An overview of our trip to Hawaii in 2018. See where we stayed, how we got there, what we did, what we ate, and what we would do differently next time in this quick overview.
- Maui: Wailea Marriott Beach Resort
- Kauai: Kauai Marriott Resort
- Oahu: Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort and Spa
Flights/Transportation: Alaska Airlines/Virgin America to Hawaii, Delta Airlines from Hawaii
When: July 2018
Who?: 2 adults, 2 kids (ages 5 and 2)
How Long: 17 nights
Itinerary: 7 nights in Maui, 5 nights in Kauai, 5 nights in Oahu
What we did:
We split our time in Hawaii across three islands. My sister and brother-in-law joined us for a few days in Maui (they stayed in an AirBnB near our hotel). In Maui we attended a Luau at our hotel, we drove to the top of Haleakala, visited the Maui Ocean Center Aquarium (we love aquariums and this was a particularly good one), and explored aimlessly around the northern half of the island. We then flew to Kauai, where we spent a day driving to the top of Waimea Canyon, explored the eastern and northern sides of the island (which we weren’t able to complete because of roads closed by the epic flooding that Spring), and enjoyed the pool and beach amenities at our hotel, which are also popular with locals. We then flew in to Oahu, where we visited Aulani for the breakfast buffet and character greetings, visited the North Shore, and spent a lot of time walking and shopping around Waikiki and Honolulu.
We love Hawaii so much it is really hard to pick a highlight. The kids really enjoyed the pool at the Wailea Marriott Beach Resort, which included three waterslides and splash pad features. The Maui Ocean Center was pretty impressive too. We also really loved Haleakala and Waimea. And visiting Aulani, even just for breakfast, was pretty special for a Disney-loving family like ours. I also just loved walking around Waikiki. Really, we loved it all.
What I would do differently:
There’s not much I would have changed about our trip, but one thing we didn’t anticipate was how much we would be spending on food while we were there. We’ve been to Hawaii several times, and we know it is more expensive there than the mainland, but this was the first time we visited Hawaii with both kids, and I think we underestimated the impact that would have. After the trip was over and all expenses totaled, I wish that we had tried to do more affordable meals throughout the trips, such as buying ingredients and preparing lunches ourselves. We prioritized convenience over saving, but as it happened our kids often ordered food they wouldn’t eat, so I feel like we wasted a lot of money on food.
The breakfast buffet at Disney’s Aulani was quite impressive, and worth the drive over from Honolulu. The menu is inspired, with many unique takes on classics (like red velvet mickey waffles and watermelon bread) and lots of local specialties, plus tons of fresh fruit. It’s also all designed to be kid-friendly, which we appreciated. In addition to the characters and photo opportunities, there’s also ongoing entertainment from “Auntie”, who sings and dances with the kids throughout the meal. The whole thing is an experience, not simply a meal, and if you can snag a reservation it is not to be missed.