Submitted by Kristi Flaten - Manager Bursch Travel Granite Falls.
My husband and I just got back from a great vacation to Hawaii! We left the bitter cold of Minnesota and headed to Honolulu. I must admit, I was not looking forward to 8+ hours on the plane, but with the new A333 we were entertained the whole way. Each seat has a personal audio/video entertainment system. I watched 3 movies on the flight and it went by quickly. We landed in Honoluluand were greeted by the friendly rep from Aloha VIP tours. She welcomed us with a beautiful flower lei â€" the smell was fantastic! What a great way to get into the Aloha spirit! She took us to baggage claim to collect our luggage and then showed us to the transfer vehicle outside. The traffic in Honoluluis horrible and it took a while to get to our hotel. I was glad someone else was doing the driving! Of course, we were the last stop, but it was fun to get a look at Waikiki. We checked into the Aqua Palms Resort & Spa. It was a nice, clean, boutique style hotel. The rooms were small but very adequate with nice amenities. We dropped off our bags, put on some shorts and headed out to find something to eat! We sat down to a nice, juicy burger and a beer at about 7:00pm. With the time change, our bodies thought it was 11:00pm and it had been a long day. Needless to say, we turned in early that night. The next day we were up early and walked over to the Hilton where we were getting picked up for our Pearl Harbor/Arizona Memorial Tour. It was an amazing experience and a "must-seeâ€ for anyone going to Hawaii. When we got back to Waikiki, we had lunch at Duke's and enjoyed the spectacular view of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head.The next morning we stopped by ABC for a bottle of water and caught the BUS to Diamond Head. Climbing Diamond Head crater was a great experience. It was not an easy hike, but the view at the top was breathtaking! Then, we hurried back to the hotel to check out and catch our airport transfer. After spending two nights in Waikiki, we flew off to Maui. Upon arrival, we picked up our convertible, put the top down and took in the smells and sights as we drove to Ka'anapali. After a nice drive, we arrived at the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel, our home for the next 5 days. After we checked in, we drove the 5 miles to Lahaina to get some groceries and beverages. Most local grocery stores offer free membership to their discount "clubâ€ and it can definitely save some money. Our first day in Maui was perfect. We sat on the beach, looking out at Moloka'i and Lana'i, and watched the whales. To our right, just a short walk down the beach, was Black Rock. There were lots of people snorkeling, boogie boarding and paddle surfing in the water. We watched a big catamaran pull up on the beach and unload with folks who had been on a whale-watching cruise. We decided it would be a great way to spend the afternoon, so we booked the 2 hour excursion with Trilogy, located right on the beach at our hotel. It was a blast! The crew was fantastic and the whales were amazing! As the captain said, "It's like whale soup out hereâ€! It was truly one of the highlights of our vacation. The next day it rained, so we spent the day in Lahaina ~ shopping, eating and sampling the local beers. We drove to Lahaina, but also found the bus to be a good, inexpensive option. From the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel, we walked over to Whalers Villagewhere there was a nice variety of shops and restaurants. We took a nice drive up the coast through Kapalua and drove until we basically ran out of road. When it got down to one lane, we decided to turn around and head back. We stopped at several scenic outlooks and saw some incredible scenery â€" secluded beaches, waves crashing against rocks, cliffs rising above the blue ocean â€" it was stunning! Another highlight of our vacation was watching the sunrise at the top of Mt Haleakala and then riding (coasting) a bike down the mountain. We were picked up at the hotel at 3:30AM, made a stop at the Maui Downhill shop for breakfast and gear, and rode in the dark up the 10,000-foot mountain. At the top of the mountain at 5:45AM it was only 37 degrees! It was a cruel reminder of home! We watched as the horizon got brighter until finally the sun made its appearance. It was a clear morning and we could see forever. The Big Islandand the peaks of Mauna Loa and Mauna Keawere off in the distance. After taking in the views, we got back in the van and drove out of HaleakalaState Park. Then we jumped on the bikes and (after a safety lesson) headed off down the mountain. It was thrilling to coast down this mountain and ride through several different climate zones. We really had a fantastic vacation â€" from lounging on the beach to shopping to dining (my mouth waters just thinking about the Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi at the Hula Grill) to the different excursions, everything was perfect!
Our favorite Hawaiian phrase is: A hui hou, which means "Until we meet againâ€!