Day 1 – February 17, 2023 – Friday – Waupaca, WI to Madison, WI to Kaanapali, HI
Yes, you ready that right – back to Hawaii, baby! Can you believe the last time we went here was right before the pandemic started? We made all these sad jokes on this blog about getting trapped in Hawaii, haha, wouldn’t that be horrible? My god, only if we knew. Like, Jesus, if only we know.
Anyway, we thought this year we wanted to plan some kind of getaway to some place warm. Especially after three long years of miserable winters of COVID. THEN, Sarah got COVID (thanks, Lettie’s Run) and had 5 days to contemplate stuff to do. So after a day of walking around the neighborhood coughing, we fired up the computer and started searching on Costco travel, our most favorite thing in the world. Through a series of crafty maneuvers, we secured what looked like an amazing waterfront hotel room, but had to fly out of Madison of all places to get it. Welp, booked and off we went with planning.
So our journey began at 4:00 am or so from Waupaca – the kitties were snugged up tight, the temperature had dropped overnight and there was a beautiful dusting of snow that had frozen to all roadways. Matt had forced everyone to pack well in advance, which brilliantly led to us leaving on time (as opposed to last minute frantic packing). Sarah painted her nails in the car. Matt scarfed down coffee. Zoe slept under a blanket in the car. Noah was wide awake. Braden was asleep so fast we thought we forgot him partway down there.
We arrived in Madison and the world of flying is different now – everything is done on your phone. We aren’t THAT old and figured stuff out, but geez, you are really screwed these days if you don’t have a smart phone. We got through line quickly, picked up some kind of overpriced breakfast, and onto the (slightly delayed) plane we went! Oh, slightly delayed? Oh yeah. We thought was had a 90 min layover in Denver, our favorite airport to frantically run through. Not any more. The woman behind us in line asked where we were going as we didn’t have coats but were flying to Denver – Sarah told her Maui and she told us how excited she was for us. We LOVE flying out of the midwest – everyone is so friendly!
Costco didn’t let us pick our seats this time around, so we sat in a row, 2 and 3, so only one window seat we donated to Zoe, who couldn’t really remember ever having flown on a plane before (she was 5 last time). She loved it. Mom sat next to Noah, who indicated he wasn’t feeling great, then we all remembered the time he threw up on a plane. Errgh.
We landed uneventfully and ran through the airport frantically (along with 90% of the plane trying to make connections) and hit the train from the A to B terminal, then made it to our gate with 10 min to spare, enough time to wolf down half of the food we hurriedly bought and throw the rest away. This was the biggest plane the kids had been on – a 3-4-3 plane. We had the middle 4 seats and an aisle seat across. Noah got that one, and the rest of us snuggled in. We got snacks, kids watched movies from the in-seat tvs, all was well.
Upon landing on Hawaii, we have it down to an art now. Matt darted off the plane and was gone. His job? Beat the line at the rental car places. He split, and Sarah wrangled the exhausted starving children (who had begun to fight amongst themselves) to the baggage claim. We made Noah stand further away and keep all our backpacks. He is a good head taller than everyone in a crowd, it’s perfect. We grabbed our suitcases and sat out in the drizzling rain. Rain, you say? Well, let’s just say the forecast for this trip isn’t great weather wise. We brought rain jackets galore.
Matt picked up all of us in a fancy black jeep and off we went on what felt like the longest journey of our lives. We had left Madison on an 8:50 am flight, gained 4 hours on the flight, and it was now 5 pm by the time we got in the car (9:00pm home time). The kids were hungry, it was raining, and it was a Friday evening traffic jam. Eesh. Literally the ONLY good thing about this journey was the whales that were just off the coast. No other part of this was good. We will never discuss it again.
We rolled into the Royal Lahaina Resort and Matt spent 30 minutes checking in. We parked the car and wheeled our luggage up – we won’t lie, Sarah was kind of freaking out that this room wouldn’t be as awesome as advertised. OH MY GOD it was way better. Now, they cannot put pictures of these rooms on Costco because EVERYONE would book this place. It. Is. Stunning.
It is really two rooms joined together, so we have a double room with 1 balcony joined to a king room with a sitting room with two balconies. Holy cats.
Matt ran out and picked up some beer, we had pizza from Round Top Pizza that was amazing, and Sarah feel asleep at 8 pm so unsure what happened after that. We did leave the balcony door open and listened to crashing waves all night.
Day 2 – February 18, 2023, Saturday
Overnight, Zoe woke up Matt at 3:30 am and wondered if she could watch TV…. I mean, I guess it is like 7:30 am our time? No, Zoe, back to bed. We all woke up early, ready for the 100% chance of rain day the weather had promised. It was cloudy but no rain materialized!
We ate our Belvita (haha, like we would travel to HI without our fancy graham cracker breakfast) and had some coffee and walked down the beach – checked out the pools at the resort and got our fancy beach towels from the booth down here. So this is an actual resort (haha, like in “The Resort”!) – there’s a shuffle board people are playing on, a Tiki bar, etc. We haven’t had this experience with the kids yet. And omg, it is perfect. We hit the beach right in front of the resort for a while, then walked down further. We are on Kahekili Beach, just to the north of Black Rock. Boogie boarding doesn’t seem great here but the swimming is amazing.
After frolicking the morning away, Matt grabbed us some groceries and went to rent beach chairs for the week and bogey boards from Boss Frog’s. We gobbled our food (us adults got some fancy grocery store sushi lol) and then hit the beach again with our new beach toys. Sarah rented some snorkels from the hotel and the kids had fun – water was beautifully clear. Sun was out, waves were kicking enough to bogey board even a bit.
After we came back, we could see whales in the distance, frolicking in the same water as us. B went to snorkel and then came out of the water and told us – I can hear the whale songs. We all looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, then ducked under the water. Well, holy crap. You COULD hear all the whale songs! It was wild. WOW! Who knew, huh?
We played for a bit more, then exhaustedly grabbed our stuff, returned everything to pool area, and staggered inside. As everyone showered off, Matt ran to Jersey Mike’s and picked up subs and what else? Oh yes, an underwater Go Pro from Boss Frog’s, conveniently located next to the sub place. You go wild, Matt. 🙂 We ate our food while watching the luau from our lanai. 19 years ago tonight, we attended a luau on our first ever trip to Hawaii. It was magical, – and so was the free one we now squinted at from our balcony with our children. Who’d have thunk it, right?
We collapsed into bed at 9 pm, ready for a day of fun tomorrow.
Day 3 – February 19, 2023, Sunday
So today the plan was to do a Molokini snorkel tour. This has been Sarah’s dream since we first came here almost two decades ago. Molokini is a little volcanic crater that collapsed into the ocean 3 miles off the shore of Maui, and is now a nature preserve. Filled with snorkel boats! It is super cute and she just likes saying “Molokini” over and over.
Anyway, we had signed up for the Four Winds II based on a 19 year old tour guide book we still have. It was the premier snorkel boat back then. WELL, we received the updated book after we booked this tour and turns out it is the second best choice, to a different larger newer boat. Eh, we will see about that! (later note: would recommend this boat again – other boat had cold deli lunch and ours had pulled pork BBQ, veggie burgers, costco hot dogs, etc and big bags of chips, etc and our mooring spot was better near Molokini as well – loved the atmosphere and the people on it too)
We climbed in the car at 6 am and headed to the harbor an hour away. Why are there so many cars on the road here at 6 am?!? We managed to find the right slip after not finding the right boat slip a few times, and there was a line of people forming. The crew made us all say where we were from and the main crew guy had a story about every place people said. The people in front of us in line were from Edmonton Canada, but then the lady told us it felt like a lie as they had just moved there from Houghton MI and told us they love Lambeau Field and the Dells. Ha! We all climbed on and headed for the front of the top of the boat. We grabbed breakfast and off we went!
There were whales everywhere – we kept stopped and watching the whales – Sarah loved saying “whale tale!” every time she saw one, almost as much as the other woman sitting near us. It was a beautiful sunny day and calm water. Noah did not feel it was calm and looked kind of green – he took a dramamine with no water out of desperation. The grandma below us was throwing up off the side of the boat. A cheery morning for all!
As we approached Molokini, music was blasting, it was sunny outside, and it was perfect. Apparently Four Winds II is known for having the best mooring spot, and it didn’t disappoint. We all got on our snorkel gear and fins, and hopped into the water. They offered wetsuits and kept saying how cold the water was – but Sarah realized she made a mistake when she put one on – the water was warm! Not to Noah, who was violently shivering with his -5% body fat – Sarah gave him her wetsuit. (for the win: being raised swimming in Lake Superior). It was amazing snorkeling – yellow tang, a Morey eel, many black fish that weren’t real scared of us, clownfish, trumpet fish, you name it. We were far enough away from other groups that we all had plenty of space.
We climbed out (well, B and Z had to do the water slide first off the boat) and went to get lunch – pulled pork and hot dogs. Sarah and Matt drank Modelos and kids had POG juice and pop. It was delicious – staff came by offering more juice and beer and water and cookies.
We slowly motored back and oh guess what, more whales. We saw a whale right in front of us breech 5 or 6 times in a row – it was amazing. On the way to Molokini, we saw a “competition pod” but this was just breathtaking.
Afterward, we were exhausted. Zoe: “let’s go back to the hotel but no one take off your swimsuits as we are going to the beach!”. Oh man… So back we went and sure enough, we got a brief snack and down to the beach in front of the hotel we went. We frolicked in the waves and then straggled back to shower.
We ordered food from Da Mani Pirates located in Kaanapali – what a shit show! Matt went to pick it up and literally could not get a parking place. He drove back to the hotel and picked up Sarah, and then drove her to the mall there and dropped her off to run in and get it while he circled. Note: never stay in Kaanapali (although we did once in the past, eek).
We enjoyed our ahi sliders and shrimp salad and of all things, curly fries, haha. Now the kids are watching basketball (Zoe is obsessed) and we are reading and listening to a man outside performing guitar. And the sound of the waves….