I spent 7 days in Hawai'i - Maui and Big Island. When the day came to travel, I knew it was too short of a time to see either of the island. So we hand picked a few places and experienced Hawai'i as much as we could.
Stay at or near Kā`anapali Beach. This is the place where all the good restaurants and beaches are.
Lahaina is about 10 minutes drive from here. This is where you can get to your grocery stores like Safeway or ABC Stores and has a nice little downtown area where you can walk around the beach, hop bars and get a tattoo. If you are looking for Sushi or Poke bowls for lunch/dinner - Safeway is the place to get it. Fresh and tasty.
Road to Hana is one of the most picturesque drives I have ever done, but it does get boring. Make sure you stop frequently to walk around and peek to see if you can get a view, else you are going to have sleeping members in your car. The road is narrow and winding with 100's of bridges that can accomodate only a single car. The vistas are marked and they are absolutely breathtaking.
Molokini Crater – A crescent-shaped, partially submerged volcanic crater which forms a small, uninhabited islet located in ʻAlalākeiki Channel between the islands of Maui and Kahoʻolawe. I'm pretty sure snorkeling at other locations is way better compared to Molokini. But the experience here is just amazing. Its right in the middle of the ocean and the area within the cresent is about 12-120 feet, but the area behind has a steep drop of 300 feet. The experience is surreal.
WE couldnt visit Haleakalā National Park. We understimated how much time we had. Also, I wanted to take a private tour to visit the place duirng sunrise, which remvoes the hassle of waking up at 2 AM and then driving with a 10 year old; but the booking for these fill up 2-3 weeks in advance, 12 months of the year.
When it comes to beach life with access to good restaurants and bar, Maui was amazzing. But Big Island just blew our minds away. Its one of the most picturesque places I have ever been to. Just so colorful.
We skipped living in Kona and chose Hilo as our base as its much closer to the the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park (20 minute drive). Again we underestimated how much time we had at our hands so we just stuck to the west coast of Big Island.
First we drove down to Papakōle Green sand beach. The drive here is about 2 hours, but it goes right through the Volcanoes National Park and Ka'u Forest reserve. If you forget to pack some lunch, dont worry. You can stop at the Punalu'u Bake shop - The southernmost bakery in the USA. The stuff here is amazing, we went there twice to get some good old Hawai'e baked goodies and also packed a bunch of biscuits to bring them back with us.
The drive to the Green sand beach is a detour but is beautiful with a lot of ranches all along the way.
From the Green sand beach we stopped at the Punalu'u Black Sand beach. The sand colors are just surreal.
Once these were out of our way, we just spent the remaing time at the Volcanoes National Park. At the park we drove the Chain of Craters, Crater Rim Drive and hiked the Kīlauea Iki. There are still so many things to witness and do that we are already planning our next trip to Big Island.
Note: To visit Mauna Kea, ensure your children are 13 and over.