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Snippets from our trip to Big Island and Maui

Portland, Oregon
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Snippets from our trip to Big Island and Maui

In February this year we began making plans for a family vacation on Hawai’i, knowing our daughter at that time planned to be in Kailua-Kona for the entire year. As it turned out, she left for Barcelona five hours after my wife, son, and I arrived on September 18, leaving us time together for little more than greeting and good-bye hugs. Bummer, but as I’m sure some of you parents can attest, simple hugs can go a long ways….

I’d reserved a condo in the Palm Villas complex of the Mauna Lani Resort property for six nights, after which our son returned home, and my wife and I flew to Maui for five nights in the Westin Ka’anapali Resort Villas. Son had never been to Hawai’i before, so it was interesting to have his perspective, both of the Big Island, and certain elements of family vacations. We had a great time together, but 20-somethings definitely have different ideas about what constitutes “vacation”. I’ve lumped random experiences and thoughts about both islands into one “trip report”, and will post separate sections below. Sorry – it was just easier that way.

For anyone interested, here’s a link to some of my photos. As noted, I’ve included specific details and a trip report of sorts, which you won’t see unless you look at the images individually.

http://www.pbase.com/smg9774/bigislandmaui

Portland, Oregon
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1. Re: Snippets from our trip to Big Island and Maui

SNORKELING

My wife and I love to snorkel, and on previous trips have enjoyed Kealakekua Bay on Big Island, and Napili, Kapalua, and Honolua Bays on Maui. Having read here about Kohala Coast beaches, I was anticipating new snorkeling experiences on the Big Island. Son quickly became an avid snorkeler too, so on one day we thought we’d go off-site and see if Waialea Beach had something different or better than Makaiwa Bay, which became our “home” beach. But conditions were poor at Waialea, and it was a hassle hauling beach chairs, an umbrella, and a cooler, so we headed back to the Mauna Lani Resort property and the amenities of the Beach Club, where the snorkeling is excellent, deciding that, while snorkeling somewhere else MIGHT be better, it was good enough for us at Makaiwa Bay. And that ended up being the only place we snorkeled while on Hawai’i.

Similarly on Maui, my wife and I made an effort to go to Napili and Kapalua Bays – hauling the beach chairs, snorkel gear, umbrella, and cooler – but in the end, spent almost all our snorkeling time at Kahekili Beach, at the Westin Villas where we stayed. According to at least one other guest I talked to, the snorkeling is as good there as at any other west side beach anyway. And in the end, we agreed we’d enjoyed more on-the-beach and snorkeling time this trip than any previous ones. Perhaps there’s a lesson in that somewhere too?

Portland, Oregon
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2. Re: Snippets from our trip to Big Island and Maui

GIANT BALLS OF STRING

Since it was my son’s first time to Hawai’i, we set out one morning intending to show him some of the sights: Waimea, Waipio Valley, Hawi, north Kohala cultural sites, etc. First stop was Waimea, where unbeknownst to us, the 38th annual Paniolo Parade was taking place. And it was scheduled to start 15 minutes after we arrived in town. So, change of plans. My wife makes a brief visit to the Farmers Market while son and I scope out a place along the parade route. What fun!! (for two of us anyway)

Afterwards, we decided to head directly to Hawi, but still intent on showing son some sights, I continue on to Pololu Valley Lookout. Beautiful. Driving back through Hawi we stop to poke around a bit, and have a bite at Bamboo to sustain ourselves for the next several hours. But I’m getting strong signals that son would rather be back snorkeling in Makaiwa Bay, so that’s what we did. My senses were later confirmed when son compared the day’s adventures to an old Disney movie, where Goofy takes his son off in search of a giant ball of string (or was it rubber bands). I wouldn’t put the Paniolo Parade in that category, but otherwise, maybe there’s a lesson to be learned in my son’s analogy too?

Portland, Oregon
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3. Re: Snippets from our trip to Big Island and Maui

THE FISH TACO DERBY

I guess I’ve tired of trying to determine where to find the best mai-tai (or maybe it’s just that I like mango margarita’s better), so on this trip, it was who makes the best fish taco. The number of ways chefs find to prepare and present what you’d thing is a comparatively simple dish was surprising. I know I had at least four different kinds of fish, some of it raw, served in everything from hard taco shells to large, soft tortillas. My fave for both presentation and taste ended up being the dish (really more of a fish taco salad) served at Nanea on Hawai’i, a golf club where the guy I work with is a member. (I’d have to say that dish was also the best of any during our 11-night trip.) Most disappointing was at the Barefoot Bar at Hula Grill on Maui.

As for the resting of our restaurant dining experiences, we didn’t have anything particularly planned, resorting mostly to spur-of-the-moment decisions. By default, Napua in the Mauna Lani Resort became our restaurant of choice, as it’s located just above our "home" beach there. Went to the Sea House at Napili Kai a couple times, once for breakfast, then again for Happy Hour before the Slack Key Show. Decent food, and a great view. My wife thought we’d do something “nice” on our last night, but didn’t want to go back to Merriman’s or make the drive to Mama’s. She checked out the menu at Lahaina Grill, but her general mood was more along the lines of Leilani’s so that’s where we went. We were seated at a table on the outside deck, with chairs facing the sunset. Lovely. And the food was quite good. The dinner tab was less than ½ of what we’d spent at Merriman’s or Mama’s this past May, so we walked away thinking perhaps there was a lesson to be learned in that as well.

Back to mai-tais….. It may not be the best, but it’s hard to beat Aloha Mixed Plate’s Happy Hour one at $3.

washington
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4. Re: Snippets from our trip to Big Island and Maui

You really should have copyrights and prices listed by those photos...WOW! Thanks so much, can't wait to hear all about it...yes, traveling with 20 somethings can be a very diffferent vacation.

Portland, Oregon
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5. Re: Snippets from our trip to Big Island and Maui

ALOHA SPIRIT AND ISLAND TIME

One of the reasons we love Hawai’i is the Spirit of Aloha that seems to pervade, even in people who live in very modest circumstances. It both inspires and humbles us. I realize that some of it may be motivated by other agendas, but really, so what? Better the Aloha Spirit, even if it's partially forced, than not. And in our experience, it's more often sincere than not. Three random instances from this trip:

1. The featured hula performer at the Slack Key Show gifting her lei to my wife as we left at the end of the evening.

2. The guy at the table next to ours at Leilani’s, who overheard our conversation, and interrupted to lend me his sunglasses so that I wouldn’t have to walk back to the parking structure to get my own.

3. Tuli, a woodcarver who has a stand across the road from Honokohau Bay on Maui’s rugged northwest coast, who with concern, cautioned us about driving too much farther down that road, and took obvious delight in teaching us a few Hawaiian language phrases. I felt compelled to buy one of his tikis (but probably would have anyway). If he charged me double what he would have another Hawaiian like himself, or Kama’aina, I don’t want to know (but I doubt that he did).

I don’t have much to say about island time except you know you’re on it when you struggle remembering the day and restaurant where you had that tasty coconut shrimp appetizer…..the night before.

Edited: 08 October 2013, 00:07
Portland, Oregon
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6. Re: Snippets from our trip to Big Island and Maui

OTHER LESSONS WE LEARNED (for ourselves)

1. One can’t do too much research. This came especially to light after an evening decision to drive the Road to Hana the next day. I posted a thread on the forum, and got some great recommendations. And we bought the CD at Hana Picnic Lunch Co in Paia. But neither prepared us for the countless options along the Road, or the time involved with many of them. Not to mention the road itself (have I told you that my wife doesn’t like heights, and I have a problem with 1½ lane roads around blind corners). So with a few exceptions, we ended up just stopping where other cars were stopped (sometimes without knowing why), and we didn’t enjoy the experience nearly as much as we should have. As we did it, my son would have put the RTH in the giant-ball-of-string category. We won’t make the same mistake again.

2. Mokulele Airlines – Don’t be afraid to try it; you’ll like it!!

3. Stay put on one island, even if we have 11 nights. Going in, six nights on Big Island and five on Maui seemed reasonable. But there’s something about packing up, turning in the rental car, standing in airport lines….. it just changes your whole attitude. Enough so that we almost had to reset back to island time and mode once we’d landed on Maui.

4. You can buy a beach umbrella and rent two beach chairs from Snorkel Bob’s for a week, for the cost of renting same from Westin Ka’anapali Villas for a day. And you won’t feel obliged to tip the guy at the Westin who sets it all up for you.

5. For what it’s worth, there were more people in the pool at Westin Ka’anapali Villas at any one point in time than we saw in the pool at Palm Villas during the entire six days there.

6. Most importantly for us, take time to soak in the richness of the history and culture of Hawai’i. For us that often means hula and slack key, and on this trip in particular, watching a parade. One of our more enjoyable evenings was listening as Hawaiian and other lifetime residents talked story at Twilight at Kalahuipua'a, a monthly cultural at Eva Parker Woods cottage in Mauna Lani Resort (thanks to Shea for that recommendation).

Having been back for just over a week, we’re already thinking about when we can apply those lessons. You suppose they’d carry over to Kaua’I too? ;-)

Nanaimo, Canada
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7. Re: Snippets from our trip to Big Island and Maui

I was so excited to see the link for your pictures, I didn't even read anything yet!

Thanks so much for putting these together for us. I so enjoy your art work. And yes, I consider your pictures art! Just beautiful!

Okay, must read about what you did now!

Nanaimo, Canada
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8. Re: Snippets from our trip to Big Island and Maui

What a wonderful read. I especially enjoyed reading about your experience with the Aloha Spirit.

The Road to Hana isn't going anywhere, so maybe next time you can get a little further. And if you don't, that is okay too! But so glad you made it to Keanae Peninsula. You didn't mention anything about Auntie Sandy's banana bread???

Portland, Oregon
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9. Re: Snippets from our trip to Big Island and Maui

Thanks so much for the comments about my photos. Much appreciated. And yes, we did make it to Aunty Sandy's, Joan. The banana bread was still oven-warm. Oh my goodness..... We bought enough to enjoy at the time and for the next two mornings.

Minnesota
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10. Re: Snippets from our trip to Big Island and Maui

Thank you for sharing! Very beautiful pictures as we expected!!! The pretty blue fish is a parrot fish. Looks like you had a lot of fun and Kahekili is one of my favorites...lots of variety and so easy. Nice beach to relax on as well!