You guys, I had the most blissful ten day vacation last month and I am still on a high writing this. My family and I spent six days on Maui, after which my sister and I spent four days on the Big Island with my boyfriend and his family. I haven’t been to Maui since I was younger, so that was almost like an entirely new experience. Since my boyfriend is from the Big Island, I’ve been a few times and consider it a second home at this point. It was the most perfect vacation, just writing this recap has brought me back to the clearest of beaches and happiest state of mind.
The trip started on a Thursday as my family and I flew to Maui with all of the excitement in our bones. We’ve been to Maui twice as a family, but both times I was younger and my horrible memory prevents me from remembering much. I was so excited to visit as an adult, able to store more in my memory and enjoy all the island has to offer. We spent all of Thursday traveling, as we had a long drive to LAX in the morning traffic, two flights (LAX to Oahu, Oahu to Maui), then a long drive to our hotel. When we checked in, I was done for the day and slept early (I needed the sleep, if you can recall).
We were staying at Napili Kai, a beautiful resort in a beautiful town just ten minutes from the popular city of Lahaina. Our resort could not have been more perfect, the lobby quite literally opened up to the beach and we had the most magnificent views from our balcony. Our beach was nestled in a cove so the water was warm and calm, allowing for optimal relaxation. We spent many hours just floating in the ocean, feeling the gentle waves lull us into a peaceful tranquility.
Our first meal in Maui was a local breakfast joint called 808 Grindz, which boasts an impressive 4 stars with 2,000 reviews on Yelp. I was starving so I ordered what sounded like comfort food, the breakfast burrito (the Mexican in me jumped out). What I was served was the most delicious deconstructed burrito I’ve ever had in my life, solely due to the sauce that was smothered on top. It was a mix of loco moco style gravy and chorizo and mole flavors. It tasted at once new and familiar and my entire family could not get enough of it (we inquired about buying a jar to take home). If you’re visiting Maui anytime soon, make sure to pin this breakfast place for your trip. Also pin Star Noodle for their ramen and pork buns!
One of our favorite finds was a deserted beach right off of the main highway about twenty minutes past Lahaina. There’s no parking for this beach, you quite literally have to pull onto the shoulder of the freeway and park in the sand that leads right to the ocean. We set out our beach chairs so that the tide would wash up on our feet and spent hours just in absolute bliss here. We had an entire section of the ocean to ourselves, not including the turtles that would pop up around us. The water was warm and calm as always, so we alternated between floating in the ocean and sitting in the tide, reading or dozing off.
We spent all of Tuesday driving the Road to Hana, a beautiful yet scary two hour drive because of its many one-way roads around dangerous bends in the cliff. It’s a very popular tourist attraction and for good reason, the views on this two hour drive include multiple waterfalls and intense greenery. We stopped at a roadside store for some banana bread and fresh pineapple smoothies, then made another stop a bit later for some coconut shrimp and the biggest avocados I’d ever seen in my life (the California girl in me couldn’t contain my excitement).
On Wednesday, my sister and I flew to the Big Island to meet up with my boyfriend who had flown there the previous day. He’s from the Big Island, having only moved to California when he went into college, and I’ve visited a few times with him but was excited to show my sister the entirely different island. Austin’s hometown is literally called Volcano, as he lives about five minutes away from Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano. For reference, this is on the Hilo side of the island, about thirty minutes away from downtown. This side of the island is entirely just locals, almost no tourists because there’s not much to do as it rains pretty much all day. The other side of the island, the Kona side, is where all of the tourists stay.
The house that Austin grew up in is pretty much in the rainforest, surrounded by thick shrubbery and trees and away from any streetlights or noise…besides the croaking of the frogs and chirping of birds. It’s his grandfather’s home, one of the sweetest men I’ve ever met who welcomed me into his family with widely open arms and a lecture on how to correctly pronounce poke. My favorite thing about Austin’s home is how dark it is at night because there are no streetlights or businesses nearby. It’s so dark with no lights on that your eyes just do not adjust, at all. It’s pitch black. There’s literally no better way to have a great nights sleep.
We spent a full day on the Hilo side and a full day on the Kona side, making sure to show my sister as much of the Big Island as we could. We spent one day touring the volcano, stopping in the shops in downtown Hilo, and eating all the fish. We spent the next driving past waterfalls, floating in the ocean, and…eating all the fish. It was the perfect combination of pouring rainforest on one side and bright sunshine on the other, all while Austin’s grandpa told us stories on the history of Hawaii and played the ukulele at night as we drifted off to sleep. I know this sounds like a fairytale and couldn’t possibly be real, but it was.
Saturday was spent traveling home. My sister had left earlier with my parents (who were still on Maui), so it was just Austin and I navigating two flights, a long delay, and a long drive home. We left his grandpa’s house at 6am that morning and returned to our home at 1am. It was…a long day, and we were so sad to leave. But I am so thankful to have had this experience and to have shared it with the people I love the most. Maui was the epitome of relaxation and picturesque Hawaii, whereas the Big Island was the side that most people don’t get to see as well as the side that warms my heart the most. We’ll be going back to Oahu next month for a wedding, but I’ll have to make another trip to Maui and specifically Napili Kai as soon as I can. I know I’ll be back to the Big Island, my second little home, and I’ll be dreaming of those pitch black nights filled with sounds of the rain and frogs until then.