March of 2019 we had a one week vacation. Usually we like to travel to places we have never been to but when Southwest announced their Hawaiian flights we were sold #companionpass.
Two years earlier we visited Kauai and Oahu so this time we decided to go to Maui which we had last visited 10 years prior after graduating high school! We were excited to come back to see what changed and experience new things.
First we had to fly to Oahu since there were no direct flights to Maui yet. We took a small jet over to Maui and the adventure began.
One of the things we wanted to do again was the Road to Hana. I did a lot of research before hand to get a good list of places to stop along the way. We started our journey by having breakfast at the Jaws country store. They have breakfast sandwiches and Acai bowls which were a great start to the long road ahead. Along the Road to Hana one of the things we wanted to do was compare all the Banana bread stands (I know we really go crazy on our vacations). After a taste test of all the ones we found, Aunty Sandy’s won our vote. Her bread is always warm, moist and has a great banana flavor.
*For more information on where to stop along the Road to Hana see our recommendations organized by each mile marker shown at the end of this post*
Another town we found worth visiting as you head towards the Road to Hana is Paia. Paia is very small and quaint town. There is one block of restaurants and shops to explore. They have a few fences lined with surfboards and windsurf boards that are great for photo ops.
On the other side of the island is another “Road to Hana” type road that offers a few cool stops. We decided to start near Kapalua and drove in the direction of Waihee-Waiehu. The road was definitely a lot less maintained than the Road to Hana but we still managed in a small car. While we didn’t go chasing waterfalls on this drive, we did get to see some other cool things.
First we stopped at the Blowhole and heart rock. It offers an fairly short hike down. The blowhole is fun to see and there are many vantage points around it. Careful because you can get very wet if you get close and a big wave comes around.
As we continued on our fake “Road to Hana” road we ran into Julia’s Tree House. Julia’s is a little hut that sells baked goods, jams, and is famous for their banana bread. (Check out the bottom of our post for a banana bread comparison). One item we have gotten each time we have visited is the lilikoi butter in addition to the banana bread. Apparently a chef at one of the fancy restaurants uses this butter on Salmon (we tried this when we got home and it was delicious).
In Maui we stayed at The Westin Maui. This resort shares a beach, Black Rock Beach, with a few other large hotels. This beach has a large rock that you can jump off into the water and some okay snorkeling around the area. In between all these other hotels is Whalers Village. This area offers higher end shopping and restaurants. We had dinner one night at the Hula Grill. We sat in the bar area that has a sand floor but were able to order off the dining room menu. I ordered the Macadamia nut crusted Mahi Mahi and it was amazing.
One of my favorite towns in Maui is Lahaina. This cute town has a wide variety of restaurants, shops and has the most beautiful sunsets over the ocean. Our first stop was to get Hawaiian Shave Ice. We hit up Local Boys Shave Ice. What I like about this spot was that you do not have to pay extra for the ice-cream on the bottom! Another place that is just a casual fun restaurant on the water is Cheeseburger in Paradise. Nothing really special food wise but the restaurant has a cool laid back vibe. For a fancier option we also tried Kimo’s. A neat aspect here was that you can choose your fish based on the catch of the day and then you get a few different options of how it is prepared.
While in Lahaina I decided to attempt surfing again. It has been a few years since I last tried and since the water was crystal clear (I need to be able to see anything in the water that may attack me) I gave it a whirl. The location we chose was a good place for beginners called Breakwall. Nice calm waves that lasted a long time to the shore. The water was so clear we saw a few turtles swimming under our boards.
When it was time for dessert we hit up a place just south of Lahaina called Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop. The first day we came here we visited at the end of the day and the selection was horrible! Banana creme was the only one left (not my first choice, but was actually pretty good). So we came again one morning and took it back to our hotel room to eat later that night and were able to get the flavors we wanted.
Now our time in Maui had come to an end and we were off to Oahu for three days. Every time we have gone to Oahu we have stayed at the same resort, Turtle Bay, which is on the North Shore. We love this resort because it doesn’t feel like you are surrounded by other people on their vacation, you can find parts of the property that are all to yourself. It may look familiar if you are a fan of Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
One of our favorite breakfast stops while staying near the North Shore was The Sunrise Shack. This place has some awesome Açaí bowls that are quite unique. The Blue Dream and Tropical were my favorite bowl flavors. As you sit in the yard at your picnic table you will be greeted by the local roosters and chickens and may even see a baby chick walk by. This one below got real friendly and joined our table.
The next morning we set out to do the Pillbox hike. Bring your water and a hat because it gets toasty on this hike and there is no shade! You can find the start of the hike by googling it and parking as close as you can on the street. Then walk up the street and on your left will see a dirt path going up the hill. There will be an orange and white construction sign that says The Pillbox with an arrow.
The first part of the hike there is a steep incline but there are plenty of ropes to help pull yourself up. Once you make it to the Pillbox (World War II era) you will see views for days.
After getting all sweaty on this hike your next stop will be Lanikai beach. Its a short 3 minute drive down to the beach. Park anywhere in the neighborhood, we parked near the far end of the beach on Lanipo Dr. Entrance to the beach can be found on Lanikai 11. The part of the beach we found was a lot more private and had some wonderful snorkeling.
Next morning we headed to Waimea Valley to go swim in Waimea Falls. We got here right when it opened at 9am and were the first to jump in the falls! Shortly after it started to get crowded so if you want some private pictures, come early. The cost is a little pricey $18/adult and you are required to wear a life vest if you swim in the waterfall, but the fee is for the historical nature park preservation (so I guess that can make you feel good about preserving nature).
After getting our morning swim on we headed to Haleiwa. We hit up Surf n Sea to rent Stand up Paddle boards (SUP’s). From here you can enter into the ocean and paddle up the river. It is very peaceful and each time we have gone we have seen turtles either returning to the ocean or coming up the river. After a good paddle sesh we like to head over to Haleiwa Joes. We have made this a tradition every time we come on the island because of their souvenir glasses you get when you order a Mai Tai (or you can buy one for $5). It is so cute and a good useful souvenir we keep on using at home.
One thing we have wanted to do but never have is do a tour on the Kualoa Ranch. We chose the 1 hour UTV tour. This tour we got our own UTV to drive and we got to see a lot of the scenery where various movies were shot, the most famous being Jurassic Park. We had a blast on this tour! Our tour guides were so fun, we wish we would have chosen the longer tour. While I do wish there were more “rough” patches on the tour, it was still a lot of fun and we did get to drive through a small river! Bring a bandana to cover your face from the dust.
Now for the most important part. Where are the beach swings for my Instagram photo! Who doesn’t love coming across an awesome beach swing and getting that next profile picture. Two swings that were worth the stop were a big drift wood tree swing and another random swing on the beach. Here are their coordinates: 21°36’52.9″N 157°54’46.8″W and 21°34’59.3″N 157°53’12.1″W. Do know that swings come and go so keep an eye out as you drive along the road you never know where you will find one!
Maui Banana Bread Comparison
From Left to Right: Julia’s Treehouse, Aunty Sandy, Halfway to Hana, Cute Old Lady.
Julia’s treehouse bread was the biggest and less dense.
Aunt Sandy’s is always warm, moist and fresh with a stronger banana flavor.
Halfway to Hana was moist and had more spice flavors.
Cute old lady had a chocolate chip version so we couldn’t resist but wasn’t the most moist or banana flavor.
Road to Hana Tips and Recommendations
*Recommend starting early in the AM, set aside a full day for this, bring lots of snacks/lunch, Bolded Mile Marker (MM) = our favorite stops.
MM 2- Twin falls waterfall, easy hike/fun swim, go through the gate that says “experienced hikers only”
MM 4.5- Huelo lookout- smoothies, acai bowls (on L side of road if going East, 3 parking spots)
MM 9/10-curve of the road, waterfall w/ rope swing 1-2 car pull out
MM 10- Garden of Eden $15 entry
MM 13- honomanu bay
MM 17- Keane Peninsula – also stop at Aunty Sandys for banana bread. Turn L and follow signs for Keane, go down a hill, will see a turn out on L to park for ocean views, keep driving on R will see a shack for Aunty Saundys.
MM17.5 Halfway to Hana, banana bread $6.25
MM19- Upper Waikato falls/three bears fall. Beautiful waterfall for pictures. Go over bridge, past the waterfall, start driving up the hill and 6 parking spots on L of road. Hard to get to waterfall to go swim, steep scary “path”, but easy to take pics at!
MM 22- Pua’a Ka’a falls, swimming pool -no swimming allowed here now
MM 24– Hanawi Falls. Pull outs on each side of bridge. Climb down on the R side of bridge if looking at waterfall. Rope available to help get down. Very muddy climb but private waterfall!
MM 25- Makapipi falls, pull over before or after the one lane bridge
MM around 28- Kaki’s Kafe- cute old lady with different flavor banana bread
MM 31-Hana Lava Tube Ka’eleku Caverns. Opens 1030am, turn left at Ulaino Rd. Very cool! $12.50/person, self guided tour. given flashlights and walk the tube at your own pace.
MM 32.2- Wainapanapa state wayside park – has some lava tubes, black sand beach and blow hole
We hope this gives you some great ideas on your next trip to Maui or Oahu!