Brett and I made our third trip to Maui a few weeks ago, and were lucky enough to have three friends join us this time! It really is a magical place and we were so happy to share it with them. We mostly revisited some of our favorites this trip, but tried a few new spots too. Some trip highlights below and, of course, a list of where and what we ate 🙂
We spent our first three nights in Paia — a laid back surf town with cute shops and our favorite natural grocery store – Mana Foods! Paia is on the north shore of Maui, where the beaches are better for surfing rather than lounging since it’s quite windy! It was a great central location to everything on the east side of the island including the road to Hana, the Maui winery and my favorite “western” town of Makawao (where Brett’s cousins live!). One of the best days of the trip was the road to Hana — we were on the road by 8am and landed at the Maui winery around 4:30pm — a full day of driving and adventure! My most favorite part of Maui is the drive around the backside of the island; when you reach Hana most guides tell you to turn around and return the way you came, but there’s a dirt road that brings you around the backside instead and it has the most incredible views of the island and ocean, and the most interesting terrain changes — you go from full on rain forest, to dry rocky fields, to lush green pastures filled with cows.
For the second part of the trip, we stayed in hotels in Lahaina. We spent a lot of time lounging at our pools, frozen mai tais in hand. The boys went on a snorkel trip to Molokini Crater and saw tons of turtles. Also, while we were there, the Eagles played the Vikings in the NFC championship game — we rented a poolside cabana to watch the game in and it was so, so fun. We brought down the blender from our room and made frozen drinks with coconut cream, homemade passion fruit infused tequila* and papaya juice. And Dave cooked up an amazing steak. Add in an Eagles win and it was true heaven!
One of the best meals of the trip was on our first day — poke from the Like Poke? food truck in Kahalui. It’s in a parking lot with a few other trucks, all of which looked delicious but we stuck with poke and were so glad we did. We shared poke bowls with both ginger and wasabi poke, along with ahi katsuyaki (fried ahi) and the most insane curly fries ever with furikake on top. We talked about this meal throughout the rest of the trip. We also tried poke from the supermarket, which is oddly enough a very respectful place to get poke in Maui. We had it for lunch two days and it was also really good, but the food truck lunch still wins!
We re-visited two sushi spots – Nuka and Sansei. We had a really fun and rowdy dinner at Sansei, despite power outages from an incoming storm (!), but the sushi at Nuka blew us away. Traveling as a group of five also means you get to try more things on the menu — going to be vacationing as a group from now on 😉
Paia Bay Coffee became our coffee spot for the first leg of our trip. They have great iced coffee and an great bagel sandwich with bacon, cream cheese, tomato, avocado and red onion — we each got one of these as road to Hana fuel one morning.
Paia Fish Market is a great lunch spot that we visit each trip. They make great fish sandwiches that pair perfectly with Maui’s Bikini Blonde Lager. We also revisited T. Komoda bakery in Makawao – the stick donuts were even better than I remembered. I’d pay an absurd amount of money to have one appear in my hand right now. Honestly the best donut I’ve ever eaten.
After three days in Paia, we drove over to our usual hotel in Lahaina. Our friends stayed up the road at the new Westin, so we divided our time between the two. On that side we revisited Star Noodle – still one of my favorite Maui meals, amazing pork buns and chicken wings; and we also had lunch again at The Fish Market – seared tuna sandwiches all around. A banana cream pie from Leoda’s was also a must, of course.
Lastly, we anniversaried our pre-airport tradition of having Flatbread Company pizza before our flight — the barbecue chicken with pineapple was unbelievable, and a good transition from Hawaii back to New York!
*There are tons of fruit stands throughout the road to Hana — prices are listed and you just place your money in a small lockbox, or even a wide open cooler that operated as a bank! The fruit is grown in the family’s yards, and payment is all honor system. These really capture the spirit and culture of Hawaii. We were on a constant hunt for fresh lilikoi (passion fruit), which Brett soaked in tequila to use in drinks all week.