Our final Maui explorations – Days 4 & 5

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

Hawaiian Paddle Sports trip in Maui via A Lady Goes West blogPlease 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. 

Hawaiian Paddle Sports in Maui adventures via A Lady Goes West blogThere 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.

Leoda's Pie, acai bowl and poolside via A Lady Goes West MauiPina coladas by the pool, pie from Leoda’s and an afternoon acai bowl from a coffee shop. Amen.

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.

Malas Ocean Tavern in Lahaina via A Lady Goes WestWe really didn’t take a lot of pictures at night, but here’s a shot of us dressed in our casuals for dinner in Lahaina. Note the nearly empty plate. Because I leave no crumbs when I eat, people. 


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. 

Discover Hawaii Road to Hana tour via A Lady Goes WestEvery time we got off the bus to explore, the scenery just kept getting better and better.

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.

Discover Hawaii Road to Hana tour in Maui via A Lady Goes WestAlong the way, we also stopped to purchase and sample freshly made banana bread, had a buffet lunch, chatted with our fellow tour participants and climbed some rocky cliffs. A day well spent. 

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. 

Dinner at Japengo in Maui via A Lady Goes West blogUnintentionally, we matched the colors of the restaurant that night. And this pineapple lychee beverage brought a smile to my face upon delivery. The pineapple in Maui? So good! 

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 …

Amazing food at Japengo at the Hyatt in Maui via A Lady Goes West blogPure 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. 

Maui moments and trip recap via A Lady Goes West blogOur first trip to Maui was pretty darn fabulous. Thanks for the hospitality. Aloha and Mahalo!

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?

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  1. I’ve loved reading all about your trip to Maui! It looks absolutely gorgeous and the food looks amazing. And, I love your orange dress in the pic…do you remember where you purchased it? A Maui travel guide post will be awesome…now to just convince my husband we need to go! πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Amy! Thanks so much! Yes, you need to start planting the seed with the husband that it’s worth the trip heheh! That orange dress is from Dillard’s – it doesn’t look like that one is available, but here is the brand http://goo.gl/FrEQx4. Have a fabulous day!!! πŸ™‚

    1. Oh thanks, Diane! Well you are getting to see some beautiful parts of the world where you call home too! And maybe one day you’ll make the trip to Hawaii. That orange dress is from this brand: http://goo.gl/FrEQx4. Doesn’t seem to be available any longer! Have a good one, lady! πŸ™‚

    1. It was hard to come home from that vacation Heather! I don’t know how many times I asked Dave if we could extend. We couldn’t. πŸ™ Happy Thursday, lady!

    1. hhahha Stacie! That’s hilarious! I don’t watch the Bachelor, but used to, so I know what you mean. All we needed was a helicopter tour to round it out! πŸ™‚

  2. I absolutely loved reading your Maui recaps. I had the same feeling as you when we had to leave – pure sadness at leaving paradise. I loved everything about Hawaii … the beautiful beaches, nature, friendly people, food.

    Isn’t the water gorgeous there? Simply breath taking to be out in the water with mountains surrounding you and the water is so clear that you can see to the bottom.

    I really want to try stand up paddle boarding sometime. I keep meaning to try it when we’re away on various beach vacations but it never seems to fit into my schedule. One of these days I will πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Catherine! Yes, you need to try SUP one day! And yes, the water was so clear. I LOVED seeing the neighboring islands off the coast as well. Glad you enjoyed these recaps, lady! πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Jen, Yes even though we had a car and could have driven it, it was SO much better to have an official tour guide telling us the history. Such a great experience. Happy Thursday! πŸ™‚

  3. I have been reading for a few months, but I am a first-time commenter, and just wanted to say that you look gorgeous and super fit, and I appreciate your tactful beach photos. Some healthy living bloggers have a history of posting close-up photos of themselves in bikinis which are clearly attention-seeking, and may make readers feel bad about themselves or focus on weight. You posted some relevant and tactful photos of you working on SUP and participating in other vacation activities. It is refreshing to read a blogger who does not desperately scream, “look at me in this bikini!” Thank you for blogging responsibly.

    1. Hi Dee! Thank you so much for reading and for saying hello and commenting. In fact, you’ve really made my day with what you’ve said. I definitely try to be as real as possible on my blog and share my life. And quite honestly, I’m not all that into exposing myself eheheh. In fact, I asked my husband before posting that picture of us in our suits, because I wasn’t sure if it was too much. I hope that you get a little enjoyment out of reading my posts, but never have any bad feelings at all. That’s definitely not what this blog is about. Hope you have a wonderful day!! πŸ™‚

  4. Wow, This looks like such a great vacation! How beautiful and fun and delicious food! My family does an annual beach vacation in La Jolla, CA which I absolutely love but would also love to try Hawaii someday. Or Jamaica? I love SUP, So much fun! I try to go every year at the beach and have been meaning to try it on one of the lakes here in Colorado.

    1. Hi Kelly! My husband and I did our honeymoon in Jamaica, which is also a beautiful place. So I hope you get there or Hawaii one day. Or both! And I’ve never been to La Jolla before but heard good things. As far as going back in time, yes I’ve read The Paris Wife too … and I’d want to go back in time in that era, but only as a well-off royal hahah! πŸ™‚ Have a great day, lady!

  5. You have sold me on Maui!!! Everything look perfect. I want to try paddle boarding, I have water skiied, which was fun. Thanks for sharing your trip. Have a great day

    1. Hi Pragati! Yes kayaking is so nice for seeing the area and getting into quiet places. I’m glad you enjoyed! I’d like to do that in Hawaii one day too! Happy Thursday, lady! πŸ™‚

  6. Looks so fantastic! I love SUP! It is challenging for a while, until you get your sea legs :). Hawaii and Yangshuo, China are tied for most beautiful on my list so far. So much beauty in the world to see πŸ™‚ By the way, I love your hats! I’ve been trying to be extra aware of my sun exposure, and hats are so difficult to pack… if only my giant sun hat fit in a suitcase, guess I’ll stick with my straw fedora and athletic hat.

    1. Hi Jessie! That’s the thing about bringing hats on vacation is that it’s not easy. In fact, I left my big sun hat back home in Florida after I was in the Keys earlier this year and had to get a new one for this trip. And I’ve never been to Asia, hopefully one day!! πŸ™‚

  7. Paddle-boarding is ON my list to do! πŸ™‚ You and your husband look like you could totally fit in in Hawaii. I also love your styles Ashley. They are so flowy, feminine, and super stylish!

    1. Thank you so much, Emily! That’s really nice of you to say. And yes, you’ve got to try stand-up paddle-boarding one day! It’s tougher than it looks. πŸ™‚

  8. Oh Ashley, I am remembering my visits to Maui. That is my most favorite vacation place. Stand up paddle boarding was so amazing on the ocean and the sea turtle swimming underneath us was just so awesome. Hana is beautiful. I have not been up there in years.
    What a wonderful vacation. So fun

  9. Ahhhh – I LOVE it! You should post a picture of all the Hawaii pictures you develop and put on your walls! Did you have any sore muscles after the paddle boarding? I’ve never done it, but I’d love to try. I’ve done wake boarding and water skiing – a long time ago. Most beautiful place?! Geez, again – how do you pick? The beaches of Hawaii are gorgeous, but I do love the Destin beaches too! California has gorgeous spots (as you well know!). The water off the coast of Capri in Italy was so amazing! The mountains of CO are so amazing, the gorgeous rolling hills of Southwest VA, but so are the mountains in Austria! Nope, can’t pick just one place πŸ˜‰

    1. Well, Melissa, Sounds like you’ve traveled to more places than me. But I agree that the white sand beaches on the panhandle of Florida are pretty fabulous. However, I LOVE to have a view in front of me with mountains, which you get in Hawaii. I’ve never been to Colorado … need to add it to my domestic list heheh!

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