One of the best kept secrets is that Alabama has some of the best beaches around. While it's neighbor to the east, Florida, gets all the attention, Gulf Shores is on par with all those beautiful beaches.
Gulf Shores, and it's neighbor Orange Beach, has plenty of activities centered around the water - on beaches that span 32 miles of the pure white sand.
After our drive from Wisconsin, we didn’t know what to expect when we finally arrived in Gatlinburg, TN. All we knew about the town was that it was located at the base of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
This looked like the perfect stop for a fun-filled couple of days on our trip to Asheville, NC.
We always wanted to visit Maine. It was on the bucket list so we included a 2 day stop to Ogunquit Maine during our recent East coast driving trip. Ogunquit is right out of a Norman Rockwell painting and the epitome of the New England summer resort town.
The perfect long weekend vacation spot, Ogunquit offers plenty to do, great restaurants, excellent accommodations, and the beauty of being right on the beach and ocean. It was definitely a great place to relax after our long drive from Wisconsin.
There aren’t many places in the world where you can experience so many different adventures all in one location. That destination is the Hawaiian island of Maui. With all the beautiful beaches, lush & tropical gardens, waterfalls, volcanoes, and crystal clear water, it’s no wonder Maui is one of the top travel destinations in the world. We’ve been to Maui two different times and we’re always discovering new things to do, great places to eat, and adventures to experience.
If you are thinking of a trip to the Hawaiian Islands, I would recommend starting with a trip to Maui. While the other islands are also beautiful, Maui has so much to offer for the first time Hawaii visitor. You’ll want to stay for 8-10 days if possible to try all these fun things to do.
Located at the north end of Ka’anapali beach, Black Rock is a fantastic place to cliff jump and the snorkeling is also excellent all around this rocky outcrop. When I jumped off Black Rock, I didn’t have water shoes so it did hurt the bottom of the feet on the climb up. I would recommend water shoes and it makes the climb much easier on the feet. The jump is well worth it for all age groups. The snorkeling is great right off Ka’anapali Beach and we saw a large turtle that we snorkeled next to just off the beach.
Make sure you walk around the grounds of the Sheraton Maui which is right next to Black Rock.
I have to admit that I was a little nervous before our helicopter trip on Maui. I had only been up in a helicopter once and that was over 30 years ago. From the time we arrived at the Air Maui terminal at the Kahului Heliport, we felt instantly at ease. The professional staff made us feel relaxed, the pilot was an excellent guide as he informed us of Maui’s history and fantastic landscape.
You have many options for tours based on location, duration, and cost. We chose the West Maui & Molokai tour. This tour highlights all of West Maui and Molokai condensed into a 45-minute tour. After the tour, I wish the flight lasted much more. The pilot took us over to Molokai where we toured many waterfalls and the rugged coastline. We also saw whales surfacing beneath us. This tour was the highlight of our trip.
After our helicopter toured we visited a restaurant in Paia called the Paia Fish Market. Opened in 1989, you can sit next to and make friends with people from across the globe, as well as local surfers who surf the nearby waves at Hoʻokipa and Peʻahi (Jaws).
I chose the blackened Mahi-Mahi sandwich from the menu. It was the best fish sandwich I have ever had. Super fresh fish with homemade tartar sauce, and coleslaw.
Full disclosure…We only made it “halfway to Hana.” After our helicopter tour and delicious lunch at the Paia Fish Market, we only had half a day to explore the Road to Hana. There are so many spots to pull over and hike to some of the best waterfalls in the world. It took about 3 hours to get to the halfway point. It will take you about 5 hours one way to Hana and 7 to 9 hours round trip from Kahului depending on stops. Have your driver get a good night sleep before your drive because the Road to Hana is considered the 5th most dangerous road in the world. There is nothing but sharp – blind turns, a lot of one-way roads, one car bridges that are not wide enough for two cars. Don’t let that stop you, it is well worth the drive. Perhaps the halfway point will be enough for you.
Surfing is another must-do activity in Maui. Once I tried it, I’m now hooked for life! It’s just such a great feeling when you catch a wave and ride it all the way into shore. Our group surf class at the Royal Hawaiian Surf Academy was led by our instructor Tavner. Our first stop was the beach where he gave us all the surfing techniques and tips we would need in the water. Then it off to the waves and for the next 2 hours we got up on our boards and rode some small waves that were just fine for us beginners.
Tavner is teaching us everything us beginners would need for our day of surfing.
Not great form, not big waves but I’m actually surfing.
Nothing tastes better on a hot Maui day or night than a Hawaiin shave ice. At Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice they claim that all shave ice is not created equal. Boy were they right! With over 45 flavors and tasty add-ons like coconut, snow caps, and macadamia nuts, there are flavors to please everyone.
We always love getting out on the water on all our trips. On our first day in Maui, we did the Teralani West Maui Snorkel Adventure on the 65 foot Teralani 2. Different tours include whale watching, sunset cruise, snorkel cruise, and private cruises. Our snorkel adventure had a buffet for lunch and open bar. We were lucky enough to have 10-20 whales surface right next to the boat. Try to visit Maui during the whale season which runs from December 15th-May 15th.
Make sure you stop at Kimo’s to eat a dessert called the Kimo’s Original Hula Pie. Stop by Kimo’s Restaurant and get a table by the harbor so you can enjoy the view. The Hula Pie is made with Kimo’s favorite macadamia nut ice cream piled high on a chocolate cookie crust and topped with chocolate fudge, whipped cream, and more macadamia nuts.
There is something so magical about Hawaii and especially Maui. We can’t wait to go back!
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