Notes from our Maui holiday

We went to Maui for a week in January. It was my first time, and other than last year’s Mexico vacation, only the second time ever that we’ve taken on our kids on a vacation that didn’t involve visiting family or driving and camping.

I have some advice if you’re thinking about taking your kids on this kind of trip, based on my lessons learned.

1. The satellite tvs on your seat back will only play for a couple hours of the flight. At best. Bring other entertainment.

2. Carry-on luggage bans suck (see #1).

3. Rent a jeep, not a car. It can cost more (although there were lots of deals to be had, if you shop around for them in advance), but it’s fun to drive, suits the climate, and has lots of room for all the stuff you need to move around, least of all your luggage from the airport.

4. Don’t pack so much. We had a condo and it had laundry. Plus it never got below 18 degrees Celsius. We didn’t need half the clothes we brought. I could have literally taken half the number of bags.

5. Stay in Kihei, not Lahaina. They are both lovely parts of the island, but Kihei is more central, the beaches are easier to get to, and all the shops and restaurants are equal.

6. Plan meals ahead. Eating out or cooking in takes planning, and food is more expensive on Maui than the mainland. Don’t make last-minute decisions because it’ll lead to hassles and more cost.

7. Rent cheap snorkel gear. We got talked into renting more expensive gear that was no better than the cheap stuff.

8. Drive to Hana. It’s a full day, but it’s the North side of the island with a climate very different from the beaches.

9. Snorkel. A lot. The fish are gorgeous and swimming with the turtles is out of hand. Even my non-swimmer kid snorkled. I took him out on a boogie board, which he kept strapped on his wrist, and he just ducked his snorkled-head under water to see. It was a huge thrill for him.

10. Go to a luau. They’re expensive and kinda kitchy, but it’s fun and it’s probably the only time your kids will learn anything about Hawaiian culture or history.

11. Drop into Hillo Hattie with the kids. They gave us shell leis when we entered and free samples of stuff. And their tourist junk is the same price as other tourist junk.

12. Go to the farmer’s markets. The food is cheaper, fresher, and much more fun. We bought a whole coconut, the farmer cut off the top and we drank the milk with a  straw, then he cut it open and later we ate the meat. Fabulous!

13. Divide and conquer. If dealing with your kids is seeming a bit much, take a day for yourself. Go kayaking, walk a lot, shop, sit on the beach and ride, or do like my husband and bike up the volcano (not kidding about that either!). But have at least one day where you can relax completely.

We’ve been back about a week now and my tan is starting to fade, but I still remember the wonderful feel of the sun on my face as I lay there reading my book on my day off. Ahhh, that was a relaxing oasis in the hectic vacation period.

Happy trails, and aloha.


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