Managing Maui with a baby…

Our next stop on our adventure was Maui. Prior to the trip I was the one that had researched Maui and so I probably was looking forward to it more than Kauai. But then someone we met on our trip said that Maui is more developed and quite touristy.  This isn’t my thing at all! Kauai was amazing because it all felt quite natural – I doubt much has changed in the last 30 years there. So I did become a little anxious in the days leading up to our flight that Maui might not live up to expectations. Suffice to say … I had no reason to worry!
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We took an ‘internal’ flight from Kauai to Maui, which was awesome because it was a short flight. We requested a seat near the front after sitting at the back (by the engine) on an earlier flight. We couldn’t have hoped for a better flight. I fed Rishi on takeoff and I just let Rishi enjoy his feed… 35mins later and we were in Maui and Rishi came off in that wonderful relaxed boob feed/milk drunk way. None the wiser that we were yet again taking him to another place.
We moved around a bit more in Maui so we could explore the island and reduce Rishi’s travelling time on day trips. It’s a fine balance which we are still trying to figure out – balancing the benefits of shorter drives versus the disruption of staying in different accommodation. I was pleased we moved around and we explored the island that way with shorter drives on our day trips but Krish (who to be fair, did all the heavy lifting) said the moves were tiring and we should have just have stayed centrally. When you add into the mix the difference between check-out and check-in times, it can get quite complicated.
We stayed in:
  •  Lahina (North West of the Island)
  •  Wailea-Makena (South but central)
  •  Hana (East of the Island, at the end of the road to Hana).
So, looking back on Maui, what are our recommendations? Where would we say only go if you have a baby (yes, these places do exist)? Where would we leave out if we had a second chance?
Must dos….
Maui Ocean Centre: On the first day we had a few issues with our original hire car (we never have that much luck with hire cars) so Krish, ever being the gentleman, dropped me and Rishi off for an afternoon at the Ocean Centre. Whether you have kids or not … go there. It’s beautiful and hands down the best aquarium I’ve ever been to. I became a bit of an expert once Rishi and I had been around 3 times and I loved everything about it – the rehabilitation coral programmes, the green sea turtles and they even serve cocktails. What more could you want from an afternoon?
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Old Lahina Luau: Total star of the show.  
We booked this in the U.K as we had heard it can be sold out months in advance (even though it takes place every day). We were keen to go to a Luau and this one had amazing reviews.  We opted for traditional low seating on cushions (as opposed to a table and chair further back) as we thought that Rishi might want to crawl around… and he did.  We ended up totally lucking out – we were right at the front and in the middle. We could not have hoped for a better view.  The whole experience was incredible.  We all got dressed up in Hawaiian dresses and shirts, we drank the best mai tais Krish or I have ever tasted (and he has drunk a lot of mai tais in his time) and we enjoyed all the music, the drums and the spectacle from these amazing men and women.  Rishi loved it too –  he was bouncing up and down on our knees and was captivated by all the dancers.

South Shore Tiki Lounge: So, with Rishi in tow we couldn’t really make the most of the bar scene whilst away. But we do love our cocktail bars, so we wanted to fit one in. I’m so pleased we did.  The bar had a great vibe, live music, fab cocktails and kids were welcome.  Perfect stop before our sunset dinner.

Sunset at 5 Palms Restaurant: We heard that the South of the island was great for sunsets and so we hunted down the best place to see it. The restaurant is on a public beach, so if you don’t fancy drinks or dinner, pull up a pew on the beach and enjoy. We decided to fit in dinner and booked a table ahead of time.  Definitely recommended if you want a good view and guaranteed table.  Was a great evening with delicious food and a really good menu for Rishi aswell.  Always a good sign when you’re jealous of your babies food.
Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop: On one of our very wet days, we decided to treat ourselves to a nice big lunch.  Massively recommend this as a stop – incredible pies and milkshakes. Rishi got involved and had a veggie bean burger.  Baby led weaning at its best.
Haleakala National Park: This place is known for THE place to see the sunrise.  You have to book in advance to gain access to the park that early in the morning and it gets sold out all the time.  We missed out on sunrise which, with a baby that had adjusted to the time zone, wasn’t the worst thing in the world. So instead we took the drive to the national park later in the morning and went to the summit.  It was incredible, totally worth the drive even if it meant me feeling terrible in the back of the car!
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Kahekili Highway We were heading out to do a particular hike (the Waihe’e Ridge Trail), I was all geared up for it and excited.  It was a little drive to the hike and we were trying to persuade ourselves that the weather would be better on the north of island.  It wasn’t but on the way, we found ourselves on one of the “most adventurous drives on Maui” on one of the wettest and darkest days of the whole trip.  The drive was pretty terrifying and we couldn’t really see a lot of the views which was a huge shame.  Poor Krish put in about 7 hours of driving for not a lot of success. This was one of the more trying days, Rishi was not at his best, I was feeling travel sick…That said, do it – I know with better weather it would have been incredible.
Road to Hana:
Hands down, the best thing we did in Maui.  The guidebooks say you can do it in 2 hours, maybe 4 hours with photos and stops but I would say, why rush something so incredible.  We spent a good day and a half travelling up and down the Road to Hana, and we both said that we could have spent longer enjoying the views, taking more stops, doing some of the hikes.  For me, it wasn’t the views of the volcanoes, or the black beaches, or incredible surf … i just felt so close to nature: like I was travelling through the jungle on a tarmac road.  Stunning.
Beaches:
Maluaka beach: This was a small beach a little up from the state park.  Krish had read up and found out that it was really good for snorkelling.  We picked a bad day, and the waters were a little rough but earlier in the day whales and green turtles had been spotted.  It was a nice place to enjoy the sun and have a walk along the beach if nothing else.
Makena State park: On the face of it, you turn up and there’s a car park… and then you walk through and see what the fuss is about. A gorgeous white sand beach as far as you can see and was just very beautiful.   The water was rough and too much to take the little man in, so we enjoyed some play time on the sand…and by playtime I mean a constant fight against him eating it.
Kapalua Beach: This beach is small and next to a big hotel with some facilities nearby,  it was probably the most touristy beach we went to and we didn’t actually sit on the beach. I think it was once voted the best beach in the world (about 30 years ago).   As we got there, there was a really high tide and big waves which had come into the beach and taken a lot of people by surprise.  Queue mums and dads chasing after holiday towels and beach toys being taken by the surf. Instead we sat up on the grassy verge and sheltered from the sporadic bursts of rain under the towels.  It was weirdly perfect.
Ho’okipa beach Park: This was one of those random stops due to the fact that we were driving but needed to give Rishi his lunch so we pulled into the car park and stumbled across great views, watching some amazing surfers and, the icing on the cake, about 50 green sea turtles just basking in the sun.  We realised that this was a recognised stop and felt so lucky we had come across it.  A definite place for you to stop off at and perfect if you are on your way to Hana.
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Travaasa Hana:  

This was an unexpected treat after a slight scheduling mishap with our accommodation (Krish booked our Hana accommodation for the wrong night and we had nowhere to stay).  If there’s one thing I can do, it’s book a fancy place to stay and this place was great. There are family bungalows, with a few restaurants onsite, loads of activities and great views of the ocean.  The only downside was that we didn’t get to spend enough time here to enjoy all the area had to offer.  If you have time, spend two days in Hana, stay here and take full advantage.

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Do it, if you have a baby or just chill time…
Kapalua Coastal Trail:
This is described as an easy hike – with great views… and it is if you stick to the trail. We did not and got a little lost.
We saw some spectacular scenery but it was terrifying.  If you stick to route (which in hindsight is so clearly signposted, it’s hilarious) it’s really easy and a great thing to do with a baby in tow.  Make sure you make time to go over the volcanic rock and allow extra time for photos.  Fit in a milkshake at the Ritz on the way back – expensively delicious.
Resorts:
We aren’t really resort type people, but while in Wailea-Makena, we were told that some of the hotels were worth a visit, so in the evenings we headed out for some cocktails and dinner.  Super easy to do with Rishi and it made us feel like we were off out, even though we were usually shattered from exploring in the day.
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Grand Wailea: Totally out of this world.  Extensive gardens, pools and so much to see even just inside the resort.  We went for some drinks and dinner as a treat for our last night in Wailea-Makena.  Was a good way to celebrate.
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Wailea Marriot: Nice hotel, good bars and food. Chilled and child friendly.
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Shops:Knowing the clientele of the area, the shops are well matched with high-end eateries, Tiffany’s and Gucci.  You can whale away a wet afternoon.
Leave out if you are short on time…
Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge: on a sunny morning we headed over to the refuge, there’s a vast amount of pondlife and birds and it was a nice enough boardwalk and coast to have a look at.  But in my view it was too short and compared to what we did elsewhere it just didn’t match up.
So, in 10 days and travelling with a baby, we managed to fit in a hell of a lot. We had spent 3 weeks adventuring around Hawaii and more importantly 3 weeks taking it all in, as a family.  The travelling and moving around had become our new norm, and we had all got into a fantastic routine of hiking, beaches and exploring.  I didn’t want it to end – and despite the fact we had another 5 days left, I sobbed as we ended our time in Hawaii.  I hope we can bring him back when he’s a teenager, there’s just so much to see and do for all ages!

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