Hawaii is a dream vacation spot for many people. The Hawaiian islands are perfect for the adventurer, the nature lover, the historian, and someone simply looking to relax on the beach. When a friend suggested we visit, I think I said “Absolutely” without allowing him to finish his sentence. I knew planning this trip would be a challenge due to COVID restrictions and the limited amount of time we gave ourselves to prepare for it. I also know that I always preach about planning trips far in advance to budget wisely, but with the world starting to open back up, we wanted to get this trip in while travel costs were still reasonably low. My friends and I were faced with a few challenges, but if you have subscribed to this blog, you will know that I am not one to back down from a challenge!
Where we stayin’, sis?
The first step was to choose an island to visit. I really wanted to choose an island based on the groups’ interests and intentions for this vacation. My friends and I are nature lovers that love to hike; we wanted to relax and unplug from our day-to-day lives, and didn’t really care about partying or nightlife. One of the most popular and obvious choices was Oahu, but it looked like one of the busier islands during my research. Our final decision was Maui, primarily because of the whale watching and the famous Road to Hana. Maui seemed to have something for everyone and looked like the best and most peaceful place for our group.
Next on the list was to look for a place to stay. We decided on 5 days/4 nights and needed a rental large enough to comfortably accommodate 7 adults. I ended up finding a home in Lahaina on VRBO that I absolutely loved. It had 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a full kitchen, balcony, beach access, and a nice backyard…I would honestly move into this home.
We ended up paying about $390 per person for the home. This covered the whole week as well as fees and taxes. We actually lucked up with this price as many of the vacation homes in Maui were way outside of our price range. I definitely manifested this jewel.
…and how are we going to get there?
As many of you already know, COVID-19 has changed how we travel in several ways, including flight prices. Plane tickets to Hawaii are cheaper than usual. Previously averaging over $1000 for 1 round-trip ticket, they are now between $500-800. Like many others, I was forced to cancel some previously planned trips last year due to the spreading virus, so I was able to use a Delta credit and only came out of pocket about $200 for my flight. If you have a credit with any airline, I recommend using it towards a pricier plane ticket or maybe even combining it with accumulated points so you can visit that dream destination without breaking the bank.
No Rental Car For You!
One of my main goals for this trip to Maui was to be able to explore the island and do the Road to Hana. Currently, tourism in Maui has picked back up, which has caused a rental car shortage on the island. We could not find any cars on the island, and any vehicle we did find was over $900 a day! We could not allow ourselves to pay that much for a rental car, so we began to accept that we may not see everything that we wanted to see during this trip. Then in divine timing, the owner of our vacation home recommended a friend of hers that owns a tour company. She was a complete lifesaver and was able to provide us transportation to and from the airport and took us on a private tour of Road to Hana. I will talk more about her and our time on Road to Hana in my next blog post!
COVID Restrictions – You Can’t Just Show Up Here!
Hawaii, as well as Maui County, does not make it super easy to vacation there. If you want to visit the islands for a little R&R, you will need to respect their COVID restrictions. First, be sure to register on Hawaii’s government Safe Travels site at, https://hawaiicovid19.com/travel/getting-to-hawaii/, by entering your trip information. After registering, you will need to get a COVID test within 72 hours of your departure. Be sure to get your test at one of their state-approved testing sites and upload it to the Safe Travels site (I got tested at Walgreens, which was super easy). Lastly, you will need to print your COVID test results and the provided QR code to present at the airport upon arrival. The site also requires you to download an app to your phone called AlohaSafe Alert. No one checked my phone for this at the airport, but I recommend still having this downloaded just in case.
I heard that Maui County recently started giving random COVID tests to travelers upon their arrival at the airport. This random test is in addition to the one you took before leaving for your trip, so be prepared to be selected once you get off the plane!
Now for the fun part!!!
Once planning and safe arrivals were out the way, it was time for us to indulge in the island’s activities. Keep in mind that Maui is more for the older crowd and families. Also, COVID restrictions have limited many things to do on the island, so nightlife isn’t really a thing.
My group and I only ate out at restaurants once or twice and stuck with grocery shopping and cooking at the house. I love indulging in the local food, but I always prefer cooking while on trips as it saves money! If you and your friends are good cooks and don’t mind eating at home, I highly recommend staying in and splitting the cost of groceries for the sake of your budget.
We took part in some fun activities like whale watching, shopping, and touring the island. If you visit during whale watching season (usually between November-May with peak watching between January to March), taking a whale watching tour is well worth your time. I booked with a great company named Pac Whale Eco-Adventures which has a 97% success rate with spotting whales. I also liked that they have a foundation that funds research, education, and conservation for marine life. Tickets are $44 for 3 hours (this also includes beverages). We were super lucky with spotting whales and even got entertained with a pack of dolphins!
One of the main attractions of our trip was the Road to Hana. Nature lovers, hikers, and adventurers really look forward to experiencing the Road to Hana with its numerous waterfalls, hiking trails, and beaches. My time on the Road to Hana was so profound that I have to create a separate blog post for it. Be sure you are subscribed to this blog, so you don’t miss my next post about the famous route!
Another Moment of Gratitude
A recurring theme of my blog is showing the gratitude that I have for my adventures, and it continues with my time in Hawaii. This was one of my favorite vacations (I say this about every vacation, haha). I loved the opportunities to explore nature, the people, the island’s history, and how much the locals genuinely care about their land. I am so grateful that I could experience it and connect with mother nature even more during my time there. I could tell that we all left that island with a sense of peace and looked forward to integrating a new perspective or change in mindset that we learned there back into our everyday lives. Maui was so amazing that I couldn’t limit it to one post, so I will be back very soon with another post specifically about the Road to Hana!!!
Stay Tuned and Stay Well! XO – Kat