Last year we were fortunate enough to go to Hawaii through my husband’s work. Kyle was turning 6 months while we were there. So while I stressed out about what to pack, I was very excited to be heading to Maui. My husband and I had always considered going to Hawaii for our honeymoon, but we ended up flying east instead. I was sooo excited to finally enjoy this piece of paradise for two weeks.
We arrived a week before the work-paid part of the trip and stayed at Kahana Sunset (http://www.kahanasunset.com/) on the West side of Maui. I can’t recommend this place enough! It’s one of the few places to have only a 2-story building and a private beach. Oh ya, this place is so nice, a family of sea turtles have decided to make Kahana Sunset their private beach home as well! Which means, you will get to swim FOR FREE every day with sea turtles (if you’re not freaked out by it – they look huge underwater). This was a dream of mine for as long as I can remember (I have a slight turtle obsession) and I couldn’t believe I got to enjoy it at my “new home away from home”. I really think that this accommodation is one of the best kept secrets in Maui.
Before the trip, I picked up the Frommer’s Maui day by day book and made a list of things we must do. Other than sun-bathe and check out some of the other beaches, I also wanted to go to Hana Highway and see the sunrise on top of a dormant volcano (Haleakala national park). As it turns out, Kyle decided he hated his car seat while we were in Hawaii. He literally cried the entire time he was in the car. The timing wasn’t terrible since we were on vacation and not spending much time in the car, but at the same time, it also meant that it had to limit our excursion options.
Our first day-trip was to check out some of the beaches in South Maui. The South is commonly known as the hottest, sunniest and driest coastline on Maui. Most of the high-end hotels and the island’s best shopping is found on the South side. We planned a day-trip full of stops along the way and enjoy some of the best beaches in the South. The drive alone was spectacular. To our right was the beautiful pacific ocean and two of Hawaii’s islands. To the left was beautiful lush hills. At every corner and turn, we stopped, gasped, and got out to take some pictures. Our first stop was at Oneloa Beach (Big Beach); stretching over 3,300 feet long. After a quick stop to enjoy a picnic lunch, we put Kyle in the baby Bjorn, and walked up and down the beach.
From there we started making our way home with a planned stop at Maluaka Beach. We ended up at another beach altogether, but it didn’t matter, when you’re in Maui, a beach is a beach is a beach. They’re all so beautiful, and the water is bright blue, and the view is amazing. That evening we had pre-arranged professional family pictures to be taken that night in West Maui on the famous Kapalua beach. Our amazing photographer was Andreas from Ritual Photo ( http://www.ritualphoto.com). He was very friendly and professional. Within a few days he graciously dropped off our high-resolution cd at our hotel room. I would definitely recommend him if you’re looking to get professional pictures done while in Maui.
Speaking to some other travelers on our resort, we decided to opt out of the Hana Highway trip and instead, go and see the sunrise on top of a dormant volcano. Although the sunset would be beautiful, everyone said that the sunrise is spectacular! We were also glad they advised us about the cold weather that we should expect at the top of the mountain. We came prepared, while others were freezing their tushies. Seeing the sunrise also meant that we would have to leave around 4am and Kyle would still be asleep for one-way of the drive. The 10,000 foot volcano is located in Haleakala (which means “House of the Sun”) National park. To get there, you need to take an extremely windy, twisty road which on a map, looks like this: WWWWW. It’s one of the fastest-ascending roads in the world and passes through numerous climate zones. The highest point on the volcano is called Puu Ulaula Overlook. From here, you can usually see all the way to the Big Island. We decided to watch the sunset just a bit lower, at the Haleakala Visitor Center. I have to say, it was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. The colours of the sunrise were spectacular; even the pictures don’t do it any justice. And since it was dark when we were driving there, it was amazing to see the beautiful landscape around us as the sun slowly rises above the vast crater.
After a week at Kahana Sunset, we moved to the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua for the work-paid part of the trip. I honestly have never stayed at a nicer hotel. We had a full kitchen, living room and two balconies in our room. To say the least, we were spoiled. Even if you’re not able to stay here, I would highly recommend stopping by for breakfast! We spent our days relaxing by the waddle pool. The hotel also happens to be on D.T. Fleming Beach Park which was named as the top beach in America in 2006 and is a great place to take the family. While we stayed here, we walked over to Merriman’s restaurant (http://merrimanshawaii.com/), located directly on the ocean, and watched the sunsets from “The Point”, while enjoying our amazing dinner.After loads of pool time, work dinners, parties and lots of hammock time, it was time to go to the island of Lanai (also part of the work-paid portion).
Lanai is the smallest of all the Hawaiian Island. It used to be a big pineapple plantation but today, it has a small town and only two resorts. To us, it was paradise. To get to Lanai from Maui, we hoped on a catamaran from Lahaina harbour. The ride included a stop for snorkeling and dolphin / whale watching.
After half a day, we arrived at Manele Bay Harbor. We were staying at the Four Seasons Resort at Manele Bay, right on Hulopoe Beach. The room was set-up with a crib and a little care-package for Kyle including a swimsuit. The hotel grounds were spectacular and all of the rooms were surrounded by the natural beauty of the island, with beautiful themed gardens all around. They did such an exceptional job at preserving the natural environment while adding a resort for visitors. Everyday, from our room’s terrace, we were able to look out straight into the ocean, and watch the dolphins jump. I couldn’t believe my eyes and get-over just how lucky we were to be staying here. Similar to the Turtles at Kahana Sunset, Monk seals have made this their home and enjoy sleeping on the beach.We spent the morning on the beach, and the remainder of the day by the pool. We also tried to do some hikes around the area. My favourite was walking along the hill-tops of the shore to see the Sweetheart Rock on Manele Bay. We were just so spoiled there, we wanted to take full advantage of it all. Even Kyle loved it! After more work dinners and events, it was sadly time to say good-bye.
It was an amazing 12 days and a trip that we would not soon be forgotten. This year fortunately John has qualified for this trip again and we’re heading to Kauai in a few days!!* This time around Kyle will be a toddler, running on the sandy beaches and playing with water toys in the pool. I can’t wait to form new memories with my family.
Until I return, I have two amazing guest posts lined up that I can’t wait to share. I know you will enjoy reading these stories as much as I did. Both Jennifer and Jenn have some very amazing and different motherhood insights to share. I’m so thankful that they have agreed to write during my vacation.
Have you been to Maui? What did you do and see? Anything you would recommend?
* I think John had extra motivation to qualify this year… it came in the form of me talking about going back to Hawaii basically every day since we returned