Part 2: Maui Luxury on Budget; Trip Report: Montreal to Maui

So, we already posted about the first part of our 2017 point churning trip, Montreal on a Budget, and now it is time for the best “bang for our buck” second part, Montreal to Maui.

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Flights YUL To OGG:

We had a lot of Aeroplan Miles (award program for Air Canada) left over from our debacle when they nearly left us stranded in Barcelona last year.

We were able to book Market Fare Rates because the dollar cost per flights from Montreal to Maui was surprisingly cheap. We only needed 21,000 miles per person and $67.50 cad ($49.30 usd) in taxes and fees. 

Normally this would cost 22,500 miles per person and ~$150 in taxes and fees using their normal fixed mileage award chart. Aeroplan miles can be transferred from any MR point earning American Express card.

Warning!!! If you ever attempt this trip. Our connecting flight was in Vancouver and you actually go through border patrol in Vancouver instead of Maui.

We booked the flights with a relatively short 45 minute layover not knowing we would have to go through security and immigration in those short 45 minutes.

Needless to say we were running to our gate. This shouldn’t have even been an option for flights but their system probably doesn’t recognize Vancouver as an international layover.

We made it just in time to board our second long flight of 6 hours for the day. Sweaty, tired and cranky from the screaming toddlers on the plane, we made it to Maui at 8pm and more than ready for my parents to take us to our luxurious resort room.

Note: This was a crazy trip flight wise. Check out our whole trip mapped out below.

You can map out your trips on this website

Hotel In Maui:

Hotels in Maui are very expensive so likewise they also cost a lot of points.

We stayed 5 nights at the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas for 80,000 SPG points.

It’s 20,000 points per night but on award bookings the 5th night is free with Starwood. With the recent Starwood Marriott merger we were able to combine our Starwood points we got from the Amex SPG card, and Marriott Points from the Chase Marriott card so we would have enough for this trip.

Marriott Points are worth 1/3 of an SPG points.

There are multiple SPG properties on Maui but the Villas is a time share property so all the rooms come with a small kitchen. In addition they don’t charge a nightly resort fee of ~$30 like all the other hotels so we were able to save some additional cash.

The rooms were pretty basic and were a letdown after staying at the Ritz in Montreal but it was definitely adequate and the resort pools/ beachfront property was exceptional.

What To Do In Maui:

Maui is a beautiful island full of culture and activities. We packed our 4 short days with plenty of site seeing and fun trips to get the most of our trip.

  • Road to Hana

The road to Hana is for all ages. We used Valley Isle Excursions which was the best decision for us. A lot of people take their rental cars out on the road with cliff drops, mountain side turns and one lane bridges.

Not a good idea.

Taking the tour bus we got breakfast and lunch provided, a detailed history of the all the island has to offer and plenty of stopping points for pictures or purchasing the famous island banana bread. They even pick you up from your hotel!

A less than flattering photo but it shows the tour bus.

Now I know what you are thinking, a tour bus? But that is so…touristy. Plus, you are with a bunch of strangers.

Believe it or not, it was actually pretty fun. Generally speaking, I try and avoid looking like a tourist as much as possible but let’s face it…2/3 of Maui’s population is tourists at any given time. And, the bus wasn’t that packed.

Lava tube on the road to Hana

In fact, there was only 10 of us on the bus and it was pretty fun getting to know the other riders. You are spending 12+ hours with them. You feel like decent friends by the end of the trip.

Fun fact: two of the other riders were from my same home town! How random is that!?

At the seven sacred pools of Ohe’o.

I just have to add. Our tour guide, Tom, was THE BEST. There was never a moment of awkward silence. He was extremely knowledgeable about the island and he made us feel comfortable the whole ride, cheesy jokes and all. He was meant for this job and when you are in the hands of a stranger, you want that feeling.

  • Snorkel Molokini Crater

This is up there with one of the coolest things I have ever done in my life. We took a tour on Four Winds of Maui where they boat you out to the crater. You snorkel for about an hour, eat some lunch and then boat back to the dock.

On the boat with the family 🙂

The crater is an old volcano wedged between two islands making it the perfect sanctuary for coral and marine life alike.

Molokini Crater

The crew members of the boat were extremely nice and helpful the entire time. It was a great experience and perfect for families or couples.

  • Old Lahaina Luau

If you are interested in learning Hawaii’s history and eating/drinking until you are stuffed beyond capacity. This is the perfect place for you.

You are first greeted with handmade leis and a cocktail where you meet your waiter and shown to your table. Then, walk around and learn how to dance the hula, pound taro root into poi, learn the meaning behind the intricate designs of traditional Hawaiian clothing and much more.

Just before the show starts you are taken to the buffet table where you can fill your plate from edge to edge in traditional Hawaiian food. Let me tell you, it is delicious. I even enjoyed the famous poi, which everyone tells me is like eating wallpaper paste. I think it is more of the Hawaiian version of refried beans but maybe that is just me.

The show is incredible. There is dancing, storytelling, and traditional drums. It is hard to describe because it is just so amazing. You are better off just seeing it for yourself.

Right when you think it is all over, they come out with a platter of Hawaiian desserts. Sure you are stuffed to the point where your clothes no longer fit but we all make room for dessert.

  • Shops of Lahaina

The town of Lahaina is beautiful. Stroll along the beach front stores and restaurants of Lahaina and come across one of the largest Banyan trees. This is a great activity for a late afternoon stroll and once the sun sets, all of the lights turn on making it a magical evening for a few drinks

  • Snorkel West Maui

After snorkeling Molokini Crater, we had to check out the reefs near our hotel on West Maui. Our hotel had 24 hour snorkel rentals for $18 a person and we made the most of it. Snorkeling off the beach is just as breath taking as out by the crater. A few yards out from the sandy beach, coral thrives with an abundance of tropical fish and sea creatures. This is a fantastic investment.

Where To Eat In Maui:

  • The Mill House

The food is hand selected and beautifully crafted here. In fact, most of the dishes look like a work of art. They source 90% of their ingredients locally on the island and most of the vegetables come from the farm out the back door.

The most memorable part of this restaurant? The location. From the moment you pull up and walk to the restaurant you are greeted with tropical flowers, a bubbling pond and adorable chickens that run wild.

This restaurant is positioned at the base of two volcanic mountains with a valley running down the center. Sitting in the dining room you get a view of the mountains and the vibrantly growing crops grown by the restaurant themselves.

The Chickpea Plate. By far one of the best meals I have ever eaten.

After dinner, take a self-guided tour of the property using your smartphone and designated stopping points with markers.

  • StarNoodle

This funky and delicious restaurant is a hidden gem surrounded by warehouses and crossfit gyms. Make sure you make your reservations ahead of time for this place has a reputation of filling up quickly and there is a reason why.

Their drinks are hand crafted and the food is truly out of this world. We ordered several small dish appetizers for four people and then my husband and I split the ramen.

Ramen at Starnoodle

Boy oh boy, let me tell you. I am a sucker for soup dishes from pho to hot pot and this ramen was by far the best I have ever had. Despite splitting the dish, we were both very full by the end of the meal and completely satisfied. Give this place a try!

Flights Home OGG to CMH:

We booked award flights from American Airlines for the journey home.

Award flights on American Airlines from Hawaii are notoriously hard to come by. We got lucky and there was 1 date in May when we booked that had availability for 2 people.

We actually planned the remainder of the trip around this date.

Total cost was 22,500 miles and $5.60 in fees per person.

AA miles are easy to get either through Citi AA card, usually at least a 50,000 miles link floating around somewhere, and/or the Barclays AA card which currently has a 40,000 sign up bonus.

Citi AAdvantge Platinum card currently 60,000 mile sign up bonus after spending $3,000 in 3 months

Barclays Aviator Red card is currently 40,000 miles sign up bonus after paying the $95 annual fee and making 1 purchase.

The flight home was a long one. Not to mention the time difference. We crashed, hard, the moment we walked through our front door.

For me, this is one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I am a total nature freak and Maui is absolutely gorgeous. Swimming with tropical fish and sea turtles, hiking through the rain forest, and even checking out a traditional luau learning the culture of Hawaiian’s this trip was a real treat.

We weren’t ready to leave the island when we had to board our plane but that is how you know it was a great trip.