Archive for the ‘Must Do Maui!’ Category

March 13th, 2015

Fun Maui Attractions for Seniors

I love, love, love Hawaii … all islands. I suppose Maui is my personal favorite for many reasons. primamrily the diversity of things to see and here. There is definitely something for everyone, regardless of age, abilities or what you most wish to do. Here are a few suggestions to get us started!

1 – Road to Hana: Prepare yourself for some of the most remarkable views of Maui’s coastlines, whether you choose to “go it alone” or join a tour and leave the driving to someone else. Even beter, spend a couple of nights there!

This well-known scenic highway winds it’s way through lush rainforests and the abundant, cascading waterfalls that line the island’s “windward” North and East coasts. While the route is often full of surprises, including about 600 hairpin turns and 56 one lane brideges, unfamiliar drivers with hairpin turns, those who decide to make the trip are rarely sorry they did!

The best advice for anyone making this trek is take your time and stop frequently to explore and enjoy. Relax and don’t try to rush through this. Purchase a guide book or CD and talk to locals along the way.

Hana Blog

 

2 – Wainapanapa State Park: Waianapanapa State Park sits a few miles North of Hana and is open to visitors every day with no fee for admission. Take some time to explore as there are stunning black sand beaches, hiking trails that are fairly easy (and worth the views!!!), caves and SO much more!

wainapanapa blog

3 – Haleakala National Park: The entrance to Haleakala National Park is located in Upcountry Maui, at about 6,000′ elevation and welcomes visitors 24 hours a day. You can enter the park on foot for $5 per person or in a car for $10, and admission is good for three consecutive days.

Sunrise is a huge draw for visitors and locals alike but sunset is often less crowded but no less stunning! Stargazing has recently joined the list of things to do and with no light pollution to hinder your views, this is quite spectacular! All can be done on your own or with any number of guided tours.

Haleakala Blog

 

4 – Iao Valley State Park: Home to numerous easy hiking trails, many of them leading to or offering excellent views of the Iao Needle. The most popular path is the 0.6-mile Iao Needle Lookout Trail, a paved walkway that leading right to the iconic rock formation and through a botanical garden. Even if you don’t plan on exploring beyond the Iao Needle Lookout Trail, make sure you bring plenty of water. Facilities are very limited; only restrooms at the beginning of the trail.

Iao Valley Blog

5 – Golfing:  Prefer greens to beaches? You’re certain to find plenty of places to put your clubs to good use! Maui is home to numerous, highly acclaimed golf courses.

Some of the more popular courses include the Gold, Emerald and Old Blue courses at Wailea and the Bay and Plantation courses at Kapalua. Depending on the courses you choose to play, you’ll find fantastic views of Maui’s coastline or volcanic formations.

Kapalua’s Plantation Course is a long-time favorite with a stunning setting, spectacular views and excellent amenities, including a pro shop and a restaurant.

Make sure to take some ime to look around and soak it all in!

golf blog

 

 

 

March 8th, 2015

Best of Maui – Off the Beaten Path

Planning a trip to Maui? You’ve most likely noticed the huge variety of things available to do on your vacation. It’s easy to
miss some of the more relaxing things to do while here. These are appropriate for almost all ages, children to Seniors, and to every type
of traveller whether solo, honeymooners or family.

1 – Snorkel Molokini: There are plenty of great spots to snorkel and scuba dive around Maui, and we like to suggest Molokini because it offers
a whole package of fun in 1 trip. As you travel on the water and see Maui from a different perspective, you may even see dolphins or Humpback whales (in
season).

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2 – Take Flight: Many of the most beautiful spots on the island are inaccessible in any other way than by helicopter tour. Feel the pwer of nature as you
hover next to cascading waterfalls, fly along rugged volcanic coastline and enjoy the majestic beauty of a Volcanic crater above the clouds. You can even arrange
flights across the channel to see the sea-cliff waterfalls of Molokai and private flights that land on the slopes of Haleakala for a champagne toast.

Maui

3 – Explore the Road to Hana: You’ll hear it from everyone and there’s a good reason for it … the journey to Hana and beyond is the paradsie most of us dream of when thinking about Hawaii. Just picture waterfalls, coastal cliff line, and lush tropical rain forests; enjoying the sights, smells, and people along the way will create memories you’ll cherish forever.

Hana Blog

4 – Pineapple Tour: We all probably think of pineapple right away when thinking of Hawaii. Why not get off the beaten path and enjoy scenic views while visiting pineapple fields with a tour of the Maui Gold Pineapple Packing Factory? Sample different varieties of the freshest pineapple you’ve ever had and take one (or more) home with you! This can be a fun and educational that teaches you a bit about
the rich history of Maui. They also offer a package including lunch at Hali’imaile General Store after the tour for a small amount more.

Pineapple Blog

5 – Relaxing Massage: When you’re on vacation, there are a few things you expect. Relaxation is on the top of most people’s lists, and getting a great massage is at the top of this list. There are hundreds of spots on Maui to get a massage, from beachside cabanas to personal in room and even small independant therapists. Find the one that’s best suited to your tastes and ENJOY!

Massage Blog

6 – Sample Local Restaurants: Maui has always attracted gifted chefs and big-name restaurant owners. In the last 5-10 years, we have experienced the newest generation of culinary brilliance with the emergence of
the very talented teachers and students coming from the Maui Culinary Academy (the school even hosts monthly events with meal service and varying themes). We’re very lucky to enjoy food from the best of the best, and
many of our Maui restaurants reflect this in every bite.

Mama's food Blog

7 – Tropical Photo Sessions: It’s usually not the first thing on people’s minds, but that’s why our Blog exisits! Private sessions with the many talented photographers on Maui are not just for weddings. Book family sunset  sessions on the beach, special anniversary gifts and events of all kinds. It is highly recommended that you book your appointment in advance. This allows you to have the time that fits your schedule best and enjoy your trip,  then take a quick hour capturing some amazing sunset moments with the ones you love. Taking your own photos will be a lot of fun, but having a professional photograph will be a lasting memory of your time on island.

Sean Hower Blog

8 – Art Galleriers: Too numerous to name, Lahaina, Wailea, Makawao, Paia and even Hana have some excellent art gallery opportunities. Depending on what you like, each area offers local art as well as famous international artists showcased in
convenient areas. Everyone offers shipping, so if you do find something special, you’ll find it waiting for you at home!

Art Galleries Blog

9 – Golfing: Not only does Maui have some top-notch, world-class golf courses, but we’ve got the views to match. There are very few complaints that come from golfers on Maui … distraction from whale breaches in the distance and
time away from swimming in the ocean. Fortunately, you can still get a bunch of beach time in a golf day here.

Golf Blog

10 – Horseback Riding: My personal fave, Mendes Ranch, offers oceanview trail rides that start at the ranch, follow along the edge of Maui’s scenic valley and to the coastline, where tour-guides will take photos of riders
in the beautiful Pacific setting. One of the things we love is that this is appropriate for all most ages.

Mendes

January 23rd, 2015

A Day of Fun on the Four Winds II

These folks had such a great time they created this wonderful photo collage for us to enjoy. A big Mahalo to Emily L.!!!

Four Winds II Maui Molokini Snorkel Tour Collage by guest Emily L. on YELP

January 11th, 2015

Top 10 Must Try Local Foods

“What is the most popular food” in Hawaii is something many people, friends from other places and visitors to the islands alike, ask me all the time. There are many amazing places to eat and you can go as high (or low) end as you like; however, if you really want to “go local”, these are some of the top ten “must try” local foods I would suggest to anyone.

I have to grin (and, to be honest, chime in on conversations) every time I hear someone discussing heading to a fast food chain looking for local food (indeed, Mc Donald’s does offer a limited selection but you can do much better … and probably for the same or less money) and likely support a small, local business. Immerse yourself in the culture a bit, keep an open mind and enjoy!

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With selections including the freshest seafood, organic fruits and vegetables, free-range poultry and meat, and other locally grown products to choose from along with preparations drawn from places including the Pacific Rim, Japan, the Philippines, Korea, Thailand and more, we have come to enjoy a literal melting pot known as “Hawaiian food”.

1 – SAIMIN:  Thought by some to be the “ultimate hangover cure” and others the perfect comfort food, saimin is definitely at the top of the list of local favorites. In fact, it’s one of the few dishes deemed truly “local”, having been highlighted in cookbooks since the 1930s.

This Asian-style noodle soup was inspired by Japanese “ramen”, Chinese “mein” and even Filipino “pancit” or “pansit” and it is so common, that it is one of the few offerings at fast food chains mentioned previously (along with SPAM and Portugese sausage).

Typically, a large bowl is filled with whole wheat egg noodles, homemade fish or chicken stock topped off with egg, strips of green onion, bright pink fish cake and meats like Chinese roast pork, locally called “char siu” and/or SPAM.

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2 – SPAM: While we’re on the subject,  SPAM is virtually everywhere here and is one of our local go-to snacks in the form of  SPAM musubi. Fried slices of SPAM are nestled atop a rice patty and wrapped in Nori (dried seaweed sheets). This was introduced back in the plantation days by Japanese field workers.

Annual sales of SPAM in Hawaii are about five million cans and we even host a
SPAM festival in its honor. The spiced luncheon meat gained popularity in World War II days, when fish was rationed. Love it or leave it, SPAM in Hawaii seems to be here to stay!

hawaii-spam

3 – ISLAND FRESH POKE: There’s nothing like fresh ahi poke (pronounced po-kay)! There are probably more preparations than you could imagine but it is basically ahi (fresh tuna) and sometimes octopus (tako) that has been cut into bite sized morsels and mixed with Shoyu (a local kind of soy sauce with a distinct flavor), sesame oil, chili pepper water, green onion and tomato. Some other variations include round onion, seaweed, and sesame seeds. Shoyu is the one apparent constant; however, I love to hit the local markets for samples of all the different flavors. I started using apples in mine years ago and it’s a hit!

Ahi Poke

4 – BENTO BOX: The “bento box” also hails back to the plantation days. While workers toiled in the sugarcane fields, they came from places that nobody took a lunch pail with sandwiches to work.

The cultural norm for most of these migrant workers was a lunch box with steamed white rice, pickled plum (ume) to preserve the rice and meats such as fried chicken or fish, probably left over from supper the night before.

I suppose many of us still carry that tradition today all over the world! These days, most stores (especially grocers and convenience stores) sell pre-packaged bentos that you can grab on the go and tend to include more than just rice and meat or fish and are especially popular as kid’s lunches in themes. Don’t forget your chop sticks!

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5 – MALASADAS:  The Portuguese immigrants to Hawaii have contributed much to Hawaiian cuisine with sausage, soup and sweetbreads. For many of us, the hands-down favorite has to be Malasadas … hot, deep-fried doughnuts rolled in sugar. Make sure to buy them by the dozen, plain or filled with a variety of fruit compotes, or, more commonly, vanilla or chocolate creams. They are best eaten fresh … like, as you wait to pay!

malasadas

6 – MANAPUA: Another delicious snack that starts with filled dough balls is savory manapua. These lucious little dough balls are similar to Chinese bao and stuffed with fillings such as char siu pork and then steamed (rather than fried, like Malasadas). These can be found in most food stores along with dim sum. Modern-day fillings include a wide array of unexpected items, including curry chicken and other tender meats and veggies. They can also sometimes be found baked, rather than steamed. Almost like a filled sandwich.

Manapua

7 – SHAVE ICE:  Snow cone? I think not! This decadent treat  is created with ice shaved to a almost a powdery, snow-like consistency. For many locals and visitors alike, a shave ice is the only thing that fits the bill after a day at the beach or shopping. They are a rarity these days; however, every now and then, you’ll find a neighborhood stand that still hand shaves the ice. For a real treat, try it with ice cream (yes, ice cream inside!). Of course, if you’ve never had one, you should stick with the basics and order a “Rainbow” …. still my favorite after all these years!

Shave Ice

8 – TROPICAL FRUITS: I love the ability to walk right out into my yard and grab a fresh banana and/or papaya for breakfast or a snack. Some vacation cottages will have fresh fruit trees …. take advantage of this and eat up! Locals also love to add their own creative touches to exotic fruits.

With people here from all over the world, you’ll also find a wide variety of unusual preparations such as green mangoes, pickled with Chinese five spice,  Maui Gold pineapples are topped with li hing mui powder and green papaya tossed in a Vietnamese salad.

When you run across stands selling fresh coconuts with a straw, gab one … the water is delicious and refreshing! See unusual looking fruits (like something out of a Dr. Suess book)? Try it! Dragonfruit, Starfruit and Rambutan are but a few of my faves and they’re the most unusual things you may ever have seen. Just keep an open mind and dig in … you might just find a new addition to your diet!

 

tropical fruits

9 – CRACK SEED: This is a snack food that originated in China and is highly popular in Hawaii. Basically preserved fruits that have been “cracked” or split with the seed or kernel partially exposed as a flavor enhancement. There are dozens of varieties of crack seed in specialty shops and at the drug stores. Those who like hard candy and salty foods will love li hing mangoes and rock salt plums and those with an itchy throat will feel relief from the lemon strips. Looking for something different to take home for gifts? Check out the variety available in both individual portions and  a variety of sizes of pre-packaged bags.

csjars

 

December 9th, 2014

Maui’s Best Attractions on a Budget … Wailuku

Everyone involved seems very excited about the last blog sharing some of Maui’s Best Attractions on a Budget by area, we’ll keep going. Let’s spend a day in and around Wailuku! The drive is beautiful and it’s good, as with most everything here, for you to get an early start.

Many visitors miss this part of the island as it is not really close to resorts (one harbor for cruise ships is located in Kahului) and parts of Central Maui are primarily industrial and shopping for day to day items.

1 – I’ao (pronounced eee-owww) Needle and Park: This breath-taking park offers a paved pedestrian path leading through the valley and up to the views offered at the I’ao Needle and the ridge-top lookout provides incredible views of the valley. As with most things on Maui, an early start ensures the best views. I’ao Valley is also historically quite significant in the history of the Hawaii Islands and changed Hawaii history forever. On this site, In 1790, King Kamehameha I overtook the Maui army in his effort to unite the Hawaiian Islands.

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2 – Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens: This tranquil spot is located in the lush Iao Valley, not far from the Iao Needle. In addition to lovely architectural displays from eight cultures, you will enjoy walking through the memorial Gardens from the various cultures represented, including Memorial Gardens, Ethnic Displays and even structures representative of homes from each culture.

kepaniwai-heritage-gardens

3 – The Bailey House Museum is run by the Maui Historical Society and is open to the public six days a week. Among exhibits, you will find yourself escorted back in time via the largest collection of Hawaiian Artifacts on exhibit in Maui County, early 19th century missionary artifacts, Koa wood furniture and the paintings of Hawaii by Edward Bailey along with Archeological and Natural History Materials that include (but are far from limited to the 100 year-old canoe Honaunau and a surfboard that belonged to Duke Kahanamoku, long considered Hawaii’s Ambassador to the World.

Bailey House

4 – Historic Wailuku Town:  While the bustle of earlier days is gone, the streets streets of Wailuku still hold many rewards for those who seek them out! Buildings along Market, Main and Vineyard Streets display the architecture of Wailuku’s heritage and are almost like stepping back in time. Presided over by the historic Iao Theatre, these plantation style and Art Deco structures now house many unique shops featuring goods from Maui, other Hawaiian islands and around the globe. You will find these architectural gems mixed in with newer structures yet it all seems to just meld together.

A visit to Market Street offers curios, collectibles, objects large and small, local memorabilia and antiques from around the globe. Basically, the adventurous shopper will find an array of treasures among the shops and galleries tempt you with contemporary merchandise as well: jewelry, music, books, art, crafts, and gift items, plus T-shirts, silk kimonos, aloha shirts … even fresh caught fish! Browsers and shoppers are warmly welcomed by local merchants with helpful information and advice. You will
find the aloha spirit very much alive in old Wailuku!

Ready for a cool drink, a hot espresso, or freshly made sandwich, salad or snack? Comfortable and delicious options abound from small bakeries and delis to local faves, ethnic cuisine (Tseng Thai is always amazing!).

Unlike much of Maui, parking is easy and free along Market Street or in a large municipal lot off Vineyard Street. For parking longer than two hours, make sure to select a 12-hour stall in the center of the lot.

If you happen to be here and enjoy street festivals, the first Friday of each month is a big deal. Actually called “First Friday”, it’s definitely worth the trip!

Wailuku Town

5 – Maui Tropical Plantation: The Maui Tropical Plantation is one of Maui’s has long been a wonderful way to spend a few hours, check out the HUGE variety and has just recently begun to gain the recognition they deserve. Situated only about 10 minutes away from Kahului Airport and about 30 minutes from Ka’anapali or Wailea, this is a definite MUST stop on your way back from Wailuku!

This is no ordinary garden, but is an actual working 60 acre plantation.  The narrated tram tour offers a unique way to “step back in time” so to speak. Sit back on the tram, enjoy the scenery and listen to the narration … keep your eyes open; you may just catch a beautiful wedding in the Gazebo or pond side.

As part of your tour, a driver will show you the traditional method of “husking” (cleaning) a coconut, and will teach you facts about sugar cane, star fruit, bananas, coffee, macadamia nuts, papaya and more.

The Plantation gift store is a great place to find souvenirs, items made on Maui as well as fresh fruit grown on site. There’s even a restaurant with a lovely view of the West Maui Mountains and a new zip line!

Maui Tropical Plantation

6 – Maui Ocean Center – The Hawaii Aquarium: In 1998, Coral World International opened Maui Ocean Center, the largest tropical aquarium in the western hemisphere. Since that time, thousands of visitors of all ages from around the globe, locals and visitors alike, have visited to discover Hawaii’s undersea world in a captivating and educational setting.

This 3-acre marine park faithfully replicates the natural Hawaiian ocean ecosystem,where visitors encounter many forms of life that exist only in the waters of Hawaii (many of these are not found anywhere else in the world!) Featuring the largest collection of live corals in the nation, and over 60 exhibits, including interpretive displays, outdoor touch pools and a 750,000-gallon Open Ocean exhibit with 240-degree view acrylic tunnel, the marine park is not only an amazing educational experience, but a magical way to spend some time!

MauiOceanCenter

7 – Maui Golf & Sports Park: While playing Putt-Putt golf may not have been in your plans for your trip to Maui, the Maui Golf & Sports Park actually offers a different kind of family fun (Island Style, of course!) with two 18 hole miniature golf courses, bumper boats, the Xtreme trampoline and even a kid-friendly rock climbing wall. The Maui Golf & Sports Park is located at Ma’alaea Village, near the Maui Ocean Center Aquarium. The staff goes out of their way to ensue every member of the family and kids of ALL ages have a blast and are always watching out for you. There are picnic areas and refreshments for sale, so slather on the sunscreen and come on out!

Maui Golf and Sports Park

8 – Four Winds II PM Snorkel:  With so many different snorkels available from Maui, it’s nice to have a very budget friendly option and one that allows you to sleep in (or do some other things) in the morning.

Just past the Maui Ocean Center Aquarium, you will find Maalaea Harbor, home to the Four Winds II. While the boat does do a regular half day excursion daily every morning, there is a shorter afternoon version that fits almost any budget!

Checking in daily at 1:00pm, this boat and the crew is especially known as the “Family Fun Boat” and takes visitors (new and repeat) on snorkel tours to destinations such as Molokini Crater and Coral Gardens (*** Molokini is always weather permitting). Tickets start at $29 for children and $39 for adults with optional B-B-Q lunch grilled and served on board, making for a leisurely picnic on the water.

There’s something for everyone, including a glass bottom viewing room (think human sized aquarium that’s dry inside), water slide that splashes you right into the ocean, temporary tattoos and fun, fun, fun!

Four Winds II Maui Molokini Crater Snorkel Slide

Now you’re probably ready to catch a sunset and a bit of rest. Hope you enjoy some memorable experiences while on Maui and that you find some inspiration here!

November 28th, 2014

Maui’s Best Food Trucks

As we all know, food trucks are sweeping the country offering affordable and often excellent fare. This is a far cry from the corner hot dog stand! After taking a short poll, we’ve gathered a pretty good list of Maui’s Best food trucks here for you.

1 –  Jawz Fish Tacos: Going surfing or just out sight-seeing? If you find yourself hungry and see these trucks, do yourself a favor and STOP. These roadside JAWZ Fish Taco trucks can be found on your way to Big Beach or Little Beach, Makena, Maui, for your beach snacks & drinks.

Try their famous fish tacos with mouthwatering salsa or cool down with a sweet shaved ice and fruit smoothies. Not in the mood for fish tacos? Give their Giant Burritos with Killer Hot Sauces and Hot Dogs a try. You won’t be disappointed!

TACO-Trucks

2 –Da Shark Pit Maui: While other food trucks on Maui may focus on mobility, price and quick food, Da Shark Pit focuses on bringing you great tasting, high quality food. Owner, Chris Mahon,  took the time to build strong relationships with local farmers and fisherman, so you can always count on the freshest ingredients and the highest quality, making for exceptional food.

In addition to “Ono Grindz” (great tasting food), it is their mission to serve healthy eats. While the “organic, fresh farm to table” concept is not new, they definitely have perfected it and call it “Funked Up Farm Food”!

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3 – Donut Dynamite: The dynamic duo behind these delectable Maui goodies are a husband and wife team with extensive culinary backgrounds who simply adore making gourmet donuts! Everything is made from scratch utilizing  fresh, local ingredients whenever possible, making handcrafted, artisanal donuts using classical culinary techniques with a modern island twist to offer you some of the most unique and delicious, creative treats.

“Donut Dynamite! An explosion of flavor in your mouth!”

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4 – Sumo Dogs Maui: You may have had a great hot dog but you’ve NEVER had anything like this! Island Style Gourmet Hot Dogs with choices like an Upcountry Guava, Lilikoi Tropix, Upcountry Mango, Spicy Maui Onion or even the Pico Dog (pineapple and coconut)? You may need to check the location to find them … this is one popular truck and they do get around!

They can usually be found at the Lunch Wagon Oasis, located right across the street from the Costco Gas Station in Kahului from 10am-3pm. 

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5 – Three’s Food Truck: This great little food truck is an extension of Three’s Bar & Grille and has become quite a hit on Maui since Chefs Cody Christopher, Travis Morrin and Jaron Blosser began “sharing the love” by taking the show on the road with their Three’s Food Truck. Now you can have the their award-winning food all over the island!

While they do have a regular location for the truck, they can be found at local events and can even be booked for private parties, special occasions (including weddings!) You can even customize your menu!

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October 20th, 2014

Top 10 Magical Spots on Maui

There are many places to love on Maui, and all of the Hawaiian islands, for that matter. A few really do stand out so we’ve compiled a list of our picks of the top ten magical spots on on the Valley Isle. While there are SOOO many more, these are definitely worth a visit!

1 – Haleakala Crater: Possibly one of the most spectacular sunrises (or sunsets, for that matter) you will ever witness will be at Haleakala National Park. According to the National Park Service, the park “vibrates with stories of ancient and modern Hawaiian culture and protects the bond between the land and its people.”

Also a haven for endangered species, some of which exist nowhere else, this is truly a magical spot on Maui. Whether you visit on a guided tour or spend some time hiking and camping the crater, you  will find your body, mind and spirit renewed!

Visit this link to find out more: http://www.nps.gov/hale/index.htm

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2 – Molokini Crater: This is a very special spot, as you will only find about 6-8 places like it in the WORLD! A volcanic cinder cone that has eroded over the ages, the island is now a Marine Life Conservation District and Seabird Sanctuary.

Located 3 miles off the shores of Maui, it is famous for having incredibly clear water with visibility exceeding 100 feet almost every day. Home to brightly colored tropical fish of which these waters are home to around 250 species, and it is possible to see monk seals, manta rays, spotted eagle rays and much more,  this is also a fantastic snorkeling spot …. probably one of the best in the state of Hawaii!

Want to give it a try with the pros? Visit http://www.fourwindsmaui.com

Four Winds Maui Molokini Crater Snorkel Guest shot

3 – The Sacred Garden: A nursery, peace sanctuary, retreat center, botanical garden, school, creativity center and a temple, the Sacred Garden is the happy home of a variety of plants, Living Shrines, Fairy Gardens and great ideas.

Home of two walking labyrinths, meditation gardens, marblequanyin and picnic or sitting areas. Inspiration, creativity, beauty and peace are the undeniable themes of the garden.
FREE and open 7-days a week for the public to enjoy … come out and see what moves you!

Please visit: http://sacredgardenmaui.com

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4 – Haiku Mill: While not open for the public to simply visit, this is worth a mention as one of the my favorite places for events … especially weddings.

Surrounded by Old World elegance, ornate hand-picked treasures and fragrant jasmine and gardenia blossoms, guests are swept away in the spirit of old world charm and romance.

Find them at: http://www.haikumill.com/

Haiku Mill

5 – Maui Lavender Farm: I know I’ve mentioned this in a couple of other places; however, this is hands down one of my most beloved spots to spend a lazy afternoon after hiking in the crater!

Situated on the upper slopes of the mountain, you get a little bit of everything … beautiful breezes, stunning panoramic views, numerous places to just “hang loose”, meditation gardens, fields of a variety of lavender plants and even a little gift shop with the most divine offerings from food and beverages to bath and body products for people and even their pets.

Enjoy lavender lemonade and a scone while sitting amidst fragrant fields in one of the many seating areas that  have been built around the property while you watch the clouds roll by and the Pacific waters far below … ahhhh!

Visit their site at: http://www.aliikulalavender.com

tour-treasure-hunt

6 – La Perouse Bay: Haleakala’s last display can be seen on Maui’s southeast shore at La Perouse Bay . It’s estimated that this eruption occurred about 1790 and is part of the old King’s Trail.

While not a park, there is a monument here and if you know what to look for, the
remnants of a long ago Hawaiian history and those who called this area home.
Be careful where you walk and pay attention … that pile of rocks may well be the
ruins of a long gone hale or house.

This is also a popular surf spot but is NOT for the novice surfer. It is easy to be washed upon the sharp lava rocks … quick way to ruin a day! Watch for a while and decide whether or not to enter the water. There are days that this can be a beautiful spot to swim.

There are many sights to see and even some other places to swim along the way, so take your time, take plenty of drinking water, wear sturdy shoes and SUNSCREEN!!!

La-Perouse-Bay-Maui-Hawaii

7 – Nakalele Blowhole: This relatively easy hike does require sturdy shoes (sneakers are OK) since the trail can be steep and there are some loose rocks here and there. From the parking area, walk across the open area and start picking your way  down the rocks.

While there is no real trail to this location, you will see the cars parked,
usually a lunch truck and other hikers. It’s not easy to go too far in the wrong
direction thanks to a long drop down off the cliffs.

Eventually, the rocky terrain flattens out and you’ll see a large wet area in the rocks surrounding the blow hole. Do keep your distance and NEVER turn your back on the ocean!

While the best time to go is at high tide and when the surf is up, the water coming up must also go down and people have, unfortunately, been sucked down with it. Let a good zoom-lens get the close up shot and enjoy the show.

Nakaele Blowhole (2)

8 – Twin Falls: I was first introduced to this wonderous locale shortly after coming to Maui (unfortunately, several times after having been to Hana). I was also lucky enough to visit with friends who knew the area well. On any trip up the Hana Highway, this is an absolute MUST DO!

It is pretty hard to miss, as there is a local, VERY colorfully painted fruit stand in
the parking lot, usually fairly full of cars. Don’t make the mistake of letting this turn you off … trust me. The area is large, the lot is small and it is generally uncrowded!

Also allow yourself TIME. All too often, people on their way to Hana miss so many of the most amazing spots on the island as they rush through, get some cool photos of a waterfall and maybe take a quick swim.

Always remember, when headed up the highway, Hana is simply a destination and a sleepy little village… there is much real beauty is on the ROAD to Hana and beyond!

While this is an open area, there are people lucky enough to call this land home. A visit to the following site is helpful: http://www.twinfallsmaui.net

Twin-Falls

9 – Pipiwai Trail: Located on the back side of the slopes of Haleakala, this trail can be found a bit past Hana. This is one of my favorite hikes for may reasons. The 4 mile loop trail winds along numerous falls, which are all fed by one 400 ft massive fall so there are small pools and waterfalls all along the way and home to Banyan trees, a massive bamboo forest and so much more!

Don’t forget the more well-known 1/2 mile loop lower trail that has come to be known as the Seven Sacred Pools. Perfect for swimming and sunbathing but wear aqua shoes as the rocks are pretty slippery when wet.

To best prepare for your day, visit the National Park Service at:

http://www.everytrail.com/guide/pipiwai-trail-amp-waimoku-falls-haleakala-np-maui

Pipiwai Trail Maui

10 – The Bamboo Forest at Kipahulu: Part of the Pipiwai trail, following the board walk will lead you through a bamboo forest so tall and so dense that daylight struggles to penetrate. Before reaching the spectacular Waimoku Falls, this magical bamboo forest is something that you’re unlikely to forget. Step off the path (just a few steps), soak it all in and you’ll see what I mean!

While there are numerous places on the island that would be considered awe-inspiring and absolutely beautiful, these are some of our staff picks. Get out there and explore … you might find some places that will stay in your heart well past your vacation, if not forever!

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Read the guide books but also look at reviews from other travelers and talk to people (both locals and visitors) and find your favorite spots. Feel like sharing them with us? Please do!

 

August 29th, 2014

Do We Really need a Rental Car in Maui

One of the most commonly asked questions is often “do I really need a vehicle?” The answer is a definitive YES! These are our top reasons to rent a car on Maui  as well as some tips that should help you make both your decision and driving easy.

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There are many locations to pick up a vehicle, whether for the duration of your stay or just for a day or two, it is much less costly than taking cabs and driving here is easy.

1 – The number one reason to rent a car on most Hawaiian islands is freedom to explore! Unless you plan to stay at your resort or rental the entire time, there is so much to see and do. When many people think of Hawaii, they do think of beaches and swaying palm trees … we have plenty of both and some of the best may not even be in your area.

You’re coming a long way (in most cases), so make the most of it! If you do a little shopping around, you can usually find the right vehicle for your needs and your budget.

2 – No Worries! While we do have some public transportation on the island, if you need to get to an activity or make a dinner reservation, this is NOT the way to get there. There is no control over how many stops a bus will be making and there will inevitably be times when you will have to arrive at your destination much earlier than needed because of the scheduled routes. Using this as a way to get back to your hotel works as long as you aren’t trying to make it back at a specific time.

3 – Believe it or not, you will usually save money when renting a car over taking taxis everywhere. Unlike Waikiki (on Oahu), everything is not necessarily walking distance from where you may be staying, especially if renting a home or cottage, and what is there can be pretty limited and pricey. It can easily cost more one way in a taxi than it would to have a car for an entire day.

In many instances, you can pay $50 or more just to get to your hotel in a taxi when you could have rented your own “wheels” starting at about $250 (or less) for about a week.

4 – Let’s not forget SHOPPING! How could anyone come to Hawaii and not want souvenirs? You may also be staying in a condo with a full kitchen and wish to visit our wonderful farmer’s markets and some local grocers. Remember, you need to taxi or take a bus each way and must haul everything with you, everywhere you go.

5 – Flexibility to decide what to do on a whim and the ability to jump in the car and get going is huge, in my opinion. You’ll often hear locals say “if you don’t like the weather where you are, jump in the car, drive for 20 minutes and you’ll find something completely different” and is it ever true! Wake up to rain in your North shore cottage? Drive to the other side of the island and you’ll likely find blue skies and the perfect beach day!

Just hear about one of those absolute must-do things from somebody? Get directions, look at your drive map and hit the road. You’ll also be more than amazed at some of the hidden gems you can happen across by allowing yourself some time to just cruise.

Four Winds Maui Car Rental Pic 2

Tips to remember:

1 – In most cases, additional insurance is a completely unnecessary expense. Before purchasing, check with both your personal automobile coverage and even with your credit card company. Many credit cards do cover damage when using the card to rent a car and full coverage on personal vehicles will usually cover the insured driver, regardless of the vehicle.

2 – Pay attention to vehicles  around you. While you may be on vacation, many others are trying to get to work or school. This is a beautiful place and  you will often want to drive at a slower pace and see the sights. If you  happen to look in the mirror and see a line of cars behind you, it is perfectly acceptable (in many cases, expected) to pull over when you reach a safe spot to do so, and let the traffic behind you go by.

3 – Pedestrians always have the right of way, especially in a marked cross walk. If you come to one and see someone waiting, stop and let them go. Also pay attention as you approach these spots. It is very easy to miss the fact that someone is already part way across, in a wheel chair, etc.

4 – Unless there is an emergency of some kind, do not ever honk your horn at other drivers. This is considered the height of rudeness in Hawaii. Take it easy, be polite and you’ll have a great time!

5 – As much as I dislike having to add this comment, I would be remiss if I failed to do so. Do not ever leave valuables in a rental car, even if locked in the trunk. We have virtually no violent crime here; however, locals can pretty easily identify a rental car and have no trouble getting in if they wish.

Overall, the pros definitely out-weigh the cons on this topic. Check around with the little guys and the big guns, compare prices and rent in advance if planning to be here during peak seasons. There is not a car to be found state-wide during many holidays and certain models are sold out early.

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August 22nd, 2014

West Maui Luaus in Review

If you visit Hawaii and don’t attend a Hawaiian or Polynesian Style Luau, you are definitely missing out! You can find something for just about every budget, family friendly and couples oriented and they do tend to differ from one to the next. These dinner and show combos are always a delight and a great way to connect with the Hawaiian Culture.

Some of these do sell out well in advance, so reservations are necessary and you just can’t book too far in advance. Both the Old Lahaina Luau and the Feast at Lele should be booked at least a month in advance (minimum).

1. Feast at Lele: This is, hands down, my absolute favorite luau on Maui for many reasons. While it does cost a bit more than others, it is absolutely worth every penny for those who want a First Class experience and a feeling of cultural immersion.

This is the only Maui luau that offers full table service and skips the buffet. Located ocean front in Lahaina, you couldn’t ask for a better seat for spectacular sunsets!

People migrated to the islands that have come to be called Hawaii from many areas of Polynesia and this venue does an excellent job of matching cultural aspects from each region with dinner fare … in fact, meals are served from the area being represented on stage, in courses (Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa, New Zealand and, of course, Hawaii).

NOTE: Looking for a night out without the kids? This luau does tend to cater to adults and is especially romantic for honeymooners (even if it’s your 20th honeymoon!)

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2. The Old Lahaina Luau: This is actually the sister luau to the Feast at Lele and was in full swing for many years before the newer opened. They are located at the opposite end of Front Street in Lahaina and is still an ocean front setting.

Here, you will find a very authentic Hawaiian luau (if you want to go completely  traditional, there is seating on the ground, on hala mats with low tables … pictured below). Not to worry … there is also  banquet style seating at tables with chairs!

This is my second pick for the entire island and is always great fun! A bit more budget friendly and much more fun for younger members of the family, the show is captivating, the drinks are free and the food is served buffet style.

NOTE: This is one of the most popular luaus on the island. Make reservations early!

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3. Drums of the Pacific: For those staying in the Ka’anapali, this is a really fun option. Located on the grounds of the Grand Hyatt, it is walking distance from the hotels on the “beach walk” and offers more budget friendly standard seating as well as a VIP option.

As with most Maui luaus, food is served buffet-style and the bar is open. Table service is limited to clearing of plates and bringing fresh cocktails (until the show starts) but you will certainly be well taken care of!

The grounds are located parallel to Ka’anapali Beach and you can still see the sunset; however, there is a nice “privacy barrier” created with a lava rock wall and flora to provide a feeling of privacy for those in attendance.

The performers are fabulous and the show’s M.C. is always entertaining (there is even a break in the show that allows guests to hop up on stage and learn a dance … you have to try this out … it’s unforgettable fun!)

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4. The Westin Wailele Polynesian Luau:  The newly designed grounds of the Wailele Polynesian Luau is held outdoors at The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, also on Ka’anapali Beach and touts “Maui’s most extreme troupe of fire-knife dancers!”

The resort’s newly revitalized “Aloha Pavilion”, complete with cascading waterfalls, tropical gardens and tiki torches presents the perfect setting for guests to embark on an exciting journey to the Polynesian Islands where dance was considered not just as a form of entertainment, but as means of telling stories.

Allow yourself to be transported as the show features dances from Hawaii, Fiji, Tahiti, New Zealand and Samoa. The breathtaking finale is an “extreme fire-knife dance performance”.

Enjoy a superb buffet style Hawaiian meal of traditional selections for an authentic experience. The three hour experience includes free flowing drinks all evening with Mai Tais, signature cocktails, local beers, sodas and fruit juices.

The Westin Wailele Polynesian Luau

5. Maui Nui Luau at Black Rock: Also positioned ocean front on the award-winning Kaanapali Beach, at the very far end, the Maui Nui Luau shares the music, dance and history of the islands right here at the foot of the famous cliff diving point, Black Rock.

World renowned Polynesian entertainment producer Tihati Productions presents the best in Hawaiian and Polynesian song and dance, including the spectacular fire knife dance. Enjoy Hawaiian arts and crafts and experience an authentic Hawaiian Imu Ceremony.

Discover the remarkable stories, history, and culture of the Valley Isle and Kaanapali through the songs and dances of Maui and the Pacific ….. “Discover Maui Nui Luau”.

NOTE: If you aren’t interested in the meal or are on a budget, this is one of the very few luaus to offer a special Cocktail and Show Only Package that can save you quite a bit.

Maui Nui Luau at Black Rock

10. The Myths of Maui Luau: Not to be mistaken with the OLD Lahaina Luau, this is probably the most budget friendly luau on the island. Located on the grounds of the Royal Lahaina Resort, it is often simply called the Royal Lahaina Luau.

The last rays of a spectacular sunset, beating drums and the call of the conch shell signal the start of Maui’s most exciting and longest running Polynesian luau.

You will find yourself swept away by the breathtaking celebration of traditional Hawaiian, Tahitian, Samoan and even Maori dance and music as performers “weave the legends of the South Pacific into a spellbinding performance you are sure to treasure for years to come”.

As with most of these listings, this Maui oceanfront luau features an all-you-can-to-eat buffet, complimentary cocktails and a beautiful celebration of music, drums and dance that culminates with an amazing Samoan fire knife finale that will dazzle your entire family.

VERY family friendly, this full Polynesian review even features a children’s buffet full of kid-friendly selections for those more finicky eaters.

Royal Lahaina Luau

A couple of things to keep in mind when attending your Maui luau; dress can be casual or not but a light wrap or jacket is a good idea. You may also wish to have a little cash to leave a gratuity for your servers. Whether buffet or table service, it is never expected but always appreciated.

Join in the fun, allow yourself to become enchanted and immersed in another culture and enjoy dinner and a spectacular show under the stars … the questions should not be “do we or do we not” go to a Maui luau, but which one should we attend! As you will often hear at the beginning of every show … ALOOOOOHA!!!!

August 15th, 2014

Let’s Visit Maui’s Best North Shore Beaches!

If you’re heading up the Hana Highway or even staying on Maui’s North Shore, you’ll be experiencing a very different slice of the island if you’ve only found yourself in the resort areas of South and West Maui, so far. Let’s visit Maui’s BEST North shore beaches!

We’ll make it simple and start from the beginning. You will be able to visit all of these locations on the trip to Hana, so do plan accordingly and bring swim wear and towels.

A few miles past the intersection of Hana and Haleakala Highways,  you’ll pass the neighborhood of Spreckelsville and find Baldwin Beach Park.

This is actually more like  the equivalent of three great Maui beaches all rolled into one and is several miles long. Visitors and locals alike frequent this spot as there is something for just about everyone.

1 – Baby Beach: This lovely little beach is found at the far end of Baldwin and can also be accessed through the neighborhood of Spreckelsville. Protected by a good chunk of reef, creating a kind of sandy swimming pool that is ideal for children and families. The far end is rocky and small fishes can often be seen while the middle is sandy and relatively shallow.

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2 – Baldwin Beach: The main part of Baldwin Beach is always tons of fun with a pavilion, grills and plenty of room to spread out. Lifeguards are on duty here during daytime hours. If you’re looking for a good work-out, walk from one end to the other then jump in to cool off!

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3 – Baldwin Beach Cove: This lovely little spot marks the end of Baldwin Beach and offers lovely, crystal clear water. Spread out a blanket under the trees or at the water’s edge and take some time to check out the area. If you walk up the hill a bit, you’ll find the hidden gem coming up next! *** Be sure to wear flip flops or shoes as some of the walk is rocky terrain (easy to walk on … no worries!).

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4 – Secret Beach (Paia): This stretch of beach offers lovely views and can take you all the way into the town of Paia if you keep going. For those looking for someplace a bit out of the way, this is it. While there are legally no nude beaches on Maui, you will find this area can be “clothing optional” … so don’t be surprised if you happen upon a nude sunbather or two. After you pass under the Ironwood trees, you will find yourself at Paia Bay.

Paia Secret Beach

5 – Paia Bay: This little crescent of white sand is a very popular beach and adjacent park, with basketball courts, green grass for lounging and a Youth Center. It’s a fun spot to surf or boogie-board for those with a bit more experience and there’s always something fun going on! If you walk up the street a bit, you will be in Paia Town.

Paia Bay Beach

From here, you will need to drive to the next beaches unless you’re REALLY up for a hike! After exploring the funky and fun village of Paia a bit, head out of town and you will soon discover Tavares. You may want to grab a bite in Paia Town, as there aren’t many places past to do so, other than small general stores, and they are limited.

6 – Tavares Beach: This is a small beach, surrounded by reef and rocks. Experienced surfers and paddlers use it by going out through a small channel but at high tide, it makes for a refreshing place to take a dip. Mornings find it pretty empty but it does get a bit crowded as the day wears on.

Tavares Beach

If you’re planning to have lunch or dinner at Mama’s Fish House (Most visitors find it next to impossible to visit Maui without it!), you may wish to reverse the next two listings; however, I will stick to the current route for ease.

7 – Kuau Cove: We are SO lucky in Hawaii to have laws in place allowing public access to all beaches … no such thing as a “private” beach anywhere in the state! This little beach sits on a lovely tide pool and is surrounded by swaying palms, stunning homes and, of course, Mama’s Fish House and Inn. While not usually the best for swimming (fun for little ones but not very deep), it’s a great place to hang out for sunset or just enjoying the views.

Kuau Cove Mams Fish House

8 – Ho’okipa Beach Park: A favorite surf spot for experienced surfers and one of the top windsurfing destinations in the world, you can always expect a spectacular show of some kind at this beach park! I watch sunset from this spot almost daily.

Watch along the reef for sea turtles, as they like this spot and are seen here very frequently. Also look for monk seals in the mornings as they sometimes like to come up for a little time on the sand. There is actually one who seems to love the tournaments … every year, she comes up and sits right in front of the entrance to the water during an entire wind surfing competition!

While parking can be a challenge, there is an upper level lot for over flow that offer stellar views. Definitely stop and soak it all in before you walk down to the beach.

Hookipa Sunset

This concludes our tour of  some of the best Maui beaches you’ll experience when visiting the Northern side of the island. While it seems like a lot, you’re really only looking at about 10 miles or so total. Grab your sunscreen, hit the road and have a a great time!

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