September 21st, 2018 marked our five year wedding anniversary! We wanted to explore a new spot together. So, earlier in the year… when we were presented with the opportunity to book The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas for a winter trip in Maui, Hawaii – we took it!
Many describe Maui as an intimate island and best for families, honeymooning, or celebrating anniversaries… and I totally get it! Unlike some of the other islands we have been to, this one seemed to operate at a slower rate. There was no rush. It was beyond what we imagined; so calm, serene and truly… a paradise on earth.
Our check-in at The Westin was planned for a Tuesday so we decided to arrive the Saturday before to start our adventures early. Best plan ever!
We jammed in a ton those first few days. I received so much help from others when planning for this trip so I’d like to share our journey with you all in hopes that it helps someone else plan an amazing trip in the future. 🙂
A summary of our trip with snapshots from my camera, our iPhones and GoPro are below!
Day 1 (Saturday, Dec 8th)
We arrived to OGG Airport around noon. It is small and organized but we had a car rental, and because it was so busy, it took about 2 hours to get out. We were told Saturday is the busiest day for incoming flights, so lesson learned!
We drove out of the airport and to our surprise, found a Costco nearby, we stopped to purchase –
What we forgot to get, and later realized we should have was… a towel for our impromptu stops at the many beaches.
Next, we drove to Coco Nuts Fish Cafe for a late lunch. This quick stop is delicious!!
After our meal, we headed over to Wailea Beach for a quick walk along the coast.
After the sunset, we headed over to Monkeypod in Kihei for dinner. Make reservations in advance, this spot gets super busy!! If you don’t get a chance to though, I suggest you wait to be seated, because the meal is well worth it. This was easily one of my favorite dinner spots. Try their Mai Tai’s and famous pie!
That night, we checked into Maui Seaside Hotel which we booked through “Hotel Tonight.” It wasn’t the most up to date hotel (I don’t think it has been renovated in a while!), but it was clean and close to everything we needed so it worked out well! (The hotel is in Kahului which was perfect for our plans in Kihei and Paia.)
We visited Ho’okipa Beach Park in the morning where we discovered incredible views and sea turtles sun bathing on the shore!
Here’s another spot you need to plan in advance for: Mama’s Fish House
Delicious, fresh and… well, a bit pricey! It was the most we spent on a meal the entire trip and it was for lunch, if you can believe that! We ordered an appetizer, drinks and lunch plates… it was all SO GOOD!
After dinner, we headed back to Ho’okipa Beach for sunset photos with Jayden from Vibe Florals and her hubby! It was a dream photographing a small part of their vacation and I hope to share that session with you guys sometime soon! <3
We ended our night in Paia Town for some shopping and beers! [Hawaiian bucket hat for our niece – yes, please!]
Road to Hana!! A must do for anyone visiting Maui…
It is best to download the Shaka Guide app before you go but if you make the dreadful mistake of forgetting like we did… DO NOT drive around looking for free Wi-Fi. Instead, stop by Jaws which is on the way… grab some coffee and watch your app and guide maps [slowly] download.
Our plan was to discover half of the road to Hana on the first day, stay at an Air BNB, and the second half the next. Our stops are on the map below…
Photos from the Ke’Anae Viewpoint are below… on the way back from this spot we stopped for some banana bread.
If there is one thing you should take away from this blog post, it is, that you stop by Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread and buy at minimum two loafs. (We sadly only got one and it was one of our biggest regrets!!) It is the BEST banana bread I’ve ever had in my life. And that is very hard to admit because for years, I have raved about my mom’s recipe. [So sorry mom, still love yours too!] But seriously, I’d go back, just for another taste!!
Yay, a milestone!
Stop by Wailua Valley State Wayside for a short walk to an incredible view…
Then Pua’a Ka’a Falls…
Ok, so I am proudly pointing at what I believe to be the Hāna Lava Tube entrance – does anyone know if this is actually it? We didn’t make any attempts to go in!
There’s an ice cream shop we stopped at before reaching our final destination for the day… Coconut Glen’s. We picked up two scoops of their original coconut flavor, it was just what we needed!
Our last stop, Wai’anapanapa State Park was breathtaking!! We arrived with just enough time to explore the beach, the caves and hike up the short trail to view the beauty from the top!
We headed into Hana Bay for an authentic breakfast by one of the locals. With that as fuel, we had enough energy to hike into one of the most beautiful spots in Maui, Red Sand Beach. The hike was not the easiest, in fact, we were told by the locals that they cannot give directions to it anymore because of the injuries and fatalities that have occurred so explore at your own risk.
We had about half the day left, so we hopped back into the car and headed toward Haleakala National Park. On the way, we stopped by Wailua Falls which is the tallest waterfall on the road to Hana.
We made it to Haleakala National Park and my husband somehow convinced me to start a trail with him. I say “convinced” because I am sooo out of shape and was not prepared for any type of excercise! He really stepped it up though; I complained most of the way and he just kept reminding me of why we were there and why it was worth the sweat and body aches. 😛 We completed The Pipiwai Trail – passed the Makahiku Falls, walked through the Bamboo Forest and turned back around after viewing the prize – the Waimoku Falls.
Pack good shoes for this! We had our hiking boots in our car trunk so we were able to take on this unplanned hike without rolling our ankles through the muddy trails.
We were tired but stopped for fast food outside of Hana before making the long drive to the other side of the island to check into The Westin. We slept so well that night!
After much adventuring, we were ready for an easy day. We drove to Lahaina’s Front Street around noon; we explored the various shops and at some point, stopped by the Lāhainā Public Library. My husband, Daniel, loves libraries and library cards, so he applied for one and checked out books to read. 🙂
We had lunch at Cheeseburgers in Paradise… it was recommended by a hotel patron but I think if we were to do it again, we’d skip on this spot and choose one of the other restaurants instead.
We headed back to The Westin for more rest and relaxation and enjoyed some L&L for dinner!
We explored the resort and snorkeled right in front of our hotel… it was AMAZING!! We saw sea turtles and so many tropical fish. I was surprised to find that you could see all this just a short swim into the ocean! There is a public beach right next to the resort so even if you are not staying at The Westin, I suggest making the drive and finding a spot on the beach. It was the easiest swim to beautiful underwater treasures!
That night, we enjoyed dinner and drinks at Duke’s right next door!
We woke up at 3AM, drove over Halakalea National Park and watched the sun rise over the Volcanic craters. It was magical!!… and COLD!!
If you plan to do this, there are a few things you need to do –
& here’s one with both of us… oh that crazy wind blown hair and “we only slept for a few hours” look, ayyyeeeee.
We made a few stops for photos on the way back down and then stopped by Kula Lodge and Restaurant for an amazing breakfast.
We spent Friday night back at Front Street for dinner and drinks at Down the Hatch.
Pool Time + Whale Watching! We booked a sunset trip on the Gemini. Considering whale watching season was just getting started in Maui, we were lucky to have this as an option and although we didn’t get to see any whales jump straight up above the water (wishful thinking right??), we did see plenty of blow holes and a few whale tails. Overall, it was a fun and memorable experience. I definitely recommend it!
Our last day!!! We had picked up matching outfits the night before (yes, we are cheesy like that!) so we put those to use, headed to the beach in front of our hotel and spent all day tanning and running in and out of the water. It was glorious!!!
That’s it! We had a late night flight so we headed to the airport after sunset, taking with us a lifetime of memories. More cheese for you… 😉