A visit to Hawaii has been on my bucket list since around the age of six. My cousin & I would play "The Price is Right" and our grand prizes would always be a car or a trip to Hawaii. Oh, and a fur coat because you know, it gets really cold here in S. Florida... but that's another story. Oops, off on a tangent again. Story of my life. We all know I have A.D.D.
Anyhoo, we chose October because the rates appeared cheaper and the crowds would be less. In other words, off-season. We were blessed with fantastic weather during our entire trip. We were away for 20 days total, which included 4 days in L.A. I would not be able to handle a full day of flying, so I chose to break it up. Three days L.A., 7 days Maui, 4 days Big Island, 4 days Oahu, 2 days L.A. I bought and use the Maui Revealed book, which was very helpful. I will just say to use common sense and your own judgment. When I first looked into Hawaii, flights from Miami were running (and still are) about $1K per person. Including airfare, car rentals, gas, accommodations, inter-island flights, tours & activities we spent a total of about $5,500 for all 20 days. We're spending way less than that this year and are going for 26 days!
We flew to and from the mainland on Hawaiian Airlines. We had a very good experience on both flights. Planes were clean & well maintained. Service was good and flights were on time. Can't ask for more.
With all the travel & baggage restrictions, we will be packing much lighter for our upcoming trip. We will be away for 26 days but plan on packing for 7 days max since we will have a washer & dryer available in units during our stays. All toiletries and stuff we purchase once we arrive.
Our first stop was Maui. We rented a condo directly from the owner on VRBO. The best way to save money and get more bang for your buck is by renting a self-catering unit. Meaning a kitchen. Not that I cook or anything during vacation, but we have breakfast in and make sandwiches for lunch. We also stocked up on water, sodas, beer, snacks etc. too. The condo was a 2 BR unit located in the Maui Banyan Condo in South Kihei. The price was the same as a 1 BR and this way I would have a kick out room for when the snoring got to be too much. The unit was very clean and included all the necessary kitchen tools. It is not oceanfront, but if you go out on the lanai and stretch your neck out, you might get a glimpse of the ocean, which is right across the street from the complex.
We rented a car on each island, and in my opinion, you definitely need a car. Alamo seems to have the best prices. You can also check Discount Hawaii Car Rentals. If you are a member of Costco or BJ's, check them for discounts. An added benefit of using them is no charge for a 2nd driver. Also, Costco has the best fuel prices. Don't expect pristine cars from any rental company in Hawaii. At least we didn't see any. The ones that we rented were in decent shape though. I always book the cars as soon as my dates are set and I check for price drops as the trip nears.
So what did we do in Maui?
Well, we spent a lot of time just laying on a beach, snorkeling, reading & sightseeing in general. Here are some of our most notable experiences:
While we were still on East Coast time, we were popping awake at around 3 AM. So we took advantage of that on our first few days and headed out to see the sunrise at Haleakala Crater. We had packed our heavy jackets just for this occasion. When I say that it was freezing, I am not exaggerating! This was an AMAZING experience! There are no words to describe the beauty of watching the sunrise while you are looking at the clouds below you! I have some more pictures here.
The next morning, we again woke up early and took the Road to Hana. This took the entire day because we stopped a lot along the way. I wore my Relief Band for the drive. I don't know if I really needed it or not, but I did not get car sick. I guess, it also helped that we had a convertible. We will be doing this & the sunrise again this year. Can't wait!
Old Lahaina Luau
Since this was our first visit to Hawaii, we decided to do a luau. We chose the Old Lahaina Luau, and were not disappointed. The earlier you book, the better your seat. I booked about 6 months out and we had the best conventional seats in the house. I say conventional, because they also have traditional seating. Traditional seating is on mats with no backrest and they are right up front. We were practically right up front as well, only we had back support :-) I found this luau to be very well organized and the staff was really friendly. The food was good and the drinks were plentiful.
We chose to do the Discover Molokini excursion with Trilogy. The crew was top notch and learned everyone's name right away. The vessel only takes out a small number of guests, which allows you more room to spread out. They served breakfast, lunch & ice cream. If the water had been a bit calmer, I would have enjoyed this excursion 100% more. We stopped at 2 sites for snorkeling then we sailed back to Ma‘alaea to the sounds of a crewmember playing the ukulele. I highly recommend Trilogy and if we choose to go out this year, we will definitely go with them! It did not hurt one bit that one of the crew members looked like Matthew McConaughey!
As for dining, we basically lived on Da' Kitchen for dinners. One Big Braddah plate fed both of us and sometimes we had left overs. We also ate at Moose McGilucuddy's, ok for pupu's and drinks. Bada Bing’s, which was so-so, I don't know if they're still in business. Service was lacking here.
This has gotten very long, I'll continue later.
Next up: The Big Island