Family travels in Ka’anapali, Maui, Hawaii

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Ka’anapali, Maui – a great place for kids!

The dream…

“What if we took mom to Hawaii?” he said. We all looked at each other in a little bit of shock, but immediately that shock turned to excitement! It was a place we had all wanted to go (or go back to). My mother-in-law (MIL) was turning 60 and we were trying to figure out an exciting way to celebrate. So a full year before we departed our dream started to take shape…

Planning…

I’m not gonna lie, we were extremely hesitant at first. For anyone who is raising a young family (and in their first year of starting a small business to boot!), you know that hefty price tag is enough to squash a dream like that in an instant. Plus I can NOT keep a secret, so it was killing me not to say anything to my MIL and kids.

However, all of the stars were aligning for us that year. My father-in-law (FIL) had been dreaming up this idea (and saving for it) long before he ever let on to any of us. He offered to pay for the VRBO rental for the whole gang (all 10 of us)!

ALSO, it just so happened to be Christmas and my parents had offered to give each of us (all my sisters and I, spouses, nieces and nephews) enough of their Avion points to fly anywhere in North America that year.  There was nothing holding us back!

While there were several ups and downs and changes in plans (we almost didn’t go! Gasp!), it all worked out in the end. We are forever grateful to have our flights and accommodations paid for and for my sister-in-law who took into account all of our individual requests and organized the VRBO rental for us. It is no small task let me tell you!

The next thing we knew we were surprising my mother-in-law and our kids with the news. 3 weeks later we were up in the air on our way to Maui!!

Travel day…

It was one really long day of travel and if you know anything about me and flying, you know that I HATE it! I’m not a fun person to fly with I hate to admit. If you have any tips on overcoming flying fears please send them my way! But the thing that keeps me going is that it is sooooooo worth it in the end to be able to experience all of the beautiful and exciting places this world has to offer.

My kids are champion flyers now. We took them on their first flight when they were 3 and 1 1/2, and have flown with them at least once or twice a year since (they are now 8 and 6). They each have their own carry-on that we make sure to pack with lots of snacks.

We’re on our way!

They also pack things to do on the flight and during the hours upon hours spent in airports. Their teachers have always been great and sent a little bit of work for them so they don’t fall behind. This is the first thing we get them to do once we’re past security and have to wait to board.

The kids also make sure to download any movies or shows they want to watch on the flight from Netflix (with a little help from dad).

Between those two things, games on their tablet, snacks on the plane and a couple of bathroom breaks it’s enough to keep them busy until we land.

What are some ways you keep your kids occupied on flights and in airports?

Mike is always content watching movies or reading a book on airplanes. Me? Well all I need is a crochet hook and some yarn. 😉

Paradise…

Maui……what can I say. It is total paradise.

We arrived late at night and a couple of us ended up on separate flights. So when everyone arrived and gathered our bags, we headed straight to get our car rental and hit the Costco near the Kahului airport. Even the smells and items you could buy in the Costco in Maui proved right away were were in paradise. The freshest pineapples you ever saw, coconuts and chocolate covered macadamia nuts. Boy, did we go through a LOT of chocolate covered macadamia nuts on that trip! lol

We had about an hour drive to get to Ka’anapali and unlocked the doors to our home away from home. Let me tell you, that VRBO rental did NOT disappoint! It had an enormous pool and hot tub, a private guest house (which our little family had the privilege of staying in, don’t ask me how!), and the biggest, most beautiful kitchen I have ever cooked in! Plus it was only a couple of minutes walk to the ocean. Ahhhhhhhh we were in paradise.

Beautiful flowers he found on our walks near the house. Don’t worry he wasn’t picking them, he just picked the ones that had already fallen off of the tress and were on the ground. lol
Walks near the house.

Lahaina…

 

So of course just hanging out with your family, by the pool, eating, drinking and having a grand old time is more than enough to keep us happy for a week. However we did end up on a couple of really great excursions during our week in Maui.

The first thing on our agenda was to head down to Lahaina town to take a walk down Front Street and check out the shops and restaurants. It’s a great place to grab some shaved ice and just walk around and browse the shops. We also took a walk down by the ocean front for our kids’ first time seeing the ocean! It was such a special evening.

 

First time seeing the ocean
The whole gang at Cheeseburger in Paradise in Lahaina.
Another one because she’s cute.
“I’m Forrest. Forrest Gump”
“People call me Forrest Gump”

We just happened to plan our trip near Christmas and on the day of the lighting of the Banyan treeOur kids are not that patient when it comes to shopping and just looking around so we headed down to Banyan Tree Park early, grabbed a seat on an old bench and waited for the lighting ceremony. There was music and dancing as well as vendors set up in the park selling local, handmade goods. But the thing I will probably remember the most about that night is the millions of birds that flock to that tree. The noise that those birds make is unbelievable! It was quite the experience in itself, and thankfully only one of us got pooped on that evening!  :O 

Waiting for the lighting ceremony.
The Banyan tree was unbelievable!

If you plan to visit Lahaina during the lighting of the Banyan Tree make sure to get there early because there are not a lot of places to park! Expect to walk quite a ways as well. But don’t worry, there is so much to see and do you will enjoy the walk. We parked down by the outlet mall and there were plenty of cool places to check out and shop along the way. While the actual lighting of the tree wasn’t that spectacular, it was a great excuse to go check out Lahaina.

Beaches…

The beaches in Ka’anapali were fantastic for little kids! I was still really nervous about letting my kids jump in the waves so someone was always with them, but did they ever have a blast!

From where we were staying, we had a short walk to cross the highway to where we could catch the free Ka’anapali resort shuttle. With little kids in tow, this shuttle saved our butts a few times! We were so thankful we discovered it. This shuttle takes you all the way down the hotel strip and stops at all of the major hotels along the way. Did I mention it’s totally free? Of course we left a tip every time. The drivers were so friendly and inviting and the kids loved putting the money in the jar after every trip. And, because it was Christmas time they had the best Hawaiian Christmas music playing on the trolley! We may have sang along a time or two. 😉

Anyways, back to the beaches. The beach we loved the most was Black Rock Beach. It was by far the most calm. The Black Rock stops a lot of the big waves from coming in and hitting the beach. The waves were the smallest here and we felt the most comfortable letting our kids play. A few of the adults in our group took out their snorkeling gear and did a bunch of creature spotting near Black Rock. Because it’s so warm and calm, it’s a place where a lot of the little sea creatures come to play. While I don’t think anyone in our group spotted a sea turtle, we heard this is the best place to go to see them.

Black Rock, Ka’anapali, Maui, Hawaii
Waiting to catch a wave! haha We were too busy having fun here, didn’t get a lot of pictures.

We also checked out May’s beach on the other side of Black Rock. When we first discovered it we couldn’t believe how quiet it was! I still don’t understand why it was so quiet because it’s a beautiful beach. But it had some bigger waves which made us really nervous with little kids. It’s definitely a place we would have gone back to on our own to do a little boogie boarding.

May’s beach
Our short stay at May’s beach.
Heading back to Black Rock from May’s beach, not our favourite beach with kids.

 

The guys spent a lot more time down a ways from Black Rock on Ka’anapali beach. It was a little further out so the waves hit pretty hard here and it was the perfect spot to boogie board! Our VRBO rental provided us with boogie boards so we didn’t have to bother getting rentals. However we used the crap out of those things and ended up breaking them and having to replace them anyway. lol It was totally worth it!

We highly recommend the beaches here for kids and adults alike. But I will tell you we were thankful for extra hands and eyes of our family members to help with the kids. This allowed Mike and I to head out into the water to do some wave hopping and boogie boarding ourselves. So fun!

Maui Ocean Center…

While we planned most of our activities around our large group, we did sneak away one day to take the kids to the Maui Ocean Centre.

The rest of the gang went for a long drive up the coast and checked out the blow hole near Nakalele. Although it’s something we would have like to see, we were limited on time so Mike and I decided to go do something that would be a little more fun for the kids.

Even though it was quite windy that day we still had a blast at the Maui Ocean Center and would highly recommend it for anyone – kids or not! We saw a ton of beautiful marine life that you can’t find anywhere else. They had a ton of great exhibits with turtles, rays, and so many tropical fish I had never seen before. Our favourite part was by far the Open Ocean exhibit. It’s a 750,000 gallon tank with an acrylic tunnel that you could walk through to see all of the marine life swimming around you! You can learn more about the Maui Ocean Centre here, and I will let my pictures do the talking.

We call him “Pinochio”
Nursery Bay
The coolest fish!
Rays
Just hanging out
My favourite were the jellyfish!
Open Ocean exhibit – way too cool!
This tunnel was the coolest!
Listening to the exhibit info on his speaker. He loved putting in the numbers and listening to the stories. We probably didn’t need to rent four of these, one or two would have done the trick.
Grabbing a bite to eat from the Reef Cafe
Feeding and examining the turtles
We didn’t think the kids would be that interested in the scavenger hunt rubbing that they provided. Boy, were we wrong!
They loved it!
There was a glass floor in the Open Ocean tunnel as well!

Whaler’s Village…

If you are are a shopper then Whaler’s Village is the place for you! There are lots of really cool shops here. Everything from high end, to the ABC Store where we would run across and grab a few essentials whenever we needed them.

Whaler’s Village also hosts different activities like lei making, coconut husking and hula lessons. While we considered partaking in a couple of these activities, again, we were short on time and had to pick and choose wisely. We did stroll through here a few times on our way to and from Ka’anapali Beach. The kids played on the cool climbing structure they have set up in the middle of the courtyard. We even caught a free hula dancing show as well here!

Maui Christmas!
It was a late night.
My beauty

Ka’anapali Beach…

Ka’anapali beach is gorgeous! There is a walking path that spans the entire length of the beach. Between the walkways here and around the golf course, we never ran out of beautiful scenery to take a jog/walk down. We hit this path nearly every day and found new things to see and do each time.

The most special day we had of all was near the end of our trip when my (now) future brothers-in-law planned a gorgeous dinner out for all of us on the beach at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa. While we couldn’t figure out what the heck the boys were doing taking off and making plans for everyone. But we were blown away by the beauty and thoughtfulness that went into the planning once we arrived. Low and behold – they were planning on one of them proposing!!! It was such a perfect, and special evening and we were honoured to be included.

Fancy dinner on the beach at the Westin
The night started out beautiful, but got cool quickly
And dark quickly!

Ka’anapali Beach is also where a lot of the big resorts are located. Although I’m not sure we were supposed to, we ended up walking through a lot of the grounds of the hotels and there are some stunning resorts there! If you stop at the concierge at many of the resorts they will hook you up with Luau recommendations and tickets. This may not be the best way to find a great price, but they were very helpful in recommending which ones were available at the time and which ones were good for kids. However, we didn’t end up doing a Luau, we opted for our dinner out on the beach and whale watching instead.

Whale watching…

Maui is the place to go if you want to go whale watching. Every year starting in December the whales migrate down from Alaska to the warm waters of Maui to mate. We thought we were going to be early from what we researched, but we lucked out and the whales had already arrived!

We didn’t have much to do with the planning of our whale watching tour, thankfully my SIL and BIL took care of that. But basically you can head down to the dock near Banyan Tree park in Lahaina where all of the boats dock. You can take your pick of which tour you’d like. Some are shorter, some are longer. Some have different food and drink options. But make sure to have a look at the boat you’ll be taking before you go or you may literally end up on a dingy with dozens of other people! Not my idea of a good time amiright?

On our way out. Can you tell I’m getting a little nervous already?
This girl loves the ocean!
The boys on the boat. Unfortunately I didn’t get any good pictures of the whales. It was too exciting and happened so quickly that I missed them.

This is another situation I’m not a real fan of. I hate being in confined places. I knew I would get motion sick so I took Gravol for that. But what I didn’t realize until I was out there was that I wasn’t going to love being out on a boat for two hours and ended up having a panick attack. 🙁 Luckily I had my happy pills that my doctor prescribes me for flying and it kicked in fairly quickly!

Does anyone else have this problem? Do you have any tips or tricks to combat this? Luckily nobody else in our group has issues with motion sickness and confined spaces so they took the kids up to the deck with them to get the good view of the whales. I stayed down below where it felt more sturdy. Even so I still got to see quite a few whales surface and I’m sooooo glad i went!

The last day…

Once we got everything packed up and the house back in order, we hit the road back towards the airport.

We had a little bit of time to spare so we took a detour out to Kihei where my SILs and BIL stayed the last time they were in Maui. While it was a very short stop, we enjoyed checking out the beach and the Kalama Village. Because a trip to Hawaii wouldn’t be complete without drinking straight from a coconut and we were busy doing that, so I didn’t actually get a chance to look around the Kalama Village. However I know it’s a place where I could spend a lot of time! It was so beautiful in there and had the local handmade goods that I love. It’s definitely a place I would love to go back to some day.

It wouldn’t be a trip to Hawaii without drinking from a coconut!
Swinging on a beach in Kihei

We made another quick stop at the Ross Store near the airport on the way back, took our rental vehicles back and headed home on our red eye flight.

All in all we absolutely loved Maui with kids and could spend a lot more time (and money!) there.

Have you ever visited Maui? What were some of your favourite things to do?

Comment below as I can see us heading back there again and we would love to hear your ideas and try some new things!

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