This summer is maybe the craziest summer I have (or will have had) to date! I think that every weekend between now and September has at least one activity planned, not to mention all the travel I have going on. So when my mom said she had a conference in Maui and asked if my sister and I wanted to go with her and make it an extended weekend, I said, "Why not add another trip on!" (Also, yes I would absolutely love to go to Maui, thank you so much for the invitation).
Hawaii has gotten a bad rap in recent years from me. We used to go every year when I was a kid, and it was the absolute highlight of my life. I hadn't been in maybe over 15 years (yikes), but I didn't really have any desire - it felt cliché and overdone. But when I started to think about it, I got really excited about the trip. There really is something so special about Hawaii that is unmatched by anywhere else. The smell of the air and flowers alone that blasts you in the face right when you get off the plane makes it worth it. And then there's the ocean, and the food, and the people, and I could go on.
Scroll down for our trip highlights (mostly where we ate)...
Priority 1: Food
Night One: Japengo (sushi) - at the Hyatt in Ka'anapali. My mom's workshop was at the Westin, so we just stayed there and walked about 15 min down the beach to the Hyatt.
Night Two: Leilani's at Whaler's Village - recommended by a friend who comes to Maui often with her family. We ate in the dining room, as opposed to the beachside grill. I had the Sesame Crusted Ahi Steak with Coconut and Citrus Jasmine Rice and Shiitake-Soy Butter. I give you the entire description because ahi steaks are a dime a dozen in Hawaii, but this one was fantastic. I can't recommend it highly enough.
Night Three: Cane & Canoe at the Montage Hotel in Kapalua - the new Montage is absolutely beautiful, and the restaurant is decorated impeccably, and has a direct view of the ocean. The drinks and food were great, the service was ok. Our food took a very long time to get to us, and our server was not very helpful or apologetic about it, but we enjoyed each other's company and the view, so all was well.
I ordered the Kamuela Fizz to drink, which was fantastic, and so fresh. I started with the poke and then had the tomato, melon, and burrata salad, which was one of the best I've ever had. (Which is saying a lot having just gotten back from Italy).
A highlight: Coincidentally, Veuve Cliquot invited a bunch of bloggers to the Montage for a dinner that night. In this group was Jacey of Damsel in Dior. My mom, sister, and I were sitting outside having our pre-dinner drinks when I saw Jacey and her husband come up the stairs to get some sunset pictures before their event. She is a huge reason I started my blog. When I first discovered the world of blogging, I went through her whole website and just oogled at how fabulous, but still so real she was. I couldn't pass up this opportunity to go say hi. So I grabbed my sister and we "went for a walk". We came across Jacey and her husband, apologized for interrupting, and discussed the weather and how great Maui is. After a few minutes I told them to enjoy their dinner, and thanked them for their time. They could not have been more gracious, and she could not have been sweeter.
Say that three times fast.
Night Four: Humuhumunukunukuapua'a at the Grand Wailea - about an hour away from us in Ka'anapali, but well worth it. Our waiter was Justin, and he was one of the best waiters I've ever had. We started at the bar with the Kampachi Crudo, and it was so so good. But that was just the beginning.
For dinner all three of us ordered the Crispy Mahi-Mahi, and oh. my. god. My mom originally wanted the Opaka, but they were out, so she went with the Mahi. Justin chuckled, and said, you'll be so happy we were out of the Opaka. It was the most perfect combination of crispy, but flaky, sweet, but salty with just a little kick. Just go, and order it. Now.
And the restaurant is what I think of when I think of Hawaiian restaurants - open air with thatch roofs, surrounded by water. And the Grand Wailea is such a beautiful hotel that should be seen.
Night Five: my favorite experience of the trip: Mala Ocean Tavern - an unexpected very pleasant surprise. We needed one last dinner, and the island was very busy, and everywhere we tried to call, we couldn't get a reservation. We turned to the hotel concierge (which I try not to do usually, because their recommendations tend to be fairly generic, and they sometimes have agreements with restaurants to send people there).
We looked up the couple of places he recommended, but didn't love the vibe. So we said thank you very much, and went back to scrolling Yelp. Two minutes later, he called us back in our room and said Mala Ocean Tavern in Lahaina. We looked it up, and we booked it.
When we got there, they couldn't seat us yet because the tide was too high and the waves were drenching all the outside tables. We were sat at the farthest table from shore, and were assured it was safe. But I decided it wouldn't be the worst thing to get splashed with a wave while at dinner.
My sister and I split the seared ahi bruschetta and it was out of this world. I think I then ordered the the ceviche, but next time I would get what my sister ordered; the seared ahi sashimi with potato puree and shiitake mushroom ginger sauce. Yum.
Highlights (other than food):
We were staying about 10 minutes from Lahaina, which was a great little town to spend the day wandering around. There isn't really enough to do for an entire day, but spend a few hours in the morning in and out of galleries and shops, and then have lunch at Lahaina Fish Co. I expected this to be good, but not half as good as it was. I had the ahi katsu rice bowl, and I'm still craving it. So fresh and great flavors. And they have $5 Mai Tais starting at noon. What more do you need?
We stumbled on a great little gallery of old maps, which I have a fascination with, so I thought it was very cool - they have originals from the 1800's. And the piña coladas at Koa are the best on the island, (and we sampled quite a few).
Order the piña colada.
With a dark rum floater. Trust me.
Raven and I had a couple days over the weekend to ourselves while my mom was in her workshop. Saturday we took full advantage of Hawaii-style leisure, spending the morning at the beach and swimming in the waves, and then we moved to the pool where we discovered the Lava Flows with a rum floater on top.
Sunday we drove about an hour to Pa'ia. Another cute surf town, but the shopping was a little better here than in Lahaina. Very cute, a little higher-end boutiques, and an array of restaurants, as well as the Fish Market. We were hot and lethargic and not thinking straight, so we opted to eat at Rock & Brews, which was a very basic Hard Rock-type place. The service was very slow, and the lettuce wraps were not worth the wait. I would, instead, eat at the Fish Market if you're stopping for lunch.
All in all, it was a magical weekend spent with my two favorite women. If you've never been to Hawaii, Maui is a great place to start. If you've been to Maui, but haven't eaten the Mahi Mahi at Humu Humu, or seen a sunset from Mala Ocean Tavern, those things alone are worth a trip back.