March 23, 2020
Hawaii was so much better than I could have ever dreamed of. I love tropical destinations (who doesn’t?) but honestly Hawaii was never on my bucket list. My fiancé, Riley, & I were invited to go to Maui with my mom and grandma for my grandmas 91st birthday. Of course, I wasn’t going to turn that down even if I didn’t have the highest expectations for Hawaii. When we got there I was immediately in heaven. I loved the ocean smell, humidity and everything that came along with it! I can now say that Maui is a dream island to visit and I’m here to tell you why.
Old Lahaina Lu’au – Unfortunately, we decided to book our lu’au experience in the beginning of our trip which happened to be the worst weather while we were there. You are probably looking at these photos thinking, “it doesn’t look too bad!” But we experienced some serious, strong and dangerous winds and our lu’au actually got cut short. I do have to say though that this was some of the best staff and hospitality I have ever experienced that’s so big in my book! We were greeted with lei’s & Mai Tais plus can you say open bar?! The activities were fun, food was great, staff was warm and welcoming but the wind really sucked. I know we will be back to this lu’au when we return to Maui!
I recommend you visit the town of Lahaina before going to the Lu’au. There are lots of shops and things to do including the Honolulu Cookie Company if you don’t have one near where you are staying. Definitely have to bring home some cookies! They also have some nice, calm beaches if you’re interested in going just to explore. I think this is where they offer most beginners surf lessons if you’re interested!
The Road to Hana – I feel like the road to Hana gets a bad rap. The road itself isn’t that bad if your a confident driver and don’t mind windy roads. There are some very narrow bridges and one lane traffic but it’s not dangerous like everyone says it is, you just have to pay attention and take your time! Pull over for locals who want to drive it fast and get around you but other than that don’t be intimidated. We did a self-guided tour with the Gypsy app which was under $10. It was well worth it and I highly recommend doing it this way so you can stop at the attractions you want and skip the ones that don’t sound as exciting. We did a number of trail hikes & walks, saw lots of unique nature and animals and visited lots of waterfalls and beaches. We got super lucky with the weather the day we went to Hana. It’s known to rain A LOT on this side of the island but it stayed nice and dry for us. We continued about 45 minutes past Hana to visit the seven sacred pools (even though they aren’t really sacred) and had hopes they’d be open so we could swim in them. The tide was too high when we went and they were closed for the day, super lame. But yet another reason to go back!! On the way back we visited black sand beaches and a lava tunnel which was really cool. I highly recommend doing those stops!!
A few things I recommend bringing for the trip: poncho for wet weather, hiking boots for the longer trails that are muddy, flip-flops for the beach, towels, change of clothes, warmer clothes (rain jackets or longer leggings if you run cold), swimsuit, towels, backpack with snacks and water, motion sickness pills (they offer a motion sickness shot at most locations you stop at for like $5-$10. I’ll post a picture of it below), phone charger plus an aux cord if your car doesn’t have bluetooth and of course a camera!
Gemini Catamaran Cruise – I have always wanted to go on a catamaran and I’m so glad we choose this tour to go on. Hands down my favorite part of the trip. Even though we experienced amazing snorkeling right outside our condo and we were even able to whale watch from our patio, we wanted to experience something new together. So Riley and I booked this trip for I think around $130 per person and I was extremely happy we did! Again, the staff was friendly, welcoming and helpful. The boat takes us out to what they think will be good snorkeling for the day (they have a few spots to choose from based off weather and what other cruises are doing) and the trip out there was around an hour. Along the way the boat would stop anytime we saw a whale or, in our circumstance, a monk seal. Apparently they are known to be extremely friendly but sadly becoming extinct. The coolest part was he was eating a fish he just caught and we all got to see him eat his food and play around – pictured below. The staff was really knowledgeable about marine life and every time the boat stopped they briefed us on what we were seeing and answered all of our questions.
The cruise provided us with snacks and non-alcoholic beverages on the way to snorkeling but once we were done snorkeling we were able order from an open bar (love those open bars!) and they provided a delicious hot lunch for us. The snorkeling was so much fun and they provide you with snorkel gear so you don’t need to worry about bringing your own unless you want to. We saw more turtles, beautiful coral reef and tons of tropical fish. They let us snorkel for about an hour before we had to get back on the boat to start our way back home. Another really cool thing about this cruise is they have an on-board professional photographer – might change careers over here! – but she goes in the water with you while snorkeling and takes really fun photos of you! You do have to purchase them after but I think you know what I’m going to say about that 😉 My favorite part was laying on the trampoline netting at the front of the boat. Talk about relaxing!
I recommend bringing your own reef friendly sunscreen, they don’t allow oils or spray sunscreen. They do provide you with reef friendly sunscreen but you have to apply it out of a soap dispenser and it’s so thick that it takes a really long time.
Ate shaved ice & Malasadas (every day) – If you’re in Hawaii, you can’t not get hawaiian shaved ice and malasadas at least once. We did it more like every day but hey, no regrets! Both were right across from our condo too so kinda had too, right??
The Mill House – This is the most beautiful plantation I have ever seen and the food is so delicious that we went here twice!! Honestly, the photos don’t do this place justice. The views are to die for, I could live in those mountains and never leave. They have a huge shop where you can get all kinds of fun souvenirs and up top is the restaurant which you won’t regret eating at – even with the price tag. If you’re a Moscow Mule fan, you have to get their Mill House Mule. I’ll be honest and tell you that it tastes nothing like a Moscow Mule, mostly because it’s made with rum instead of vodka and they use their Maui Brewing Co. ginger beer which has real cane sugar in it. So the taste is like nothing you’ve ever had but I was so addicted I ordered it twice! Also, don’t miss out on their happy hour so you can get a little discount on drinks and appetizers. The chickpea cake appetizer (photo below) was amazing and possibly not shareable I liked it that much! For a meal, I liked the Agnolotti the best but it’s a smaller portion for the price you pay. I had that the first day we were there and unfortunately didn’t take a photo of that dish. The second day I had their braised beef pasta which is shown below, it was still really good and a larger portion size. The beef they use in Maui is very different than here in California. Their cattle are all island raised, given no growth hormones, antibiotics or artificial ingredients. It really does make a huge difference in the taste and if you eat beef I recommend you trying it while you are there. Some other notable dishes is the Kauai prawn & fish coconut curry and their pan seared fish. I really wanted to try their roasted pork belly so if anyone goes and can tell me how it is I would love to hear!!
Side note: you can get married here!! HINT HINT!!! They have an amazing event planning team you can talk to if you’re interested in planning your wedding, event, proposal or vow renewal in Maui! PLUS – you can hire me as the photographer as they do not have a preferred vendor list for photographers 😉
Our condo sat right on Sugar Beach in Kihei and it was the perfect location. It’s a 20 minute drive to Wailea where there are more resorts, shopping and beautiful beaches. Wailea Beach has really good snorkeling but it is pretty popular but just down the road is Makena Beach which also has good snorkeling and is less crowded. If you drive over to Paia (super cute town and known for their gelato) over near the airport there are bigger waves to play in and surf but be careful because they are dangerous!! This is where they hold a lot of the surfing competitions so it’s fun to watch some of the surfers while you’re there. There are also black sand beaches on this side of the island and really delicious restaurants to visit. We heard Mama’s Fish House is excellent but didn’t get to go this time. Yes, there are feral cats & chickens everywhere you go so be nice to them they are the mascot of the island.
Hope you enjoyed and gained some insight of the Maui Island. It was beautiful and we can’t wait to go back and visit! If you take any of my recommendations leave a comment and let me know what you thought! I’d love to hear from you!!