Back in the wet, dark spring of 2010, Madeline’s first birthday still fresh in our minds, Alaska Airline had a promotion where we could fly to Maui direct from Portland for $147 a ticket. It was too good to pass up, and Maddie was so small, she wouldn’t need a seat. So we planned for another November escape, though this time with just the immediate clan. Both for expediency’s sake, and for the chance to test out this whole “family travelling” thing. November however arrived, and Madeline is much more of a 2 year old than a 1 year old, and we were starting to question our decision to fly her as a lap infant.
The good news is that the flight, while it seemed longer than 5 1/2 hours, ended without any disasters. And then we were in Maui. We picked up our miniature rental car, picked up some groceries, then traversed the island to north of Lahaina on the west coast where we picked up a screaming deal on a condo. The condo was at Paki Maui, which was an excellent place for the girls. Playground and park next door, pool, and easy access to a gentle wading pool with a sand beach. It was also close enough to food and entertainment. The first night, after a wind-down on the playground, we visited Maui Brewing for dinner. The Island Hopper Red was a terrific way to start the decompression.
I’ll spare all the specific details of each day, but we found a pretty good formula that worked for us. Get up at 4-5am (DST and time-zone change are rough), Watch some sesame street, drink some cocoa and coffee, breakfast and pack a lunch. Lather up in sunscreen, put on suits, and head to the beach. Vary the beach, but enjoy it, eat lunch by 11am, play some more, then venture back to the condo to clean up a bit, relax, then start looking for food.
The beach that was most popular with the girls was Baby Beach just north of Lahaina’s waterfront. It’s protected by a reef, and even when the tide is up, the waves are miniscule. The sand is pretty good, there’s some shade, and the girls could play without a single worry. We even met a family from Beaverton with whom the girls played. It was fine, and I saw a squid, but probably wasn’t either Michelle or my favorite.
My favorite was Napili Beach, which was about 7 minutes north of our condo. The beach is much steeper, and the waves were pretty consistent and of enough size for adults to enjoy. That kind of wave isn’t much for for squirts though unless you’ve got your hands on them the whole time. Still, you could literally lay in the sand and let the water wash you 20-30 feet up the beach then back in to the ocean. Plus, the winter beach had a great drop that meant you could run and dive in to the water.
Michelle’s favorite was probably Po Olenalena Beach because it was the ultimate compromise beach. Great sand, gentle surf, no crowd, and even some snorkeling with turtles. It was about an hour drive from our condo, so we only made the trip once, but it really was delightful. We squatted at the south end near the rocks for about 5 hours and thoroughly enjoyed the place until the girls ran out of energy.
We visited Lahaina a couple times for dinner and to explore. I think everyone agrees that the giant banyan tree on the waterfront is the coolest thing in Lahaina. The food was mediocre and overpriced (Maui factor already included), but the Banyan was just an incredible thing. Giant swooping branches, tendrils reaching to lend a hand, and massive spans of tree that are unlike anything we have here. Michelle pointed out a branch that had the same girth, color, angle and texture of what we imagine a Brachiosauruses neck to be like. The girls loved frollicking under the massive canopy, and it took every ounce of rule following in my body to not only keep the girls from climbing, but to not climb the tree myself. (I added Swiss Family Robinson to the Netflix queue immediately after we got home).
At times, it felt like we weren’t seizing the trip by the horns and dashing out to see things like Hana, Haleakala, the Io Valley and so forth. But the girls couldn’t care less, and frankly, for this trip, neither could we. This was a perfect trip with the family and we hope to return again.
Here’s a slideshow: