Island Guide: Maui
So, I have to apologize for the mega break in posts but I was on Maui last week and honestly couldn't bring myself to do anything other than enjoy every minute of my time there. That vacation mentality followed me back to LA and I've been in cruise mode ever since. While I did manage to hit up a few of my favorite spots and see some of my dearest friends, I mainly spent time with my family, and most of that time was spent hanging out with my mom. As it should be right? I thought so. We even found some new favorites while making memories. Highlights included getting my plate lunch fix at Surfside Deli while spending time with my beautiful godson, Hanalei, and my best friend, Kammy, chowing down on my favorite fish burger at Paia Fish Market, strolling through lava rock trails along La Perouse Bay, and soaking up some salty sun at Big Beach. Of course, breathing in the gorgeous Kula Lavender at Ali'i Kula Lavender, touring O'o Farms, picking up poke and beers, and dining at Ka'ana Kitchen (twice) also topped the list. Check in later for more on Ka'ana Kitchen guys. It's pretty special and I can't wait to share more about it with all of you (including the recipe for my favorite new dessert!).
In fact, here's the thing guys, Maui as a whole is more than special; it is magical. Maui really is a dream and every time I head home, I realize how lucky I was to have grown up on an island like Maui. In my book that familiar phrase, Maui no ka 'oi (Maui is the best), is pretty darn accurate. I wish I could have packed each and every one of you in my suitcase and taken you with me to experience it in all its glory but alas, they don't make suitcases that are large enough for that yet. So instead, I thought I might do something a little different and share my Maui favorites (compiled with help from friends and family) with all of you. I can't tell you how many times over the years that I've been asked for recommendations, and I always feel guilty because my lists are never as detailed or as full as I'd like them to be. Well, here's my first attempt at remedying that. By all means, hit me up if you have more questions but hopefully this list will serve you well. PS - Brooke, please forgive me for the delay. :D :D
Island Guide: Maui
UPCOUNTRY (Kula, 'Ulupalakua, Pukalani, Makawao, Hali'imaile)
- La Provence - Go for breakfast, maybe after watching the sunrise over Haleakala. Feels like a little slice of France was tucked into this quaint Kula restaurant. Their sticky buns and almond croissants are amazing!! Pro tip: Don't forget to bring cash--they don't take cards.
- Kula Bistro - This homestyle cafe is perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Think homestyle meals with a bit of Italian flair, this local gem is BYOB (with no corkage fee)!!
- Grandma's Coffee House - A local favorite, Grandma's is ALWAYS crowded but brave the long line and you'll see why. If you happen to see the pineapple banana cake in their bakery display, get a slice!! Note: Be prepared to walk a ways if you need to use the bathroom--Grandma's doesn't have one. Not to worry though, the walk is quick, easy, and pretty.
- Market Fresh Bistro - With an ever changing menu (it's based on what's fresh and local), this is a great spot for brunch. Order one of the specials!
- T Komoda Store & Bakery - CREME PUFF. STICK DONUT. CHANTILLY CAKE. That's pretty much all you need to know, though the butter rolls are also amazing. Go early because things sell out fast and trust me when I say that you don't want to miss out on any of these local favorites.
- Hali'imaile General Store - Open for lunch and dinner, this restaurant is a great spot to stop at after you've spent the morning at the Lavender Farm or O'o Farm. Personal favorites include the sashimi pizza and the pineapple upside down cake!
Explore, See, Do
- Haleakala National Park - This is a MUST. Come up early and watch the sunrise with an unobstructed view. It's pretty breathtaking and also really cold up on the summit, so bundle up and wear lots of layers (it's freezing--literally). You can also do a bit of hiking--the summit has over 30 miles of hiking trails. My favorite is Sliding Sands.
- Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm - This is one of my all time favorite spots on Maui. The minute you step out of your car, you'll see why. Not only is it beautiful but the air is heavenly scented. They grow over 45 different varieties of lavender here as well as everything from olive trees to sunflowers at AKL. I can't think of a better spot to start your day (perhaps after watching the sunrise over Haleakala)!
- O’o Farm - A new find for me, this gorgeous property is home to an incredible sustainable and biodynamic farm that produces coffee, fruit, lettuce, veggies, herbs, and flowers for many local eateries like Pacific’O and The Feast at Lele. Sign up for a 'seed to cup' morning coffee tour (like my mom and I did) or do a lunch and farm tour. Either way, you'll be treated to beautiful sights, scents, flavors, and an unforgettable experience. The meals are cooked up with farm fresh ingredients (everything's grown on the property) and the coffee is fantastic!
- Maui Wine - Known to locals as Tedeschi Winery, this is Maui's only winery! They offer a complimentary tour and tasting and you'll find the Ulupalakua Ranch Store & Grill right across the street from the winery where you can enjoy a nice lunch or pick up some deli items to nosh on at the winery.
- Ocean Vodka - This is Maui's only vodka distillery. They practice sustainable and organic farming and offer daily tours. It's best to book tours at least 24 hours in advance.
- Surfing Goat - "I don't want to go to a goat farm," said no one ever. This place is awesome. They offer a variety of tours including one where you get to feed and milk a goat as well as explore the cheese making process. Make sure you sample some of the award winning cheese made on site.
- Morihara Store - Open since 1948, I grew up walking over to this store after school for snacks and treats like spam musubis and li hing mui (salted plum) gummy bears. They carry local fruits and veggies and local packaged goods, and also have a little hot bar. Get the chili and rice or a spam musubi!!
- Pukalani Superette - "Welcome to upcountry, welcome to your easy does it store." This song plays in the back of my mind whenever I think of Pukalani Superette. They're celebrating over 50 years of service and are one of the most popular markets on the island. Pick up some cone sushi, spam musubis, and a bento if you stop by.
- Upcountry Farmers Market - Open every Saturday from 7 am 'til 11 am, this is a great spot to support local artisans and farmers. It's also home to Maui Cones, aka the best mochiko chicken, kalo (taro), Ono ceviche, and ahi poke cones and I highly recommend you stop by if you're in the area. My best friend, Kammy, and her husband are the lovely couple behind the cones, so please make sure you tell them Alana sent you and sends all her love.
- Makawao Town Boutiques - Makawao is an eclectic little paniolo (cowboy) town and home to cute boutiques and local galleries. You'll find shops that cater to fashionistas, paniolos, and artisans alike. Don't forget to stop by T Komoda Store and Bakery if you're in the neighborhood!
NORTH SHORE + HANA (Haiku, Paia, Hana)
- Paia Fish Market - Best fish burgers in all the land. Messy and no-frills, these burgers are built with the freshest fish, my favorite coleslaw, and a bit of shredded cheddar cheese. Grab a bunch of napkins and make sure to get a side of fries! You can also visit their location on South Kihei too!
- Sporting Club of the Pacific - If you're looking for fresh juices, acai bowls, or cold-pressed coffee, check this spot out. With blends like pineapple-chlorophyll and pineapple-hibiscus, you'll find interesting juices and tonics that are designed to enhance performance for all sportsmen (and women) out there. Look for it behind Puka Puka. Park across the street or at Paia Bay if you plan to visit!
- Anthony’s Coffee - Definitely one of my favorite local coffee shops, make sure you grab along the window for people watching or out back to escape the hustle and bustle of Hana Highway. Also a great stop to pick up boxed lunches on your way out to Hana.
- Maka by Mana - If you're looking for raw and vegan options, this is the spot for you. Run by family owned Mana Grocery, Maka by Mana is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and offers beautiful, creative, and healthy dishes.
- Cafe des Amis - Also an island favorite, this cafe offers a taste of France and the Mediterranean with its diverse menu items. You can order French crepes and Indian style curries but if I'm being honest, I always come for the crepes!
- Nuka - This Izakaya style Japanese sushi restaurant is one of my favorites. Their menu features seasonal, locally sourced ingredients and their chicken and ahi katsu donburi bowls are to die for.
- Thai Spice - Delicious and affordable, the portions here are generous and the staff is friendly. I wouldn't call it authentic, but it's pretty darn good.
- Mama’s Fish House - A MUST. Don't leave Maui without dining here at least once. It is a splurge but it's also worth every penny. The fish is caught fresh daily by Mama's Fish House's team of local fishermen and the setting is just out of this world. If you're stumped on what to get, I'd recommend the Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahimahi stuffed with lobster and crab or the traditional Hawaiian. Save some room for dessert and treat yourself to a 'Polynesian black pearl,' a slice of 'Kuau pie,' or my personal favorite the Hana banana macadamia nut crisp.
Explore, See, Do
- Baldwin Beach Park - The perfect spot for a morning beach walk or run, Baldwin usually gets a fair amount of wind in the afternoon and evening, so it's best to soak this beach up in the earl morning hours.
- Ho'okipa Beach Park - If you're an avid big wave surfer or windsurfer, this spot is a dream in the winter. It's also great for spectators looking to catch some serious watermen in their element, as well as some sea turtles! Be prepared for wind and be patient, as the parking fills up fast!
- Twin Falls - It's a short hike in to the lower falls with a beautiful fresh water pond and cute fruit stand. Just pass the porta-potties, then follow the trail to the left and you'll find yourself at the little fall. Hike a little further and you'll reach the second, bigger waterfall.
- Wai'anapanapa State Park - If you're bold enough to drive the road to Hana, you're also lucky enough to find yourself at Wai'anapanapa State park, home of beautiful black sand beaches and cold freshwater caves.
- Kihalulu Red Sand Beach - It's a short hike into this gorgeous red sand cove!
- Hamoa Beach - One of the most beautiful beaches on the island, the water here is soooo clear!!
- Paia Town Boutiques - Located along Hana Highway and Baldwin Avenue, you'll find shops geared towards tourists and locals alike!
- Mana Foods - My favorite grocery store on the island, Mana is the spot to find fresh, local, and organic produce, over 100 different jams and jellies, 50 different seaweed options, 55 olive oils, and over 600 teas!! I always find something new and interesting here!
- Halfway to Hana Stand - Home to aunty's famous banana bread, this is a must stop if you're making your way out to Hana!
- Hasegawa General Store - A true 'general' store, Hasegawas has been around for over 100 years and their chili and rice is famous across the island. There must be something about chili and rice and general stores!
CENTRAL (Kahului, Wailuku)
- Tasaka Guri Guri - It’s not ice cream, it’s not sherbet, it’s something else. And it’s wonderful. There are only two flavors, strawberry and pineapple. My best friend recommends getting four scoops, two of each flavor, cause two’s not enough. However, I'm partial to two scoops pineapple.
- Farmacy Health Bar - Great spot for acai bowls, sandwiches, salads, soups, and juices. If you're feeling adventurous, I'd recommend trying the Wai Side Bowl. It's an acai bowl with poi in it but even poi lovers say you have to love poi, so order carefully!
- Ululani's Hawaiian Shave Ice - With six locations on the island, one in Kahului, one in Wailuku, three in Lahaina, and one in Kihei, Ululani's shave ice is one of the best on the island. It's super fine and they've got tons of awesome syrups like lilikoi (passion fruit) and guava!
- Maui Specialty Chocolates - Located in Kahului's industrial area, this Maui based chocolate shop specializes in gourmet Maui chocolates but is known for its chocolate peanut butter mochi! Call ahead and reserve yours before going, or you may show up disappointed!
- Homemaid Bakery - Local bakery that specializes in crispy manju (Japanese confection with a crispy crust on the outside and filled with red bean, white bean, etc.) and hot malasadas (Portuguese donuts). Get there before 10 am or after 4 pm for piping hot malasadas. The manju make a great omiyage (gift) to share with friends and family back home!
- Sam Sato's - One of my favorite spots for lunch. I almost always order the same thing: small dry mein with a bbq stick and a pineapple-peach turnover. They are known for their dry mein, so I highly recommend someone in your party orders it. They also have great manju and turnovers!
- Las Piñatas of Maui - Not exactly authentic, this is one of the few Mexican restaurants on the island and my favorite of the bunch. I'm a huge fan of the Kitchen Sink Burrito.
Explore, See, Do
- Iao Valley - A great spot to cool off after a hot day in central Maui, Iao Valley has ice cold fresh water ponds and over 10 miles of beautiful, lush parklands and is home to the 1,200-foot Iao Needle.. Bring a picnic and post up for a nice afternoon and a quick dip in the ponds.
- Tamura's Fine Wine & Liquors - Great spot for spirits but even better for pupus (appetizers, tapas). Get the Tamura's Special Ahi Poke, Spicy Pipikaula (salted, dried beef), and a few beers and your set with the perfect sunset snacks! Located in Kahului, Lahaina, and soon in Kihei as well as several locations on Oahu, this is one of my favorite spots on Maui to pick up poke! They also stock my favorite beer, Hitachino Nest White Ale (it's super with poke).
- Takamiya Market - You'll be surrounded by locals shopping for their favorite soaked meats, poke, and bentos when you're here. Great spot to pick up a bento lunch for a picnic in Iao Valley.
WEST (Oluwalu, Lahaina, Ka'anapali, Kapalua)
- The Bakery - Tucked away on a side street near the sugar cane train, The Bakery is a little hard to find but it's worth the journey. Once you're there, find street parking and ignore your instincts and go around the back for the entrance. It's cash only, so come prepared! Also, get there early--it may be hard to find but that doesn't mean it isn't popular. Many items sell out before 10 am. I'd definitely recommend trying the bear claw, it's my best friend's favorite!
- Choice Health Bar - Healthy, fresh, and vibrant are three words that come to mind when I think of Choice. You'll find smoothies, salads, acai bowls, fresh juices, and many raw and vegan options but be prepared to wait. Most things are made to order and do take a little bit of time to prepare. PS - I hear the buddha bowl is amazing!
- Aloha Mixed Plate - Conveniently located right of of Front Street in Lahaina (behind the Cannery), Aloha Mixed Plate is a great spot to try some local favorites like shoyu chicken, teriyaki beef, or lau lau. Just be sure to remove the ti leaf wrapper from the lau lau before enjoying! Also, bring a jacket because once those island breezes get blowin' it gets a little chilly on the water.
- Sale Pepe - Really small but super cute Italian restaurant. A husband and wife team, they draw inspiration from both Milan and New York to create one amazing menu!
- Merriman's Kapalua - Perfect spot to dine on the water, enjoy a locally grown and raised farm-to-table meal, and watch the sunset over a lovely Maui day. If you don't have enough time to enjoy a meal, definitely stop by for a drink and the view!
Explore, See, Do
- Kapalua Resort Coastal Trail - This trail runs from Kapalua Bay Beach, through the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua and to D.T. Fleming Beach Park. It's a beautiful, easy trail perfect for a leisurely stroll or a brisk jog with breathtaking views.
- Front Street - The main drag in Lahaina, Front Street is chock full of restaurants, shops, and lots of people watching. Personal highlights is the insanely large banyan tree!
- Honolua Bay - Great spot for snorkeling (summertime only) and a wonderful spot to check out big wave surfing! If you're snorkeling, be prepared for the rocky path into the water. It's a bit of a pain but on a clear and calm day, Honolua Bay is a great spot to snorkel! Also, there isn't much of a beach (there really isn't one) and there aren't any lifeguards on duty.
- Launiupoko Beach Park - If you're a beginner to intermediate level surfer, Launiupoko might be the spot for you. It's also a great spot to post up with your family and spend the day at the beach bbqing!
- Old Lahaina Luau - This is Maui's most popular luau and is always booked months in advance, so please book early if you'd like to visit this luau. Great food and open bar paired with a friendly staff and wonderful show, I can personally attest to the greatness of this luau!
SOUTH (Kihei, Wailea, Makena)
- Surfside Spirits and Deli - Owned by family friends, this is the spot for a true local plate lunch. My favorite is pictured at the top of this post: one scoop white rice, mochiko chicken, pork lau lau, green salad with lilikoi dressing, a scoop of fried rice and a side of their secret recipe oriental dressing. The island favorite is definitely the shoyu chicken, so no matter what, make sure you get a piece of that! Take a plate to go and enjoy it at cove park and watch some new surfers or enjoy it in the deli and peruse the antiques! Whatever you do though, please let them know Alana sent you and sends a big hug their way.
- Ka’ana Kitchen - One of my favorite restaurants on the island, Ka'ana Kitchen is located on the ground floor of the Andaz Wailea Maui and is one of the most exciting restaurants I've had the opportunity to dine at. The staff operates like a family, so you'll have the best service you could imagine and you won't find a more open kitchen. Chef Isaac Bancaco and his team are bringing as much locally sourced, organic ingredients as possible to every dish and present them with flair and tons of creativity. If you're a foodie, make sure to request a seat at the chef's table or if you're a wine-o ask for a seat at the sommelier's table. The menu changes as the season changes, so you won't always find the same thing twice. One permanent menu item is the abalone risotto and if you like perfectly cooked 64° eggs, chewy rich abalone, and shiitake salt, I think you should consider ordering this dish!
- Monkey Pod Kitchen - Come for happy hour and enjoy some great live music. Great spot to stop into after a day at the beach.
- Sarento's on the Beach - Located right on Keawakapu beach, this spot is great for brunch. Enjoy a leisurely meal then walk down to the beach and enjoy the rest of your day!
- Local Boys Shave Ice - With a location in Kihei and another in Lahaina, it's the best bang for your buck. All and any toppings you want are all included in the price and it's super reasonable!
- Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar - Asian fusion at its best is how I like to think of Sansei. They've got a panko-crusted ahi sashimi roll on their menu that I find myself craving at random times and their crab ramen with Asian truffle broth is amazing. Go early for their half-off early bird special or stay late for their late night discount and karaoke. Just note that the line starts at least an hour before opening on weekends! Fun fact, I used to work at Sansei way back when and a younger version of myself still lives on their website!
- Sushi Paradise - This spot is tiny but the sushi is on point. Don't come here if you're in a hurry but if you're a fan of sushi, set some time aside for Chef Watanbe's sushi! Locals recommend the Paradise Sashimi and Sushi Platters!
- Cow Pig Bun - Maui's newest gastropub, CPB is a great spot for meat, beer and bourbon lovers! It also does these late night events called 'knife fights.' They shut down the kitchen and leave the bar open and two well known maui chefs do like a faux iron chef comp. Very popular with the locals!
Explore, See, Do
- Maui Brewing Company - Have you seen those beer cans with the smiling blond in the grass skirt? That's MBC's 'Bikini Blonde Lager' and it as well as other favorite are available on tap in the tasting room! You can also do a $5 tour and enjoy a flight of MBC's flagship beers while learning more about the Maui based brewing company.
- La Perouse Bay - Great spot to hike through old lava fields or snorkel in a semi-protected bay. Wear close toed shoes if you're hiking about, as the lava rocks are mighty sharp. Also a great spot to capture some beautiful shots!
- Makena Beach aka 'Big Beach' (and Little Beach) - Growing up, I spent my fair share of time at this beach (the Big Beach side) and admired a skimboarder or two while soaking up the sun and braving the big waves at this big beach! The sand here is fine and white and the beach looks like it stretches on for miles and miles (it's really only 2/3 of a mile but it sure looks longer). With three entrances, there's no shortage of parking, so pack a cooler and enjoy the day! If you're craving a little adventure, you can always climb the rock on the north side and make your way over to 'Little Beach' aka the nude/hippie beach. :D
- The Market Maui - Downstairs from Monkey Pod, you'll find this deli and juice/smoothie/coffee bar. They also have tons of local artisan goods. It's a little pricey but a nice stop before or after the beach.