Amy Dunkel photography


Hawaii | Dunkel Travels

Welp, we went to Hawaii, and it was incredible!

That's the story in a nutshell.

But if you want it - Here's the longer version...

Since the day Southwest announced they WOULD start having flying to Hawaii, my husband Bryan has been planning this trip. Bryan travels constantly for work as a partner in his marketing firm.

Being go-go-go has become his constant and ours too. Before the babies came, I used to travel with him all the time! Noah Dunkel even went to seventeen states by the time he was one. But these days with two babies, we have to plan it better and don't travel quite as frequently. But still, we travel a lot.

And so with all of his flight points from work travel, our Southwest Companian passes and his Hilton hotel points Bryan started putting this trip together for the day after Christmas. It practically became its own part-time job with the researching, planning, and working it all out. I was both scared and in awe of his dedication.

The trip would be the following: We would fly to California for two days on either end of Hawaii. From Baltimore to San Jose to Maui, and then back again.

Ten days in total.

Truthfully, I wasn't so excited about all of this. I felt the inevitable. The fear of taking two kids under four on four separate six-hour plane rides. The anxiety. The nerves.

It's a long way for anyone- let alone two small people who are used to running and jumping and playing. None of which you can do very well on an airplane. Plus the six-hour time difference they would feel once we got there- I didn't know if it would all be worth it or if this was the RIGHT time to take this trip.

But lo and behold- we did it.

The miracle was that on the first six-hour flight from Baltimore to California Noah and Mylo did SO well. I was in awe of them. It was like they knew the plan, they knew what the reward would be. I think they knew their Momma needed that little bit of calm to let her know this was going to be okay. (Every flight after that was a little bit rockier- but still do-able).

Flying tip- on black Friday we bought Mylo her own tablet. This one. Noah knows he can ONLY use a tablet on airplanes, and we knew Mylo needed her own or they would fight over the lone precious tablet we had. The fun part was the one we got was actually better for games- and they both enjoyed switching back and forth from playing puzzles on one and watching shows or movies on the other. (so 2020 I know).

We first flew into San Jose and then drove to Monterey and Big Sur for two nights. Big Sur is the giant park that stretches along the iconic Pacific Coast Highway. Bryan and I did this drive and visited Big Sur when we were dating a few years back- our favorite road trip to date. It was so fun to reminisce and take the kids to some of our favorite places from that trip so long ago. It's still just as beautiful.

The kids loved the Big Sur truckstop ice cream the best, but our personal favorites are below:

1. Nepenthe- Lunch Spot- the view here of the mountains and Pacific Coast Highway is insane. It is BUSY at all times, go early.

2. Tree Bones- We stayed here in a Yurt six years ago, it was epic and you could hear the Seals in the morning, I imagine not much has changed.

2. Monterey Aquarium - we heard great things about the Monterey Aquarium and it didn't disappoint- especially with the view out to the Pacific Ocean and the Giant Kelp Forests. The kids loved this BIG TIME.

After two days in California, we fly to Maui.

I was first in awe of how much open space we saw in Maui as we drove from the airport to our resort. I expected there to be hotels and buildings everywhere, but there weren't. The open space made me feel like this was going to be a place to really open up, to relax. That feeling was right.

Amazingly, our kids adjusted just fine to the time change. Another thing that I was absolutely afraid of- they were happy to go to bed late and sleep in the next day. Plus they were worn out from all of the swimming during the day which helped them get good rest- our resort The Grand Wailea had lots of pools and water slides. I don't think I've ever seen Noah happier.

The beach in Hawaii is so blue, I swear I saw Dori swimming in the water. If this post does nothing then convince you to go to Hawaii, it has all been worth it. The most important part for the four of us on this trip is that we all unplugged, and I think Bryan and I really needed it.

Some of the realization for me on this trip was the inability to come home and start the crazy ridiculous juggle all over again. In full transparency- it made me realize that I would be slowing down on Moms Who Rule the World Podcast Recording in the new year (at least for now).

Friends, we cannot do it all, all the time.

Please give yourself grace and respect yourself enough to know when you need to slow down a bit or change gears...

It DID make me want to ramp up my photography ( as you may be able to tell with this new website, emails directly to your inbox, and this ever winded blog post). I reconnected with the fact that I LOVE taking pictures, and being in that moment behind my camera, and capturing the true beauty- the real-life unfolding before me.

Besides the moments of clarity and connection we felt, our other favorite parts were the following:

1. Whale Watching- a suggestion from our dear Dani Leigh Photography (Hawaii master). We went on a boat at sunrise for a two-hour cruise- and saw Blue Whales and their babies everywhere. They come to Hawaii to have their offspring because the water is so warm. This was so beautiful- I nearly cried. Mylo Dunkel did not- she fell asleep in her Ergo with an empty potato chip bag as a pillow- we will have to show her again one day.

2. The Baby Beach in Lahaina- This is where we saw Dori, beautiful water and calm, shallow beaches.

3. Kihei Caffe- Favorite breakfast spot with chickens and roosters everywhere. Pancakes come out in the shape of Turtles and I've been dreaming about them ever since.

4. Maui Brewing Company- beer and good food for Mom's and Dad's, games for kids- beautiful view aka Heaven.

Guys- Hawaii was incredible, I did not come back the same person,I came back better.

I came back ready to take beautiful pictures, be present and accountable for my time, and show up for you even more. Now that's a good trip.

Have any Hawaii questions?! Please email me, this post doesn't even begin to cover it.

I am thankful to you Bryan Dunkel @MrLovePoint for planning such an epic trip and gaining a minor in Hawaii travel planning. Till the next adventure!