DAY 1 — After a warm lei greeting at the Kahului airport midday, we rented a jeep and headed to lunch at the famous Mama’s Fish House in Paia, on the northern coast of the island, not far from the airport. What an introduction to the culture, scenery, and cuisine of Hawaii! From there, we proceeded to our resort in Kaanapali, which is technically part of the old historic town of Lahaina. Kaanapali is the largest and longest stretch of beach and resorts on the island.
DAY 2 — We decided to rent snorkel gear for the duration of our stay so that we could stop at leisure and snorkel at some of the top spots on the island. On the first day, we drove north to the Kapalua area to Honolua Bay, which has a beautiful forest path that leads to a small beach which is one of the top snorkeling spots on the island. We made stops to snorkel at Napili Bay and Mokuleia (also known as Slaughterhouse). We explored the Kapalua, area, taking the Village Walking Trail as well as the Kapalua Coastal Trail.
DAY 3 — We went to bed early on day 2, anticipating one of the highlights of our trip, a sunrise visit to Haleakala summit, the imposing volcano that is the landmark of Maui. Departing our hotel at 3 AM, we arrived to the summit just in time for a breathtaking view of the sunrise, fitted with wind suits for the extremely cold temperature! After the sunrise, we took the 10,000 foot descent of 27 miles on bicycle back to the bottom of the volcano. Our lunch stop on the way down was in the cowboy town of Makawao in the upcountry area, with quaint shops, restaurants, and art galleries.
DAY 4 — This day was the highlight for me as we took the wild ride down the Road to Hana. With 52 miles of more than 600 curves and over 50 mostly one- lane bridges, it truly is an adventure! There are so many stops along the way, there is no way to see them all in one day, so timing is key. We actually downloaded a narrated app that had a GPS, so if you made a stop, it narrated that stop and if not, it moved you on down the road. Some of the highlights were the rainbow eucalyptus trees at the Keana Arboretum, Three Bears Falls (Upper Waikaui Falls), Black Sand Beach at Wainapanapu State Park, and the old town of Hana. Just past Hana town is Wailua Falls, the most photographed waterfall in Maui. 10 miles past Hana is Kipahulu, which is part of Halaekala Naional Park, where you can see the Seven Sacred Pools (Oheo Gulch), hike the Pipiwai trail through a bamboo forest to Waimoku Falls.
DAY 5 — On day 5, we visited the luxurious resort area of Wailea in south Maui. It has beautiful beaches, shops, and golf courses. We also visited the nearby Big Beach in Makena State Park, a long, beautiful stretch of beach and one of the only beaches with lifeguards on the island. There you have a view of Molokini Crater, which is a popular snorkeling area that can only be reached by boat. Our last afternoon was spent in the old town of Lahaina, exploring the shops and one of the largest Banyan trees in the country, covering an entire city block! We ended our stay in Maui at the Old Lahaina luau, where again we were enveloped in the aloha spirit of the island!
DAY 6 — Saying goodbye to Maui was hard, but saying aloha to Kauai was the beginning of a new and different adventure! With a name like the Garden Isle, it is just what you would expect— beautiful lush greenery! We stayed in the Princeville area on the north shore of the island, a resort area near the quaint town of Hanalei, where we went exploring on our first night for dinner. The short drive to Hanalei from Princevelle was a beautiful drive and the beach there was one of my absolute favorites from both islands. The Hanalei pier was built in the 1860’s and is an iconic landmark that became famous in the filming of the musical “South Pacific.”
DAY 7 — Did you know that 80% of Kauai is not accessible by driving? Wow! So hiking and boating and helicopter/airplane tours are extremely popular and well worth the investment! Our first full day in Kauai began with a helicopter tour, which enabled us to survey the entire island. The scenery from overhead kept us in awe as we flew over Waimea Canyon and along the Napali Coast, eyeing the numerous waterfalls that are on private property and not accessible by land. From the morning helicopter tour, we ventured to spend the rest of the day at Waimea Canyon, known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Driving through Waimea Canyon State Park, there are several lookout points, many with easy to strenuous trails to hike.
DAY 8 — The Kalalau Trail is an 11 mile hike (one way) along the Napali Coast from Ke’e Beach to the Kalalau Valley. It is one of the most beautiful and dangerous hikes in the world and requires a permit to hike all the way. But without a permit, we were able to hike the 2 mile stretch from Ke’e Beach to Hanakapiai stream and beach. It was breathtaking and a little strenuous, but so worth it!
DAY 9 — On day 9, we took to the water in a kayak on Kauai’s Wailua River. It is about a 45 minute kayak trip each way, and once you get upstream, there is a 30-minute hike to hidden falls, where you can swim in the pool at the base of the waterfall. Along the river, the scenery is beautiful, passing a fern grotto and the Kamokila Hawaiian village.
DAY 10 — The Napali Coast is so beautiful to see up close, and there are numerous boating options—catamarans, large rafts, small boats, and kayak tours. We chose a small boat tour (6 passengers plus a captain/guide), so that we were able to go in and out of the sea caves along the coast. We stopped along the way to snorkel at a reef and see the end of the Kalalau trail on the top of the Napali cliffs. It was definitely a highlight of our trip, as we finished our boat ride as the sun was setting on our day and the last adventure of our amazing trip!