Maui Travel Guide

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I live in a really beautiful place. Southern California has nice beaches, stellar hikes, eclectic neighborhoods and palm tree lined streets. So it takes something spectacular for me to be in awe. While in Maui, I found myself stopping to look around and comment on the beauty at least 15 times per day. And I am not exaggerating. The beaches, the plants, the palm trees, the sunsets - everything is gorgeous. 

I went to Maui about three years ago, but we spent most of the time at the resort (if you’ve been to the Four Seasons Wailea, you understand why). So this time we made a point to get out and explore more and it made for the perfect combination of adventure and relaxation. The gym at the Four Seasons is perfect if you want to use equipment without leaving the gorgeous surroundings, so I had no problem getting my fitness on (had to with all those fish tacos, glasses of rose, and dessert every single night ya feel me?). The cardio equipment is in an open air part of the gym and there’s a sundeck with TRX, medicine balls, pull up bars, mats, foam rollers and bands, so it’s the perfect spot to squeeze in a morning workout. I used the gym almost every day, we went to a yoga class, and did a workout on the beach!

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RESTAURANTS

Morimoto at the Andaz Hotel: This hotel is a really beautiful location for the restaurant. As you walk down the staircase at night, you pass multiple infinity pools that glisten in the moonlight. There’s a sleek sushi bar, indoor seating, an outdoor bar and an outdoor terrace. We sat on the terrace with curved, upholstered seating (super romantic and comfy) and a view of the ocean and pool. 

I drank sake (I don’t remember which one), and we started with the hamachi tacos, which were delicious - a crunchy shell with the perfect amount of hamachi and avocado inside. Then we ate  the sea urchin carbonara (a little heavy for my taste), braised black cod (insanely delicious), shishito peppers, seafood toban yaki (also ridiculously good - so much lobster, crab and yummy scallops), and a full plate of sushi. This was definitely one of the best meals of the entire vacation. (appetizers range from $16-$30, main courses from $35-$62)

Coconuts: One of my friends read about Coconuts prior to our trip. It turns out that it’s a chain restaurant and there’s one in DTLA now! Trust me, I’ll be checking it out. They’re known for their fish tacos that include slaw with coconut milk. Two tacos come in an order and they’re massive - don’t let the pictures on the wall fool you. The flavors are delicious and each taco includes 17 different ingredients including the fresh fish of the day, cheese, tomatoes, coconut milk coleslaw and mango salsa. I want to go back just for these tacos. Plus, they have beer on tap - my rec is the Bikini Blonde. ($12.75 for an order of fish tacos, around $5 for a beer)

Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice: I’ve been to Hawaii four times, but for some reason I was still under the impression shave ice was the same as a sno cone. I was wrong. Hawaiian Shave Ice is so creamy and soft. Ululani’s signature way is to put a layer of ice cream on the bottom and then the shave ice on top. I went with macadamia nut ice cream to get super Hawaiian and chose strawberry, pineapple and coconut flavors on the shave ice. It was honestly one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted in my entire 31 years of living. Again, I am not exaggerating. And I love food. Especially dessert. (around $7/$8 for a medium)

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Monkey Pod: Monkey Pod is one of those places that you keep hearing about when you’re in the area, but aren’t quite sure what to think. Every time we asked a local or someone working in the hotel where to go for dinner outside of the Four Seasons, they said Monkey Pod. But they also told us it was a little like a sports bar, so we weren’t sure what to think. Finally on the last night, after hitting all the restaurants on our list, we decided to try it out. It was super casual with a fun bar and cute outdoor patio (where we sat). We ordered the lobster pizza to share as an appetizer (pretty good, although I’m a red sauce person, so it wouldn’t be my first choice), and I got the fish tacos (see a pattern yet?). I will order fish tacos anywhere they are offered, especially in Hawaii. The tacos were great - the mahi mahi was blackened and full of flavor and they were topped with a spicy salsa, avocado and jalepenos. YUM. They’re known for their strawberry pie, so you know we had to test it out. It had a filling that was similar to cheese cake, but less dense - the strawberries on top were to die for. (pizza -$27, fish tacos, $24)

BEACHES

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Makena State Park: 

Big Beach: This is my favorite beach I’ve been to in Hawaii so far. Just like it sounds, it was huge, with sand the color of that macaroni and cheese Crayola crayon, and water so clear and turquoise that you can see to the bottom even when you’re in five feet of water. The waves were gnarly and there were tons of locals surfing and skimboarding. There’s usually a Jaws food truck in the parking lot selling fish tacos and burritos. I tried the fish burrito for a change - it was really fresh and the salsas were full of flavor. Should’ve gone for the tacos though. 

If you walk to one edge of the beach, there’s a rock you can climb over to get to Little Beach. Little Beach is a nude beach with LOTS of interesting scenery if you know what I mean.

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Turtle Beach in Paia: We went to Paia Town our first full day in Maui. It’s a cute little eclectic hippy town with lots of shops and restaurants. I recommend stopping by just to walk around and get a Shaved Ice at Ululani’s. If you go right past the town, there’s a beach with tons of locals and their little kids surfing and some massive turtles. It’s definitely worth seeing and spending some time on the beach. 

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OTHER: 

Snorkel with Kai Kanani Sailing: We researched several different snorkel excursions and we chose this one because we wanted to be around other people (there were about 25 of us on the boat) and be on a nice catamaran. The excursion took us to Molokini Crater and Turtle Town. Molokini had super rough water, so it was difficult to see anything, much less snorkel. We took a boat ride to Turtle Town expecting to see turtles, but there were only three on a nearby beach. Overall, we were a little disappointed in the lack of visibility and the lack of turtles, but the boat was great. The staff was super friendly and knowledgable and the food was pretty good. They provided snacks throughout the trip and a lunch after Turtle Town. I also like the fact that it was BYOB - we brought some champagne (literally the only group that took them up on the booze offer) and had some drinks - post snorkel of course. (around $200 per person)

Nap in a Hammock: This might sound simple, but I was in Hawaii 10 days (5 in Kona and 5 in Maui) and didn’t get in a hammock until the last day. They are everywhere, and are perfect to lounge around with a book or nap in the sun. (FREE)