Remember the days when you breezed through airport security with just one suitcase? And going on vacation meant chilling out by the pool, frilly umbrella drink in one hand, NYT crossword puzzle in the other? Yeah, me neither. If you’re reading this blog, it can only mean one thing: you’ve got kids. Going on vacation is anything but simple. There’s your suitcase and your kids’ luggage, carry-ons and diaper bags, car seats and strollers, snacks and games. Then, of course, there’s how will you keep the kids entertained once you get there.
For our first trip to Maui with the kids (Chloe, aged three, and six-month-old Eliot), we wanted to do more than just swim with dolphins and build sandcastles — though we certainly did get to practice the art of doing nothing at all poolside at Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea.
But an island vacation is, after all, about delving into the local culture, its traditional food and natural beauty. In Maui, that meant hiking to perfect waterfalls, exploring volcanic landscapes and buying exotic fruits from street side vendors. Sure, Eliot might have been asleep in his car seat or baby carrier for most of it, but our adventurous little girl still talks about the time we picnicked in the middle of a bamboo forest with not another soul around for miles. Here, some of our favorite discoveries:
Ali’i Kula Lavender
Set on the winding Hana highway, this is a perfect place to stop for tea (lavender herb tea and scones, yum!) served in a pretty porch overlooking fields of purple flowers. They also offer lavender treasure hunts, lavender wreath making classes, walking tours and even cart tours. Call ahead to preorder a gourmet lunch basket and remember to bring a picnic blanket (or hotel towel).
FEED THE GOATS
Surfing Goat Dairy
A dish we tried at Spago featured the most amazing, delicately flavored goat cheese. Our server told us it was made right on the island at Surfing Goat Dairy. The next day, we got in the car and drove to the dairy farm, where Chloe and Eliot got to pet the goats and learn how they are milked on the milk stand. The dairy farm also features a shaded patio where you can sit down with a chilled glass of lemonade and a cheese sampler plate served with crackers.
CLIMB A VOLCANO
Haleakala National Park
A visit to the volcano is a must, but being prepared is key. It gets pretty darn chilly and extremely windy at 10,000 feet above sea level, so pack accordingly. Long pants, closed-toe shoes, a sweater and, at the very least, a windbreaker are must-haves. And don’t forget the sunscreen. With our kids we did an easy Summit Area trail walk and marveled at the surreal landscape. Chloe loved walking on the cinder desert landscape and looking for native birds in the shrub land. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to visit the lush Coastal Area, which is known for its tropical vistas at every turn, as well as cool, freshwater falls and natural pools.
THE ROAD TO HANA
Arguably the most beautiful drive in Hawaii, you can do as much or as little of the road to Hana as time (and your kids’ patience) permits. It’s about 53 miles from Kahului, but it can take up to three hours each way to make the trip; so plan wisely. We drove about half of it and still had time to stop and smell strange and exotic flowers, walk in silent bamboo fields, hike through lush, tropical rain forests (beware the mosquitoes) and dip our toes in a black sand beach. Food trucks along the way sell delicious smoothies (mango-papaya-pineapple was Chloe’s favorite), banana bread and, of course, fruit. Some tips: bring lunch and snacks, lots of water, mosquito repellent, and fill up your gas tank!
This little town is exactly what you think of when you think Hawaii: colorful, laid-back and friendly. There are some really great restaurants, cafés and shops. Flatbread Pizza is the place to pick up a loaf of bread for your picnic or, of course, a pizza pie. A little bit away from the center of town and set in a coconut grove on the beach is Mama’s Fish House, an unpretentious eatery that serves the best Hawaiian style dishes — think Mahi-mahi baked in banana leaves and Upcountry style Ono with caramelized Maui onions.
Satisfy your sweet tooth at Green Banana Café. The place is decorated in bubble gum colors and glass jars filled with toppings, fruit loops, nuts, marshmallows, M&Ms, gum drops and other sweets you usually deprive your kid of. Go ahead, make his day and get him a frozen yogurt or shaved ice treat.
Celeste Moure has written about travel, design, music, beauty, architecture and food for various publications including Condé Nast Traveler, Spin, National Geographic Traveler, Real Simple, LA Times and Travel+Leisure. She also edits On Tippy Toes, an online mag that brings modern families the most inspiring ideas and products found at the intersection of parenthood and design. She lives in Vancouver, Canada with her husband and two kids.
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