Maui no ka oi (the babymoon and more)

We knew we wanted to be able to take one last trip to our favorite place before baby is born.  Following are some tidbits of our trips to the island and other things you may want to enjoy if you ever visit. Events are sorted by island location and are all things we have personally enjoyed.

We first went to Maui together in 2000 for several weeks where I transferred temporarily and worked at the Eagle Hardware while we lived in a little apartment.  The working didn't last long as I got bored with the really (unbelievably) slow pace of the island and I decided to use up all my vacation time all at once. 

It was 10 years before we visited again, this time to get married in Sept 2010.  We invited family and several were able to make the trip.  Close family stayed with us and we were able to rent 3 side by side units at the Wailea Ekahi Village.  

We have had wonderful service renting from the Pauli's thru their website and have stayed in 20A (suits up to 6, which is closer to the large pool and beach, and you can hear the ocean waves at night) and 49D (suits up to 3, further up the property, you can hear the traffic from here but have a great view of the property and sunset and a wonderful casual walk (enter from bldg 48 walk) that meanders thru the property all the way to the beach with no interruptions).

We loved the area and feeling of the village so much that we returned to it for the Babymoon.  This time we rented a condo further up the property and loved the reward of the beautiful view (although really, all of them are just spectacular) and tradewinds in the evening.  Tall hotels and other condo communities don't even come close to this.  Along with the huge variety of tropical birds, we were even visited by a little kitten who climbed the bougainvillaea to our lanai.  

This time we were able to get a little further from the beaten path and enjoy more personal aspects of the island. Of all our visits, I recommend the following:
Lahaina: Just spending the day hanging out and wandering around Lahaina is entertaining, there is lots to see and do, plenty to eat, and fun things to purchase from cracking an oyster for a pearl to enjoying fine art at the many galleries.

Old Lahaina Luau - the most personal, authentic and immersive.  Our favorite Maui Luau (if you go to Oahu, check out the Polynesian Cultural Center!)

Warren and Annabelle's Magic Show - a fun place to have evening pupu's and drinks and enjoy a humorous magic show.

Atlantis Submarines One for the keiki (kiddos) to enjoy.  For those who want to see the fishes up close but not get wet, this is the way to go. (Although I do really suggest the wet version of sea life viewing for best effect.) They dive up to 100 feet into the vast blueness and follow along with fishes and give an up close view of the Carthaginian replica shipwreck that now serves as an artificial reef.
Kihei - Wailea: Things that are good to locate if you stay in Kihei, the Post Office, Longs Drugs and several other handy shops are located at the Azeka Shopping center at the intersection of Piikea and S. Kihei road.  There are plenty of places to get groceries but for Maui grown fruits, stop by one of the little roadside stands, or if you see kids selling them "lemon aid stand style" from a little wagon, surely visit!  Many typical grocery stores will sell you Mangos from Peru, and Bananas from Guatemala, even on Maui. 

Natural Grocery:  There is a Whole Foods in Kahului but it still doesn't quite have what we wanted (real local produce and natural foods) so we found this tiny little grocer in Kihei called Hawaiian Moons Natural Foods that was like a mini PCC and had so many of the things we were looking for.

Ice Cream and giftsKihei Aloha Ice Cream & Yogurt is located in a little strip mall south of Alanui Kealii Drive.  They have over a hundred flavors of Yogurt and many delicious tropical options for ice creams.  I personally like Heavenly Hana, James had the Kona Lava Java.  After you finish your treats you can walk over to the cute little clothing and gift shop for some souvenirs.  

Breakfast:  Sure you can go to Dennys (or any breakfast style restaurant) if you want, but the locals and tourists in the know go to Kihei Caffe, located just south of the Kalama Village Shopping area on Alahele Place.  This place is informal, opens early, 5AM and closes at 2PM.  If you come later than about 8 and before noon, be prepared to wait to order.  As noted at the door, don't try to save a table, they have it worked out just right so even at the busiest times you will get one.  The meals come out quite fast considering how busy they are, and there will be plenty of birds begging but the food, atmosphere and people are wonderful.  We like to support Kihei Caffe each time we visit, at least once.
Souvenir shopping:  Kalama Village is just to the North of Kihei Caffe and has a great selection of lovely finds.  A nice place to enjoy the space too with some lush mature shade trees (even the parking has plenty of shade!) and a tropical Koi pond with bridge.  Lovely at night when the torches are lit!  The sun always sets right around 7PM too, restaurants facing the water will be most busy at this time.  Reservations are usually recommended, especially in Lahaina and other higher end restaurants.

Spa Grande at the Grande Wailea Resort :  Our wedding planner was able to generously offer us a discounted entry to the Spa Grande which we took with open arms at the chance to be pampered to maximum effect.  The terme is separated into mens and womens but if you get a Lomi Lomi massage afterward (we got the Hawaiian Lomi Lomi) you can prerequest to have it together.  Something to keep in mind ahead of time, the spa usually experienced in a natural state, so if you are not comfortable that way, bring a swimsuit. They do provide a large plush towel for walking around, and you can just lay down in a lounge while waiting for your massage.  For those who don't want the full effect, there is also a full salon and you can get a mani pedi or several other pampering treatments, they really have it all!

Big Beach:  At the very end of the south part of Maui, past the resorts of Wailea is a spectacular beach! There is parking but I imagine it could fill up during busy times, restrooms are porta johns last time we went. A must for very experienced boogie boarders, or just to watch them at the far end of the beach where the waves break quickest.  When the waves are big here, the waves are BIG, they break shallow and with force so do use great care if you go into the water.  It's a treat just to see the huge beach in all it's natural sense, no giant resort to interrupt the true nature of this area.  For those who are really into the natural aspect, just to the right and over a rock outcropping is the place you can get a full tan all over if you want.  (But use care in the sun too, Maui is equatorial so the sun can get right at you fast and burns are no fun!
Kula, Upcountry and Haleakala: off the beaten path, and great locations to beat the heat, or in the case of the mountain summit, downright chill down!

Partway up the mountain you will encounter several tiny little towns.  This trip we visited Kula and saw some of the things it had to offer.  Because of it's location it's much cooler in Kula, and when we visited it even gave us some welcome rain.  It felt just like home in Seattle with the mid 60 temps and a spot of shower, we also had some coffee.

O'O Farm: Reservations Required (call them) as space is always limited to best serve their guests.  A few days a week this little local farm offers luncheon tours and visitors can walk along the hillside and sample coffee beans right from the bushes (they are berries with thick skins and a little sweet coatings around a coffee bean, the bean is nothing special until roasted though).  The restrooms are porta johns which they keep very clean, you really are on a farm here.  Wear shoes that are acceptable for walking from long grass to dusty soil and along some slopes.  We were greeted by one of the farm roosters who monitored us while he pranced fancy rooster style around the grounds.  Richard was our tour guide and led us around the farm grounds, passed out samples of lettuces, flowers and herbs that he picked from the garden and gave us an overview about their organic garden and methods.  All the while chef JJ (from Seattle!) was preparing our meal from food picked that morning.  It really was delicious, beautifully rustic and like nothing else on Maui!  I would certainly do it again!

Aina Coffee: Grown only at O'O Farm, it was wonderful too, get some!

Alii Kula Lavender Farm Come for the Lavender, stay for the SCONES!  These are like no other scones I have had, just delicious with Lilikoi Jelly (that's PassionFruit).  The lavender was not in full bloom while we were there, but there is a vast collection of plants in the lower garden as well as a beautiful view of Maui from above.  The gift shop is full of pretty things, lavender and otherwise so you can support this pretty little piece of paradise.  Did I mention the scones?  Warm them to perfection in the little oven out the back door and spread with Lilikoi jelly while you enjoy the view from the deck.  Then get some to take back to your place for breakfast the next morning! 

Kula Botanical Garden: Another beautiful place to visit and wander around in the cooler temps of Kula.  Give yourself at least an hour (they close at 4), more if you are a plant lover who delights in the details, to take a self guided tour of this collection of tropical plants.  Admission is $10 and the garden is well worth supporting. Bring a sack lunch, or scones from the Lavender farm.  You can also have tropical flowers shipped back to the mainland from here if you like.  What a fun reminder of the trip to have a fresh bouquet arrive shortly after you get home!

Morihara Store (Kula): Here's a little oddball treat for you tomato lovers out there.  Off the highway on Lower Kula Road (which is actually uphill from the highway) there is a little general store/grocery. Toward the back in the produce section there are a selection of tomato options.  Dave's tomatoes are the best we have ever had, spring for them!  We used them that night on the burgers we grilled on the lanai (a bonus of having our own condo space!) and they were just delicious! Tomatoes really are a fruit!

Ulupalakua Ranch Maui's Winery, Tedeschi Vinyards: Our wedding guests joined us on the visit to Ulupalakua Ranch as we selected some wines for the upcoming wedding.  The grounds were spacious and the upcountry views were lovely.  We enjoyed browsing the gift shop and having a wine tasting to choose our favorites.  We liked them so much that we arranged to have a case shipped home for when we got back.  There are actually a couple bottles left for us to enjoy after the baby is born. 

Haleakala (the mountain that made Maui): (save your entrance receipt and you can use it for the Seven Sacred Pools near Hana) Haleakala is otherworldly to me!  Absolutely worth the visit be it for sunrise (timed just right for the weather, it's spectacular) or just to walk around and see the landscape.  Keep in mind it's 10,000 feet, and the air is thin so take care with your pace.  For those who are eager and able to do more at this altitude there are tours, hikes, guided camping, bike rides down the mountain on the road, or more daring down the "spine" extreme mountain bike style.

If you visit for sunrise, plan accordingly as many many vehicles make the trip and when the lots are full they close! The road is very curvy and the sides are treacherous, use care and allow a little more time than you may expect because parking can fill up and the trip takes much longer than you would suppose looking at a map.  They do always have early morning agents at the top to help direct parking though as this is a common attraction.  Also, it's chilly up there!  Bring a coat, long pants, sturdy shoes and I've even seen people wearing blankets.  Those planning on visiting should prepare clothing special for this part of the trip as it can get close to freezing.  

Maui Zip Line: There are a few options for zip lines on Maui for the more adventurous (and those not pregnant, I would so have gone again!).  Almost our entire family went on this zip line before the wedding and we had a great time!  The guides were hilarious and entertaining and the zip line was as fun to zip on as it was to watch others enjoy.  At the end we purchased our pictures and videos and enjoyed the event all over again, oh the faces you will make!  Reserve quite a bit in advance as space is limited, especially for large parties.
Paia: Spend a day here to enjoy the artistry, local music and flavor all it's own.  This is an eclectic artist town full of great little shops and even a bead store just at the west end of town.

Mamas Fish House $$$$: If you are prepared for some of the best food of your life this is the place to go.  Make reservations well in advance to make sure they have a place for you because they always fill up from reservations alone. The atmosphere is like nothing I have ever had the opportunity to experience, truly professional and welcoming!  Come with an open heart and mind and be prepared to delight in the seafood that they prepare daily as it arrives each morning on their own shore. It's worth it to enjoy the full course selection from amazing beverages all the way to amazing desserts! I only wish I could have enjoyed it all!  Please note that this is a four star location in a one of a kind place on Earth and your support directly goes to the wonderful employees amazing chefs and fishermen who have been keeping Mamas a unique part of Maui since 1973. 
Hana and the Road to Hana: Hana is another amazing place to visit on Maui, the town itself is small, local and there really isn't too much to it, the road itself is rather spectacular though!  There are so so many things to see on this road that it would be much too much to include here.  It's worth your money to invest in a guide (there are free ones too at the little tourist brochure stands all over the island) or the invaluable book Maui Revealed that has every little thing inside down to the tiniest detail. I'll include my top favorites and other little treats.  Bring bug spray, I needed it the first time I visited, but the second (Sept) it wasn't necessary, not sure why.

If you want to see some of the more rare sights on the way to Hana, get on the road very early (sun-up even) because some of the greatest sights have the tiniest little pullouts that will only accomodate 2 or 3 cars and this road does not allow passing, some bridges and corners are one lane and you will even have a stop sign to let vehicles take turns. If I had my way, I would stay locally for a few days, even stay in Hana, leaving early each day and getting in a few places at a time. (The bamboo forest and the eucalyptus forest are some to visit if you can, get the Maui Revealed book for the best info on these locations.)

Halfway to Hana: A cute little stand just past mile marker 17 with plenty of space to pull off and get yourself a banana bread.  There are lots of places to get banana bread on Maui and there may be better breads, but this is easily at the top of my list. A great and easy tradition every time we have the chance to drive to Hana.

Keanae Peninsula: A little break from the curves of the road, and a great place to eat your snacks and visit the restroom.  Also, photo opportunities galore along this rocky shoreline with it's dark black lava rocks contrasted with blue of the ocean and foamy white spashes of waves. 

Pu'a'a Ka'a State Park: Another rest stop that usually has enough parking to serve everyone who needs it.  Walk across the road and up the paths to a pleasant little waterfall oasis and pool.  The first time I went (1993) classmates took a dip in the relatively frigid water.  Use care around the cats, they are not as friendly as they may look and most all are feral here.

Hana Powered Hang Gliding Again something for the more adventurous.  My husband took a flight while we watched him from Wainapanapa Beach down below.  He had a great time and even purchased a digital selection of photos from the flight. Also great, this is a small time operation that directly supports the pilot and his family.

note: just before you get to the road for Wainapanapa there is a cute little roadside store, it's worth a peek and perusal of their treats!

Wainapanapa State Park For me, this is one of the most beautiful beaches on Maui.  Such crisp contrast between the ocean, foliage, sky and deep black sand beach and lava rocks. 
Hasegawa General Store (in Hana): Worth a stop to this little store that is cram packed with so much it's hard to believe.  It seems like there is a little of everything and I like to grab a few things for the remainder of the trip and just to support this eccentric little gem of a shop. It's grown on me.

Venus Pool: check the Maui Revealed book for information on how to access this location. It's absolutely ethereal in it's beauty but is a little trek off the road and I'm not sure if it is accessible without trespassing. Use care, this is a flash flood location, as are many pools on this side of Maui.

Seven Sacred Pools, Ohe'o Gulch: (save your entrance receipt and you can use it for your Haleakala entrance) Plenty of parking, restrooms and a good place for a picnic if you've arrived early enough. A bonus if you have been able to stay somewhere on the Hana side is that you can enjoy this location before it is crowded (although it's great for people watching too).  Take the walk from the parking lot to the pools to enjoy a dip, or watch the crazy locals jump off the bridge above.  Always entertaining to spend time here and lots to see and enjoy.

The back side of Haleakala: Vehicle rental agreements typically prohibit travel around the back side of the mountain.   Having been there I would agree with them for the most part. Here is a story we had that involved driving "home" from the back side of Haleakala 

The road is not paved, but it is improved regularly so it is passable.  There are spots, like the road to Hana that are clearly one way at a time, this time without warnings or stop signs, and sheer cliff drops and faces, and rarely a guardrail.  Your cell phone will not work here and the way back to Kihei (in our case) is just as far if not further around the back side of the mountain because all roads lead back to Kahului, there is no road directly to South Maui from here.  That said, Google did go there, so you can see the area ahead of time to make a more educated decision via Google map view.  Watch for cows and horses in the road, they like to graze there and tend to move at their own pace. 

All in all, Maui is a wonderful place to visit and take some time out in paradise.  Hopefully this posting will give you some ideas of the more intimate and local activities on the island so you can step out of the typical resort setting and really start feeling like Ohana (family).

1 comment:

Maui restaurants said...

We did a bunch of other amazing things during our trip to Hawaii, but I really wanted to share this experience as a must do! Here’s a link to there website’m making a list of the other fun activities we did, so feel free to hit me up for ideas : ) If you are looking for what to do in Maui this is highly recommended. Enjoy your trip!"