I’m still not quite sure where the time went. Somehow our trip to Maui has flown by. Yesterday, I finally got around to editing the photographs. Before leaving I had asked countless friends and family members for their top Maui recommendations. Now that I’ve driven nearly a complete circle around Maui I want to help you plan your next trip. Get ready, because I have accommodation, food, activities, insurance, and COVID test pro tips. However, first I have to share a story from my trip.
Maui has this massive crater called Haleakala which is 3055m above sea level. For the first four days of our trip we drove a small rental car. We decided to go up to the crater before we picked up the Volkswagen campervan. Then a massive thunderstorm hit Maui, kiboshing our trip plan and delaying our grand visit to this crater. Stay with me the story gets better.
So the following week we go to pick up the campervan. At this point we are still eager to see a sunset at Haleakala. Our rental car agreement says that we can drive on all state roads. So we decide to take on the challenge of getting good old quirky Clementine… aka our campervan, up to the top of the crater.
We begin the drive up and it’s going pretty well, considering she’s moving. Mikes flooring it and the van is slowly trekking. Kinda like the feeling of a rollercoaster as the suspense builds and it slowly makes its way to the top. I should note that this drive is switchback after switchback, with drop off cliffs as you make your turns. So we are really working this van to get it up to the top. Thankfully, we make it to the top and park Clementine to watch a beautiful but insanely chilly sunset. The wind quickly makes you forget that you spent the morning on a HOT beach. After a beautiful sunset we go to start the van. Ghghhhhhhshh….ggsshhhhhh, yup that the sound of our van not starting. Fantastic.
Days before we had figured out a trick with Clementine. Sometimes if you turn the key in the ignition and instantly throw the van into drive it will start. So in a last ditch-effort Mike tries, but the problem is we are in a busy parking lot. Every time Mike attempts to throw it in drive he has to hit the brake, because people are reversing from their parking spots. Every time he breaks the steering wheel locks. At this point we both know it’s time to get out the jumper cables and ask someone for a boost.
I grab the cables and locate the battery which is under the passenger seat. Mike manages to flag down some poor tourists from Chicago. At this point my teeth are chattering I’m so cold from the bitter wind. I’m wearing a toque, down jacket, additional layers, mittens and warm socks and I’m literally shaking. I take Mike’s cellphone and run down the crater until I can get a bar of service. I call the campervan company to see if they have any tips for getting this van started, because I’ve never seen a vehicle with so many quirks. I talk to the owner and run back up to the van to begin our first attempt of jumpstarting the battery. Attempt one we hook up the cables, our new friends turn their car on and it’s our turn to start the van…. nothing. Attempt two, we try again…no luck. At this point, we tell ourselves, we will give it one last try. We wait, letting the two vehicles sit together and then we start the van. Vrooghghrroooshhhmmm…. that’s the sound of a volkswagen campervan that has started, but she ain’t running smoothly. We quickly disconnect the cables and begin driving this van in circles around a parking lot that is now empty. As we drive we are watching the voltage SLOWLY increase as the battery charges. I literally remembering counting, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 as Mike did circles around the parking lot. After all, we weren’t about to drive a road with drop off cliffs unless this van could do 10 laps around the parking lot. Remember the steering wheel locks when the van’s battery dies.
We do the ten laps and begin our decent down Haleakala. At this point I should mention that our brake lights don’t work, another Clementine quirk shall we call it. Also, since boosting the battery we’ve got a new problem on our hands. Every time we turn a corner the horn sounds. They say building Ikea Furniture together is a test of couple’s relationship. Pfftt…try driving a campervan down drop off cliffs with no break lights, while the van’s horn goes off every 30 seconds and its batteries voltage is low. Let’s just say Mike and I were overjoyed when we made it to the bottom of Haleakala. If you can believe it that’s the short version of this story.
Now let’s plan you a trip that’s a little more RELAXING!
Oh boy, this was the absolute worst part of planning our trip. There are two things you should know, Mike and I are Canadians, and we are typically budget travellers. We like to stretch our trip funds as far as they can go, especially when everything is priced in US dollars. This was by far one of the most expensive trips I’ve been on. It was also one of the most difficult trips to book accommodation for. When searching for accommodation I typically explore a combination of campsites, airbnb’s, hostels and hotels. That being said, we were still looking for accommodation that felt relaxing as after all we were on vacation.
Keep in mind that we travelled to Maui right before Christmas, December 2-12 to be precise. About six months prior to the trip we began booking accommodation, and at this time options were limited. An extra layer of difficulty was added as we tried to find places with reasonable cancellation policies during a global pandemic. Most airbnb’s averaged a minimum cost of 300-400 USD per night. Many of these being private room’s, NOT entire apartments.
If you’re a Canadian like us listen closely. We had to pay for our Antigen tests on the way to Hawaii. However, when we travelled home (Maui —> Vancouver) they were free! In order to get home we required an Antigen test (aka rapid NAAT test) 72 hours prior to departure. Prior to our trip we had read an article on how to get free tests at Walgreens. It was easy so we are going to share the not-so-secret-secret with you. Here’s how it works.
Car insurance – Mike and I typically get car insurance through our home province before entering the states. The coverage is often better and comes at a more affordable price. Make sure you have insurance, unfortunately Mike and I have needed to use it before while on vacation. Throwback to blowing not one, but two tires in Iceland.
Health insurance – If you’re a Canadian who gets injured or sick in the states and failed to get medical insurance….RIP. Do your research so that you don’t have to have a heart attack on top of whatever else went wrong. PRO-TIP: MAKE SURE YOU HAVE INSURANCE THAT COVERS YOUR ISOLATION STAY IF YOU GET COVID WHEN TRAVELLING IN THE STATES!!!!! Take the time to play out different COVID scenarios and grill your insurance provider about them. Thankfully Mike and I cleared all our covid tests, but I know people who have gotten covid while travelling. Let’s jus say your trip can get very expensive very fast.
Maui isn’t exactly what I had pictured based on the image Hollywood movies had painted in my head. In fact, it felt a lot more attached than removed from the rest of America. Need access to a Target, a Walmart, or a Costco? You’re in luck they’ve got it all. Kinda a funny contrast to the sandy beaches, blue waters, dolphins and Hawaiian culture I had imagined all these years. However, remember this is just one of many Hawaiian islands.
In general, and obviously this does not apply to everyone we met, but we did not feel welcomed as tourists. Which completely makes sense to me. Can you imagine if every year tons of tourists were visiting your home and not respecting it? Mike and I always try to go the extra mile when we travel, knowing that we are visitors. Please do the same, be kind and clean up after yourself. I should say that we spent most of our time away from the resorts. If you stay at the resorts you will be treated like gold. Basically anywhere you spend money you will welcomed.
Ouuu now this is a fun topic. My friend’s brother lives in Maui and we were given too many amazing recommendations to count. Obviously, on our trip we did not have time to do it all. Here were a few highlights!
We did a lot, including many things not listed above. We kinda took the approach of “we want to see EVERYTHING” on this trip. In hindsight we should’ve planned less and just enjoyed the beaches more. On our next trip to Hawaii we’ll definitely block off more days for just relaxing oceanside.
Remember we were only in Maui for 12 days! Despite all our research we definitely missed gems that Hawaii has to offer. If you have a Maui favourite that we didn’t include in this post please tell us below! We’d love to include your suggestions in our next trips to Hawaii.
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