Back from Hawaii

I’m back! Hawaii was a complete and utter blast, and I’ll be taking the next few blog posts to catch you all up on what we did while we were there. Nothing like a vacation to give me plenty of blog fodder.

First off, one of the big decisions when you go to Hawaii seems to be “which island should I go to?” I’ve been once before (when I was 19), and went to Oahu and Kauai, but I don’t remember a whole ton of that trip. (I remember Pearl Harbor and the Polynesian Cultural Center, both of which I can definitely recommend, but that’s about it, which makes me wonder how much Daniela and MC will remember of this trip . . .) This time, we went to Maui for the sole reason of that was the island my sister recommended and planned the entire trip around. (She’d been raving about Hawaii for years, always telling me it was the Best Place Ever. I had long resisted going, for the main reason that it takes forever to get there from Maine. In the end, I said I’d go if she planned the whole thing. It was very much worth it.)

Knowing that we were going to Maui, we had to figure out how to get there for as little as possible. At Thanksgiving. Those aren’t generally compatible requirements. However, I turned to my good old reliable “There’s no American Thanksgiving in Canada” trick, which meant we left from Montreal, a 4.5 hour drive away. Of course, if we hadn’t left from there, we would have left from Boston, a 3.5 hour drive away. We could leave from Portland, but that’s going to entail two layovers, and that always seems to be tempting fate too much. Leaving from Montreal saved us around $700 a ticket. Definitely worth it, though it did make the travel more clunky than it had to be. We drove to Montreal, stayed the night at a Doubletree that let us park the car there, and then flew from there to Vancouver (6.5 hours) and from there to Maui (6.5 hours). It’s pretty much the same as flying to Europe. (Also, I used points to get the tickets, so . . . free. Yay!)

Maui just had the severe forest fires in August, so things were different there than they might have been otherwise. We stayed in Ka’anapali, right next to Lahaina, which is the town that burned down. Each time we’d go anywhere, we pretty much drove through a disaster zone. They’ve fixed the roads and made a detour to loop around the worst of it, but you still see the area that the fire swept through. On the one hand, that made me feel pretty bad, being there on vacation while the people who lived there were all struggling so much. On the other, it felt like everyone we interacted with was just ecstatic that we were there. The economy runs on tourism, so if people stay away, things get even worse. And it felt pretty empty to me, honestly. Thanksgiving day itself felt busy at the hotel, but other than that, it was rare that we saw other people around. We had the hot tubs to ourselves most of the time. The roads were traffic free usually. We didn’t have to wait most of the time. So . . . they could definitely use more people coming.

Overall, I was surprised by how expensive food was in Maui. We got groceries, and it felt like everything was at least double the price of what it usually was, sometimes more. Restaurants were also very pricey (with the exception of when we went to one at happy hour, and a bunch of stuff was half off. Definitely something to look into if you’re there.) On the flip side, so much of what there is to do there is free, so you could offset the food price by just going to the beach each day. In other words, Hawaii was more expensive in some ways and less in others.

So would I go back? Yes, even with how big of a pain it was to get there. (Though I’m really curious how Hawaii compares to Caribbean islands. More firsthand research needs to be done . . .) I’ll get into the details in later posts, but the island was stunning, and it felt very different from anything else we’ve done. (Including Puerto Rico. The infrastructure in Maui was just so much better, even with a bunch of it burning down.) We didn’t do some of the very touristy things (no luau, for example: they cost $200+, and we just decided to spend money elsewhere), but there was no lack of great things to do and see. If I go again, I think I’d likely take the direct flight from Boston to Oahu, and then take a short flight from there to Maui.

I’m definitely glad we stayed for a whole week. Anything less would have felt really rushed, and very draining. That said, I know I typically go on longer vacations than many people, so maybe take that into account if you’re planning your own trip. We could have seen more, but I’ll also say that it was a fine time to come home, as well.

So, a fun time had by all, and I look forward to getting into some of the details in the next few days. In the meantime, if you’ve got questions, I’m happy to answer them. Glad to be home! (Especially because we’ve got snow here. I love snow. Daniela went surfing one morning and then went to Nordic ski practice the day after we came home. That’s quite the change . . .

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