A portion of the Hawaiian coastline

Travel Diary: Hawaii

Escape with us on our dreamy Hawaiian getaway. We visited three of the state's beautiful islands: Oahu, Maui and Kauai.

Britni and Adam Ventling in Hawaii.
Britni and Adam Ventling in Hawaii.

About a year after having our first baby, my husband and I needed a change from dirty diapers and our busy lives. That’s when we decided to go to Hawaii and reconnect over romantic dinners and long walks on the beach. We were able to relax knowing our son was safe with his grandparents.

Oahu

Adam was pretty excited with his enormous Matsumoto shaved ice in North Shore on Oahu.
Adam was pretty excited with his enormous Matsumoto shaved ice in North Shore on Oahu.

Like many travelers, my husband Adam, left, and I flew into the largest Hawaiian city, Honolulu, on Oahu. Its shore offers some of the most amazing spots for watching surfers and some of the best shopping we found on our trip.

  • Diamond Head State Monument. This 760-foot-high saucer-shaped crater is one of Hawaii’s most famous landmarks. Take an invigorating hike there in the morning before it gets too hot, but beware that the last 1/10 mile is all steep stairs. The views are so worth it when you reach the top. In one direction, the ocean seems to stretch on forever and in the other direction, you can see towering hotels of Waikiki. hawaiistateparks.org
  • Matsumoto Shave Ice. This is definitely the place for a sweet treat on a warm day! At Matsumoto’s, you can get shaved ice served on ice cream with condensed milk poured on top. You can even ask for it with “azuki” red beans, which are boiled until they become soft, then sweetened with sugar. matsumotoshaveice.com/

Maui

I was excited to capture this shot of a whale breaching while we were on our way to snorkle at Molokini crater!
I was excited to capture this shot of a whale breaching while we were on our way to snorkle at Molokini crater!

This laid-back tropical island welcomes nature lovers.

  • The Road to Hana. With 54 one-lane bridges and more than 600 curves, this road will keep you on your toes. Driving to Hana, a largely undeveloped piece of paradise, is all about the journey. You’ll ride past lush tropical vegetation, breathtaking waterfalls, rugged beaches and stunning views. To avoid the worst of the traffic, hit the road early. roadtohana.com
  • Whale watching. Seeing a whale breach almost 25 feet out of the water was one of our most thrilling experiences. From December to early May, Maui is the place to catch a glimpse of migrating humpback whales. While watching for whales, you may also spot sea turtles. gohawaii.com/maui
  • Old Lahaina Luau. If you ask the locals, this is the best luau on Maui. We loved watching the sun set behind the hula dancers. In addition to fresh fish and grilled steak, you can take part in an all-you-can-eat traditional luau feast. Make a reservation because they book up fast. oldlahainaluau.com

Kauai

We got to see almost a dozen waterfalls on our helicopter tour in Kauai.
We got to see almost a dozen waterfalls on our helicopter tour in Kauai.

This was our favorite island, by far. It has so many things to offer, yet it’s still so remote you know you’re actually on vacation.

  • Na Pali Coast Hike. My husband and I love staying fit, so this was exactly what we needed to burn off extra energy after tanning on the beach. You can hike 8 miles on Kalalau Trail to a beautiful waterfall or 4 miles round-trip to Hanakapi’ai Beach. Sign on for a boat tour, if you’re looking for something a little less strenuous. napali.com/coast/hanakapiai/
  • Helicopter tour. From the soaring cliffs of the Na Pali Coast to the vast chasms of Waimea Canyon, many inspiring sights are best viewed from the air. bluehawaiian.com/kauai/tours
Watching boats cruising by around sunset was so relaxing.
Watching boats cruising by around sunset was so relaxing.