Did you make it to the New Year? 2017! Hope it’s the best yet.
Because I’m finally getting settled down in my new life with Zack, I’m making a completely selfish post about our Honeymoon. Maybe you can use it as a travel guide? I hope it’s at least mildly useful and not entirely for my own enjoyment.
I’m still dreaming of Maui, mostly because of the weather.
And the beaches. Okay. Here we go.
DAY 1: Arrival.
We departed Austin at 6:30 AM on Saturday morning and even ran into some Austin friends at the airport! Felt like home. Hope your anniversary trip was a blast, Anne and Brad!
Then we had a very turbulent ride to LAX and connected to OGG. Around 12:30pm we arrived in Maui. Our flight attendant said in 25 years of flights, she had never had so much turbulence on a flight to Maui. So that was cool.
Jet lagged and exhausted, we finally agreed on Cafe O’Lei, right up on a golf course. I had a crab salad sandwich, and Zack had a burger with local beef. Amazing. There’s nothing like eating a good, solid meal after traveling for hours. The view didn’t hurt either.
We went back to the hotel and crashed, hard. I’m not even sure the sun was down. This was a SUPER CLEAN, family-owned hotel with a 60s vibe. We stayed in Kahului to be close to the shuttle for tomorrow’s excursion.
Day 2: Haleakala National Park
3:00AM, Zack wakes me up. I could’ve slept all the way until my body was on Hawaiian time, but we had to board our shuttle to the top of Haleakala, due for departure at 3:30AM.
Haleakala is Hawaiian for “House of The Sun”. The volcano is what formed the island of Maui, and we wanted to see the sunrise.
1.5 hours later, we bundled ourselves in layers and stood at the edge of a cold, metal railing. I had no reference for how high up we actually were standing other than how close we were to the bright, expansive night sky. A tour guide next to us explained that we were looking at a meteor shower, and sure enough, I probably saw 8 or 10 shooting stars just above our heads. He kindly pointed out mercury, gleaming red right before our eyes. Just above mercury was jupiter. To our left we saw the brightest star in the sky, twinkling over the dark- the star historically the Polynesians used for navigation.
And then we waited.
Below us was the 3,000 ft. crater of the volcano. Just across from us was the edge of the 7 mile diameter of the crater, beyond that, clouds.
Pictures don’t do this experience justice. Seeing a meteor shower, followed by a sunrise from the top of a volcano is surreal. I thanked God the whole time.
I asked someone to take our picture, then forgot to remove the gator from my face. Enjoy.
Then, we biked down from Haleakala National Park. We biked down a volcano. In Maui. Fan-girling over nature, here.
I cannot recommend this experience with Maui Downhill
enough. Our fearless leader, Steve, even doubled as our photographer. His sense of humor was an added bonus. Getting to see the island through gradual descent and smell the eucalyptus, guava, and lavender farms. agh. Nothing like it.
Then, we stopped for breakfast
We had breakfast tacos made by a fellow Texan! The chef at this food truck was from Austin! We loved the owner, too. Their service gets 10 stars, and their homemade Kombucha gets 11, if that’s possible. AMAZING.
Then we picked up our Jeep and drove to Makena (Big Beach) until our vacation rental was ready. We loved this beach, but only spent a short amount of time here. Highly recommend, especially if you’re into hammocking (is that a verb?)
We literally honeymooned in someone’s garage apartment, which we thought was kinda funny. We stayed in Kula, a little town on the side of Haleakala in the upcountry. We slept with the windows open, napped on the porch, cooked our own dinner a couple of nights. Incredible.
Fresh flowers and home-grown fruits. MY PARADISE.
Day 3: “Relax day”
So we actually needed three more of these days, but that’s okay. We had brunch at our favorite breakfast nook, Grandma’s Cafe, in KeoKeo
I announced to Zack that I had “accidentally entered through the emergency exit.” He replied, “Did you set off the alarm? Oh.” (see below)
Everything is so surreal and enchanted.
Then we headed to explore Paia, my favorite little surfing town! I would love to be a stocker or a cashier at their grocery store, no joke. We bought a few postcards here.
Befriended a sea turtle (more fan-girling over nature)
Beached (shoutout to SipHipHooray on Etsy for making my can cooler design a real thing!)
I loved this day.
Day 4: Lanai
Over 80% of the world’s supply of pineapples came from this island until the mid-90s. Crazy! Lanai is just a short ferry ride from Maui, so we caught the sunrise ferry, headed to Lanai, and grabbed our jeep upon arrival in Lanai City (the only city on the island. There are no traffic lights).
Most of the roads are dirt and require four-wheel drive, but if you like seclusion, this is your kind of adventure. See below for Garden of The Gods. We walked around in this volcanic land for about half an hour, all by ourselves!
Next, Polihua Beach (about 1 hour dirt road driving from Lanai City)
No one here but us. We actually BOTH had to go to the bathroom (tmi?) but no one was around…it was actually quite liberating hahaha
We did a lot of running around, cartwheeling, chasing sand crabs, teasing the ocean (too dangerous here to swim), and lying in the sand saying, “I can’t believe this is real life today.”
That’s the island of Molokai you can see in the background below. We snacked on EPIC stuff the whole time. I have to find snacks that don’t aggravate my symptoms, and EPIC is one brand that doesn’t. I learned about them from doing the Whole 30. Rock your world amazing snacks.
Then we headed back into Lanai City to refill on water and headed to Shipwreck Beach. Note: This road is much rougher than the road to Polihua Beach, although it is much shorter of a commute from Lanai City. Be ready to use that 4×4.
You can actually see the WWII concrete barge off in the distance. We didn’t hike to it due to wearing the wrong shoes…
…But we found a pretty nice spot to picnic our peanut butter sandwiches, potato chips, and fresh pineapple. We reminisced about how perfect our wedding day was. We talked about the people who mean so much to us. We plotted our return with friends one day.
For the night we slept where historically Dole Pineapple Executives would stay, Hotel Lanai. I felt like we were staying in someone’s house! Such a cute, cozy hotel. Fresh fruit and granola for continental breakfast. It’s like the people here get me.
For dinner we went to The Four Seasons Lanai, because we foolishly thought their sports bar would be affordable. $28 tuna burger later…yikes. We could literally hear our parents laughing at our naive thinking. Silly kids, The Four Seasons is for real adults.
The next morning we slept in, then caught the 10:30am ferry back to Maui. We met a nice couple from Chicago who vacation on Maui annually for three weeks. We added that to our goals list. I spoke about how I REALLY wanted to see a humpback whale since it’s primary whale migration season on Maui this time of year, and not even thirty seconds later one JUMPED out of the water about 20 feet away from us. She’s somewhere under the water in this picture. I WAS IN LOVE. What a cool experience. Completely unreal!
Then we napped and had a nice dinner at Merriman’s in Kapalua. Zack got steak, and I got mahi. Incredible. Then, we [strategically] reminded our waiter that it’s our honeymoon and got free dessert, flourless chocolate cake.
If you like fine dining, do yourself a favor and make a reservation at Merriman’s at sunset. Tell them if you are celebrating something special; they’ll really treat you.
Day 5: Road to Hana
Zack loves selfies.
Honestly, this was the most touristy thing we did, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We wanted to adventure and explore, and that’s what we did. But the Road to Hana is worth every bit of those 618 curves, and this is coming from a girl who gets car sick.
Our first stop: Twin Falls. I loved the fruit stand here. I actually loved how fresh fruit was EVERYWHERE along the road to Hana.
Poor quality of the photo below, but the moral of the story is that there are waterfalls at EVERY turn on the Road to Hana. Keep your eyes peeled for mile marker 19 for Waikani Falls and mile marker 45 for Wailua Falls, which are especially breathtaking. I was determined to not get car sick, and we were chasing daylight so I didn’t get pictures of these falls. Something to know is that you do not have to hike to these falls like you do Twin Falls. They’re literally RIGHT next to you.
2nd stop: Black Beach, Waianapanapa State Park. Did I spell that right?
This place reminded me so much of Greece. I loved every part of the views here. The hiking was great, too!
3rd stop: Koki Beach for Huli chicken.
We were hungry. We saw a sign, and we had amazing chicken from a sweet lady in a tent. Not even sure what Huli means, but it was terrific. Unfortunately, we missed the red sand beach…next time.
We continued past Hana and took the road all the way around the island, which is maybe the best decision we made the entire trip.
Pacific to the left, volcano to the right
Also, I don’t think we were allowed to remove the top of our Jeep rental, but I assure you there’s no better way to experience the Road to Hana than feeling the wind.
Oh, if you looked over the Pacific you could see whales jumping EVERYWHERE, undisturbed by tourists or boats on this side of the island. I WISH I had binoculars!
Many of these roads were one lane, so you have to drive cautiously. You’re also driving through one of the largest cattle ranches in the US during some parts, so you need to keep your eyes on the road with only micro glances to take in the views. But it was entirely worth the trip to Hana and around the volcano. I was happy to be in the passenger’s seat.
That night, we had dinner at Kula Bistro, which is a sandwich shop during the day and a nice Italian restaurant at night. Zack and I agreed that this was one of the BEST meals we had, and all of our meals were superb. Just know that it IS Italian food, so butter and cream are to be expected. I had a slab of fresh-caught ahi tuna, recommended by Matthew, our free-spirit of a waiter. Boy knew what he was talking about.
Final day + flight home
Zack and I tried to do the whole mai tai thing on the relax day as we watched the National Championship (yay, Clemson!) at a place called Rock and Brew in Paia. Cool place, but I am not a fan of the mai tai, and I really tried. I just. buh. I like piña coladas better. So we were on a quest for finding a place that served a piña colada, while trying to maintain as much Hawaiian culture as possible.
Spotted on the menu at Milagros Food Company. It was just as good as it looks. Please appreciate the man in the background.
We shopped around Paia for a few souvenirs and boarded the plane home. And that about ends the best honeymoon in the history of ever. We are stoked to save up and return to Maui, but in the mean time I’ll keep you in the loop for our future adventures. Nothing is better than traveling with your favorite adventurer.
Keep moving forward, even if you have to switch time zones.
Coolest place you’ve ever visited and why? Are you a mountains lover or a beach lover?