Alex here. Check out this view from our hotel room in Maui. I’m having major nostalgia while writing this post.
I’m typing this on a Friday and my mind is halfway scrambled from this past week but let me see if I can dig up any funny memories of our past Hawaii trip to give you guys a quick recap of what all went down. You ready? Here we go.
Our trip began with a 3:30am wakeup call to catch a flight at the crack of dawn. Morgan, naturally, overpacked and we got in a huge fight about her removing a pair of shoes from her suitcase and wanting to put them in my carryon. Guess who won that fight?
Guess who always wins the fights?
*Disclaimer – Most of the time I let her win because she’s relentless with arguing and she just wears me down. I’m tired just thinking about it…
The most notable part of flying to Hawaii was the people seated directly behind us on the plane. They were such a treasure!!! Truly the most quiet, respectful and peaceful plane-mates I could imagine.
Yea, I’m lying.
Has anyone ever seen National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation? This family was a straight up Clark Griswold family and they were…a sight to see. Pure entertainment to put it kindly. We were first introduced to them when we were waiting to check our bags. We noticed a pot-bellied older man with glasses from 1998, white ankle socks and Reebok sneakers, (trying to set the mood, okay?) running around yelling because he dropped his driver license at the airport and couldn’t find it. A frazzled lady with a thick New Jersey accent was sprinting around and screaming in everyone’s face “HAVE YOU SEEN A DRIVER’S LICENSE?” while her two boys sat in a corner and wrestled. I remember looking at Morgan and feeling:
1) sad that they were probably going to miss their flight over a lost license plate.
2) grateful that they likely weren’t going to be seated next to us because whew, they were a handful of a family. (I mean, what are the odds of that, right?)
Morgan and I proceeded to board our flight after stocking up on snacks and books and were so excited to be seated near the front in premiere seats with really big foot space! This was a dream! Life was great! We never get good seats! Time for 5 hours of hyping ourselves up for Hawaii and enjoying the peace and quiet!
All of a sudden, I heard a voice screech “Hey Bubba, can you hear me?” and a sense of doom swiftly fell over me. It was the lady with the accent. And she was seated, with her family, directly behind us. Life has a funny way of messing with you, you know it?
Here’s a quick summary of how our flight went with the whacked out and potentially cracked out family from New Jersey:
Sure, the mom may or may not have been screeching on the phone to her cousin named Bubba while we were waiting to take off for 20 minutes, sure she might have allowed her 2 boys to kick our chairs on the duration of the 5 hour flight and sure, she might have yelled at her kids “SHUT UP, YOU’RE GIVING ME ANXIETY” over and over on the flight while other passengers were trying to quietly watch a movie but it’s fine. She was a character. And by a character, I mean we will never ever forget her and her family and they have so aptly earned the title of “worst passengers to ever fly on a plane.”
What an honor.
Check out this view though! The view of flying by the Big Island far outweighed any difficult passengers we encountered.
When we landed in Maui, we met up with a friend to kill time while waiting for our family to fly in. (Their flight got delayed a bit due to the hurricane that hit Hawaii a couple of days prior to this trip). He took us to grab sandwiches in Paia, stalk turtles and feel like a local for a bit. Shoutout to you, Tom!
Turtles just casually hanging out on the beach.
Once the rest of our family landed, we rented a convertible, (because we’re the ULTIMATE TOURISTS, OKAY?), and then went through the process of trying to shove 4 pieces of luggage into a tiny trunk. Plot twist- it didn’t work so I ended up getting shoved in the corner of a car and having to sit on top of a piece of luggage. I very clearly figured out that I was the sacrificial member of our family with this move. Thanks a lot, guys. The entire drive to our hotel consisted of my mom screaming at me to “DUCK!” every time she saw a cop because she was paranoid that we were going to get pulled over.
As you can tell, chaos was a really good theme for Day 1 of our trip. Here’s some standout moments from the rest of the adventures that went down throughout the week:
1) Our first-night meal is always at a place called the Hula Hut. It’s this cute little restaurant seated in the sand of Kaanapali Beach! (As a family, we try to use credit card points to go to Maui every year as a family trip and eating at this restaurant is always a highlight for us). A spinach, goat cheese, tomato and butternut squash pizza is always, always, always my first meal of choice there. (It might sound disgusting but it is delicious and quite possibly my favorite pizza combination on the planet). They always have live music playing and it’s the perfect place to kick back with the family and start to catch up on life with each other. Dining here will always be one of my favorite places in the entire world.2) When coming to Maui, I have a special routine that I fall into. I call this “my happy place routine.” It involves waking up before everyone else in my family and going outside on a quick 2 mile run as the day is breaking. (Call me crazy if you want but the run is SO BEAUTIFUL! It almost feels like a dream. Picture a winding pathway down Kaanapali beach with palm trees, waves crashing and hammocks scattered throughout that you can plop on once the run is done with).
When I get back, I usually wake up my family, grab a greek yogurt and sit on the balcony reading a book until getting ready for the day. (Nerd alert). We always then gather up our things, pack lunch in our hotel room and drive to the beach of choice for the day. When at the beach, I always eat the same thing.My favorite lunch in the entire world is simple. It is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, pineapple, sea salt and vinegar chips, a chocolate chip cookie and a diet coke.
Yes, I’m well aware this is likely seen as the meal of a 5 year old. Don’t @ me.
I truly don’t need anything fancy or extravagant to be happy. Sit me on the beach with my family, a good Stephen King book, warm weather and a very simple lunch and I couldn’t be more at peace with my life. It’s the casual moments like these that I will look back on fondly in the years to come and treasure forever. Hug your family close everyone!
Once wrapping up with the beach for the day, which is usually around 3-4pm, we all pile back in the convertible and head to the hotel. The grueling, tiring process then begins of 3 girls all attempting to shower and get ready for dinner in a tiny bathroom with one mirror. Hey, we always somehow make it work though. We typically do dinner as a family, drink copious amounts of wine and then wander around the area and look at the shops. The daily routine in Maui is simple, not too exciting on paper and relaxed but I couldn’t ask for anything more. Maui, Hawaii is my happy place. You probably have to be there to truly understand everything I’m talking about though.
3) One interesting thing that happened in Maui this time around was when we went grocery shopping, the store was partially wiped out of stock. This was due to the hurricane that had threatened to slam into Maui about 2-3 days prior to us arriving. If you check out the photos below, you can see how decimated the supplies were. I can’t imagine the panic everyone on the island felt as Hurricane Lane was looming over them. We’re lucky in that our trip occurred right between Hurricane Lane and the current hurricane that is threatening Hawaii right now. (#MorganLuck is once again a real thing).
4) One thing people have probably noticed about Morgan and I is how different our skin complexion varies. I am much more fair-skinned and take after my mom. Morgan is naturally tan and takes after my dad, who is super tan. For the first time in the history of the Willett’s, my dad got FRIED! He normally is the one who lays outside in the sun and bakes with nothing bad happening but one day in the sun this time around completely turned him into a lobster.
I’m only writing about this because this is normally MY fate and it’s nice being the one Willett who didn’t get sunburned on this trip. I’m gloating, okay. This paragraph is solely me gloating because my mom and Morgan ended up getting sunburned too. Also, I’m wearing tanning lotion in this photo. I am normally the color of the white pole on the guardrail.
5) One night, we went out to a restaurant called MonkeyPod in Kaanapali. Ironically enough, we got seated at a table with a blonde-haired waiter from Texas! Life, man. After talking to the waiter a bit, I realized that he was from the same area that I lived in in Dallas and was really good friends with my freshman roommate from college. Talk about a small world, ammiright? It was trippy to be halfway across the world and stumble into a friend of a friend.
6) My favorite day of the year is neither Christmas or my birthday. It is the day that we make the Maui excursion so aptly known as the Road to Hana. It is the most beautiful drive in the world and I get chills just thinking about it.
The drive starts off with us all piling in the convertible, (top down of course), and making the 45-minute drive over to Paia and the other side of Maui. We fill up on gas, grab snacks and then begin the journey! This drive takes all day and is a long winding road that encompasses almost the entire island of Maui. It is a drive that is on a narrow, winding one-lane road in the rainforest. It has hairpin turns and jaw-dropping views. No description will ever do it justice but here’s a photo to help do it justice:
The road starts from Paia, goes into the rainforest, (which takes hours to navigate through as you want to stop and hike around to every waterfall), and eventually goes into Hana, Hawaii. This is a very rainy and isolated town that either takes hours to drive to or you can fly into their tiny airport if you’re a celebrity and have a private jet on speed dial. Everything about this drive is so lush and green and Hana is most likely one of the most stunning places on the planet. It’s a town full of mountains, fog, greenery, horseback riding, banana bread, tiny homes on cliffs overlooking the ocean, etc. I truly can’t put it into words. To help put it in perspective, when Charles Lindbergh was dying, he opted to come to this area and spend 2 days alive here rather than be kept alive in New York City for an additional 2 weeks.
Most people end the drive here and turn around to go back from the direction they came from but there is the option of continuing on. We always continue on even though the roads aren’t paved and the rental car companies warn guests not too. Rental companies really shouldn’t allow us as customers. The unpaved drive around the rest of the island is a road winding beneath a volcano that the rain doesn’t hit. It is extremely dry, barren and looks almost like another planet! It is a sight to see and driving from the lush jungle of Hana to the alien portion of this road is a feast for the eyes. There are maybe 5 homes on this drive and the grounds still show traces of blackened lava. To wrap this all up, by the time we finish the Road to Hana, it is usually around 8pm. It truly is a full day that normally takes about 8-9 hours to drive! It is visually one of the most compelling and awe-inspiring drives on the entire planet and I highly recommend everyone experience this if visiting Maui. You won’t regret it. It’s the closest thing to heaven on earth.
7) My family is super competitive, so naturally, we decided to have ourselves a little cornhole tournament. We had a mini rock-paper-scissors tournament before to pick teams and I won. I picked my dad as my teammate as he was once a college football player and I could only assume that he was the most athletic teammate of the group. Logical, right?
Don’t worry though guys. Morgan completely sucked at this game until the very last round when she came in clutch and won the whole game singlehandedly. She’s really good about doing that, you know? Just chilling until she needs to come in clutch at the very last second. I suppose this is another example of #MorganLuck in action again.
8) For our last meal, we decided to eat a restaurant called Kimo’s.
Here’s a picture of the evening walk to the restaurant. Can it get any more beautiful than this?! IT IS HEAVENLY HERE.
I’m bringing this meal up because for better or worse, I will never forget it. Our waiter was a younger guy who was a little quiet but seemed very nice. All was fine with the world until our plates were being cleared and he picked up a plate and completely dumped the food from it onto my dad’s neck and all down his back. It was one of those scenes from a movie that you never think will happen in real life and THEN IT DOES! Too good, too good. The awkward part was that the waiter just ran off and sent his coworker to help clean up. I’m going to assume he felt really awkward and didn’t want to apologize or anything but he should have just come and enjoyed the moment! I mean, come on. How many times do you get to annihilate someones back with food? Enjoy the random moment, homie.
We got free Hula Pie from this so I’d like to give a special shoutout to my dad for sacrificing his shirt for us to get free pie. I’m about it. I’m all about it.
Thanks for reading about the random adventures that went down in Maui and know that the other parts of our days were spent vegging out on the beach. It was glorious and if you’re reading this and thinking about going to Maui- do it. If you live in California, there is always affordable flight options available if you look hard enough. If you live elsewhere, look into travel hacking! (If anyone needs an explanation of that, I’m always here to explain).