I would specifically recommend:
1) Going when the humpback whales are calving (Dec-Feb) and
1a) Taking a boat cruise out to watch
1b) The dinner sunset cruise is nice, but you might still be hungry after.
2) Renting a house instead of a hotel room
3) Getting a rental car - everything is a 20-50 minute drive away
4) Renting Snorkel gear and a boogie board from a dive shop ($) and not from the hotel related shop ($$$)
4a) Each member of your party should have their own snorkel and fins
4b) The boogie board is fun but optional
5) Bringing or buying a big beach towel
5a) Then you don't have to steal a bath towel from the hotel
5b) You don't need one for each member of the party, just for the whiny members
5c) They double as blankets, seat covers, shade umbrellas, and anything else you need
6) Plan lots of time - everything takes longer than you think
7) Either take an iPad with you to plan what you're going to do each day, or do more planning ahead than we did.
8) Shave Ice. Not to be confused with shaved ice.
9) Texting updates to your home email if you forget a travel diary, so you can remember what you did each day.
10) Aloe Vera gel
I would NOT recommend
1) Leaving all your underwear at home by accident (Specifically, packing everyone else's but your own.)
2) Taking all the wrong clothes (No one in Hawaii is wearing capris. They're all wearing Daisy Duke shorts if they're women, and board shorts if they're men. And Kmart in Maui doesn't sell shorts in January in the women's department. They're all selling LONG PANTS. To people wearing SHORTS.)
3) Trying to change hotels from the one you were in to a rental house once you're there. The hotel will charge you whether you stay or not.
4) Buying breakfast coupons as part of the hotel deal. (Turns out you can't double up, you can only use 2 coupons per room per day. So all that money you're saving by buying the breakfast coupons will be wasted when you get tired of the same food every morning and want to go somewhere else for breakfast. We came home with forty dollars worth of unused breakfast coupons, which outweighed the amount we saved by buying the coupons instead of just paying for breakfast when we wanted it.)
5) Forgetting to sunscreen yourself after you've sunscreened the kids.
6) Don't expect your experience on an excursion to be as magical and amazing as the person who wrote up the review on TripAdvisor.com. You'll probably have a good time, but don't go expecting magic.
I do advise taking lots of pictures, from the time you get there until you go. So you can post them on your blog!.
Here we go!
This was taken while we were waiting for Hubby to return with the rental car (a red mustang convertible, the car of choice for Hawaii tourists). It was 10:30 at night Hawaii time, which makes it 1:30 am for the girls. They're a little punchy, but surprisingly good natured.
The first day we drove to Mile Marker 16 on the road to Hana, a twisty gorgeous drive along the North East coast of Maui. Hana is dead-ended at Mile Marker 35. We never made it that far. There are too many beautiful things to stop and see or hike to on the way.
The convertible was a big hit with the girls.
The next day (Friday) we rented snorkel equipment and while trying it out right by our hotel we saw a sea turtle! It was a beautiful lovely day.
On New Year's Day (Saturday) we took the sunset whale watching cruise and saw a whole lot of spoutings, partial breachings, flukes, tails, and humps. Of course I got absolutely no good pictures of whales. These are some of the pictures I did get.The whales were pretty close, one was a baby! Of course you'll have to take my word for it as they disappeared the minute I brought up my camera.
On Sunday we drove to the top of the volcano, Haleakala (say Hal-E-ah-call-ah). The tricky thing was it was 80 degrees at the bottom, and about 40 degrees on top, with a gale force wind blowing on you taking it down to closer to 30 degrees. The girls huddled in the visitor center with Hubby, I was on my own for pictures.
They worked on their Junior Ranger badge qualifications while sporting their souvenir towel skirts. It was bitter cold up there!
Can you see how hard the wind is blowing? Probably not. VERY HARD!!!
On Monday we set out to find a less popular rock formation known as the Dragon's Teeth. It's not marked, we had to ask when we got lost a the Ritz Carlton, and hike across a golf course to find it, but it was an interesting place. Very windy too.
Later that night we went to a Luau. We were on the front row, and had a great time! This was a special luau which also served hot dogs and chicken nuggets, so Everyone was happy! Unfortunately my camera battery had died that afternoon and so I didn't get many pictures.
On Tuesday we had arranged for a raft boat snorkel/tour excursion. We had to get the girls up at 5:00 am in order to be at the dock by 6:30. Yikes! We had a lot of fun, though Thing 1 got splashed which put her in a bad mood, and she wasn't as hyped about the snorkeling as Thing 2. Thing 2 exhibited her fishy side and really took to the snorkeling.
We saw more turtles and whales. Thing 1 and I sat in the middle of the boat, so I didn't get any good pictures of her, as she was practically on my lap. Oh, well there is one of her rockin' out to the tunes that the captain blasted over the speakers.
We didn't feel like we'd gotten enough snorkeling, so after the raft trip we stopped at a nearby beach to let the kids play and do a little more water activities. I think it was one of the kid's most favorite days, which only goes to show that they probably would have just been thrilled to play on the beach the whole week. The water was incredibly warm and the sand was like silk, and the waves didn't assault them like they're used to from the ocean. It was blissful!
Our last day was Wednesday. We were checking out and missed the hotel breakfast (grumble grumble) and so we went into Lahaina for lunch. Then since Hubby really wanted to see the tropical side of the island, we decided to try and make it farther down the road to Hana. This time we made it to Mile Marker 22 before we had to turn around and head back.
We had a very nice dinner back in Paia (say pie-EE-ah) before we headed to the airport for our 11:20 pm flight. Thing 2 was asleep about 20 seconds after I fastened her seatbelt and she barely stirred until she woke up in L.A. Thing 1 tossed and turned, and hardly slept at all. I'm still trying to recover from my sleepless night! Hubby didn't even try to sleep. I don't know how he does it. We got back home about 11:00 a.m.
It was an absolutely lovely trip, and we didn't want it to end. We learned a lot about how to do it even better next time! Because we all expect there definitely needs to be a next time!