An Arab-American girl's quest for meaningful cultural experiences
We leave back to Los Angeles in a few hours. Leaving with:
-coconut and macadamia nut everything, all in my happy tummy
-photos of endless scenic views
-5 dips in the ocean
-4 beach sunsets
-3 ahi dishes
-2 scrapes and bruises
-1 trek in through the forest
-1 swim underneath a waterfall
And of course, many lovely memories with the family.
Thanks Maui for all the great adventures.
Yesterday was quite a lazy relaxing day. Although I woke up early as usual, everyone else was moving at a leisurely pace. We left the house late morning and drove back towards Lahaina because my mom saw a souvenir shop where she wanted to buy presents.
After I bought some cute earrings and my mom bought a bunch of stuff, we headed back towards Kihei, stopping at Leodas Pie Shop on the way. We each ate a mini pie and they were all delicious! See my yelp review here.
Afterwards, we finally decided to head to the beach. Initially we wanted to go to Ahihi Bay to snorkel, but after scoping out the rocky area with tiny roads, we decided to go to Makena beach instead. The waves were very rough today, which made for some fun, although we were exhausted after a few hours.
By the time we got home and showered, it was time for dinner, so we walked over to Maui Thai Bistro. See my yelp review here.
Afterwards we walked around the little plazas in Kihei and bought a few trinkets before heading back to pack :( before bed.
Today is our last day in Maui - we head back to L.A. on the redeye. Sad times.
Yesterday morning I awoke eager to finally try Kihei Caffe for breakfast. The Maui breakfast had a few key staples, but the one I was most looking forward to was the banana-macadamia nut pancakes. After the ritual two hours get everyone moving and out the door situation, we managed to make it to the café around 8:15. Luckily, the line was only about half an hour or so (thank goodness it was a Monday!) although I’d read on Yelp that it could be a two hour wait sometimes!
Despite a few order mishaps (inevitable at a order-pay-sit restaurant with 5 people), we settled in and ate some absolutely delicious food. If you happen to be in Kihei for breakfast one day, I highly recommend this spot. See my Yelp review here.
Afterwards, we quickly stopped at Boss Frog’s to buy our Luau tickets before packing up and heading out to Io Valley.
The tour-booking agent told us that the valley is the second rainiest spot on earth, which was supported by the lush green mountains we saw on our drive in. We were quite eager to do the light hike we’d read about, as well as swim in some freshwater pools. In retrospect, we followed the guidebook and ended up at Kepaniwai State Park, although I think we were supposed to go to Io Valley State Park. I’m not sure if they’re the same. Either way, we had a really hard time finding the trail at Kepaniwai, and if weren’t for the help of a friendly local, we would have given up entirely and gone home. The trail itself ended up being really fun, with a small skinny crossing bridge, and a skinny little path filled with large rocks and low-hanging trees. We followed the stream most of the way and ended up at a small, seemingly still-water pool. We didn’t end up swimming there (just dipped our feet in) but I’m glad we did some exploring nonetheless.
Afterwards, we headed over to Whaler’s Village to kill some time before luau. It was a pretty outdoor mall overlooking the beach, but we quickly opted for some late afternoon sand and surf over shopping.
Since we had decided on the show sans dinner, we headed over to one of the higher rated places on Yelp – which ironically ended up being a Mexican taco truck. I do have to say that Ono held its own all things considering – and I come from Los Angeles, land of the great Mexican food. See my Yelp review here.
After dinner, we drove the few miles to the Sheraton Kaanapali, for the Maui Nui Luau at Black Rock. If you’re interested in opting out of dinner for a half-price ticket, then this is the only luau on Maui that offers that as an option. We don’t eat pork, and Kahlua pig is a big part of the meal, which is why we chose this option. We got there about half an hour before sunset, so we were able to take some gorgeous sunset beach photos as the show was starting. The show itself was a spectacular 45 min spectacle, complete with Hawaiian, Polynesian, and Tahitian dancers. The true highlight of the show however, was the fire dancer, who danced with TWO fire sticks and ate fire in front of us. It was quite entertaining and impressive. My favorite thing was that the host kept honoring different groups of people that came: everyone from veterans to honeymooners to birthday-celebraters. He finally got to the anniversary-celebraters, and all the couples (my parents included) got up and shared a dance to a special Hawaiian love song. It was really sweet and probably a great highlight for my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary. At the end of the show, the dancers kindly hung around for anyone that wanted to take pictures with them, which I thought was really nice. We all got pictures with different dancers before trekking our way back to Kihei.
Lahaina beach sunset and Luau fire dancer
Yesterday we woke up early to drive the infamous Road to Hana. It is well-known as the most scenic, most unforgettable route in all of Maui.
After a hearty breakfast, we piled into the car with the back filled with all the necessities – snacks, water, bathing suits, and changes of clothes.
The Hana Highway officially starts in Paia, the small “hipster” town (as a guide told us) with lots of cute shops and restaurants and the last gas station until Hana.
Our first stop a few miles away was Hookipa Beach Park – lots of crazy surfers and even crazier waves. We sat at the top of the observation deck and wistfully watched the jumps and dips. Quite impressive.
We continued on our merry way through the small town of Haiku, where we were treated with banana patches, sugarcane fields, and loads of guava trees. This was an excellent precursor to Twin Falls, a small hike that led us to a magnificent, yet tourist-filled waterfall. Unfortunately, we weren’t wearing our swimsuits at this point so nobody jumped in but we did manage to cross the rock-filled creek into the waterfall mostly unscathed. Tamir and I both took minor tumbles (just some skinned knees) but we did at least dip our water into the cool pool. My parents had grabbed some sweet sugarcane juice before heading back onto the road.
We drove through many curvy roads with stunning views before taking a short picnic/bathroom pit stop at Kaunahina State Wayside Park. From there, we could see the entire Keanae Peninsula. The gawk-worthy views of the blue water below were stunning.
After driving past a few key areas due to lack of parking, we were lucky enough to find a spot at Puaa Kaa State Wayside Park. This time, we put our swimsuits on and took a dip under the frigid waterfall. I learned that I love freshwater swimming and that it’s also possible to be colder in the water than out. Such a weird feeling. I’m glad I fulfilled my desire to swim in a waterfall in Hawaii. Check! On our way out, we spotted a few mongoose – they were surprisingly tiny!
By the time we finally make it to Hana, it is afternoon and we are starving. We stopped at a random not-so-great Thai place, and I ate some ridiculously spicy food.
We realized that we actually drove by Waianapanapa State Park on the way so we doubled back. For those of you that don’t know, it’s the famous black sand beach in Maui – complete with caves and lava formations.
In my hurry to get down to the beach, I managed to fall and skin my legs pretty badly on the path. Not a good day for my legs overall to be honest. The small area of smooth, black sand was awesome though! It was quite jarring to see non-brown sand. The rest of the beach was quite rocky however, and we swam for a short period before heading out.
It was late afternoon at this point and we wanted to continue the drive south back to Kihei, but were told by the locals that the road is actually quite dangerous – even more dangerous than the windy road to Hana! Reverse way home it was.
The road moves fairly quickly when you don’t stop, and we made it home just as the sun set.
We were pretty tired after the long day, so we grabbed a quick meal to-go before heading to bed.
For anyone heading to Maui - I highly, highly recommend this drive. The photo I posted hardly does the road justice - and there are lots of lovely stops along the way.
On day 2, I woke up at 5:30 am Maui time / 8:30 am Los Angeles time. I actually slept in quite a significant amount since I typically wake up around 5 am for work. Nonetheless, I’m the only apparently early riser in my family, so I puttered around for awhile, belatedly realizing I should have watched the sunrise outside. With too much time on my hands, I skimmed through my sister’s activities for the day, only to realize that Kipahulu and Kaupo were located right after the Road to Hana – both of which were on the opposite end of the island. Not only that, but the Road to Hana was already our plan for Sunday. Being the type-A person that I am, I immediately tried to find a new plan that made sense for the day. It took everyone awhile to get up and moving so it was too late to go on a snorkeling trip to Monolikini. However, the man at the tourist shop down the street gave us some great recommendations we could drive to. Rather than trying to be a push salesperson, he was honest about the quality and value of activities.
Per his recommendation, we went to Uoua Beach, located in Wailea. At first, we didn’t see anything. However, we started swimming near the rocks and saw a bunch of fish and coral. The highlight was seeing a GIANT sea turtle less than a few feet away! It was awesome. I’d never seen one before.
We knew we had an early day the next day, so we just walked around and explored Kihei for a couple of hours, browsing cute little tourist shops, the local grocery store, and finally settling at a local ice cream parlor before heading back for the night.
The first day of any trip is always long. It often involves the requisite early wake up, schlep to the airport, the actual flight, and the schlep. I realized yesterday that this is the first domestic trip I’ve ever taken with the whole family (sans road trips to Northern California), so this is quite exciting!
We were told we had to rent a car here in Maui, and rent we did. Serendipitously, the rental place was located right across the street from Costco, and we found ourselves there buying groceries and eating pizza for lunch. Was I in Hawaii yet? Since there are 5 of us, we opted to rent an apartment and were enthused to find our apartment located directly across from the beach! The picture I posted previously is probably 100 feet from our place. Sweet deal!
My dad told us the beach would be “freezing” and followed us across thinking we wouldn’t actually swim. But swim we did! The water was a beautiful, clear blue and cool (it is the pacific after all!) and we enjoyed a good few hours just hanging out and relaxing before heading back to our place, leaving a Hansel and Gretel worthy sand trail in our wake.
A couple of hours later, everyone had finally showered and had their requisite cups of caffeine and I was ready to pass out (at this point it’s 10:30 pm LA time). Luckily the caffeine kicked into enough gear to lead us to a good local spot: Coconut’s Fish Café. This casual fish restaurant was just what we’d needed after a long day. Fresh, delicious and mind-blowingly amazing fish tacos. You can check out my yelp review here.
At this point, it’s officially WAY past my Los Angeles bedtime, and my sister and I head back to sleep. The others went on a stroll nearby, but I definitely passed out before anyone returned.