A Week in Maui – Part 1

Travel agents must travel all the time, right? I WISH! This travel agent has too many commitments at home throughout the year, so planning a week or more away is difficult. But the two weeks around Christmas & New Years are blessedly kid sporting event free, so we took advantage and spent those 2 weeks in Hawaii. Our amazing first week was on Maui, after which we flew to Kauai. More on that later.


Booking over the holidays can certainly be an adventure, since flights tend to be expensive and most properties have limited availability if you wait too long to make reservations. Traveling as a family of 5 also throws some extra considerations into the mix, since a simple 1 Bedroom condo or hotel room doesn’t work with an extra kid in tow. (Whose idea was that last kid, anyway?!)

I planned our travel almost 11 months out, but we were still too late to snag a spot at the condo complex in Kihei where the friends we were traveling with usually stay. I’d say it worked out, though, because we were all really happy with where we ended up and agreed that we would definitely do it again.

The Details:

I booked our trip as if I were a client, and used one of my suppliers. Blue Sky Tours services Hawaii, Tahiti and Fiji and has been selling exclusively to travel agents since 1981. They are a great asset to have on your side when you’re booking travel. Because they are only focused on a few destinations, they can really specialize in what they offer, and can use that to build relationships with the properties they sell. It was especially nice to be able to book our trip with them, since it allowed me to book multiple destinations in one fell swoop – I booked our flights from LA to Maui, our Maui lodging, our Maui to Kauai flight, our Kauai lodging and our Kauai to LA flight within the same package. That made remembering payments easy, and all my documentation was in 1 place.


The Property

For Maui, we ended up staying at the Aston at Papakea Resort, which is in the Honokowai area of Kaanapali. It’s conveniently located near a strip mall with a few restaurants and a grocery store. It’s ocean front location can be a let down, though, because it’s not on a sandy beach. There’s a breakwater that stands about 5 feet above the beach and only allows access to the water at 2 staircases along the wall. The water is swimmable at low tide, but at high tide the waves crash into the breakwater and it is definitely not advisable to try to swim. We never tried it, because the kids were happy enough using the 2 pools, but we saw people swimming and snorkeling in front of the hotel throughout out stay. You can also walk through the neighboring properties to get to Kaanapali Beach if you need some sand, but don’t want to get into the car.  My guess is that if you look for it, you’d be able to see sea turtles swimming in the water in front of the hotel. We saw them at Honokowai Park which is just a few hundred yards up from the Papakea. I was too busy, however, watching the migrating humpback whales that were in abundance out in the open water.


Our 2-bedroom (one was a loft) top floor condo

We booked 2-Bedroom Ocean Front units. Ours was on the top floor, and instead of a true second bedroom, it had an upper loft, which was perfectly fine for us. Our friends was a true 2-bedroom unit, so there seems to be some fluidity in their terminology. But the kitchens were well stocked, if not top of the line (read about our Kaui condos later!), and the furniture was comfortable. Aston Papakea isn’t a luxury property, but for families or couples who don’t want to spend a fortune and aren’t looking for 5-star accommodations, it definitely fits the bill. The biggest downside is that there isn’t a food establishment on property, so if you don’t want to cook dinner (or use the many BBQs that are available in the pool area), you have to venture out to find somewhere to eat. Local establishments were hit or miss. There’s a wood fired pizza truck that sets up most nights in a parking lot just outside the property that we frequented, and there is a larger area with a handful of food trucks that is open every night just down the street. The Aston Kaanapali Shores, which is next door and connected by a bridge across the canal, has a restaurant that was a hit with our kids for its mac & cheese and spaghetti & meatballs. The Mexican restaurant across the street was…terrible, both for service and food quality. Definitely do not recommend.


Our favorite spot, however, turned out to be a 10-minute walk down the street (or beach!) to Duke’s of Hawaii. We spent more than a few of our mornings at the beachside bar, chatting with Sean the bartender, enjoying Maui Mimosas (made with fresh POG juice, which is a definite must try on the islands), and other island delights. It was basically a vacation of cocktail sampling, where we tried to identify the best Mai Tais and Lava Flows (spoiler, sadly the lava flow at the Aston Kaanapali Shores left a lot to be desired. The lava flow at Cheeseburger in Paradise in Old Town Lahaina was delicious, but more on that later.)


The property has 2 decent sized, identical kidney shaped pools that are surrounded by BBQs. Each pool area has plenty of loungers, along with dining tables & chairs if you want to enjoy a meal poolside. Each pool also has a jacuzzi, and an attached ocean view gazebo that is perfect for a rainy day meal. We actually used that space for dinner a few nights during our stay. (Pro tip, but some Guava Garlic Salt at the ABC store and grill some zucchini with it, it’s DELICIOUS!)


If your kids are the adventurous outdoorsy types, they’ll thoroughly enjoy their evenings on the property. As soon as the sun sets, a plethora of frogs appear on the grounds. My kids spent hours, literal HOURS, running around at night catching frogs. I must have 60 pictures of individually caught frogs. Just a word of caution, in case you’re new to the frog catching game…they have a tendency to pee on you if they are scared.

Oh, there is also an ABC Store right off property (there’s literally a gate from the parking lot), and if you’ve been to Hawaii and know the treasures of the ABC Store, you know how big of a perk this is!



Get in touch now if you’re ready to start planning your own Hawaii adventure!

Peeing frogs are optional, but rainbows and sunshine are not.




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