Maui Vacation Recap (Part I)

I returned from paradise one week ago today, and let me be perfectly honest with you: I just cannot recover. Seriously. It’s been struggle city over here. Is it possible to go to Hawaii and return to your regular life unchanged? I’d argue absolutely not.

So, where do I even start? I guess by saying, If you haven’t been to Hawaii/Maui and ever get the chance, please don’t pass it up. Not like I think you would, but really — GO. It’s like Heaven, only you can get there in an airplane, and you still need to eat food. And bring a suitcase.

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Ever since I went to Maui at age 12 with my parents, it has been my favorite place in the world (to which I’ve been) — and returning the second time only solidified that further. I’m obsessed with this island and its raw, natural beauty, and would be lying if I said I haven’t been peeking at apartments on Craigslist the past few days. Hey, a girl can dream…

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We had the best time. THE BEST. I really couldn’t have asked for a better trip (or a better first trip with the boy — we quickly discovered that we travel together smashingly). The weather, the beaches, the Pacific Ocean, the resort, the activities we did, the Jeep we rented, the food, the laughs, the whales we saw from shore, the live music we heard at all the local bars and restaurants — everything was spectacular.

One of the highlights of the trip for me was the day we did the Road to Hana, which I’m not going to review here as it warrants a post of its own in the near future. I’ll just give you a little teaser from that day-to-beat-all-days:

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Yeah. It was really that stunning. & yes, I’m available as a travel iPhone photographer. πŸ˜‰

So, let’s do a “best of” recap from my trip (aka, my personal faves):

Best Day Trip/Activity: Road to Hana. This 12-hour day trip was one of my favorite days in a loooong time. Review to come shortly!

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Best Beach: Big Beach in South Maui, just south of Wailea. We were absolutely blown away by this beach and agreed it was the best we’ve visited…like, ever, anywhere. You could stand in water up to your shoulders and see down to your feet. It was unreal.

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Best Restaurant:Β Duke’s. We just loved this little ocean-side tiki bar of a spot and their amazing fish tacos (me) and fish sandwiches (him). The food, the atmosphere, the live music at night — it was all just right, and a short walk down the beach path from our hotel. We could roll in off the beach in swimsuits and feel right at home. My idea of doing everything right.

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They also serve their fish sandwich (which Tyler LOVED and is still talking about) on these rad purple sweet bread rolls (that I’m trying unsuccessfully to order online!).
This is the closest image I could find to replicate it (thanks, Pinterest):

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Best Place We Watched the Sunset:Β Sugar Cane Hawaiian Grill & Rum House in Lahaina. Sipping cocktails on the second-floor patio while an easy-voiced 20-year-old aspiring musician from New Jersey sang Jack Johnson songs while the sun set over the Pacific was a pretttty fantastic moment.

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Best Place To See the Hippies: Pa’ai. I’d read about how eccentric and eclectic and hippie-esque this town was, and I was so happy it lived up to those expectations and feel I have to mention it in this review because I just thought it was the coolest. The final town you drive through before officially setting out on the Road to Hana, Pa’ai was such a fun, laid-back, dreadlocks-and-barefeet laden town, and I wish I’d had more time to check out the shops and restaurants and cafes and just explore it. We stopped there on both the way out and way back to go to Mana Foods, this great little local health food grocery store (think a small, quirky version of Whole Foods) that was always teeming with people (maybe about half of whom were wearing shoes). There’s also a colorful cafe called Cafe Mambo that has a sister restaurant in the Hamptons, so that was fun to see a New York reference halfway across the world.

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Best Live Entertainment: Old Lahaina Luau.

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Touted as Maui’s premier luau, this show right in the town of Lahaina sells out nightly and we just barely squeezed in — I called our first morning there, and the next available tickets were for our last night. Everyone (taxi drivers, store owners, our hotel concierge) expressed tremendous surprise that we got in at all, so we had high expectations for this show after the glowing reviews, and we weren’t disappointed.


And by “weren’t disappointed,” I mean I became entirely convinced throughout the course of the evening that my new calling in life was, without a doubt, to move to Maui and become a hula dancer at this very luau.Β 

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It’s Maui’s only authentic luau, telling the story of Hawaii’s origins, and it was really well-done and served as a great last-night-of-vacation activity. Although the tickets are a bit pricey, they include open bar, a delicious buffet of traditional Hawaiian food, and a great show, so we were really glad we went and I’d recommend it if you’re in Maui.

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Soooo now I’m totally missing this place more than before, if even possible, after writing this post! Hope you guys enjoyed these little snippets of my favorite place, and I’ll be sure to recap the Road to Hana soon.

Where’s your favorite place you’ve ever been, and why?

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16 thoughts on “Maui Vacation Recap (Part I)

  1. My BIL and SIL went to Hawaii for their honeymoon, and they since have jokingly-but-seriously have spoken of “when we move to Hawaii” ever since. I went to Hawaii for a community service trip 10 years ago, and it truly was/is one of the most incredible places, period. I just wish it wasn’t so far from family!

    • i can only imagine that most people feel like that (uprooting and moving to paradise) after visiting Hawaii. i’m with you, lady — if it wasn’t so far from everyone i love, i’d have moved years ago (and almost did, to teach!). i’m trying to convince the boy we should go for at least 6 months to a year sometime in the next few years…so i might be “Run This Island” at that point. πŸ™‚

  2. Sounds amazing!!! My college roommate is getting married there in October and before I knew it was in Maui I was all set to be a bridesmaid. Then she told me a couple of days ago it was in Hawaii and I had to turn it down. I had already booked NYC marathon. 😦 I’m sad to see what I’ll be missing out on! So pretty!

    • ahhhh such a bummer that you’ll miss out on a wedding in Maui, but hopefully you’ll make it someday! at least running the NYC marathon will be a great experience! good for you!

  3. I did Waikiki after my deployment and while it was quute beautiful I heard Maui is closer to “real Hawaii” your trip looks amazing! You always right so eloquently. 😘

    My friend was stationed over there for 4 yrs and loved it. It is tough to get back to mainland (cost, distance etc) but you’re also such an amazing hip further west like Guam and Japan!

    My friends went to Kaui HI which is also beautiful I hear (black beaches more remote)

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful trip!! 😘😘😘😍

    • thanks for reading, and for the nice comment! it really is like a fairytale land. i haven’t been to Oahu or Kauai, but hopefully one day! πŸ™‚ i know a lot of people love Kauai for the fact that it’s less settled and very beautiful and has a lot of great hikes. i’d love to live there for a bit one day! you never know… πŸ™‚

  4. I can’t wait to read about your road to Hana experience. My husband and I actually stayed in a yurt for a night in Hana and took our time both ways . It was an incredible experience. The little town on Hana is so authentic, especially in the evening when all the locals come out. We are hoping to head back to Maui in November. Glad to hear you had such a fantastic trip – and traveled well with the mr. πŸ™‚

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