across us during one night) due to the unwanted rodent... will let everyone know how Ariel and Aloha Campers handles our current request!
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 3:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We jsut got back from the Big Island and while there ran into two guys in Hiwa that rented one from the place in Hilo - I think it was Happy Campers.

They were impressed with the operation and the van too and highly recommended it.

I know it's not Maui, but.......
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stumbled across this old thread. Wanted to say that I've had two excellent experiences with Aloha Campers. We've had very few problems with camping on the island, but we did a ton of research and poking around before we went. Anyone planning a trip should PM me for the 411. I can see how a trip of this type could go horribly wrong with improper preparation, research and planning.

We pretty much camped in paradise every evening. Can't wait to go back again.

2008 Photos - http://indytriple.smugmug.com/Travel/Maui-Trip-March-2008/4504749_v4abK

2009 Photos - http://indytriple.smugmug.com/Travel/Maui-2009/7713995_CKsCD

Related thread and commentary by myself and others:
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=439124
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't know about camper rentals but.. There's plenty of free and great camping past Hana or Kula if you're coming around the other way. That's the dry part of the island and we used to drive out there and just lay the sleeping pad right in the grass under the stars. But there's always a few fisherman and the such camping out that way. It's great camping whether you have a Westy rental or otherwise. I always found that the camping south of Lahaina was filled with very long term campers, vagabonds, surfers, etc.... Same with the camping spots near the airport on the north shore. But as a former resident of the island I can tell you the best and least populated place to camp is Polipoli State park up on the volcano, or it was 10 years ago. National Park has several great campgrounds too.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:28 pm    Post subject: Aloha Campers Reply with quote

I noticed that the last poster had two good experiences with Aloha Campers. Perhaps they have a couple of vans in good condition. My fiance and I had quite a different experience. To be clear I did not expect anything fancy. Most of my nights out of town are spent in a tent or bivy sack so generally a VW is a huge upgrade. The van we received was not even close to be in good working order. The short list is:
1. The gear box was shot. Trying to shift was a nightmare (and yes we both have been driving manuals for years)
2. The sliding door could not be opened by myself and my fiance had a dickens of a time trying to do so.
3. The headlights were about as effective as a cheap battery operated bike light. A car could see us but we couldn't see much with them.
4. The tags and insurance were expired.
5. The trim around the windows would come off whenever you tried to roll a window down.
6. The lights for the rear liscense plate were hanging by their wires, unworking.
7. The brakes were super soft and you had to press the brake pedal extremely hard to get any sort of stopping power.
9. The fan didn't work. Kind of a problem if you refer to #5.
8. Non-safety related but it is also not so cool that you get a 7% discount by paying cash. 7% is the tax rate.
9. As for camping on Maui, the vast majority of locals we talked to advised against it for safety concerns except in the Hana and National Parks areas. That said neither of those really seemed to be quite as sunnny and warm as the rest of the island, at least when we were there. As for camping anywhere as Aloha portrayed; that might have been the case 10 years ago but we regularly saw county sheriffs, parks departments, and local law enforcement patroling pullouts, beach areas etc for people there past "closing" hours. We knew camping was tough so were not surprised by that.

In closing we gave up the camper after 2 days. I have stayed in backcountry huts that were nicer, cleaner, and in better shape. Again perhaps we got the one dud in the bunch but after looking at other reviews it does not seem to be the case.

It is one thing to be in a van as described above when you're back in your climbing bum days and its yours or your buddy's. It is an entirely different story when you are being charged $125.00/night for the above. Just because a camper is old doesn't mean it has to be in a state of disrepair.

Just our experience and thought it worth sharing.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I believe the bad reports, but we had a great trip 2yrs ago with Aloha. Thh van was mechanically pretty sound, sorta dirty, but fine for me/wife/6yr old boy. everything but the frifdge worked (and that was known upfront)

Had the van 5 nights, and would recommend to anyone going this route to:
1) bring a good cooler with you (or buy one there) - the provided cooler was lame.
2) Stock up on food on the West island.
3) get camping permits at the state building (sorta near airport) - $5/night!
4) drive towards Hana - camp at the black sand beach (Wannanapanana Confused ) and/or at the now remodeled state campground at the 7 pools (can't remember the real names)
5) hang out at Homoa (sp?) beach (1 of the best beaches in the world), the black sand beach (not for swimming), hike to the 400ft waterfall, explore the better side of Maui!
6) drive around the south side "under" Haleakala - a few unmarked camping spots out there - remote and excellent.
7) camp at the Haleakala park (very small) and get up early (very early) and drive to see the sunrise from the summit.

ONe of the coolest things about the van rental is that you look more like a local. Shocka-bra!! Laughing

We had a 2bd suite at the Paia Inn (in Paia, duh) - super sweet, and right near Paia beach (mostly unused north shore beach) - great way to wind down the vacation. Paia is a great little not-so-touristy surfer/hippie town on the edge of the wet region.

I'd rent again if/when we go back.

My coworker just returned form the Big Island where he had a westy rental. Said it was real clean, and the camping there is easier.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paia is a sweet little town...
The third pic I posted above is from a great pulloff to watch the surfers just east of Paia.

One Maui tip I forgot to post was that everyone that visits should definitely visit the Haliimaile General Store. It's a great little restaurant in a house just towards the center of the island from Paia.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g6063...awaii.html

Maui really feels like Paradise...
sorry to hear about the above poster's experience with Aloha campers. If I received that van I don't think I would have driven it off their lot.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One on my friends that has lived on Maui for 15+yrs now used to cook the Haliimaile General Store. All my friends live around Haiku now, nice properties with all kinds of food growing right out the door in the woods.

Love the north shore!
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 8:20 pm    Post subject: Re: Aloha Campers Reply with quote

bhamgirl wrote:
I noticed that the last poster had two good experiences with Aloha Campers. Perhaps they have a couple of vans in good condition. My fiance and I had quite a different experience. To be clear I did not expect anything fancy. Most of my nights out of town are spent in a tent or bivy sack so generally a VW is a huge upgrade. The van we received was not even close to be in good working order. The short list is:
1. The gear box was shot. Trying to shift was a nightmare (and yes we both have been driving manuals for years)
2. The sliding door could not be opened by myself and my fiance had a dickens of a time trying to do so.
3. The headlights were about as effective as a cheap battery operated bike light. A car could see us but we couldn't see much with them.
4. The tags and insurance were expired.
5. The trim around the windows would come off whenever you tried to roll a window down.
6. The lights for the rear liscense plate were hanging by their wires, unworking.
7. The brakes were super soft and you had to press the brake pedal extremely hard to get any sort of stopping power.
9. The fan didn't work. Kind of a problem if you refer to #5.
8. Non-safety related but it is also not so cool that you get a 7% discount by paying cash. 7% is the tax rate.
9. As for camping on Maui, the vast majority of locals we talked to advised against it for safety concerns except in the Hana and National Parks areas. That said neither of those really seemed to be quite as sunnny and warm as the rest of the island, at least when we were there. As for camping anywhere as Aloha portrayed; that might have been the case 10 years ago but we regularly saw county sheriffs, parks departments, and local law enforcement patroling pullouts, beach areas etc for people there past "closing" hours. We knew camping was tough so were not surprised by that.

In closing we gave up the camper after 2 days. I have stayed in backcountry huts that were nicer, cleaner, and in better shape. Again perhaps we got the one dud in the bunch but after looking at other reviews it does not seem to be the case.

It is one thing to be in a van as described above when you're back in your climbing bum days and its yours or your buddy's. It is an entirely different story when you are being charged $125.00/night for the above. Just because a camper is old doesn't mean it has to be in a state of disrepair.

Just our experience and thought it worth sharing.


I feel that I need to set the record straight. Here's a funny coincidence...

A gal contacted me via Facebook at the end of February saying that she had found my review of Aloha Campers on this thread. The message was as follows:

"I was reading your posts in TheSamba.com about your experiences in the Westy. You said to pm you about camping questions, so I hope you don't mind me FBing you instead. My boyfriend and I are going to Maui for a week staring March 21 and are renting a bus from Aloha Campers. According to all the posts, it seems like many people have downplayed the camping in Maui saying there hardly is any. I was in Kona a month ago and had the same problem finding camping except for only one place because all the beach areas close the gates at a certain time. I also read that some people had mechanical issues and even Rat issues! So...just wondering if you wouldn't mind passing on some useful information before taking the 6 day plunge into unknown territory."

Here is my lengthy response:

"The first thing to keep in mind is that ALL of these vehicles are 25 years old! They were finicky when they were new, so you can imagine how quirky and difficult they are to keep running now. I own two of these things, and I love them, but they are a real challenge to keep going. I can't even imagine trying to keep them in good shape while people are renting and abusing them. Given what I know about Volkswagen Vanagons, I'm amazed that they can keep a fleet of these going. All that being said, you should go into this EXPECTING the thing to break down. If it doesn't, great. If it does, you'll be mentally prepared. If you're going to rent one of these, you and your boyfriend had better be laid-back "roll-with-it" type of people. I love to read reviews of Aloha Campers where hoity-toity honeymooners complain about windows not rolling down, engines overheating and broken sun visors. THESE ARE 25 YEAR OLD VEHICLES THAT GET USED REALLY HARD EVERYDAY (Disclaimer: I put this in bold for ironic emphasis...can't say I didn't tell you so!). Ariel and his crew at Aloha are doing the best that they can, in my opinion.

Here are the three places where you should focus your camping:
-YMCA Camp Keanae
-Kipahulu (National Park near Hana)
-Hosmer Grove (National Park near the volcano summit)

Avoid all of the other camp spots if you can. I've tried all of them, and I can't recommend any of the other ones. Papalua Wayside is OK if you want to watch a sunset or be close to Lahaina in the morning. You can also see the Southern Cross constellation from here (at about 2-5 a.m.), but you'll be kept awake by traffic on the road and crazy roosters crowing. You'll also have to procure a camp pass ahead of time. It's a pain.

Keanae is by far, hands down, the best place to camp. I can't believe that people don't stay there. It's cheap, beautiful and friendly. They'll make you "camp" the van in the parking lot, but this is the most beautiful parking lot I've ever seen! Look at my pictures via the link on the Samba post. Go swimming at Ching's Pond (withing walking distance) and get the island's BEST banana bread at Aunty Sandy's down on Keanae Landing (also within walking distance).

I would spend at least one night at Kipahulu. Try to stay here during the week as the locals like to party on the weekends. GREAT whale watching here! You'll have Oheo Gulch (7 Sacred Pools) all to yourself in the early morning before the tourists arrive.

Consider camping at Hosmer Grove if you want to be close to the summit for sunrise. It can get COLD here, though. We've woke up to temps in the low 30's here, but it is gorgeous. The hike through the woods at the campground is amazing. You'll beat most tourists to the summit in the morning as well.

I hope that this helps. Go through all of my pictures to get a better idea of these places. Don't hesitate to contact me with any other questions. I'd also be interested in hearing how it goes after the fact."


So basically, I went way out of my way to give her great advice which she neither listened to or followed.

I think that it's also important to note that she's posting here for the first time, and she is a non-Vanagon person. When you Google "Aloha Campers Maui" this thread is one of the first results that you see. All of my postings here about Aloha Campers are meant for VANAGON PEOPLE. The description of the van above is hilarious, and it actually reminds me of one of my vans. My personal favorite is #3 when she complains about the headlights. NEWS FLASH: The stock headlights SUCK on these vehicles.

I'm pretty sure that we had the exact same van that these folks had. Truth be told, the quirks and problems never really phased us. Some people just can't have a good time and roll with it, even when they're in paradise. Sorry bout yer luck. I also love the complaint about the 7% cash discount. What the heck is wrong or unethical about that? We give discounts for cash all of the time at the bike shop where I work. I've paid Aloha Campers cash both times. I'll take my 7% straight to the bank, thank you very much!

For any Google searchers, honeymooners and non-Vanagon people that find this thread...
GO STAY AT THE HILTON IN KAANAPALI.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 5:20 pm    Post subject: RE: Aloha Campers Reply with quote

Actually I was not the girl you were facebooking with as I do not have a facebook account. While I am not a member of this board and do not currently own a Westie I have more than ample experience with them as my parents had several and living in the PNW they are pretty standard camp vehicles with friends. I understand that they are finicky vehicles from the start. However there is a huge difference between finicky and old versus unsafe and not taken care of. I am not some yuppie honeymooner and to assume so is a bit of a generalization.

THere is a huge difference between camping in one's own vehicle and paying $125.00 to do so. I don't think expecting something in good working order is too much to ask old or not. I borrowed a similarly aged Westie from a climber buddy a few weeks back and it was in great working order as are others I have used and my family has owned. Just because a vehicle is old doesn't mean it cannot be. And to be fair I was expecting a 25 year old vehichle not something all shiney and new and perfect. I was just expecting something with working brakes and most of the pieces attached.

Oh and the headlights were worse than the stock ones normally are.

Take it or leave it. I only wanted to give another insight for those folks who were interested. That is all.
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Renr
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 11:12 am    Post subject: i shouldve listened! Reply with quote

we had a bad experience with the van. we just came back from a nine day trip. we rented a van for three days and it was a nightmare. . we we got there it looked a bit dirty, but we were ok with that. We are not pickey people but this was too much. we did not sleep in it at all it was full of roaches. every bump we hit on the road would kick out some new roaches. everytime we open the door some would fall out. LIterally they were everywhere. the electrical outletsddidnt work and the water reservoir kept leaking. Im so lucky i brought a tent, i was planning to sleep on the beach at least one day, but i ended up using it all three days. if you want to camp, your better off renting a regular car and taking some camping gear. pay the extra to the airlines in luggage than renting their death mobiles. Also, the brakes gave out on the road to hana. i had to keep downshifting to first gear & pumping the brakes to slow down. When we complained , they acted like its not a big deal. CRAZY! Will never recommend them! Fortuneately for us, we did not let this ruin our trip. we still had a great time and just moved on.
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ALIKA T3
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Location: Honolulu,Hawaii and France
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 9:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hope you then bought the silly t-shirt "I survived the road to Hana" Laughing
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