Our story

raise a family on Maui

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

“Let’s just go look at some real estate while we’re here”

Those were the words that would start us on the biggest and best adventure of our lives. There we were, my husband, my nearly-two year old son, and I laying in the warm lapping waves on a little beach in Lahaina Town. We were on vacation for my husband’s birthday.

We had dreamed of moving to Hawaii for the last two years, having fallen instantly in love with it when we first visited when my son was just three months. It always felt so wonderful when we were here and our hearts ached like it does for a long lost love every time we had to return to the mainland.

There we were two years later, laying on the beach with an appointment to see a little house that was up for sale.

When I saw the house from the outside I wanted to run. But, we had only one rental car and it was my husband’s birthday. I gave in, “ok, let’s check it out.”

We walked in and were greeted with the island of Lanai staring back at us across the Pacific ocean, being shown in all it’s glory through the wall of floor to ceiling windows. At that moment, the rest of this fixer-upper house became a blur. We were intoxicated with the view, the giant Plumeria trees surrounding the property and the HUGE palm trees that marked the corners.

When we found out that the orange tree in the backyard was planted when the current owner brought her first son home, and that her first son shared the name of our first son…we knew it was meant to be.

It was fate. All signs pointed Go!

Then we learned that the current owner was friends with a man that was my husband’s boss in high school. The owner of a surf shop, this man was looked up to by my husband. He kept him out of trouble and offered a place for me to sit and visit and make googly eyes with my then high school sweetheart while he worked.

What were the chances that my husband’s old boss, confidant, mentor, had been in the wedding of the seller of this house!

Fate. All signs pointed GO!

We soon found ourselves on our way back to Southern California, just in time for it to turn cold for Thanksgiving. Except this time we weren’t returning with a heavy heart. No, instead we were returning with our very first house in escrow.


And so started us on the path of making our dreams come true, following our hearts and listening when something bigger than us says “GO! DO IT!”

(I try my hardest to always listen to the signs. To live my life that way. Is it intuition? Realization? Being present? Or just listening? I say it’s all of the above.)

The Ohana Mama

We all can’t move to Maui but we can all keep that dream alive. I hope you enjoy The Ohana Mama; to hear dispatches from paradise, find things to do when you are coming to visit on vacation and when you just need a little escape to aloha-land.

And hey, my husband is a Maui Realtor, so he could even offer you a chance to look at some Maui real estate…you know, just to check it out ;)

Aloha and mahalo for visiting, I’m glad you found me!

Sarah, The Ohana Mama

Come find me on Twitter and Facebook




  1. Although we have never been to Hawaii, we are actually making plans to move there by the end of this year. We’re looking at moving to the Big Island for financial reasons but we never know, we may end up on one of the other islands once we get established.

    If you have any recommendations on moving there with nothing at all, just our savings and a few very important things (kids, clothes, pictures) I would greatly appreciate it. I know we have a lot to do before the move, including figuring out how to get the oldest in school since it’ll be the middle of the school year and finding a place to live that is at least partially furnished.
    Shawn Ann @ Shawn Ann’s World´s last blog post ..Introducing That Techie Mom

  2. Not sure if you’ll get this response or not since it looks like the original post was from 2009. My husband and I, along with our 5 kids will be visiting Maui for spring break this year. Just wondering if you could tell me what you’d consider the best areas to be for families to live? We’re talking about looking at real estate while over there, but would love an idea from someone already living there what they consider the best places to be. We don’t want the hustle and bustle of a busy area, more interested in a quieter area- but still with services available. Thanks!!

    • Aloha Juliana, Maui really has something for everyone – a more country feel in upcountry (Makawao and Kula), more rainforest-y in Haiku, more touristy and a bit busier in Kihei, more touristy but filled with so much history and great beaches in Lahaina (I love the west side ;)) But even in each little corner (East, West, North, South) there are little bits with different climates, busier/less busy etc. You should go fro drives while here and check out all the parts. Also look at schools – that could decide which part to live as well, and of course, where you’ll work. Hope that helps!
      Sarah´s last blog post ..Hiking with Kids in West Maui

      • Julianne says:

        Thanks for the reply! My husband is a police officer and has 6 more years until he can retire. I’m a nurse but haven’t worked regularly for quite a few years because I stay home with my kids. If we choose to move it will most likely be after he retires, but he does plan on stopping by the Maui PD and talk to them. I would probably stay home and home-school my kids if we were to move to Hawaii, but of course that’s not set in stone. We’ve also considered looking at the Big Island, so within the next year or two plan on making a return visit to Hawaii to check out that island too. Thanks again for your reply, it’s very helpful!

  3. Aloha!

    I JUST got back from Maui and there were some few things you said that I related to. “It always felt so wonderful when we were here and our hearts ached like it does for a long lost love every time we had to return to the mainland…..It was fate. All signs pointed Go!….(I try my hardest to always listen to the signs. To live my life that way. Is it intuition? Realization? Being present? Or just listening? I say it’s all of the above.)….”

    I was crying driving back to the Kahului airport because I didn’t know when I’ll be back…and it really did feel like I was in this long distant relationship and knowing I’ll have to endure another year without seeing the island! I wanted to so much drop everything that I had planned here in California (I just got accepted to grad school!) just so I can start a new adventure and life in Maui. I had to hold myself from doing that.

    I wanted to ask if you ever got bored living on Maui or if it is everything you dreamed and imagined it to be. I booked a short weekend trip to Maui in July because my friend is having a reception there, but I want to stay there LONGER. Do you happen to know of anyone who will be willing to give a short term job? haha. I’m only asking. I wanted to stay longer this summer because I’ve also met amazing people on the island and would love to see them again…and I figured it could be my test run before I commit myself to moving there. Your feedback will be very much appreciated!!

    Justina´s last blog post ..Greek Yogurt

  4. Reading this with tears in my eyes. My husband and I are hippies at heart, and lately we’re both heartsick for the beach. We’ve talked about moving several times but eventually we just quietly go back to our “normal” life. I guess we aren’t sure how to get there, or how to “make it stick”.

    • Sometimes you have to take a leap. Save up so money doesn’t stress you – make a goal, write it down or on a wall – declare it! And when you hit the goal, make the move! Things are easier to fall into place when you put the idea into motion – baby steps are ok, but just keep moving towards that goal! Never let it go :)
      Sarah´s last blog post ..Hiking with Kids in West Maui

  5. Aloha! You are living my dream for sure! I’m a Midwest transplant to the Pacific NW but have sun, sand and the sounds of the ocean deep within my soul and quite honestly, the Seattle/Portland grey is wearing me down! My husband is a native Pacific North-westerner, so he’s not as bothered by the climate here, but he’s somewhat ready to make a change also. Maui is our favorite Island and our dream is to move there (the sooner, the better, for me)! Since we’re simple, middle class citizens, we’ll both need employment on the Island – do you have any recommendations? We know a few people on Maui and they’ve said to watch Craigslist, however, they’ve warned us that locals get first priority for jobs most of the time, which is entirely understandable. Any additional input, suggestions, etc that you can give would be very much appreciated! Mahalo!

  6. How is the real estate market going for your husband there? My husband has been a realtor in WA for 10+ years and done really well, but is hesitant on whether he would want to start all over from square one somewhere new… I have read that the Maui area is over-saturated with realtors… curious your view on that? We have long considered moving over for a while when the kids are young and see what happens from there – still its scary to think of truly taking that plunge. Your blog is inspiring! :)

    • Aloha JC! My husband is doing really well and the market is picking back up. He’s the partner for Elite Pacific here on Maui and they are growing, that’s great see. There are a lot of realtors but like everything, I think there’s room for everyone who wants to work hard.

      I hear you on the starting over…being a Realtor, it’s tough to move but I believe it can be done! And Hawaii is an easy sell :) Many come and start off in time share sales. We didn’t go that route, but that’s something to look into. Glad you found me! xo, Sarah
      Sarah´s last blog post ..The Ohana Mama wants to send you to BlogHer 2013 in Chicago

  7. Oh I LOVE IT! I love hearing stories about people from the mainland falling in love with Hawaii – IN LOVE enough to stay :) You either hate it or love it (as far as living goes, visiting – totally different story). And I’m so glad you call Hawaii home now :)

    Finding Hawaii bloggers is such a hit and miss, and I’m glad I found you. I hail from good ‘ol boring Oahu – raised in Aiea, now living in Ewa Beach :) Anyway – Happy Aloha Friday. Have an amazing weekend

    Aukele´s last blog post ..Instant Mommie Tip: Faux Infinity Scarf

  8. Ahh love this story! I’m a firm believer in listening and looking for the signs and then GOING FOR IT! So happy for you and your family you followed your heart. I look forward to learning all of the wonderful things to do on Maui so when I decide to island hop from Kauai I have lots of fun things to do. Big hugs and lots of aloha. :)
    Michelle Pierson´s last blog post ..How to Get Out of the Funk and Feel Better Now

  9. I’ve always wanted to move to maui now I have the chance! Starting to get nervous thinking about moving there by myself. Any advice 45 single an starting over at 45 raised my kids.starting to get nerve while going through my things!
    Thanks Tami

  10. Hello Ohana Mama! I stubbled across you on Twitter and made it here to your site. I read your story. That is pretty cool. Way too many never take a leap of faith and go for it like you did and imagine are still doing. Congrats for jumping in with both feet. You are now rewarded with all the benefits!
    Greg Barth´s last blog post ..Beachbody 21 day Ultimate Reset

  11. OMG I am so happy I found your blog! I’m from Oahu and now a mainland transplant, but have never stepped foot on another island. My boyfriend and I are taking our first trip there in May to celebrate my son’s 2nd birthday! I’m so excited!
    Riza´s last blog post ..No Regrets

  12. I just stumbled upon your blog and I’m in love! I am originally from Hawaii but live on the mainland now with my husband and daughter. I’m crossing my fingers that one day soon I can make the move back home!
    Mahina´s last blog post ..Saying Good-Bye to Puna…

  13. Tommy Sea says:


  14. Still one of my most favorite posts…Love your story about following your dream and moving to Maui.
    It’s awesome, inspiring and it’s almost like I hear you telling me on the phone! :)
    Anne Samoilov´s last blog post ..Make Your Plan Public

  15. Always follow your heart, and you will never go wrong. From the south of France to California, and now to Arizona: no regrets, but a new adventure.By following my heart, it brought me to you, my very sweet and beautiful daughter in law. Avec tout mon amour. God bless. Bisous bisous. xoxoxoxoxo

  16. Great story about paying attention and following your heart. We all have stories about how we came to live here on Maui, or how you were born here. Thanks for sharing. Happy birthday to your husband and happy Maui anniversary.


  17. Awesome story!! I am so glad you listened to your intuition. I am a local girl from oahu but something told me to move back to Seattle. I am glad I listened but I do miss home sooo much!! I hope to come visit you one day soon too…

  18. Tammie Schulman says:

    Hi Ohana Mama,
    Way to Go! Great site and it looks like you’re having fun!

    Tammie :)

  19. Hello,

    I am over here on the Big Island and I learned about your site through Linda with Buzz Cooperative.

    I do blog but I am putting more emphasis on my stories, http://www.humanbodydetectives.com . I would love to connect!

    We lived on Maui/Lahaina, in the mid 90s but then traveled to Portland so I can go back to school. I have 2 girls, Merrin ( 11) and Pearl ( 7). We have been on the BI for almost 8 yrs now.

    Hope to hear from you.


  20. I enjoy your site. Sounds like Hawaii is beautiful. I will keep checking in on your site. TIA.

  21. Aloha Ohana Mama!
    I was so excited to find another local Mom blogger! I am a Mompreneur that owns a home-based Ring Sling business in Waianae, Oahu and would love you you to do a product review of our slings! To give you a little background, our slings are fully lined with either 100% cotton flannel or 100% cotton material, they are made with Hawaiian Print materials and include toy loops (ot toy tags) and inseam pockets. We use light, colorful, strong aluminum rings from sling rings. We’ve been in business for 3 years and I recently started a Baby wearing blog, you can find us and follow us here:: http://babywearinginparadise.blogspot.com/
    I am going to add your button to my site!
    Mahalo and Aloha!

  22. Thanks for the drop by on my blog today fellow lip gloss junkie. I love what you are doing for mompreneurs and women entrepreneurs (that’s me). VERY cool. I also just followed you on Twitter!

    Aloha and Mahalo!

  23. The Ohana Mama, now that’s better!!! Congrats on your “new” site, and many Hawaiian blessings throughout the rest of 2009. Be back on New Years ’10 to tell you “I told you so.”


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