When we moved to California two years ago, one of the first things I mentioned to the husband was - Hawaii! Seriously, this is the closest we are going to get to the islands, so LET'S GO!
It took two years of building up some seniority and time off at work and finding loving friends that would watch our old lady dog, but we did it! It was nothing short of ah-mazing.
Any way, I've been totally dragging my feet about writing my post about our trip. Because, once I publish this, its all officially over. Even though, yeah I know, I've been back for 2 weeks. Let me stay in this dream a little longer please.
I decided to break up my post so they aren't too long. Plus, I have over 350 photos and love them all, so it takes time to narrow my favorites down to share.
So this is my part 1. The planning - one of my favorite parts.
When planning there were a few key things I was looking for in this vacation: 1. A direct flight - just get me there asap 2. Not too touristy 3. A placewith a kitchen so we didn't have to eat out a million times a day 4. Near the water
After researching all the different islands, talking to friends who've vacationed there before, and checking airfare prices it was decided we were going to Maui.
First thing I did was book the flight.
We picked September because it was right after the summer holidays, so most people had there vacations over with and were back to school. September is the end of Hawaii's big summer season too, so prices were trending down for this time of year. The cheapest and best option for us was flying with Alaskan Airlines. It was the first time we flew with them and it was great! Nothing special really, but they had these cute itineraries for us, which I loved.
After we booked the flights, I went to the library and checked our several guidebooks to get to know the island so I could figure out where stay. Some of my friends who traveled there stayed at two different places on the island so they could explore more, but I really didn't want to pack in the middle of vacation. I wanted a place that was quiet, clean, safe, a reasonable distance from everything, and on the water. After reading about three books (Maui Revealed, Frommer's Maui Guide, and Discover Maui), it was time to book something.
Picking where to stay on was tricking. The north/northeast side seemed perfect, but I kept reading it can be pretty windy at times. The southeastern part, around Kihei and Wailea can have some good local places but then you are right next to the big fancy pants resorts, which made some places really pricey. Upcountry is mostly farms. The west side near Lahaina has the only downtown on the island with lots of great restaurants, but can be super touristy. So, I decided on the west side, but about 20 minutes north of Lahaina near Kaanapali.
Kannapali has a lot of beautiful resorts and beaches, but its not in the middle of everything. Once you past Kaanapali, there is a string of lovely condos and that's where we laid our hats for 7 nights and 8 amazing days.
I found our condo on www.vrbo.com, vacation rentals by owner. It was such a great resource for picking a place. All the places are owned by individual people, so it's like you are staying in someone's home - which was cozier than a resort. Some places even stock your condo with boogie boards, coolers, beach chairs and snorkel gear. You can filter with a bunch of options to get the place that best meets all your wants. I wanted with a kitchen and next to the water. Simple enough yeah?
Place to stay - check and done. We had this lovely view from our lanai. Not bad at all. There wasn't a direct beach access, but it was just right down the road.
After that, the only big things was getting a rental car. Public transportation isn't a good option on Maui. If you stay at a resort, they have shuttle options, but that wasn't our case. We wanted to explore, so renting a car was basically our only option. I booked a few cars early on (you can reserve one without a credit card on some sites), but I kept checking different options because prices were ridiculous! Even if the cars were $10 a day to rent, the taxes and fees were $100s of dollars. Local places like Aloha Rent A Car or Maui Car Rentals were a little cheaper, but still crazy. After a while, I started bidding for cars of Priceline and finally scored a decent deal. My advise - reserve early and keep looking. You can always cancel stuff as long as you don't put down your credit card. Also, just don't get a mustang. Just don't.
Those were my three major things I had to book and once that was done - that's pretty much all I planned. Which is totally out of character for me. But, my goal was to relax and just go with it when we got there.
So, enough of the planning process...onto the trip, right! . I'll be posting Part II soon, stay tuned!
Living in Northern California, its basically a requirement to drink wine. Basically. It's really hard not to at least. There are vineyards all over the place and it can be super overwhelming when you go tasting. You seriously go down the road and there are just rows, and rows of places to go. When you first visit, its hard to choose where to start.
I lucked out and stumbled across Clif one day. Yeah, Clif like the Clif Bars and Shot Bloks. They make wine too, and it's really good!
I first visited them back when my parents were here from Florida. I loved their wine and their tasting room so much I decided to sign up for their Wine Club. It's one of the only tasting rooms I feel I can go to they aren't pretentious, pushy, or rush you out the door. You can sit on the porch, bring a picnic, and enjoy the beautiful area. The club I decided to join is really simple. You get 2 bottles of wine, 3-4 times a year. It's a pretty great club and makes sense to sign up since I live in the area. Wine, wine discounts, wine parties; what's not to love.
So, back in July, I got this email from Clif about Rifugio on the Road. Rifugio on the Road is a new experience Clif started where they host tasting event in comfort of your own home. They bring everything to you - wine, glasses, food, a table. What!? I don't have to drive any where and its free for me and my friends?? Sign me up!!
They brought along 3 local cheeses, some specialty food items such as their dukkah spices, chocolate covered almonds, and amazing meyer marmalade along with 5 delicious wines.
I asked about 10 of my friends to come on over and enjoy everything with me. We had so much fun and let's just say Friday was a rough day at the office.
Here are some photos of the set up. The sun was setting and we had the tasting on the back deck. It all looked so pretty I felt I needed to share these with the world.
So, on your next trip to Wine Country, add Clif to your list and call me. I'll meet ya there :)
Thank you Clif, Candice and Effrain! You guys are amazing.