Our Top 10 Favourite Places in Hawaii
Booking a last minute trip to Hawaii has to have been one of the highlights of the year so far. Actually, Dan booked the tickets when we saw a return trip to Honolulu for $500NZD per adult (half price!!). He booked that day, and only told me after! It made me so proud to see Dan be more spontaneous like I am!
I've had a lot of emails and messages asking about our itinerary and where we travelled in Hawaii, so here was our trip in a nutshell!
We didn't do a lot of planning prior to going to Hawaii. We wanted the opportunity to explore and wander the island on our own terms without a travel guide - plus we had friends as our guides. I'm really glad we didn't plan too much, however we did waste a lot of time figuring out what to do on rainy days, and especially where to eat! I only learnt about HappyCow - a vegan restaurant app/finder after our return home. I so wish we had this app while we were on the islands, it would have saved us a lot of hassle finding vegan food.
This is the exact order of the places we visited and why we loved them! I hope you enjoy this blog post as much as I enjoyed revisiting our photos from Hawaii.
1. Sunset Beach
Sunset beach blew my mind! It's exactly how you imagine Hawaiian beaches to look like. It has to be the most beautiful beach I've ever been too. Shame we were in Hawaii in February when the waves were fierce and wild. Swimming was impossible with a toddler. But laying on the beach was magic! My friend lives right on sunset beach and we would head out from her beachside property and lay on the beach.
After visiting Maui, we spent our last night in Hawaii at our friends beach side studio on Sunset Beach. Here is the link to her accomodation - we stayed in the downstairs studio. I highly recommend staying here!
2. Down To Earth Organic Store
Down to Earth was about the only place we ate while we were on Oahu! Coming from New Zealand where there is no such thing as a buffet in a supermarket - this was like walking into organic heaven! We bought all of our supplies, meals and snacks from here. We stayed in Halewai for the 7 nights we were on Oahu, so to drive to Aiea was a bit of a pain (a 35 min one way drive) - especially as we had no kitchen facilities where we were staying. We took a trip to this organic store almost everyday - well worth the trip for some delicious vegan food! I give it a 9/10 - it's quite pricey, especially when you convert the USD to NZD.
P.s try the vegan pizza, black bean burger and dragon fruit smoothie. They will give your taste buds a buzz of happiness!
3. Pillbox Hike
The Pillbox Hike was on my list of top places to go before leaving for Hawaii. The well-known spot is definitely worth the visit. You don't need special running shoes or gear, the track is very child friendly. We hiked it with a two and a three-year-old with ease.
We didn't do as many trails and walks as we initially intended - unfortunately the weather wasn't that kind to us. Walking this track on a beautiful day was one of the highlights of the trip for Dan.
4. Turtle Bay
We were very blessed to have friends as our tour guides for our entire trip on both Oahu and Maui. Our friend showed us the stunning turtle bay. It's a quiet calm bay, full of turtles and huge banyan trees. We arrived in the afternoon and cruised around on paddle boards with our daughters until sunset.
5. Paia Township
Similar to Down to Earth Organics, Paia on Maui has it's own organic store Mana Foods, which is amazing! We bought all our supplies from here when we stayed with our friends Ellen and Andrew. Along with the organic store, the chill vibes through Paia town are super cool. It's worth spending half a day cruising around the town by foot, eating an acai bowl or two at Paia Bowls (@Paiabowls) and popping your head into the trendy stores - probably not if you have a busy toddler like we did! Paia reminded me of a small surf town back in New Zealand called Raglan where the surf pumps all year around. It almost felt like we were home, until you hear the American accent!
Paia has some of the most beautiful beaches including Baldwin Beach (pictured above with the turtle) and Ho'okipa Beach (also pictured above), which isn't too far from Paia town and the famous big wave spot, Jaws. Be advised if attempting to check out Jaws, a four-wheeled drive car is a prerequisite - we nearly got our poor little rental car stuck.
6. The road to Hana
The road to Hana blew my mind! Almost blew my stomach too - it's the windiest road we've ever driven on! If you go to Maui put this at the top of your list! I could have spent my entire stay on Maui in and around Hana. There are waterfalls nestled into the long road to Hana, road side fruit stalls and beautiful jungle scenery. We actually drove to our camping spot at Kipahlulu Campground the back way from the other side of the road to Hana. This meant we wouldn't have to drive on the windy road twice - which avoided all the tourist filled buses. We camped for two nights under the stars with our friends and it was the best. If you are heading to Hana, make sure you take all your food and water supplies. Purchasing food and drinkable water can be difficult. There was this amazing spot right outside the main store in Hana (a very small grocery store) where six or so food trucks had parked up. We bought tropical smoothies and fresh fruit after a big day at one of the local beaches (Hamoa Beach). Having a cold smoothie after a days camping was bliss!
7. Red Sands Beach in HANA
This red/ maroon sanded beach in Kaihalulu Bay was insane! Tucked away in the middle of Hana, it's aqua blue water and rocky surroundings are an absolute must visit. Best to go first thing in the morning to maximise the early morning light that streams through the bay. From midday onwards the steep cliff that surrounds the bay will cast a shadow over the beach.
8. Olowalu Bay Snorkelling
Olowalu is one of the best spots for snorkelling in Maui. The calm shallow beach on the west side of Maui meant the kids could swim in the warm waters with ease. It was packed with tropical fish of all colours. Dan and his friend Andrew even spotted a few turtles while snorkelling. We ended up snorkelling a second time when my friend came over from New Zealand.
9. Choice health bar in Lahaina
An all vegan cafe was such a treat to visit! We have a couple amazing eateries back in New Zealand very similar and I was so excited to visit this one in Lahaina. I could have spent the rest of our trips budget buying all the food they serve up. I got a big acai bowl and Dan got some Dahl. Both I highly recommend! Portions are much smaller than I thought they'd be so order a good amount to keep you satisfied. Check out their mouth watering food on their Instagram @choicehealthbar.
10. IAo Valley
Our last day in Maui before we flew back to Oahu was spent visiting Iao Valley - only problem was it was temporally closed due to a landslip! We enjoyed viewing the Maui mountains from the bridge regardless. If you own a drone, this place would be so neat to see from the sky. Lush Hawaiian trees, fresh water river, misty air and rocky moutain sides.
In a nutshell we spent seven nights in Halewai at this Airbnb (click here to get $20 Airbnb credit). The owner was so lovely and I couldn't recommend his place enough. His brand new three story place is nestled at the back of Haleiwa, a few minutes drive into Haleiwa town.
We then headed over to Maui and spent ten nights with our friends (two of these nights were spent camping in Hana).
The last night in Hawaii we stayed at our friends beachside accomodation in Sunset Beach, Oahu. Steps away from the white sand beach I couldn't recommend it enough - This is the upstairs studio of where we stayed here. We would have stayed here the entire time we were on Oahu, but we booked so last minute I didn't give my friend Amanda enough notice - she was booked out, and fair enough. The place was perfect!
Travelling with our toddler
Beth was an angel during our travels! Well, as angel like as a toddler can be. Being on the go constantly, seeing and making friends - she was better behaved than she is at home! It helped that she was toilet trained and didn't require day naps. Saying that though, she napped a lot while on the road. Almost everyday we were there she was with her friends so she had plenty of entertainment. One thing I'd recommend if you are wanting to travel with a toddler is bring a small stroller. We borrowed my friends Mountain Buggy Travel Stroller and it was amazing at the airport and for walking to the beach. Hawaii is a great place for kids of all ages, just remember to pack plenty of snacks, water and sunscreen!