Maui might be one of the few places I have traveled to where I left thinking, “I can’t wait to come back!” I’ve been to Oahu and definitely didn’t feel this way after that trip, but then again, that was over 10 years ago. Could it be the slow pace, the sunshine, and the abundance of great snorkeling spots, or was it something else?
I know I’m not the first to tell you about this island nor would I be the first to say that snorkeling is awesome here, but what I will tell you is that you can have your cake and eat it too. Even if you are on a tight budget, you can still see this place in all its glory. There are plenty of camping areas and tons of free stuff to do. If you like the higher side of luxury, you can easily find it as well, but I’d recommend the Makena Surf Condos for the ultimate experience.
Before I get into the details of my trip to Maui, I’d like to first relate the top ten reasons I like it on this island. If these things sound good to you, read on.
Here are a few reasons that Maui tops my list:
1. Slow pace of life (Oahu has more than 1.5 million people living there now; Maui has 155,000 and it’s bigger)
2. Access to nature and wildlife is easy and abundant (you don’t NEED a tour guide, just a guidebook or a good sense of direction)
3. Fresh foods at your fingertips (farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and the Eskimo Candy market for fish)
4. Snorkeling is everywhere (there are probably more than 100 spots on Maui)
5. Relatively quiet beaches (fewer people on the island means fewer people on the beach)
6. A wide variety of activities are available to all (snorkeling, golfing, hiking, ziplining, horseback riding, boating, surfing, fishing, whale watching, helicopter trips, camping, the drive to Hana, and much more)
7. Climate is amazing and beautiful year-round (almost always 75-85 degrees and sunny somewhere on the island)
8. Friendly local culture: “it is what it is”, “no worries” attitude
9. Can thrive on a wide range of budgets (any budget has options)
10. You can wear flip flops year-round! 😉
Our First Night in Maui
This trip was imagined and planned about a year in advance. My friend Cassie and I were on a hike one day and as we talked about our Moms we began thinking they would get along well. Our talk morphed into a hypothetical vacation for all of us.
At first, it was a choice between Italy and Maui. I know… strange choices, but once the month was set to February, it was easy to decide. Italy in February is not usually good weather and the language would be a challenge too.
I was the only one who had ever been to Maui, so for me it was a bit more exciting knowing what we were in for. For the others, it was surreal.
We booked our flights first to get our Moms to Portland so we could all fly together to the island. We chose Hawaiian Airlines, mostly because of price when we booked the trip to Maui, but also because they treat you like royalty when you are flying to and from the islands. All mainland flights receive free meals and tropical juices.
We flew first into Honolulu, then on to Maui from there. Flying from one island to another was actually fun. I even tried to spot my first whale from the air. Once on the ground, Cassie and I were keeping an eye out for our first big Mom surprise. The surprise was that we were to receive orchid leis when we landed. Just as we got to the baggage claim area we heard our names being paged. It was perfect! I highly recommend starting your Maui experience this way. It really gets you into the moment and officially kicks off the tropical experience.
In other words, “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.”
We picked up the red Ford Mustang convertible we rented for the week and started on our way.
Weeks before we left Portland, I made reservations for dinner at the best restaurant on the island, Mama’s Fish House. It’s a spectacularly Hawaiian affair with the best locally-caught fish and a fantastical Polynesian ambiance. Sitting in the tiki-style restaurant, feeling the warm breezes, smelling the food while gazing on the sunset, and the live tropical plants all around us made the night extraordinary. The restaurant is open to the beach with the sounds of waves crashing as you eat. I can’t say enough about Mama’s Fish House.
We shared the lobster guacamole with taro, sweet potato, and breadfruit chips, and each had a unique dish. I had the macadamia nut-crusted, lobster-stuffed mahi mahi with lemon butter sauce; my Mom had the wild boar and ono fish; Cassie tried the ono, ahi, and mahi mahi seafood curry dish; and I think Cassie’s Mom had the ahi dish. The flavors and atmosphere couldn’t be beat, and although the dinner was not cheap, it was worth every dime to share such an amazing meal with our Moms at Mama’s Fish House to kick off the trip.
With full bellies and huge smiles, we took the convertible through the inner island roads to the Makena Surf Condo Resort where we would spend the next 8 days.
More about this trip in the next post, Mauilicious Vacation Part 2: Side Effect, Snorkeling Addiction, and stay tuned for all 5 Mauilicious Posts.
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