Vancouver and Maui…Work, Then Play!

Ka'anapali Beach (Maui) with the island of Lanai in the background
Ka’anapali Beach (Maui) with the island of Lanai in the background

It seems that summer vacation has taken over my blog because I haven’t posted in about six weeks!  So, it’s no surprise that this post is about our recent trip to Vancouver and Maui.

Because I plan any family trips we take, I get to ultimately decide (with some input from my husband and kids, of course) what we do.  This puts quite a bit of pressure on me, but it’s always worth it and my family tells me that they see more than most people do in any given city!  Admittedly, I tend to cram a lot into each day.

One of the things that works for us is to sightsee first and then end up on a beach somewhere where we can just relax.  I’m sure many people do this.  It just makes sense to get the walking and touring out of the way, knowing that the reward is some serious downtime.

In mid-June this year, we went to Vancouver and Maui.  It wasn’t the original plan, but an itinerary change beyond our control allowed us to sneak in a few days in Vancouver before hitting the beach.  Here’s what we did.

Vancouver from Grouse Mountain
Vancouver from Grouse Mountain

Vancouver
To get to Maui from Toronto, there are no direct flights, so you have to stop somewhere along the way.  My husband and I had been to Vancouver many years ago and the stop in Vancouver was the perfect opportunity to visit again and take the kids to see the west coast of Canada.

After a 5 hour flight, we landed in Vancouver on a sunny and warm-ish day. Vancouver is known for milder and wetter weather than the rest of Canada, so we felt lucky on that first day.

Canada Place, Vancouver
Canada Place, Vancouver

We quickly checked into our  hotel and headed to Canada Place for lunch. When you stand looking out at the water, you see the mountains, North Vancouver and the five Sails of Light at Canada Place.  Canada Place was built for Expo 86 and is a Canadian icon.  Cruise ships sail from this port, conventions are held, and the sails are lit in a variety of colors to commemorate various holidays and events.

Capilano Lake, British Columbia
Capilano Lake, British Columbia
Grizzly Bear Exhibit, Grouse Mountain
Grizzly Bear Exhibit, Grouse Mountain

From Canada Place, we took a bus up to Grouse Mountain, north of the city. It’s a short bus ride through Stanley Park and across the Lions Gate Bridge. We took the Sky Ride (versus hiking up the ‘Grouse Grind‘) to the top of the mountain where we saw grizzly bears, the ‘Birds in Motion’ show, a lumberjack show, and the beautiful scenery around us.

Capilano Suspension Bridge, British Columbia
Capilano Suspension Bridge, British Columbia
Cliff Walk, Capilano Suspension Bridge, British Columbia
Cliff Walk, Capilano Suspension Bridge, British Columbia

On the way back to the city, we stopped at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park where we walked across the bridge over the Capilano River, did the Cliff Walk, and enjoyed being in nature.

Stanley Park Totem Poles, Vancouver
Stanley Park Totem Poles, Vancouver
Granville Island, Vancouver
Granville Island, Vancouver
Laduree Macarons, Vancouver
Laduree Macarons, Vancouver

Our second day in Vancouver, we took a cab to Stanley Park, one of Canada’s most well-known urban parks, at over 1000 acres.  It was pouring rain as we walked to the Stanley Park Totem Poles.  We cut our park visit short because of the rain.  We then headed over to Granville Island for lunch, via a short ferry ride.  Granville Island is home to art galleries, food stalls, and craft stands.  In the afternoon, we rested at the hotel pool and then went out for Chinese food at Chongqing. After dinner, we enjoyed walking along Vancouver’s fashionable Robson St where many stores were open late.

On the third day, we headed to the Vancouver Art Gallery and took an excellent guided tour of the current Picasso exhibit.  The exhibit is organized into six periods in Picasso’s life, as inspired by the 6 women in his life.  The exhibit is very well done and we all enjoyed it.  If you are in Vancouver through October 2, 2016, I recommend this unique tour for its insights into Picasso’s work.  After the exhibit, lunch, and some window shopping, we headed to the airport.  The ‘work’ part of our vacation was almost complete.

Ka'anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii
Ka’anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii

Maui
Six hours later, we landed in Maui, where the ‘play’ part of our vacation would soon begin.  Knowing my family and the couple of things we wanted to do in Maui, I planned two laid-back activities in the first 3 days, leaving the last 4 days to do basically nothing.

Ka'anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii
Ka’anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii
Sail Trilogy, Lahaina Harbor
Sail Trilogy, Lahaina Harbor

We stayed on Ka’anapali Beach in West Maui, not far from Lahaina. Ka’anapali Beach is one of the best beaches on Maui because of the beautiful beaches, surfing, restaurants, and proximity to excursions.  On the second day, we went on an early morning Trilogy Tours sailing excursion to Lana’i, an island about an hour and a half from Lahaina Harbor.  What makes Hawaii special is the island hopping!  Cinnamon rolls, a chicken teriyaki/stir fry lunch, snorkeling, a Lana’i island tour, sailing, and drinks made this trip special.  Our kids loved it.

Old Lahaina Luaa
Old Lahaina Luaa

The following evening, after a day of relaxing, we attended the Old Lahaina Luau, the 2015 Reader’s Choice best luau in Hawaii as ranked by Hawaii Magazine.  We could see why right away.  The luau is pricey, but the hosts, activities, service, food, narration, and generosity were worth it!  You don’t feel like the place is crowded and each table has a server who guides you through the evening.

Sea Turtle, Ka'anapali Beach (photo by a fellow traveler)
Sea Turtle, Ka’anapali Beach (photo by a fellow traveler)

On Maui, there are lots of other popular activities like helicopter rides, biking down Haleakala, and taking the Road to Hana tour (the latter of which we had done years ago), and day trips to other islands.  We didn’t do any of those trips because we had been on the go for almost a week.  Spending the rest of the vacation relaxing by the pool, taking twice daily beach walks, spotting sea turtles, and going out to eat was great.  The weather was warm with lots of wind, making the heat bearable.  My daughter and I also took a hula dance class and learned how to make leis in nearby Whaler’s Village.

Sunset in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii
Sunset in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii

So, that’s how we spent our summer vacation in Vancouver and Maui – ‘working’ (touring and sightseeing) first, then ‘playing’ by relaxing on a beach chair!

How are you spending your summer vacation?

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