Last month, my family embarked on an amazing trip to Hawaii. It wasn’t our first time there. In fact, it was our fifth visit to what is known by many as ‘paradise on earth’. What was new this time around was that we took all three kids along with us. That’s right… my husband and I were
crazy brave enough to travel with three kids under the age of five for 12 hours on two different flights to a time zone that is six hours behind all in the name of beach, sun and fun. Believe it or not, it was an amazing trip and the flight was much better than expected. While we initially thought we’d be itching to return home after a long vacation with the kids, we were pleasantly surprised with our overall experience. On our last day there we even commented on how we wished we were staying longer.
When we traveled to Maui for the first time five years ago, I wrote about our experience in Maui with Baby. Since we were back with three kids, I thought it would be a good time to write an updated post as we embarked on some new experiences this time around (although we did stay at Kahana Sunset again).
I’ll also be sharing a lot of pictures from our adventure as part of my #NikonMOMents Ambassadorship program. I only trust my Nikon DSLR D3300 camera to take amazing pictures without issues. That’s why I’ve take a Nikon DSLR camera with me each time we’ve traveled to Hawaii. This time around, I got to play around with my new telephoto 55 – 300mm lens and I was able to capture some amazing pictures. Next time we go though, I need to figure out how to make my Nikon DSLR water proof!
Here are some of the highlights of our trip:
The Road to Hana
When we entered “Hana” on the GPS, it stated that the drive is about 2 hours long. What the GPS doesn’t account for is all of the stopping that you will be doing along the way. The one-lane, windy road is probably one of the most spectacular drives you will ever take. Mountains and lush forest on one side, and beautiful cliffs and the ocean on the other. We were oohing and aahing at every turn.
Most guides list several points along the road where you can stop, hike, take pictures and explore. Our first stop was at the twin falls. Just a few kilometers into the drive, it’s one of the only well-marked spots along the road and it’s probably also the busiest. A good 20 minute walk through the forest ends at the beautiful falls.
We took our second stop at a little beach inlet along the road called Honomanu Bay where the sand was volcanic black. We enjoyed a lovely picnic lunch here.
Our last stop before Hana was at Ke’anae Peninsula. This is a great little town to stop and get out of your car and stretch your legs. The views of the volcanic rocks in the ocean are breathtaking, especially when the water hits them creating a big spray. Kyle and I had fun walking all around the rock formation in the ocean and exploring the area.
Hana itself didn’t have much to offer in terms of sightseeing so we continued to the Seven Sacred Pools located in ‘Ohe’o Gulch. Unfortunately, the water levels were high, so the pools were closed off for swimming. After quick walk on the trail, we headed back to the car to make our trek back home.
We probably made three stops on our drive and the entire drive took us 12 hours return. Insane, right? Worth it? Totally! However, the trip itself is better suited for adults or older kids. The drive is long and the turns can even make the best of us car sick.
Observing Maui’s Sea Life
If you want to get up close and personal with all of the wondrous sea creatures who call Maui’s ocean their home, you have several options. You can go to the Maui Ocean Center, located on the North shore, go snorkeling on one of the many snorkeling tours (there is one that gives you the option to snorkel while your kids stay entertained on board if they’re too young to join) or you can go out on a glass bottom boat. The two most popular options for the bottom glass boat are the Atlantis Submarine and the Reef Dancer. The more popular option is the Submarine but your kids needs to be at least 3 feet tall to go on the boat and everyone must be able to walk down a flight of stairs independently. The other (and more affordable) option is the Reef Dancer; which is what we did (kids 12 and under are free with a paying adult).
The hour long tour takes you out into the ocean along a huge reef. Scuba divers swim along beside the boat and bring up a variety of sea life to the glass window to be viewed up close and personal. The bottom of the boat is kept at a cool temperature and you’re able to access the top of the boat at anytime. The kids loved this little expedition and it was a great way for them to see first hand what the ocean world looks like.
If your’e looking for an easy hike and beautiful scenery to enjoy with your family, take a trip to central Maui’s Iao Valley State Park where you will get to see the iconic 1,200-foot Iao Needle. While the needle-like lush mountain is spectacular, so is the valley surrounding it.
We spent a good hour plus in here just enjoying a leisurely hike and playing with the rocks near the stream.
Exploring Historic Towns
If you’re looking to explore a town in Maui, I would recommend heading over to Lahaina. One of the oldest towns in Maui, the streets are now filled with art galleries, a variety of stores, boutiques and some great restaurants overlooking the ocean.
Here is where you will find the main pier to get on your tour boats and to even take water taxis to nearby islands like Lanai. One of the attractions in Lahaina is the Banyan Tree Park. In 1873, a banyan tree was brought in from India and planted here. Today, this tree, which looks like several trees intertwined, stretches over an area of 200 feet long and is 60 feet high.
There are so many wonderful beaches surrounding Maui, no wonder several of them often make top ten lists. While we explored many of the beaches around Maui on our trip five years ago, this time we spent most of our time relaxing at the beach located in our backdoor, literately.
The boys had a blast running around in the sand, sitting on the chairs in the water and building sandcastles.
Personally, I’m a big beach bum so I found any excuse that I could to enjoy the beach. I find more peace swimming in the ocean for five minutes than I do during an hour massage. One of the thing I loved most about where we stayed is that water turtles live right in the bay. Every day we had the pleasure of swimming with the turtles.
Even though we saw them daily swimming along the shore, they were a spectacular site each and every time. I love this picture I captured on my Nikon camera as the turtle came up for some air.
In the town of Lahaina, there are several restaurants. The ones along the water are the most popular for obvious reasons. Please do yourself a favour and do not eat at Cheeseburger In Paradise. It might be cheaper than the other restaurants, but there is a good reason for that. While the kids didn’t seem to mind (they had Kraft Dinner and a kid’s burger), we weren’t too happy with the food. Some good alternatives include Kimo’s, Koa’s and Mala Ocean Tavern (a little up from the main area).
If you’re on the North coast, our favourite restaurant is Merriman’s Kapalua. We ate here when we came to Hawaii five years ago and we had our Anniversary dinner there again this visit. A little pricey, but well worth it.
On our last night we had dinner at Mama’s Fish House. This is probably one of the most popular restaurants in Maui and with good reason. Located on a sandy beach, the restaurant has a Hawaiian vibe to it that is relaxed and welcoming. While the food is not cheap, the place doesn’t feel stuffy. There is even a kids menu. It was a perfect send-off to end a great vacation.
While I’m not sure if we’ll be returning back to Hawaii for a while now, I’m glad that over the course of the past five years we were fortunate enough to enjoy many of the great things Hawaii has to offer. Each time we explored and experienced something different and new and yet, I feel like there is still so much more to see and do. Above all, Maui is a great place to visit with your kids and there’s something to do with them no matter their ages. Have fun and let me know your favourite parts!