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Laureen

    Island Life  --  North America Travel

    Maui Hidden Gems

    Maui Hidden Gems Treasures Throughout the Island

    Location: Maui Hawaii USA

    Enjoy this one again or for the very first time. Originally published October 2021

    Most people come to Maui for the beach. And yes the beach is pretty incredible. I should say the beaches are incredible, because there are so very many to choose from. And I get it – the lure of the tropical ocean breeze and the lapping waves in the golden sand. It’s a perfect way to shed your stress and just relax. Ahhh…but you are missing Maui hidden gems.

    Wailea

    Maui has so much more than just the beach in front of your hotel or condo. And I want to convince you to get out and see the magic of this diverse tropical paradise and find Maui hidden gems.

    Kula Botanical Gardens

    So come with me on a around-the-island-tour of my favorite hidden places, businesses and vistas – Maui Hidden Gems.

    Start in Kula and head north for a full one or two day tour described below. Also start in Kula and head south to do the Going to Hana Backwards tour (see link below)

    Upcountry

    Our tour begins in Upcountry, away from the beaches. This interior area of the island offers a slower pace, a cooler climate and some of the island’s lushest and most diverse flora. Here’s our upcountry hidden gems;

    Kula Lodge – Recently purchased by long time Maui restaurateurs, Kula Lodge will be reopening the 5 Palms Restaurant previously located in Kihei. This is a fun development. The view here is amazing. I sure hope they keep the pizza oven.

    Pizza at Sunset on the Kula Lodge patio

    Kula Botanical Gardens – privately owned and beautifully presented, this hidden gem showcases tropical plants of all kinds, tucked into the mountain terrain.

    Maui Veteran’s Cemetery – located in Makawao, a brief stop here provides the visitor a peek into the reverence and respect Hawaii has for it’s veterans of all wars.

    Ocean Vodka

    Ocean Vodka – enjoy a tour and tasting, take some vodka or gin home, and marvel at the view from this mountain top distillery in Kula.

    Kahului and Wailuku

    Most visitors don’t see more than the airport in these two island cities. Both cities are home to much of the islands full-time residents, government seat and industry. But hidden here are some of our favorite shops and one of our favorite Maui hidden gems restaurants.

    Sam Satos – low key and no website, this local noodle shop is rarely frequented by visitors. But it has become one of my favorite places to eat in Maui.

    Fabric Mart – I love picking up Aloha fabrics when in Hawaii. There are several fabric and quilting stores around the island, and the Kahului location of Fabric Mart is one of my favorites.

    Mochi from Maui Specialty Chocolates

    Maui Specialty Chocolates and Mochi – most visitors go home with Hawaiian Host chocolates. You’ll never buy Hawaiian Host again once you visit Maui Specialty Chocolates in Kahului. Try the Mochi too.

    Kahekili Highway (The North/West Tip Road) – Everyone has heard of the road to Hana, but Maui has another twisty, winding road with spectacular views – the hidden gem Kahekili Highway. Start this road in Waihee just outside of Wailuku and drive the lesser traveled route to Kapalui.

    Kahekili Highway

    West Maui

    Napili, Kapalua and Kaanapali make up the area known as West Maui and your drive around the tip of the West Maui Mountain on the Kahekili Highway will land you in Kapalua.

    Pineapple Hill – home to luxury homes with incredible views, Pineapple Hill can be walked on foot for an exhilarating hike. Watch for historic markers that explain the Maui hidden gems history of the Kapalua area, the Baldwin family and Pineapple Hill.

    Maui historic churches

    Kapalua Coastal Trail Labyrinth – Also called the Dragons Teeth Labyrinth this beautiful prayer labyrinth was built and is maintained by locals and is a true Maui hidden gem on the rugged Kapalua Coastal Trail. Walking the Coastal Trail is also a highly recommended activity.

    Labyrinth

    Historic Churches of Maui – throughout the island you will find many historic, often century-old structures. Some still in use today as places of worship, while others have been converted to other uses. West Maui has it’s share of this hidden gems.

    Lahaina

    Although it is one of the oldest Hawaiian settlements and was home to Hawaiian royalty, I am continuously disappointed in Lahaina. Over the past several decades Lahaina seems to have fallen from grace and needs someone to resuscitate it. Years ago it was home to shop after shop of local artisans including jewelry, sculpture and one of kind paintings. Today there are many boarded up windows and lots of tacky tourist tschotskis, alongside a handful of restaurants. Sidewalks are poor, paint is chipped and peeling and the town is a sad reminder of its former self. Lahaina does have some good restaurants worth a visit that keep this town alive. We really recommend Mala Ocean Tavern, Star Noodle and Down the Hatch.

    Additionally the Hawaiian government has lacked the initiative to preserve some of this island’s most sacred sites, that lie in ruin often behind chain link fences in Lahaina. These places are truly part of Maui hidden gems.

    Maui
    Maui Ghost Tours

    Maui Ghost Tours – take a walking tour of Lahaina and learn about the hidden gems of sacred sights, royal sights and lost sights important to the local Hawaiian people. It’s a fascinating tour.

    The Old Pali Road – as you drive from Lahaina south towards Kihei on today’s two lane highway called the Honoapiilani Highway, watch for remnants of the Old Pali Road built around the turn of the century. This old road remains in bits and pieces, a reminder of a simpler time on this beautiful island. You can walk parts of the Old Pali Road too.

    Koholo Brewing

    Kohola Brewing – hidden in a back parking lot of an industrial area of Lahaina, Kohola Brewing is a definite hidden gem of Maui. Maui is home to several outstanding breweries, but we loved Kohola’s industrial vibe and unpretentious operation. Go in search of good beer here.

    South Maui

    Kihei, Wailea and Makena make up the area known as south Maui and include some of the best beaches and hidden coves on the island. This desert area sits in the shadow of Haleakala and until the early 1980’s the road stopped at South Kihei where today the 5 Palms Restaurant is. Everything south of there has developed since then. It used to be a two day trip to get to the far end of the island. Today it takes about 30 minutes.

    Around the Island Trail

    Historic Around the island path – built in the 16th century the path used to circumnavigate the entire island, giving kings the power to control the island. Today remnants of the path can be found and accessed in many places.

    Hoopili Kings Highway – sometimes called the La Perouse Trail, this part of the old King’s Highway is the best maintained. Follow South Kihei Road until it ends, and you will be at the Hoopili path. Wear close-toed shoes and bring lots of water for this hot and barren landscape that crosses a 300 year old lava bed.

    La Perouse and Hoopilii Trail

    Secret Beaches – as you drive in South Kihei and Makena keep your eyes open for the many (often unmarked) beach access trails. Here you can find the secret beaches of Maui, often tiny coves and sometimes broad golden beaches.

    Wailea Path – if you aren’t staying at one of the fancy ocean front resorts in Wailea you may not know about the beautiful public boardwalk that runs the entire length of Wailea, about a mile and a half. A great place for a morning run, evening stroll and whale watching. Parking is available at several locations. It’s also a great way to get a glimpse at the beautiful resorts.

    Additional Hidden Gems

    Jolica Jewels

    Jolica Jewels – if you are looking for a perfect memento of your time on Maui, or maybe a special gift for that special someone, check out Maui based Jolica Jewels. Beautiful one of kind pieces of jewelry to fit any budget, all with a special Hawaiian flair, lovingly designed and created by local Jolica.

    Fresh Fish Maui – get the daily fresh catch report and order online with Fresh Fish Maui for the catch of the day delivered direct to your condo door. It’s the freshest and most delicious fish you can get on the island.

    And Those Are Our Favorite Maui Hidden Gems

    There you have it, some of our hidden gems of Maui. There is so much to see on this beautiful island, you can never see it all. So you’ll always need to come back for more. Maui no ka oi.

    We love it when you share and pin our blog posts. Mahalo.

    See last week’s post about hiking in Mount Saint Helens.

    Check back next Friday for Six Great Hikes on the Island of Maui.

    We love it when you pin and share our blog posts. Thank you.

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Act of Oblivion by Robert Harris

    Oh boy. I loved this engaging story for so many reasons. I had never heard of Robert Harris but he has several best sellers under his belt. And the exceptional storytelling of Act of Oblivion clearly shows why. Here is my book review Act of Oblivion by Robert Harris.

    I read a lot of historical novels that are part fiction and part fact. I love an author who can seamlessly combine the two. Robert Harris is one of those. I had never heard of the historical fact of the killers of King Charles I in England escaping to New England. This part is true. What Harris does so eloquently is imagine how the manhunt for these killers evolves over more than a decade.

    General Edward Whalley and his son-in-law Colonel William Goff sail to the new world after being involved in a brazen execution of the King…essentially ending the English Civil War between the parliamentarians and the royalists.

    While more than fifty men have been imprisoned or hung for their role in the King’s death, only two have escaped. Long time foe of these men, Richard Nayler will not sleep until he sees them dead, blaming them singularly for the death of his wife.

    Through the help of clergy and faithful in the colonies Goff and Whalley manage to stay hidden for more than a decade, but their life is lonely, cold, boring, humiliating. And most of all, they miss their wives and children back in England.

    How will Harris imagine the end to this years long manhunt? Through unprecedented storytelling, and realistic and heartfelt character development, Act of Oblivion unfolds like a symphony. Fans of Ken Follett, Maggie O’Farrell and Hilary Mantel will love this action packed historical novel.

    Thanks for reading my book review Act of Oblivion by Robert Harris.

    *****Five stars for Act of Oblivion byt Robert Harris.

    Read last week’s book review When We Fell Apart by Soon Wiley.

    We love it when you comment, pin and share our book reviews. Thank you.

    North America Travel

    Fall Hike in Mount Saint Helens

    We usually do our mountain hikes at Mount Rainier, it’s about an hour and half from our summer home in Washington. But we decided to venture a bit further, and drove the two and half hours to Mount Saint Helens National Monument for a fabulous Fall Hike in Mount Saint Helens.

    Mount Saint Helens

    May 18, 1980

    I was in college in May of 1980 when Mount Saint Helens blew her top. It’s a day I will never forget. One of those “where were you” moments. Fifty-seven people died, the entire region was ravaged and the landscape was forever changed.

    Spirit Lake with Mount Adams in the distance

    It’s been probably twenty years since I was in the national monument, and I was astonished to find how scared it still is. It’s a testament to both the power of the earth and the rebirth of nature. I stand in awe at this mountain, as I do for all the mountains in the great State of Washington.

    Johnston Ridge

    Fall colors

    We drove to the Johnston Ridge Observatory to begin our hike. Named for David Johnston, a 30-year-old volcanologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, who was swept away by the catastrophic eruption of Mount St. Helens on the morning of May 18, 1980.

    At the observatory there is plenty of parking and a visitor center. This is the start of several hikes. We decided to do Harry’s Ridge Hike.

    At the top of Harry’s Ridge overlooking Spirit Lake

    Harry’s Ridge

    Named for Harry R. Truman (October 30, 1896– May 18, 1980) was an American businessman, bootlegger, and prospector. He lived near Mount St. Helens, an active volcano in the state of Washington, and was the owner and caretaker of Mount St. Helens Lodge at Spirit Lake near the base of the mountain. Truman came to fame as a folk hero in the months leading up to the volcano’s 1980 eruption after refusing to leave his home despite evacuation orders. He was killed by a pyroclastic flow that overtook his lodge and buried the site under 150 ft (46 m) of volcanic debris. (source Wikipedia)

    The trail is well maintained by dry and dusty

    The Ridge is an out and back 7.5 mile hike with fabulous views of of Spirit Lake and Mount Saint Helens. In the fall the area is covered in colorful red bushes (blueberries) and other low growing foliage, creating a beautiful Fall Hike in Mount Saint Helens. This hike offers almost no shade and can be very hot and dusty. Bring more water than you think you will need.

    Picnic lunch on Harry’s Ridge

    Visit Mount Saint Helens

    There is so much to do in the beautiful area from hiking and camping to fishing and sight-seeing. Learn more about Mount Saint Helens here.

    Hail Mount Saint Helens

    We love it when you comment, pin and share our blog posts. Thank you.

    Read about our favorite Day Hikes in the Pacific Northwest here.

    See last week’s post Palm Springs Weekend

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review When We Fell Apart by Soon Wiley

    Strange but also heartfelt, this story of how family and identity can take someone to the brink, is sad and moving. A testament to mental stability, family expectations and the importance of being who we are. Here is my book review When We Fell Apart by Soon Wiley.

    Min, a Korean American man working in Seoul for Samsung, is devastated when he learns the Korean women he has been dating has committed suicide. He begins a long and dangerous search for answers.

    Yu-jin was a beautiful, ambitious, smart and happy young women, in love with Min…or so he thought. But the real Yu-jin was someone completely different. Someone playing a dangerous game in a country that does not accept anyone who is “different’.

    But an even greater danger to Yu-jin and then to Min as he searches for answers, is Yu-jin’s parent. Her father a high ranking government official and her mother who sets appearances above all else, will go to great lengths to keep Yu-jin’s secret under wraps…lengths that threaten the lives of Min and Yu-jins closest friends.

    It’s a novel that gives close inspection to the social expectations of South Korea, while also opening a window to understanding the Korean/American status in the United States. A very poignant story.

    Thank you for reading my Book Review When We Fell Apart by Soon Wiley.

    Read last week’s book review This Time Tomorrow by Emma Staub.

    We love it when you pin, comment and share our book reviews. Thank you.

    North America Travel

    Palm Springs Weekend

    I had a wonderful time in beautiful Palm Springs California recently with a group of women I went to high school with. We try to get together every year to celebrate our long friendship and our continued comradery. This year’s reunion was a Palm Springs Weekend.

    Palm Springs

    Palm Springs Weekend

    Our annual reunions have been everywhere from Las Vegas to Nashville, Scottsdale to Seattle and once we did a cruise. We look for places with a variety of activities to fit everyone’s interest. Palm Springs fit the bill. Three days is not a lot of time but we squeezed a lot in and had a really fun time. Here are some of my recommendations for a Palm Springs Weekend with a date or with girlfriends.

    Where to Stay

    The Renaissance Marriott Palm Springs – I’m so glad we chose this hotel. It’s very close to the airport and an Uber is only $16. For our Palm Springs Weekend we did not rent a car, because the Marriott is so strategically placed. We joked that it was a half mile walk to everywhere. Very easy to get around. The Marriott rooms are spacious and comfortable and the pool side rooms have an amazing view. We also enjoyed the coffee shop and the bar. The staff was very helpful. Rooms start around $250 and up.

    Where to Eat

    We enjoyed dinner out at several great restaurants. Several of the girls also went out for breakfast or walked to coffee places nearby each morning. I recommend the following for dinner;

    Boozehounds – a fun place with indoor and outdoor seating. You can bring your dog to the outdoor seating and they even have a special menu for the pooch.

    Boozehounds

    Lulu’s Palm Springs – one of the most popular and most diverse restaurants in downtown Palm Springs. I had my favorite meal here. We all enjoyed this restaurant and our server was one of the best I’ve ever had.

    Lulu’s

    Las Casuelas Terraza – one of Palm Springs oldest restaurants, family owned and run and authentically delicious. We all enjoyed a variety of Mexican specialties from Tacos to salads and Ceviche. And of course Margaritas.

    Things To Do

    Spend time at the Pool – the pool at the Renaissance is wonderful.

    pool time

    Go to the Thursday night Village Fest – back after two years on hiatus during the pandamit, the Village Fest is all about food, music, crafts, art and people watching.

    Check out the Drag Show at the Copa Nightclub. I had never been to a drag show, but if you want to give it a try, Copa is great for Drag Show newbies. It was loud, colorful and pretty fun. C

    Copa Nightclub

    Gamble or eat or both at the Agua Caliente Casino – a couple of my friends walked away with some serious winnings…but not me. But I did enjoy the drinks and appetizers which are much less expensive here than most bars or restaurants. The casino is also smoke free. Bonus.

    Agua Caliente

    Much More To Do

    Check out my blog posts from when I spent two months in the desert. I wrote about lots of things including;

    My Favorite Dining Discoveries in Palm Springs

    Idyl Away in Idylwild

    Flora of the Desert

    There is also golf, hiking, music and so much more. I highly recommend Palm Springs Weekend or much longer. Learn more at Visit Palm Springs.

    Thanks for reading my post Palm Springs Weekend. See last week’s post Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.

    We love it when you comment, share and pin our blog posts. Thank you.

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review This Time Tomorrow by Emma Staub

    Meet Alice. Living a life not exactly that she imagined but she is happy with most things. Except for the fact her ailing father is not getting better…she loves him so much and can’t imagine life without him. But on her 40th birthday something incredible happens. Here is my Book Review This Time Tomorrow by Emma Staub.

    Fans of Oona Out of Order will love the story of Alice, as she discovers on her 40th birthday the ability to time travel. She wakes up and she is back to her 16th birthday in 1996. Her father is healthy, her friends are around her, and her choices are open to revisit.

    She learns she can go back and forth through time and revisits life-changing moments – her high school crush and their relationship, her choices in college and jobs. Can she relive these and change them for the better? Should she? And what can she do that will change the trajectory of her father’s illness.

    This Time Tomorrow is a fun book, much like Oona Out of Order, or other time traveling books like A Wrinkle in Time or The Time Traveler’s Wife. If you are a fan of this genre, you will love This Time Tomorrow.

    Thanks for reading my book review This Time Tomorrow by Emma Staub.

    ****Four stars for This Time Tomorrow by Emma Staub.

    Read last week’s book review The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd

    See this week’s top performing book review pin here Horse by Geraldine Brooks

    North America Travel

    Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

    A Must When in Northern Maine

    It’s probably time for me to rewrite my post from a couple of years ago My Favorite Gardens Around the World because I keep finding new and amazing gardens! So many gardens, so little time. On my recent visit to the State of Maine, and on the recommendation of my friends, we made a rainy visit to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. I am so glad we did.

    Even on a rainy day its worth a visit

    The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens are open from May through October. The summer months can be really busy so plan ahead and order your tickets online. Even in the rain in September there was a lot of beautiful blooms, greenery and water features to enjoy.

    The Trolls

    We went specifically to see the amazing Trolls by Danish artist Thomas Danbo. Danbo makes these beautiful works of art from recycled wood. Danbo’s works can be seen at other locations around the world. Learn more here.

    Artist Thomas Danbo’s creations

    Perhaps Danbo will be bringing Troll’s to a neighborhood near you.

    A joyful thing to see

    Plan Your Visit

    Depending on when you visit The Coastal Maine Botanical Garden you can check and see what’s in bloom. The gardens are designed for year around interest and also include many special events and exhibits as well as permanent sculptures.

    Color in every season

    A small cafe is available in the gardens, but be sure to bring water, a sun hat and good walking shoes. Check the calendar of events before you go.

    Very family and kid friendly

    Located in the small town of Boothbay Maine, the gardens are about a three hour drive from Boston.

    Where is it?

    I highly recommend a visit to the beautiful Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.

    We love it when you comment, pin and share our blog posts. Thank you.

    See last week’s post about Acadia National Park in the Fall

    See where our international travels are taking us next Away We Go – The Grand Adventure Begins Again.