Our Awesome Coronavirus-Era Vacation In Maui

Our Awesome Coronavirus-Era Vacation In Maui

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I just wrapped up an incredible vacation in Maui with my family, and wanted to report back on that. We had an unforgettable time, and I think it’s the perfect vacation destination in this era, though I also wanted to share some things to look out for and consider before planning travel.

Also, I apologize for my light postings the past week. Usually I work just as much when I travel as when I’m at home (though I don’t actually have a home right now), but between the timezone and the opportunity to spend quality time with my mom, I took a bit more time off.

Why we decided to travel to Maui

Now that we’re all fully vaccinated, I’ve been doing what I can to travel as much as possible with my mom. We recently took a mother-son trip to Big Sur, but there was an even more special trip planned after that over Mother’s Day, as that marked the two year anniversary of my mom being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

My mom hadn’t been to Maui in 30+ years, and her partner also had never been to Hawaii, so this seemed like the perfect trip to take them on:

  • While travel restrictions are constantly changing, Hawaii has been fairly consistent with its regulations, so I felt comfortable planning a trip there without fear of having to cancel
  • I got great American Airlines business class flights using AAdvantage miles
  • I could review the new Andaz Maui Villas, which opened at the beginning of May; we were the first guests in the villa we stayed in
  • My mom has limited mobility, and in that sense Maui is great — you can enjoy the outdoors and some incredible views without having to go on huge hikes; you can drive all around the island and stop at scenic lookouts, you can walk on a beautiful beach right at your hotel, you can go to luaus, you can have an amazing lunch at a farm, etc.

Lunch with mom & Ford at O’o Farm

I’ve developed a new appreciation for Hawaii

Hawaii really grew on me this trip. I have to be perfectly honest, while I’ve enjoyed my travels to Hawaii in the past, it has typically not been a place that I’ve prioritized traveling to.

I’m glad coronavirus travel restrictions caused us to go again, because we had an unforgettable time, and I feel like I now “get” Maui better.

First of all, Maui is easy. You feel like you’re a world away, all while having the convenience of being in the United States, from credit card acceptance, to cell phone usage, to the language (of course at times the challenge of being in another country is part of the fun).

Maui is also beyond gorgeous, and that’s evident from the second that you’re on approach to the airport.

View approaching Maui

From stunning beaches…

Maui beaches

To beautiful coastline…

View from Wailea


View from Kapalua

To great paths for walking (coronavirus has turned Ford into a power walker — he’s now competing with my dad to see who can walk more miles in a week, so don’t even get me started on that)…

Wailea boardwalk

To amazing drives…

Driving around Maui

To beautiful sunsets…

Sunset at the Andaz Maui’s incredible luau

…Maui really has something for everyone.

I’ve just returned to the mainland, and am already wanting to plan my next trip to Hawaii.

Considerations for vacationing in Hawaii

While we had an incredible time and I’d absolutely recommend a trip to Maui in the coming months, I do want to share some things to be aware of, for better or worse. The reality is that most travel nowadays comes with risks and isn’t necessarily “easy,” and a trip to Hawaii is no exception. In no particular order, below are some things to consider.

The entry process can be time consuming

In a separate post I talked about how Hawaii’s Safe Travel program works. Before traveling to Hawaii you do need to get tested, even if you’re vaccinated (starting at some point this summer, Hawaii plans to lift the testing requirement for vaccinated travelers).

This is by no means a deal-breaker, though it can be expensive, time consuming, and potentially a bit frustrating (if you’re waiting on a test result that could jeopardize your trip).

Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program takes some effort

Hotels are ridiculously expensive right now

I think at this very moment hotels in Hawaii are more expensive than ever before (if booking in the future, that is — we booked months ago). For some dates in summer, base rooms at the Andaz Maui are going for over $1,600 per night, while base rooms at the Four Seasons Maui are going for over $2,000 per night. Hotels are basically charging Christmas-week pricing for the entire summer.

We got a much better deal at the time that we booked, but that’s how supply and demand seems to work right now. It’s my understanding that many hotels in Maui are almost entirely booked over summer, and lots of people are paying those prices.

Now, personally I think hotels in Hawaii will get cheaper again as more destinations open to Americans (particularly when the entire European Union opens), and perhaps some of the demand shifts.

Expect hotels in Hawaii to be expensive

Dining reservations can be complicated

Restaurants in Maui can only operate at 50% of capacity, while many hotels are 80%+ full. As you’d expect, that means dining options are limited if you’re not planning way in advance. If you’re traveling to Maui, make dining reservations as soon as you book, ideally weeks (or even months) in advance.

For example, Mama’s Fish House is booked out literally months in advance. We couldn’t get a reservation in advance, but I lucked out when I saw a cancelation there day of.

Even at hotel breakfast you can potentially expect there to be a wait, given the limits on dining.

The other side of that coin is that service was generally excellent and attentive in restaurants, and you definitely had more space and didn’t feel crowded, so that was nice.

Mama’s Fish House

Coronavirus & mask restrictions are very strict

This is sure to be polarizing, especially given the CDC’s guidance that vaccinated people no longer have to wear masks in public. That’s superseded by local regulations, and Hawaii has a very strict mask mandate.

Just to give a few examples (and these are just observations, not judgment calls):

  • There’s constant communication about mask expectations in a way I haven’t noticed anywhere else; for example, when I rented my car and had to drive up to a booth to exit, the car rental employee told me to please keep my mask on that entire time (which I would have done anyway)
  • Hawaii even mandates that you wear masks at all times on the beach; in fairness, no one followed that, though other than that, mask usage was consistently enforced
  • I was using the gym in my hotel and there were no other guests there, so I didn’t wear a mask (I would have put it on the second another person arrived); a hotel employee came into the gym just to tell me to put on a mask (that’s ultimately fair since it’s also a hotel policy, but I’ve never been asked to do that when there was no one else)
  • Mask wearing among hospitality employees and locals was extremely consistent

So if you’re someone who enjoys your newfound vaccinated freedom of not wearing a mask in public, Hawaii probably isn’t for you right now. Of course it’s possible that Hawaii updates its mask policies, though it doesn’t seem like the governor has any plans to do so. Governor Ige is not Governor DeSantis.

There are signs all over about Hawaii’s mask mandate

Bottom line

The trip I just wrapped up in Hawaii was one of my most memorable ones ever — of course that’s largely about the people I was able to spend time with, and the memories we were able to create.

With travel restrictions currently in place, Hawaii has become one of the most popular destinations out there, and as you’d expect, things get crowded. Add in capacity and other coronavirus restrictions, and it does take a bit of planning if you’re going to Hawaii. I tried to emphasize those points above to give people a sense of what to expect, but ultimately the minor inconveniences aren’t the things that I took away from this vacation.

Our trip was totally worth it — Maui is such a special place, and in many ways it’s the perfect destination for this era, given all the opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. The trip exceeded my expectations, and I already can’t wait to return.

Has anyone else traveled to Hawaii in recent months? If so, what was your experience like?

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  1. jmc014

    I also went to Maui in May and was surprised at how crowded it was. I was fortunate enough to stay at Marriott properties using free night certificates for the length of the trip. I also booked my rental car months in advance and had a nice SUV waiting for me at the airport. What caught me off guard was how difficult it was to find a good restaurant for walk-in at dinnertime. The only...

    I also went to Maui in May and was surprised at how crowded it was. I was fortunate enough to stay at Marriott properties using free night certificates for the length of the trip. I also booked my rental car months in advance and had a nice SUV waiting for me at the airport. What caught me off guard was how difficult it was to find a good restaurant for walk-in at dinnertime. The only reservation I made in advance was Mama's Fish House, which was definitely a good call. I'd love to trade notes on which restaurants and experiences you enjoyed in Maui!

  2. TonkaTonka

    Its funny. I just read another article where Hawaiians are proposing adding another $20/person for the privilege of visiting Hawaii. As if we don't already pay enough fees and tourist taxes. Then reading the comments section where many locals criticized tourists for everything wrong with Hawaii. They found the low crowds to be a blessing. Many thought $20/person was not enough. Some suggested $20/person per day. Another said it should be $100/person. They wanted to...

    Its funny. I just read another article where Hawaiians are proposing adding another $20/person for the privilege of visiting Hawaii. As if we don't already pay enough fees and tourist taxes. Then reading the comments section where many locals criticized tourists for everything wrong with Hawaii. They found the low crowds to be a blessing. Many thought $20/person was not enough. Some suggested $20/person per day. Another said it should be $100/person. They wanted to get rid of the bargain travelers. All those comments left a bad taste in my mouth. The thing that made Hawaii better than any other tropical vacation was the spirit of Aloha. If that's gone, its no better than any other beach vacation. To be honest, there are better beaches else where but only one Aloha.

  3. Jared

    Need advise from the blogosphere. I intend to spend June and July "working from home" in Hawaii. Can I get recommendations for unique experiential stays in Hawaii? Ideally, I would split my time between the different islands.

    I am not looking for: chain-affiliated crowded properties; high traffic resorts (don't care for earning points right now). I never use a hotel gym/spa, swimming pool or restaurant (unless if renowned) so these amenities are not important...

    Need advise from the blogosphere. I intend to spend June and July "working from home" in Hawaii. Can I get recommendations for unique experiential stays in Hawaii? Ideally, I would split my time between the different islands.

    I am not looking for: chain-affiliated crowded properties; high traffic resorts (don't care for earning points right now). I never use a hotel gym/spa, swimming pool or restaurant (unless if renowned) so these amenities are not important to me.

    I am looking for a unique properties/experiences which can only be had in Hawaii - a local boutique stay or unique experiential hotels. Average cost per night should not exceed 600 USD or 15K USD per month before taxes. For complicated reasons, Air BnB cannot be charged on our corporate account so that's out of the window.

    Thanks in advance for suggestions!

  4. Xplays

    Just got back from Maui as well, but at the grand Wailea. One of the perks to the increasing demand for travel to Hawaii is some flights getting upguaged. When our United flight got upguaged to a high j 767 they had so many open polaris seats open, it was only $350 to upgrade and lots of the seats still went empty (used some travel credit to finally get to try polaris seats). Unfortunately it...

    Just got back from Maui as well, but at the grand Wailea. One of the perks to the increasing demand for travel to Hawaii is some flights getting upguaged. When our United flight got upguaged to a high j 767 they had so many open polaris seats open, it was only $350 to upgrade and lots of the seats still went empty (used some travel credit to finally get to try polaris seats). Unfortunately it can go the other way. Alaska flight back was packed, so didn't clear upgrade.

    At the hotel and around the island there was definitely a warning that masking was being strictly enforced but my general sense was that the tourists really didn't care. I overheard at one of the hotels a large number of guests had been fined by the police for not wearing masks, but while I was there a lot of guests were not wearing masks around the hotel property (and around the pool and beach basically no one was wearing masks). On boat trips (snorkel/diving) , the staff said that while in the harbor all passengers on board had to wear masks and it was being monitored.

    At restaurants the rule is supposed to be that masks must be worn until water is brought out, but most guests disregarded that.

    Agree about the mismatch in restaurant available space vs hotel occupancy - waits we're really long. Service for us was mixed. Some restaurants clearly hadn't been able to ramp up their staff fast enough to keep up with the increase in customers. Ended up going to island gourmet a few times just for faster meals.

    Grand Wailea was busy (no upgrades here either for diamonds) but could find a chair at any time but in often not great locations (as usual people reserving seats all day). Fortunately they seemed to have been able to add back enough seats to avoid the disastrous 4pm the day before chair reservation system they had to use earlier on.

  5. Emily

    Love traveling to Hawaii. If I have to recommend, it would be to spend quite a few days on Kaua’i, if you love nature and being away from the crowd. Secluded forests, beautiful caves and almost desolate and picturesque beaches. Plus, if like me you love surfing, there are some great spots to catch the waves! I love spending time shared between the small town of Waimea, the beach side private cottages or the getaways in the forests/mountains.

  6. Brandon

    @D3 We had a rental car and covered much of the island, mainly snorkeling and visiting the national park service operated sites (plus some of the waterfalls and botanic gardens outside Hilo in the rainforest). Didn't do any organized excursions this trip.

  7. Maia

    Great post! We are here now! Staying with friends so we avoided the crazy $$ at hotels. The food had been incredible. What a great way to spend time and show love to your mom!

  8. Ryan

    My parents moved to Maui at the start of the pandemic. Bought a place, quarantined there for 2 weeks and have basically been "residents" since.

    It sounds like things have really changed since easter or so. I visited around Christmas and it was dead and easy to get reservations anywhere.

    When I visited again last month after getting vaccinated, you couldnt get a reservation at any of the big restaurants for a month+. They live...

    My parents moved to Maui at the start of the pandemic. Bought a place, quarantined there for 2 weeks and have basically been "residents" since.

    It sounds like things have really changed since easter or so. I visited around Christmas and it was dead and easy to get reservations anywhere.

    When I visited again last month after getting vaccinated, you couldnt get a reservation at any of the big restaurants for a month+. They live near baby beach and its just crazy crowded now.

    Really hoping things calm down a bit as people get more options for travel.

    Also, imagine you voluntarily go to a travel blog, see a review of a trip from a vaccinated person, and then complain that the person is rubbing it in our face. Are people like Endre really that stupid or is that just a troll I'm missing the signs of?

  9. Brookiegirl

    Reading this made me tear up because I took my Mom to Maui while she was dealing with colon cancer. We had a great time at the Four Seasons. I'm glad your Mom can travel and hope you have many more trips planned with her.

    1. Ben

      @ Brookiegirl -- Awww, thanks, happy to hear you and your mom had a great time in Maui as well!

  10. ArnoldB

    From the pictures, for my taste this island seems too dry and not tropical enough. But I read that there are other, more tropical/rainforesty islands of Hawaii as well?

  11. Alan

    That's a really lovely photo of you, your Mum and Ford - glad you had such an amazing and memorable trip :)

  12. JohnnyBoy

    Ben/Lucky-
    You experienced Maui No Ka 'Oi. After many trips to Hawai'i -Oahu, Kaua'i, Big Island - over four decades, I visited Maui for the first time last year right before the pandemic started. Wow.
    We went back in March and it was very crowded in places (e.g. Wailea, Ka'anapali), but still amazing.

    P.S. I think that first beach picture is Ulua Beach, or the one just north of it. Wailea Beach is the one in front of the Waldorf with all of the beach chairs.

  13. Member for Hillsong

    Stop spreading Covid. Why can't you not travel and shut the border forever like we do here in Australia? Only politicians should be travelling at this time for essential reasons.

    The only enemy is the virus, lockdowns save lives and we are all in this together.

  14. Jonn

    Got a stellar buy one get one deal on Alaska from PDX so the round trip flights for our April trip were $400 for two people. Booking a VRBO condo only three weeks before was $1600 for the week. Car rental off airport at Hertz Local Edition was $400 cheaper than on airport (10 minute Maui bus and a 10 minute walk.)
    With no planning we still had a great time, but dining options...

    Got a stellar buy one get one deal on Alaska from PDX so the round trip flights for our April trip were $400 for two people. Booking a VRBO condo only three weeks before was $1600 for the week. Car rental off airport at Hertz Local Edition was $400 cheaper than on airport (10 minute Maui bus and a 10 minute walk.)
    With no planning we still had a great time, but dining options were limited for walk-ins.

    We'd do it differently next time, but this was a fantastic vacation.

  15. Connor Langer

    May I just say that Ford is looking as **fine** as ever! Yum.

  16. Antonio

    Have you ever been to Hana? Now that the Hana-Maui Resort is with Hyatt, I hope you make it there soon. I crashed their pool when I stayed in Hana at a friend's house a few years ago, it's a lovely place!

    1. Ben

      @ Antonio -- I've only driven through Hana (as I think every visitor to Maui has). ;) I can't wait until Hana-Maui Resort becomes an Alila, because it should be awesome. I was even tempted to visit pre-renovation.

  17. D3kingg

    @Brandon

    I was on the big island May 3-7. I never went north of KOA. Sheraton was close to holua resort where I stayed. Did you take any excursions ? Did you go to the green sand beach ? Miloi’i Beach ?

  18. Lou

    @pam - Thank you for the great information, I couldn’t be more excited. Unfortunately I have to downgrade to the Westin Hapuna Beach for night 6

  19. NK3

    I'm with @Omar, @EC2, @T, and @panda. I love Hawaii, but do not want to go anytime soon. We did go in the beginning of March, which was a last minute decision, and it felt like it was right at the cusp of getting crazy. We got a great deal on flights and used up some free night certs, and rental car was decent ($55 a night). We had such a good time we looked...

    I'm with @Omar, @EC2, @T, and @panda. I love Hawaii, but do not want to go anytime soon. We did go in the beginning of March, which was a last minute decision, and it felt like it was right at the cusp of getting crazy. We got a great deal on flights and used up some free night certs, and rental car was decent ($55 a night). We had such a good time we looked into going in June. Flights were twice as much. Rooms were more, and rental cars are just not available. We will try for Greece, since they are just starting to open. Hopefully things are not full on crazy there.

  20. David

    lol @ the people who need to voice their opinion that they wouldn't go to Maui because of the mask policy. I'm pretty sure that's intended. They don't want people who don't take COVID seriously to go, and judging by occupancy rates and the rates they're charging, they're really not hurting for tourists.

  21. Philip Elliott

    Please tell us more about travelling with mobility issues. Did hotels all have adapted rooms? Was there any help available at the airports? Could you hire an electric mobility scooter? It looks like your mother really enjoyed this trip a lot. It might be something quite special you could share with the less mobile readers.

  22. Steve

    Ben, glad you had a nice time with your mother. Sadly, my mother passed away last November in New Zealand and it wasn't an option to attend her service due to the travel restrictions. The good news was that we did have the chance to take her to Maui in recent years and she loved the place, especially the weather and entertainment. My wife and I visited Maui in December and April. We are "owners"...

    Ben, glad you had a nice time with your mother. Sadly, my mother passed away last November in New Zealand and it wasn't an option to attend her service due to the travel restrictions. The good news was that we did have the chance to take her to Maui in recent years and she loved the place, especially the weather and entertainment. My wife and I visited Maui in December and April. We are "owners" at the Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas so we book our accommodation one year in advance to get top floor, ocean view rooms. We have been visiting the island for almost 25 years so we do not rent a car for many of our trips. The resort offers a "free" bus to Lahaina via the main Ka'anapali resort area, including stops at the Sheraton and Westin hotels. For airport to resort transportation we use a shuttle service. Do not rely on Uber availability - prior to the pandemic there were plenty but today there are not many drivers and they are in high demand. Taxi service is plentiful so no big deal. Dining is difficult during these times, not only due to the COVID-related capacity restrictions but also due to the lack of staff. Pre-trip reservations are a must (OpenTable has limited availability, however) if you have any special celebrations planned. Fortunately, our resort villas have full kitchens, and the pool-side BBQ areas are great for cooking dinner. Many restaurants also offer take-out services so this is a good option for a couple of nights - get a drink at the bar and watch the sunset while waiting for the food. Pool-side chairs are very scarce due to the COVID social distancing rules - you'll see towels and other stuff placed on most chairs before dawn (we even saw a guy who had continued his sleep on a pool chair while waiting for the rest of his family to join him). But, there are no issues on the beach - you can pick up cheap beach chairs at Costco (near the airport exit) if you have a car, or rent them from several businesses (book online in advance). No need for masks on the beach while seated (or swimming, of course). Snorkeling is a popular activity all over Hawaii and there are again rental options if you do not own equipment - personally I bought my own a few years ago and pack them in my luggage. In our opinion, the best time to visit Maui is November - April when the whales are there. I recommend one of the many sunset dinner cruises to see the whales, while having a nice meal and drinks - most of them pickup right off the Ka'anapali Beach around Whaler's Village. If you are a beer fan, there are several microbreweries on the island - the big one is the Maui Brewing Company, with their large facility in Kihei near Wailea, and a couple in Lahaina. Last word for Ben and it's a silly nitpick - when you are on an island you should say "on Maui" not "in Maui", I learned this from FB travel nitpickers so maybe good to know. LOL

  23. Pam

    @ Lou - you nailed the best cc deal ever imo. Mauna Kea is the most special, refined, & elegant lodging in all of Hawaii. Best white sand beach of all, and on the BI at that!

    The history/architecture of the hotel & its priceless art collection (do take a tour or chk out The Art of Mauna Kea book) are unparalleled. The free ocean view breakfasts (w Plat status) put any of the...

    @ Lou - you nailed the best cc deal ever imo. Mauna Kea is the most special, refined, & elegant lodging in all of Hawaii. Best white sand beach of all, and on the BI at that!

    The history/architecture of the hotel & its priceless art collection (do take a tour or chk out The Art of Mauna Kea book) are unparalleled. The free ocean view breakfasts (w Plat status) put any of the other properties to shame. It is my all-time fav Marriott perk breakfast. If you don’t have status, pay for it at least one morning, is well worth it anyway. And you got all that & so much more for free with the Boundless sign-up! Well played. Lucky for you to find 5 nights at the rates you needed, thank the pandemic for that difficult opp.

    Hopefully you have some SNAs for ocean view rooms, the property is tight with them. One of the best luaus on the islands is on-site, discounted as a Bonvoy mbr. The plumeria logo for the hotel was selected by the founder himself, Lawrence Rockefeller. Cant say enough…enjoy & again great job!

  24. Roman

    Your mom looks fantastic!! Here's to many more special trips together!

  25. Omar

    @T agree. You could not pay me to go to Hawaii now.

  26. EC2

    @ T. - agree 100%. Doesn’t want to make me want to go to Hawaii again in the least till it’s normal there. That said I’m glad Lucky had a great time with his mom. That’s all that matter. I certainly would never spend that money on where he stayed, but his options were limited in that he need a Villa to socialize and not 2 separate rooms.

  27. T.

    thank you for posting that...because now - even if I had a remote desire to go to Maui at this time, that desire evaporated completely...hotel prices, reservations weeks and months in advance, mask requirement when you are on the beach (even if most do not follow it, still) or when you are alone (!) in the gym or your rental car (while having been vaccinated!), hurdles to jump through to get there...
    maybe I...

    thank you for posting that...because now - even if I had a remote desire to go to Maui at this time, that desire evaporated completely...hotel prices, reservations weeks and months in advance, mask requirement when you are on the beach (even if most do not follow it, still) or when you are alone (!) in the gym or your rental car (while having been vaccinated!), hurdles to jump through to get there...
    maybe I missed it in your post, but there are very few "awesome" points and a ton of "awful"...

  28. Brandon

    Just got back from eight days on the Big Island, and coming from Arizona, it was so refreshing to be somewhere that is taking the pandemic seriously. It was also comforting knowing that most days there were zero new cases on the island, and everyone there as a tourist either tested negative or quarantined.

    Luckily, we booked our rental car at Budget via AutoSlash months ago for $380 total, and on arrival in Kona...

    Just got back from eight days on the Big Island, and coming from Arizona, it was so refreshing to be somewhere that is taking the pandemic seriously. It was also comforting knowing that most days there were zero new cases on the island, and everyone there as a tourist either tested negative or quarantined.

    Luckily, we booked our rental car at Budget via AutoSlash months ago for $380 total, and on arrival in Kona everything (QR code checks, baggage claim, rental car pickup) took less than an hour.

    Used a ton of Marriott 35K FNAs from CCs that I had cancelled from other trips due to the pandemic, and was able to use them at Waikoloa Beach Resort and the Sheraton Kona Resort. Also used a 40K FNA from the 75 elite night choice award for a night at the Westin Hapuna Beach. All three hotels upgraded us to a full one bedroom oceanfront suite (Westin as an elite complimentary upgrade; others using SNAs). We also checked out Kings Land by Hilton using the Aspire $250 resort credit (and got upgraded to a 2BR suite as Diamond), as well as the DoubleTree Hilo (redeemed 44K Hilton points). All of the hotels were at around 50% capacity, and we saw 100% universal mask wearing by all staff and guests everywhere except swimming in the pool (where you're allowed to take them off) and the beach, as you mentioned.

    Overall a fantastic trip, so glad we could make it happen, and already looking forward to our return. The only thing we wanted to do but couldn't was snorkel with the manta rays, which was completely sold out during our time in Kona. Great reason to go back!

  29. Brian

    @Keith Pence:

    Lineage was really great. We enjoyed it a ton. The drink with the pork rondos was fabulous.

    As for Monkeypod- we got there at 6 one day and the wait was 2.5 hours. You can’t sit at the bar to wait, and that’s the day we lucked out and walked into lineage. We got there at 4:45 the next day and it perfectly placed us at 6:00 sitting at the table

  30. neil

    What no mention of Haleakalā. So easy to get to the summit. Or was the park closed????

    1. Ben

      @ neil -- We did go, but not at sunrise, since tickets were required and we weren't able to get those in time. We went during the day, though unfortunately the weather wasn't very cooperative up there...

  31. Keith Pence

    Thanks, Lucky - we actually booked most of our dinner reservations well in advance (Lineage, Hotel Wailea, Mama's, Morimoto) & figured we can always go up to Monkeypod to wait for a table ... we also love the proximity to IGM for poke/sandwiches/salads and enjoy sitting on our deck w/ take-out and a glass of wine (we ship over wine from various wineries in near us in Napa/Sonoma before we leave).

    We actually saw you...

    Thanks, Lucky - we actually booked most of our dinner reservations well in advance (Lineage, Hotel Wailea, Mama's, Morimoto) & figured we can always go up to Monkeypod to wait for a table ... we also love the proximity to IGM for poke/sandwiches/salads and enjoy sitting on our deck w/ take-out and a glass of wine (we ship over wine from various wineries in near us in Napa/Sonoma before we leave).

    We actually saw you and Ford at Pedregal a few months back, didn't want to disturb so we didn't say hello, but talk about an incredible resort, right? No need to fight over chairs there...

  32. Bob

    Sorry what, $1000+ a night and you cant get a pool chair?

    How is that ok?

  33. Keith W Pence

    We'll be in Wailea next week, and we were there as recently as December of 2020. In December, the island was deserted, so it was quite incredible, based on the fact that we've been going to Maui for 25+ years and never has it been that quiet.

    We decided to go next week w/ our parents, and are staying at the Andaz for the first time (we've been many times for dinner / drinks,...

    We'll be in Wailea next week, and we were there as recently as December of 2020. In December, the island was deserted, so it was quite incredible, based on the fact that we've been going to Maui for 25+ years and never has it been that quiet.

    We decided to go next week w/ our parents, and are staying at the Andaz for the first time (we've been many times for dinner / drinks, but have never stayed there). We're excited, but I'm also slightly concerned about the level of service being offered by the property right now - did you experience good service / proper staffing levels?

    Also, was it difficult to get a chair poolside / did people start hogging them w/ their crap starting at 7AM?

    1. Ben

      @ Keith W Pence -- Have a great trip! Just published my review of our stay at the Andaz Maui, so hopefully that answers most of your questions:
      https://onemileatatime.com/andaz-maui-villas/

      It was a good experience all-around, though pool chairs can be tough to come by unless you "reserve" them early, and dining options are somewhat limited at the moment. But still, we had a great stay.

  34. Reaper

    Our loved ones aren’t with us forever. The fact that you were able to spend this time with your mother will always be remembered. Do this as much as you can, while you can.

  35. Luke

    Seems like with the crazy rental car prices if it works out cheaper to just use uber everywhere in some cases. Of course that means if aren't planning to move outside your accommodation by car that much and hard to estimate!

  36. lamphstravels

    I enjoyed reading this and great to have time with your mom! Why'd you have to bring politics into it at the end?

  37. Nady

    Ben, enjoy your vacation with your loved ones! A wonderful report!

  38. UK

    Went to Maui in Feb, stayed at the Grand Wailea (Waldorf) which was...ok...
    Other than that I'd echo everything you said.

  39. Greg

    Paying $1800 a night, or even getting a deal at half that for a $1000 a night where you have to wear a mask on the beach, and restaurants are half-closed along with the other hassles does not sound that appealing to me. However spending time with loved ones makes it great.

    I admit that I am a little jealous. Looking for ways that I can reasonably spend time with my family and friends...

    Paying $1800 a night, or even getting a deal at half that for a $1000 a night where you have to wear a mask on the beach, and restaurants are half-closed along with the other hassles does not sound that appealing to me. However spending time with loved ones makes it great.

    I admit that I am a little jealous. Looking for ways that I can reasonably spend time with my family and friends in a safe and inexpensive way. We are still waiting for vaccines and the approval for our kids to get their first shots. Booking with points and cancelable rates for the winter.

  40. Shark

    @Lucky - my daughter and I were there week of 5/3; I think we may have overlapped. I love the Andaz and splurged big time on 1 of their 2 premier suites. Food was an issue (expensive, few options for picky kids) but other than that the trip was flawless.

  41. D3kingg

    Seems like my Hawaiian trip was a tad better than Ben’s but he has a nicer camera , got the 777 to Maui , and his father is in better shape than mine. Yes there were waits at restaurants on the big island but there were plenty of Jeeps on the big island. Ate some amazing fish. Umekes in Kona. They are strict about Covid in Hawaii. You need to wear your mask even in...

    Seems like my Hawaiian trip was a tad better than Ben’s but he has a nicer camera , got the 777 to Maui , and his father is in better shape than mine. Yes there were waits at restaurants on the big island but there were plenty of Jeeps on the big island. Ate some amazing fish. Umekes in Kona. They are strict about Covid in Hawaii. You need to wear your mask even in the restaurant at your table while waiting for food. It snowed six inches on the big island I missed that driving from Kona to Hilo by 2 days. Didn’t make it to the volcano. The entire week post Hawaii I fell asleep later and woke up two hours later. Hawaii is amazing what’s Tahiti like in comparison?

  42. Michael

    Hi Ben, what was your rental car experience? I booked last year with Avis and have status with them but I noticed they’re not taking new reservations.

    1. Ben

      @ Michael -- I had a (surprisingly) great rental car experience, which I wrote about here:
      https://onemileatatime.com/national-car-rental-awesome/

  43. Uaflyer

    Pre-COVID, mama’s fish house was usually booked out 3-6 months in advance, so that’s maybe not a great example.

    That said, the hotels have certainly gotten more expensive, and people are paying for them.

  44. Nick

    Nice one Ben, and you don't need to apologize for taking a little more time out to hang with your family. Looks a stellar trip Can't wait for the rest of the reviews as I continue to live vicariously through your blog (as always), from the UK. Cheers

  45. Endre

    Guys. Please don't mistake me with the other Endre.

  46. Lou

    Got the 5 free night boundless card reward in December and booked 5 nights at the Mauna Kea in June, now going for over $1000/night l. Booked a week long car rental for $300, now going for $1500.

  47. Tim Dunn

    The timing of your posts was more "out of sync" than when you were in Germany. Glad to have you back on the mainland for that reason.
    Please keep us updated on how Hawaii changes as Southwest adds a boatload of flights very soon. That much additional air service is bound to change the flavor of the islands or at least the price of everything while there.

  48. Ted

    Did you stay at four seasons as well? Would love to see a review of that as well is you did.

    1. Ben

      @ Ted -- I did indeed, and will be reviewing that as well. :)

  49. chicagomike

    I booked a trip to Maui and Oahu for this October back in Nov/Dec 2020. I went and looked to see what prices were now a few days ago. Everything was 30-60% more with the rental car on Maui seeing the highest price increase. Clearly Hawaii is seeing demand. Can't wait to get back.

  50. Robert

    I should say, too, skip Mama's. Get similar food for much cheaper at

    Star Noodle
    AMP
    Paia fish market

  51. Robert

    Maui is the best of Hawaii, it's hard to not have a good trip.

    While we love Maui, and I mean love it, we've booked two rooms just before Christmas at Grand Hyatt Kauai. A recent trip to San Diego found us with oodles of Southwest Luv vouchers that'll get us to the islands. And the Grand Hyatt is so nice. I'm excited to be more than my usual Explorist on this trip!

  52. Travis

    @Endre. We aren’t stuck at home in the US. *shrugs*

  53. Endre

    Displaying a hi-so lifestyle while the majority of people is still stuck at home, very sensitive and empathetic

    1. Ben

      @ Endre -- a) This is a travel blog, and I review travel experiences, so if that doesn't interest you, you're welcome not to read posts like these; I think there's value in giving people a sense of what to expect if they do choose to travel b) At least in the USA, TSA throughput numbers suggest that "a majority" of people (compared to pre-coronavirus numbers) are choosing to travel and aren't "stuck at home," for better or worse.

  54. E Estevez

    Good post. Going to Hawaii in late June. Can you write about how you picked Maui over the other islands?

    We decided to go with The Big Island for our first trip to Hawaii.

    1. Ben

      @ E Estevez -- I'm sure you'll have a great time on The Big Island! Ultimately we chose Maui because we had been before and knew my mom would have a great time, it tends to be the island that's most on peoples' "bucket lists," and we also had a good hotel option. Next time we visit Hawaii we plan to do other islands.

  55. Brian

    We went in March/April, and had booked in December when some issues with another trip (misconnects, etc as flight schedules updated), and had forced a cancellation.

    We booked through Delta Vacations (and used RUC to upgrade to Delta One from Atlanta-Honolulu and vice versa) and spent 5 days in Maui at the Wailea Beach Resort and 5 days in Kona at the Marriott Waikoloa. We also booked our rental car in December and had...

    We went in March/April, and had booked in December when some issues with another trip (misconnects, etc as flight schedules updated), and had forced a cancellation.

    We booked through Delta Vacations (and used RUC to upgrade to Delta One from Atlanta-Honolulu and vice versa) and spent 5 days in Maui at the Wailea Beach Resort and 5 days in Kona at the Marriott Waikoloa. We also booked our rental car in December and had a great deal on that.

    We ran into some issues with dining (particularly with Monkeypod, which didn’t take reservations), but had planned enough where interruptions were minimal. There were FAR more people than we were expecting over Easter that booked last minute, especially in Maui, but, we still got beach chairs every day, we could spend as much time at Haleakala, and driving the island when we did.

    Kona was far different. It wasn’t as busy. We could do what we wanted, and even booked a trip into the Waipi’o valley same day with no issues.

    We were like the only East Coasters that we knew of. Everyone else was from Seattle, or Denver, or SLC, or LA. We talked to a few of them, and we now realize why we typically go to Europe far more than Hawaii. It took us 17 hours from upstate NY to get to Maui and about as long to get back. if we go to London, I can leave my house at 4PM, connect through JFK, and be in London by 9am London time ( 10-11 hours), and I can generally plan a trip to Europe for FAR cheaper than Hawaii cost.

    Great experience, beautiful state. 10/10 would go again, but we’re going to Iceland in September for a fraction of the Hawaii cost.

  56. panda

    Love Maui. Will wait until prices return to normal though.

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jmc014

I also went to Maui in May and was surprised at how crowded it was. I was fortunate enough to stay at Marriott properties using free night certificates for the length of the trip. I also booked my rental car months in advance and had a nice SUV waiting for me at the airport. What caught me off guard was how difficult it was to find a good restaurant for walk-in at dinnertime. The only reservation I made in advance was Mama's Fish House, which was definitely a good call. I'd love to trade notes on which restaurants and experiences you enjoyed in Maui!

TonkaTonka

Its funny. I just read another article where Hawaiians are proposing adding another $20/person for the privilege of visiting Hawaii. As if we don't already pay enough fees and tourist taxes. Then reading the comments section where many locals criticized tourists for everything wrong with Hawaii. They found the low crowds to be a blessing. Many thought $20/person was not enough. Some suggested $20/person per day. Another said it should be $100/person. They wanted to get rid of the bargain travelers. All those comments left a bad taste in my mouth. The thing that made Hawaii better than any other tropical vacation was the spirit of Aloha. If that's gone, its no better than any other beach vacation. To be honest, there are better beaches else where but only one Aloha.

Jared

Need advise from the blogosphere. I intend to spend June and July "working from home" in Hawaii. Can I get recommendations for unique experiential stays in Hawaii? Ideally, I would split my time between the different islands. I am not looking for: chain-affiliated crowded properties; high traffic resorts (don't care for earning points right now). I never use a hotel gym/spa, swimming pool or restaurant (unless if renowned) so these amenities are not important to me. I am looking for a unique properties/experiences which can only be had in Hawaii - a local boutique stay or unique experiential hotels. Average cost per night should not exceed 600 USD or 15K USD per month before taxes. For complicated reasons, Air BnB cannot be charged on our corporate account so that's out of the window. Thanks in advance for suggestions!

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