The dreaded last day came. It was our eighth day on the island. This Hawaiian vacation was unusually short in duration for us. We like going to Hawaii and spend up to nearly 2 weeks, so 8 days came so quickly.
As I had mentioned in my earlier entries, if you were to ask me in April or early to mid May, a Maui vacation was not even in the picture. The picture I had imagined for us this summer was a family trip to Europe in August. But that got scratched due to Ethan's football practices and Madison's cheerleading commitments. This Maui vacation came out of nowhere. But, what made it sweet was we only paid $11 per person for our airfare to get us to Maui. Details by clicking this link to the 1st blog entry.
When Nancy and I finally decided to pull the trigger on Maui, we had a couple of options:
- 8-day vacation - return on July 7 (in time for Nancy's Mom's birthday, plus she can also report to work July 8th
- 12-day vacation - Nancy, Caitlin, and Madison will go with option A, while the boys and I will hang around the island (just the 3 of us) until Sunday or Monday morning.
We're no strangers to flying the red-eye from Hawaii. I knew that we'd be extremely tired from all our planned activities for the day and sleeping in the plane won't be an issue. I've flown the red-eye many times to New York City/New Jersey. I'd sleep in the plane, and by the time the plane arrived in NY or NJ, bam, I was ready to go about my day. Two years ago, when we left Maui to fly back to LA, we also flew the red-eye and arrived at LAX around 6am. That was the kids' first day of school. We all slept well in the plane, by the time we got to LA, we drove home, and they all made it to their 1st period without missing a beat! So there...my kids are used to the hustle and bustle. That's how we roll.
|Cream Filled Malasada - Home Made Cafe|
|Caitlin patiently waited for the malasadas at Home Maid Cafe|
|My little Bat Girl and Robin at Foodland around 6am on our last day|
|Double Layer Haupia Cake from Foodland|
|Double Layer Guava Chiffon Cake from Foodland|
|Kimchee Tako Poke from Foodland|
|Chi Chi Mochi from Foodland|
|Beehive Cabana - I could sleep here all day|
Nancy and I also broke away from the kids and ventured off to the other infinity pool meant for adults only. I gotta tell you that we enjoyed this the most. It was so serene just by looking at the edge of the pool where it meets the ocean. But I think what I appreciated most was the fact that we weren't elbow to elbow with other guests. We weren't fighting or scouring for vacant lounge chairs. There was none of that at the Marriott. There were enough chairs for all, and the grounds were expansive yet not overwhelming. I remember when I went to the Sheraton Black Rock in Kaanapali (on the day of the brush fire), the pool area was so crowded. Same with my experience when we stayed at Disney Aulani three years ago. I had to get up early to get beach towels and reserve a spot close to the infinity pool. None of that had to happen at the Marriott. I'm so glad we stayed here.
It took a little while to get us out of the pool. I mean, c'mon, the views of the Pacific right before our very eyes on this gorgeous sunny day. It was hard to leave the resort, but we'll be back. I don't know when, but we will.
|Panoramic view of the Adults Only Infinity Pool|
Our flight was scheduled at 9:50pm out of Kahului. We had over 5-6 hours before our flight so we took our time. We finally tried Monkeypod in Wailea. What a big surprise! It had an upscale feel from it's décor to the service, but the pricing was moderate. They have a great happy hour menu and we took advantage of their appetizers. I would come back here again the next time we're on Maui.
|Pumpkin Patch Ravioli|
|Kauai Shrimp and Hamakua Mushroom Dim Sum|
|Coco Corn Chowder|
|Hamakua Wild Mushroom and Truffle Oil|
Finally, we drove off to Kahului, made a quick stop at Costco to fill up the gas tank, ran a few errands, and although we weren't extremely hungry, we knew we had to eat dinner before our flight. I remembered going to Ba-le Vietnamese Food in Kahului a couple of years ago. It's a walk-up type of restaurant....there's an order window, and they cook everything as ordered. It was already 630pm, a little breeze. For a change, I ordered their Special Pho....aaahhhh I can still taste it. The pho was served in a huge bowl big enough for me, Ethan, and Nancy to share. We also ordered their BBQ plate and took it with us to the airport.
|Ba-Le Special Pho|
|All-smiles after a red-eye flight (LAX at 5:50am)|
What were my TAKEAWAYS?
To those who never read my blog before, every time I finish blogging about a trip, I end my blog with the takeaways. What does that mean? What did I learn from the trip? What were my lessons-learned? So here goes.
Think Fast - When I found out that Ethan and Madison couldn't join us in Europe, I could've easily given up on having a family vacation this summer. But I didn't. I had to think and act fast and I'm now looking back at the result of reacting to the bad news they gave me.
$11/person - No Regrets - To pay for our airfare, we used our points earned with Chase Ultimate Rewards, and the out of pocket expense from us was only $11/person (around $67.20 for all 6 of us). You just can't beat that. Well, I guess, paying zero, nada, zilch would beat it. The points we used were points earned as a bonus for signing. Just by signing up, we were able to get 2 free roundtrip tickets, and we earned more points along the way just by going with our regular day to day spend. I'm now sitting at home finishing this blog and looking back, "Wow, I took six of us to Maui for $67!"
3 Days free suite upgrade - I earned 80,000 bonus points by signing up for a Chase Marriott Rewards card. I was able to use those 80K point to get us a "standard room" - which was then upgraded to a one bedroom suite. The cost of the suite per night was $750 ($1,500 total). The suite was roomy, had 2 lanais, had a sofa sleeper, fridge. It was extremely comfortable. We felt at home that we were able to relax and watch TV during the day and night.
You can't do it all or see it all - Yes, we've been to Maui before (this was my 4th visit). I had no itinerary. I trusted what my family loved to do. A drive up to Haleakala would've been nice, but I know that waking up my 7 and 10 year old at 2:00 am was not a good idea. We're saving that for our next trip (TBD). We didn't need to visit every single tourist spot. As long as we're by the ocean, we were content. Even with no itinerary, we were just fine. The less we moved, the less we drove, the better.
In case of a disaster, then what? - Our cell phones had no service on the day of the 6000 acre brushfire. The landlines were also dead. I didn't know what radio station to listen to. I tried to tweet @MauiPD or @MauiNow but I couldn't send them a tweet. I reached out friends over at Tripadvisor, but at the time, cell phone signals were very spotty. So the lesson learned here, make sure I have ways to get information about anything (disaster, current events, etc.). Social media failed me that day. We endured 4-hour drive to Kihei from Lahaina (that drive would've been 45 minutes on a normal day). So God forbid, whatever disaster may come, I'm hoping to find ways to get information as part of my disaster preparedness plan while on vacation.
Book your car rental right away - knowing that our trip was planned at the very last minute, I made sure to book my car rental right away. Oh and I also checked multiple sites....Costcotravel.com, discounthawaiicarrental.com, Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity. It was Discount Hawaii that had the best rental rates for a 7-seater SUV. The other places were charging up to $500 more. You can also book with "other" car rentals, they typically do not ask for a credit card to hold the car. Lastly, once you've booked or have a car on hold, it pays to check the rates a few days later. The rates tend to fluctuate. I've seen them go up and down after I've made a reservation.
- Evan - he said he will remember the malasada mornings. Evan was also so sweet by not leaving the last person behind since we were always on the go. He waited for the last person (usually me or Nancy) - no one should be left behind, he said.
Evan at Charley Young Beach
- Ethan - his takeaway was revisiting his favorite beach, Kamaole Beach Park III aka Kam III. We spent many days swimming and body boarding at the Kam III. One of our sunset shoots was taken at the same beach. Parking was never a problem. Very easy access - picturesque.
Ethan at Kamaole Beach Park III
- Madison - she said the brush fire was something she will always remember, but not for the disaster. Although we were stuck in the car for 4 hours, we were able to use that time and talk as a family. There were no cell phones, no so social media. Just the 6 of us in the car.
Madison at Kam III
- Caitlin - she said she won't forget the bunk bed that she shared with her siblings, the countless hours we spent swimming, and our visits to Foodland to get her Yogurt and bananas.
Caitlin at Charley Young Beach
- Nancy - the infinity pool was her takeaway. We both loved it. It was peaceful, quiet, serene, and just purely beautiful.
Nancy at Wailea Beach Marriott's Infinity Pool
A week ago, as we were leaving Hana, I told the kids that this could be our last time driving the Road to Hana. It occurred to me that Ethan is now 15, and he could be driving within a year or so. And that's a fact - all our kids are growing. They're going to be doing their own thing with their friends and future families which was why we wanted to take advantage of vacations like this one while we could still all get away together. If only I could press the pause button and let this last longer, but I couldn't. Life goes on and I could only wish nothing but the best for our family.
We have two more vacations planned this year, I can't even think of them yet. Allow me to breathe and enjoy this Maui memory.
Mahalo for following our journey.