Everyone thinks that Hawaii is really far from everything, and well it is, but it’s so worth the long trip ! Living in Qatar, it was quicker to go via Asia (we went via Seoul) but from Europe the best option is via Los Angeles.
Hawaii is composed of 8 islands, so with 10 days there, we decided to visit 2 of them. Flying into Hawaii, you will most likely land on Oahu, which is the most famous island. To travel between islands, the only option is to fly with Hawaiian airlines.
We decided to start with the island of Maui. We heard that it was very touristic so we were expecting that but we were pleasantly surprised ! I’m always looking for cool places to stay (usually on airbnb !) and we usually try to avoid big hotels as they tend to be super expensive and also because as pilots, we spend our lives in hotels. We also knew that we were going to explore a lot, so it would have been a waste to stay in a hotel (but if we had stayed in a hotel I would have chosen the Andaz Maui which looks amazing).
I found a company that was renting vintage Westfalia camper vans and we booked one ! We totally fell in love with the van and we didn’t want to give it back (it’s now one of my dreams to own one !). Unfortunately the Westfalia is not available anymore and to be honest Maui is not the best place to camp with a van but we really enjoyed our experience (but you can still do it on Kauai, which we will definitely visit in the future 🙂 ).
We stayed at Camp Olowalu, which was a really nice camping next to tbe beach (one of the only ones with hot showers aha). We spent our first evening on the beach with roasted chicken and beers 🙂
In Maui, we had a couple of dives planned, so we woke up super early and cooked our first breakfast in the van : eggs with bacon and sausages with French press coffee. The dream ! Unfortunately due to high winds the dives were cancelled.
We decided to exchange our van for a 4×4 for a day to go on Haleakala volcano (fun fact: due to its old engine, the camper van cannot make it to the top of the volcano!). The road to the volcano is really scenic. We were the perfect unprepared tourists as we arrived at the top and we were wearing shorts. It was super cold and windy (10000 ft elevation !) but it was well worth it as the view is amazing.
If you’re in Maui, you’ll want to visit Lahaina, a cute but touristic little town.
We did 4 dives over the next few days, in Molokini and Lanai. The dives were nice but not the best we have done. However we heard the whales singing underwater and that was epic ! From January to March (we went in Feb), the whale season is at its peak and you can see them from the road or from boats, it’s truly amazing. I had a complete ACL (knee ligament) rupture while skiing 10 days before our trip, and I was so happy I could still dive with my injury. As a precaution I wore a soft brace but I actually didn’t need it and we even went on hikes during our stay !
We kept exploring and we went to the Nakalele blowhole, in the evening we went to Sunset beach for an epic sunset.
Then we drove the road to Hana. Literally the most scenic road I’ve ever been on ! Hana is a little uninteresting village so it’s not about the destination but completely about the road. Some people say it’s too touristic but we were lucky as it was low season and I’m so so happy we did it. You need a good travel book guide (apparently this app is good : GyPSy Road to Hana) as nothing is indicated (which I love!) and basically every 100m there is a waterfall or a beautiful little creek where you can go and swim and there’s a high chance that you will be on your own!
We stopped at the bamboo forest and hiked to 2 waterfalls. Then we drove to our camping for the Night, which was a public camping so not hot shower or any amenities. We woke up with the sun, had another great breakfast in the van and they watched the sunrise on the black sand beach. Then we had a super cold shower outside which was so invigorating!
We drove to the seven sacred pools (not recommended, it’s pretty but you have to pay and you can’t swim in it). And then we found an amazing creek where we swam for 2 hours and relaxed. We continued and found a waterfall where we were the only ones and Pierre jumped from high into the water. We swam for a while there, it was paradise! I would really recommend to do the Road to Hana in 2 days and camp at one of the campings so you can really look for secrets spots. On the return we ate at Da Fish shack, the poke bowl was delicious.
The last evening we went to Merriman’s for diner, an amazing restaurant with a beautiful setting and delicious food. Highly recommended!
It was time to leave Maui to discover Oahu.
Oahu is the most famous island, where Waikiki beach is located. It’s also where the attack of Pearl Harbor happened and where they filmed Jurassic Park. We wanted to stay away from the most touristic places so we started with the North Shore.
We stayed 3 days on the North Shore, in a nice Airbnb and we became friends with the owner, they gave Pierre a free surfing lesson and they invited us for a barbecue. Best Airbnb experience ever !!
The North Shore is amazing, the beaches are beautiful and you are practically on your own. Winter is surfing season so you can watch the surfers on some of the beaches or surf. We went to the little town of Haleiwa which we loved. And we ate great sushis (so good that we went twice !).
On the second day it rained so we decided to go to the movies and we watched a movie that became a favorite : The space between us. We watched a few sunsets on the beaches : sunsets in Hawaii are unreal !
We hiked to Keanae point, nice hike where you see rare birds : and we even saw a seal ! We didn’t want to leave that airbnb but we had cool things planned in Honolulu. We were supposed to dive with a Corsair airplane but unfortunately my ear was blocked so we cancelled.
We did a amazing helicopter tour (with a female pilot ! Yay!) and seeing the island from above was awesome ! It was a “doors off tour”, which was so cool.
Instead of the dives we decided to go snorkeling, we went to Hanauma bay (on the photo above) which is very touristic but instead of swimming with all the people we swam on the right side and it was magic ! A real aquarium.
Our favorite place for breakfast in Honolulu was Arvo, which we found by accident, but I later realized that it’s super famous on Instagram aha (probably because they make amazing avocado toasts !!).
Our accommodation in Honolulu was totally different, it was a wooden boat that stayed at the marina and it was shared, which means that the owner (a hippier version of my mom, great woman) and other guests were staying on the boat with us. Unfortunately it’s not available anymore. We enjoyed the experience but we now know that we prefer to be on our own!
One of the coolest and craziest thing we did was to swim in deep sea with 50 sharks, without a cage with the amazing team of Oneoceandiving.
I heard about them on my favorite blog barefootblonde and initally we were not planning to do it but since I couldn’t dive, we went for it. I will be honest, when we arrived at the spot with the sharks, I was reaaally scared and Pierre and I were wondering what we were doing there. But the team is composed of professional shark behavorists and they go in the water first. They give you all the tips like keeping your arms close to your body and never showing your back to the shark and underwater they make sure that everything is alright.
As soon as I got in the water, I felt so calm and you realise immediately that the sharks are not interested in you at all. I don’t have any good photos (but I love this screenshot aha) but you see it in our Hawaii video.
It was one of the most powerful experiences of our lives.
We truly left a piece of our hearts in Hawaii.
Here is a video of our trip 🙂