Last week of February 2015. Escaped mid-winter Chicago for Hawaii (and a brief stop in southern California to break up the plane ride). It was a great time. Hopefully we'll make it back there some day.
In order to break up the 8-9 hour flight from Chicago to Hawaii, we decided to stop for a couple nights in LA on our way out. We stayed in Santa Monica at the Bayside Inn, steps from the beach and the Pacific Ocean. We had one full day to see LA and decided to go full tourist mode and do a hop-on-hop-off bus tour and we saw Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Marina Del Rey, Brentwood (lots of O.J. murder trial mentions here!), Beverly Hills, and Hollywood. Probably too much crammed into one day, and to make matters worse, it was the Academy Awards weekend, so Hollywood was a mess.
We rented a condo north of Lahaina in a complex called the Aston at Papakea Resort. Small studio, ocean view, not much of a beach but still amazing to sit on our balcony and watch whales swim by.
The main objective of the trip: to kick back, relax. Whales were a bonus.
The Road To Hana.
The Road to Hana is a long, winding, sometimes narrow road on the north side of Maui between the airport and Hana town on the east side of the island. We got a bit of a late start, but packed a lunch, stopped in Paia town and bought an audio tour guide CD before heading out onto the road (and some good gelato). We stopped at Ho'okipa Beach to see some sea turtles sunning themselves on the beach, saw some of the easier-to-find waterfalls on the road (sounds like some of the better ones are not so easy to find if you don't know where to look), some colorful eucalyptus trees, and a black sand beach in Waianapanapa State Park. We didn't do the full loop around Hana as it was getting later in the afternoon and we had to go all the way back to the other side of the island to get home, but we saw plenty.
The one must-see on both Jen & my Hawaii lists was Pearl Harbor. It was an early wake up on Wednesday morning to hop on a plane to Oahu to spend the day there. We stopped for breakfast and even hit a swap meet in the parking lot of Aloha Stadium before heading over to see the historic harbor. The swap meet was fun, but knowing now what I didn't know then, if you only have one day in Ohau you can spend it entirely at the Harbor with everything there is to see there.
Lahaina Town & Whale Watching.
Our very first night in Maui we saw whales from our balcony. We saw more as we walked down to the shorefront on the condo property. So many in fact, we decided to take a whale watching tour later that week. Plenty of options to choose from, but we went with a sunset tour with the non-profit Pacific Whale Foundation narrated with PWF founder Greg Kaufman. The boat was fun, although rocking on the waves made taking pictures of the whales challenging. And it was the only time during the week that we made it into Lahaina town itself. The main drag kind of reminded me of a town from the old West, narrow street thoroughfare, old storefront buildings (although with newer boutique businesses in most cases), and many with secondfloor balconies.