Living on the west coast, we travel to Portland, Oregon where we catch a flight on Hawaiian Airlines direct flight to Maui. Within about four hours, we're there. Upon landing in Kahului we rent a car from one of the many rental agencies at the airport.
We leave Kahului and travel out to Lahaina where we rent an ocean front condo at the Aston Mahana at Kaanapali.
All the condos are ocean front with a beautiful view of Molokai and Lanai. Every day, you see something new of shore. Sea turtles, whales, jet skiing, yachters, surfers, wind surfers and more.
Some condos have a view of the world famous Black Rock where every evening you can watch the cliff diver's dive into the warm ocean water. The condo's come fully equipped with small appliances and a washer and dryer.
All which make the stay affordable and comfortable. The condo's come in two bedrooms, one bedroom and studio sizes. All have private lanais for entertaining.
The Mahana complex is north of Lahaina but there are restaurants, neighboring resorts and an ABC Store just around the corner. Traveling into Lahaina is quite an adventure. So many shops, restaurants and excursion groups to take advantage of.
One place to visit while in Lahaina is the Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant. The atmosphere is truly unique. Another restaurant we frequent is Bubba Gumps right next door to Cheeseburger in Paradise. The open air windowless dining area is quite a treat. I highly recommend Maui, Hawaii as one of your choices for tropical vacation destinations.
We spent a week on Rarotonga Island. It’s the largest island in the chain and also the most tourist friendly if you're looking for a vibrant night life. We rented the most adorable cottage right on the beach. For transport, we rented scooters.
Because the island has one road that just encircles the outside of the island and is a total of 31k's in length, a car really isn't necessary and scooters are so much more fun to drive through the tropical paradise and feel the wind in your hair!
To drive in the Cook Islands, you actually have to go to the DMV there and take a driving test on the scooters! They issue you with a Cook Islands drivers license if you pass, which is a great reminder of the trip, every time I open my wallet now, I smile a little when I see it.
So we had a great house, fun scooters to zip around on and we went on several adventures like a hike into the island interior to the waterfalls.
We also went quad biking, horseback riding on the beach, swam in the lagoon, Partied all night at Trader Jack's and Whatever Bar, enjoyed chatting to the locals in town and even got invited to join a local couple for dinner at their house! The people are so hospitable and love to talk to the tourists. When we went to dinner with this couple, we were served the most insane feast of sashimi, fruit, Veggies and coconut milk, all caught or picked by them that day.
They even chopped a coconut off the tree in their back yard, cracked it open and poured the milk straight into our glasses! It was refreshing to see how sustainable the people there live. It's a perfect holiday getaway, although on the pricey side. The islands use the New Zealand dollar and import most of their goods, making them more expensive than normal.
Accommodation is also expensive, but there are several backpacker lodges that offer more affordable rooms for those traveling on a budget. I can say it was the best vacation I ever took and I highly recommend it! For tropical vacation destinations this is a very romantic, carefree and exciting getaway!
We arrived on the island via a short cruise from Miami. A short open aired taxi ride takes you from the boat with the other passengers to your respective hotels. You check into the Bell Channel and are told to meet in the bar in about an hour or so giving you time to settle in slightly. Once you get to the hotel bar you are greeted with a complimentary Bahamas mama cocktail that’s so refreshing and a very pleasant man named Chubby.
Chubby lets you know all about the island. He tells you some dos, don’ts, and is hysterical. He lets you know that you are on his island to relax.
You are now on “Bahamas time” and that means all schedules are very relaxed. There are no phones in the room so you can have complete relaxation. There are two ways to get around on the island by bus or taxi. Both are inexpensive and can take you too many attractions nearby.
First and foremost of course is the beach where you can swim, sunbathe, or get your hair braided by one of the hundreds of braiders on the island. I’m telling you, you will have a portion of your hair braided by the time you leave the island. Another stop on the island is the casino where hopefully you are luckier than I was.
There’s also a great open aired market with great duty free shops. The food is amazing. Don’t leave the island without trying the conch is delicious. We also took a few tours. We went on a glass bottom boat, visited with some dolphins, and went on a booze cruise.
We partied on the largest catamaran before doing two hours of snorkeling and getting the most amazing pictures. After working up an appetite we landed on a private beach for a Bahaman BBQ and a few hours to enjoy it before more music and partying took us back to our port.
Of course all the Bahamas mamas you could drink during the entire cruise were provided. You get all this for twenty dollars per person. If you are planning a tropical vacation destinations trip, I would highly recommend this spot as well as the inn and tours, they were all great.