Back in late February, Mrs. T, Baby T1.0, Baby T2.0 and I spent 12 days in Maui. This was one trip where we travel hacked so we saved ourselves over $10,000. We used points for 3 return air tickets (paid a small amount for Baby T2.0 because she was still a lap infant) and 12 nights stay at Marriott Wailea Beach Resort. This was our first visit to Hawaii as a family (I’ve been Hawaii a few times as a kid) and we originally planned to visit the different Hawaii islands. But after considering that we would be travelling with two young kids, we decided to stay in Maui for the entire duration. So we slow travelled Maui for 12 days and had a fabulously relaxing time.
Side note: My parents decided to come with us on this trip at the last-minute. My parents stayed at the Marriott Residence Inn which was about a 5-minute drive from Marriott Wailea Beach Resort. We rented a van to avoid needing two vehicles.
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Getting to Maui
To get Maui from Vancouver, we took the Air Canada direct flight in the late afternoon. On the day we left Vancouver, it was snowing. We left home a bit earlier than usual to give us enough time to get to the airport. After going through security & customs (a breeze due to having Nexus cards), we hung out at the Plaza Premium Lounge thanks to my American Express Platinum Business credit card and had a quick meal to save money on dinner (I’m a personal finance blogger after all).
Due to all the snows, the airplane had to be de-iced, which delayed our departure by almost an hour. Later we heard that the next day it snowed over 30 cm/12 in. I guess we had planned our Maui trip well.
At 4 years old and flown quite a number of times so far, I was quite impressed how Baby T1.0 behaved on the flight. He was attentive and followed our directions. I had prepared some videos on my phone beforehand but we didn’t even need to use them. After a few hours in the air, Baby T1.0 fell asleep. Baby T2.0, on the other hand, was completely different. It took us a few hours to get her to fall asleep. Because she was so exhausted, she kept waking up and she would scream for a while before falling back to sleep.
There were a lot of parents with young kids on the flight. So Baby T2.0 wasn’t the only kid that was creating a fuzz.
We touched down at Kahului Airport runway around 11 PM, about an hour later than scheduled. It took a while to get all of our suitcases and car seats before we could take the rental company bus to get our rental car.
Although I had Hertz Gold status, I ended up renting through Budget from Costco Travel because it was over $200 cheaper. I booked through Costco Travel’s US site as it had a free additional driver (so my dad could drive the van too). For some reason, the Canadian Costco Travel did not offer the free additional driver.
By the time we got to Budget, it was close to midnight and there was a long lineup, full of Canadians from the same Air Canada flight as us. When we finally got to the desk and finished signing off all the paperwork, we were told that the van was getting cleaned and someone would pull it to the waiting area shortly.
I have rented cars many times through all my business travels and this was the first time I was told to wait for the rental car because it was getting cleaned. Weird!
We ended up waiting for close to an hour before our rental van was ready. Everyone in front of us (and behind us) in the line had to wait for their cars as well. It was extremely frustrating when it was way past midnight Maui time (3 AM Pacific time) and all of us were super tired. It made me question myself whether saving $200 was worth the wait.
Later I was told by many people this was a common occurrence in Hawaii. Because the small car inventories, rental car companies would turn around the cars that were returned only a few hours prior.
When we finally got the van, we checked for any blemishes and marked them down on the rental agreement (apparently Maui rental companies were very strict on any minor damages). We didn’t end up driving out from the Budget lot until past 1 AM Maui time.
The drive to the hotels was quite uneventful. It was very dark and not many cars were on the road. I drove past a few police cars on the way and Mrs. T reminded me to stay below the speed limits to avoid any speeding tickets.
After dropping off my parents at the Residence Inn, we drove toward Marriott Wailea Beach Resort. The resort entrance consisted canopies of banyan trees with dim lights hanging from the canopies. Although we were super tired and ready for bed, we immediately felt relaxed and happy that our Maui vacation was about to unfold.
Marriott Wailea Beach Resort – WOW!
Prior to our arrival, I reached out to the resort on the possibility of getting upgraded to a suite. I told the hotel that we were celebrating our wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, all the suites were booked, so we didn’t get an upgrade.
To our surprise, the resort left a bottle of wine and a gift basket full of Maui treats on the first day of our stay. It was meant for our wedding anniversary. Mrs. T and I were very pleased with this little gesture from the hotel.
The resort went through a $100 million renovation in 2016. The room we stayed had contemporary furnishings designed to complement Maui environment. Our room was large enough for the 4 of us. The best thing was the private patio, which allowed Mrs. T and I to enjoy some one-on-one adult time when the kids were in bed (rather than having to socialize in the bathroom as we often had to do when staying at hotels).
The resort had 4 different pools but we spent most of our time at the water slide pool. Baby T1.0 wasn’t tall enough for the big slides (I went down both of them and one of them was INTENSE!!!) but both kids thoroughly enjoyed the kiddie slides.
We found Wailea Beach Resort to be very kids friendly. We spent a lot of time in the Games Space, playing foosball, shuffleboard, pool, arcade games, and board games. Both kids really enjoyed that. Baby T1.0 was very competitive and tried to win whenever we played a game. While Baby T2.0 was happy to tag along and participate.
Each night, the movie theatre at the resort showed kids friendly movies with free popcorn and drinks. Baby T1.0 really enjoyed laying on the bean chairs and eating popcorn. He felt like a grown-up kid.
I will let all the pictures do the talking to show how nice the resort was.
Things to see & do in Maui
We slow travelled while Maui, so we kept activities to the minimum. We spent a lot of time at the pools and on the beach, relaxing and playing with the kids (it was a family vacation after all!). When we were relaxing within close proximity of the resort, my parent would take the van out and tour around Maui. This arrangement worked out quite well.
When we weren’t relaxing at the pools or on the beach, we managed to check out a few things in Maui.
Haleakala is a massive shield volcano that forms more than 75% of the Hawaiian Island of Maui. We ascended slowly up the volcano, the road got windier and windier. At 10,023 feet (3,055 m), it was windy and chilly up at the top. We had prepared jackets for the kids but not the adults, so we had to brave the weather while we were up there. The volcano landscape at the top was quite surreal and it felt as if we were walking on Mars.
Unfortunately, Baby T1.0 got car sick and threw up in the car on the way down from the crater. It was not so fun for him and for us.
We originally planned to go to Hana the next day after visiting Haleakala Crater. But after checking with Maui locals about the drive to Hana, we were advised that the drive would be even windier than the Haleakala Crater drive. Therefore, we ended up not going to Hana on this trip. There’s always next time, right?
Maui Ocean Centre
It was neat to check out some of the unique and rare Hawaiian marine life. Baby T1.0 and Baby T2.0 both enjoyed seeing turtles and sharks in the aquarium. They also enjoyed touching starfish, sea cucumbers, and other echinoderms.
One of the first days we drove to the southwest part of Maui, past Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve, to the lava fields. It was super neat to be driving in the middle of the lava field and seeing how the island was created by lavas thousands and thousands years ago. The ocean was unbelievably blue in the area (well and everywhere on Maui).
One day we drove up past Paia and checked out Ho’okipa Beach Park. It was super windy that day which resulted in many surfers and windsurfers out in the ocean. We also saw kids as little as five years old out in the ocean surfing with their parents. This was definitely the Hawaiian life.
On the far side of the park, we saw many sea turtles resting on the beach. The conservation officer had set up a line so we could only see the turtles from a distance. It was my first time seeing wild sea turtles, so it was really cool. Both kids could care less about the turtles though, as they were busy digging and building sand castles.
Dragon’s Teeth (Makaluapuna Point) Kapalua
Mrs. T found this cool place in the Maui guidebook that we borrowed. To get there we had to drive through the luxurious Ritz-Carlton Kapalua. We then walked on the trial that was along a golf course.
Then we saw all the Dragon’s Teeth! Pretty crazy what could happen when forces of nature collide.
Lahaina Banyan Tree
It really cool to see that one single banyan tree grew and took up the entire city block. According to the guidebook, the tree was planted in front of Lahaina Courthouse and Lahaina Harbor in 1873. It was a great place to sit down to cool down and to people watch. We also enjoyed checking out arts exhibits and live music.
Out of 12 days, we spent 5 days relaxing on the beach. As Wailea Beach Resort guests, we were able to get 2 lounge chairs and an umbrella on Wailea Beach each day for the duration of our stay. Wailea Beach was about a 5-10 minute walk from the resort. So we would often go to Wailea Beach in the morning to mark our spots and spent the whole day on the beach. I would grab food from our hotel room and bring it to the beach for everyone around lunch time.
Both Baby T1.0 and Baby T2.0 had tons of fun digging on the beach. They also enjoyed jumping waves in the ocean. Both Mrs. T and I had a lot of fun digging gigantic holes and underground tunnels with the kids as well. It was great to be able to sit back and enjoy the beautiful Maui weather.
We checked out other nearby beaches, although we didn’t spend the whole day on these nearby beaches. We were very happy to spend our time on Wailea Beach.
Since we were in Hawaii, we thought going a Luau would be neat. After checking out the different Luaus, we decided to go to the Luau at our hotel so we could accumulate Marriott points. The tickets were a bit expensive, luckily, the kids were free.
The show was very entertaining and the food was excellent. Both of our kids probably ate more than me so we got our money worth.
And even more pics from our Maui trip…
Eating in Maui
We found things to be on the expensive side in Maui. Dining out was expensive, especially when we converted USD back to CAD. We were frequent visitors to Costco in Kahului and purchased many items so we could make meals ourselves. We also purchased pre-made food from local markets for many of our lunches.
Since we were in Maui, we also wanted to try local Hawaiian cuisines and check out some of the top-rated restaurants. Some of our favourite places to eat in Maui were:
- Matteo’s Osteria – Amazing handmade pasta dishes. I loved the Fettuccine Frutti Di Mare. Black Ink Pasta, Crab, Clam, Shrimp, Fresh Tomatoes, and White Wine Sauce. Yum!
- Humble Market Kitchin – One of the restaurants at Wailea Beach Resort. We had breakfast there but decided to give it a try for dinner. Prices were a bit high but food and service were amazing!
- Three’s Bar and Grill – We arrived at the restaurant during the happy hour and got some heavily discounted appetizers. The restaurant was casual and laid back. Excellent Hawaiian dishes with Asian/Japanese influence.
- Coconut’s Fish Cafe – My co-workers told me Coconut’s Fish Cafe had one of the best fish tacos in Maui. I think my co-workers were right! Two fish tacos for $12 USD was a bit steep but I was full after having only one fish taco.
- Kihei Cafe – A gem for breakfast. The macadamia nut pancakes were delicious.
One of the few places that we didn’t like was the Monkey Pod. The restaurant was rated quite high on many websites but we were disappointed with the food and the atmosphere.
Flying back to Vancouver
The only Air Canada direct flight available was a red-eye flight leaving Maui around 11 PM. We managed to get a 2 PM checkout at the hotel on the day of departure. After checking out, we spent time in the Games Space and walked around the resort to kill time.
We then had a long relaxed dinner before heading to the airport. I think the red-eye flight worked out quite well as both kids fell asleep prior to boarding and stayed asleep until we landed at Vancouver airport. Both Mrs. T and I managed to get a few hours of sleep too.
Coming back to Vancouver after 12 days of relaxing in sunny warm Maui was a bit tough. We were greeted by Vancouver rain upon arrival at 7 AM in the morning.
Maui slow travel for 12 days
In all, we had a great time in Maui. It was definitely the right choice to stay put on Maui the entire time rather than try to explore multiple Hawaiian islands.
Although we had a great time in Maui, we probably won’t be visiting Maui next time we go to Hawaii. We would like to check out Kauai or the Big Island next time.
Spending 12 slow-paced days in Maui gave Mrs. T and I an idea what it might be like to be financially independent and travelling around the world. We can certainly get used to this slower more relaxed lifestyle.