Jim and Mary Jo Bell of Farmington vacationed in the same condo complex in Lahaina, Maui, for 20 years until the time was right in 1999 to buy a one-bedroom unit. Now they spend January through March there and rent out the condo in the off-season. "Summer is a good rental time," said Jim, because guests from California and Arizona vacation in Hawaii to escape the heat.
Bell said that renting a condo through his complex (www.lokelanicondos.com), Vrbo.com or Homeaway.com is about $70 per night cheaper than staying in a nearby resort (Bell charges $179 per night in high season; resorts charge $250).
Best part: The weather year-round. Highs in the 80s in the day and lows in the 50s at night. Whale-watching from the lanai, only 50 feet from the ocean.
Worst part: The price of food. Everyone complains about it, but they have Costco, Wal-Mart and Safeway.
Bargain restaurants in the Lahaina area: BJ's Restaurant Brewhouse, Barefoot Bar and Beachside Grill (all $10 to $15 per entree).
Favorite tourist activities in the winter: Kayaking, snorkeling, whale-watching. Walking around Lahaina to see its forts, prisons and the Kaanapali Whalers Village Museum. The drive through Haleakala National Park is spectacular. It's 38 miles from sea level to the 10,000-foot summit.
Area must-dos: Check out the Io Valley. It's a beautiful drive with hiking trails. Drive on the north end of West Maui from Lahaina to Wailuku, the county seat.
Habits formed over the years: Mary Jo takes hula lessons every year. Jim has golfed with the same four guys for almost 30 years. "We've learned to slow down and hang loose," he said.