ALOHA! As if you aren’t already sick of hearing about our trip to paradise, here I go torturing you again with a detailed breakdown of our vacation of a lifetime. Several of you have asked for recommendations as you are planning or hope to be planning a trip to the Hawaiian islands so I figured this one stop shop for all of you would be easiest. We are by no means experts, but are happy to provide suggestions based on what we accomplished in a jam-packed 7 days in the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen.
Our goal…cram in as much as we can with the time we have on two Hawaiian islands-Maui and Kauai.
There is a four hour time difference in Hawaii from Central Standard Time so it was past bedtime for us when we arrived but like that was gonna stop us! We were so excited, especially after picking up our convertible from the car rental company. We would definitely recommend renting a vehicle especially if you plan to do a lot of exploring and at NO POINT did we regret upgrading to the convertible. Like a bunch of tourists, we top downed (is that a verb, now it is!) all the way to our hotel in the dark, scrolling the radio for the best tropical beats…and we sure as heck found them! In Kauai, we rented a Jeep which was also cool and nice for some of the bumpy roads there!
Before diving in, II would also highly recommend purchasing the book, “Maui Revealed”
by Andrew Doughty. We used this book EVERYDAY, and especially for our Road to Hana journey. We also purchased the Kauai edition.
Accommodations: We stayed at Kaanapali Shores in a suite that included a kitchen. The resort was very nice, great pools, restaurant and a beach walk that expands through several hotels on the Kaanapoli Beach. The actual room, however, was a bit outdated and the bed—well, lets just say good thing we were EXHAUSTED because sleeping on it would have been difficult. Anyway, one of the more reasonable resorts in Kaanapali but quality of rooms (at least ours) wasn’t great. It does however have an AMAZING location-between great beaches and Lahaina.
BEACHES (not on Road to Hana):
Napili Beach and Kapula Beach: Great snorkeling, TURTLES, calm waters, white sandy beach and safe for kids! Our FAVORITE beaches that we visited while in Hawaii.
Black Rock (Sheraton Side) on Kaanapoli Beach: AMAZING snorkeling and long stretch of beach!
Kamaole Beach Parks I, II and III: All great beaches to relax at and get in the water, very active too!
Wailea Beach: We were here early, but it was quiet-not many people which was nice! Another beautiful beach and if I remember correctly also snorkeling. YES! We saw a turtle here too.
Haleakala Sunrise: MUST DO THIS! Make sure to make a reservation; they only allow a certain number of cars up daily. And make sure to keep your State Park receipt; it is good for three days and you’ll want it for the Road to Hana! Make sure to dress warm; layer up-gloves, socks, coats, hats. STAY ON THE TRAILS-the park rangers will yell at you if you walk off the trails…and I mean YELL!
Lahaina downtown: Shopping and Restaurants up and down one street with a cool park and a million options for Shave Ice
Old Lahaina Luau: HIGHLY recommend-great food, great entertainment, great Mai Thais. Bring a light coat, may get breezy/crisp when the sun goes down.
Nakalele Blowhole: Cool site! Didn’t walk all the way down, may want hiking shoes or tennis shoes-not an easy path especially if you go all the way down.
Kihei: Super cute town, more accommodation options here and seemed to be more affordable of an area than further north. Lots of walkers and runners!
Pacific Whale Foundation Whale Watch: We were lucky enough to be in Hawaii during whale season so we did a whale watching boat cruise out of Maalea Bay Lunch and drinks were included and we liked that! And if you go early you can hit up Happy Hour at Tante’s for a few drinks…and after. Happy Hour is from noon-6!
Plantation House Breakfast: The most relaxing meal we had on our vacation, but I’m a sucker for breakfast…without a two year old ;) Amazing view, open doors and windows and delicious food! Kyle got a jalapeño Benedict that was the best bit of breakfast I’ve ever had.
Ohana Tacos at Whalers Village (upscale shopping center in Kaanapali): This is a chain so you may see this multiple times and I thought it was really good. Standard Mexican food-tacos, burritos, etc.
Captain Jack’s in Lahaina: Good food, reasonably priced, not the best view but it’s casual and good place to get a Hawaiian beer.
Lahaina Beach Bar HAPPY HOUR: Yummy tropical drinks for only $6…that’s a good price in Hawaii. Expect to pay double that, at least, for mixed drinks.
Miso Phat Sushi in Kaanapali: YUM! A small, casual place with great sushi and creative roll names.
Kimo’s in Lahaina: I loved Kimo’s atmosphere, we sat in the bar area which is right on the water and there was live music. We just shared some appetizers but they were good!
OUR STOPS on the ROAD TO HANA (we pretty much followed the Unrevealed Maui book for this adventure and HIGHLY recommend that; you likely won’t have service the whole trip so relying on your phone is tricky):
Haipauena Falls (Mile 11) : cute secluded waterfall with a little hike down to the water
Ching’s Pond: Short walk down (a little steeper) but a pretty cool pond. No jumpers while we were there but supposedly it’s a popular place to see jumpers.
Waterfall at Puaa Kaa State Park
Lava Tube Cave at Mile 23 (there’s a turnout on the left side of the road) - cool! Worth a stop! Go all the way through!
Makapipi Falls at Mile 25
Wai’anapanapa Park: GORGEOUS black sand, perfect for a dip and to sun bathe with a trail to overlook the whole park and beach
Red Sand Beach: PARK THE CORRECT DIRECTION-they were ticketing (just like the book said) when we were there. Walk across the grass between the community center and cottages and you’ll see the trail opening. It’s about a 5 minute trail to the beach; I would recommend something besides flip flops and if it’s wet, be careful! There was also some nudity on this beach…male nudity. The book also referenced this, sooooo it may happen often.
Venus Pool at Mile 48: awesome stop that’s off the beaten path, you’ll have to walk behind the bridge and over a gate to get there but it’s worth it. It’s a freshwater pool and great for a dip…however! There is no easy way to get out. I would recommend wearing water shoes or Keens in the water to help you get out because you’ll have to pull yourself up on slippery rocks.
Seven Sacred Pools: Busy but beautiful…IN HALEAKALA so hopefully you held on to your receipt if you went to do the sunrise.
Bamboo Forest and Waimoku Falls Hike: worth the 2.5 miles! You may want to find out if the waterfall is flowing though before continuing to it after Bamboo forest.
Continue on? Or back the way you came? THAT is the question! After this point, is where most people turn around and go back the way they came and for good reason. The roads if you continue to go all the way around are TERRIFYING. Much of the roads if you decide to turn left out of the State Park are narrow, ONE LANE but TWO WAY, unpaved roads on a cliff. We did not realize this when we chose to go this way but it ended up being some of the most beautiful hours of our trip AND we were doing it around sunset! It was crazy scary and stressful but worth it. We did do it in the mustang WHICH is not recommended BUT we survived and the view with the top down was unbelievable.
GOOD TO KNOWS:
-We shared food A LOT! It’s expensive so we bought snacks and stuff for lunches on the beach at the local grocery store (Safeway). Get a Safeway card so you get the discounted prices. Prices with the card are not that bad in the grocery store comparatively to Wisconsin. You can stock up on snacks, lunches and Hawaiian beer (Big Wave Golden, Bikini Bllonde from Maui Brewing and Pineapple Mana Wheat from Maui Brewing were our faves)
- Check out happy hours if you’re trying to save some $$, most places have them!
-We rented snorkel gear for the week from Snorkel Bob’s. It was very easy and you can have your reservation transferred to another island for an additional $5.
-We didn’t use it but someone suggested the SHAKA APP to find things to do or for the Road to Hana, because it was created by Hawaiian locals.
-You can rent beach chairs if you plan to do a a lot of beach lounging. And some Air bnb or VRBO rentals may even supply them for you-same with beach towels!
Poi’ Pu Beach: Great swimming and snorkeling!
Hanalei Bay: HUGE! Lots of activity, including surfers.
ACCOMMODATIONS: We rented a unit through Air BnB in the Hanalei Bay Resort and it was AMAZING! I would recommend it to anyone. The resort was beautiful with a gorgeous pool and swim up bar. It is a little bit of a walk down to the beach but technically the resort is on the ocean. And the unit had the most beautiful view of the greenery and mountains. Just email me if you want the exact information. Here's the view from our balcony!
Opekahu and Wailua Falls Waterfall Stops
Downtown Hanalei is where we spent a lot of time because it was so close to our resort.
Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tour leaving from Princeville: WORTH the money! Gorgeous views of Waimea Canyon and the Napili Coast (which when we went was closed due to flooding; you could not even drive much further than Hanalei)
Waimea Canyon: Drive all the way up if it’s not cloudy or rainy and you’ll be able to see some of the Na Pali Coast, there’s also lots of hiking trails if you have more time since it’s in KoKe State Park.
Kauai Coffee Company: FREE tour and samples!
Kauai Brewing Company: Close to the airport for a quick stop upon arrival or departure. Good beer, fun atmosphere and a restaurant too
Tahiti Nui: Good food, live music, casual dress, supposedly best Mai Thais on the island.
JoJos Shave Ice: Our first shave ice experience and it did not disappoint..until Kyle spilled half of it on the table! ;)
Hanalei Bread Company: The cutest, coffee shop, bakery and restaurant…we went here twice in two days that’s how much I loved it!
Shrimp Station: GREAT stop for before or after Waimea Canyon since it’s right at the bottom. Great prices and portions—delish!
The Dolphin in Hanalei for fresh sushi-SO good! Even better than Miso Phat!
We only had about two days in Kauai so I KNOW there is so much more to see and do but after a busy five days in Maui we honestly spent one day just chillin' at the pool, sippin' blackberry vodka lemonades and reading a book...it was heavenly.
A trip you won't forget...seriously, if you have the opportunity to go, DO IT! You will not regret this vacation, I promise you. I've never had a vacation hangover as bad as I did when returning from here. It crossed my mind on several occasions to have my Mom jump on the next flight out there with my little guy! ;)
So what did I miss? Have you been? Do you LIVE on this gorgeous islands? LEAVE YOU SUGGESTIONS in the comments below...pretty please! Let's help these future Hawaiian travelers out!