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    North America Travel  --  South & Central America Travel

    Relaxing in Puerto Escondido Mexico

    Location: Puerto Escondido Oaxaca Mexico

    We really were looking for somewhere to relax and enjoy some quiet time, after a whirlwind week in Mexico City. I had heard good things about the state of Oaxaca but we had never visited. I didn’t want to go to another big city after being in Mexico City, so we settled on the small town of Puerto Escondido. Here is what we did during our 17 days relaxing in Puerto Escondido Mexico.

    Sunset Puerto Escondido
    The Beach near our Airbnb

    Where is Puerto Escondido

    Oaxaca
    The State of Oaxaca

    Located on the Pacific Coast in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, it’s 246km from the city of Oaxaca and you can drive it in about four hours. However, a new highway will open soon and will cut that time in half. We flew from Mexico City on Viva Aerobus. The flight was about 50 minutes.

    History of Puerto Escondido

    Though pre-hispanic peoples lived in this region from time to time, the area was not really settled permanently until the 1930’s due to lack of fresh water. The word Escondido means hidden, and refers to an ancient story of a captive Mexican woman escaping and hiding in the jungle from her pirate captors.

    Puerto Escondido
    Puerto Escondido shopping area

    Today it is one of the most popular beach and surfing destinations for both Mexicans and international travelers. But prior to tourism the mountains around the town were known for coffee growing and the port was used to ship coffee.

    Mexican coffee
    Coffee roasting in Puerto Escondido

    Surfer’s Paradise

    We found the area home to the surfer crowd, much younger than us. We had no interest in surfing or partying, but there is a lot of that going on. Since the crowd is young, there is plenty of inexpensive lodging and dining available too. Parts of the area are very rural…sometimes I felt like I was in Southeast Asia, and sometimes it even felt like third world Africa. But we always felt safe and finding our way on foot with Google maps always worked. There are plenty of taxis too.

    Zicatela Surfers
    Zicatela Beach

    We noticed a lot of construction of condos and mansions being built on rough dirt and nearly impassable roads. We learned Europeans are coming here in droves and buying or building second homes because it is so inexpensive. Like in so many places, this is displacing locals and causing them to move further from town.

    Zicatela
    Beautiful homes on horrible roads

    Villa Tortuga

    Villa Tortuga
    Villa Tortuga lap pool

    We found a beautiful villa through Airbnb called Villa Tortuga located several miles from the actual town of Puerto Escondido and 2 miles to the small surfing village of Zicatela. The villas were beautiful, comfortable and with a view. Our villa included daily housekeeping and our housekeeper Mary also did some shopping and cooking for us and did our laundry. However, we found on the weekend even Villa Tortuga attracted a younger (and noisier) crowd. Listening to other people’s loud music doesn’t fit into my fab fifties life. We really loved the lap pool and the larger pool at the beach about a five minute walk from our villa. The waves are really big so we didn’t swim in the ocean, but sitting ocean side by the pool was our favorite thing to do. Airbnb $150 USD before tax.

    Villa Tortuga
    Villa Tortuga

    A Couple Things To Do

    Since our goal was to just spend time relaxing in Puerto Escondido Mexico we really didn’t do much else. However we did take an informative and delicious Food Tour with Puerto Food Tours – cost $60 USD per person.

    Fresh Tortilla
    Food Tour

    Our favorite activity was a Mezcal Distillery tour we took with Puerta Mezcal Tours. Owner Antoine was excellent and shared his enthusiasm for Puerto Escondido and Mezcal with our group of six at Ruu Piiil Distillery in Zicatela. I learned so much and we tasted eleven different Mezcals! $59 USD per person.

    Puerto Mezcal Tours
    Ruu Piiil Mezcal

    We found it safe to run in the morning although most of the time we were on dusty roads. One time I had to wait while the goats (and a very small goat herder) took up the entire road.

    Goats in the road
    Goat Traffic Jam

    We also walked to lunch in Zicatela at Savanna one day (about 2 and half miles from our villa) and took a taxi to another popular restaurant called Agua Sala. We had great meals at each – neither have websites.

    Enmoledas
    Delicious Enmoleadas for Lunch at Savanna

    We walked to tiny shops and tortilla stand close to our villa to get simple supplies for cooking at home. We walked one day to the Zicatella Mercado about 2.5 miles. We picked up some produce and had a nice coffee and croissant with a view.

    Zicatela Mercado
    Croissant with a view

    Relaxing in Puerto Escondido Mexico

    There is more to do here if you are so inclined…hiking, shopping, lots of street food and restaurants. There are cooking classes and surfing lessons and snorkeling tours, as well as whale watching. A popular activity is releasing baby turtles into the wild that have been hatched in a turtle nursery.

    Pool
    At the pool

    It’s a sweet place with a quaint vibe and awesome weather. We paid more than we needed to for our Airbnb, but generally everything else is dirt cheap. I can see why the young people love it…and it’s not too bad for us oldies either. There are many options to stay busy or pursue our goal of relaxing in Puerto Escondido Mexico.

    Barro Beach

    Looking to chill? I recommend relaxing in Puerto Escondido Mexico. Muy Bien.

    See last week’s blog post about Eating My Way Through Mexico City.

    Check out our YouTube video about Eating Local Mexico City.

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

    Please Note – No Travel Friday blog for the next two weeks. We wish you a pleasant and safe holiday wherever you are and however you celebrate. Hoping for a joyful and safe 2022 with less strife and fewer travel restrictions. Thank you for your continued support. Stay safe. All the best!

    North America Travel  --  South & Central America Travel

    Eating My Way Through Mexico City

    Location: Mexico City Mexico

    A little more than two years ago we were in an Airbnb on the island of Langkawi, Malaysia. It’s unusual for us to watch television, but this Airbnb had a great variety of international programs, and I watched a series about Mexico City street food. Oh my god. I couldn’t stop thinking about how I needed to go experience Mexico City street food. And that is how I came to be eating my way through Mexico City.

    I Apologize Mexico

    First, an apology to Mexico. As we have traveled all over the world these past five years on the Grand Adventure, we never added Mexico to our itinerary. As Americans, Mexico seems so easy to get to…and I had visited a couple times. So we kept skipping it. I’m sorry Mexico…I was wrong. The touristy places I had visited (Mazatlan, Cabo, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco and Zihuatinejo) did not show me the real Mexico. Until Mexico City.

    Grapefruit and Tequila

    The PanDamit gave us the opportunity to reconsider Mexico given the easy access from the USA. So I began a correspondence with a Mexico City food tour company called Eat Like a Local Mexico. Eat Like a Local Mexico offers multiple food tours, but does not usually work with clients looking for a multi-day eating tour. But owner Rocio was amazing and over a period of several months we corresponded and created four days of eating my way through Mexico City during our six day visit to Mexico City.

    Red Tree House Bed & Breakfast

    We landed at Benito Juarez International Airport on a Monday night in November. We took a cab to the Mexico City neighborhood of Roma Sur and the bed and breakfast that had been one of a few recommendations from Eat Like a Local. The Red Tree House Bed and Breakfast turned out to be one of the best inns I have ever stayed in. Again, my apologies Mexico…it was so much better than I was expecting. The service, staff, accommodations, location and breakfast were all five star.

    Breakfast at The Red Tree House
    The Red Tree House

    Eat Like A Local Mexico 101

    On our first full day we met Rocio and guide Astrid from Eat Like a Local Mexico at a lovely little coffee shop a block from our hotel. Our tour, which was supposed to be a group tour, ended up being a private tour because the other group had canceled at the last minute. So off we went with Astrid, a tiny, energetic local who intricately knows the traditional Mexico City food scene.

    Brisket Tacos
    Amazing Corn

    We spent the next six hours with Astrid showing us local street food as well as visiting two of the most famous markets, the Merced Mercado and the Jamaica Mercado. Such a colorful wonderland. We ate so much I can’t even tell you! But see the video below for more.

    Habanera

    That night we made our way without a guide to the Frida Kahlo Museum. I highly recommend this when in Mexico City. The museum is in her home, the same home she was born and died in. I learned so much about her remarkable life. Don’t miss it.

    Frida Kahlo

    Eat Like a Local Night Street Food

    Next day, we took a “free” historic walking tour starting in the historic center of Mexico City. We always try to take a free walking tour wherever we are. Such a great way to learn local history, learn about culture and politics and all from a local. Our tour was with Estacion Mexico.

    Tongue Tacos
    Pork Sandwich

    After a quick rest back at the hotel we met up with Astrid again at another coffee shop within walking distance of our hotel to start a Night Food Tour as I continued eating my way through Mexico City. We were joined by another American couple from our home state of Washington. Small world. Using Uber, the metrobus (clean and efficient and cheap) and walking, we crossed the city with Astrid to visit the hidden joints only the locals know about. It was incredible. We ate street tacos, mole,and flautas, drank pulque, and much much more.

    Gringas Quesidilla
    Pulque Agave Sap

    Eat Like a Hipster Local

    Day three we slept in a bit then Rocio picked us up at our hotel for a private tour she designed just for us. The food this day was unforgettable as we focused on more of the nouveau foods coming out of Mexico City. We had chocolate, cheese and craft beer. We tasted mezcal and had the freshest and most delicious hipster tacos. I am in love.

    Hipster Ahi Taco
    Hipster Chinese Taco
    Cactus Ceviche
    Mezcal

    Casa Jacaranda Cooking School

    Our final day of our foodie tour was spent with Casa Jacaranda Cooking School. Starting at 10am and going all the way to 6pm we explored the Medellin Mercado, then at the Casa Jacaranda kitchen we cooked mole, fresh tamales, corn tortillas, salsa and more. This was such a marvelous experience all around – I would not hesitate to do this cooking school again.

    The best tamale I have ever had
    Slow cooked Mole

    Tasty Tuesday YouTube Video

    Check out our Tasty Tuesday YouTube video here about eating my way through Mexico City.

    We Will Be Back

    There are several other excellent things to do in Mexico City, other than eating, so next time we will stay longer. And there will definitely be a next time. I fell in love with this clean and beautiful city, so much more than I expected. Eating my way through Mexico City opened my eyes to a culture and cuisine I had been missing.

    Muchos Gracias Mexico City. What a delight!

    See last week’s post Winter Hiking Road Trip Through Utah and Arizona

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

    North America Travel

    Winter Hiking Road Trip in Utah and Arizona

    Location: Utah and Arizona USA

    We love the American Southwest and we especially love it in the winter time, when we want to get out of the gray and gloom back in the Pacific Northwest. So we decided to take a week to see some of the amazing sites of these two areas that had eluded us. I’ve spent time in Zion, Bryce, Canyonlands and Sedona, but there is still much to see beyond those amazing places. So here is an easy itinerary with incredible scenery for a sightseeing and winter hiking road trip in Utah and Arizona.

    We flew into Las Vegas, arriving after midnight, and headed to a hotel. Since we weren’t looking to do any Las Vegas activities we decided to stay off-strip and booked a comfortable but not fancy room at the Best Western McCarran Hotel.

    Page Arizona Sunset

    Day One

    It was nearly noon by the time we got out of Las Vegas on the first day of our winter hiking road trip in Utah and Arizona. Heading north and east on I-15 we drove about an hour to our first stop, Valley of Fire State Park. I’ve been to Valley of Fire before, in fact a couple times, but I really wanted to spend more time hiking here. Afternoon temperatures in November were 75 Fahrenheit, and the dry air requires hikers to drink lots of water.

    Valley of Fire

    This beautiful park feels much more like a National Park than a State Park. Entrance fee for a car is $15. We stopped at the Visitor Center for bathroom break, snacks and a map and then headed off to hike.

    We did a 3 mile loop trail called Fire Wave/Seven Wonders, accessible for just about any hiking skill. There is a tiny bit of incline, but nothing too steep. Great views and the landscape is incredible. If you don’t want to do the loop you can do an easy out and back to Fire Wave which is about 1.5 miles round trip. It will give you a nice introduction to the fascinating geology of the area.

    Valley of Fire

    Leaving Valley of Fire heading away from Las Vegas towards Utah, you exit the park through a different gate than the one you entered. This drive gives you more remarkable sites to enjoy.

    Our nights destination was St George Utah, another hour on I-15. First you pop through Arizona for a hot minute then into Utah. There is a time zone change at the Arizona state line. You might want to pick up alcohol in Arizona, if you are so inclined, before entering Utah.

    Arriving in St George we stayed at a simple Clarion Hotel just off the freeway on Mile Drive. Nothing fancy but good enough. Nice breakfast included.

    Day Two

    I love waking up in Utah, one of my favorite states. But we had never spent much time in St George. Temperatures today were a comfortable mid sixties. First we headed to the old town, very cute with shops and restaurants. We stopped at the historic winter home of Brigham Young. Here we learned that Young came to St George because it is the warmest place in Utah and he liked it for his health.

    Brigham Young Winter Home

    Next we visited Pioneer Park, a hill park with wonderful rock formations and city views right in the middle of town. Next we headed to Snow Canyon State Park. Here is another fascinating, huge park with so many wonderful trails. Amazing that it is not a National Park. We did three hikes in Snow Canyon;

    1. Johnson’s Canyon – we had this hike all to ourselves and especially enjoyed the fall colors in the dry river valley below.
    Johnson’s Canyon

    2. Petrified Dunes – I loved this the most, like walking over waves of sand turned to hard rock from thousands of years ago.

    Petrified Dunes

    3. Lava Flow – This hike has lava tubes, but we did not have headlamps so we did not go in, just peeked in a bit.

    Day Three

    We were up early for the long drive across Utah with a planned visit to Wire Pass Slot Canyon. Driving across Utah on US 89, you head south on House Rock Valley Road (a dirt road). Follow this road 8 miles to a nice parking lot with rest rooms to begin this easy and amazing hike. BTW the road is bumpy but manageable in most cars, unless its been raining then don’t try it. Weather today was sunny and cool and dry about 55 degrees.

    Wire Pass Slot Canyon

    Follow the hike for about a mile along a dry wide riverbed which takes you to the slot canyon. My husband did this hike last spring with some friends and he was astonished to see that the area had recently had a flash flood. In fact the flood deposited debris nearly thirty feet over our head in the slot canyon. You definitely don’t want to be here during a flash flood.

    But no flood today and this was truly one of my all-time favorite hikes. Very easy except just two or three times when you need to scramble over some boulders and go down one ladder. All worth it for the beauty of the canyon.

    Wire Pass Slot Canyon

    You can actually continue on all the way to the Grand Canyon on this trail (at least fifty miles), but on this day we did it as an out and back, about 6 miles round trip.

    Back in the car we continued south down the dirt road towards Hwy 89A. We made a quick stop at the Condor Viewing Platform (no condors on this day) then headed off the dirt road and onto the paved two lane highway east towards Page Arizona. It’s about another hour to Page and the late afternoon light made the Vermilion Cliffs just beautiful. We stopped for a brief photo at the historic Cliff Dwellers Trading Post and another quick walk on the historic Navajo Bridge over the Colorado at Marble Canyou.

    Navajo Bridge overlook

    As we were entering Page we stopped to visit the famous Horseshoe Bend. Worth the $10 per car entrance fee. You will recognize this view from travel books and calendars. The iconic bend in the beautiful Colorado River is not to be missed – its been on my list for years. Visiting off-season like we did means you won’t need to battle the crowds and tour bus groups.

    Horseshoe Bend

    We had a nice and inexpensive dinner at Bonkers Italian Restaurant before collapsing into bed at the Baymount by Wyndham, a beautiful brand new hotel. Only $57 a night in off season.

    Day Four

    Prior to arriving in Page we had pre-booked a tour to Antelope Canyon with Antelope Canyon Tours. You can no longer tour the canyon on your own, due to ridiculous people who think carving their name on the canyon is their right. So now the Navajo Nation only allows guided tours and you must wear a mask the whole time. All of that was okay with me. Tour cost was $77 per person.

    Antelope Canyon

    It was a cold morning and the ride to the canyon was in an open air vehicle so I was really glad to have my down jacket. Our group of 7 plus our wonderful guide Sonny arrived at the canyon about 10:30am. Over the next hour Sonny guided us through the stunning canyon, explaining the geology and sacred Navajo beliefs about the canyon. Sonny was also really helpful with photos and pointing out great photo opportunities. It was better than I had imagined and I am so very glad we made the effort to come here.

    Antelope Canyon

    That evening we had an early dinner at the Bird House – the best fried chicken I’ve ever had.

    Day Five

    This was a very long day but really worth it. Again with the Antelope Canyon Tour Company we headed out for a full day, this time not in an open air vehicle, to White Pocket. You can visit White Pocket in the Vermilion Cliff without a guide, but NOT without a high clearance 4WD vehicle. So our group of five traveled more than two hours in a Suburban along a very bumpy, sandy road.

    White Pockets

    Arriving in White Pocket, its difficult to even describe the sight. This is not a canyon, but rather a remarkable landscape that juts out of the earth, all white and vermilion and swirling like a hurricane. It reminded me of Star Wars, of pillows that my grandma used to have on her couch, and bacon. Seriously one of the most unique sights I have ever seen. A must see to believe. We spent about two hours walking all over this incredible fluke of nature.

    White Pocket

    Our tour included sandwiches and bottled water all for the price of $180 per person. And then another two hour, bumpy drive back to Page.

    White Pocket

    We enjoyed dinner at the popular Dam Bar & Grille before collapsing into bed happily reminiscing about this amazing region.

    Day Six

    We checked out of our hotel in Page early and proceeded to drive the two hours to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Some of this drive included backtracking along roads we had traveled already, but the scenery in this region, particularly the Vermilion Cliffs never gets old. So stunning.

    Right before we entered the National Park we saw a Grey Wolf off in the distance, about 300 yards. We stopped the car and did our best to capture a picture. Seeing a Grey Wolf in the wild is incredibly rare and we were excited and astounded.

    Grey Wolf

    We had been to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon several times, but never to the North Rim. The North Rim entrance gate was unmanned, and the lodges and visitor center closed for the season. There were only a handful of cars in the parking lot. It was 42 degrees when we arrived, but through out the day we peeled off clothes as the temperature increased.

    North Rim Grand Canyon

    We did a short hike out to the Bright Angel Point lookout with fantastic views across the Canyon to the South Rim. We then hiked down into the canyon on the Kaibab Trail, the only trail from this side of the Canyon that goes to the bottom. But today was not a day for us to go to the bottom. Instead we hiked about 1.5 miles, had our picnic on the trail, then turned around and hiked back up. It was steep but not too hard and oh so beautiful.

    Kaibab Trail North Rim

    After our hike we continued our drive another 4 hours back to Las Vegas for the night.

    Winter Hiking Road Trip in Utah and Arizona

    Even if you aren’t much of a hiker, none of these hikes were very difficult and all of them were so unique and beautiful. The geology of this region never ceases to amaze me, and everyone should see it at least once in their life. Doing this tour in six days gave us plenty of time to enjoy our itinerary without feeling too rushed. If you wanted to spend more time at the Grand Canyon, or visit Zion, Bryce or Moab, you would want to consider adding another week. Most the roads are good, and abundant lodging is available. I highly recommend avoiding this tour in the ridiculously busy summer months. You just won’t be able to enjoy it as much.

    White Pocket

    Thanks for reading about our winter hiking road trip in Utah and Arizona. We love it when you comment, pin and share our blog posts. Thank you!

    See last week’s blog post Traveling Deeper – Finding the Real Maui Hawaii here.

    See this week’s top performing pin Six Great Hikes on the Island of Maui

    Island Life  --  North America Travel

    Traveling Deeper – Finding the Real Maui Hawaii

    Location: Maui Hawaii USA

    During our recent two months on the beautiful island of Maui we set out to explore the island more deeply; to learn more about the local efforts to sustain, preserve and protect. Below we suggest some of the ways we found to experience the island more profoundly. Traveling Deeper – Finding the Real Maui Hawaii.

    La Perouse Hooapli Trail

    If you visit Maui, I’m sure your primary goal is to lay on the beach or by the pool and relax. But I implore you to take some time to learn a bit about the native people, the wildlife on both land and sea, the plants and geology and the history. Because you really need to make the effort – unlike many places we have traveled, these things aren’t necessarily glaringly in your face. It’s unfortunate because although a luau is nice, a more authentic option to learn about the ancient Hawaiian people would be my preference. You must go in search of the real Hawaii if you hope to respectfully show your appreciation to this fragile island by finding the real Maui Hawaii.

    Below is a list of interesting things we did for the first time during our most recent visit to Maui. Even if you only do one or two of these things, your eyes will be opened. You will learn about the delicate ecosystem and sacred legends of this island.

    Wildlife

    Kealia Pond Wildlife Preserve – is a National Wildlife Preserve operated by the National Wildlife Service. A boardwalk provides people of all abilities to view the preserve and pond, birds and wildlife as well as the well presented interpretive signage.

    Kealia Pond Wildlife Preserve

    Maui Ocean Center – The Maui Ocean Center and Aquarium is a wonderful way to learn about the sea life of the ocean surrounding Maui. And a brand new incredible 3D movie called Humpbacks of Hawaii will just blow your mind. Worth every penny.

    Maui Ocean Center

    Hawaii Wildlife Discovery Center – This brand new exhibit in Whaler’s Village Kaanapali is designed to help visitors understand and respect the local wildlife as well as the local Hawaiian native people’s connection to the land and the sea. Many hands-on displays for the keiki too. Great for the whole family.

    Hawaii Wildlife Discovery Center

    Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary – The mystery and intrigue of the humpback whale is one of the most amazing things about the waters that lie between Maui, Lanai and Molokai. From November to May these gentle giants return each year to mate. There are many whale watching tours available as well as many onshore spots to watch these magnificent creatures.

    Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale Marine Sanctuary

    Geology

    Kapalua Coastal Trail – one of the best and most accessible hikes on the island takes you through a magnificent lava flow in West Maui. Here you will also see the delicate nesting sites of the Shearwater Birds. Often you can witness whales, dolphins and turtles from the high cliffs.

    Kapalua Coastal Trail

    La Perouse Bay and Trail – visit this remarkable place to view Haleakala’s fury in it’s last eruption in 1790. The miles and miles of beautiful lava can be traversed on the old Kings Highway trail and you will have beautiful views of the Big Island to the South.

    La Perouse Bay and Trail

    Haleakala – Haleakala is sacred to the Hawaiian people both in ancient times and today. This incredible landscape is a National Park and there are many trails to enjoy and the views are spectacular. The NPS cares for this fragile space and the endangered species that are found only here.

    Haleakala Endangered Silver Sword

    Indigenous Plants

    Maui Nui Botanical Gardens – Dedicated to the conservation of the native plants of the island, you will be astonished to learn how many plants you think are native to Hawaii are not. The island plants that the ancient Hawaiians used for food and medicinal purposes are quite different than some of the flowering beauties you see all over the islands today. The gardens are small and not perfectly kept, but still very interesting.

    Maui Nui Botanical Gardens

    Eating Local

    O’O Farm – one of my all time favorite experiences on Maui. This fantastic organic sustainable farm is astonishing in the beautiful upcountry area of Kula. Morning tours with breakfast and coffee or lunch tours are available. You will enjoy food that is 100% grown and cultivated on Maui. O’o Farm is one of several local efforts underway on the island to provide restaurants fresh, organic and locally grown produce. Now that there is no sugar cane grown on Maui, the land is slowly being cultivated with new crops including citrus, coffee, avocados and more. Definitely visit O’O Farm. We loved it and learned so much.

    One of five courses at O’O Farm

    Hawaii Seafood Month (October) – of course you can enjoy amazing seafood in Maui any month of the year, but October is Marine Stewardship Council’s Seafood Month. This is a time to eat local and sustainable seafood, and local chefs such as Chef LeAnn Wong at Lahaina’s Papaaina offer special events. We attended an amazing dinner with many local fishing families and chefs and learned so much about local efforts to sustain and preserve the abundance of the sea.

    Hawaii Seafood Month dinner at Papa’aina

    Travel Deeper Finding the Real Maui Hawaii

    Whether you are visiting Maui or any other place on this amazing planet, traveling deeper is a way to really experience the land, the sea and the people and culture. We enjoy finding ways in all of our destinations to celebrate the diversity of our world by experiencing food, culture, history and nature. Give it a try the next time you visit Maui. Traveling Deeper – Finding the Real Maui Hawaii.

    See our post Best Maui Restaurants 2021 here.

    See our post Maui Top Five Things to Do here.

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

    Island Life  --  North America Travel

    Six Great Hikes on the Island of Maui

    Explore This Beautiful Island

    Location: Maui Hawaii USA

    We love to hike and when we are traveling we always set aside at least one day a week to hike and get out into nature. And during our recent visit to Maui we discovered another great hike to add to the many favorites we already have on this beautiful island. So today I thought I would share with you six great hikes on the island of Maui.

    West Maui

    West Maui

    The area known as West Maui is home to Lahaina, Kaanapali, Napili and Kapalua. We spent six weeks exploring this area recently. Here are two of our favorite hikes.

    Kapalua Coastal Trail

    This trail can be busy but it’s worth it because it is so beautiful and definitely one of the six great hikes on the island of Maui. Parking can be difficult but look for street parking near the Napili Kai Resort, or paid parking at Kapalua Golf Course. Start the hike right at Merriman’s Restaurant where the trail heads north. The trail then winds through spectacular lava flows where you can see crashing waves and nesting shearwaters birds nesting. Follow the trail along the road at the Kapalua Golf Course and out to the Dragons Teeth Labyrinth. Round trip about 4 miles. Learn more here.

    Kapalua Coastal Trail

    The Village Course and Duck Pond

    The Kapalua Golf Club closed one of their three courses in 2007. Today the cart paths of the defunct Village Course are a unique and somewhat eerie (and steep) walk through a golf ghost town. It’s astonishing actually how quickly nature has reclaimed this course, making the fairways essentially unrecognizable only fourteen years later. The walk is about four miles round trip at the top is Duck Pond, a nice stop to rest or picnic before returning down. Learn more here.

    The Village Course Trail

    South Maui

    South Maui is usually defined as Kihei, Wailea and Makena. We have spent a great deal of time in this part of the island and we love it.

    South Maui

    La Perouse/Hoapili Trail

    This is one of my favorites of the six great hikes on the island of Maui, but also a bit rough and difficult. Traversing over sharp lava beds, come prepared with the right shoes. It’s a hot and arid trail but provides some stunning views across to the Big Island of Hawaii. The trail is also a sacred trail for Hawaiians, once part of the King’s Highway that circled the island. Crossing the 300 year old lava field is a unique experience, if you are up for it I recommend it highly. Wear a hat and bring lots of water. Learn more here.

    La Perouse Hoapili Trail

    Central Maui

    The region sometimes referred to as Central Maui is home to the airport in Kahului and the government seat city of Wailuku as well as malls, shopping and industrial areas.

    Central Maui

    Waihee Ridge

    About a 7 mile drive north and west from Wailuku you find the parking area for the Waihee Ridge Trail. We have done this trail several times and had a wide variance in weather each time. Come prepared for rain, wind, fog or clear blue skies…you never know. Arrive early for parking. The trail goes up and up the green and beautiful ridge for about 2.5 miles and if you are lucky the views are phenomenal. Learn more here.

    Waihee Ridge

    Haleakala

    The astonishing volcano Haleakala rises 10,000 feet (3048 meters) out of the island and can be seen from almost anywhere on the island. If you go to do either of these suggested hikes get an early start. Often the volcano is clear in the morning but clouds roll in later in the day. BE PREPARED, Haleakala can be very cold in the morning…cold enough to warrant a stocking cap and warm coat.

    Haleakala

    Sliding Sands

    This is one of my favorite hikes on the island. Starting at the top of the volcano at the Visitor Information Center, Sliding Sands, as it’s name implies, is a red sandy trail that goes down inside the volcano crater. Don’t do more than you are capable of on this eleven mile round trip trail, because you need to come back up! Along this trail you will feel like you are on the moon. It’s beautiful, and you will also see the rare and endangered Silver Sword plant known only to grow in this volcano and the two volcanoes on the Big Island. Learn more here.

    Sliding Sands and Haleakala Silver Sword

    Halemau’u Trail

    Approximately 14.2 miles up Highway 378 but before you reach the summit, you will see the Halemau’u Trail parking on the left side of the road. This trail often starts in the mist and clouds, but don’t despair. As you walk the ridge and then go down the rock face trail into the crater the weather usually warms and clears. There is a picnic area that is a good turn around point. Or you can hike all the way through to Sliding Sands and back up to the Visitor Center. But you will need to either have two cars or someone to bring you back to the Halemau’u parking area. Learn more here.

    Halemau’u Trail

    Maui Hikes

    These are just a few of the many hikes available on the beautiful island of Maui. No matter your hiking skill level you can find a walk or hike on this island. If you are looking for additions to the six great hikes on the island of Maui check this out.

    See our post about things to do in Napili Maui here.

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    Island Life  --  North America Travel

    Napili Surprise – Our New Favorites

    Location: Napili Maui Hawaii USA

    We have always stayed in Kihei when visiting Maui. Kihei is in the southern part of the island, with a dry and almost desert like climate. But this time we are house sitting for our friends, and are finding we are loving the west side and the experience of many new things. Although I have spent so much time on the island of Maui, it never ceases to surprise me! Here are some thoughts – Napili Surprise Our New Favorites.

    Napili Surprise

    Napili is a tiny hamlet tucked in between Kahana and Kapalua about three miles north of the more well-known and touristy Kaanapali area. Technically all these places mentioned above are part of the city of Lahaina, but each has a distinct flavor of its own.

    Napili is book ended by Kapalua on the north, which I would describe as affluent and upscale, home to the renowned Kapulua Golf Club. On its south flank Napili borders Kahana, more simple and family oriented with condos but also many local residential neighborhoods.

    Napili

    It’s actually hard to define where Napili begins and ends, but for my purposes in this blog post, my reference points are from Kapalua Beach to Kahana Sunset Condos along the Lower Honoapiilani Hwy.

    Climate and History

    Napili has a long and rich history going back to its first Polynesian settlers arriving in the 8th century. Wet and lush, the region was and still is a prominent agricultural area for native islanders.

    Dragon’s Teeth Labyrinth

    Although not the rainiest part of the island, Napili’s annual rainfall is four times that of the arid Kihei area. While we were here we saw spits of rain nearly everyday, but only two times was it significant enough to keep us from our plans. Much of the rain happens overnight or early morning from my observations. And due to this, there are rainbows every single day. So beautiful.

    Maui Rainfall Map – Napili in the yellow zone while Kihei is in the red zone

    During our six weeks living in Napili we have loved the low-key local vibe, especially since we have been living in an apartment complex of locals rather than in a tourist resort. The school bus comes each morning and neighbors are friendly and it feels very much like home.

    Our Favorites

    The Napili surprise – finding our favorites in this small little village has been very easy. There are a few ocean side resorts, and I hope when people stay in one of those, they get out and see some of this tiny town. For instance;

    Napili Plaza – the only shopping area in Napili, the plaza is home to a small but great grocery store (the Napili Market), as well as hair and nail salons, mail services, a coffee shop and bakery, a boutique and a handful of small restaurants which are all worth a visit.

    A’ A Roots – I’m not vegan, but I am very much into healthy eating and sustainable food and that is the mission of A’ A Roots, a small vegan restaurant in Napili Plaza. When we visited the inside was still closed due to Covid, but they had a few outside tables and take away as well. We had a fantastic meal for lunch and it’s a not-to-miss spot in Napili.

    A’ a Roots

    Slack Key Show – Grammy winning George Kahumoku Jr and a group of very talented local artists perform twice a week at the Napili Kai resort. This fabulous series is in its 18th year and is a great way to learn about Hawaii’s love of the slack key guitar, as well as the ukelele. This concert was an amazing Napili surprise and we enjoyed it very much.

    George Kahumoku Jr.

    Kapalua Coastal Trail – Although named after Kapalua, the trail begins in Napili and heads north through Kapalua. This trail offers astonishing views of the ocean, the island of Molokai and sometimes whales and dolphins. At the northern end of the trail you will find the Dragon’s Teeth Labyrinth, definitely worth a visit. If you are up to it, from the Labyrinth take Office Road up the hill past the Honolua Store to Pineapple Hill for a beautiful view and work out.

    Kapalua Coastal Trail

    Napili Farmers Market – walking distance from our apartment and Napili Plaza is the twice-a-week Napili Farmers Market. Held every Wednesday and Saturday, the market changes regularly but offers local produce, honey, baked goods and crafts. We purchased some delicious Baba ganoush and flat bread.

    Sunset at Honokeana Bay – This rocky bay is a bit difficult to access (look for the gravel trail between Honokeana Cove and Napili Point Resorts), but is a beautiful place for spotting sea turtles and for watching the sunset. Check it out.

    Honokeana Bay

    Honu (Sea Turtles)– The native Hawaii Green Sea Turtle is protected under the endangered species act since 1978. It is against federal law to touch or harass these beautiful creatures either in the water or on land. Every beach we visited in Napili offered a great way to view the turtle population from the beach. The Honu have increased in number since they became protected, and as frequent visitors to Maui we definitely have noticed an increase in Honu sightings. Napili is a great place to watch these beautiful creatures from a respectful distance.

    Green Sea Turtle (Canva)

    Check out this link below of a video we posted on Instagram of a green sea turtle.

    https://www.instagram.com/reel/CVRbNDXl_ot/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

    Napili Bay – This beautiful bay is a great place to snorkel, swim and enjoy the sandy beach. There is a small public parking area on the south end of the beach. A handful of small condos front the beach as well as the historic and beautiful Napili Kai Resort.

    Napili Bay and Beach looking south

    The Sea House Restaurant – One of my top restaurants on the entire island, the gorgeous beach front restaurant The Sea House is in the Napili Kai resort on the north end of beautiful Napili Bay. Make a reservation and don’t miss a beautiful evening at The Sea House. Funny story, when we ate there it started to pour down rain but my food was so delicious I carried under the eaves to finish it…I didn’t want to miss a bite!!!

    Napili Kai Resort and The Sea House Restaurant

    The Gazebo – So this is one of those places that gets a reputation and then it explodes…some people waiting hours to eat macadamia nut pancakes or a mountain of fried rice with eggs. I’m not sure it warrants a two hour wait, but the view is nice, it’s fairly inexpensive by Maui standards and it’s kind of a local icon. If you don’t want to wait for hours arrive by 7am for the 7:30 opening.

    Mountain of fried rice at The Gazebo

    On the Fringe

    Technically not in Napili, we also spent a lot of time at Kapalua Bay and Secret Beach in Kahana. Additionally we frequently visited The Fish Market on the border between Kahana and Kaanapali as well as the long stretch of Kaanapali Beach. Our favorite beach was Secret Beach in Kahana, because, as it’s name implies, we usually had it to ourselves, except for the dozens of green sea turtles that call this beach home.

    Talking to Green Sea Turtles at Secret Beach, Kahana

    Surprising Maui

    Through the years and our many visits to this beautiful island I continue to be astonished by the variety of hidden gems we find each visit. You will never see everything because Maui constantly changes and evolves while remaining graceful and beautiful and friendly. Maui – The Valley Isle. Napili Surprise – Our New Favorites.

    Maui No Ka Oi.

    See last week’s blog post Maui Top Five.

    See this week’s top performing post on Pinterest here My Self Care Journey With Noom

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

    Island Life  --  North America Travel

    Maui Top Five Things to Do

    Best of the Best, Maui Hawaii USA

    Location: Maui Hawaii

    Hawaii has strict Covid-19 restrictions. Know before you go. Learn more here.

    A re-share from October 2020 –

    Maui is hands down my favorite of all the Hawaiian Islands. We have now been on Maui for seven weeks and still have two more weeks to go! Everything about it I love. And despite the fact there isn’t anything negative I can say about this beautiful place, I do have some favorites. So today I thought I would share with you my Maui top five things to do – best of the best.

    Top Five Beaches

    Maui
    Secret Beach Makena
    1. Keawakapu – our most frequented beach in South Kihei offers a wide sandy beach, warm clear water and gentle waves
    2. Makena Beaches – Makena also in the south, is dotted with public access to dozens of beautiful and often secluded beach. Secret Beach is worth finding. MaKena Beach State Park is a wonderful huge expanse of a beach and rarely busy.
    3. Black Beach Hana – for the sheer beauty of it, Black Beach on the road to Hana is worth a visit
    4. Baldwin Beach – on the north shore Baldwin Beach is great for body surfing
    5. Napili Bay Beach – I have not swam at this beach but it is so beautiful and has easy access at the north end of the island
    Maui
    Maui Beaches

    Top Five Snorkeling

    Maui
    Keawakapu, Kihei
    1. Black Rock Kaanapali – the beach in front of the Kaanapali Sheraton known as Black Rock is one of my favorite places to snorkel. Clear and full of fish and turtles.
    2. Turtle Rock – On a guided snorkel trip a few years ago we had the most amazing time at Turtle Rock – hundreds of turtles here.
    3. Molokini – Though sometimes crowded, a snorkel tour to Molokini is a must at least once in your life to see the abundant marine life here.
    4. Makena Beaches – there are several public access beaches on this long stretch of south Maui with some of the best and easily accessed snorkeling on the island.
    5. Keawakapu – my favorite beach, and the one closest to where we usually stay, has an easy access into the water with snorkel options at the far north of the beach around a large lava reef. Wonderful sealife, turtles and fish.

    Top Five Activities

    Maui
    Maui Zipline
    1. Old Lahaina Lu’au – the creme de la creme of Lu’aus, Old Lahaina has just recently reopened after being closed for 8 months due to the pandemic. I have enjoyed this Luau several times, and although expensive, it is worth every penny. Reservations are required.
    2. Maui Zipline – Maui Zipline is where it all began, the first zipline in the USA. Safe and fun and now reopened with even more safety features.
    3. Whale Watching – from November to April Maui is home to some of the earth’s most amazing creatures, the magnificent humpback whales. A must-do activity while visiting Maui is enjoy a guided tour with the Pacific Whale Foundation.
    4. Ghost Tours Lahaina – more of a history lesson than a ghost encounter, this walking tour with a local will open your eyes to some of the hidden history and mystic Hawaiian lore. Very informative and entertaining.
    5. Chef Prepared dinner – many local chefs are available to bring dinner to you, cooking and serving a beautiful Hawaiian meal for two to ten or even more in your condo or local hale.

    Top Five Hikes

    Maui
    Kapalua Coastal Trail
    1. Waihee Ridge – mid island, five mile roundtrip with incline to spectacular views but weather can be unpredictable.
    2. Kapalua Coastal Trail – hugging the coast from Kapalua to Napili this rugged and beautiful hike has views of Molokai, Lanai and the ocean. Windy.
    3. Halemau’u Haleakala – hike down into the crater starting at 8000 foot level where you will find easy parking. The trail is a switch back and easy for most fit hikers. Temperatures can be very cold at times.
    4. Sliding Sands Haleakala – this is a work out let me tell you, but if you are fit it’s spectacular. Bring lots of water, be prepared for wind and cold or heat and sun you never know. A great place to see the rare and beautiful Silver Sword plant.
    5. Hoapili, La Perouse – past Makena where the road ends you will find parking and the trailhead of the Hoapili, the historic Kings Road. The rough trail takes you over a 300 year old lava field to the far south end of the island. Bring lots of water, it is a hot and dry trail.

    See a great article here with more great hikes from Pride of Maui.

    Top Five Fine Dining

    Mamas Fish House Maui
    Mamas Fish House
    1. Mama’s Fish House, Paia – one of the supreme dining experiences anywhere in the world
    2. Mala Ocean Tavern, Lahaina – Tiny but local chef has created a wonderful menu
    3. Sea House, Napili – One of the best pieces of fish I have ever had
    4. Roy’s Kaanapali – Celebrated chef Roy Yamachuchi’s restaurant never disappoints
    5. Ko, Wailea – we celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary at Ko. It was incredible. Beautiful location and great service.

    Top Five Casual Dining (six in this category!)

    Star Noodle Maui
    Star Noodle, Lahaina
    1. Sam Sato, Wailuku – tourists don’t know about this hidden local gem. Best noodles anywhere
    2. Paia Fish Market (Kihei, Paia and Lahaina) – favorite among visitors and locals
    3. Three’s Bar & Grill Kihei – creative menu of delicious small plates
    4. Maui Brewing (Kihei and Kaanapali) – simple pub food with a healthy twist
    5. Star Noodle, Lahaina – simply incredible. Be sure to have the Vietnamese pancake
    6. Cafe O’Lei – Various locations. Great food, great price and prix fix menu daily.

    We have also heard great things about Kula Lodge, Kimo’s and Down the Hatch.

    Top Five Take Out Foods

    1. L & L Plate Lunch, Kihei – quintessential Hawaiian plate lunch
    2. Maui Taco, Kihei – fish tacos!
    3. Island Gourmet Market, Wailea – great selection of local cuisine as well as sandwiches, pizza and more
    4. Honolua Store, Kapalua – similar to above as well as a great gift shop
    5. Food Trucks, Everywhere and for every taste bud

    Top Five Breakfast Places

    Paia Maui
    Island Fresh Cafe, Paia

    There are several breakfast places we have heard are great (The Gazebo Kapalua and 808 Grindz Lahaina to name two) but these are the ones we have enjoyed so far.

    1. Kihei Cafe, popular, casual spot in Kihei
    2. Sugar Beach Bake Shop, North Kihei – you gotta try the malasada donuts
    3. Kula Bistro, Upcountry great Eggs Benedict
    4. Island Fresh Cafe, Paia worth the trip, healthy and inexpensive
    5. 5 Palms, Kihei, a great view of Keawakapu. Try the lox and bagel.

    Top Five Places for Drinks

    Lahaina Maui
    Waikiki Brewing Co, Lahaina
    1. Maui Brewing, Kihei
    2. Merriman’s for Sunset, Kapalua
    3. Hula Grill Kaanapali
    4. Waikiki Brewing Co, Lahaina
    5. Tommy Bahama’s Wailea (try the Mai Tai here)

    Top Five Just For the Heck of It

    Maui
    Nakalele Blow Hole
    1. Ocean Vodka, tasting and tours, Kula – an innovative entreprenueal effort on Maui worth your support. I love the gin.
    2. Spend a day shopping in Paia and Makawao
    3. Nakalele Blow Hole, Napili – a wonderful site. Don’t get too close.
    4. Sunrise or Sunset Haleakala (sunrise reservations required. Learn more here.)
    5. Drive Hana Backwards (counterclockwise) – miss the crowds by doing this drive the opposite way most people go. Read what we wrote about Going to Hana Backwards here.

    Top Four Inexpensive Golf

    Maui Nui Golf Club
    Maui Nui Golf, Kihei

    Golf can be very expensive on Maui, but if you know where to go, you can play nine or 18 holes on a budget. Here are our favorite budget friendly courses (we can’t find five, so four will do).

    1. Maui Nui, Kihei – well cared for grounds at a great price
    2. Waiehu County Golf, Wailuku – county run course with a magnificent ocean view
    3. Pukalani, Makawao, upcountry course with beautiful views, sometimes wet
    4. The Dunes at Maui Lani, Kahului, beautiful course built on natural dunes.

    That’s My List

    So if you are thinking about visiting Maui for the first time, or are planning to return for another visit, check out some of my top fives – you can’t go wrong with any of them.

    Maui
    Wailea Sunrise

    Be a Kind & Generous Visitor

    And remember, Maui took a big hit during the 7-month closure during the pandemic. The local people lost jobs, income and businesses closed permanently, on this island that depends on tourism. If you can afford to visit Maui, you can afford to make a donation while you are there. Many local agencies can use your support now. The Maui Food Bank is one that is helping some 32,000 local residents who don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

    Help breathe life back into the local economy by shopping and dining at locally owned stores, supporting locally run activities, taking time to talk to and understand the local people and their culture, and donate to a local non-profit agency that is helping the local people.

    Mahalo!

    See last week’s post Maui Hidden Gems here

    Read My Favorite Islands Around the World here.

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