As I sit in a cozy coffee shop in Madison, Mississippi I can’t help but feel a bit melancholy as I upload photos of mine and Bryan’s anniversary trip to Maui just a month ago. I’ve been blessed to travel a lot of beautiful places in the world and each of them have offered me another window into the heart and mind of our incredible Creator. And boy, does HE have a great eye! The trip to Hawaii was more spiritual than any travel that I’ve ever done before. Perhaps it was because we were submerged in nature in all aspects of the trip or maybe because it was truly the only vacation that I’ve ever taken that I was sad to see end. (I know it’s nuts, but usually by day three on vacation I’m dying to come home.)
I wanted to share some details of our trip that made it absolutely spectacular in hopes that you and your family will make the trip out to experience the magic that is Maui!
I have to give Bryan a huge accolade for going ahead and booking our trip. I wanted to go to Italy for our anniversary, but we were already past the point of time to book it; so Bryan went ahead and reserved our flights from Jackson, MS to Dallas, TX to Maui, HI. He also reserved our condo on www.airbnb.com based on reviews that were not only stellar but as we would see when we arrived absolutely accurate!
Recommendations for Travel:
- I absolutely recommend renting a jeep or a convertible with a roof that you can have open as you drive. It’s a bit more to rent these vehicles, but it’s well worth it! We drove with our Jeep top off more than we had it on (even during an occasional sprinkle)!
- You will need swim shoes. If you plan to go on any beach or doing any kind of hiking, be sure you have some. You can purchase a pair there (we found ours at Ross), but you run the risk of not being able to find your size. Next time we will bring them with us!
- Do your research on high profile tourist attractions that you don’t want to miss. For example: Tickets for the Sunrise on The Summit (the volcano mountaintop that is crazy high and the sunrise is insanely beautiful from) sell out SUPER fast and are limited quantities. We didn’t know this beforehand so we missed out on this attraction. We also didn’t realize that you have to pack WINTER gear for this hike because the elevation is so high that it is frigid before the sun rises. So if you are wanting to experience this, pack well and purchase your tickets well in advance.
- Get the YELP app on your mobile device. It is a lifesaver when you want to grab an iced coffee in the afternoon or to find out where to go for those fish tacos you need to try. It’s where we discovered a ton of great local places to eat!
- Invest and READ this book: Maui Revealed. I’m not even joking. It was the only reason that we were able to see some of the breathtaking sights we did on the Road to Hana. We devoured this book on the journey and it was so worth it to have.
- Hire a professional photographer to document the beauty of this journey. I went down an Instagram rabbit hole a few weeks before we left and stalked Jess, from The Ferns Photography, who was an absolute godsend. We loved her and her photos and now that I have them I can’t believe we almost didn’t get them done.
- Plan to go for at MINIMUM 7 days. If you can’t get away from your job or obligations long enough to do this, find a new job. Seriously – this island deserves a week of your life. Any less than this and I feel like you wouldn’t get the full experience.
- When buying souvenirs, go to the local Walmart or Target. They are inexpensive and located by the airport so very convenient.
Our Air BNB in Kihei, Maui
Bryan booked this condo based on reviews alone. It was a breeze to find – only about 20 minutes from the Maui airport and upon entering the front door, it was perfection. Immaculate, beautifully decorated, all the comforts of home and a breathtaking view of the Maui coastline. We were welcomed with a handwritten note, a bottle of Prosecco, and local chocolates! It took every ounce of self-control for me to not devour both the Prosecco and the chocolates right then and there.
We loved staying in Kihei. It was convenient to grocery stores, local shops, and tons of cafes and restaurants. The beaches were also quite lovely and not crowded.
I feel like we ate our way through the island from the time we set foot on the island to the time we boarded our plane home. It was lovely. Some of the places I would highly recommend:
Maui Brewing Company Fantastic beers, great setting, good happy hour specials, beautiful views.
The Mill House (Maui Tropical Plantation) GORGEOUS restaurant, venue; fantastic food; amazing service. Pricey, but worth it! Just going here for drinks or dessert would be incredible.
Coconuts Fish Cafe (the original one in Kihei) This place gets packed – QUICK. So, don’t be in a hurry. The fish tacos are insanely delicious and the cafe is BYOB, so you can bring your own beer or wine and enjoy the fare with a local brew (we fell in love with Kona Brewing Co. Big Wave Golden Ale). The staff at the cafe are amazing; they chat with each patron and make everyone feel at home. We loved this place!
Kihei Caffe – Basically the BEST breakfast you will ever have. Anywhere. Get the french toast (with the bananas and macadamia nuts) and the Pork Fried Rice with your eggs over medium and I promise you that you will think you have died and gone to Hawaiian Heaven.
Merriman’s (we went for Happy Hour!) This is about 40 minutes from where we were staying; on the West side of the island. But it was worth the drive, as most of it is as beautiful on either side as you could ever imagine. If you get there early you can snag your choice of beautiful ocean-side tables or loungers to enjoy the live music and the wonderful variety of tapas and drinks! Get a Mai-Tai….they were delicious!
We were obsessed with trying the fresh banana bread wherever we were at, as well as if you go to the local grocery stores, stock up on the ahi tuna at the deli – it’s amazing!
Each couple or family is going to have different preferences on what they want to do or see on their stay. Some are going to be resort-stayers, where they check into their resorts and stay there the entire time to enjoy the amenities and the beautiful lush scenery that surrounds them. Others are going to be complete adventure junkies on the look out for any zipline, parasailing, hiking, snorkeling, activity. I think Bryan and I fell along the middle lines of these couples. We wanted to have a few days to lounge around the beaches, but we also wanted to explore!
BIG BEACH, Makena State Park I have never seen waves that break on the shore like this. The lifeguards are pretty serious on this beach so if you plan to go in the water, good LUCK! Bryan and I chuckled hard core at the mantra they kept saying “Stay High, Stay Dry, Don’t Die.” (I wish I were kidding). This is a beach that you are better off just camping at for the day and watching the beautiful turquoise water crash onto the sand. We spent hours here because it was memorizing.
The ROAD to Hana. The Maui Guidebook has an entire chapter on each and every stop that you need to make to enjoy this road and we followed it to the letter for two entire days of our trip. We hiked up an entire riverbed of boulders (of which I promptly busted my knee on during the first few minutes of the hike) to reach our own private waterfall. (So worth it). We swam in fresh pools of water and black and red sand beaches. Traveling along the Hana Highway is a MUST. We did it on our own; but there are tour vans that travel down the highway and make stops. Bryan and one of the tour van drivers had a bit of a verbal squabble while he passed us so we aren’t big fans of those tours. I cannot explain to you how impressive this is. Each and every turn holds another breathtaking view of the mountains and the ocean.
Snorkel – ON YOUR OWN! We did a snorkel guided tour to Monokini and it was great. The fish and the coral were beautiful. But then we decided we would just rent some gear and go snorkeling on our own. This is when we found that you could easily swim with massive sea turtles as they floated along in the waves. Coolest experience in my entire life….which led to me feeling inclined to getting a tattoo our last night in Maui. (Yes, I did. I’m telling you this place gets inside you!)
Take in as many sunsets as you possibly can. One of the things we loved about our stay in Maui is that about 10 – 15 minutes before the sun sets, everyone goes outside. No matter what anyone is doing, everyone makes time to sit and enjoy the sunset. It’s a beautiful tradition that I would like for every human on the planet to enjoy. Imagine if we all slowed down enough for 30 minutes everyday to savor the natural beauty in the sky every single day. Even if people were driving home from work, they would pull off on the side of the road to look out at the ocean and enjoy the moment.
When I say that Maui affected me deeply, I am so sincere. I loved everything about our stay and cannot wait until the next time we are able to vacation there. It’s such a family friendly place that we may take the kids with us next time!