Shortly after I gave birth to my daughter, Adeline, it seemed like everyone I knew was taking a trip to Hawaii. Having not been there since I was a moody 16-year-old, I suddenly had a strong urge to return with my new family. After my husband, Colin, got a new job over the summer, we figured that it was the perfect time to go and celebrate our successes. We ended up booking a trip to Maui for the last week in November at the Fairmont Kea Lani.
Colin is Mr. Frugal, so he scored us an amazing deal with flight, rental car, and a room at the all-suite Fairmont through Costco Travel. I was so excited, but also a little nervous because I had not done this type of trip with my daughter yet. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. We knew that at least having a suite would mean that Adeline would have the best chance for sleep because she sleeps so much better when she is in her own room. And as long as Adeline slept well, then we would sleep well and our trip wouldn’t be a total bust.
Once we arrived, we weren’t exactly sure how we were going to fill our days. Most of what we had heard about doing on Maui was not exactly toddler-friendly (i.e. snorkeling, boat rides, the road to Hana). So we didn’t book any excursions in advance. Instead, we just decided to wing it each day, and I am very happy that we chose to vacation this way. Not having a strict schedule to adhere to, meant that we could customize our days based on the weather, how we were all feeling, and what we were excited to do. Here are some of the highlights of our trip.
Before this trip, Adeline had only been to the beach two other times, and neither time was warm enough for her to actually go swimming. Our resort had a nice beach with chairs and umbrellas that we could use. They also had sand toys for children to play with, but every time we went to get them, the beach stand said they were out. Luckily, everyone on the beach was very friendly, and most had children of their own who happily shared the sand toys with our daughter.
While Adeline enjoyed playing in the sand, she much preferred wading in the water. The ocean water was still quite warm even at the end of November. In fact, it was actually warmer than the resort’s pools! We held on to her and just played in the surf. Even though Adeline has taken months of swim lessons, at just 14 months old, we weren’t ready for her to on her own in the ocean. Remember, undercurrent can be strong on even the most serene beaches, so it’s not a good idea for young ones to be left unattended near the ocean.
One of my favorite things to do on vacation is trying out the local cuisine. Colin and I made a list of local restaurants that we wanted to try during our trip. From poke, to shave ice, and all the fresh fish we could ever want, we had some amazing meals on the trip. Adeline liked trying new foods, and especially enjoyed that almost every restaurant served steamed rice and fruit. While Addie usually does a great job going out to restaurants, towards the end of the 6-night trip, she was over sitting in the high chair and waiting to be served. I think in the future we will take more of meals back to our room in order to give Addie more free-time to run around and not be stuck in a high chair.
Because I am a stay-at-home-mom, I don’t have a lot of need to hire babysitters, and up until this trip, Addie had only stayed a few hours with family and friends. Colin and I decided to work with a company called The Nanny Connection Maui, to hire a sitter for two nights. The great thing about this company was that we could have the same sitter each night we were going out, so Addie had an opportunity to get to know her and feel more comfortable. Our sitter was a 3rd-grade teacher from the local town of Kihei, she was very professional and arrived early each night.
The first night, we didn’t leave until close to Adeline’s bedtime, so the sitter didn’t have much to do besides sit in the room while Addie slept. Colin and I stayed on the resort property and ate at one of the nicer restaurants, Ko. We also took advantage of the kid-free time and went swimming in the Adults Only pool that is open 24 hours a day at the resort. It was so relaxing to just float around in the heated pool and look at the stars, I am so glad we decided to do that.
The second night we went to a Luau hosted by a neighboring resort, the Grand Wailea. This time we left around 4 pm so the sitter entertained Addie for a few hours and even fed her dinner before putting her to bed. I am glad we did it this way so that she was already familiar with Adeline before spending the longer amount of awake time with her. Addie did great both times and Colin and I were able to enjoy some romance while on vacation with a toddler! On future vacations, we might have grandparents that tag along with us, but if it is going to be just the three of us again, I will definitely look into hiring a sitter for at least one night.
Adeline isn’t the biggest fan of car rides, so we knew we weren’t going to take any major road trips. However, we did want to explore at least a few parts of the island. One day we drove up the coast to Lahaina. This was a great trip because it was only about a 45-minute car ride. We planned the drives around Adeline’s nap schedule, so she was awake and happy while we spent the day shopping and exploring the town.
One of our favorite excursions of the entire trip was to the Maui Tropical Plantation in Wailuku. We didn’t have high expectations for this place, so we went on our way back to the airport. Actually, this place was amazing! For $20/person you can take a 45-minute tram tour of the plantation. This doesn’t sound very exciting, but the tour guide was knowledgeable and entertaining. She spent about 10 minutes talking about everything you can do with a coconut and I was enthralled! On the plantation grounds is a restaurant called The Mill House. The food here is exceptional. Colin and I enjoyed one of the best meals of our entire trip while watching the rain settle into the misty mountains above the plantation. Addie enjoyed their french fries. If we go back to Maui, I will definitely be returning to the Maui Tropical Plantation to see what else they have to offer (zip-lining anyone?)
Taking this trip made me pretty fearless when it comes to traveling with a toddler. Before the trip was even over, I found myself scheming up our next trip. Even the five-hour flight each way didn’t seem too hard, make sure to check out my posts on Flying with a Toddler to find more tips for that.