We had such an amazing time last holidays in Hawaii! It really is a beautiful and scenic destination. During our stay, we visited two islands. Firstly, the island of Maui where we stayed in Wailea, and then to off Oahu where we stayed at Waikiki Beach. Some of you may have already seen some photo highlights on my Instagram account. But here is a more detailed rundown of the best of our fun and active Hawaiian holiday.
We absolutely loved our time in Maui! So scenic, so quiet, and so serene. It was the perfect place to relax and unwind.
We stayed in Wailea on the west coast of the island of Oahu and were told that it rarely every rains on this side. The weather was lovely, averaging around a low of 18 degrees celsius at night to an average high of around 27-28 degrees celsius each day. And that’s during the Hawaiian winter!! Water temperatures were all still swimmable too! Even I went in and that’s saying something!
Accommodation in Maui
We spent a fabulous week at the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort in Maui, which was gorgeous, and we really enjoyed our entire stay! I believe it is one of the newer hotels in Wailea, with beautiful lap pools and amazing restaurants all positioned right on Mokapu Beach! The staff were all friendly and helpful.
Below is the reception and foyer, with gorgeous timber trim and even a sandpit to play in.
Reception sits on the top level overlooking down on the breathtaking ocean view and the pool tiers of the resort.
At the Andaz resort itself, we enjoyed lots of leisurely pool time as there were so many pools tiered at different levels that were all clean and beautiful, with plenty padded lounge chairs to accommodate everyone. There was also plenty of staff attending the pool, fitted lounge towels, beach towels, ice water and sunscreen available close by on each level.
Action in Maui
At the resort, we went on an Outrigger Canoe Paddle which was a guided experience as part of our stay. We learned the basics of paddling and some of the history canoeing and its importance to the Hawaiian Heritage. This was a really fun and interesting paddle, worth taking the time to do!
Beach time – Snorkeling, Boogie Boarding and Wave Jumping!
The resort provides fins and snorkels to use just at its beachfront. Not quite the Great Barrier Reef (very spoilt in Aus aren’t we?) but there was a small reef with some fish to see. Always fun to snorkel!
There were also boogie boards available to resort guests which were perfect for the waves at Mokapu Beach, as was the simple but fun activity of wave jumping!!
Along the front of the hotel by the beach, there is a scenic pathway which follows the coast, with beaches on one side and the many other resorts on the other. It’s not that long (about 3kmish end to end) but it really is a scenic track to run or walk along. We usually ventured on this path at least once a day.
Each day at the Andaz, there was either sunrise or sunset yoga. This was held at a small grassy spot just in front of the hotel by the beach. It really was the perfect meditative place for yoga, in both the early morning and early evening. I even got hubby to give yoga a go for the first time! He did enjoy it and kept it up for the rest of our trip.
The gym got used too during our active Hawaiian holiday, particularly when someone felt like a workout in the hotter hours in the middle of the day. The gym overlooked another pool, the adult’s pool (for over 12’s). This was also a beautiful and very quiet spot.
Food in Maui
At the Andaz Maui
The food at the Andaz Maui was absolutely amazing!
Ka’ana Kitchen usually started with the biggest and most indulgent all you can eat buffet!!
There was everything you can imagine starting with freshly squeezed juice combos, fresh fruit, pastries, waffles, donuts, poached eggs with fried potatoes, omelettes, chorizo, sausages, pancakes, fried noodles, pork bao, miso soup, scrambled eggs, make your own salad….and the lists goes on. Definitely called for restraint!
I usually started with a plate of something like smoked salmon, avocado, salad and a poached egg, followed by some fresh fruit….and maybe a donut to finish (obviously well deserved after a morning run or yoga session – we were on holidays after all!).
Lunch from the BumBye Beach Bar
After adjourning to the pool each day for some swim action, reading, and maybe a little snoozing, it was soon time for lunch! And with attentive staff coming around to check on your needs very regularly, it was very hard to refuse the convenience of poolside eating! Not the mention the delishousness!
We never actually ate at the location of the Bumbye Beach Bar but it serviced all the outdoor areas where you could have food brought to you while lying on the lounges. So easy and relaxing! Just beware when the kids go off to another area of the resort and start their own drinks and food tab!
We sampled many items on the lunch menu over the time we were at the Andaz, and all dishes were yum! Of particular note were the taro fish burger with waffle fries and the summer rolls with macadamia nut dressing (both as pictured), but many a regular burger with waffle fries were also sampled!
Morimoto Maui – Iron Chef
Morimoto Maui was a really special experience as the food was exceptionally fresh, full of flavour and creative.
It is well known for its celebrity chef, Masaharu Morimoto, best known for Iron Chef and Iron Chef America.
One of our starters was this gyoza dish. Sounds normal enough but it came with a bacon foam which I know, sounds totally weird, but it was so subtle and complemented the gyozas so well.
And I thought we had pretty good sushi and sashimi back home but these platters were a new experience. It really was like you were actually tasting the freshness of the sea!
This was a worthwhile experience, taking Japanese food to whole new level!
Other food in Maui
Along the coast path from the Andaz that I mentioned before, you can walk to The Shops at Wailea, a local mall of restaurants and shops. It was less than a 1km walk from the Andaz, but you can also get a free ride from the hotel concierge there and back. There is a range of other eating options here, many of which are also more affordable.
Of particular note was the Island Gourmet Market which was a huge market offering packaged foods and drinks to open counters of fresh foods to either eat in or takeaway. One of our lunch time favourites from here was the poke bowl.
Poke is a raw fish salad traditionally seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil, and green onions. This one was half spicy Hawaiian Ahi poke (tuna) and half salmon poke served on a bed of brown rice with teriyaki and seasame seeds. The Island Gourmet Market had a variety of poke flavours from which you could construct your own bowl.
Poke originated in Hawaii but is now also becoming ever increasingly popular in Melbourne and other cities around the world too. Newer versions incorporate other ingredients like zoodles and quinoa. But I have to say, it’s always nice to try dishes in their original form….and it was soooo yummy!!
Flatbreads, nachos and fish tacos
Flatbreads (pizza style meals), nachos and fish tacos are also very popular menu items in Hawaii. We enjoyed these at the Whale’s Tale Cafe on the coastal walkway. It was just a brief evening walk from the Andaz and we watched the sunset from our little comfy couch setting at the cafe, situated right on the beach. We were so lucky to also see whales that evening as the sun was setting. In fact, there were quite regular whale sightings during our stay.
Also that evening, we happened to be lucky enough to get some free entertainment as there was a luau on right next to us! Excellent bonus entertainment once the sun went down!
A Drive Around the Island
We love to explore our surrounds when visiting a new place. We hired a car through the hotel for a day and took a drive up to the northern tip and around the more tropical eastern coastline.
First stop was Ho’okipa Beach Park, a popular surf beach but also home to many Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles (Honu). When we were there, there were so many just lying on northern end of the beach. The kids loved seeing them!
As we ventured further east, we stopped at the Twin Falls. This was just a little walk from the car so easy for most people to access. Also a good stop for a pineapple popsicle on a sugar cane stick!
The rest of our day was spent driving up one of the two volcanoes on the island, Haleakala. It was a very long and windy drive up and unfortunately, it also started raining. By the time we reached the very top, it was a complete and total white out and we could not see any view at all! A bit frustrating after a very tedious drive but we were greeted with clearing skies and rainbows on the way down.
HINT: Check the weather forecast and with locals for the conditions the before planning your trip up the volcanoes and the weather on that side of the island can change very quickly!
The second half of our active Hawaiian holiday was spent on the island of Oahu, predominately at the popular tourist destination, Waikiki Beach. Waikiki is very, very different to Wailea in Maui. It is a very densely populated tourist destination, so it was much more crowded when we were there.
Accommodation in Waikiki, Oahu
We stayed at the majestic Moana Surf Rider, A Westin Resort & Spa, right on Waikiki Beach. It was a lovely hotel, and we were situated in the new wing. The hotel is situated in the heart of Waikiki, with the beachfront on one side and the main shopping strip of Kalakaua Avenue on the other.
Unlike in Maui, we did not spend much time at all at our hotel during our stay. The only pool was this one pictured below which was usually very fully occupied. The lounges facing the beach were limited also and usually taken by the time we had finished our morning activities.
Action in Oahu
Our time in Waikiki, Oahu was a very different type of active Hawaiian holiday to our time in Maui.
Mornings did however, start the same, with usually a sunrise run along the beach where possible and down to the yacht harbour back up the other end to Kapi’olani Park.
Yoga also featured on our schedule on those mornings we chose not to run.
In winter in Hawaii, this was at a very holiday friendly time of around 7-7.30am where you could watch the beautiful sunrise, and before the crowds set in on the beach.
And of the course, the popular surf lesson on Waikiki Beach it the agenda too. I had already done this on a previous visit, so my husband and youngest daughter took to the boards with their very experienced and bronzed local instructor. Both had a great time! The waves in Waikiki are virtually non-existent, so you need to paddle out to a break. Once there, the waves are gentle and perfect for beginners.
We preferred the beach to the crowded resort. We bought a few cheap $4 lilos from the local ABC shop, and paddled and floated around on the water. Once again, the water was very mild even for a winter swim!
Perhaps not quite what you thought, but definitely a big part of our active Hawaiian holiday was shopping! This gave us some serious workout sessions walking around and on our feet for hours a day! We didn’t shop at all while in Maui.
All in all, we came away with 10 pairs of new runners and heaps of running gear and activewear (not to mention all the non-sporty goods too!).
Waikele Premium Outlet
One full day was spent at the Waikele Premium Outlet. If you don’t have a car, you can take a bus there.
HINT: It is worth purchasing a ticket on an accredited tour bus operator. We booked this through the hotel. There are other cheaper options but you could find yourself standing for an hour with all your bags in a very hot, non-airconditioned, old and rickety vehicle!
This outlet is like a DFO in Australia. Sometimes it is a bit of luck if you can find the items that you like and in your size. We did however, manage to all each pick up many bargains!! My husband (who hates shopping!) managed to buy the most!
HINT: There is a Premium Outlets Passport which you can purchase of $5 to get further discounts off particular purchases from selected stores. We received this as part of our bus trip purchase so look out for this when booking. We did get benefit from these additional discounts.
If you are looking for sports gear, clothing and shoes, prices are much cheaper than in Australia, even after adjusting for the exchange rate. Adidas and Asics were the big winners here!
Ala Moana is the major shopping centre in Honolulu. It was a short $2 tram ride from outside our hotel. You can spend an entire day here (closes at 9pm from Monday to Saturday) and literally shop til you drop! You will find all the major shops here and department stores such as Macy’s and Nordstrom.
HINT: Check out the tourist discounts at certain stores such as Macy’s. You can get a card to get extra discounts off your purchases. At Macy’s, they offer a 10% discount to international visitors, even off sale items! Just ask for the Macy’s International Visitor Savings Card in store.
On the main shopping strip in Waikiki is Kalakaua Avenue. It stretches from the Honolulu through to Kapiolani Park. Here you can find all the major shopping brands from luxury items such as Prada, Tiffany & Co and Gucci, through to popular brands such as Victoria’s Secret, Footlocker and department stores such as Macy’s. There are shopping malls along the strip including the recently revamped International Marketplace which also has many great restaurants to eat at. There is often entertainment in front of the iconic banyan tree, such as the Hawaiian dance a below. Shops are open til late (9-10pm) so you can even get your after dinner fix!
Other outlet shopping in Waikiki
If you don’t want to head out to Premium Outlets, there are other discount shopping places locally in Waikiki.
Nordstrom Rack is the Norstrom outlet and there is one located just off Kalakaua Avenue, up Seaside Ave, at 2255 Kuhio Ave #200, Honolulu. We found loads of bargains here, especially shoes but everything a department store has to offer is on sale here! Definitely glad we found this place and just a quick walk from our hotel.
Ross Stores are another discount department store. This one is a cheaper style store with racks and racks of items. You need to really spend time going through the racks patiently here so if you are that way inclined, you may find the bargain you are looking for. There are some good big name activewear and shoe discounts here. There is one located just next door to the Nordstrom Rack at 333 Seaside Ave., Honolulu, Hawaii 96815.
HINT: Pack light or bring an extra suitcase so you can fit all your shopping in on the way home!
Food in Waikiki
Food in Waikiki varied from small local takeaways to restaurants on the strip and in shopping malls to hotel food. We did not at the hotel while in Waikiki but opted to venture out during the day.
We tried local places such as the Hale’iwa Bowls, and many restaurants either on Kalakaua Avenue or in the International Marketplace as it was just across the road from us at Moana Surf Rider.
In addition to the acai bowl and fish tacos (as discussed below), items such as burgers and ribs also featured commonly on the Hawaiian menus. There were also many Japanese restaurants to choose from in the area. Feeling nostalgic, we even made a special trip to Bills for breakfast to celebrate Australia Day!
On our trip around the island one day (see below) we headed to Hale’iwa where they are well-known for their acai bowls.
Originating in Brazil and adopted by the Hawaiians, this is another one you’ll find more and more in Aus these days. The acai berry is nutrient rich and very high in antioxidants, great for workout recovery! You usually find acai bowls come with various toppings. I had this Acai Surf Bowl from @haleiwabowls with organic acai sorbet, organic hemp granola, banana, raw coconut flakes and extra fresh raspberries topped off with a drizzle of honey! Delish!
Fish tacos were a regular menu item in Hawaii and all the ones we tasted were delicious! It usually comes as chargrilled fillets with accompaniments such as coleslaw and salad and guacamole.
It usually came as chargrilled fillets with accompaniments such as coleslaw and salad and guacamole.
A Drive Around the Island
As we did in Maui, we hired a car and drove around the island of Oahu for a day. So worth doing to really get a feel outside the major tourist hub of Waikiki.
We drove up north once again, with our first stop at the cute little town of Hale’iwa where we stopped for the acai bowls. This was a small little shack by the side of the road but was definitely worth the stop! A great spot to visit if you are up the Northern Beaches.
We headed along the coastline from there and stopped at Waimea on Ehukai Beach (Banzi Pipeline).
There just so happened to be a pro-surfing competition on there. It was the first time we have actually watched pipeline surfing live. Gives you a whole new appreciation of how awesome it is!
A lunch stop at one of the roadside shrimp places is a must!
We stopped here at Fumi’s. The shrimp (or prawns as we call them in Aus) were so fresh.
Order them in whatever style you like – garlic and butter were absolutely delicious served with rice!
Driving around the island was so scenic.
Once you start your way back around the eastern side you have the ocean immediately on your left with the high ridges of the mountains on your right.
It really is worth the trip if you have the time!
We had some wonderful family time on our active Hawaiian holiday. Hope there are some ideas and inspiration here for you to go visit these beautiful islands yourself one day!