Bonjour and Aloha! One month ago an acquaintance asked me, "So when can your family go to Hawaii this summer?" The only correct answer to that question is "Anytime!" Thanks to their offer of a place to stay, we've just gotten back from a week on Maui and a week on Molokai. The last time we visited Maui our baby was a year old, so it was a wonderful family experience to visit now with our 2 year old, 5 year old, and 8 year old. Here's what we loved during our week on Maui, and what I'd highly recommend you do if you get the opportunity to visit:
1. Polo Beach - Honestly, I'm a bit reluctant to share about our favorite beach because it's a fabulous little spot that isn't overrun with tourists yet, but it's such a great family beach--good waves for boogie boarding, rocky reefs at the edges for snorkeling, a bit of shade for sand play, plus free and adequate parking, toilets, and showers. I also love that it offers access to the 1.5-mile long Wailea Beach Path that follows the shoreline and weaves past beautiful resorts, so you can work in a gorgeous walk or run while your partner watches the kids at the beach (Merci, honey!).
2. Maui Ocean Center - This aquarium is unique in that it houses so many of the amazing fish that are indigenous to Hawaii. The fish thrive here because the center has a system that pumps in seawater directly from the harbor, filters it, and pumps it out again. At $82 admission per family (purchase your tickets online in advance for the best rate), the ocean center can feel pricey, but it's absolutely worth seeing. I'll post about it separately in my next post because its perks are worth knowing about!
3. Lahaina - Lahaina is a historic seaport town on the west side that offers a lot for tourists. We were there for the Fourth of July, when Front Street is blocked off to traffic so that pedestrians can fully peruse the shops, marvel at the enormous banyan tree, nibble treats like shaved ice, and top it off with a nighttime fireworks show off the harbor. You'll enjoy the festive, small town feel here.
4. Paia - This sweet hippie town has one of the best little natural grocers around: Mana Foods. Grab some fresh mangos and veggies here, enjoy some sorbetto from Ono Gelato, then head a bit further east to Ho'okipa Lookout to gaze at the surfers and windsurfers below.
5. Iao Valley - This lush valley park, trail, and river area attracts Hawaiian families, tourists, and teenagers alike. Wander the international gardens, photograph the tiny Puritan-style missionary home, then head upstream to swing from the vines of Banyan trees into the cold Iao River. The water is icy but comfortable in the heat. Expect a few mosquito bites, and know that they're worth the amazing rainforest memories.
Where are your favorite places on Maui? As a side note, I was delighted to run into French speakers at the beach, supermarket, and at the place that sells the most amazing fish tacos: Coconut's Fish Café in Kihei. Bon appetit!