Maui Family Vacation 2017 + Travel Tips

Maui Family Vacation and Travel Tips with Gorgeous Maui Drone Photography | natashaskitchen.com

Need a break from the cold weather? You came to the right place! 🙂 I’m sharing nearly 100 photos from our Maui family vacation. My husband took his new drone along (which he has been learning obsessively) and some of the shots he captured were so incredible that I want them printed on canvas for our next house. God makes beautiful things and these scenes are a EYE CANDY!!

If you’re planning a trip to Maui, this post might give you some helpful insights!

Note: links below are Amazon affiliate links for the products we use, love and recommend.

Vacation GOALS:

Last year, we skipped our vacation since we started planning it way too late and there was pretty much nothing available as I searched desperately for resorts, cruises, anything! Flights were also really spendy trying to book last minute. I deeply regretted missing that vacation. It’s just good and healthy to escape the everyday stressors of life and work you know? We were living in our parents house then and house-hunting with nothing promising on the horizon so that winter was rough for me.

Going forward, our goal is to take the family on vacation at least once a year, preferably in winter because winters are harder to get through and it really is so neat to go revisit summer when it’s cold back home. Also, vacation is good for the soul and I consider this rest a gift from the Lord. It will make you feel healthier, stronger, more energized and prepared to survive the rest of winter. lol.

Our History with Maui:

This was our 5th visit to Maui and this was the visit that I just didn’t want to go home (see our Maui family vacations from 2015 here, 2014 here and 2011 here). My sister and I joked that we should move to Maui, while sitting on the balcony sipping coffee in the morning, breathing in the moist warm air and watching the sunrise! Then I remembered we are building our dream house in Idaho. lol. I do love Idaho, but I was just so happy to be in Maui – no worries or stress for a solid 10 days (not including travel days since traveling with young children is NOT the fun part – Ha!).

I remember our first visit to Maui (before the kids were born and during my terrible haircut phase), my husband and I stayed in a little place that was about $100/night and we sure ran ourselves ragged on that trip – exploring everything we could, following the “Maui Revealed” book (Amazon affiliate link), driving the road to Hana – I think we came home more tired than when we left and I didn’t love Maui then. I wondered why people even went to Maui when they could go to Mexico, but my thinking has changed drastically with our latest 2 visits and I’m completely smitten with Maui now.



Lessons Learned:

Set an overarching goal for your vacation so you can go home feeling supremely satisfied. Our first trip to Maui was exhausting because we wanted to do EVERYTHING (and that was just the 2 of us) and our recent trip was the most relaxing and satisfying vacation of my life (with 2 young children). My goal was to REST. We work hard and wanted to step away from anything that felt like work or stress. If you are traveling with older children, you can probably do more adventuring but with little ones, it’s ok to just take it easy and bum on the beach every day. We beached every. single. day.

Family-friendly Activities in Maui:

The only paid activities below were parasailing, aquarium, and renting some snorkel gear, but otherwise the things we enjoyed most (beaching and snorkeling right off the beach), were free!


p.s. There’s a 15% discount with Visa for the aquarium and they let us use it on the phone without printing, plus it works in the gift shop)


P.S. My husband loved using his one-piece face mask – no more salt water in your mouth and the view doesn’t fog up.


Where to Stay in Maui:

My advice: stay in the nicest place you can afford. It’s well worth it to save up and stay in a nice place, especially with children. We always book through Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO affiliate) which allows you to avoid agent fees.

We stayed in the exact same Wailea Beach Villas resort as last time, down to the very same room! We loved it so much in 2015 that we re-booked it when it became available during a last-minute cancellation. It was such a treat to stay there.

They have an adult infinity pool by the ocean and a family pool and huge hot tub near our condo and the kids LOVED it! We all cozied up in the jaccuzi together in the evenings a couple of early mornings (since Maui time is 4 hours earlier than we are used to!)

The resort was walking distance to the best beach on the island, without crossing the street, and they have umbrella service, lemon flavored water, showers, and a clean bathroom for guests just a few steps from the beach. It was soooo convenient not having to haul the whole farm when walking to the beach, knowing that the umbrellas, and towel lined chairs would be there for you. It is just a blessing when you’re toting around little ones. This place is spendy but worth every penny. We shared the 2.5 bedroom condo with my sister and her husband so it was more affordable that way. This is the only place I’ve been to that had a welcome basket – it felt so fancy!

Also, besides being incredibly beautiful, Wailea is known for their amazing weather. The forecast was for rain every day but it only rained briefly one day we were there. Mornings in Wailea are as ideal as it gets! The rain moves around the island in a specific pattern and doesn’t really hit Wailea or Kihei much (Kihei is where we stayed on our first 3 visits to Maui).

Maui Family Vacation and Travel Tips with Gorgeous Maui Drone Photography | natashaskitchen.com

Flights to Maui:

Book your flights early and take the day flight home if possible. Maybe this is why this trip was my very favorite? On previous trips, I dreaded the night flight home (pure torture when you can’t sleep on a plane and have a toddler on your lap cutting off circulation to your legs…). It was so much easier to travel home in the day time. There was 1 day flight available and we took it!

Also, if you fly Alaska, take advantage of their credit card to get the companion ticket for $99 (it saved us hundreds of dollars on the flight). Next year we will open another credit card for me to get a companion ticket for each of our kids. It’s a legit way to do it and smart if you travel at least every other year. Loading phones and ipads with games and cartoons really helped to keep the kids entertained on the flight.


The pilot invited my son to see the controls before we took off. It made him feel pretty special :).

Cooking in Maui:

The condo also had a well stocked and truly lovely kitchen and honestly most of our favorite meals were the ones we cooked. Keep this in mind when you book a hotel, especially when traveling with children. If you want to be able to cook (because Maui is also super expensive to eat out), rent a place that has a kitchen and access to a grill. This is why we have always gone with a Condo via Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO), rather than a hotel room.


⬆️ This is our mango fried rice made with pineapple. 3 Ingredients, easy and very tropical!


⬆️ Mom’s Meatball Soup is easy and a perfect meal for little ones. Also, the crostini with plain cream cheese spread, salami and cucumbers were perfect with the soup.


⬆️ Homemade Steel Cut Oats (the perfect food with the comforts of home)

⬆️ Cottage Cheese Pancakes – these disappeared so fast!

⬆️ Easy & Healthy Breakfast – Greek yogurt (Costco), Granola (Costco), pears (Costco) and Macadamia nut honey ($8 on the island or Amazon). We make this at home on the regular except we use homemade granola which is da bomb!



⬆️ Creamy Shrimp Pasta using local shrimp (from Costco) and I didn’t have wine so I discovered this is equally amazing with lemon juice (see notes here).

Restaurants we visited (good, bad and ugly):

#1 Coconuts Fish Cafe: Favorite everyday place – we frequented this place. Famous for their Fish tacos which I recreated on my blog after our visit in 2011. They also have tasty coconut shrimp and you can order their fish tacos turned into a bowl over brown rice which was great but the original fish tacos were the most satisfying.

#2 MonkeyPod Kitchen: Our favorite fancy place. They had unique flavor combinations, the presentation was nice and the waitress was just the nicest (we actually had way too many encounters with rude servers in Maui which I thought was weird), but this place was a treat. It’s expensive though, for sure. They do have a nice kids menu with generous portions. I want to remake their mustard aioli sauce because it was the bomb and their strawberry cream pie was a $10 slice of heaven! My kids eyes lit up when it was placed in front of them and it disappeared in seconds!

#3 Cafe O’Lei: Our favorite medium-fancy place. All of their food was delicious. The setting isn’t the best but the food is really delicious. We had the Mahi Blackened Tuna and Macadamia crusted chicken in caper sauce.

Not Recommended: Cheeseburger Wailea – not worth it at all. The atmosphere is dingy, food is not tasty, overpriced and the waitress didn’t crack a single smile. She must have been as happy to work there as we were to eat there.

Not Recommended: 5 Palms Restaurant – a fancy place only because you get to watch the sunset as you eat your meal, which was cool, but the food was not impressive. The plating was weird and didn’t make any sense and the food was not scrumptious to warrant the price. The manager came up and asked us how it was and when we said ok and he noticed we weren’t excited about the food, he just kept walking. He didn’t care one bit, he was just making rounds I guess and we were just another tourist that would write a review read by thousands. lol. The sunset view was a cool experience but I would not return.

For more restaurant reviews (which are really helpful), use your Maui Revealed book which details every recommended and not recommended restaurant – they are spot on and even give food recommendations.

We still use it as a reference for restaurants even on our 5th visit to Maui. It’s a must-buy for first timers!

COSTCO! This is always our first stop right after the airport. We eat in the foodcourt first (pizza, salad, chili, etc), then we do all of our big shopping. We bought the milk, fruits and vegetables, and all the meats at Costco. Their pineapple is the best – it doesn’t have that zingyness because it’s grown in Hawaii and just $3 a pop for very large sized pineapples. We ate ALOT of pineapple on this trip. For smaller grocery runs, we went to FoodLand which was nearby and reasonable.

We also planned entire dinners with Costco food. Their pesto salmon is so completely delicious – you just put it in the oven and bake. This pre-made salad was tasty also (just go light on the dressing, or use your favorite dressing – we tossed it with our own mixture of half olive oil, half balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste – super yum!).

Maui Car Rental:

Book early! The sooner you book, the better the pricing, which was the case in this years vacation. We use Discount Hawaii Car Rentals  to book and you can continue to check the pricing and if it goes down, you can rebook without penalty. Every time we get there, they seem to be out of the full size sedan that we reserved so they give us a free upgrade. This time they gave us a full size SUV and it was really nice to have the space for the Costco stuff.

Maui Baby Rentals:

Since our little one still sleeps in a crib, we rented a crib from this place based on price and they actually deliver a full sized crib with bedding which is nice.

Maui Sunsets:

Every evening, we raced down to the beach to watch the sunset and each was brilliant and unique. Nearly every night, there are couples taking their wedding pictures on that same beach because it is breathtaking and very romantic. God sure makes beautiful things. We will miss you Maui!

  

If you are still reading this, Mahalo (Thank You in Hawaiian)! I hope you enjoyed the photo overload and hope it made you feel (at least a little bit) like you were there.

Loads of Love,

-Natasha ❤️

Q: I know it’s a big, beautiful world out there, do you have any suggestions on where we should go next with the kiddos? 

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  • Irina vavrinyuk
    December 12, 2017

    Hi Natasha,

    My husband and I with my family visiting Hawaii about twice a year. I would recommend to stay at ko olina beach Marriott resort, Oahu. Use redbook.com to make resorvation. They have super cheap dials but it becomes available last minute, like couple days before you need it. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 12, 2017

      Hi Irina, thank you for sharing that with us 😬. We will keep that in mine next time. Reply

  • Maria
    December 7, 2017

    Hello natasha beautiful photos as always. I would love to see photos from your new home. Merry christmas to you and your family. You should definetely visit greece. It worths it. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 7, 2017

      Greece sounds like a beautiful place to visit! It’s on my list – probably when our toddler is a little older 🙂 Reply

  • Irina
    December 5, 2017

    Natasha,

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful vacation/family pictures! I definitely want to go to Maui on vacation one day. Thank you for sharing your tips as well – really helpful! I would recommend a Disney Cruise. I haven’t done it yet, but it’s on my to do list as well. I hear it’s tons of fun. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 5, 2017

      That does sound so fun with children! I’ll have to look into it 🙂 Reply

  • Colleen
    December 3, 2017

    Natasha you are an absolutely gorgeous woman! And blessed too, our lives are like night and day, no one has ever taken me on vacation, not once!! But I was in Hawaii when in the Navy, the best things were the sea turtles, the chocolate covered macadamia nuts, and the luau pig roast was memorably delicious. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 3, 2017

      I’m so glad you’ve had a chance to experience Hawaii also! Were you on the big island? Reply

      • Colleen
        December 4, 2017

        Yes, Pearl Harbor, it was pretty neat seeing things from the ships perspective. You are so sweet to answer replies, have a Merry Christmas to you and your family!! Reply

        • Natasha's Kitchen
          December 4, 2017

          Merry Christmas to you Colleen! 🙂 Reply

  • Terry
    December 3, 2017

    Cute review of Maui! We were in Hawaii for three weeks for our honeymoon, so we had a different experience in Maui. LOL. At the end of the Road to Hana, we stayed in adorable cottages with our own private hot tub overlooking the ocean. We ate at Roy’s for dinner one night and it was amazing. We rented a convertible Jeep to explore the island, ate at road stand food places for lunch, drank from coconuts, enjoyed shave ice and munched on fresh chilled coconut pieces during our drives. We island hopped to the Big Island, Oahu and Kauai. No kids!!! We ate the freshest seafood, pineapple and macadamia nuts. Such a beautiful place. We also love Cancun, since you mentioned Mexico. LOL Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 3, 2017

      Terry, thank you for the compliment 😬. Looks like you had a blast on the honeymoon. It’s very different way of vacationing without kids 😁 Reply

  • Olga
    December 3, 2017

    Thanks for sharing this fun post! You asked at the end of it for recommendations on where to go next..and I’d like to recommend Savannah, GA. Beautiful Southern city not far from the coast with lots of great food. Southern hospitality is a real thing, and everywhere we went people treated us like family. We stayed right on the Savannah river and watched the ships sail into town, and went to the ocean, Tybee Island. Overall, Savannah is a beautiful place with lots of character, and the best coffee apart from Italy.
    Thanks again for sharing your post! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 3, 2017

      Olga, thank you for sharing your recommendation with us. We just might have to visit Savannah Ga 😬. Reply

  • nancy
    December 2, 2017

    te felicito natashas muy linda tu familia..guapisimos..me alegro que hallas disfrutado de tus vacaciones .junto a los tuyos..hermosos paisajes..me encantan tus recetas..las he preparado en casa y en el trabajo y han quedado fascinados..gracias..mil bendiciones…un abrazo a la distancia..soy de chile.. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 2, 2017

      Hi Nancy, thank you so much for writing it and for your thoughtful comment. I’m so glad you are enjoying our recipes! Blessings to you also! Reply

  • Toni P.
    December 2, 2017

    Beautiful pictures with the family, and so amazing place.. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 2, 2017

      Thank you Toni, I’m glad you like the post 😁 Reply

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