Monday, April 29, 2013

Hawaii Photos #4: Accommodations

During our time in Hawaii, Chris and I stayed in a wide variety of accommodations, everything from a B&B to a condo to a tree house.

A lot of people have asked us why we stayed in so many different places, rather than just picking a hotel in a central location as a home base, like most people do. Yet, when we got there, all the locals told us we were doing it "the right way." So here's why: waayyyy less driving and getting to see more.

On Maui, some of the best attractions were really just drives. The road to Hana, for example. Of course, this drive had lots of stops where you could swim in waterfalls and get yummy food and so on. But the road after Hana was much more desolate without many real "attractions." But it was possibly the most beautiful thing we saw and not a lot of people do it because they take most of the day driving to Hana, so then they turn around and head back to their hotel on the west side of the island because there isn't a direct loop around. Just the scenic loop that is totally worth it. So by staying at the beginning of the road to Hana, in Hana, and then over on the west side on consecutive nights, we were able to take our time seeing nearly the whole island. No backtracking and no driving super late to get "back".

The only downfall of this plan is that it was crazy time consuming to plan. I had to do a lot of research and contact a lot of condo owners individually. There aren't a lot of cheap hotels in Hawaii, so rather than go broke staying at resorts, we went mostly with condos, one B&B, and as I mentioned, a tree house. All of these places had to be emailed for availability, prices, etc. It was a huge pain, but it made our actual trip much easier and more seamless. So if you have the time before you go, I recommend this strategy.

Anyway, here are the pictures!

Haiku Plantation Inn
This B&B was set up in a very old plantation house with a lot of character. The owner was very nice (even if she did forget we were coming) and we had a delicious breakfast the next morning. At first Chris was worried about the lack of air conditioning, but the room really cooled down at night and it was super comfortable (this was the case everywhere we stayed. Never had air conditioning and never needed it).

Our room had a private bathroom and beautiful built-in bookshelves full of awesome Hawaiian photos, artwork, and artifacts.

And I totally loved the eclectic look of the place, including this adorable Mod Podged stool.

The owner told us to grab a couple glasses of wine from the fridge, so we helped ourselves and relaxed on the front porch in the evening. We were surrounded by tropical plants and all sorts of animal noises permeated the night. It was very nice, but we were eager to really start our Hawaiian adventure the next morning.

Super cute bathroom.

Built-in bookshelves in our room.

The Tree House
The craziest place we stayed during our trip was definitely the tree house. Well, the Tree Pavilion, to be more precise. We booked it as a surprise for Courtney and Brad, so when we met up with them, we just had them drive behind our car as we navigated over to it ... except you couldn't drive the whole way. Eventually, after driving down the rockiest, bumpiest road you can imagine for five minutes, we were confronted by this sign:

So we parked the cars to the side of the "road" and gathered our belongings for the night. That was when I noticed this other interesting sign dangling from the trunk of the Mustang we were driving.

And here I thought I was prepared for every emergency. That one hadn't occurred to me. Way to keep it real, Ford.

Here you can sort of see the rocky road we were driving on, completely walled in by jungle.
We found a little path with hundreds of steps up through the jungle, so we grabbed our gear and headed up. Eventually, we found the first tree house:

This one was being rented out by a very nice couple that lived on the other side of the island. They gave us a little tour so we could see that this one really was built in three levels around a tree. It was pretty spectacular.

But since that tree house only slept two, we continued on our trek up the mountain to the tree house we had booked for the night. And I gotta say, it also made a pretty spectacular first impression.

This structure was only one story, and while it was surrounded by trees, it wasn't really in a tree. But it was still completely awesome.

Here's the view from the other side. The structure in front is the bathroom!

Another shot of the hilarious bathroom facilities. And check out that awesome outdoor shower! It was connected to a tankless hot water heater, so we actually ended up using it to take nice lukewarm showers. Pretty fantastic.

Here's Chris's recreation of his shower time. haha

I have to admit, I was pretty impressed by the bathroom. Working plumbing in a screened-in room. What else do you need in Hawaii? Why not commune with nature while you're on the commode?
Here's a better view of the stilts that the house was on.

The best view, obviously, was from the porch, overlooking the jungle and the ocean. (It's hard to see the ocean in these pics because it was overcast. But you could see it well in person. Gorgeous.

Inside, we were treated to mosquito nets over the beds ...

... rustic wooden handles that I totally want to recreate ...

... and a propane stove for making tacos. Talk about convenience! Courtney even browned the soft taco shells so we were pretty much living in the lap of luxury. Can you say crispy goodness?
To go along with the spectacular view, there was a hammock stretched across the porch that was a huge hit. Everyone wanted a turn relaxing in it.

But Courtney was not willing to give it up ...

Eventually, once they had toppled out, I got my turn in the hammock, though.

Oh, and if you're wondering where Courtney and Brad slept, there was a loft with two small beds up top, and another twin bed in the main room. But did they sleep there? No, of course not. They slept on the porch floor. Haha Apparently being screened in was not adventurous enough for them. They needed the full outdoor experience.

Maalaea Banyans Condo
Our last stop on Maui was much less rustic. Right on the ocean, a few minutes from the harbor, we pretty much had every convenience imaginable.

The condo had a nice little living space with a tv (that's right electricity. Go big or go home! haha), a kitchen, washer and dryer, indoor plumbing in the SAME building we were in, and a private bedroom. Courtney and Brad had pleasure of sleeping on the pull-out sofa bed (better than the porch floor!)

Maku'u Cottage
On the Big Island, we sort of landed halfway between the tree house and the condo. This cute little blue building was our cottage. That lean-to on the right is where the washer and dryer were kept.

The main room had a little living area and a huge bed for us. The tv was stocked with a couple DVDs, including this awesome DVD called "Volcano Scapes 3". It was made in the late 80s, so everyone had awesome hair dos and clothing, but the footage is amazing. It shows the destruction of Kalapana Village, just down the road from this place. We visited what was left of the place - it's mainly just lava rock now. So crazy.

Also inside the cottage, the little kitchenette was super useful. I made bacon and eggs in the mornings, and we enjoyed cheese and wine in the evenings. How classy.

This place was fun because there were lots of animals that lived on the property, including these sheep, several dogs, a very friendly kitty, and any number of roosters and chicken.

We also loved this place because it had a beautiful in-ground pool. So when Courtney and Brad ended up crashing with us for a night, we had the pool all to ourselves for a super fun night swim. Just watch out for Courtney's surprise cannonball attack. She makes Brad throw her at people. Yikes!

Kona Condo
On the other side of the Big Island, we stayed at a lovely place with this view from the porch. Again, hard to see, but it was a nice ocean view. There was also a hot tub on the porch, which we never had a chance to use.

I sort of got lazy about my picture taking by this time, I guess, because I don't have any pictures of this place. But it was nice and clean inside. Another one-room deal with a private bathroom and an exterior entrance. The owner lived upstairs and was very friendly.

Just like most of the places we stayed in, this one had windows all around the exterior walls, and the glass panels were like mini blinds, so they never really closed all the way. Apparently that's not necessary in paradise. Besides the slight lack of privacy, we really enjoyed how the buildings embraced the outdoors on the islands, rather than shutting it out. Too bad that's just not possible in Syracuse. Anyone want six feet of snow blowing inside the house? lol

But anyway, we enjoyed all the places we stayed, if for no other reason than the opportunity to enjoy scenery like this.