Aloha from MAUI
Our first stop in Hawaii was Maui.
After a previously cancelled COVID 2020 trip, 9.5 hours in the air, an overnight stay in Los Angelos and lots of lost sleep, we made it! I was so thankful we had Maui as our first stop; it was as gorgeous as I imagined. This island is a must go if you are planning a trip to Hawaii, and I would probably recommend choosing Maui if you are just choosing one island!
Where We Stayed: Westin Nanea Ocean Villas on Ka’anapali Beach
Where We Dined: My #1 recommendation is Duke’s Beach House Maui.
what we did: road to hana, sailboat and snorkel tour
Where We Stayed
We chose the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas on Ka’anapali Beach. It was about 45 minutes from the airport, and we rented a car! We had stayed at other Westin’s before but this one was one of a kind. Linking it HERE. The lobby was open air and had a gorgeous view. They welcomed us with drinks while we waited to check in. We chose the two-bedroom suite, and it had a full kitchen. In Hawaii, there are no all-inclusive resorts, so we used Instacart to deliver groceries. They also have a beach restaurant on property, and many other resorts within walking distance also have restaurants.
The location of this resort was EVERYTHING. It was a 5 minute drive from Whalers Village. This is a premier destination for shopping with a view! It is located in West Maui on the famous Ka’anapali Beach. Whalers village has a wide assortment of shopping options ranging from original Hawaiian stores to high-end boutiques like Louis Vuitton and Gucci! Two oceanfront restaurants are located in the village including Hula Grill and Leilanis. There is also casual dining options and we loved to grab ice cream or gelato here at night time.
Where We Dined
My #1 recommendation is Duke’s Beach House Maui. Dukes is an iconic Hawaiian experience with breakfast, lunch, and dinner! All the food is to die for! I enjoyed the filet, the fresh fish option, and the coconut shrimp. We had Duke’s while we were in Maui, and then raved about it every day until we found they also had one in Waikiki. So we ended up going again when we got to Oahu, it was THAT good. It was less than a minute walk from The Westin. This food was the best food of my life- I cannot recommend enough. You cannot end your dinner at Duke’s without trying their famous Hula Pie! Reservations can be made in advance at opentable.com to avoid a very long waitlist for this popular dining experience (you can do this several months in advance)! Duke’s also has a family of restaurants that include Hula Grill, Leilani, and Kimo’s. I would recommend these also.
Another restaurant we loved was Marco’s Deli. We stopped here after we left the airport. The flight was long and we were so hungry we could have eaten anything. We mostly just looked at how quickly we could get to a restaurant. It was in a strip mall, and we did not have any prior recommendation to go here. We were blown away by how excellent the food was. They had homemade fresh salads, fresh bread, pastas, & amazing sandwiches. If you are hungry after a long flight, you have got to stop here!
What We Did
The first day we did the Road to Hana. This is one of the most popular excursions in Maui! This is a beautiful scenic drive across the island, but be prepared for windy roads! We rented a large Suburban SUV for the week, but we decided for the Road to Hana we would rent a Jeep for the day. It was a great choice because, occasionally, the roads were pretty tight, and I am not sure a big SUV would have fit. We left early in the morning to have a full day of sunlight to enjoy the scenic drive. The drive itself is 3 hours without any stops, but of course, we wanted extra time to take pictures, hike or even swim. We did this drive without a booked tour, and I would recommend that. We were able to take our time and enjoy the stops we liked. We printed out directions before because we heard you sometimes loose phone service. If anyone gets any car sickness, bring some Dramamine! We also brought some snacks, as some of the stops do not have food. The Road to Hana map is attached.
One of our favorite stops were the Ho’okipa Lookout, which was an excellent spot for pictures. You could watch some locals surf, and it was a gorgeous view. Halfway to Hana was a great breakfast stop- they have the original banana bread and the best fresh pineapple smoothies. Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside Park is a bathroom stop and beautiful waterfall. We also stoped at Wai’anapapa State Park, BUT we did not have a reservation, so we missed this one. It was a volcanic black sand beach, and the tide pools are even red several times a year. HERE is the link to make a reservation at this beach (you can do this 2 weeks in advance, the 12-3 time is the most popular time). Walilua falls is also a gorgeous waterfall. We stopped for a couple pictures. The last stop we made was the Pools at Ohe’o. This was a magnificent stop that is located at Haleakala National Park. This spot has seven pools connected to a beautiful waterfall right by the ocean. It is a short 0.5-mile walk to the pools. They are not allowing swimming in the pools right now, but it is worth it for the fantastic view.
I would recommend wearing comfortable clothes and shoes. I did not do this and wished I had. I did get fun pictures but I think it would have been worth it to be more prepared for the minimal walking and water.
Another excursion we did was a sailboat tour. We took a snorkel tour to Molokini crater. This was so fun because we had dolphins swimming next to our boat while we rode, and we saw several turtles once we got to the crater.
They had breakfast and lunch provided, as well as a bar including white claws and beer. I got the Maui Wowie for lunch, it is their special and I loved it. We used Maui Magic, due to their smaller boats we were able to get to the crater quicker and it was a more intimate boat ride. I did not snorkel the whole time and I still would recommend for the experience.
You must have a COIVD-19 test or proof of vaccination before your trip to Hawaii. Your test must be 72 hours before your flight. https://travel.hawaii.gov/#/ As of right now, it must be a NAAT test from a CLIA Hawaii trusted testing and travel partner. Here is the link for the trusted travel partners https://hawaiicovid19.com/travel-partners/ ensure you use a partner (this is very important that it is a Hawaii trusted partner, if it’s not one of these you will be turned away or have to quarantine for 10 days). We used AFC and it was free through our insurance. CVS, and Walgreens are also on the list but are around $150.
After you get your COVID test results go to https://travel.hawaii.gov/ to add your results. 24 hours prior to departure you must do your health questionnaire which will give you a QR code. Things to bring to the airport are: QR code (printed or digital), government ID, and COVID test results/proof of vaccination. We had to show proof of our QR code at the airport as well as the resort when checking in.
As for masks, they were pretty strict about wearing them anywhere in doors. When we were outside, we were fine and did not get asked to put it on. I was just happy to be traveling again, so I would have been glad to wear it anywhere.
Should I Use A Travel Agent?
For a trip like Hawaii I would most definitely recommend a travel agent. Planning and navigating a vacation with so much to do/see is much easier with someone helping you ensure your plans come to life. My mom is the best, she planned our whole trip. A typical myth about travel agents is that they cost money. Actually- resorts pay her a commission to help you, so it costs no extra to you to use one. You can email her at email@example.com with any questions/quotes. I would not know what do/see if it was not for her, thanks momma!
Maui is a gorgeous location and much different than I expected. It is local culture, blended with unforgettable scenery and beaches, it truly feels unreal. Until I get to go back, ya’ll check it out. Let me know what you think!
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