Mother’s Day might have been the original inspiration for the “girlfriend getaway,” and it’s still one of the best. Whether your idea of a great moms & daughters’ getaway consists of brunch and shopping or snorkeling and sightseeing, a Hawaii vacation might be just the ticket. Island by island, I’ve hand-picked the coolest mother-daughter bonding activities…some for active travelers, and some that offer 100% R&R.
For the traditional Mother's Day experience, enjoy a lavish brunch buffet at the Kahala Hotel & Resort, John Dominis or, if you can luck out with a reservation, the legendary Orchids at Halekulani hotel. (Usually this latter is booked for months in advance, but in today’s economy, who knows…) Follow that with a day of serious shopping at Ward Centers, which has lots of cool local stores like the Nohea Gallery and Island Soap & Candle. Or, if you want to get out of Honolulu, opt for brunch and a spa day at the luxurious JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa, located in Ko Olina on the peaceful west side of the island.
If you want an active day with all-ages appeal, definitely stay on the west side of the island, either in Ka’anapali or Lahaina. Do a morning Molokini snorkel cruise with Trilogy Excursions or the Lahaina Cruise Company. Then hop aboard the Ka’anapali Sugar Cane Train for a sightseeing tour/living history adventure that’s only 90 minutes round-trip. Wind up with an early dinner outside at the Hula Grill in Ka’anapali, or maybe make it a memorable evening with the Old Lahaina Luau.
For agri-ventures and cooler temperatures, head upcountry and visit the Anuhea protea farm in Olinda (special reservations required) and the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm in Kula. Find serenity at Kula Botanical Garden. Sip a glass of Maui’s finest at Tedeschi Vineyards, or take in the sunset at Haleakala. For an inexpensive-yet-yummy dinner that can satisfy all ages and palates, Flatbread Company in Paia is highly recommended.
Interestingly, though the island of Hawaii is by far the largest of all, it excels in little B&Bs and inns. Probably that’s because so much of the island is undeveloped countryside and beach. The spectrum ranges from inexpensive guest houses to country estates to eco-friendly retreats.
“We want guests to feel super-comfortable and super-pampered, but we don’t ever want to be stuffy,” says Carol Salisbury, owner of the 5-bedroom Waianuhea on the slopes of Mauna Kea volcano. Her slogan is “Inn of Luxury, House of Aloha.” Mothers and daughters can forget the pressures of the world at the evening “Wine Hour,” then venture out by day to ride horses in Waipio Valley or drive to the island’s scenic north shore, stopping in Waimea and the tiny town of Hawi. Not only do many small inns arrange all excursions for their guests, places like Waianuhea will sit down with guests each evening, talk about how their day went, and give them suggestions for dinner and what to do the next day. When there’s so much territory to cover, this kind of personalized attention really helps.
For those who don’t mind mussing their hair and getting sea-spray on the skin as long as it’s for a good reason, I highly recommend a sail to the Na Pali Coast, where epic cliffs rise thousands of feet from the sea. Recommended oceangoing tour providers include Holoholo and Captain Andy’s.
Or, if you prefer more relaxed sightseeing for your Hawaii vacation, visit the National Tropical Botanical Gardens, soaking in colors and sunshine and natural perfumes all at the same time. Then head to Anara Spa at the Grand Hyatt Kauai. Here, moms and daughters can get side-by-side pedis in the garden while catching up on gossip, then lounge by the poolside to give those tootsies plenty of time to dry.
Lanai and Molokai
Though these island neighbors are small and laid-back, each has plenty of niche appeal — for very different reasons. Golfers gravitate to Lanai’s two world-class courses, the beachside Challenge at Manele and its inland sister, the Experience at Koele, both at the Four Seasons Lanai Manele Bay . Meanwhile, experiential travelers love Molokai’s fascinating history and singular landmarks: Ali’I Fishpond, Iliiliopae Heiau and Kalaupapa Lookout. Take a few days to appreciate these islands to the fullest, or if you just need a peek, take the ferry from Maui for the day.
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Lena Katz lives on the Left Coast and writes about tropical islands, beach clubs and food, but her heart belongs to NYC.