Writing my trip recaps about my vacation to Maui has made the feelings of wanting to return even stronger. Over the last few days, I’ve shared about our flight to the island, great food and a luau in part one, as well as our time doing beach-side yoga, getting massages, going on a sunset cruise and enjoying a submarine adventure in part two. Now finally, I’m ready to give you the last two days of action. And when I say action, I mean action …
Stand-up paddle-boarding on the waters of Maui
It’s really hard to pick a favorite activity from our time in Maui, but I would have to say that stand-up paddle-boarding is on the top of that list. On Sunday morning, Dave and I drove about 15 minutes away from our hotel to the Olowalu area for a private SUP (stand-up paddle-boarding) lesson with Hawaiian Paddle Sports.
Please excuse the trucker hat and plastic sunglasses, but I knew I didn’t want to wear any valuables that I could lose. Oh and these fabulous pictures? Compliments of our instructor and his handy waterproof camera. Just look at the water and sky!
We drove up to a sandy area to park along the side of the road and found the big truck with boards on it labeled Hawaiian Paddle Sports. Right away, we met our instructor and guide for the day, Curtis. And Curtis turned out to be much more than just an instructor. He knew basically everything there was to know about the ocean, marine life, Hawaii and travel. We loved talking to him, and we both walked away feeling like we had a better understanding of Hawaii in general, in addition to gaining the skills we needed to do stand-up paddle-boarding. And that’s totally awesome.
Stand-up paddle-boarding is much harder than it looks, and although the water was pretty calm, we had to be careful of rocky areas and stay on our knees until we got far enough away from shore to stand up. I didn’t fall in, which I was proud of. But I was a little nervous for the first part, because it’s tough to balance and you really have to use your core to stay upright and use the paddle.
There were times when we were in about 40-50 feet of water and you could see clear to the bottom. Totally amazing experience and one that we’ll remember. Especially with these great shots to have and to hold.
In addition to having Curtis help us perfect our form and technique, we also spent some of the time out in the water just floating on our boards and talking, while looking back at the beautiful mountains and coastline. It was during those about 20-30 minutes that I had one of those “this is the most amazing thing ever” feelings and didn’t want it to end. After about two hours, we headed back to shore, and Curtis gave us some snacks, water and sent us on our way. If you’re going to Hawaii, you should definitely think about doing water sports with Hawaiian Paddle Sports. The company is totally environmentally friendly and the guides not only leave the beaches where they operate un-touched, but they even clean up litter that they find when they arrive. Being active, caring for the planet and learning from a knowledgeable local? I love it! *I’m so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have done something like this on our trip. Thanks to Hawaiian Paddle Sports for inviting Dave and me to enjoy this hosted experience. We were so impressed!
Grabbing some sweet and savory grub at Leoda’s
After a morning of activity, Dave and I were eager to dig into some food. We’d heard good things about Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop, so decided to stop in there on the way back to the hotel. We ordered three things — an assortment of sweet and savory pies — and they were all incredible. In fact, that apple hand-pie is still on my mind. We were both totally pleased with that stop and wish we had gone back again on our trip for more hand pies, but we just didn’t fit it in. Tear. Serious tear.
Afternoon pool and beach play back at our hotel
In the afternoon, once again, Dave and I spent our last few hours at the pool back at our hotel (The Westin Maui Resort & Spa). But this time, we didn’t lounge in our same chairs all that long, we were up and all around the resort and beach. We rode the slide that went into the kid’s pool several times (so fun!), we walked down to a rocky cliff and played in rough water on the beach, then we laid on the beach and just soaked it all in. Paradise, people. Just paradise.
A quiet dinner in downtown Lahaina
That evening, Dave and I caught our hotel’s free shuttle to downtown Lahaina and had a late dinner at Mala’s Ocean Tavern. We had a perfect table outside and had some tasty and fresh food, spanning from tartar, to flatbread, to bread pudding. Of course, as was usual during each night of our trip, we were back to hotel room and ready to hit the hay nice and early.
A full day of explorations on the Road to Hana
On the last full day of our time in Maui, Dave and I were up super early to get picked up by Discover Hawaii Tours for the company’s Road To Hana Eco-Adventure Tour. That meant our final day was spent exploring what seemed to be the entire island. While I could devote a full week to describing the things we saw during this 12-hour adventure, I’ll try to boil it down to this — Maui is much more than a beach. There are waterfalls, rocky cliffs, caves, rainforest-like areas, farms, black-sand beaches, parks and ranch areas unlike any other.
Our little tour bus was full of about eight people from various places, and our tour guide, Junior — a born and raised Maui resident — was a total treat. He talked for nearly 12 hours, giving us the history of Maui, stories about his family growing up and so much information about the areas we were visiting and driving through. Our little bus drove all the way across the island and back through tight roads going up mountains, and Junior would stop the bus for us to get off to take pictures at scenic vistas, as well as to explore.
Perhaps the coolest thing we did was walk on a black-sand beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park and also stop and see sea turtles laying up on the sand at the end of our trip at a popular surfing beach for locals. Even though 12 hours was a long time to be on the bus, Junior made it interesting, and Dave and I felt like we got to see the other side of Maui, outside of just the beach and restaurants, where we had been spending most of our days. *Thanks to the lovely folks at Discover Hawaii Tours for hosting Dave and me for the day. We took eight-million gorgeous photos that will be adorning our walls for ages!
Our final amazing, fresh and enjoyable dinner in Maui
On our last night in Maui, Dave and I were exhausted, but so happy that we had plans arranged to dine at Japengo, the restaurant at The Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa, which was just a few steps down the road from our hotel. I couldn’t wait to have sushi in Maui, and was glad we saved the best for last.
To get to restaurant, we walked along the beach-side path and it reminded me of our days we were able to walk everywhere when we lived in Nob Hill in downtown San Francisco. In fact, that beach-side path is a major benefit of staying on the Ka’anapali Coast, because there are so many places you can reach on foot.
Upon arrival, we were instantly shown to our table near the edge of the restaurant, which featured the popular indoor/outdoor dining experience that we enjoyed so many times in Maui. Our server came to check on us and gave us the lay of the land on the drinks and food, which all sounded fabulous. And it tasted even better than it sounded …
Pure beauty. Here’s what we had … Ahi poke tuna tartar (yum central, especially those fancy sauces), Prawn & mango salad (mint and macadamia nut included to make this dish super refreshing), Rainbow roll (with assorted fish and the best I’ve ever had, hands down), Honolulu roll (ohhh those tempura crunchies) and two desserts — the Flaming pina colada creme (talk about delicious) and the Tengu Ka’anapali pie (melt-in-your-mouth). I can’t even …
If you have been reading A Lady Goes West for any length of time you know that I love to eat, I love to eat fish, I love to eat sushi and I do those things quite often. So then you will know this is a big deal, when I tell you that I had the best rainbow roll of my life at Japango. I sure did.
With all of that colorful fare above, we were pleasantly stuffed. And you know, nothing feels better than “sushi full.” It’s that marvelous feeling when you the perfect amount of fresh and delicious fish, veggies and rice in one sitting. And that we did. Everything was superb. Everything was local. Everything was more than we could have asked for. *Thanks to the team at Japengo for treating us to a fancy and wonderful dinner on our last night. We were totally happy campers!
As good as this meal was, Dave and I both started to get a little bit sad that our time on the island was nearly finished. We walked slowly home, feeling stuffed, tan, tired and wishing we had a few more days, but pretty grateful for all we fit in during the time we were there.
Saying goodbye to Maui with one last delicious outdoor meal
On Tuesday morning, Dave and I finished up our packing and went down to the Westin’s Relish restaurant for a huge and fabulous breakfast. We devoured eggs, macadamia nut pancakes, fruit, toast and more and officially left the island stuffed. Our trip to the airport was easy, as was our rental car return, and we sadly boarded our flight and said goodbye to Hawaii.
Over the course of the six days and five nights we had some fabulous experiences, chatted with friendly people, learned a ton about Hawaii and Maui, ate delicious food, tried new things and relaxed. Really, what more could you ask for? And that ladies and gentlemen, concludes my three-post recap.
Plan your own trip to Maui with ease
In just a few weeks, I’m going to be taking the best parts of my trip to Maui and putting together a Maui Travel Guide post, which you can reference if you ever plan a vacation there in the future. These posts are living on my Travel page as well. See you soon, my friends!
Questions of the day
Have you ever done any outdoor water-sports?
What’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever visited?