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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Maui Wedding Anniversary and 30th Birthday Trip Recap

 Hi Friends! 

Have you ever traveled somewhere that just felt like home? A place so beautiful it makes you want to cry? A place so special that when you leave, it almost feels like you left a piece of your heart behind? For me, thats Maui. 

Hubby and I had gone to Maui in 2019 with a special group of friends and vowed that we would return some day. I will never forget seeing Maui for the first time and just being so blown away by its beauty. There is something so special about this island that until you experience it first hand, it is hard to understand. To be honest, I didn't think we would be able to go back for a very long time as it can be quite expensive to go Hawaii. Hubby and I saved up for a while and we were also able to find the most perfect Airbnb that fit our budget. If you are planning a trip to Maui (or even a different Hawaiian Island) and are on a budget, I recommend you consider the Airbnb route! The time of year we went also seemed to be much more affordable than other times of the year. 

Where We Stayed 

As mentioned, we stayed in an Airbnb. The unit we stayed in is located on the beautiful Papakea Resort. We stayed in a studio unit that had the most beautiful view of the property and the ocean from our lanai (aka balcony). What I loved about this unit is that it had everything we needed to cook and be comfortable for the 12 nights we were there. We cooked many nights during our stay and there was nothing I would say we needed and didn't have access to. I know while on vacation, cooking is sometimes the last thing you want to do, however we didn't mind it. This was a great way for us to save some money since going out to dinner every night certainly adds up. This was also a great option since it can be tricky to get reservations with the current COVID restrictions in place. I will touch on how it was traveling to Maui with COVID restrictions towards the end of this post, but I will say we had no issues. 

Since the unit is a studio, the bed is in your "living room". The unit contains a murphy bed as well as a pull out couch so if you were traveling with another person or couple, you would have enough sleeping space. I will say, the bathroom is tiny and since it is only a studio you do run out of hot water quickly, just something to keep in mind if you decide to travel with another couple or an additional family member/friend. My husband and I found that this unit was absolutely perfect for us since it was just us two. 




The property itself was beautiful as well! The grounds were very well maintained, we saw the pool being cleaned every morning and the grounds being upkept as well. The property has 2 pools, two hot tubs, and a putting green. At the far end of the property there are stairs to get down to the ocean, however I will say it seems that the tides have raised as there was very little beach, even at another beach down the way where we spent majority of our time last trip there was very little beach at certain times of the day due to the tides. The great thing about Maui though is that there are a ton of beaches and so many within close proximity. We watched the sunset every night on the sea wall of the property. It was the coolest experience just watching everyone gathering on the lawn to watch the sunset with a glass of wine. If you have ever been to Maui, you know how magical their sunsets are. 

Overall, I highly recommend this property and the unit we stayed in. We would definitely stay here again! (Will add the link here soon so check back!)

What We Did 

The goal of this trip was to relax as much as possible. It had been a long time since hubby and I had taken a trip together just the two of us, and we really wanted to enjoy every moment. We decided to do this trip in September to celebrate our 5 year Wedding Anniversary as well as my 30th birthday (we got to celebrate my birthday while in Maui, which was amazing!). We had initially planned to possibly do a day on the other side of the island in order to see Haleakala, and some of the Road to Hana but we changed our minds. Honestly it was so nice to just relax, snorkel right off the beach, soak up the views, and spend time in the pool. We did have two days that we explored a bit more. One day we took the ferry from Lahaina over to the neighboring island of Lanai and we also took a few hours to head into Kapalua to see Dragons Teeth (more about both to follow). 

Day Trip to Lanai

As mentioned above, we took the ferry from Lahaina to Lanai for the day. Lanai is the island you can see directly across the water in many of my pictures. If you are staying in the Kaanapali area, you get direct views of Lanai from the beach (you can also see Molokai depending which direction you are looking). Lanai is the smallest inhabited island and I would venture to say that it's kind of off the beaten path in most areas. There is definitely very little to do as far as nightlife is concerned but if you are interested in exploring and soaking up the beauty of the island then it is worth the day trip. The ferry costs 30$ each way but is definitely worth it to see this unique island. The ride is about 45 minutes and you can see beautiful ocean views during the ride (I recommend sitting up top on the way to Lanai). One thing to note is that the way back to Maui can be VERY choppy. We left Lanai around 2:30PM and it was extremely choppy, it was also choppy when we went in 2019. The morning trip to Lanai was perfect but it is definitely rough in the afternoon. If you are prone to motion sickness, definitely bring some dramamine for the ride back. 

There are many "hidden gems" on the island including a cat sanctuary, Shipwreck Beach, and Hulope Beach Park. When you get off the ferry you will see a road to follow. The Hulope Beach Park is about a 15-20 minute walk from the ferry so definitely be prepared. This is the easiest beach to get to without a car. The Four Seasons is also located next to this beach and prior to COVID, visitors were able to have lunch on the property. Unfortunately, this time we went we were unable to have lunch there as they had it closed off to visitors in order to accommodate their guests. One of the Four Seasons employees did note that there is a lunch spot in Lanai City, however you would need to take a car there so I recommend packing a lunch!  

Hulope Beach Park is a beautiful spot. The sand is powder soft and the water is the most vibrant turquoise color. To the left of the beach there are hiking spots and an area that leads down to a large area of tide pools. If you keep hiking up you can view Puupehe (Sweetheart Rock) which is a large summit that is about 80ft out of the water situated between Manele and Hulope Bay. Where you hike to view this formation is about 1The views from the top are absolutely spectacular! Definitely bring a good pair of sneakers! Although not a very hard hike, it is very rocky. Keep in mind, you are over 100ft up so if you are afraid of heights then this may not be for you. 







Dragons Teeth in Kapalua 

We met a wonderful couple while on this trip who told us about Kapalua. It is about 15-20 minutes from the Kaanapali area and offers beautiful beaches, a blow hole, and really neat hiking spots. Dragons Teeth is located off the side of a golf course by the Ritz. You can park right near the trail and it is an easy walk to get to this attraction. Dragons Teeth gets its name from the rock formations that look like "dragons teeth". The rock formations were created by lava from one of the last lava flows on Maui. You can often see turtles right here off the shore! There are also a bunch of tidal pools up top due to the waves coming up so high, so definitely use caution while exploring! Going to Dragons Teeth was easily one of my favorite parts of our trip. The views were incredible and the rock formations simply blew me away. It was drizzling on and off a bit when we went so we got to see the most beautiful rainbow over the ocean! Next time we are in Maui we definitely want to explore Kapalua further as there are so many things to see in this area. 








Snorkling 

I wanted to touch on snorkeling although we didn't do an "official" snorkeling excursion. There are many options for excusions and places you can snorkel throughout the island however, right off the beach in Kaanapali you can see sea turtles, coral reefs, and vibrant fish. We were considering a snorkel tour at Molokini but opted to just snorkel whenever we felt like it off the beach. We saw turtles almost every single day and even on our last day I still got so excited when I spotted one. They are truly magnificent creatures! Please keep in mind, as beautiful as they are please refrain from touching or disturbing them. We simply floated above and watched from a distance. If you did not bring snorkel gear, you can pick some up at your local ABC store!


Where We Ate 

As I mentioned earlier, we did not eat out too many times, but I cannot say enough good things about the places we did eat! I am convinced that Maui has some of the best food I have ever eaten! 

 Our first dinner out was at one of our favorite spots from our 2019 trip and that is Down the Hatch. Down the Hatch is a casual spot that offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They offer amazing cocktails and have open seating. You simply go up to the window, order your food, and pick a table to sit down. They also own a shaved ice place that is located inside the same building right next door. We LOVE their chicken tacos and the Mai Tai was to die for. We wanted to head here for breakfast one morning but didn't get the chance to this trip. Down the Hatch is located in Lahaina which is a quick 15 minutes away from where we stayed. There are a lot of other restaurants and shops in Lahaina as well. 




We celebrated our anniversary at HuiHui which is located on the beach front of the Kaanapali Beach Hotel. It is definitely on the pricey side but the food is to die for! They gave us a complimentary champagne toast for our anniversary which I thought was a sweet touch. I had the New York strip, hubby had the short ribs, and we split the pineapple upside-down bread pudding for dessert. This meal was so delicious and we actually ended up taking our leftovers and finishing them another night in our rental. If you are celebrating something special, definitely check out HuiHui! 

Our last meal of the trip was probably my favorite and it was also my birthday dinner. Our friends who were in Maui right before us recommended this little hole in the wall spot called Sale Pepe. Sale Pepe is also located in Lahaina however, it is in the back of one of the shopping centers. Sale Pepe offers homeade pasta and pizza. The risotto was definitely one of the best meals I have ever had in my life. I will be craving it until we go back next time! The staff were so nice and I loved everything we had there. For appetizers, my husband and I split the Insalata Di Buffala Caprese, my husband had the Strozzapreti Con Guanciale Di Manzo (handmade pasta with a rich ragu, so delish!), and as I mentioned I had the Risotto con Pomodoro Fresco E Burrata. I loved their lemon basil martini and will definitely be trying to re-create it at home! We had gelato for dessert and it was just the perfect meal for us to end our trip on. Highly recommend Sale Pepe if you are in Maui! 

Picture Break!

Before I touch on what it was like traveling during COVID, I wanted to share some additional photos from our trip. The sunsets in Maui are unreal and at night, it feels like you could touch the stars. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do! 






Traveling to Maui during COVID-19

I did want to touch on what it was like in Maui with the current COVID restrictions. In order to travel to Maui and bi-pass a quarantine period you need to either show proof of vaccination, or show negative test results within 72 hours of departure. Before your trip you need to register on the Safe Travels Hawaii website and input all of your flight info, vaccine cards/test results prior to departure. A QR code will be generated once all of your information is cleared.  Once you arrive to the airport you will need to show this to the staff at the kiosk and they will provide you with a wristband. This wristband makes it so that when you arrive in Hawaii you do not need to go through the additional procedures of getting your cards/test results checked again. This was very helpful and made the process of arrival nice and quick for us. We flew Hawaiian Air but I believe other airlines have the exact same process. 

There are restrictions on the island, however coming from NJ we had similar ones months ago so nothing was very shocking in my opinion. Restaurants have recently decreased capacity to 50% and right before we left for our trip they had made the decision that in order to eat inside a restaurant you would need to show proof of vaccination. You can still eat outside if you are not vaccinated, but you cannot dine indoors. We did have to show our cards at Sale Pepe since we ate inside, however since we ate outside at Down the Hatch and HuiHui we did not. I would say to bring your card with you just in case wherever you go or scan it to your phone! This is pretty much the rule everywhere right now, but of course you are required to wear a mask within the airport and the entire time you are on the flight unless you are actively eating or drinking. You just also wear a mask on the island anytime you are indoors (aka hotel common areas, stores, ect) and also if you take any Ubers or public transportation. 

Overall, It felt like a fairly normal vacation since almost everything we did was outside anyway! Just like when we are home we took the proper precautions of wearing our mask, keeping distance from others, and washed our hands often. 

As always if you have any questions feel free to shoot me a DM on instagram!

Till next time Maui 
xoxo

-Nicole 





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Maui Wedding Anniversary and 30th Birthday Trip Recap

 Hi Friends!  Have you ever traveled somewhere that just felt like home? A place so beautiful it makes you want to cry? A place so special t...