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Home from Hawaii

2013 December 9
by Becky


Where did I leave off?

Oh yeah, we were in Maui. And it was Thanksgiving. As you can imagine, our trip continued with days and days spent on beautiful, practically deserted, beaches. Contrary to popular believe, turkey day is not a crowded time to visit this island!

Yes, we cooked a turkey and all the fixins. But while the bird cooked? We did this:



Amy sent us to the beach with her stand up paddle board and we gave it a whirl. These pictures were taken after we each spent what seemed like forever falling off while trying to stand up. Don’t be fooled…it is quite challenging.

My favorite way to ride?




Something Stu and I did a lot of was snorkeling. We rented some sets at Snorkel Bob’s in Napili (mine with a prescription mask!) and used them the whole trip. All you have to do is walk out in the water, from any beach, and chances are good you’ll see incredible fish. One of our favorite spots was Honolua Bay. We parked on the highway, grabbed only our snorkels, and hiked a short way through Avatar-like landscape, complete with chickens and wild cats, to a rock-covered beach. Just feet off shore, incredible coral is home to every fish we could imagine…like swimming in a fish tank.

Take advice from the locals:


Honolua is famous for snorkeling but other beaches were fabulous too. We saw plenty of angel fish, puffer fish, eels, and, my all time favorite, sea turtles!

Since they couldn’t see the fishes under water, we took Ethan and Annette to the Maui Ocean Center in Ma’alaea. Not only is it a gorgeous aquarium, we were thrilled to see all of fish we’d viewed right out in the ocean. The giant shark tank was the all-around favorite, Ethan even saw his request, a Hammerhead shark, swim by several times as well as giant rays and many other sharks.



After a week of gracious hospitality from Amy and her family, we moved over to a condo at the Maui Kai in Kaanapali. This resort-heavy area is between Lahaina and Napili and is home to some gorgeous beaches. Ours? Was ten feet out the building’s back door.



The Maui Kai is a bit “vintage” compared to the surrounding resorts, so it’s build RIGHT on the water. Regulations no longer allow resorts to build this close. We walked in, opened the balcony doors, and were in HEAVEN. This was our kind of place—small, quiet, well run, and very comfortable.

And we could take turns snorkeling during Ethan’s naps. Bonus.


One of the best nights of our whole trip was at the condo pool. We surprised Ethan with a nigh time swim, in the rain. He thought it was amazing. So did I.


Such a simple thing that he’ll never remember, but swimming in the dark with our little guy goes on my top ten best moments list.

About the food…with a little work, we found some great places for grub. With so many tourists in such small areas, we noticed lots of traps offering not-so-great food at crazy prices. So we asked around, checked reviews online, and, as usual, tried to stay off the beaten path. Fresh fish was obviously a safe bet, since it was probably caught that day or the day prior, so I ordered it almost everywhere we went. Our favorite fish joint was The Fish Market just North of Lahaina. Seared Ahi Sandwiches, fish tacos, chowders, and other delicious straight-from-the-sea casual goodness kept us going back for more. Another place we tried more than once was Aloha Mixed Plate. Located right on the beach, this place had great service and solid food plus yummy drink specials.

HawaiiFoodPicsThe Plantation House Restaurant breakfast on the golf course, big salads at the Ma’alaea General Store & Cafe, a cold Big Wave beer, Miso Phat fresh-as-it-comes sushi, Aloha Mixed Plate for flowery drinks and solid food, and a cool treat at Ululani’s Shaved Ice.

Ma’alaea General Store was our lunch stop after the Maui Ocean Center, Amy was in the know and lead us to a back road for huge, fresh salads and sandwiches at this adorable little cafe. We stopped there again on our way to the airport. And I can’t say enough about the breakfast at The Plantation House. Sit at a window overlooking the pristine golf course and ocean beyond while eating fabulous food. It was pretty fancy but super kid friendly, very casual (flip flops and shorts very welcome), and the breakfast prices weren’t bad at all.

On day Eight we went to Hana.

We have mixed feelings about the experience.

People go on and on and on about this “life changing” drive around THE ENTIRE Haleakala crater which, I promise, is much bigger than you imagine. We started out the day excited about the three hour drive through the rain forest. We excitedly pointed out little waterfalls that progressively grew to big waterfalls so we stopped a few times to take a closer look.


“Hiking” to the waterfalls wasn’t really in the cards since we had Ethan along for the ride. He was a great sport, hanging in the back seat, sometimes with an iPhone, but much of the day looking out the windows at the beautiful surroundings.

Some people complain about the windy roads but they didn’t bother us a bit, Stu expertly maneuvering the endless curves.


Then we reached the Black Sand Beach at Wai’anapanapa Park (don’t even ask me how to say that…we just mumbled a word starting with W). Yes, there were some lovely views of the ocean from this location. But really? We were underwhelmed. The waves were too rough for swimming, though we were dying to take a dip as the day had really warmed up. After being told about swimming in a “fresh water cave” we wandered the park in search of the fun-sounding natural attraction. We found it down treacherous steps and found there was NO way we’d be able to get Ethan in or out of the steep sides.

We were realizing quickly this probably wasn’t the best activity to do with a three year old.


By the time we hit the little town of Hana, Ethan was knocked out in the back seat and we let him sleep. Well, until we arrived at the Seven Sacred Pools. This was going to be our chance to swim! Ethan was begging to “float” and all of us needed some out-of-the-car time. We even asked the park ranger at the gate if this was “kid friendly” and she promised it was.

So after paying our park entrance fee and walking 15 minutes down a path we reached the pools…gorgeous. People were climbing across black rocks to dive into water fed by actual waterfalls. It was fairly magical and we were excited.


Until we saw the climb down it would take to get Ethan in the water. Slippery rocks and little dudes don’t mix. So we gazed at the beautiful site and headed back to the car.

The next three hours were filled with awe (of the breathtaking yet desolate scenery), frustration (with the extremely bumpy road), and regret (of planning a day that would be spent entirely in a car). I’d never wanted to jump in a pool so bad in my life.

Our take on Hana? We’re glad we did it because we wanted to see more of Maui. But honestly, it wasn’t life changing and I would never do it again. Seeing Ethan strapped in that carseat (being SUCH a good boy) broke my heart when I knew he could be building sandcastles or riding waves.

We hit the pool immediately upon arrival at the condo. We were camped at the beach and pool for the rest of the trip.


It was a fabulous vacation…just what we needed and wanted.

It was so wonderful to see family and have enough time to relax and take things slow. Ten days was long enough that at the end, we were ready to get home and back to a routine. Back to the 22 degree weather in our main land city. No matter how many Christmas trees we passed, it just didn’t feel like the holidays in 84 degrees!

Speaking of weather, it took us over 30 hours to get home due to ice in Dallas. It included taking a nap on a cot in a public space, eating more junk food than I will ever admit, and waaaaaay too much iPad watching.

But it was allllllll worth it.

FamilyPicThanks for taking this great picture Amy! Ethan has since mastered “shaka”.

4 Responses
  1. Linda Johnson permalink
    December 9, 2013

    Great blog on Maui. I’m so glad you enjoyed the beautiful weather, water and family. Amy said Ethan and Annette had a great time together.

    I too was not a fan of “The road to Hana”. I did it once and that’s enough. You did eat at my two favorite places, the Fish Market and The Plantation House Restaurant.

    I love the family picture of the three of you doing the Shaka. Thanks for the sharing your trip and happy to have you back safe in the Midwest.

  2. December 9, 2013

    What a perfect vacation. Really makes us want to go back. So great for Ethan to have his darling cousin to play with. Loved all the pictures and yummy food suggestions.

    When we went to Hana, it wasn’t open the whole way around and we didn’t have a 3 year old. We wanted to see more of Maui as well and searched most of the island.

    Glad you’re back safely with a wonderful holiday season to take your mind off the cold. See you soon.

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