I am gearing up for a vacation to Oahu, Hawaii, and it is all I can think about! That’s no good because I still have a week of finals left. My future trip has me reminiscing about last year when I first visited Hawaii and stayed on the island of Maui. It was like everything you have heard, simply magical. I will share some of the highlights of our trip:
On our first day we were still adjusting to the time difference so we kept it low key. We took a short hike to visit the Nakalele Blowhole.
The area was surrounded by porous rocks, the hike down was short and rocky.
We relaxed at the beach near our hotel in Lahaina where I saw angelfish swimming by the docks. We ate fresh fish dishes for dinner at a nearby restaurant. The next day we got to exploring. We hiked around Iao Valley State Monument and discovered some very beautiful sights.
The popular .6 mile trail was crowded with people, but if you take other trails you will certainly find some solitude. We enjoyed a picnic at the Kepaniwai Hertiage Gardens which were beautiful and worth a visit, as they are just right down the road. The day was a bit rainy so we decided to visit the Maui Ocean Center which was probably the most fantastic aquarium I have been to. There were open tanks where you could look straight into the water from above and see the tangs swimming. The tank tunnel that you can walk through is amazing with up close and personal views of leopard rays and sharks, among other fish.
My personal favorite was the unicorn fish, magical.
We enjoyed some down time and snacks at the Ma’alaea General Store. The chocolate chip bacon cookie was extra delightful with the view of the bay. Some cool local things here to purchase as gifts for friends and family. We headed towards Kihei to visit an open market. It had chickens running around and was lined with trinkets and fresh fruit stands. I got some phenomenally fresh fruit and continued loving life.
We relaxed at the beach in Kihei and waited for what would be our most memorable sunset of the trip. We were hoping to see a green flash though there was none, however we settled for unadulterated beauty and some humpback whales. Not a bad deal.
We walked around town and popped into Maui Tacos for a delicious fresh fish and frozen margarita dinner outside. I didn’t know it was a franchise at the time, but I don’t regret going there because it was great! The next day we check out surfers at the “Slaughterhouse” in Honalua Bay. It was a relaxing beach day and we would have one of our most memorable dinners this night at Mala Ocean Tavern, the whole fish opakapaka.
It was so phenomenal we ate the eyeballs and fins. The next day was a biggie, the Road to Hana. We set out very early, but I wish we had left even earlier. There is almost too much to see on this road, if I could do it again I would get a room in Hana for the night so that I could take my time. We hiked to twin falls, through the amazingly gorgeous Keene Arboretum where I saw my first rainbow eucalyptus trees,
stopped at numerous lookouts and waterfalls, made it to the Hasegawa General Store and picked up snacks and pineapple wine, hiked to the secret red sand beach where we swam in protected water and had the most amazing scenery,
and finally made it to O’heo Gulch Pools, a part of Halekala National Park (Tip! If you plan on visiting the Crater and the O’heo Gulch Pools you can use the same entrance fee ticket within a few consecutive days, plan accordingly). After a long day we still weren’t ready to quit and took the 4 mile round trip Pipiwai Trail to the utterly spectacular 400 foot Waimoku Falls.
On the way to the falls you pass many other beautiful sights, waterfalls, an epic banyan tree, and a dense bamboo forest. This was a slightly strenuous hike after our long day, but so worth it once we got into the freezing waterfall.
The Road to Hana is what you make of it. You have to personalize where you’re going to stop and you have to remember the journey is the destination. There isn’t much waiting for you in the town of Hana, but you will always remember the gorgeous trip on the crazy road if you decide to partake in this adventure. We left a bit too late as we were having so much fun, and a large part of our ride back was in the dark. It was pretty scary because the road is a one lane for a large part of the drive, and you have a sheer cliff beside you. Drive with extreme caution! We stopped off in Paia for dinner, it was on the way home and we were famished. Paia turned out to be my favorite town on Maui and if I ever return that is where I want to stay. The vibe is groovy and we loved our dinner at Café Des Amis. We both got the curried fresh fish of the day and it was really flavorful and done right. We enjoyed a courtyard seat with great live music. The atmosphere was quiet, not rowdy, just what we needed after a long day. The meal filling was topped off with light crepe for dessert. At the recommendation of our waitress we tried something I wouldn’t have normally chosen, a Maui cane sugar crepe with lime juice. It was simple perfection. Truly the icing on the cake for a crazy day. Every day we tried out a different beach, they all have their different personalities, pros, and cons. As far as beaches near our hotel, we really liked Kanapali Beach and had a relaxing day there after Hana. We even saw sea turtles bobbing around. A light lunch was had at a food truck, in the middle of our day, more amazing fish tacos! We attended the Old Lahaina Luau for dinner and a show. The setting couldn’t be more beautiful, like everything else in Maui, and we could walk here from our hotel.
There is a large audience here so you are grouped at big tables, and sections are called at certain times to grab food from the buffet full of traditional Hawaiian foods. The food was pretty good, but drinks and the show were truly great. You learn a lot about the culture and see some great dancing. I kept my fresh made lei in the fridge after the show and it stayed beautiful for days. The next day we went for an amazing hike at La Perouse Bay. The hike is hot, a lot of it is exposed and covered with rough lava, but so worth it.
We saw wild goats in the wooded areas just wandering around doing their thing. You just can’t beat that.
After the hike was a trip to Big Beach, the largest stretch of beach in Maui. Golden sand and glittering water, I loved this quiet beach.
We headed back towards home base and got a meal at Aloha Mixed Plate, some more Hawaiian cuisine. We got fried coconut crusted tiger prawns as an appetizer which were fantastic and some delicious drinks along with our mixed plates.
Great place to sit outside with a casual meal. The next day was a big one, our visit to the Haleakala Crater in Halekala National Park. We wanted to catch the sunrise here so we woke up at 2 in the morning and started our journey to get to the top of the mountain. It was dark and freezing when we got there (bring coffee, winter jacket, and a blanket!). When the morning sky started to dim we were inside of a cloud. I was so nervous that we had made this journey for nothing and we wouldn’t get a view, thank goodness my worries were for naught! Unbelievable, unforgettable, you must do this if you visit Maui! The sun melted the clouds away and sprung out above the crater.
You feel like you’re on another planet. Once the sun was up we decided to take some hikes around the park. Many different trails have specific parking lots to tailor to the distances you would like to go. They also have two rare species in the park, the a plant called the Silversword, related to the sunflower, and a bird called the Nene.
We were lucky enough to see both! We ate most of our breakfasts in the hotel to save on cost, but I wouldn’t want to miss out on the one that was down the road from the crater, the Kula Lodge. We had been hiking since sunrise on relatively empty stomachs (we had coffee and fruit) so we were hungry. Kula Lodge is gorgeous, the views from the windows, the fireplace, and the grounds are fabulous, and the food was just the same. Of course Jeff got the Haleakala Mountain of a Meal with eggs, bacon, and delicious pancakes we split with Kula strawberries on them. There was good coffee and pineapple syrup on the table. Oh and a gorgeous array of protea flowers. Perfection.
We walked around their amazing terrace and garden after our meal. We made our way to the Ali’I Kula Lavender Farm after breakfast, which was absolutely brilliant. I loved walking through the different gardens looking at the lavender, protea, and many other amazing flora.
The setting was beyond zen.
We discovered a Jackson chameleon! Extra exciting for me because we had them as pets when we were children, Sarah and Reptar actually had babies! Love these chameleons.
People hang glide around this area too, and it’s fun to watch them. I really loved this garden and the shop had some perfect gifts for a few people on my Christmas shopping list. We headed back towards our hotel and beached it until dinner, which was one of our favorites. Son’z Maui Steakhouse is unreal. You see the ocean in the distance of the open air restaurant, and you can dine right beside a little pool with a waterfall, filled with waterfowl. I was in my glory dining with white swans, black swans (who made the CUTEST noises), and all sorts of interesting looking ducks.
It was really hard for me to be in a classy setting and not throw my bread at these birds. I tried….Other than the setting, the food was utterly delicious. Our fish dishes were divine, filling, and beautiful. After our meals we explored the resort for a short time. We walked onto the beach at night looking at the stars, and around their pool which had a grotto. Very cool. The next day we attended the Maui Swap Meet which was located at the University of Hawaii. It was really great filled super funky with artisanal crafts, beautiful jewelry with sea glass and shells, and lots of fresh fruit and snacks.
After snacking and shopping we headed to Baldwin Beach in Paia, another favorite beach.
It’s expansive and beyond gorgeous with some really quirky aspects if you explore. The bathroom had a mural which looked like Hokusai’s ‘great wave,’
there was a little area surrounded by rocks remaining from a time where Hawaiians would pile them so that children could swim safely,
in the woods I found some interesting art.
Paia is so cool. You can drive down the road and take a look at Hookipa Beach, which is very popoular with wind surfers. Shopping is also fantastic in town, lots of kitschy boutiques. We had reservations at Maui’s ritziest restaurant that night, Mama’s Fish House. The view of the quiet beach here from this open air restaurant is lined with palms and gorgeous.
We had opakapaka cheek for an appetizer, so crunchy, savory, and delectable. Our fish dishes were so good, the service was delightful, and we loved walking about that little beach after our meals.
The next day would be our last. We soaked up the beach, ate fresh fish tacos, finally got some shave ice, saw rainbows, and I got proposed to at sunset. All in all I would say it was an absolutely unforgettable trip, I am so thankful to have been able to experience Maui with the love of my life.