Go Maui!

At some point in a woman’s life, you look at where you are and give yourself a mental bashing for the lack of things you’ve accomplished.  For me, it happens frequently.  My fix for that is to knock some stuff off of my bucket list, which is really my “before I get too old to do it” list.

I arrived in Maui on a mission to see humpback whales, and along the way I found peace, nature, and a deep love for relaxation. We stateside people tend to be deficient in all of those those things, especially the latter.  I, also, found about 10 lbs thanks to all of the amazing food! Worth it!!!  I only had three days in Maui.  You really need seven to fully appreciate the entire island. Thusly, my adventures took place on the southern and western side of the island.

Maui is great for an active vacation - surf, hike, kayak or just lay on the beach.

First off - rent a car. The car rental agency that I used had very few options outside of convertibles.  Get the convertible!  Drive the highways with the top down, stop when you can, take lots of photos and eat everything.  Maui is less developed and crowded than Oahu.  It feels like that first breath of fresh air every, single moment you are there.  If you are a person who appreciates something between big city and complete solitude, then Maui is your place.  It’s the type of place to take your sweetie or your girls. Romance or shenanigans?  It’s all there!  Go Maui!!!

Lodging options are plentiful.  You can rent a home/condo/apartment or stay in a hotel/motel. We rented a house near Lahaina in a hilly area with a beautiful view.  Night one was so hot due to lack of air conditioning that we ended up at a hotel resort in a fully air conditioned and beautifully comfortable room.  Know what you are willing to live without.  For me, air conditioning is a non-negotiable, and most of Maui does not have it.  Do your research.  Pack warm weather clothes, comfortable shoes for walking and hiking and a nice dinner outfit or two…or three!

This is not my photo, but it's better than a photo of water   captioned with "There are whales in the ocean."

I went to Maui for my “list”, and #1 was see whales in the wild.  Our whale watching tour was through the Pacific Whale Foundation.  It was nearly impossible to take a photo of a humpback, so I recommend a video camera in addition to a few regular cameras.  It was 2-3 hours of beautiful scenery with some really cool, highly educated crew members who area clearly passionate about what they do.  Money well spent!  (Tip: Don’t forget to tip your crew afterwards)

I really never have an itinerary when I go on vacation.  I make a list of a few things I’m there to do and purchase my tickets in advance.  The rest of the time, I just wing it and find little adventures.  That’s how I happened upon an old fishing village called Lahaina.  With its quaint, charming shops and seaside tour options, it’s definitely somewhere you’ll want to stop for a  day.  While in Lahaina, we happened upon Atlantis Submarine Tours.  Yes, it’s really a small submarine!!!  I quickly found out some things that I didn’t know about myself.  

#1 I’m slightly claustrophobic.  

#2 I get highly seasick.  

(Tip: Take Dramamine before you step off the dock)  This adventure is not one for folks who have mobility issues, as you are required maneuver down into the submarine.  Take a camera for some amazing photos during the approximately 2 hour tour.  Even the boat ride to and from the submarine was beautiful.

Photo of a submarine off the coast of Maui, Hawaii by Stephanie Barnard

Colorful fish viewed from a submarine off the coast of Maui by Stephanie Barnard

There are many things to do while visiting Maui, such as helicopter tours, jungle tours, visiting nature preserves, camping on the beach, and numerous water sports.  Since there was limited time on my visit, we tended to stop when we saw a sign for something that interested us.  We happened upon the Maui Ocean Center Aquarium. It was a beautiful way to spend a rainy afternoon indoors.

Wonton Mein at Sam Sato's, photo from www.mauihawaii.org - 

Wonton Mein at Sam Sato's, photo from www.mauihawaii.org - 

I’ll admit it.  I have a slight obsession with noodles (of the Asian variety, to be precise). Like Oahu, Maui has some amazing, nondescript places to get some delicious noodles you simply must hunt down and devour. Sam Sato’s is a little family run business that serves saimin noodles (similar to lo mein noodles but so, so much better) located in the industrial area of Wailuku.  The family has been at it for generations, so you know it’s got to be absolutely amazing.   Like most Japanese businesses, they are closed on Monday, cash only, and always packed.  Come early and try a lot of different things. Personally, I get the dry mein that come with a bowl of dashi on the side, and pour my dashi over the noodles. The family makes the pastries every day from scratch.  Take some of those to go.

If you are looking for a more diverse Asian menu but still need your noodle fix, Star Noodle in Lahaina is a good option.  The noodles are house-made, and the menu has everything from steamed pork buns to kalbi steak.  The restaurant just has such a cool vibe and was perfect for a  date night.  This is a come early or make reservations kind of place.  We were unaware of it’s popularity and waited 2 hours for a seat.  Happily waited, I might add.

Upper Waikani Falls aka "Three Bears Falls"

In closing, here are some things I learned about Maui and myself.  The more days you can stay, the better to see everything you want.  It’s expensive, but I will always spend money on making memories.  Noodles, noodles, noodles.  And, finally, it feels amazing to just breathe.  So, pack your bags, Go Maui, and just breathe.