We just got back from a 12 day family vacation in Maui. To be honest I wish I was still there in my shorts.
We booked the flights and hotel 3 or 4 days before leaving. I am renowned to not book until the last minute to see what sort of a mood we are all in and what feels exciting. A great holiday to me is a display of freedom and one that is not dependent on other people's schedule or restrictions. My poor family lives on the edge of their seat wondering what comes next. Needless to say we got exactly what we wanted at a decent price.
I did try with 3 Toronto travel agents to get
something that would suit and none of them were able to help or in the
least nit helpful. I gave the same criteria to all 3 agents:
A) anywhere in the world
C) leave 15-27th for up to 2 weeks
D) an adjoining room for the kids
E) no budget restriction
The first agent told me he didn't do any last minute booking.
The second said it was impossible to get an adjoining room anywhere. I said "do you mean, if I call any hotel in the world in a warm climate all of them will say to me they do not have an adjoining room?" She said "you could probably get a hotel but do you not want a package deal?" I said "not really, I just want to have an adjoining room". She said "how will you get there?" I said "I assume by airplane?" She said, "so you want a package then?". I said "not really, I need a hotel somewhere in the world that is warm with an adjoining room and then flights to get us there". She said, "you can only request it, they won't guarantee a room". The rigmarole went on for another few minutes before I told them I would do it myself. Wow. In a world when the travel agency is almost obsolete you would think folks would want to help or gain clients.
The third just did package holidays and didn't seem interested either.
finally called Corey in San Diego (I should have bi-passed all the
Canadians to begin with and gone straight to him) and he took down
details and got to work. Within 2 hours we were all booked with exactly
what we needed. He was fantastic and will be my default from now on.
This place was just perfect for us. It had a kitchen, dining area, living room with pull out bed, washer/dryer, washroom, separate bedroom with king bed, and balcony.
The lobby, pools, and property are very
decent and it is right on the beach. There was a supermarket accross
the street which came in handy also. The room was nothing fancy but we
expected that as we went 4star and not 5star. It was clean and had
great maid service.
We also had 2 TV's and had a free wireless connection which was brilliant for us geeks...
If you have never been I would highly recommend it. You can be as remote as you want, as luxurious as you desire, and it has all the beauty of Hawaii with plenty to do. Our other holiday to Hawaii was to the island of Kawaii which is beautiful but more remote. We stayed half our time on the north part of the island at the Princeville resort (stunning) and the rest at the Hyatt (looks stunning but is average) on the southside.
The area we stayed at was Kaanapali just on the north side of Lahaina which has a great boardwalk with plenty of shops.
Snorkeling and whale watching with the Whale Foundation. 10/10
This was a full day from 7.45 to 3pm. It was a highlight as a family. We had so much fun, the food was great and the snorkeling was excellent. We snorkeled in 2 areas one called Molokini which is a submerged volcanic crater. We also got to see a whale shark which is apparently the biggest fish in the sea. It swam around our boat several times on the surface. It was massive (30ft?). The tour guides said it was the best sighting they have ever had.
Kite Boarding lessons: 10/10
This was amazing. It is something I have wanted to do for a long time. I had a 4 hour lesson which was with 3 different kites. It basically involved sucking in plenty of sea water and getting tugged through the waves by a 9 meter kite I attempted to hold with one hand and steer. It is a complex sport but one that I am determined to develop more. I think I will pick up a second hand kite and find as many excuses to get to the ocean as possible.
If you go to Maui contact these people and ask for Sasha
Surfing lessons: 10/10
The royal lahaina group were fantastic. We had long boards and were is small waves which was excellent. This was not the first time I have gone surfing but this is the first time that I started getting somewhere. It is a tough sport and was a blast. My highlight was seeing my 7 year old son up on a board and mocking me for falling.
Drive around head of Island: 8/10
This was an excellent alternative to the road to Hana which we did not do this time around. It was a couple of hours and just long enough. The scenery was spectacular and the one lane road had me focused on several occasions.
Big Beach Wailea and Volcanic field:
The volcanic field is a must see. It is bazaar and goes for miles. It isn't too far either. The big beach was beautiful. Parking was a challenge but well worth it. The waves were excellent and the water was perfect.
Weilia is the luxury resort spot full of gated communities and nice people. The resorts look excellent but I wonder would it all be a bit secluded from reality and the real beauty of the island.
We had to do it. The kids wanted to go in a submarine. It took us about 130 ft underwater and around a couple of reefs. It was pretty cool and a lot better than I expected.
The kids liked seeing sharks and jelly fish so it was worth it to see them smile and excited. It was shorter than I expected and a bit lame in comparison to outdoor aquariums in other cities in the world.
The kids loved it and it was a decent enough show. The food was very average though. It didn't compare with the one and only other luau we have been to before.
Magic show: 5/10
We booked the dinner and magic show for Christmas eve as we wanted to do something special as a family. The experience/planning felt more like a night at summer camp. They had all this weird Hawaian story and dance thing that went on forever. It felt like a second-class laua or something when all we wanted to see where some magic tricks. The food was rushed but not bad. They had good beer on tap which was one plus.
When the magic show eventually got going we were convinced that the magicians wife was intoxicated or else she just looked doped. The magician was actually pretty decent but the show was hokey. It was an entertaining evening and the kids were excited that they got to see someone floating on the stage so it could have been worse...
Bike the Volcano: 1/10
This was about the worst thing I have ever done. I got up at 2.30am to get ready for a 2.50am pick-up. We were all bussed up to the top of an active volcano called Haleakala to see the sunrise and then bike down. It was foggy so we didn't see much but I was ok with that as I just coudnt wait to get on a "custom bike" and ride back. Well...the bikes were crap, old, and rusty. It was highway the whole way down. They put the slowest people at the front. They made us all follow in single file like 5 year olds. There was about zero physical excercise. The only part that was sore by the end of the 9 hour day were my fingers from riding the brakes the entire way down. It was honestly awful from a bike lovers perspective.
If you are old, fat, unfit, or extremely cautious on a bike you would probably enjoy it. That sounds harsh but I cannot express on a blog how much of a waste of time and money (no effort) it was. My recommendation is to avoid this like the plague and spend the money to buy a bike and get a bus to the top. It would be cheaper and you could have a riot horsing it back on your own (impossible to get lost).
Hula Grill: Top notch for lunch
Waterfront: Excellent for a romantic dinner (but a little rushed)
Longhi's: Outstanding pastas and fish
Bubba Gump: Good for the kids
Cheeseburger Paradise If you like burgers this is excellent
Coldstone: For icecream and smoothies in Lahaina
Rusty Harpoon: Avoid if possible as it seemed to be run by carnies and had rank washrooms...
The first few days we all woke up early due to the 5 hour time difference. If I was to plan a sunrise trip again I would put it the day after arriving.
The temperature was excellent. It ranged from 77-85 degrees farhenheit most days. We had 2 days that were cloudy off and on with very light showers. We still did the pool etc but eventually retired to a movie theater.
I reckon that this was our best family holiday so far which as a lot to do with kids growing up but had a lot to do with location and weather. We would go back in a heartbeat.
Maybe someday it will be to Kapaluha which was 10 minutes north of where we stayed....it looks beautiful
Here is our trip schedule:
Toronto - Chicago - Maui: Settled in at Kaapahali Shores
16th: Lazy day/orientation and booking day trips
17th: Submarine at Lahaina
18th: Pool and beach
Luau: The royal Lahaina
19th: Sunrise bike the volcano
20th: Drive around head of Island
Surfing lessons: Royal Lahaina
21st: Snorkel trip & Waterfront Restaurant
22nd: Lazy day and national treasure
23rd:Beach Day & Volcanic field
24th: Kite Boarding & Magic show
25th:Christmas day & Nice dinner at longhis
26th: Pool, Aquarium, Waterhorse, Shopping, Dinner & Airport
27th: Arrive home to see what Santa delivered
For those of you with no interest in going to Maui you are legendary for reading all of this. Writing it has kept me entertained on my blackberry on the plane home as everyone sleeps....Mahalo