When we meet readers, so many of them say that they feel as though they know us and that we're friends. Well, you should know that we feel connection and friendship from you as well!! There really is such an exchange of thoughtfulness and kindness here and we thank you for that. Interacting with you all really is such a wonderful part of our lives.
And, I promise that soon we'll get back to some posts on LOVE. It's been a busy few weeks due to Alt Summit, getting sick, and then traveling. And it really does take a lot out of me to write my favorite kinds of love posts. But those will be coming soon. I've been working on several posts that I hope will be good ones.
For now, a few highlights from our trip...
I did a bit of blogging from Hawaii and this was my view! I was trying to enjoy every minute as I knew I'd soon be back to my small apartment with post blizzard snow outside my door.
Our favorite part of the trip was driving along the "Road to Hana", a scenic drive on the way to a small town, with lots of stops for waterfalls and hikes and swimming holes along the way. It was just good for our souls. It was everything I had ever dreamed up about Hawaii. Like this thick, green bamboo forest...
And swimming holes at nearly every stop.
And there were the cutest farm stands everywhere. This one was selling coconut chips and coconut chunks toasted with sugar cane (delicious!) [You can buy the same coconut candy here.]
These Rainbow Eucalyptus trees took my breath away. Don't they look like they've been painted?
Our car stops for all signs that say "Fresh Coconut Milk Icecream"! (See here for location.)
We also had some pretty good Thai food in Hana at Nutcharee's. Certainly the canopy overhead and the Hawaiian ladies in their kitchen made the experience even more memorable.
I'm wearing those acupressure Sea Bands on my wrists. The Road to Hana had tons of curvy turns and I normally get car sick, but these things worked like a charm. I highly recommend them! If I get pregnant and get morning sickness, I'm definitely going to wear these.
We started the Road to Hana early and avoided all the crowds almost entirely. Though you can see here that we got caught in a little frenzy... :)
Most people turn around at Hana and head back, but that is a big mistake! To us, the road beyond Hana was even more spectacular.
It was about 4 pm and the light just illuminated the most breathtaking vistas before us. The beauty was so great we could hardly take it in.
On another day, we also got up at 3:00 am to get to the top of the volcano, Haleakala, to see the sunrise. We were above the clouds and it was FREEZING! But to see the changes of the colors and the progression of the sun lighting up the world in all it's glory was really magnificent.
-Mama's Fish House. Expensive, but worth the $ for some amazing food and service. It really was spectacular. And, it was so romantic! I think it's best to go here with your loved one instead of a large group. (Also, don't miss the ceviche!)
-Star Noodle (Thai/Asian food). The chef right now is in the final 4 on Top Chef! And he deserves it. The food was off the charts good. And also very reasonably priced! The food is served family style so it's great to go here with a group. (This also means you can try several dishes...every dish we tried was delicious.)
-Sansei. Known for the best sushi on the island and we wouldn't argue with that one bit. Everything about it was delicious. Don't miss the Mango Crab Salad Roll.
-Ululani's. This Hawaiian shaved ice is better than you could imagine. I mean, it's the softest, creamiest kind of shaved ice. Don't miss it. (Though definitely share one or get the micro small...you'll be happy you did.)
-Sure Thing Burger. There's one right next to Ululani's. Everything is local, the buns are homemade, and the beef is grass-fed and chemical free. AND - they did the best gluten free burger I've had to date...they wrapped it all up in a huge piece of butter lettuce.
-Also, go to Costco (by the airport) for waters, snacks, and macadamia nuts for your hotel room. (And go to the back and stand in the line - no matter how long - for the Ahi raw fish bar. They serve these fresh seasoned raw fish salads and oh my goodness, they blew our minds.)
And, for anyone visiting Maui, really do check out the recommendations that came in on this post (they're so good!) AND...after the jump, see a HUGE list of recommendations that came in by email from some readers that really know Maui...
- Kapalua hiking trails (http://kapalua.com/activities/hiking-trails): This is an a diverse set of beautiful trails going up into the mountains. There are multiple path options allowing you to choose the length of your hike and some pretty amazing vistas (looking both both out to the ocean, and at points out further out across the mountain range). There's a free shuttle that departs regularly from the Kapalua Village Center (2000 Village Road, Kapalua, HI) that will take you up to a drop-off point at the start of the trails; there are a few subsequent pick-up times over the course of the day. This is somewhat of a gem because ithey're awesome trails and service (under the auspices of the Ritz Carlton), but totally free (i.e., only those who know about :)). The trails are part of an preserve that's something on the order of 28,000 acres.
- Driving along the Honoapiilani Highway (stops for views, banana bread and local candies): The Honoapiilani Highway runs along the northwestern rim of the island. It's remote, almost entirely undeveloped landscape, and offers hands down some of the most stunning ocean views on the island. The variety in cliffs, coves, and topography offer pretty diverse views, even within short spans. The real treat is driving far enough to reach this little neon green stand where a lovely woman named Julia and her napping dog sell the most scrumptious, warm loaves of freshly-baked banana bread and homemade candies (http://www.juliasbananabread.com). (The banana bread was the first time in a year I had fallen off of the gluten-free wagon. I paid for it, but man was it worth it! There are also these amazing coconut candies and something that's orange and covered with a local spice I can't recall right now...unique and delicious.) This jaunt is probably one of my best Maui memories; it's a great afternoon trip and could be combined with Honolua Bay (see below) which is along the way.
- Honolua Bay: (http://www.hawaiisnorkelingguide.com/honolua_bay.html) This is one of the best snorkeling spots on the island; the diversity and quantity of sealife is tremendous, as well as the size (and variety) of coral. (Albeit cheesy, the best visual I can offer is likening it to swimming through the massive and varied schools of fish in Finding Nemo.) You park along the road (you'll likely see other cars), take a short walk through this beautiful, wooded area with a small stream/river running through it, and them come up a a rock break (peculiarly occupied by ~30 or 40 chickens), and enter the water from there. You'll leave your stuff on the rocks so only carry out what you need to.
- Napili Kai beach: This is a beautiful beach with calm waters with a gentle roll. (You get a blow-up raft from the supermarket for $5 and just float around. It's the mot relaxing thing ever!) Also one of a great snorkeling bay. (Lots of sea turtles.)
- Whale watching: While this wasn't something we did while I was in HI (given the time of year), I believe right now thru March is prime watching-season. Many people I chatted with through-out the trip spoke of this special time of year.
- Sansei (sushi; http://www.sanseihawaii.com/): Hands-down some of the best sushi I've ever had. They're in two places in Maui (one in Kihei and another spot in Kapalua).
- Merriman's (farm-to-table; http://www.merrimanshawaii.com/maui.htm) The melt-in-your-mouth, shut-the-front-door kind of amazing fresh, local fares. It's a bit more upscale, but a well-worth it treat. An added perk of this place is it's view. It's perched right above the water on a bit of a cove, though with a 180 degree view of the water. Go just around sunset and sit outside by the firepits before sitting down to dinner.
- You cannot go to Maui without going to get Tasaka Guri Guri at Maui Mall in Kahului. It's a yummy sherbet, ice cream, but it's really creamy and light and mildly sweet. I've never had anything like it, and it's waaaay cheap. Seriously, it's a local staple and you haven't been to Maui if you haven't gone there. It's not far from the airport so get off the plane and go straight there. You're gonna have to put the no dairy on hold though...
- Maui has an excellent farm scene. If you go Up Country (Haleakala) there are many farms you can check out. I definitely recommend Kula Country Farms. Depending on the time of year, you can go and pick your own produce. They also have a lovely little produce stand. See: http://www.sopupuka.com/
fall-fun/ for pumpkin picking in the Fall. We also liked going there for the most delicious strawberries in the spring/summer.
- Ali'i Kula Lavender has
a ton of different varieties of lavender if you're a fan. They also
have all kinds of lavender products. I love the tea. The whole farm has a
beautiful garden setting and it's fun to just walk around. http://www.sopupuka.
- I'm not sure if you also refrain from goat dairy, but there's a cute Goat Dairy farm called Surfing Goat Dairy that also does farm tours and their goat cheese is TO DIE FOR. Try the liliko'i (passionfruit)
- I do have a friend named Marilyn who does farm tours if you're interested. She's the sweetest lady you'll ever meet. I'm not sure exactly which farms she goes to, I think it varies depending on the day, but it's a nice way to hit up a bunch of farms at once. Maui Country Farm Tours. Tell her Ihilani sent you. Who knows? She might give you a discount.
- Iao Valley is another place that everyone goes to in Wailuku. It's lush and beautiful and there are cultural walks you can take and learn more about Hawaiian history and culture. We like to swim there, but check the skies and the water levels if you plan on taking a dip. Don't go in if the mountains are cloudy.
- Flatbread Pizza in Pa'ia - You MUST get the Kalua pig pizza. That's the best one!
- If you want to check out a nice stretch of beach that's not crowded, I
recommend Kealia. There's a pretty boardwalk you can stroll down that
will lead you to the water. The ocean there is calm and gradual. Just be
aware, there aren't any bathrooms. Locals carry jugs of water in the
car to rinse the sand off their feet before getting in the car because
some places don't have showers/bathrooms. It was a little cloudy the day
I took these photos but you get the idea. http://www.sopupuka.com/
kealia-pond-beach/ We even got to see a whale give birth here. It was amazing.
- If you have the time and the $$, try taking a boat out to Lanai for a day. The snorkeling is fantastic and we road along with a giant pod of dolphins. It's also whale season right now (I don't know when you're coming) but you MUST go whale watching (even if it's from your car on the side of the road)
- If you're going to be there on a Friday, you should check out one of the Maui Town Parties. Each town (Makawao, Wailuku, Kihei, Lahaina) have town parties in the evening. Each town takes a different friday of the month. It's a good way to see what the locals are doing (and eating!)
Other tips from Ihilani:
-Don't underestimate the sun. Maui is hot and the heat can be intense. Use lots of sunblock.
-Don't underestimate how cold it can get either. It's generally pretty windy and if you're Up Country for example, it can get a little chilly (but just because it's cold doesn't mean you're not also getting sunburned lol). Lots of people don't expect the climate variations in Hawaii. If you're going to go up to the top of Haleakala, you may as well prep for winter weather. It just snowed there yesterday.
-If you're going out to Hana, always let the locals pass. They fly on the roads and get really impatient when tourists take their sweet time :)
-Eat Hawaiian food if you can: Poi, laulau, kalua pig, lomi salmon, haupia, kulolo.
Other local food to try: Li hing mui, mochi crunch, poi mochi, spam musubi, dried cuttle fish, poke (poh-kay)....that's raw fish. All these things besides the poi mochi you can find in any grocery store.
-Try paddleboarding! It's fun and easy and a great way to spend time on the ocean
-Check out http://www.calendarmaui.
com for other more obscure events going on. There might be festivals and craft fairs and stuff that the tourists won't know about.