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Island Life

    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.

    Food & Drink  --  Island Life

    Maui Best Restaurants 2021

    Location: Maui Hawaii USA

    I’ve been to Maui more times than I can count and it is one of my favorite places in the world. But like everything else affected by the PanDamit, Maui has lost some restaurants (including one of my faves) while others struggle to keep their doors open. And yet still, this island is home to some amazing dining from take-out to romantic and every cuisine you can want. I have not eaten at EVERY Maui restaurant, but I feel qualified to recommend quite a few. So here they are – Maui Best Restaurants 2021 by My Fab Fifties Life.

    The Sea House – Napili – Beautiful view ocean side at the iconic Napili Kai Resort. Fresh fish and always delicious. One of my top restaurants on the island. Reservations a must.

    A ‘a Roots – Napili – Vegan tiny restaurant in Napili Plaza, farm to table, locally sourced and so delicious.

    The Gazebo – Napili – a bit over hyped, but still delicious breakfast with huge servings. Be prepared to wait in line at this tiny spot.

    The Sea House
    A ‘a Roots
    Gazebo Fried Rice

    Mama’s Fish House – Paia – Maui’s finest restaurant in food, ambiance and service. Incomparable. Reservations hard to get but give it a try.

    Star Noodle – Lahaina – One of my top favorite restaurant in Maui. Always perfect, outdoor ocean side dining. Creative menu and excellent service. Reservations needed.

    Mala Ocean Tavern – Lahaina – Great seafood, clever cocktails, ocean side dining. Reservations needed.

    Mama’s Fish House
    Mala Ocean Tavern
    Star Noodle

    The Fish Market – Kaanapali – purchase fresh fish and poke here to take home or order up fresh prepared fish tacos, mahi mahi and so much more. Delicious and worth the wait. Take out.

    Monkey Pod Kitchen – Kaanapali and Wailea – by the owners of Merriman’s (see below) a more casual restaurant for salads, burgers, fish and a great Mai Tai.

    Pint & Cork – Wailea – not your usual Maui vibe, this gastropub is a great place if you want a burger and a beer. Great service and reasonable prices.

    The Fish Market
    Monkey Pod
    Pint & Cork

    Paia Fish Market – Paia, Kihei, Lahaina – choose your fish and how you want it prepared. Always fresh but expect a wait.

    Sugar Beach Bake Shop – Kihei – come for the malasadas. Hands down the best on the island. Other yummy stuff too.

    Sale Pepe – Lahaina – A great Italian option right in Lahaina. No view but the food is excellent and the service is great. Try the lasagna.

    Paia Fish Market
    Down the Hatch
    Sugar Beach Bake Shop

    Coconut’s Fish Cafe – Kihei – Fish tacos, salads and more at a reasonable family friendly price. Choose your fish and your preparation preference. Always fresh.

    Down the Hatch – Lahaina – Order at the counter and they will bring your food to your table. Large seating area so usually not a long wait. Nice bar options too.

    Papa ‘aina – Lahaina – currently open just for breakfast and lunch but Top Chef Lee Anne Wong works wonders and Papa’aina often creates special dinner events too. Hopeful they will open for dinner soon. In the historic Pioneer Inn across from the Banyan Tree in Lahaina.

    Coconut’s
    Papa A’ina
    Sale Pepe

    Three’s Bar and Grill – Kihei – Casual and clever menu with both indoor and outdoor seating and a great Happy Hour menu. Try the brussel sprouts. I’m not kidding, they are amazing.

    Maui Brewing – Kihei and Kahana- Pizza, fish tacos, burgers and a delicious kale salad…and of course beer.

    Honu Seafood and Pizza – Lahaina – another excellent pizza option but also lots of fish choices and fabulous view. The Mushroom Pizza was excellent and so was the Banana Coconut Cream Pie.

    Maui Brewing
    Honu Seafood and Pizza
    Three’s Bar & Grill

    Miso Phat – Kihei and Kaanapali – the Kihei location is currently take out only so check the website. Delicious sushi and a great variety. Easy to order on line, pick up and enjoy at the beach.

    Kula Lodge – Kula – we try to stop here for wood fired pizza every time we are in Upcountry and the area known as Kula. It’s outstanding pizza and the view just can’t be beat. Only open until 5:00pm so be sure to check their website for changing hours.

    Morimoto – Wailea – the most beautifully presented sushi I have ever had. And the ambiance is amazing at the stunning Andaz Resort in Wailea. For a special occasion or any day, just go. Great to watch the sunset too. We always come back for this one.

    Morimoto
    Kula Lodge
    Miso Phat

    Sam Sato – Wailuku – few tourists come here, but locals know about this amazing noodle shop in Wailuku. I love the Dry Noodles and the Chow Fun. Great kimchee too.

    The Pour House – Kapalua – no view but the ambiance is lovely and the food is divine. If you want a break from fish and Hawaiian food make a reservation at this phenomenal Italian bistro. Be sure to try the handmade fresh burrata.

    The Pour House
    Sam Satos
    Star Noodle

    A note about Merriman’s, one of the highest rated restaurants on the island. We REALLY want to eat at Merriman’s, but alas getting a reservation is really hard. So I have not eaten there and I cannot write about them. There are a few other highly rated restaurants I have yet to visit too….so maybe I can when I come back next fall for more Maui Best Restaurants.

    There are many food trucks on the island, but I haven’t visited them all. But if you are interested in take out options check the YouTube video we did Tasty Tuesday Maui Take Out Food.

    Feel free to share in the comments any other Maui restaurants you love. And I’ll take your recommendations and visit those restaurants when I return to Maui next year. Mahalo!

    Paia Fish House Take Out and Sunset
    Three’s Bar & Grill

    See last week’s post Six Great Hikes on the Island of Maui

    See our tips on visiting Napili Maui here

    See this week’s top performing pin Nine Things to do in Tucson Arizona

    We love it when you pin and share our 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.

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

    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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    Island Life  --  North America Travel

    Maui Hidden Gems

    Maui Hidden Gems Treasures Throughout the Island

    Location: Maui Hawaii USA

    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 – I haven’t stayed here but I hope to on my next visit. This hidden gem is a treasure. Even if you don’t stay, come for the pizza on their outdoor patio. Amazing.

    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.

    And if you are inclined to do the Hana drive, we recommend you start in Kula and plan on Going to Hana Backwards. Learn more here.

    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.

    Lei Making and Adventure Tours with Sarah – Learn to make a Hawaiian lei with a local. Go on a scavenger hunt for flowers then string together a beautiful lei. It’s easier than you think. Sarah also does tours of the island and guided hikes and salt gathering.

    Gathering flowers for lei making with Sarah

    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.

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

    The State of Hawaii and Island of Maui have strict rules regarding Covid. Please do your research when planning your trip. Learn more here.

    Island Life

    Going To Hana Backwards

    Location: Maui Hawaii

    We weren’t going to do the road to Hana this time – we’ve done it before, more than once.  So it wasn’t on our list. But somehow we ended up driving it today – backwards. Let’s talk about Going to Hana Backwards.

    Well, not actually backwards, but the opposite way that most people do the road to Hana.  And now, I’ll never do it the other way again.

    The Road to Hana (Canva)

    We were just going to go to Oheo Gulch and do the four mile round trip hike to the waterfall.  This hike is also known as the Pipiwai Trail (formerly known as the Seven Sacred Pools, which are neither sacred nor seven).  So we thought we would go in the backdoor, up through Kula and along the roughest part of the Hana road which many people never see.  By the way, many people still think this road is impassable.  It is not.  And also many people think the rental car agencies say you can’t take your car there.  Most do not.  Read your agreement to be sure.  The road is perfectly drivable in the Hundai rental car we have.

    Driving that part of the road you get to have it mostly to yourself.  The views across to the Big Island are beautiful on a clear day, and even on a cloudy day the crashing waves on the jagged rocks below are magnificent.

    We planned to return to Kihei on this same stretch of road, but decided after our wonderful hike to go visit Black Sand Beach just North of Hana.  And then it seemed to just make sense to take the road all the way around.

    Black Sand Beach (Canva)

    When you head north from Hana back to Paia late in the afternoon you are moving with the majority of traffic, given that most people turn around at Hana and head back late in the afternoon.  This actually works in your favor because the caravan of cars going the same direction makes for easy access on the many one lane bridges you cross on the Road to Hana.  Very limited traffic heading south at that time of day makes the crosses easy.  You rarely need to stop for oncoming traffic.

    Combine that with the nearly deserted section of road we drove in the early part of the day, we made really good time doing the entire Hana Loop.  In addition we got to enjoy breakfast in Kula, beautiful vistas of Kihei, Makena and the Big Island.  Early birds at Oheo Gulch made the parking perfecto and because we were traveling in the opposite direction of most people, we were arriving at Black Sand Beach in the afternoon just as most people were leaving there to go to Oheo Gulch.

    Maui

    Oheo Gulch

    So Backwards is the new Forwards.

    Well, when it comes to going to Hana anyway.  Try it!

    Learn more Hana options here.

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

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