We decided to spend this past weekend enjoying the snow (even though it is officially spring 😉). We headed up towards Lake Tahoe but we didn’t actually need to go that far. A little past Pollock Pines off of HWY 50 we got snowed on. We even found a nice little hill that the kids and I went sledding down. I have to say living in Northern California does have its perks.
There’s a lot of options to chose from and it can be hard to chose which is the best fit for you/family. I typically rely on reviews and of course if the package/company fits our budget. For our snorkeling trip I went with Eo Wai’anae Tours. Our tour came with a meal & snacks. The total cost was $500. I booked it with a discount using a discount code they advertised on their website. The only downside to our tour was that I got sea sick (which of course is not fault of Eo Wai’anae. Now, I didn’t know this going into our tour. The last time I went snorkeling was when I was pregnant and so I honestly thought it was due to the pregnancy hormones causing havoc on me that triggered getting sick on the boat ride. Well, this time around I am surely not preggo, so now I know I get sea sick. Next time around I’ll be prepared with anti-nausea medicine. Anyhow, the Captain and her staff were great and friendly! The Captain would stop the ship if she saw sea life along the way. We saw a baby whale and it’s mum, some sea turtles, and pod of spinner dolphins which we got a chance to encounter up close while in the ocean snorkeling. My husband told me that they literally came within 3 feet of him and that our guide was really nervous because that was a first for her for them to get so close. Because hubby was busy with our 3 older kids, I was on baby duty but the Captain was kind of enough to take baby so I could have some time to snorkel and swim with the dolphins. I didn’t last long though because I started getting nauseous in the water. I ending up puking majority of the boat ride 😦 and at one point while hubby was in the water with the kids, I started feeling sick while holding Zakiyah, but the Captain came to my rescue and took her until hubby came back on board. Of course this is all TMI, but it just goes to show how kind the staff are.
They definitely have the ohana vibe going strong!
During our stay in Oahu we couldn’t pass up the chance to attend a luau. We were originally scheduled to do Diamond Head, but I followed my gut extinct and went with Paradise Cove Luau instead and I am so glad we did! We paid for the delux package which pricey but the staff did such a great job of providing VIP service. Our luau experience hands down was way better than the one we attended in Maui. I would definitely recommend Paradise Cove and if in your budget, upgrading to delux is well worth the experience.
A tucked away gem! On a sun shining warm day it’s a perfect get away. Best time to go is during the week where hopefully you’ll miss the crowds. The water is cold even on a 90 degree day, so if you want to swim or boogie board I’d recommend a wet suit. I’ve boogie boarded without one and lasted 30 minutes with frequent breaks in between. I just entered Shark Fin Cove into my google map and it lead the way. It’s located off of Highway 1 in Davenport.
Is not for the faint at heart! It sounds beautiful and enchanting but there’s a lot to it! I’m also not one for camping in harsh elements so maybe you should take my opinion with a grain of salt 😉
When we went beach camping I was 7 months pregnant! I’d say overall, it was a fun experience but be warned depending on where you go you may find yourself in a sand storm! We went to Oceano Dunes, SRV (not to be confused with Pismo Beach campground but is in the same proximity) last year the weekend of 4th of July & the weather was amazing (for the most part). We arrived Friday evening (bad mistake) because we found ourselves trying to set up our tent in the dark! At the time we went we also didn’t have an all wheel drive or four wheel vehicle so we were limited in how far up we could drive up. Between the sand dunes and the tide is the area where you camp. You can block the wind with your vehicle to help when winds pick up but unfortunately our truck couldn’t get through the sand without getting stuck. We have an AWD SUV now so if went back it may not be so bad. Saturday we got hit with a sandstorm and it sucked! I had my kids, my friends kid, because they went to pickup the ATV’s, and our dogs! We were so miserable because the sand whipped through our tents! There was so much sand in our tent afterwards! I thankfully brought a broom AND and hand held vacuum cleaner lol! Other than the sand storm and getting little bit of sand in our food on occasion (because it will happen) waking up to the sounds of the ocean was pretty amazing! Downside of where we camped is that we had Porto potties and they weren’t cleaned or emptied on a daily basis and considering that it was a holiday weekend with lots of people you would have thought they would be more on it. They did have vault bathrooms if you drove farther down the beach which we used a few times because they were cleaner. The beach was dog friendly and my dog loved diving into the waves. I’m not a morning person but I found myself waking up before anyone else (5ish) and taking my dog Max out for a walk along the beach. My friends prefer this specific campground because of the sand dunes which are perfect for ATVs. The campground isn’t strict either so if you have a large rowdy group it’s ideal. If you want peace and quite and call it a night at 9pm this is NOT the site for you! While I do plan on doing beach camping again it will be with an RV because we have an infant and it can provide much more comfort!
So this post is going to be multi-part. I’ll be adding to it as I finalize our trip to O’ahu. We leave in 1 month and will be staying in Waikiki for 2 weeks! I booked our condo through Redawning vacation rentals. It’s in the heart of Waikiki, with plenty of amenities and can fit my whole tribe and it cost $2,000 total. No resort fees and free parking! I’ve booked through Redawning before and had a great experience so hopefully it pans out the same this time around! I’ll keep y’all posted. I’ve also booked our snorkeling trip. I booked it through Eo Waianae Tours, and even scored 30% off our snorkeling package which included lunch & is baby friendly, for a total of $500. Our luau is booked through Diamond Head Lū’au. Unfortunately there was no discount. If you guys know of a better option for a Lū’au in O’ahu let me know! I do want it to be beach front which is why I passed on the Polynesian Cultural Center. I had originally purchased GoCards sold by SmartDestinations but found I wasn’t saving any money at all. They only allow use of your 3, 5, or 7 day pass on 1 premium activity which sucks because the two main events we wanted was a Lū’au and snorkeling. Which after all is said and done, the Lū’au and snorkeling trip cost the same amount as the GoCards (each person has to have a GoCard, kids are discounted and my teen is treated as an adult). They did have a snorkeling option that wasn’t premium but it is self guided at Hanauma Bay. I would highly recommend a guided one where you get to go out to sea (hopefully in calm waters) that has lunch & snacks provided. It’s well worth the cost especially if your going as a family with little ones who get hungry and cranky if they don’t eat! So far our trip is just under 5k, which includes airfare, lodging, 2 main activities, and car rental. I would say not shabby considering we are staying for 2 weeks! Our condo does have a full kitchen which we plan on utilizing to help offset costs but we do plan on enjoying the food scene while out there! I plan on updating this post to give you a more accurate reflection of what our total costs were and my experience with the vendors we used, though that may be a separate blog post altogether 😉
My favorite time of year to visit Lake Tahoe is by far winter! It’s a 2 hour drive from where we live and we pass through the city where in my in laws live so we get a chance to fit in a visit with them too. Tahoe is also beautiful during the summer but in the winter when we get good levels of snow it transforms into a winter wonderland! I’ll never forget last winter when we spent every weekend up there in December and January. The snow levels along parts of the highway were 20ft high with some people pulling over to go skiing! This year I didn’t get a chance to spend as much time that way because we just had Zakiyah but the snow isn’t going anywhere anytime soon so we do plan on heading back that way soon! These photos are from last year and our recent visit from Thanksgiving weekend.
Heading to Maui was not our original option. At the beginning of the year, when I was thinking of places I wanted to venture off to see, Canada was my original pick, and it was supposed to be a road trip. Then I got pregnant! Being stuck in a car for 14+ hours was NOT happening. Flying was an option but then that opened up the discussion of other destinations, going without the kids, and then the option of Maui presented itself. The cost to fly to Canada was comparable to Maui, so if given a choice between the cold or warm sandy beaches, I was picking the latter.
We decided to leave the kiddos with my mom for the week, so that hubby and I could really enjoy ourselves. As much as we wanted to bring them with us, we really needed to spend quality time together. This was our first vacation ever away from the kids and with the fact that baby number 4 is on the way, we decided to turn the trip into a baby moon. It also served as a sweet pre-birthday vacation for me 😉
Now traveling while pregnant was not easy. If it wasn’t my nausea, it was my sinuses from the VOG that had made its way from the main island, or getting sea sick during our snorkeling trip! I was a hot mess until hubby put his foot down and we went into the emergency room. We have Kaiser, but Kaiser Facilities on Maui are only open during normal business hours, so I was diverted to the only hospital Maui has on the island that has a 24 hour emergency room. I was severely dehydrated so I was hooked up to an IV which definitely made a world of difference. That coming Sunday, I woke feeling much better, while my sinuses were still inflamed, I was still in a much better condition than prior days. Thankfully, the wind had picked up and was pushing the VOG out of the air, which really helped my allergies/sinuses clear up the next few days.
So if you are pregnant and are sensitive to changes in weather and the environment, I recommend you proceed with caution and be prepared. Other than that, you will have a blast!
Places to stay
To help simplify things, I used Expedia to book our trip but only for the hotel and airfare portion. You can book rental car and things to do as well, but personally I think you can book those items al carte for cheaper.
We stayed at the Sugar Beach Condominium Resort located in Kihei. Our condo was located on the ground floor, with our lanai opening up to the ocean. IT WAS SUCH AN AMAZING VIEW! I am not a fan of really big resorts. While you may have more amenities, I like the fact that our parking was 50 feet away, and the beach was literally a few steps from our lanai. Not to mention, we had a kitchenette! We flew Alaska Airlines; I was pretty pleased with our flight to and from. While, our flight was delayed, we knew in advance because I had downloaded the app on my phone and we were able to get a later check out. So all was good!
Total price: $2,403.54 (this included travel protection)
The travel protection is probably not even necessary, but I tend to be on the more cautious side, so I opted for it.
Enterprise was the cheapest I could find. We rented a 2017 Elantra. It was a perky little thing that came in handy during our drive up Hana. It was also really gas efficient. We opted to let Enterprise fill up our tank upon return of the car because their gas was the cheapest around. We did have to put gas in twice during the week just because we did a lot of driving but no more than an extra $25.
Total Price: $327.75
Things to do
Oh my, this list could go on for days! But we only had 5 days and I was pregnant, so our options were limited. But the following are things I would highly recommend:
Luau – there are soooo many options. We went with Maui Nui at Black Rock which is held on the Sheraton Maui Resort. After check-in, you are treated with a lei (so fight the temptation to pay $20 for one at the airport!) The view was amazing especially at sunset. We paid an additional $20 for preferred seating. We sat at the front with a great view of the show with a shared table with 2 other couples. There are other luau’s that offer private tables, but Hawaiian culture is all about family not individualism. This Luau incorporated a Polynesian flare to highlight the history of Hawaii. There were activities included in the luau outside of the staged dancing. From watching the nightly ritual of the Lele Kawa(cliff diving); the luau performers take the pig out from underground oven prior to dinner, to learning how to hula, it was a very interactive experience. Dinner was buffet style, the food was ok, I am pregnant so my tastes buds are off so don’t take my word for it! They also had an open bar during the duration of the event that included nonstop Mai Thai’s. I definitely was missing out! Hubby said their coke and rum was pretty strong 😉
Total price: $242
Snorkeling – once again, plenty of options! We went with Pride of Maui. They offer a continental breakfast and bbq lunch, with an open bar as well, and once again I was totally missing out! We went with the morning trip, check-in was 7:30 and we got back a little after 1pm. I’ve been on a boat plenty of times, but never pregnant! Talk about sea sickness! OMG, I just wanted to curl into a ball and sleep the rest of the boat ride! I did snorkel but it was short lived because I would tire out quickly. Put aside the sea sickness and the overall experience was great and thankful that at least hubby was able to get some great footage with our goPro for me. The staff were so kind and helpful and really tried to help me with my sea sickness with their specialty drink (fresh ginger and sprite). The trip has the option to scuba dive, snuba, and snorkel. On our next trip I will definitely be trying the snuba option! Our trip included visiting Molokini Crater and Turtle Town.
Total price: $198 ( I booked directly through their website and used a discount code of DISCOVERY7, saving me $37.78 at checkout).
Drive to Hana – we left our condo at 6:30am for this drive. I’d say any later and you hit more crowds as you stop at all the points. We also went on a Monday, not sure if going on a weekday makes much of a difference, but my guidebook did recommend not going on Sunday, as much of the businesses along the highway are closed. My guide book really helped us along the way, I am sure there is an app for this, but I am ol’ skool! Some of the sites along Hana highway require a bit of hike, so we skipped quite a few. We ended our trip up Hana highway at Haleakalà National Park. Unfortunately, we didn’t stay for the sunset view but on our next trip, we do plan to do either the sunrise or sunset view. The road does continue past this park, but eight miles past, the road turns into unpaved road with zero cell phone reception. Rental companies deter you from continuing. I honestly don’t know how the road conditions are, and if I wasn’t pregnant, we most likely would have kept going! But hubby and I were both exhausted at this point with all the driving and mini hiking we did do to get to the spots we found along the drive, so we decided to turn around and make the trek back to Kihei. On our way up to Hana, we stopped off to purchase some homemade banana bread and on the way back down stopped off for some nutella crepes.
Total cost: $20 for entry into Haleakalà National Park (per car)
$15 for gas
$20 for snacks along the way (we packed drinks for the trip)
We managed to fit some time to watch 2 movies: Beauty and the Beast and Get Out.
Total cost: $40 each show (not including snacks)
Places to eat
Lots of options! Eating on the island is NOT cheap! They do have a grocery store, which definitely comes in handy when traveling as a family.
Mama’s Fish House
OMG, this place was amazing! The view was perfect! Our waitress was great, and our food was so delicious! I am so glad my appetite was finally coming back by the time we ate here. I ordered their special for the day, red snapper fried! It was sooo good and the best part was they had patis for my fish! If you are Filipino/islander, you know first-hand how patis can totally enhance your meal! Mama’s Fish House is very pricey and reservation is highly recommended. But definitely worth the experience!
Located right off the strip, this place definitely gives you your money’s worth! The food portions are huge and serve islander comfort food like fried egg over fried rice! Definitely a good place to eat if traveling as a family on a budget.
Paia Fish Market
Hubby was a fan! Good food portions and very flavorful. They have two locations, one in Paia and the other Lahaina. We ate at the one in Lahaina.
I am listing this place simply for the food. Hubby was very pleased with his steak. What threw me off was their service. The waiter was an older gentleman. He was literally in the middle of talking about the menu and specials and then literally cut off his conversation with us to divert into another conversation with another table. Apparently, they were regulars, but either way, it was extremely rude! When hubby asked about fish options and mentioned he really liked salmon. The waiter was a bit snobby with his response, as if salmon was a lower grade option lol. At another table, when they asked for a takeout container, the waitress took care of this for them. Our waiter just placed ours at our table for us to do ourselves. The food came out relatively quickly, but quality of service you get depends on who you are and if you are a regular patron. But note, the food was delicious, and if we did go back, we would specifically ask for a different server.
Total cost: Would recommend budgeting $1,000 for dining out. Of course we could have saved by cooking, but we were kid free and really wanted to enjoy the culinary options Maui had to offer. But trust me, on our next trip we will be at the local grocery store stocking up for the week we are there!
Shaved Ice Cream
We tried a few places. I would recommend the “snow cap” which is sweetened condensed milk on top of your shaved ice-cream. It’s a great addition. Some places offer mochi in your shaved ice-cream.
Total cost: On average can range from $10-$15 depending on add-ons and size
Souvenirs will get you. We found some really great deals at a market off the side of the road in Kihei. You can usually strike up a deal here versus traditional stores.
Total Cost: $200
To play it safe, I would recommend putting aside $5,000 if traveling as a couple. I would say we spent approximately 4,500. I would also recommend booking your activities in advance to ensure you get the day/time slot you prefer. Some activities sell out quickly and restaurant reservations fill up quickly. Planning ahead allows you to plan your time accordingly and the get the most out of Maui. I probably sound like a total Type A personality, but I am quite the opposite. I tend to go with the flow on most trips unless there is something specifically I want to see. But with the amount of money we were spending and only a week in Maui, I really wanted to take advantage of our time wisely. But don’t be fooled, we didn’t cram our days with tons of activities, we made sure to carve out time daily to enjoy the beach. Now if traveling as a family, which we plan to do next March/April since baby will be here by than, I would actually book the trip a little differently. I would still use Expedia to scout flight options and where to stay but book them separately. After pricing it out, you do save about $500 doing it this way instead of booking as a bundle for a family of 5. But when that times, and all is booked we will revisit this topic 😉
Nothing was sponsored in this post. Just my honest opinion and breakdown of our trip planning and experience.