I’ve finally come around to editing the many, many, oh so many, photos we took on our Hawaiian adventure on the beautiful island of Maui. It’s funny how time really goes by so fast since we just found out I was pregnant with our baby boy right before we left, and now he’s already 3 months old. We actually shot our super cheesy but super sweet pregnancy announcement on Maui, so the island will always have a special place in our hearts ♡.
Being 7 weeks pregnant meant that we had to make a few adjustments, especially since I was really struggling with non stop
morning sickness (read more about my pregnancy here). So we had to cancel our epic helicopter tour, and testing my surf skills on the famous Hawaiian waves also has to wait for another time. But we still had an amazing time (did I mention Maui is paradise?), so read on for a recap of our tropical island getaway to Maui!
First up, let’s talk logistics. Maui is the second largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago and you can fly directly into Kahului Airport from San Francisco or Los Angeles. We used our Flying Blue Miles and only paid €10 each for a direct return flight from LAX to Maui. Yes. Read that again. It’s not a typo. Ten euro. How’s that for living your best life?
Bear in mind that accommodation is not cheap on Maui, especially if you want to stay in a fancy resort. There are a lot of Airbnb options though, and if you travel outside the busy season hotel prices are pretty reasonable. We stayed a few nights at the Maui Seaside Hotel, close to the airport. It’s conveniently located in the middle of the island which was nice since we had a late arrival and we wanted to hit The Road To Hana early on the next morning. The last few nights we stayed at the very nice The Mauian Hotel at Napili Bay – often named one of the most beautiful beaches on the planet.
This sleepy but lovely little town is a great place to grab some food before or after you drive The Road To Hana. Grab some breakfast (order the pancakes!) at Charley’s Saloon, Willie Nelson’s favorite spot on Maui. And for dinner it’s absolutely worth it to get in line at the Paia Fish Market for super fresh Mahi Mahi or Ahi. If you never had these fishes before: it’s going to change your life. And also: ruin you forever since I’m always in the mood for Ahi, and guess what? We don’t have it in Holland.
The Road To Hana
Yes, I’ve mentioned this super famous road twice already. So what’s the big deal with this highway leading to a tiny town called Hana? Well, it’s arguably the most beautiful road on the planet. And if it were up to me, there’s no doubt about it, because you’re truly driving in paradise island heaven. I’m not going to write a detailed recap of the stops on the way over to Hana, because I believe it’s best experienced as an on the go adventure. There are so many beautiful things to see along the way and I don’t want to give you a detailed itinerary you should follow. I want to show you what can be yours to discover and I hope you’ll make your own adventure. If you do want details, you can get a very good audio tour online. All I can tell you is to be ready at every lookout point, every waterfall, and every sign you see. If you have time, it’s best to spend the night at Hana so you can take it slow and don’t have to rush on the way back. Here are some highlights of our The Road To Hana experience!
Ho’okipa Beach Park
Not far from Paia, this beach is a great spot to watch the locals catch some waves. Ho’okipa has the best waves on Maui’s North shore. And it’s supposedly the most renowned windsurfing spot in the world, although we didn’t see any windsurfers because of the wind conditions. But come on, does it get more Hawaii than this?
It’s also worth noticing that you definitely should go down to the beach itself, otherwise you might miss something big. Something very big… You probably think this is a beach with a lot of big boulders, right?
Think again! There were so many big ass sea turtles having a chill, and we hadn’t even noticed them at first. So cool! Please be respectful to these animals and stay at a large distance as not to disturb them. Bring your zoom lens to get up close and personal :).
I can highly recommend doing this easy hike through some beautiful Maui scenery to reach Twin Falls. Don’t forget to bring your bathing suit and take a quick dip! Especially if you don’t feel like climbing your way down to the Three Bears Falls further down The Road To Hana, but you do want the tropical experience of swimming under a Hawaiian waterfall. Twin Falls is your best bet. Side note: don’t forget to wear your hair up instead of down – unless you’re going for that extra frizzy look. Fyi, I wasn’t.
Waikamoi Nature Trail
This hike is a mile or so, and although it can be slippery and steep at some points, it’s pretty doable. And absolutely worth the sweat since you get to experience the peace and quiet of this often overlooked part of Maui. Ssssht, quiet please: trees at work. And also: I found the most instagrammed plant of 2017 in its natural habitat. Score!
Garden of Eden Arboretum
Although you have to pay a $15 entrance fee, I think this botanical garden is worth it. It’s a great spot to stretch your legs while looking at some gorgeous plants and trees. There are also cabanas where you can have a lovely little picnic.
Didn’t bring any food? Do like us and stop by the Coconut Cafe right at the entrance. The tacos and banana bread are yummmmm. Be careful though: you can burn your bum on the hot picnic table (as is demonstrated by the husband). No shortage of sunshine on Maui!
This is what I love most about The Road To Hana: there is more beauty after every turn. You think it can’t get any better than this, and then BAM! Maui smacks you in the face with its gorgeous scenery and epic views. And yes, it often feels like you’re in the middle of Jurassic Park. Minus the dinosaurs. Just to clarify.
I know I said you should find your own adventure on The Road To Hana. But please include Ke’anae. Two reasons. One: the fierce coast line with its black rock beach.
Two: amazing banana bread and shave ice at Aunty Sandy’s. Yes, you just had banana bread at the Coconut Cafe, I know. But seriously, you’re in paradise, who’s counting calories?
And also: I wouldn’t mind going to this church every Sunday.
Chasing Waterfalls at Upper Waikani Falls
Okay, this might not be the best idea if you’re pregnant, but being the little rebel that I am… I had to. I read somewhere that you can climb down on the side of the road, on a very steep and very slippery path (it doesn’t even deserve that name), and then you can crawl your way to the base of Upper Waikani Falls (aka Three Bears Falls). Yep, that’s what I want. Obviously I didn’t want the easy swim-under-waterfall experience at Twin Falls. So we parked the car and decided to give it a go.
It was actually not easy to find the start of the descend (tip: it’s near the guardrail on the Eastern end of the bridge). The first step down is the hardest, after that it’s quite doable as long as you use both hands and feet. And it’s soooooooo worth it! Swimming under a Hawaiian waterfall – just the two of us. Epic doesn’t even begin to describe this experience…
Waianapanapa State Park
Try saying that really fast three times in a row. Right before you reach Hana, you will find Waianapanapa State Park. This park is most famous for its black sand beach, where local families and tourists alike take a dip in the ocean. If you’re up for camping there’s also a campground, and I can only imagine what this place looks like at sunrise. Like paradise.
There is so much more beauty to be seen along The Road To Hana. Like I said, if you have time definitely spend the night in Hana. Just know that accommodation options are limited in this tiny Hawaiian town. The Road To Hana is absolutely doable as a day trip, you just have to pick a few stops and skip the rest, instead of trying to rush everything. Trust me, it’s going to be the most scenic drive of your life anyway!
If we ever were to move to Maui – a girl can dream, right? – I would want to live in Kihei. It’s a very laidback town (no resorts here), with a beautiful beach with nice waves right in the middle of town. I would have my after surf breakfast at the Kihei Caffe every day. And in the afternoon I would pick a spot in the park for a little siesta. Oh man, what a life…
Even the fire trucks are tropical!
This is where most Maui visitors stay because this is where the big resorts are. And I have to admit, it looks very nice. Very slick. Very fancy. Many, many retirees in golf carts everywhere. If you know what I mean. Nice, but not us. Although you should head to the shopping area if you’re looking for a Hawaiian shirt. Tip: check the collection at Hawaiian shirt company Tori Richard.
We really love Makena Beach, a little further South of Wailea. You can park your car near the beautiful Keawala’i Church, and walk down to the beach.
It probably has the softest sand my bare feet have ever touched. Oh, and if you’re a drone photographer: this is where you want to catch some epic shots of the soft pinkish sand contrasting with the bright blue of the ocean. But even my good old OM-D captured the beauty of this beach perfectly. And obviously it helps to have a handsome model.
This is where you can – and should – hop on a boat to see some whales. We have seen whales in California, Vancouver Island, and on the Azores Islands, and it’s always a magnificent experience to witness these huge mammals in the wild. On Maui we’ve seen a lot of whales actually jump out of the ocean. I guess the whales also think Hawaii is paradise.
On the West side of Maui you’ll find another lovely Hawaiian town, called Lahaina. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii in the 19th century, and it has a lot of charm. The main street, Front Street, has nice shops and restaurants housed in historical buildings, giving Lahaina its old world vibe. You can do a self-guided historical walking tour (follow this link) or roam around on your own. If you need to rest your legs, take a little break under the massive Banyan tree located in the town square.
Old Lahaina Luau
A luau is a traditional Hawaiian feast with a lot of food and live performances. You can imagine most resorts hosts these luaus for their guest, but we were told the Old Lahaina Luau gives the most authentic representation. And yes, all the big luaus are aimed at tourists, but it is part of Hawaiian tradition so we wanted to experience it anyway. And it was such an amazing evening, so we’re very glad that we went. Pro tip: book months in advance so you can get a spot in the traditional Hawaiian seating area (read: on the floor) in front of the stage.
They serve great cocktails (even the virgin cocktails!) while you wander around the luau grounds. Before the show begins you can learn about Hawaiian culture and history. One of the highlights is the uncovering of the Kalua Pig from the Imu (traditional Hawaiian underground oven).
The food was delicious, but the highlight was the live performance. A mixture of traditional Hawaiian and Polynesian dances and stories, so we learned a lot about the history and legends of these islands. Highly recommended!
Oh, Napili Bay… You so pretty. I’m so happy that we decided to splurge on a hotel at this gorgeous beach. Spending your day with this tropical view is honestly what my dreams are made of.
In the morning we’d grab our breakfast to find a nice spot underneath one of the palm trees. Then we did some reading. Some napping. A little sunbathing. To cool off we’d take a refreshing dip in the Pacific. We did some stand up paddling. We walked along the shore to say hello to a huge sea turtle.
For even more paradise vibes we wandered around the lush tropical garden of The Mauian Hotel. And snapped dozens of pictures of the beautiful plants and flowers.
Right before sunset we freshened up for cocktail hour and a lovely dinner with a view at the Sea House Restaurant. And then we watched the sunset and pinched ourselves. This. Is. Paradise.
Thank you, Maui. Not only did we have an amazing trip, you were also the place where it truly sinked in we were becoming parents. A family. Wow. And yes, it’s halfway across the planet, but we are DEFINITELY coming back to you with our little man. Mahalo.