The volcanic, Hawaiian island of Maui is only a five hour flight from YVR so when I was fortunate to find a friend, a flight and four days off – I eagerly packed my bikini and went in search of the sun.
Off to Maui we went! Arriving on an evening flight by 10pm to a friendly Aloha rental car representative who made everything easy – from arrivals, we called a magic number and one of their employees picked us up, drove us to our White Convertible Mustang that was parked in the airport parking lot and we were on our way.
Since we were arriving late, we knew that we wouldn’t be keen to drive across the island in the dark so we lined up the Maui Seaside Hotel in Kahului before we left. The accommodation was clean, quaint and located near the water, a fine place to rest our heads and have as our home base to explore the rest of the island.
Kahului was nothing special and in fact it was more ghetto and industrial than you would ever imagine Maui to be. My recommendation is that you only stay your first night here if you need to and then move on to one of the more charming, coastal towns.
Day 1: Lahaina
To stretch our legs we decided to drive 35-minutes from from Kahului to Lahaina and making the drive in a convertible turned out to be half the fun. The coastal drive is a wonderful way to welcome you to the island– the shimmering sea stretches beyond the horizon on your left while you cruise along a windy single lane highway lined with tropical trees and a jagged rock face on your right. The drive is easy, the scenery is spectacular and best of all you end up in Lahaina; a cruisy little seaside town with lots of local love and a large expanse of glittering blue Pacific Ocean.
We spent half the day in Lahaina wandering around the shops and exploring the small streets, but it wasn’t until we found Fleetwoods on Front Street that we really fell for its charm. Fleetwoods is a relatively new restaurant located in the heart of Lahaina, it has been hand crafted and curated by its owner Mick Fleetwood and is a true testament to good taste. Every item, every detail and probably, every employee, have been chosen to help create a warm, welcoming and rich atmosphere that makes you want to just move in and live there.
While we were having lunch on Fleetwoods roof top patio, we drank Blonde Beers from the Maui Brewing Company under a never-ending sun and ate the best-blackened Mahi Mahi fish tacos that I‘ve ever tasted. For just 5$, we also spent 45 minutes with Brad, a personable and passionate sommelier-in-training who was bursting with information about wine, Maui and the beautiful building that we dined in. The wine tasting experience is the best value for a boozy education that I’ve ever enjoyed and the classes are offered every day on the hour, starting at 2 and ending at 7pm. www.fleetwoodsonfrontst.com
The Road to Hana (Life Lessons) :
1. It’s not as scary as it looks
2. You’re always brave enough to try
3. Slow and steady wins the race
4. There’s always something wonderful waiting, right around the corner
5. Never look back, just take Gravol
Day 2: The Road to Hana
The Road to Hana is a shockingly windey adventure, but it’s a must do if you’re looking to see some of the island’s most spectacular scenery. The Hana Highway stretches out along a hundred kilometres and boasts over 59 bridges, (most of which are nerve-wracking and one way) approximately 620 curves (most of them blind) and runs right through a lush tropical rainforest. Along the way, there are plenty of places to stop to see waterfalls, discover new trees in arboretums, get lost in bamboo forests and more.
Here are some of the markers that you should check out along the way:
Pull over at marker 6 to explore Na’ili’ili haele, a hike that starts in a bamboo forest and ends with waterfalls and a big pool to swim in.
Pull over at marker 16 to explore the floral and fauna of the Keanae Arboretum.
Make sure that you stop by Wainapanapa State Park when you’ve almost reached Hana; it’s a pretty place for a picnic and to take photographs. You can relax on the really unique black sand beach, wait for geysers to go off and swim/stand (depending on the tide) in a fresh water cave.
Take the thirty minutes and admittedly scarier drive past Hana to the Seven Sacred Pools in Haleaka National Park where you can marvel at Mother nature and frolic in her hand made, fresh water pools. Driver beware: this part of the drive has even less signs and more turns but is worth that weird feeling in your tummy that screams “oh look, we are driving along the side of a cliff.”
Day 3: Wailea
When we got out of the ghetto and arrived in Wailea, we were greeted by manicured lawns, expensive resorts, picturesque beaches and fresh white robes from the Marriott Resort and Spa. We were lucky to stay in such a lux resort because I had Marriott points to burn and obviously, it didn’t disappoint.
For dinner, walk over to the Shops at Wailea and spend some time at Longhi’s , an outdoor dining restaurant with a seriously legit happy hour (think mini duck pizza and ahi tuna sliders), a well thought out local menu (crab cakes, fish and chips, creamy seafood pastas) and even a perfect brunch (thick bacon with eggs benny.)
The staff are really sweet (Hi Dave!), the space is pretty upscale and the ahi tuna sashimi that we had for dinner was so fresh and buttery that it didn’t even taste like sashimi (or at least not the quality I’m use to!)
Day 4: Big Beach, Little Beach
Both Big and Little Beach are located in the State Park just past Makena and if you’re leaving from Wailea, it’s only a ten minute drive. Little beach is a great place to swim in the ocean, hang ten with the locals and to be naked. Its tucked away, on the other side of a small cliff and they’d prefer if you left your swim suit behind. Big beach on the other hand, is a pretty serious surf beach with a fierce break and plenty of Surfer bros.
It was enough for us to just sit on the shore and watch the waves roll in.
The Messy Little Details
Aloha Rent-a-Car is a local Hawaiian rental service and was the number one reason we enjoyed Maui; without them we wouldn’t have been able to afford to rent a car and we would have been stuck in Kahului for half the time. I enthusiastically recommend Aloha because they offered exactly what you need and none of the other rubbish: we rented a 2009 mustang convertible for four days and it came to 330$ CAD (including collision, second driver and all the dotted line stuff.) By comparison, the criminals at corporate Hertz rent-a-car wanted north of 900 dollars. www.aloharentacar.com
and the Most Important Part
it doesn’t matter where you are, it matters who you’re with. xo #mauibabe