Last weekend, we took our first family vacation to one of the Hawaiian islands: Maui! Yes, you read that correctly–it was our first family vacation (and yes, it was in Hawaii, haha). The four of us embarked on a 10-hour journey toward this beautiful island that left me in awe. None of us have been to Hawaii and I genuinely cannot put into words how breath-taking it was. So, let’s get into it, shall we?
Day One: Getting a Full Day Back
◊ Checking in
Though we left Dallas at 7:00 a.m., we arrived in Maui at 12:00 p.m. local time. We were exhausted, but our spirits quickly picked back up when we saw the beauty in front of us. Our condo rental was a 40-minute drive from the airport, but it was easily the most scenic 40 minutes I have experienced. With the Pacific Ocean on one side and mountains straight from Jurassic Park on the other, I didn’t know what to pay attention to. Something absolutely amazing about the island that we noticed off the bat too was the lack of traffic. Talk about a great start to a vacation.
We actually got to our condo too early, so we grabbed lunch at Down the Hatch. Frankly, the place was a bit overhyped. There are tons of reviews on this place and recommendations from other bloggers, but I found it to be overpriced and underwhelming. It definitely stands out in the main little shopping area on that side of town, so I understand why traffic flows through. Oh, and they have a koi pond. They do have a great happy hour deal though, so if you are going to go, go for the drinks!
Normally, I rarely talk about accommodation, but I could not believe the place we were staying in once we were able to check in. From the outside, it doesn’t look like much and when they handed us a key instead of a key card, we were all worried that it would be outdated in terms of decor, but boy, were we wrong. We rented a beachside condo with Lahaina Shores Beach Resort and it. was. insane. If you take no other recommendations from this blog post, take this one. When they say ocean view or ‘along the beach’, it was essentially on the beach. When my vlog is posted in the future, I will be able to put a visual to what I am saying, but the beach was quite literally in our backyard (see last picture).
What you don’t see in the photos above is that it came with two bathrooms–both with showers. Where those bushes are in that last photo is the only barrier between the property and the beach–to the right is the gate with direct access. I would also like to add that maid service and parking (daily and covered) are free for guests and they provide beach towels in the rooms. A fun addition that I personally enjoyed is almost every room had dimmers with their lights which I find to be a personal luxury, especially when you do not want to be blinded when you first wake up.
Even better, the property was centrally located and we walked pretty much everywhere. There is no doubt in my mind that if I ever return to Maui, I will be staying in that resort again. Out of curiosity, I reached out to the resort and their property owner is affiliated with several other resorts amongst the islands. The only downside is that they do not have any accommodations on Oahu (Honolulu), but every other island, they do. PLEASE check it out if you have any plans to visit Maui. You won’t be disappointed.
Day Two: Hot, Hot, Hot
◊ Exploring Lahaina
We started our day with some souvenir shopping. I will say, if you go to Maui in the summer, be prepared for heat. The night before we arrived, the forecast said 79 degrees everyday and when we landed, it changed to 89. That was already a big jump, but our expectations of a “different” heat to Dallas were not met. It basically felt the same and there wasn’t even an ocean breeze! So by the time we finished shopping, we barreled into a tiny pizza shop-Surfside Woodfire Pizza-conveniently next to our condo, profusely sweating, and ended up totally benefiting from this as they allowed us to stand in front of their blasting a/c unit and gave us ice water. Oh, and they had an $8 personal pizza lunch special with which I got to try kalua pork (delicious). We actually ended up back there that night for some shaka bread (basically cheesy garlic bread). Yum!
After lunch, my brother, dad, and I split off to watch The Lion King which was great! Did they need a remake? No, but I always enjoy a bit of nostalgia. It also helped that the movie theater was next to Down the Hatch, a six minute walk from our condo (if that). After that, we stopped by the beach on the walk home and then didn’t really do much for the rest of the night. Between the jet lag and being drained by the heat, I was ready for bed. But not before some incredible sunset photos!
Day Three: Two Incredible Views
◊ Honolua Bay Access Trail
I inevitably woke up early and grabbed my parents to join me on a walk at a popular walking trail toward Honolua Bay–a 20 minute drive from our condo. This trail is only 0.5 miles long and it opens up to this incredible view of Honolua Bay.
We didn’t snorkel or swim, but this walk genuinely had zero impact. The walk overall is pretty distracting as you first wade through a sea of mangoes fallen from the trees and then you meet wild roosters throughout the trail. When you aren’t surrounded by the jungle-like scenery, it opens up to the bay. Next thing you know, by the time you return to your car, you’ve done a mile of walking without even trying! I didn’t sweat or even get hot so this is perfect for anyone who may have limited mobility, difficulty walking long distances, or children. If you look up trails in Maui though, they have some nearby ones that are longer and other options along the coast for serious hikers out there.
◊ Maui Wine
This winery was recommended to me by a friend and it is way up in the mountains. It was an hour and a half drive from our condo and the drive was actually tough. Though there wasn’t any traffic (on the way there), the roads got narrower and winding as we got closer which had us begging to get out of the car. But as you can imagine, the mountains are craaaazy. Once you park, you get a foggy view of the island that reminds you how far up you are.
I don’t want to spoil too much about the winery and their processes as I want everyone to see it themselves, but this place was extremely unique. We paid $12 each for the classic flight of four wines. My understanding was that they only did tastings twice a day if you didn’t want to pay for the special tours, so we arrived 15 minutes before the 1:30 tasting time. To my surprise, that wasn’t a tasting time, but was instead one of the time slots for the complimentary walking tour that accompanies your wine tasting. They only do these tours twice a day (10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.) and they allow you to start your wine tasting before and finish afterwards so you are not rushed.
The tour is about 25 minutes long and thankfully, it was a cloudy day which made it very pleasant to walk around. Also, it was not strenuous so you do not need walking shoes–I wore flip flops because I obviously didn’t know and I had no issues. I will share one secret: the key ingredient to Maui wines is pineapple! Yes, they ferment pineapples to make their wine. It actually tastes great! My brother who isn’t really a wine person even enjoyed it. Ultimately, I found the place to be fascinating and even if it just ended up being a tasting without the tour, we felt it was just a neat thing to do and an excuse to see another part of the island since we had nothing else on the agenda.
◊ Spontaneous Luau!
We went out for dinner for my brother’s birthday this night and when we came out of the restaurant, we heard drums and followed them to find a luau performance taking place amongst the outdoor shopping center. It was clearly a community group as they had boy and girl dance groups of various ages, but this was a fantastic surprise for us as we had given up on the idea of seeing one after seeing the prices of a traditional one. Though this likely wouldn’t be classified as a luau if I asked a local, I was more than impressed to see this tradition carried out in such a casual setting and seeing the culture of the island openly displayed.
Day Four: The Last Day
◊ Ali’i Kula Lavender
My mom and I went on another excursion on Sunday morning to a lavender farm about an hour out in the same direction as Maui Wine. We paid for the guided tour which was only $10/person online and it was a small group of six of us led by one tour guide, Dustin. This tour was way more informative that I anticipated. I thought we would solely be smelling and learning about growing lavender, but it was basically a botanical garden!
We started out with lavender, but quickly learned with the history of the grounds that there are hundreds of species of plants that grow there and how maintaining the grounds works. I have NEVER taken so many pictures of flowers, but they were so beautiful and well-maintained. Compared to the Maui Wine tour, this one actually required some effort, in my opinion. Thankfully, the pace of the tour is slow enough that there was no need to rush or cross long paths. However, we did go uphill and downhill and used steps, so I was glad to have my walking shoes on. But one woman in my group had flip flops and a crutch for one leg, but she did just fine.
We smelled so many varieties of lavender and we even got to taste Poha berries (gooseberries) at the end, right off the vine! If you just want to visit the grounds, entry is only $3, but we were free to explore the grounds more fully even after our tour had ended. We left almost immediately after but our tour guide did mention that the winter months are a better time for viewing the lavender, so that’s a good thing to keep in mind for booking as that is also whaling season!
Honestly, the rest of the day was just completely relaxed. I finally went out and sat on the beach, we watched our last sunset, and we got ready for a super, super early start the next day for our flight home. If you have made it this far into the blog post, thank you SO much for reading. Putting this blog post together took some time as I had to weed through maaaany photos, but I so appreciate you taking the time to scroll through it all. Hopefully you got some tips from it, and for those who have never been like us, hopefully this can help with understanding the location in relation to other things around.
To close, I will say I do recommend renting a car. Our area was so accessible, but unless your plan is to 100% spend your time on the beach and eat near or at your accommodation, you will need a car to get around and do the big excursions. Obviously it was incredible to have free parking, but it definitely helped that if we needed a car, it was right there, especially for grocery runs.
If you have any questions, please comment below! This was easily one of the best trips of my life, so I am happy to share more. 🙂