“Eat, Drink and be Maui”
– Hawaiian saying
Maui. Off my list of favorite four letter words. Besides my sister (she and her family have lived on the island off and on for about 20 years), my favorite thing about all things Maui is its exquisite natural beauty. Since my first visit in the late 1970’s, Maui’s population has doubled and island land development has quadrupled, but Maui has managed to maintain many of its wonders. Haleakala, Hana, the Iao Valley, those secret water holes and waterfalls… I could go on. Much has been written about them; I will spare you from any novice attempts at describing the nearly indescribable. Instead, I’ll give good propers to my current favorite on-island destinations.
While the resort hotels of Lahaina, Kapalua and Wailea are hard to beat, Sugar Beach is a refreshing change from the hotel hustle. Conveniently located on Maalaea Bay, just north of Kehei and only 20 minutes or so from the Kahului airport, Sugar Beach is tucked away from the tourist crowds. The Sugar Beach Resort boasts an oceanfront location, a private beach, a pool, hot tub, poolside guest BBQ facilities, a restaurant with full bar and other shops onsite. Last year for $342 per night we lived in an ocean view 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo with full kitchen + dining room and in-room laundry, including ample free parking. We savored sitting out on our large balcony with iced cold brew at sunrise and then after a day of adventure, with tropical cocktails at sunset.
Our daughter Lucy developed a love of snorkeling during our family trip last year, and if you haven’t yet done so at Ahihi Bay, hit the road in your rental and you will not be disappointed. Near the southern tip of the island by way of South Makena Road, The Ahihi-Kinau Natural Reserve is nestled off a one lane residential road between black lava rock and rugged hilly terrain. The beauty on both land is astounding and make it a must-see destination. The water is warm and clear, the air is refreshing and the bay is chock full of fish.
Ahihi is home to 33 species of coral and 75 species of fish- 5 of which are under protected status. There was so much to see there that during our 7 day vacation, we visited twice; Lucy took lots of underwater shots.
Another family favorite activity (ok, actually just my favorite activity) is shopping, especially in beautiful Wailea. Only 15 minutes from Sugar Beach, Wailea is on the southwest end of Maui’s scenic Gold Coast. Much has changed in this pretty seaside village over the last 20 years, and while it has always been a favorite destination for tourists, these days private property development has turned much of the area into a vacation haven for mostly the extremely wealthy.
Consequently, The Shops at Wailea boast some of Maui’s most luxurious stores. Here you can shop one of Tommy Bahama’s premier locations while enjoying a perfect pineapple daiquiri and even stay for dinner at their in-house bar and restaurant. The Maui Clothing Co. carries the best array of swim suits, flip flops and beach hats around. And while there are ABC Store locations all over the islands, the large Wailea shop has an incredible selection of sundries, wearables and gifts- something for everyone and easy on your shopping budget. But my favorite new place to browse & buy is SoHa Living. The store is bright and airy just like the island, and the merchandise is modern, tasteful and fun. Choose between Hawaiian themed housewares, jewelry, decorations and gifts, or don’t- it’s also a great place to window shop and soak up local style.
If you’re in Lahaina, make sure to plan an evening that includes a sunset sailing trip to kick off an evening on the island. We did just that to get a picturesque look at Lahaina, the Maui shoreline and its surrounding islands waterside. For about 2 hours, you can let the captain guide you while you relax and enjoy the warm sun and balmy winds. Try the Champagne Sail offered by Sail Maui; the boat is great and the people are super friendly.
Don’t forget to take your camera, because the views are stunningly colorful and sometimes downright surreal.
While one could write an entire book on all the wonderful places to dine on Maui, I daresay to really get a current feel for the local food scene, a food truck stop will really hit the spot. Luckily, my sister Lesley the Local knew exactly where to take us. Over near the airport by the Maui Costco, you can find an impressive gathering of food trucks serving island style cuisine.
We ate delicious deep fried poke and afterwards, topped it off with my personal favorite island treat: a cool fresh acai bowl from Mo’ono Bowl. Mine was full of banana, strawberries, greek yogurt and liliko’i butter and frankly, I can’t stop thinking about it a year later. Besides some sushi we bought for lunch at Foodland in Wailuku (which was no lie better than some of the sushi I’ve eaten at restaurants!), the Mo’ono Bowl was my favorite dish of all.
My goal this summer is to try to make my own acai bowl, liliko’i included. When the time comes, I’ll post the results.
There are certainly many more interesting and noteworthy places and things about Maui to discuss, but on this note I’m going to have to conclude my thoughts on this topic for now. If you are lucky enough to be traveling there soon, hope you will be able to check out one or two of my recommendations. If you do, let me know what you think!
©2017 Lisa Ihnken All Rights Reserved