Maui Travel Diary, Hawaii Part 1

Aloha & happy Tuesday! I hope everyone had a relaxing holiday weekend.

I’m bursting at the seams with excitement today to finally share with you my trip to Hawaii!!! I went last November but broke (literally crushed) one of my memory cards that had all of my photos from the trip, I’ve been so upset about it for months but I was finally able to retrieve my files a couple weeks ago! I’ve been working on this video and organizing all of my photos ever since not wasting any more time. I put so much effort into putting this together, I hope it shows and that you all love it – please let me know below if you enjoy this new style for my travel videos!

WIthout further ado and no more months of delay, let’s finally get to it!

I completely underestimated how incredible Hawaii would be, in my mind I thought tropical is tropical they’re all the same – I was in the Maldives two weeks prior so I was under the impression that I’ve already set the bar so high on beachy vacations that Hawaii wouldn’t even compare. Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong!!! Hawaii has so many different landscapes and visuals… cities, mountains, rainforests, beaches, the ocean, cliffs. All it takes is a short drive to see all of these things within minutes. Hailing from the FLAT midwest, this completely blew my mind; I couldn’t believe just how beautiful everything is. No question, this trip is my favorite yet, my chest actually felt heavy when we were leaving to come back home after 8 days. I usually feel antsy after a couple days to get back into my routine but this time around I had absolutely no desire. Every island has a completely different look and feel, we only explored Maui and O’ahu but I know we’ll be back asap to experience the remaining six.

You all know that I’m very.. generous with the camera(s) so after narrowing down thousands of photos and hours of footage, this is the final result. A long vlog and a blog-post so long that I had to break it up into two parts after completing, ha! Part one today will be the first leg of our Hawaiian vacation on the lush island of Maui, grab a snack and get comfy – I’ll chat and reminiscence as we go! Part two in O’ahu will be posted tomorrow so don’t forget to check back! xo

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We knew that we wouldn’t be spending much time in our room during our stay in Maui because we had so much on our to-do list so when we were looking to book a hotel we went in with the intentions of just finding a place to sleep. Everyone knows that Hawaii is super expensive so we steered clear of the big box luxury resorts and searched for something more boutique-y. We ended up booking a room at the Hale Pau Hana Beach Resort in Kihei.. it turned out that it was a condo rental not so much a hotel, and it gave us so much more than we expected (or needed, to be honest). The unit was extremely comfortable and well kept with a full kitchen and two full bathrooms. It felt very home-y and as you can tell by the sprawled newspaper and grocery bags below, we made ourselves right at home! My order of two eggs, toast, and some fruit at Denny’s across the street was $13 so we had an EFF THAT moment and got our own breakfast groceries for our stay since we had the full kitchen anyways! It’s steps away from the beach, as you’ll see below. The Hale Pau Hana is perfect for families and you can’t beat the price or location; so unless I’m looking for a pampered getaway in the future where I don’t plan on leaving the room much, I absolutely will be staying here every time I visit Maui.

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Again, you can’t beat the location! All we had to do was cross the street to rent some snorkel/board-gear!

Just steps to the beach! Our hotel is behind us 🙂

During our first day we wanted to grab a super quick bite to eat so I got on Yelp and found a taco truck, Horhito’s Taqueria. Goooooood lord!! They were the best tacos we’ve ever had, the fish was so fresh and full of flavor. We stopped by almost every single day they were that good! They’re cash only and there are some picnic tables where you can comfortably eat. There were some local shopping booths stands right there also where we bought souvenirs for ourselves and our families.

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Maui is made up of two volcanoes, Haleakalā & Mauna Kahalawai. Haleakalā is a massive shield volcano and forms more than 75% of Maui, driving around the island you can almost always see the peak which stands at 10,023 feet. Haleakalā means house of the sun and is a very popular place to catch the sunrise (or stars, or sunset, or pretty much any breathtaking view). The area is now a National Park and covers 30,183 acres, most of which is wilderness. We didn’t realize there was so much more to do than just drive up and gaze so we weren’t prepared to stay much longer than sunrise… aka we were starving!! The drive took us about two hours, much longer than we guessed based on the milage and there is no food for sale at all in the park. The drive and view were worth it though!! I wish we could have spent more time exploring the park but.. a girl’s gotta eat!

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A very well deserved breakfast above after waking up so early for sunrise.

Another super popular place to find some noms is Ululani’s. Shaved ice is a big thing in Hawaii originally brought over by the Japanese and you’ll find shops for it everywhere but everyone on my Instagram told me that Ululani’s is the best so we made sure to try it… and we definitely tried it a few more times during our stay too 🙂 I think mine was a coconut/mango concoction with toasted coconut and condensed milk, yummies! There are several different locations but we went to the one in Kihei where we were staying.

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I’ve always always always wanted to go to a luau so that was one of the first things we started looking up when we arrived in Maui. After a little bit of research we decided to drive over to the west side of the island to Lahaina to have dinner at Old Lahaina Luau. They’re right on the beach with an amazing view of the sunset and the grounds are covered with tiki torches. The service was wonderful, the moment you arrive they lei you and serve you drinks. The food is buffet style but the servers are always near-by for more drinks. I wasn’t too crazy about the food (maybe I just dont like the traditional food??) but I loved everything else, especially the entertainment.. traditional music, hula dancers, and lots of performers walking us through Hawaiian history through song and dance, very cool! Old Lahaina Luau is a very popular place and they’re almost always at full capacity so i recommend making your reservation early in your trip! They have both traditional and table seating but traditional seating is more limited and has a waitlist, wah! We had a fantastic view from our table though – front and center!

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The drive from Kihei to Lahaina was so pretty! Quick snap from our moving car!

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An experience we will never forget, The Road to Hana! We underestimated everything about this drive (seems to be a reoccurring thing lol).. we didn’t think the drive would be as long, we didn’t think it would be as pretty as it is or as exciting! Hana is a small, under-developed town on the far east side of the island – while the town is unassuming, the drive there on Hana Hwy is incredible. The drive is 64 miles but will take you about 3 hours to get to Hana, with all of your stops along the way it will be an all day affair. Plan to leave early!!!! We left a little before lunch-time (again… underestimating everything lol) and our drive back ended up being really scary. It was completely dark with no lights and hardly any other cars on the road.. we’d see one car every now and then and they would be driving like maniacs. There are 59 bridges along the way, most of which are one lane so it’s important to learn yield etiquette.

During the drive from our hotel towards Hana Hwy I was casually searching the appstore on my phone to see if I could find a map just so we could look out for places & mile markers to stop at. I ended up finding the best app ever!!! GyPSy Guide. This is a virtual tour guide essentially.. it works off of your satellite signal and tells you exactly when and where to stop, we named our guide Thomas and seriously loved him so much LOL! He tells you about all of the places to stop along the way but broke it down even further to his top 5 must sees which was perfect for us since we got a late start to our day anyways. Once you start getting high up on Hana Hwy you will lose all phone service all together so this app is crucial! My initial plan was to just wing it; find a map, and just google things along the way. Thank goodness i found this app because otherwise we would have literally been left with nothing to do but drive, we wouldn’t know where to stop and even if we just followed the crowd we wouldn’t know where to go or what we were seeing. Thomas gave us the history of everything we were experiencing, told us exactly where to turn into to park, which places are free and which cost money, where to eat, everything. It was best $5 we spent! On top of just sights, he gave us the entire history of Hawaii and it’s people, culture, and mythology during the drive there and back. We learned so much and it made our vacation so much more enriching, and we retained everything to the point where we feel a connection to Hawaii lol… we can’t wait to go back!

PS there are a couple more GyPSy Guide tours for Maui, including Haleakala but we discovered all this too late!

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Our first stop was the Keanae Arboretum, which was a great place to stretch our legs and take a little walk. There are two short walking trails where we saw tons of different tropical plants.

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These trees were my favorite!! I’ve never seen anything like this before, Rainbow Eucalyptus. The bark on these trees are naturally multicolored, they look like they’re right out of a Dr. Suess book!

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Our next stop was the Keanae Peninsula which was formed by lava flowing from Haleakala. There’s an old church here that was built in 1856 out of lava rock and coral. After a killer tsunami wiped out the entire village in 1946, the church is the only surviving building and still stands here today. I didn’t want to disturb the locals by taking photos so we just played along the shore for a little while before continuing our journey.

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We stopped at the Halfway to Hana snack shop to get something to drink and nibble on. Apparently their banana bread is to die for but I generally don’t like banana bread so I didn’t try any but I thought I’d throw that out there!

My husband and I love fish and chips so we were excited to get some while in Hawaii because obviously the fish must be super fresh! Thomas pointed out a stop ahead that had a few places to eat and buy souvenirs and when we saw fish & chips we knew we had to make the stop! They cook everything in this little truck/bus and everything was super fresh so we had to wait a little bit for our food to be prepared. In the meantime we poked around at the gift shop next door and i stalked some stray cats lol!

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Our next stop was the 122 acre Wai’anapanapa State Park. There’s a ton to see and do here but we came most specifically to see the black sand beach! The park is home to a few freshwater caves, a natural sea arch, a blowhole and contorted lava rock formations. There is a legend of the caves that a Hawaiian princess was killed by her husband while she was hiding from him there; now every year thousands of tiny red shrimp appear in the pool making the water look like blood as a reminder. We heard all of these legends on the GyPSy app while driving in, so interesting!

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Our last official stop during the Road to Hana was the 113 foot Wailua Falls! It was super gloomy out and it was getting dark so getting in the water was totally freaking me out but it was an amazing experience. It took us a while to find the path to get down to the pool, supposedly there are a couple different routes.. we of course found the steep, slippery, and narrow path just to the right of the bridge lol but on the bright side it’s supposed to be a lot shorter of a walk than the safer route.

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Mahalo for reading and watching all that! I know I’m a crazy over-share but as unforgettable as this trip was, I truly don’t want to ever forget a thing! I hope you loved this, let me know if any of you are planning a trip to Hawaii soon, I’d love to live vicariously through you! And if you’ve been and did anything amazing that I didn’t get to, let me know so I can add it to my list for next time. I fell so fast and hard for you Hawaii, I can’t wait to come back!

Part 2 of our trip in O’ahu will be up tomorrow so until then, aloha!

xoxo