My husband's family loves to travel together. It's how they like to bond, connect and make memories. It's a lot of fun and we've been able to see a lot of fun places and share stories from our trips. So, when we found out earlier this year that everyone was heading to Maui for the 4th of July, we were disappointed to miss out. You see, I was newly pregnant with a history of pregnancy complications and the threat of Zika was widespread. We just didn't want to risk traveling to a tropical area.
Fast-forward to mid-June. The pregnancy is going extremely smoothly and Zika hasn't spread to Maui via mosquitos. My husband Darren and I go back and forth debating if we should try to make this family trip work and in the end we decide that if we can get airline tickets and lodging that we'll make it happen. Low and behold, we not only find a condo at the same location as the rest of the family (in a nearly-sold out week anywhere on Maui) but we also find seats on the same flight as most of his family! This trip is shaping up nicely!
We have a really smooth flight from Seattle to Maui and we're feeling pretty good about heading to the condo and enjoying some pool time. So, we send Darren and his brothers to fetch the rental cars while we gather the luggage and wait at the airport with all 6 kids. We then hear that the rental car place is slammed and it will be a 45 minute wait. Staying positive, we think that it's great that we stayed at the airport because at least there's a Starbucks and the kids can run around. The positive thinking waned a bit 10 minutes later when we found out that there was a brush fire causing delays on the highway to get to our condo in Ka`anapali.
Trying not to worry, we figure that we will grab some lunch/dinner at a nearby Hawaiian restaurant, Da Kitchen, that was just featured on Food Network's Drive-in's, Diners and Dives. I had eaten here before with Owen and I was excited to bring the rest of the crew to try. This was such a silver lining because most of us were ready to eat and it was nice to chat and catch up. At this point, we hear from Darren's brother (who had attempted to drive to the condo) that the highway was completely closed and people were parking their cars. Not a good sign. So, they attempt to drive an alternate way and promised to keep us posted.
We think that this is a set-back, but we were planning on hitting Costco anyway, which would eat up some time. And surely the brushfire would be contained by the time we were done shopping. So we grabbed our cart and stocked up on supplies for the week, including fresh seafood and dairy products. We decided that we'd also take the alternate route, so we shopped quickly so we could head out before traffic got crazy.
By the time we got to the car, we found out that the alternate route was now also closed and they were turning people away. We weren't sure what to do at this point, so we opted to all meet in a parking lot to decide our next move. This was a good idea because the kids all needed to get out of the car and run around a bit. I took this opportunity to head inside the store to grab sand toys and snacks. I never miss an opportunity to shop!
A plan is decided to head down to Kihei because that road was open and it would get us a bit closer to Ka`anapali. At this point, we are getting text updates from my Mom (who lives on Kauai) and my Mother-in-law's friend who lives on Maui about traffic conditions and speculation on when roads might open. We also are using a traffic app that's linked to social media where people post traffic updates. We're hearing that roads may open in an hour, a few hours, or not tonight. Not very promising, so we decide that getting ice cream is probably the best use of our time.
While stopping at the store for ice cream, we hear that the roads might be opening soon, so we get more dairy products and snacks and head back to the car. Then we hear that the fire has spread and no one is moving. So, making lemonade from lemons, we head to a nearby beach so we could watch the sunset. It has been 6 hours since we landed and it's now 2 hours past our toddler's bedtime.
We figure that we can either wait at the beach or just get in line on the highway. We might as well be in line so we will know what's going on. We start to caravan toward the highway but quickly get separated, with our car leading and the two other cars behind us. Thankfully we all have cell phones and could constantly update each other. By the time we made it to the highway, we could see a burning bush on the side of the road and we were able to talk to a police officer who told us it would be several hours, but we'd be able to get to Ka`anapali that night. We took that as a good sign and slowly made our way onto the highway.
We found out a few moments later that the last car in our caravan was now stopped by the police officer because the fire spread again. At this point, we could see huge flames on the side of the road and the air was thick with smoke. But our car was at least moving, so that was a good sign for us. And our toddler was asleep (just 3 hours past his bedtime.) Then we were detoured off the highway.
At this point, people turned off their engines and got out of their cars. We knew we were going to be here awhile. Thankfully, we were parked right next to a public bathroom and Owen was still sound asleep. We tried to take naps while Darren roamed around trying to get status updates. It was a few hours before we saw cars starting up again and things were moving!
They opened the highway and cars were moving! It took about an hour before our car made it to the highway and then it was a slow go on the highway. When we got through the brush fire area, the rain started to come down. We took this as a good sign because the fire had to be contained. As we drove further on the highway, we saw lots of abandoned cars and couldn't believe how long the line was to get out of Lahaina. We thought about how lucky we were that we were able to stretch our legs and get food and have a bit more freedom that the folks stuck on the West side.
After almost 12 hours of trying to get from the airport to our Condo, we finally made it at midnight (3am Seattle time!) That's when we discovered that the Condo was locked and we didn't have keys. Oh, and that there was no cell service or wifi due to the highway closure (they shut it down because it was an emergency.) Thankfully, we were able to locate one of the staff members who was able to open the door and we all crashed.
This wasn't how we expected to spend our first day in Maui, but I was really proud of Owen for keeping his cool (which is difficult when you're 2.5 years old) and that our family didn't complain or get upset.
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My husband, Darren, and I had the opportunity to meet up with 15 family members on Maui this summer. We went with our toddler, Owen, while I was 6 months pregnant. My Mom lives on Kauai, so I've been there many, many times (and a few times solo with Owen.) I explored Maui last October with Owen, but this was the first time Darren was able to join us for a Hawaii trip. We stayed up in Ka`anapali, which was a first for me.
We opted not to do the Road to Hana or Haleakala this time simply because Owen and I did it in October and we wanted to spend as much time with family as possible. But, I highly recommend doing them if you haven't before. We are planning to do them on a future trip to Maui. Either trip would make a great "staying out of the sun" day trip, if you are sunburned!
Here's how we spent our week on Maui:
Day 1: Arrival Day
Day 2: Relax Day
Day 3: 4th of July
Day 6: My Birthday!
Day 8: Departure Day
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On our latest trip to Maui, we stayed at the Honua Kai Resort in Ka`anapali, Maui. We went with family so we rented 3 units between all 14 of us. This was my first time staying at a resort, rather than a hotel or condominium. After spending a week there, here are my pros and cons for staying at the Honua Kai Resort:
I really liked the Honua Kai Resort. It was nice to be on a vacation where we really could just stay at the resort if we wanted. The pools were pretty incredible and I loved that there was food/coffee options on site! It's a great place relax and unwind!
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In celebration of my Mother-in-Law's 70th birthday, we all got together for a trip to Maui. Since we were all going to be together, we thought we should do a special activity with everyone. We decided that since she loves to swim and make memories with the grandkids, doing a snorkel trip might be the right fit.
I did a lot of research on the various boat trips we could do on Maui. Since we'd be bringing our 2.5-year-old, I was a bit worried that he would be stuck on the boat the whole time and get restless. Many of the boats seemed geared for kids ages 8 and up, which would have worked for everyone except our toddler. When I found the Four Winds Maui, their website featured small children! Jackpot!
We were told to arrive by 7am for our 7:30am departure. The website said to park in slip 55, but the boat ended up being in slip 80 which was a decent walk for our group of 14 children and adults. We followed several groups who were also confused where the boat was. This confusion made us feel a bit rushed and by the time we got on the boat, there were very few seats available.
When we were all settled, the Captain introduced himself and explained a bit about what the plan was for the day. It sounded like things would be set for Molokini, but there was a chance that the wind was too bad and the waves would be too choppy. We were going to try to make it, though. Then the sales pitches started for snuba, underwater cameras, underwater photography services, wet suits, etc. I already knew about them because I combed through the website before booking, but some people in our party felt like it was a little much and they just wanted to get going. Some of our family headed downstairs to get drinks and grab fruit and muffins.
We headed out of the harbor and the waves started to get choppy after about 20 minutes or so. My toddler kept shouting "wee" when he was hurled from left to right but my nephew felt a bit overwhelmed with all the movement. The Captain announced that we'd be turning away from Molokini so that we'd have more time to snorkel and he brought us to Coral Gardens. They passed out the fins and snorkel masks on the ride out there and offered a snorkel class on board right before we anchored.
At Coral Gardens, we had 2.5 hours to snorkel. Since I didn't plan on going in the water, I thought I might get bored with that much time on the boat. I was totally wrong! I couldn't believe how quickly the time flew.
We let the masses get into the water while I hung out with our toddler on the upper deck. We watched many family members get into the water and start snorkeling, which my toddler found fascinating. He really wanted to go into the water too, so my Mom and Mother-in-Law decided to go out with him. The Four Winds Maui has cool floatation devices with a peep hole for kids to lay on to look at the fish. The crew members were really helpful bringing them the floatie and helping our toddler! They loaded my toddler (wearing a life vest and water wings) onto one of those and my Mom and Mother-in-Law pulled him around the ocean so he could participate. Almost instantly, all his cousins swarmed the flotation device and my son was in heaven being a part of the experience!
While he was in the water, I took lots of iPhone photos and video and then headed inside to grab lunch (at 9:30am). They had hot dogs, kalua pork sandwiches, burgers and chicken. They had lots of burger toppings, ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce and hot sauce and potato chips. There was also an assortment of drinks (both alcoholic and not.)
By the time I grabbed some food and water, my son and most of the family were ready to come back on the boat to warm up and get food. My toddler devoured half my kalua pork sandwich (which was really tasty) and at least one cup full of chips. As time went on, the majority of swimmers all came on board to get food. This was perfect timing because we were all done eating and ready to hit the water again!
My son really, really wanted to go down the waterslide and his cousins offered to go with him. I took him down there and the slide looked awesome, but too intense for a 2.5 year-old. Maybe he'd be ready in a year or two. But my nieces and nephews all went down the slide and had the time of their lives! They are all very experience swimmers and they were able to try going down on their tummies and backwards! I held my son while we watched his cousins fly down the slides and he was giddy just watching them!
Then, he said he wanted to go back into the water. My husband was already back out there snorkeling so I shouted for him to meet me at the back of the boat so he could grab a floatation device. Our son swam/floated for awhile before he was all done and wanted to head back up. It was good timing because we only had about 15 minutes of snorkel time left before everyone came back on board and we headed back to the harbor. On the ride back, we were offered chocolate chip cookies that were also very tasty!
After about 5 minutes in the car, our toddler was passed out and stayed asleep for quite some time! When he woke up, he kept going on and on about the boat ride and swimming and watching his cousins on the slide. This was a great adventure for our whole family!
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While vacationing on Maui, my Mom popped over from her home on Kauai to visit with us for a few days. She offered to watch our toddler, Owen, so we could have a date night. When someone offers to watch your toddler, the answer is always YES.
After scrolling through several "Best Restaurants on Maui" listings online, cruising Front Street in Lahaina, and debating driving to Kihei, we decided to see if we could get in at Roy's in Ka`anapali. Roy's is a chain of Hawaiian fusion restaurants that are located on several islands. I'd only been to the one on Kauai before and the food was really tasty. Since we get so few date nights, we figured we'd go with something almost guaranteed to be a good experience.
Luckily, we were able to get seated within a few minutes at a quiet table in the back of the restaurant with a great view of the Ka`anapali Golf Course. The hostess noticed that I was pregnant and asked excitedly if we were celebrating our babymoon. We told her that we were and that our toddler was back at the condo and this was a special date night. She came back with little streamers to decorate the table! It was a very nice touch!
Our server came and took our drink orders and gave us some edamame to start us off. After perusing the menu and all the options, we decided to forgo appetizers in order to make sure we had room for dessert. That is the most important part of a meal anyway, right? My husband, Darren, ordered the Ni`ihau Lamb Leg and I went with the Macadamia Crusted Monchong (mostly because I saw that Monchong was served at all the fancy restaurants and I had no idea what it was.) We told our server that we wanted to save room for dessert so he brought us out a dessert menu so we could pre-order. They had several options that required 20 minutes, so we decided to try their Chocolate Souffle and their Key Lime Lilikoi Pie.
The food was spectacular! I discovered that Monchong is a flaky, white fish whose flavor came to life with the accompanying lobster sauce. It made me think that we should be encrusting the fish we make at home with macadamia nuts. Darren loved the darker flavors of his lamb and the sauce. I don't really eat lamb, so it's always a treat for him when we dine out. As we ate dinner, we saw the gorgeous sunset behind the golf course!
After we were done enjoying the flavors of our entree, it was time for dessert! The Chocolate Souffle was piping hot and had the right mix of a firm chocolate cake and the ooey, gooey molten chocolate center. Sometimes Chocolate Souffles come out as undercooked brownies, but this one was not! I especially enjoyed the Key Lime Lilikoi Pie. I'm a sucker for anything lilikoi, but this was extra yummy and light. It had a creamy filling with a graham cracker crust, so it was set up for success! Not only did they bring us the ones we ordered, but they also brought us a special Chocolate Banana Cake with "Congratulations" written in Hawaiian! It was a very sweet way to end our night!
In preparation for our upcoming family trip to Maui, I thought I'd reflect on my last trip to Maui back in October. My Mom lives on Kauai, so we usually try to visit Hawaii once a year. Last year, however, I thought it might be nice to also check out Maui (after a short visit on Kauai) since they have a lot of things for toddlers to do. This was my first time flying solo with a toddler (the previous year he was 9 months old) and I learned a lot from this trip.
Top 10 Lessons Learned While Traveling Solo with a Toddler:
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Fun Things for Babies on Kauai
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My Mom lives on Kauai, so when Owen was 9 months old, we made our first visit over there. Owen had been a great traveler when we flew to Thailand just a few months prior, so I wasn't too worried. My husband had to work, so it was just Owen and me. He took two naps on the way over and smiled at the kids sitting behind us. I had the dream baby.
Owen LOVED Kauai! We stayed with my mom in her condo in Kapa`a. She had rented a Pack N Play and exersaucer from Kauai Baby Gear which was such a great move because it was there before we arrived! I loved not having to worry about finding stuff when I got there.
Here are some of our favorite things we did:
For those traveling to Kauai from the Seattle-area (like us) I highly recommend Alaska Airlines simply because it's a direct flight and you get a free mai tai for surviving the flight with your child! Oh, Owen turned into the nightmare baby on our flight back home. He screamed about 85% of the time and I was actually sore from trying to keep him from clobbering the poor man sitting next to us. Well, I guess you can't win them all!
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I'm a mom to a 3-year-old and a baby. We believe in traveling as a family as soon as possible and sharing our tips and tricks with other families!