As I write this last post of 2017, Toronto (and much of Canada) continues to be in a deep freeze, with temperatures hovering below -20 degrees celcius. While winter can be a magical season, on the coldest of days, it’s sometimes fun to reminisce about warmer days abroad. On that note, here are a few last pictures, stories and restaurants from our trip to Maui, back in late September.
Our weeklong adventure in Maui took us to beautiful beaches, volcanic peaks and even tropical rainforest. One of the great things about Maui is that is has a beach for everyone – from calm coves for snorkeling to some of the biggest surfable waves in the world (aptly named “Jaws”).
I was also pleasantly surprised to see how sustainability had been ingrained throughout the island. Many restaurants had locally-driven menus, filled with fresh fish caught earlier that day and island-grown fruits and vegetables. There was also a noticeable presence of solar panels, which perhaps should not have been so surprising given that many parts of the island are often sun-drenched.
We went on a number of adventures in Maui during our stay:
Sunset at Haleakala Volcano
A visit to Haleakala volcano is the closest most of us will ever get to visiting the moon. Haleakala is in fact so “out of this world”, that NASA has used the summit to test out space rovers. Given its high altitude of 10,023 feet, the air at the summit is noticeably thinner. Simple things, like running, are more challenging at the summit. I also found the temperature oddly warm (from the sun) & cool (from the elevation) at the same time, so be sure to dress in layers.
Haleakala is the world’s largest dormant volcano. It last erupted in 1790 and scientists suspect it will erupt again. You can visit the volcano’s summit 24/7; however the most magical times to visit are at sunrise and sunset.
The Road to Hana
Maui’s eastern coast is unlike any other. These lush and verdant slopes receive between 8 – 25 feet of rain per year (yes, you read that right), making the area a completely different microclimate versus the rest of the island.
There are a number of incredible stops along the way to the town of Hana. The jet black volcanic sands of Waianapanapa State Park shouldn’t be missed. The scenery was so surreal it was as if we were in a Jurassic Park movie.
My other favorite was a secluded Red Sand Beach at Kaihalulu bay. The beach overlooks the open ocean and the powerful and thunderous waves that crash onto the nearby offshore reef. Getting to this isolated beach is somewhat of an adventure itself. Beachgoers are required to take a relatively short (and somewhat dangerous) hike along a steep and slippery seaside dirt path. While I really enjoyed taking in the incredible views and bathing in the ocean (albeit close to the shore, given the powerful undercurrent), the red sand pebbles are not particularly pleasurable to walk on barefoot. Nonetheless, it’s still a beautiful stop in Hana and one of the most unique beaches I’ve ever visited.
In addition to the beaches mentioned above, there are a number of waterfalls, bays and viewpoints you can visit along the way. If you plan to drive the Road to Hana, I highly recommend downloading the “shaka” app. The app uses your GPS location to share recommended stops and shares history and Hawaiian culture along the way.
Where to eat
We visited a number of delicious eateries on Maui, from food trucks to finer dining restaurants:
The farm-to-table menu was spot-on, as were the ocean views (in particular at sunset). Reservations are highly recommended, in particular if you are looking to dine during the sunset.
American tourists flock to this beachside restaurant for good reason – the seafood is incredibly fresh and flavorful and the palm-tree lined ocean view can’t be beat. Reservations are a must.
Without a doubt, the burgers from Burger Shack were my most memorable burgers of 2017. The beef patties were juicy and flavorful and the housemade ketchup with pineapple had me hooked.
Thai Food by Pranee, Hana
This food truck offers simple, fresh thai food that can be enjoyed on the nearby picnic benches. The fried pineapple rice was delicious.
With the new year right around the corner, I wanted to wish you all a Happy New Year and all the best in 2018. Here’s to a 2018 filled with many more adventures abroad and in the kitchen!