Thursday, June 9, 2016

Tenth Anniversary to Maui

Just checked in! View from our lanai. 

Somehow everything fell into place for Jeremy and I to celebrate our tenth anniversary with a big trip to Maui. I still can't believe it all worked out. I just know that I happened to mention it to Mom months ago that it would be nice to take a trip and she volunteered to fly out with Dad and watch the kids. I couldn't believe it. Really? Yay!!! I started planning in January and quickly narrowed down a week that would work for everyone. At first we considered going for spring break, but then realized it would be easier for Mom and Dad to take care of the kids while Emily was in school for most of the day. (Taking care of any combo of our two kids isn't too hard...add a third and things get REAL.) Our anniversary is April 22nd, but we decided to push the trip back a month so that the waters would be warmer and we would be less likely to experience rainy weather. We still managed to get the trip in well before peak season which turned out great for us! We didn't have any issues with getting dinner reservations (or not making any at all.) Traffic wasn't bad. We had an easy time with booking our excursions, flights, hotel, etc. While we were researching the trip, a family friend offered to let us use their Marriott points to save on our lodging. After debating a little between Kauai and Maui, we decided to go to Maui and stay at the Marriott Ocean Club in Kaanapali.

At first, I worried that the resort would be too big or too crowded, but I really appreciated the beautiful grounds, perfect location, and nice amenities. The pools were refreshing and beautiful. I think it would have also been nice to stay somewhere more secluded in upcountry near Hana, but we didn't have time to do that for this trip since we elected to stay just four nights and five days. (I could have easily stayed a week, but we were trying not to make it too long for Mom and Dad.)

Lovely grounds
Sunsets are a daily ritual worth stopping for. Staying on the west side of the island had its perks.

First stop for fresh food and banana bread on our way to hotel

I miss this.

Several people raved about the Hula Pie at Leilani's. So, we indulged. I'd do it again!

Jeremy and I both wanted to go to the summit of Haleakala crater, but we had a hard time deciding when to do it. Sunrise is supposed to be amazing on a good day. However, I also read a lot of things that said it was miserable to do that. The summit was about two hours from our hotel and we'd need to leave at around 3 am on our first day there! (This would be the day after catching a 7 am flight when we woke at 5am!) It is often packed with tourists for sunrise, freezing cold (about 40 deg. and very windy) and sometimes just not worth it. I still kind of wanted to do the sunrise because that's just what you DO! Jeremy didn't care about the sunrise. He just wanted to see it and bike down the crater. He won. I wasn't too hard to convince that it would be fine to forget about sunrise and get some sleep. Maybe after we aren't exhausted from almost seven years of parenting young children, we can talk more about sunrises on vacation. ha!

Not a bad view, even if it's not sunrise!

We booked a wonderful tour with five other folks with Cruiser Phil's. The guides were very knowledgeable about the islands. We learned so much just through our conversations on the long ride there and back. They picked us up from the hotel early (6:45 am), but not CRAZY early. Once we got near the base of the crater, we had a curvy and steep ride to the top. I started to seriously question our decision to bike down. I knew it wasn't without danger. We would be sharing the same road as other cars coming and going. We would absolutely need to stay on our side of the road and not cross the line when banking around blind curves. Our guide gave us A LOT of safety instruction....things about following the road with our eyes through the turns. "Where you eyes go, your bike goes." He encouraged us to get the feel of the perfectly banked turns and not stay on our brakes the whole time, but stay in control. We were warned that we would be taken off our bikes and asked to stay in the van the rest of the trip down the crater if we ever crossed the line. The bikes are sturdy one speeds with comfortable seats. The ride down Haleakala to Paia is over 20 miles and takes about 1 1/2 hours.  I was very tense for the first few miles through the most steep and curvy roads. I could feel my whole body tightening up as I wondered, "am I taking these turns to fast or is it going to be OK???" I felt better knowing that the van was behind us watching our backs. He would radio the lead biker guide who would signal us if we needed to move to the side of the road and let a few cars pass us safely. I was able to fully concentrate on the road ahead and not worry about cars behind us because of this system. Once we took a rest stop at the location above, I was having a great time! What a cool experience! We were experiencing so much more by being on bike versus being cooped up in the van. The purple Jacaranda trees were in bloom and were so lovely. Jeremy said at one point he just laughed out loud because he was flying through the clouds ON A BIKE in MAUI! It's probably the closest thing I'll ever know to driving a motorcycle. At one point, our guide said he estimated we were going about 38 mph at our fastest. THIS WAS A GOOD DAY. 

On our third day, we decided to do part of the Road to Hana. This was a difficult decision for us because while we knew it would be beautiful, we also knew it was a lot of driving through curvy roads and one way bridges. (More fun though since we rented a convertible). For many reasons, it's not easy to do a simple loop. Most people drive a little past Hana and back in the same day stopping for a few sights along the way. However, this is a really long tiring day and especially difficult for the driver. We're talking over eight hours of driving through extremely challenging roads. (Estimated at 3 hrs. 15 min. from Kaanapali--one way--without stops--and many of best sights are actually AFTER Hana.) At first, I thought maybe we should just stay at the hotel and rest. (Hello, we had a lovely resort and didn't need to go anywhere!) Maybe drive up north to Kapalua Bay or see some sights past that. However, I couldn't shake the feeling that I would be disappointed if we didn't do it at all. I knew from all of my research it would be far better to do this over several days and stay near Hana one or two nights, but most people (like us) only have one day to devote to it on their vacation. So, we set out that morning, but not too early. Picked up coffee and a picnic lunch at a market in Paia and set out to enjoy the day.

Rainbow Eucalyptus trees along the way. How cool!

We ate here at the Ke'Anae peninsula for lunch. So gorgeous!

Shaved I miss you! My fave! This was at Aunt Sandy's roadside store at Ke'Anae peninsula

We skipped the first Twin Falls stop to have more time here at Upper Waikani Falls aka Three Bears. We took photos from car and then also got out to walk farther back to get a closer view which was totally worth it!

Three Bears Selfie

More waterfalls and I don't know which one this was...
 View of Three Bears from the Road

We took a two mile road off the Road to Hana to go down Nahiku Road to the coast. The Maui Revealed guidebook highly recommended it, but it also meant this took up some time from other things. It was incredibly green and lush. (FYI: George Harrison of Beatles fame once lived here.) There was a beautiful waterfall that pooled and then dumped out into the ocean. There was sweeping vistas and I can't even begin to photograph it.

Nahiku was one of the more private places we stopped along the way. The whole time we enjoyed this little piece of heaven, just a couple of other people ventured back here. I was glad we made the effort to get off the beaten path a little. At this point, we were probably about 3/4th of the way to Hana and Jeremy was getting exhausted with driving. On the way back, we had to stop twice because I was getting a headache. The whole rest of the night, I didn't feel "quite right" in the head! It was like delayed carsickness. I never got sick, but I definitely did not feel normal and didn't feel like having a full dinner that night. I worried that I had really messed myself up and the next day we would be on a boat!

Enjoying a night in Lahaina. What a pleasant and beautiful city. We were enthralled with this old Banyan tree. Can't begin to photograph it all--it took up a whole city block. 

On our fourth day, we did a tour of Molokini Crater. We booked a tour with Triology and they did an OUTSTANDING job. Five stars! The crew fed us a yummy breakfast and lunch. We enjoyed cocktails and ice cream after we had finished with snorkeling for the day. We only had a short drive along the coast to get to the Maalaea marina. The tour was from 8am until about 1:30 or 2pm. We stopped at Molokini Crater to snorkel, then drove to another spot to snorkel with sea turtles. At first, I thought we wouldn't find any, but then we found one and then another! We snorkeled above them for a long time as they "flew" through the water flapping their "wings". It was awesome! I have few photos of this day because we were just living it and enjoying it! Some people had underwater cameras and selfie sticks. We didn't even try to photograph the underwater scene. It was just really relaxing to float and swim around enjoying it. Just being out on the water gives you more appreciation of the Hawaiian islands. While boating, we could see the islands of Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Molokini crater and Kaho'olawe. 

We liked Lahina so much, we came back for another date AND lunch on the day we left.

Last sunset in Hawaii during dinner at Kimo's. 
Did I mention that I loved this tree?
More Resort Views

On our fifth and final day, we drove up to Kapalua Bay. Again, the photos do not do this place justice. STUNNING is a good adjective. The blue/green waters were shallow and clear  and you could snorkel or paddle board right here at this little cove very easily. My dream resort, the Montage, is here as well as The Ritz and a few more affordable condo options. While researching, I stumbled on it and was like, "yeah, this is what I want!" At first I thought it was within budget until I quickly discovered $900 was per night and not for five days. But seriously, check out their videos and tell me you don't dream of this....

Kapalua Bay-My Family Dream (Sixth video is my favorite for families.)

Oh, Maui!!! I miss you!

Jeremy was a great chauffeur! I'm glad we got the convertible. We would love to own one again one day when we're empty nesters! We got this upgrade when the first Chrysler convertible we were given had loud, annoying brakes! We took the car right back and let them know the problem and then were given this cute car instead. 

I don't have many photos with Mom and Dad and the kids since we were gone all week. Mom could do a "guest post" on their experiences with the grandkids! We took them to the Bay Area Discovery Museum on their last full day with us. I love this little children's museum and the views here are pretty nice, too. We also drove them down Conzelman Road (a coastal road north of GGB in Marin Headlands) to see more views of the city, bridge, Bay, and Pacific. I never tire showing our visitors the views from there! 

Jeremy and I had a wonderful trip. It will stay with me forever. I would love to go back again many more times. We still have lots to experience in Maui not to mention the other islands. It would be nice if we could go back again while we live on the west coast. It is so much cheaper and easier to do it from here. Our flight was about the same cost as a trip back to KY. It was a direct flight from Oakland Airport to Maui. Crazy that we can drive ten minutes down the road, hop on a jet, and be in paradise! The kids would love it, too. I know it would be a completely different trip with them. We are so thankful for my parents' sacrifice of their time and money to come visit us and take care of the children. They had wonderful quality time together. I love you, Mom and Dad! Thank you a million times over.