Buckle your seat belts, this is a long post!
We had our first official family vacation to Maui at the end of September / beginning of October! We went on vacation with my parents which was so fun! It was CJ and my first vacation since our honeymoon three years ago so it was definitely overdue.
On traveling with a toddler: This is Claire’s 5th trip on a plane but it was a whole different ballgame. We had a bag of entertainment for her to keep her occupied on the flight but I wouldn’t say it was super successful. She’s an explorer so nothing can distract her enough to make her forget about the fact that she can’t wander around. We had coloring books, markers (that were clear unless they touched the special coloring book paper… awesome for a plane so they didn’t mark you up or the tray tables!), cups for her to stack, a Frozen coin purse, a fun rattle, toy cell phone, and a few other things. The most interesting items for Claire were the markers and the coloring book but that still only lasted for a minute or two at a time.
Anyway, it took way longer for her to fall asleep on the plane than we thought. Thankfully, Nana (my mom) came to save us on the flight home and Claire napped with her the last hour or so. She was a lifesaver!!
The good news is her ears weren’t bothered at all by the takeoff and landing and she loved looking out the window! For both flights, we sat next to people who loved babies and toddlers so we were really lucky.
Going forward, we’re reserving a seat for her on flights because she’s at the age where she needs her own space.
As far as the vacation itself, it was so fun! We weren’t sure how Claire would like the ocean but she was in heaven. She woke up every morning around 5:30am and was ready to head down to the beach. So much so, that she would bang on the front door to our condo to tell us she wanted to leave. She giggled every time we brought her in the water and when we started to walk away she would shout, “MORE!”. That was definitely the one of the top 4 highlights of the trip.
Another item on the top 4 – Ululani’s Shaved Ice. SO GOOD!! We got the Sunset flavor (it’s a combination of 3 different flavors) with macadamia nut ice cream on the bottom. We fell in love with the macadamia nut ice cream so much that we hunted it down at one of the local grocery stores so we could have more in our condo. We highly recommend going there and especially the one on Front Street in Old Town Lahaina.
Because we went on vacation with my parents, we were also lucky enough to sneak in a date night! We went down to Old Town Lahaina, one of our favorite places from the trip, and had dinner at a restaurant on the water and then met up with friends for drinks. They happened to be on vacation in Maui the same time as us, what are the odds!?
Last but not least, we all went to a luau with my parents on our last night. To get Claire excited for Hawaii, we showed her the movie Lilo and Stitch so she was already familiar with hula dancing. When she saw the performers come up on stage, we could tell she was dying to go up there with them. She kept trying to run up to the stage but we told her that she had to wait.
When the hula dancing lesson started, I asked her if she wanted to go up there and she laughed uncontrollably (which is her way of saying yes). She was incredibly excited! Claire must be a natural performer because she absolutely loved being up on stage. She bounced up and down, twirled, tried to copy the other people, and clapped when everyone else clapped. I’m a little biased but I’m pretty sure she was the star of the show. I don’t think it’s an understatement when I say it was one of the happiest moments of my life. I’m an emotional person (especially since becoming a mama) and almost cried from happiness after that. I danced for 12 years so seeing Claire up on stage and so happy dancing was too much for my former-dancer-mommy heart to handle.
Other fun memories:
- A cool tour at a plantation where we learned about how pineapple plants grow (so interesting!) and about the many uses of coconuts
- A dinner cruise with beautiful views of the island. The cruise was DEFINITELY not meant for toddlers because all the tables were on the roof of the boat with only enough room to walk in between the rows of tables. Basically a nightmare for people with curious toddlers. We tried to leave when we got on but they ended up setting up a table on the first floor, where no one else was seated, and it ended up being a private dinner because of that! CJ and I danced with Claire on the boat to the live music playing above and it was much less stressful. The cruise people were so accommodating.
- Lunch at Cool Cats on Front Street
- Claire saying “Hi!” to a parrot on Front Street. A man had a ton of birds that you could take pictures with but, instead of paying $25 for the picture, Claire just said hi.
- Visiting the Banyan tree park
- Driving up to Iao Valley for a hike only to discover it was dumping rain and turning around because we weren’t prepared for that type of weather. It was still fun to see even though it was overcast and rainy!
- Eating delicious BBQed food from Mama’s Ribs & Rotisserie. We ordered it to-go twice and ate it in our condo. Claire LOVED the chicken and beans.
- Went on a drive up to Pineapple Hill which had a beautiful view. We spent a lot of Claire’s naps driving around.
- Wandered around Whaler’s Village and playing in the ocean on Ka’anapali Beach
Other than that, the only lowlight was that we got rear ended on our second day there. It wasn’t the best way to start a trip but everyone was fine so that’s all that we could really hope for. I’m glad it was at the beginning of the trip because we were able to make up for it and end on a high note.
We can’t wait for our next trip! Rest assured, it will definitely include three seats on the plane reservation. I think that was our biggest lesson learned. 😉