Oahu - Maui - Kauai - Oahu | April 26 - May 7 2018
Hawaii, for me, was always a destination I wanted to visit, which never landed on my radar due to distance. As of 2018, it's the furthest I’ve been from Montreal. My boyfriend James and I saw that there were round trip flights for $540 and we pounced. We were lucky to share the trip with our great friend Ted and his amazing friend Lisa. Ted knew plenty of sights, restaurants and bar options as he travels to Hawaii for work. We had all kinds of laughs and tomfoolery* together. Inside joke.
Knowing nothing about Hawaii’s geography, I had 2 months to become familiar and note everything we'd want to see. James and Ted managed the accommodation side of things. They settled on having us stay in Oahu, followed by Maui, Kauai and ending back in Oahu. We arranged car rentals through Turo on the last 3 legs of the trip. Having this much ground to cover was a challenge, but it's typically how James and I like to travel. I think we did very well with the time we had.
When you think of Hawaii you imagine sunsets on the beach. This wasn’t our trip. We arrived two weeks after record breaking rainfall and flooding that created mudslides, devastating some areas of Kauai. Luckily the damage wasn’t in our way though we did see road closures and a few collapsed homes in Hanalei. We barely saw the sun until our last two days in Oahu. It was scary at first to hear that there were earthquakes happening on Big Island, and the volcano which subsequently erupted. It had no affect on us.
Now the awesome stuff.
If you're in Maui on a Sunday you should hit up Makena beach, aka Big Beach. If you trek a little up the rock face and reach 'Little Beach' you'll find a pretty great party! Drums, flower crowns and other activities (if you partake). You'll also see a fair share of nudity. It's a fun and very welcoming crowd.
We managed to do the entire road to Hana (obviously not stopping at every point) and continued south until we reached Haleakalā. The summit was surreal. I felt as if we had entered space. It's a 45 minute drive from the base to the top, on a road that zig zags all the way up. We made it just in time after a long day on the road, and thankfully the sun poked out of the clouds to set for us. What we didn’t plan for was just how cold and windy it would be. People were laughing at us for wearing shorts and flip flops, while they wore insulated/hooded jackets. I guess everyone else did their research.
Kauai’s Nāpali coast is simply one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen. The best views are from the water (we didn’t have time to do this) or by helicopter. I’m biased about the helicopter, but in my opinion it’s a must; worth every cent. We splurged by paying for the tour that lands beside Jurassic Falls, provided by Island Helicopters Kauai. They hold the only permit on the island to land, as it's private property. I watched Jurassic Park at least 129 times as a child so this was 'a moment' for me. I cried a bit. Shhhhh.
We badly wanted to hike the Waimea Canyon and Cliff trail on Kauai which is about 2 hours from where we stayed in Princeville. Our rental broke down 30 minutes before reaching the trail, as it started to rain on us. This was a hilarious bummer. As you see below in the Kauai gallery, it gave us a memorable family photo. Our Turo car owner Anwar was amazing. He took time off work to pick us up, gave us a tour from the road of Waimea Canyon, then brought us back down to the airport to pick up a new car, refunding in full. What a guy!
Our last full day on Oahu was spent on the North Shore doing something I’ve always wanted to do; shark cage! We went with North Shore Shark Adventures who boated us 3 miles off the coast of Haleiwa. We saw 8-10 Galapagos sharks up close. They can almost always guarantee shark sightings as the fishing boats throw out unwanted catches of the day. The sharks are lured close whenever a boat approaches. I started to tremble when I stepped into the cage and had to shake it off. They were fascinating! Pro tip: Take something for anti nausea, even if you don’t normally get sick; It's bumpy out there. I personally suggest paying for the $75 GoPro footage that they offer. You can see the sharks even more clearly than you can through the snorkel.
We jumped a ~25 foot cliff into the water at Waimea Beach after, which is a short drive out of Haleiwa. This was another thrill that you should factor in!
I’ve listed all the memorable stops below (or click on the maps to jump), there is just so much else we wanted to see, but I hope this could be helpful when you plan your own trip to Hawaii! Aloha!
Click the maps to see more
Waikiki Days 1-3
Kauai Days 6-9
Maui days 3-6
Oahu Days 9-11
Waikiki | days 1 to 3
• Diamond Head (hike and lookout onto the city of Waikiki)
• Waikiki Beach (iconic/jam packed with tourists)
• Poké Bar for a fresh lunch
• Markets and general shopping
• Lava Tube for island cocktails and glorious tacky decor
• Bacchus for drinks (during rainfall we drank here for a few hours, small and wood-adorned, Waikiki’s only gay bar)
• Fireworks at the Hilton, happening every Friday night. a fun thing to do at the end of a day, Albeit a bit short
• Liliha Bakery, an iconic bakery serving full breakfasts that I highly recommend
Maui | DAys 3 to 6
• Surf lessons with David via AirBnB experiences, on Lahaina beach
• Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm. A perfect slow morning to drink lavender coffee and take in the view
• Haleakalā summit. We chose to do this at sunset after the Road to Hana. I’m so happy that we did, it was worth being on the road for 13 hours
On the road to Hana:
• The town of Paia and Ho’opika beach
• Twin Falls
• If you see Bud the bird man on the side of the road, you may want to stop. see photo above.
• Black Sand Beach. A personal favourite.
• Pipiwai trail. Unfortunately we only had time to take this trail for 30 minutes up and 30 minutes back down to make the summit in time. I hear the rest of the trail is wonderful. It was a welcome chance to stretch our legs. $25 access, which includes the Haleakalā summit.
• The drive itself is a site, make sure to stop at whatever catches your eye, there is so much.
• We decided on Sushi for dinner and found Kojima on our way back to Kihei. I recommend it if it fits in your drive!
Kauai | Days 6 to 9
• Mariachi's Restaurant in Lihue for Taco Tuesdays, awesome food and strong margueritas
• Hanalei bay, one of the most iconic beaches of Hawaii
• Shipwreck Beach in Poipu: Spectacular crashing waves and cliffs to explore
• Spouting horn, plus surrounding markets and food trucks for lunch in Koloa
• Poipu has a great market that was jammed with people, lots of food and higher end shopping
• Tiki Iniki in Princeville (featured in a scene of Ocean's 11) for dinner and drinks. If you’re wondering if you should get the Zombie bowl to share with your travel partners, the answer is do it! They light it on fire, and it’s ridiculously awesome.
• Waimea Canyon trail. Our car broke down before we could do it but we saw the canyon from the road and still wish we had been on the trail
• Lava Lava Beach Club on the water in Kapaa was a fun stop for lunch before we hit the airport. I can still taste the garlic shrimp.