Aloha! I just got back from an incredible eight-day trip to Hawaii (four days in Maui, four days in Kauai), and have never felt more refreshed and rejuvenated. Aaand…depressed about being back in concrete jungle Chicago. I. love. the. island. life. Take me back already!
This was my first trip to Hawaii and my expectations were set pretty high, for obvious reasons. Having spent much of my formative years in Indonesia, I felt completely at home in the tropical climate the minute we landed in Maui. The warm air, the exquisite greenery, the dynamic landscape–I just couldn’t wait to soak it all up. The Maui leg of the trip was spent with my immediate family to celebrate my dad’s 60th birthday, so it made the whole experience all that more special. My parents and brother love traveling as much as we do, and we were adamant about making the most of our four short days on the island.
In no particular order, I’ve recapped my top five moments in Maui below. Not featured but also deserving special mention: sipping on Mai Tais and listening to the sound of crashing waves from our Maalaea Banyans lanai every night, sunset dinner at Kimo’s, and just the beautiful quietness of island life. Such a necessary break from a busy, stressful summer.
The Old Laihana Luau: Rated one of the best and most authentic luaus on the island, the Old Laihana Luau was a fantastic family experience. We booked the luau for my dad’s actual birthday, and it was the perfect celebration. Gorgeous venue right by the water with a spectacular sunset view, incredible service, traditional Hawaii cuisine (which was pretty good for a buffet meal), fabulous entertainment, and an open bar. All for hundred bucks per person. Not a bad deal and definitely worth it, especially during your first few days on the trip to really get in the Hawaiian state of mind.
The feast at Old Laihana Luau: Fried rice, roasted pork, mahi-mahi, ahi poke, and stir fry veggies
Snorkeling on Kaanapali Beach: I’m a snorkeling newbie, so my husband and I were really, really excited to to check out Maui’s beaches. We didn’t want to waste a whole day on a snorkeling trip (though I now regret not doing Molokini Crater), but we heard that Kaanapali Beach’s Black Rock is perfect for a quick morning snorkeling dip. We had so much fun swimming side by side and saw a ton of little colorful fishies, including a baby sea turtle! It was amazing and an experience I’ll never forget. I just wish we had a GoPro!
The unfiltered beauty of Kaanapali Beach – no underwater pictures, but you can see the Black Rock in the distance
Giddy after encountering a baby sea turtle!
Road to Hana: Road to Hana is probably the most popular drive in Maui – I have major motion sickness and can barely drive, so I didn’t think I would enjoy the long, winding roads as much as I did. With some Dramamine in tow and my road trip-loving husband behind the driver’s seat, the entire fam left early in the AM for the spectacular journey to Hana. As my dad kept saying “it’s about the journey, not the destination” because the various stops along the way are just awesome. My favorite stop was the black sand beach at Wai’anapanapa National Park – we even brought home a lava rock for our home 🙂 Nature is so freaking cool, especially in Hawaii.
Salted caramel coconut ice cream from Coco Glen, the cutest little stand on the Road to Hana. So delicious and necessary after the winding roads.
Feelin’ victorious after reaching the black sand beach!
Sunrise at Haleakala Crater: This was actually a little disappointing for us, because the morning we decided to make the one hour drive up to Haleakala Crater was a foggy one and we didn’t see the full sunrise that most tourists rave about. BUT, the experience is still one that I’ll fondly look back on – we all woke up at 2:30 am, bundled up in sweaters and blankets (it’s 40 degrees up there, especially in the early morning!) and drove up to the crater in eager anticipation of sunrise. The atmosphere was really cool and we felt like we were floating in the cloud with other freezing cold tourists. If we could do it again, I’d go for sunset or check it out during the day so you can actually see the crater. Oh, well.
…Ahi Poke: Is it weird that one of my top five moments is food-related? If you know me at all, then no. One of our first meals on the island was at Maui Fish Market, after snorkeling on Kaanapali Beach. The food options in Maui and Kauai (especially in Kuauai) are limited–at least compared to big cities in the mainland–but the seafood is incredible. We feasted on baja fish tacos, shrimp, and AHI POKE. Maui Fish Market is where we first tried ahi poke, and it became our standard go-to meal for pretty much the rest of the trip. You just can’t beat that fresh island taste. Nom nom.
Mahi-mahi sandwich. Drooling again.
Hope you enjoyed the pictures and stay tuned for my Kauai post, coming next!