10 Days Traveling Around Maui
Five years ago we took our very first family vacation to Maui. We spent 8 days on the island and it was a special time for our family. Last year, I was generously gifted two round trip tickets by Alaska Air to anywhere they fly. Since we had flown with them to Maui five years ago, we decided that it would only be fitting to take the kids back to where our adventurous spirits were evoked and where we ultimately caught the travel bug. Our plan for this trip was to explore more of Maui, to slow down life and really focus on being together for our 10 days of traveling around Maui.
We started in Kihei, it was our first time going that far south on the this side of Maui and it was our favorite of all areas we visited on this trip. The vibe here is such a great mix of locals and tourists. The beaches are beautiful, calm and not overcrowded (especially if you get there early). Bryan and I decided to rent some snorkel gear on that first night we arrived and the kids had packed a couple of Costco snorkel kits from home. We woke up the next morning ready to get in the water and find some turtles. Early morning is best time to go snorkeling. The water is warming up, the beaches are virtually empty and the water is so calm. We saw so many fish, too many to list off and the kids and I were lucky to see a few turtles swimming in the water at two different beaches. Almost everyday in Kihei we would wake up early (5:30am), make breakfast at the condo and be at the beach snorkeling by 7:30, because of the time change from California to Hawaii, we were still on California time making getting up early a lot easier. On our last day in Kihei, we decided to stay close to our condo. Ari and I went snorkeling across the street from our condo at Kama’ole Point around 7am. After we got back and showered, we all went for an early lunch at Maui Brewing Co. We could smell smoke in the air but didn’t think much of it. As we sat and ate lunch around noon, we could smell the smoke getting stronger. We talked with our waitress about the fire and she pointed it out off in the distance. She didn’t seem overly concerned and said it would likely be put out quickly. As the day progressed we could see the air and the skyline change from clear and sunny to hazy and grey. We were far south enough that word of street closures and fire containment hadn’t really reached us yet. At 4pm, we drove to The Grand Wailea for a luau, when we arrived we were told it had been canceled due to smoke and ash. The staff couldn’t reach the resort because roads had be closed. At this point we realized this was a serious fire. I got on my phone to start looking for news of it’s containment and I started receiving texts and messages from friends back home. They had started evacuating everyone that was close to the fires and sending them to temporary shelters. Some people were stuck on the south side of Kihei, unable to get back to thier condos on the other side of the road closures. Some that had ventured north for the day were unable to get back down into Kihei. That day really put things into perspective for us and the kids. People were being misplaced, worried and if their homes and families were safe. Thankfully, we were able to get back to our condo that night. The next morning we heard the news that 9000 acres had burned but luckily no structures had been touched, the roads had been opened back up and that everyone was safe. With that, we checked out of our condo and were on the road to Hana by 7am, making only two stops, breakfast in Paia and Coconut Glens Ice cream near Hana.
We arrived in Hana around noon. Our plan was to grab a quick lunch and then meet our friends at Hana Bay for the afternoon. Over the next 48 hours one of our friends played our tour guide and showed us a side of Hana we had never experienced before, one that only someone who really knows Hana and appreciates it could show. On day two, she took us to the Venus Pools, it’s a beautiful spot that reminded me of the mermaid grotto from Neverland in Peter Pan. The water was sparkly blue in a small cove surrounded by rocks. Locals were climbing up and jumping from various levels on the rocks. We spent hours climbing the rocks, jumping in the pools, and swimming around with the kids and our friends. On the way home we stopped at Koki beach and picked up takeout lunch, the best huli huli chicken on the planet. In the afternoon we all went back to Koki beach. The waves are a bit stronger here making it a perfect place for the kids to have a surfing lesson and go boogie boarding. On day three, we woke up early and hiked to the secret Red Sand Beach. It’s a bit of a gnarly hike in some spots, especially with kids and beach bags but we made it in one piece and man was it worth it. The view just at the end of the hike is like a dream. The sand is a deep terra cotta red and the water is clear. There were already a few people on the beach but it was still quiet. We swam and snorkeled all morning with only a few others that had found the beach. It really feels like an untouched place which is hard to find in Maui. As we all walked back to the house, we stopped at Pranee Thai for lunch. The food was authentic and so fresh. After lunch we showered and changed, we said our goodbyes and thank you’s and got on the road back to the west side of the island. Not only did our good friend share her personal favorite local and secret spots with us, but she and her family showed us the true meaning of Aloha. They adopted us for a couple days and became our Hana family. They opened their home to us, fed us, and shared stories and their history with us. We are forever grateful.
With full hearts and feeling so relaxed, we drove back down the road to Hana to the Northwest side of Maui to Kaanapali. This is where we stayed our first time in Maui five years ago, it felt familiar and easy to go back to this area. What we quickly realized on that first day back is this side of maui is jam packed with tourists. The beaches are harder to find parking at, the beaches are full by 8am, and the restaurants always have long wait times. That first night we ended up driving back to The Grand Wailea for the luau that had been rescheduled from earlier in the trip. It was our first time ever doing a luau, the food was really good and the kids loved the entertainment. Yes, this was super touristy but sometimes it’s worth doing some of those things too. At the last moment we upgraded to the VIP tickets for early entry and seats close to the stage. It was perfect with the kids. On one of our days here, we spent the afternoon in Lahaina. We had lunch at Aloha Mixed Plate and shopped for souvenirs on Front St. There are so many shops here to find great souvenirs, some shops can be generic but others can be one of a kind. It’s a perfect place for one stop shopping! If you can’t find it here, theres always the ABC store. On another day we went Iao Valley for a nice hike by the river and a picnic lunch. The valley is so beautiful with it’s lush green mountains and big exotic plants, but there wasn’t much else to see. The river had a bit of water and we didn’t find any waterfalls. Lastly, we spent a morning at Kapalua Bay for some snorkeling and swimming. This was the busiest beach we visited the whole trip. We were lucky to snag a spot in the parking lot and on the beach, even at 8am. Ultimately, anywhere you stay and play in Maui is going to be great. The people, the land and the sea is what make this a magical place to visit. Maui has an energy that pulls you in and makes you feel connected to something greater. It’s one of those places that everyone can find something for them. We love coming here as a family, we always leave feeling truly relaxed and closer to each other.