So I’m back from our escape to Hawaii and at the moment desperately trying to keep the soothing sounds of the crashing waves top of mind (serenity now). As you may have caught in this post or on Instagram – we took a much needed and overdue extended family vacation to the Hawaiian island of Maui. While my typical travel MO is adventure-filled, action packed and cultural experience driven trips, sometimes you just want to get the heck out of dodge.

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After years of house renovations (yes, it’s been years now), raising tiny people, jobs, illness, politics, stress – Mai Tais sounded like the perfect solution. Thankfully, I could turn to American Express Platinum and all the travel services and Card Member benefits to make my dream trip a reality. I’ve been partnering with American Express Platinum all year and this was the perfect finale.

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loved this gourmet take on a mai thai 

When you’re taking a long trip with children, where you stay is key. Rather than drown myself in hours of internet research I turned to American Express Platinum. You can speak directly with a concierge that helps you find accommodations, book airline tickets, get rental cars. Everything. In one phone call. Boom done. Mama SO happy.

American Express also helped me discover our home away from home on Maui, the Wailea Beach Villas – the perfect place for a family to stay. The condo-like property features mini-apartments with full kitchens, in-unit laundry, tons of space and amazing views.

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Some units even have private plunge pools. The property is only steps from an incredibly child-friendly beach. At said beach, you can relax on lounge chairs shaded by umbrellas. Sea turtles swim by you as you jump the waves. Really it was the perfect place for the entire family to relax and unwind. It was also the perfect place to introduce my son to the ocean. It was the perfect place to reconnect with my spouse. And the perfect place to just chill out. We could all use some chilling out don’t you think?

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an acai bowl – a Hawaiian requirement 

Using American Express to plan our vacation wasn’t just helpful. It was also smart because American Express offers so many different travel rewards, discounts and benefits packages. When booking a property in The Hotel Collection for example, such as the Wailea Beach Villas, Card Members can enjoy a room upgrade when available and a $75 hotel credit to spend on qualifying dining, spa and resort activities. They have also just extended a new benefit to Platinum Card Members where you can get 5X Membership Rewards points on all airline travel regardless whether you book it through Amex Travel or directly through your favorite airline. I’m all about Rewards points. But I digress.

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bounty at Mana Foods in Paia 

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jawz taco truck outside Makenna – aka Big Beach

Back to the most perfect vacation of all time. Because I didn’t just luxuriate under my beach umbrella the entire trip. My constitution just isn’t built for that. I had to get out and explore at least a little. We did do some fun adventuring. We walked the Wailea coastline daily. Stunning. We went paddle boarding early in the morning. We took a sail at sunset and attended a luau. And of course, we enjoyed some good food (and drinks!) around the island. Again, I turned to the Platinum Card Member benefit – Concierge services to arrange all of activities and dinner reservations. A short email with my preferred dates and times allowed me to enjoy the beach and let American Express worry about the logistics. It’s genius.

I’ve included my top 10 favorite things about to do, see, eat, try on Maui below. And don’t worry. I learned so much on this family vacation that next week I’m going to share my top tips for traveling with a toddler.

1. Wailea – the beaches are beautiful, the waves gentle, the ocean warm and clear. Sea Turtles are everywhere, the snorkeling is great and the sand golden and soft. You can stay here and not get in your car if you don’t want to. Yes, it’s chocker block full of resorts and the tourists staying in them, but there’s a reason why.

2. Makena (Big Beach). If you love golden sand that glows, big crashing waves and crystal clear waters you have to visit big beach. It’s not super little kid friendly – the waves are BIG, but it is stunning.

3. The Farmers Market in Kihei. Kihei is a local’s paradise on Maui but it’s a great resource for visitors too. The list of things to try in Kihei can get long quickly but if you’re staying for a while and cooking at home definitely hit the local farm stand on the north end. It carries all the fresh local island produce you could ever want.

4. Kihei Cafe – the ultimate locals breakfast spot. It’s a must visit – especially if you love french toast.

5. Paia. Often a drive through on the way to Maui’s road to Hana, Paia is a sweet local town that still has the best community grocery store, cute boutiques and great restaurants.

6. Paddle Boarding. You can now book private paddle boarding tours that bring you to great snorkel spots while giving you an amazing workout. Warning, this isn’t the easiest activity – you’re going to be tired afterwards, but it is so fun. We booked a tour right off the beach in front of Wailea Beach Villas.

7. Mama’s Fish House. A Maui institution on the North Shore, the views along are worth the trek. We made a lunch reservation but even then expect to pay a tourist premium, but the food and drinks are worth it. Mama’s feels a bit like a Maui tradition. It’s certainly not local food but it’s a fun experience none the less.

8 Maalaea Sunset Cruise. Hop on an awesome catamaran to get out on the water and enjoy the ocean. This was a perfect date night experience.

9. Ka’ana Restaurant at the Andaz Hotel. This cool, chic spot looks out at the ocean from up in the Andaz hotel. It serves inventive modern takes on location cuisine and using only local ingredients and its awesome. The Andaz Hotel is also one of The Hotel Collection properties. Bonus!

10. Ferraro’s Restaurant at the Four Seasons. It feels a little odd to eat Italian food on Maui but this spot, right on the path in Wailea is lovely, delicious and offers great sunset views.

To catch up on the rest of my #YearofErin adventures with American Express including my trip to the Aspen Food & Wine Festival and my Lady Boss Day Off, CLICK HERE.

What do you think?

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5 Comments

    1. Thanks Karen. This post is a part of my ongoing collaboration with American Express. In case you missed the other posts where this is discussed you can check them out here and here

    2. I appreciate the disclosure throughout the entire article. It did not detract from the description or photos of the vacation. Happy to hear of the benefits of American Express.. Glad you and your family had a great time, Erin

  1. About 7 years ago I had the luck of visiting Maui for 2 months. This post is such a flashback! I loved going through your beautiful pictures! Paia will always have a special place in my heart and, oh boy… those veggies at Mana!!

    Valentina
    http://www.foreignrooftops.com/

    1. I lived on Maui for a year nearly 20 years ago! Visiting again was so special. I’m already dying to go back.