I'd done RTH years ago with a group style excursion company and let me tell you, there's no way I could ever go back after having hands down the best... read more experience ever with Hawaii by Storm.
Who went: Me (37), my son (12), my parents (mid 60's)
Makana E. is one of the most genuine, knowledgeable, and friendliest people we've ever encountered. He called to introduce himself the night before, walked us through the game-plan for the following day, and really hyped us up for the best adventure ever. Let me tell you, he absolutely delivered. He made what is arguably one of the toughest drives look like a piece of cake. He's a native to the island and knows both the road and stops like the back of his hand. He knew us by name by the first stop, treated us all like family the whole way through, making sure we knew when the next stop was coming up, where restrooms would be, introduced us to his contacts around the island and at each stop, and provided history and facts about the island with a passion that only a native with long roots can provide. Makana shared a little bit of himself throughout the trip in the form of playing Hawaiian music relevant to stops along the way, and even brought out a ukulele to play songs he composed. One of the most memorable moments was eating a platter of freshly picked local fruit, sitting in a bamboo forest, while he played and sang us a song. It brought a tear to my eyes. It was a very touching and genuine moment for all of us. One my family and I will remember forever.
Their top of the line SUV will make you feel like royalty. This made the long and winding road feel like just another day out on the town. This is not a some off the lot vehicle with a decal on the door. Hawaii by Storm vehicle was a fully tricked out, luxury, exploring vehicle. It's in pristine condition with tons of room for passengers. All leather, plush seats that recline any which way including all rows having the option to fold back giving you a very comfortable ride if you wanna take a quick nap between stops. Fully adjustable climate control for all passengers. Full panoramic glass roof which we used the whole trip to see above and around us including opening it up to make the experience more immersive. Middle row seats that fully slide up to give rear row passengers easy access to get on and off for the numerous stops and photo opportunities. This REALLY won us over because getting in and out can be tedious, especially with kids and older parents. This was a lifesaver. Lots of room for belongings that you'll need, and souvenirs you'll want to pick up, and fast charging ports everywhere for every passenger to access. Last but not least, it is lifted and off-road capable. We SAFELY and COMFORTABLY accessed several hidden gems off the side of the road that are only available by using their SUV. I wish I owned one of these things. It's that nice!
Makana took us counter-clockwise, or the "backwards" route, and again, I'll never go back to the old way of doing it. Not only do you skip all the morning traffic, but all major stops happen toward the back/center of the island so you never miss the sunniest part of the day in the most beautiful spots, yet you still make up for it by gaining time to make additional stops. I cannot stress it enough, having your own vehicle with Hawaii by storm is worth its weight in gold when it comes to the number of stops you can make. With larger groups you can easily lose HOURS picking people up and dropping them off along the way. No one goes to Maui to be a taxi. You go for an experience and to maximize the number of things you can see. With Hawaii by Storm that's exactly what you'll get. You name it; gorgeous highlands over looking the oceans, small villages with taro farms dating back hundreds of years, waterfalls galore with local knowledge of safe jumping spots, lush rainforests, black sand beaches, local gardens, sea turtles, the best local roadside eats including fresh local fruit platters, banana bread, and THE ORIGINAL huli huli chicken, we made every stop you could ever want to make on RTH. We never felt rushed, and were given plenty of time to free roaming around the stops for photo opportunities and exploring.
I will get straight to the point. Anyone can drive you around the island, point out local wildlife and fauna, and spit out historical facts. This however was a completely different type of tour. This was a 100% thought out and personalized immersive experience with a guide who became more like extended ohana (family) instead of a "guide." You simply cannot match the local knowledge and warm welcome, that only Makana and Hawaii by Storm are able to provide. If you're in Maui for RTH, I promise you won't find a more memorable experience.
To Makana and Sean at Hawaii by Storm, thank you for making this such a memorable trip. You guys are best in class, and we will be back.