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What do you think of when you say Hawaii?
Walking along an exotic sandy beach with warm water lapping over your feet? Drinking fruity pineapple cocktail drinks under gently swaying palm trees? Snorkeling within volcanic reefs and frolicking with Hawaii’s green sea turtles?
Yep, that is how I pretty much think of the islands of Hawaii and it is not too far off the mark.
Here are my Top 3 Maui Vacation Highlights from our trip.
We just got back from a 10 day trip to the islands of Maui and the Big Island in Hawaii. When I was putting together my Vision Board in January, this trip was a possibility as our friends had a condo on Maui and we ended up planning a trip with them for their Spring Break. I also have a cousin that lives on the Big Island, so it was fun to visit some family and get more of a local experience as well during our vacation.
We have decided to test out a few different types of travel trips this year with Hawaii being our “traditional vacation” type of trip of doing touristy type of things and just relaxing. Here are the other trips planned for the remaining 2022:
All of these trips are very different in nature and widely different budgets. So we have decided that this is our year of mini-experiments on trying different travel experiences to see what fits best for us and our budget.
This post is a debrief for me on our “traditional family vacation” style of trip. I wanted to pick the top 3 things learned from experiencing this type of vacation. I also wanted to highlight the stand out experiences. We did not do any of the expensive luaus or snorkeling trips, etc. that one might while they are in Hawaii. I wanted to highlight the smaller things that I will really remember from such a vacation. And, we must talk about food while vacationing too, as this is a big part of the whole experience while traveling.
Here are my top 3 lessons learned, experiences had and my favorite foods I tried while in Hawaii.
1. I over packed with just a backpack!
We are testing traveling with just a backpack so we don’t have to check luggage. I have been experimenting with this, however I still struggle with my toiletry items and shoes!
I had a few pieces of clothes that I did not even wear and could have taken less under garments and just done the wash more. I did buy some sandals and water shoes in Maui, which I only wore a few times, and ended up leaving them with my cousin to donate.
I am slowly beginning to get used to buying things that I need when I am traveling and not having to pack it all with me and pay $60 in luggage fees for a checked bag. That’s $120 round-trip and you can buy a lot of toiletry items for that! I am trying to embrace “Less is More” for packing.
2. Loose planning is better for experiences
I have always been a planner when it comes to travel. I research things months in advance and set up my list of things I want to do while I am on vacation and traveling.
Well for this trip, I did none!
Since our accommodations were taken care of, I just booked the flights and that was the extent of my travel planning. It was liberating! Letting go of control and being spontaneous was way more fun.
If I needed a nap, I took a nap.
It is way easier to go day to day based on what the weather is like or if you find out about the most perfect snorkeling spot to see turtles, then you can just do that instead. We saw the most beautiful sunset from the top of the Haleakala Volcano on Maui, as we waited to find the best weather day to do that once we were there.
3. The better the bed, the better the trip
When was the last time you “slept” on a pull out/sofa bed?
Lucky you if you have never had the privilege. Sofa beds are such a good idea in theory, but a bad idea in getting a good night’s sleep. I am not complaining about free accommodations, but we have realized having a comfortable bed so that we can sleep well is bumping higher and higher up on our priority list when we travel. This ties back into my last blog post, Need to Sleep, and the Life Pyramid with sleep being the foundation and most important thing for a happy & good life.
1. Snorkeling in Turtle Town
This was my highlight experience on Maui. The friend I was traveling with really wanted to see the sea turtles, but she was a little afraid of snorkeling and she was not having much luck.
Every time I went in the water without her, I saw a turtle!
On our last day in Maui, we went to Makena Bay based on a tip from a local at Maui Kayaks, and found the spot where sea turtles sleep and like to hang out during the day, they call it Turtle Town. We saw seven turtles just hanging out in the coral, snoozing, swimming, and chill’in. My friend was overjoyed to finally get to see them.
It is probably one of the most peaceful and serene things I have done.
2. Tiny Plane Flight
I had considered myself a pretty worldly traveler, until I put all the places I have traveled on this map and realized…
I have some traveling to do!
23 countries, which is great, but when you look at it on a map, there is so much more to explore out there.
We took an inter-island flight between Maui and the Big Island and I am not sure what we were expecting, but the plane was tiny! The whole flying process was way more informal and is probably how more of the world operates than we think.
There were 6 rows and maybe 10 of us on the flight for our quick 20 minute ride from Maui to the Big Island. It was the only time I needed instructions on how to fasten my seatbelt! It was not just the lap belt, but I was completely harnessed in and there was no way I was falling out of that seat!
3. Fish Pedicure
This may seem silly, but it was really fun and a Birthday treat! I went snorkeling with my Cousin, which was amazing and on our way back through one of the resorts, there is a little pond where you can sit down and let the tiny fish nibble at your toes.
I have heard about these types of spa pedicures and how expensive they are. This was a pond outside that was nestled in the lava flow, off the beaten path and was so peaceful. These little fish must have been hungry, since my left foot was covered with them all nibbling at my toes and cuticles.
Not to reveal too much of where it is, as many locals don’t even know where it is, but it is along the Kohala Coast on the Big Island. We don’t want the fish to get too fat!
1. Cinnamon rolls in Kihei, Maui
Hands down this was my most favorite thing to eat (3 times) in Maui, The Cinnamon Roll Place in Kihei. They were that good, not good for my waistline, but that good!
We had been on a diving trip about 10 years ago on Maui and the dive boat had these cinnamon rolls. I had to find them again and luckily enough they were still around with a line out the door no doubt. I want to get a job there so I can learn their secret to how they make them so good. I know the answer actually…lots and lots of sugar!
2. Dole Whip
I love ice cream. Really any kind of ice cream will do. I am typically less of a fan of sorbet or icy frozen treats. Maui is known for their shaved ice, which just does not sound appealing to me, as I don’t like crunching on ice.
However, when we were in Lahaina, Maui and I saw the Dole Whip place and all the people walking out with this light & fluffy, Dairy Queen like ice cream, I had to try it. Okay I had it twice since I wanted to make sure Scott got to try it too. I certainly would not want him to miss out on that!
3.Poke To Your Taste
As you might think, food is pretty expensive in Hawaii, which makes sense as most of the places are for tourists wanting to watch a stunning sunset on the beach, while sipping a fruity cocktail and eating dinner.
During our visit on the Big Island, I got swimmer’s ear from all the snorkel and turtle watching I was doing, so we were in search of the local pharmacy for some medicine. Our GPS for some reason took us along the back roads winding through Hilo’s industrial areas, which are for sure the least attractive parts of town, with not a tourist in sight!
And then we saw it! A neon green building in the middle of an industrial corridor, which was aptly named, Poke To Your Taste.
We had to stop!
You know you are in good company when you are in line with local construction workers. Our friend calls these eating establishments, “plastic white chair” places. They are restaurants for locals and will not be fancy, but you are going to find good food for a good value. Bingo! We found one!
This To Go only place had you pick your fish, with or without rice, and then could add all the toppings they had to your bowl. This set us back $9.00 and was one of the best meals we had out during our trip.
It’s Okay. It was a pleasant way to spend time.
I am looking for something more or different from my travels at this stage of my life. I am not 100% sure of what I am looking for, but I am not looking for a tourist style experience when we travel. The idea of “slow travel” where we are spending more time in one place sounds much more appealing. Slow travel provides an opportunity to settle in and an opportunity to get to know the locals. We will get a chance to test slow travel later this fall when we are in Portugal and see if that is a better fit.
This was super helpful for me to really sit down and think about our vacation and reflect on the Top 3 Maui Vacation Highlights. I know when I was working in my corporate job, I would plan a big vacation, go on it and then start work the next day. I really never had a chance to digest my experiences and trip. I had a million emails to catch up on and jump back into projects, etc.
This is just one of the beauties of Post FI Life and actually a really important one, take time to digest your life. Taking the time to slow down, reflect on how I am spending and enjoying my time to see if that is a fit for how I want to live. There are lots of lessons learned from this trip of what to do and not do, which will help me navigate my way down this path during my Post FI Life.
Scott had a great quote yesterday that I want to remember after we had some talks about this.
So let’s get the machete out and start trail blazing our Post FI Life.
I love my toiletry bag! Scott makes fun of my toiletry bag all the time and how it takes up half the suitcase when we used to travel.
I would agree.
I am not a big makeup person, but for some reason I really have loads of toiletries. I love them & need them! I love traveling light.
Did you know there is a beard “club” for dudes that have longer, mountain man style beards? Yep, it’s true.
Dudes with longer beards will give a little nod and slight wink to other dudes with longer beards. It is like motorcycle riders that will give little waves to other motorcycle riders, UPS drivers acknowledging other UPS drivers, or truck drivers nodding to another truck driver. The Year of the Beard begins.
Explore! I feel like I am on board the starship Enterprise. For you Star Trek geeks like me, Star Trek represents exploration, learning about new cultures, trying new things that I have not done before and experimenting along the way. Star Trek could be a metaphor for a FI lifestyle.