Wednesday, July 2, 2014

How About Hawaii?

Recently, we took a family trip to Hawaii and I thought I would share our experience here for those of you who might find it useful in planning your own trips.  One of the reasons we started this blog was to help others who might be traveling to or through our little corner of the world. When you haven't been somewhere before it helps to have local advice...where to eat, where to stay, what to see, what to do.  Since we just went through this experience with Hawaii, I thought someone else might find it helpful.

Hawaiian Dreams!

When we began planning our trip to Hawaii, the first thing we had to decide was, which island(s).  Scott and I knew Maui would be a great starting point because we had visited Maui before and loved it.  On our previous trip to Maui, we enjoyed staying at The Hyatt Regency, so we went ahead and made reservations there.  We also knew, because we only had nine days, including travel, we wanted to limit our island hopping to only two islands.  The idea of wasting too much time in airports was not appealing to us.  Our decision of which other island to include was made for us when JD said he wanted to see volcanoes. The Big Island was added to our itinerary.  I contacted a friend with contacts on the Big Island and she suggested we book The Hilton Waikola Village.   So, I got our plane tickets, including the flight between islands, our car rentals for each island and our hotel reservations.  That was the easy part!

Planning what to do and see on each island proved more difficult. The boys told us they wanted to snorkel and surf.  We knew they would enjoy biking Maui's big volcano, Haleakala, because Scott had done that before.  JD really wanted to go to a luau.  But how to schedule all of the activities, which companies to call, where to stay, where to eat....  I knew I needed help.

So...I had an epiphany!  I decided to call the concierge at our first hotel, The Hyatt Regency Maui and boy did I get lucky!  Her name was Anita Alden and she is my Hawaiian angel!  When I told
her my dilemma, she said, "Let me handle everything!"  Sweeter words have never been spoken! Not only did Anita plan our entire trip to Maui, she also booked everything on the Big Island. After I told her everything we wanted to do and see, she made suggestions and reservations.  I could now relax and look forward to the trip.

Everyone had to have neck pillows!

Our plane left Huntsville at 6:30 am on Saturday, so we got off to a very early start.  We had a layover and, as it turns out, a delay in Dallas/Ft. Worth, so instead of arriving in Maui at 3:30 pm, we didn't get there until 5:30.  I called Anita from Dallas and she rescheduled our dinner plans, suggesting that since we would be tired and worn out from the flight we might like to just eat at the hotel instead of driving somewhere else.  This was really good advice, because we had no sooner landed in Maui, when Rob started getting a migraine.  

By the time we got to the hotel, Rob was not feeling well at all, so I went on to the room with him and skipped dinner with the rest of the guys. Scott, JD and JD's friend, Tyler, went on to Japengo, the Hyatt Regency's fresh fish and sushi restaurant.  Japengo was voted best sushi on the island and from the glowing report I got from Scott and the boys, it must have been amazing.  They also got their first price shock of the week. Hawaii is not cheap.  Everything is more expensive than it is here in Alabama.  Of course, you expect things to be more expensive in a resort area, but we found that the prices were very high everywhere we went on both islands.

Rocky Lanai

After a good night's sleep, we were up very early on Sunday for a snorkeling trip to Lanai.  Anita had given me several options for snorkeling, and since Scott and I had previously snorkeled in Molokini, we decided to try the all day snorkel trip around the island of Lanai.  Lanai is the sixth largest of the eight Hawaiian islands and is known as Pineapple Island because of its past as a pineapple plantation. Our trip included a continental breakfast and a wonderful lunch (more about that later).  After we scarfed down some pastries, granola bars and juice, we were on our way.

Captain Jonathan
First Mate Lynn

Our guides were Jonathan and Lynn and they were absolutely wonderful.  They were fun, funny, friendly and professional.  We could not have picked a better Skipper and Gilligan!  How great were they?  Well, because of our plane delay in getting us to Maui, we did not have time to run by a dive store and pick up a dive mask with corrective lenses for Scott, as we had planned.  I told Anita when I called her from the airport. She relayed the information to Lynn, who then stopped and picked up a mask and brought it with her on our trip. How's that for service!

Lynn's doppleganger...My niece, Ayla
Lynn totally reminded us of my niece, Ayla, in looks, voice and personality!  She was adorable and smart, as was Jonathan.  Jonathan established instant rapport with our three boys.

Our first stop was to check out a pod of Hawaiian spinner dolphins, hundreds of them.  They were quite spectacular!

JD spots a giant sea turtle!

Checking out the caves in the rocky shoreline.
A wave in a cave is your grave! 
After watching the dolphins put on a show for us, we were off to our first snorkeling site.  The boys, armed with their Go Pro cameras, could barely wait to jump in the impossibly clear blue water.  We were all fascinated by the variety of colorful fish and the reef dotted with crabs and large black urchins.  After checking out the first snorkel area thoroughly, we moved on to another, deeper spot.

By the time we were ready for a break, Jonathan and Lynn had our lunch ready and it was wonderful!  They had a variety of breads, cheeses and cold cuts with lettuce, tomatoes, Maui onions, sprouts, pickles, pepperoncini peppers, pasta salad, veggies with papaya seed dressing and an assortment of soft drinks and water, but my favorite items were fresh albacore tuna with capers and Hawaiian macadamia cookies.  We were starving from all the swimming and there was more than enough food for everyone to eat as much as they liked.  After we stuffed ourselves silly, we were ready for a speedy and exciting ride back to shore.  So far, so good!  We highly recommend Captain Steve's.  Ask for Jonathan and Lynn!

We arrived back to shore in time to take the jeep back into Lahaina for some shave ice that Jonathan had highly recommended. Then we had to head back to the hotel to start getting cleaned up for dinner and a show at the Old Lahaina Luau.  The shave ice and luau are too much to tell here, so they will have to wait. Until next time...Aloha!

Three Friends and a Fork give Captain Steve's Rafting, Japengo 
and the Hyatt Regency Maui 
3 Shaka Yums UP!

Japengo on Urbanspoon
Three Friends and a Fork
Three Friends and a Fork

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