Maui slow travel for 12 days

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.

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.

one of the 4 pools

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.

hotel ground
Siblings love <3

By the hotel lobby

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 Crater

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.

Lava Fields

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).

Turtle Watching

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.

The little surfer

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.

All you can see is from one single banyan tree

The beaches

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.

Wailea Beach
Looking after the kids aka lounging around


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…

Iao Valley State Park, the Needle

Maui sunset HDR panorama. Stitched together 30 pics in total.
Feasting food from Costco in our hotel room one night
Playing in Games Space
My dad had no chance against me in foosball. I beat him at every single game we played.

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.

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20 thoughts on “Maui slow travel for 12 days”

  1. Maui is awesome. A couple tips for next time. Snorkeling is fantastic at the rocky edges of most beaches. We saw turtles every time out snorkeling. You have to try the Paia fish market. There’s one in Paia and Kihei. Reasonably priced and very tasty. Their seafood pasta is the best I’ve tried.

  2. Looks like you had a great time! I’ve made the long flight over from Australia to Hawaii twice now. It’s been about 12 years since my last visit so I am overdue for another trip.

  3. The pictures are impressive. Sounds like a wonderful family trip and the kids will remember it always (even if it’s through photos. It will jog their memories).

    We try to book places with kitchens and look to see if a Costco is nearby. It’s nice to make your own meal and eat it on a deck or lanai of your rental. Then watch tv with the kids. Sweet……..

    • Thank you Lisa. We had a great time. The last few days Baby T2.0 would pack clothes in her bag. When we asked her where she’s going, she would say “Maui” with a big grin on her face. I guess she loved Maui lol. 🙂

  4. We have spent our last three winters in Kihei Maui. You saw most of the best tourist items in Maui and have great photos for your memory. One tip for you now and future is that airport car rentals charge an extra airport tax fee- for us it is $150 more per month. The shuttle for 4 of us cost $40. and then you are to bed quicker. So shuttles often get you to your place to sleep then the rental kiosks are in every major location to go to after you had a nights sleep. They will pick you up and it takes minutes to get your car/van. Maui car rental is horrid, and you can easily spend two hours waiting to get a car that hasn’t been cleaned! You made a good choice to skip Hana, sarcastically speaking I tell people it is the highway to hell. It is a decent drive for awhile, but you can see the tropical forest without going all the way. I think it is a dangerous drive with so many turns in the narrow road. Unless you wanted to specifically see waterfalls or stay overnight, I suggest Oheo park like you did. Eating out is costly, we cooked in our condo 98% of the time, Costco chickens are $4.90 and we get three meals from it. We always took lunches to the beaches. You saw most of the main spots, the snorkeling in Maui is great but Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve is really amazing. We love to golf in the mornings or snorkel. I don’t want to mention our favourite spot but if you look, you can find some fantastic beaches away from everyone. I don’t like crowds, that is why we wont go to Oahu, Kauai can depend on the weather-it is a rain forest(recently 40″ rain), and the Big Island is wonderful. It is quiet, spacious, peaceful and also great snorkeling, but not as green. Some people don’t appreciate seeing so much lava.
    Costco car rental is really good value, since it is one of our major spends I have shopped out competitors but Costco always wins for these reasons:
    2nd driver is free, dealing with the big name is assuring, cheaper from the same Kiosk than anything else like AAA, or whatever membership you want to try including via big business plans. What Costco site doesn’t do well is that it mainly shows airports, but I have used them through little kiosks in north Phoenix etc with no trouble at all. It is worth booking early, then watch daily or weekly for cheaper prices. It changes very fast, I am not sure why but I learned that it is worth watching for deals, then cancel what you originally booked. Maui is a golfers paradise, but it takes some abilities to get the discounted golf rates. Maui makes so much from tourism, but they don’t appreciate the “visitors” unless they are trained well- like resorts that you stayed in. I also learned that the Safeway’s, Longs Drugs etc all have cards for discounts- these discounts can add up to $25 on a weekly grocery run. Again, they take advantage of the person visiting two weeks since he doesn’t want to spend 2 minutes signing up for garbage but the savings is really worth it. Costco for major loads, Longs Drugs for booze, Safeway’s has a flyer for Fridays and has good deals-otherwise it is pricey.
    I have kept a small log for friends to give my version of what isn’t on the travel brochures…like the local Free pool for aerobics, beaches, hikes etc. One thing the Americans do very well is sell you on the “worlds best bla bla” I have learnt to take it all with a grain of salt, but Canada would do well to let the world know how beautiful and cheap it is here.

  5. Nice trip. Great that you saw the turtle on the beach. We only got to see them in the water swimming around us and usually in pair.

    We have been a few times already. Now we just go to relax since we toured the entire island already. The first 2 times we had a kitchenette and the last time we splurged with a shorter stay.

  6. My wife and I did a Hawaii trip before we were married and we still talk about that trip to this day – 6 years later. It is an amazing place! We would go back in a heart beat if given the opportunity but life seems to get in the way a lot these days. We stayed on Oahu and did a slow travel type thing like you guys did. We went on multiple hikes around the island but for us the best part was relaxing on the North Shore watching the surfers at Pipeline. Just remarkable waves!

    Glad you had a great trip!

  7. That looks so restful! I’ve never considered groceries on vacation prior to of blogs. It seems a great way to save money!

    Looking forward to slow traveling as well in th near future :).

  8. Had a great time huh? Maui is one of the nicer Hawaiian islands. A little bit touristy though. We like the Big Island or Kauai. Less fancy, and more relaxed.

    We loves Hawaii, but it’s kind of expensive. We tend to stay in a condo or house with a kitchen and pick up food from Costco or other local grocery stores.

    It’s great if the place has a grill and pool. Hang-out, grill some burgers, and watch the sun set. We had that on our last trip to the Big Island. It was sublime.

    • Yup we had a great time! That’s interesting that you said Maui is a bit touristy. I thought Maui was a lot less than Honolulu. We’d love to check out the Big Island and/or Kauai one of these days.

  9. Braddah, it’s Kihei! lol. Looks like great times. Looking forward to going back in April 2019 with my parents.

    When we rented cars for Maui or any Hawaiian islands, we used But the car issue is always there.

    I also recommend Da Kitchen (big portions) which has two locations in Kapalua and Kihei. I think I might have mentioned on twitter Ululani’s Shaved Ice in Kihei as well. So many great places to see and stay in Maui, cant ever go wrong.


    • Oops fixed Kihei lol.

      It was a great time and we really enjoyed Maui. I did look at aloharents but it was more expensive than renting through Costco.

  10. Great pictures! We went to Maui for our honeymoon nearly 20 years ago. We stayed in a nice hut out in the jungle. It was awesome. Your resort looks great too. 🙂
    We’re traveling more slowly now too as we get older. It’s more fun now to experience one place in depth. Hopping around every couple of nights is for young people.

  11. Funny how similar our Hawaii trips were in some regard. We also had the crazy line at the car rental place which meant we were there until way past midnight our time as well. I was impressed by how well our kiddo did, but we were pretty exhausted. We did get a free upgrade to a mini van, which worked out really well for all the driving around we did. We also flew out on the 11PM redeye, which at least meant we didn’t pay for another night of lodging and car rental haha. (We didn’t travel hack beyond the plane tickets)


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