Until last week, I had only been to Hawaii, once, a few years ago, on a whirlwind trip to Big Island, Kauai and Oahu. Last week I had the opportunity to enjoy a weeklong decadent stay in Maui. While Kauai remains my favorite for its serene natural beauty, Maui was delightful.
We stayed at the Ritz Carlton Club & Residences in Kapalua with a friend who is a member there. This is a photo from our room’s balcony.
This place was literally post-card perfect. Every blade of grass, every bush, every tree, every pool was immaculate and flawless. An endangered monk seal basked in the sunlight on our beach for a day. Sadly I did not get a photo. The adjacent Kapalua Spa and fitness center was an oasis with modern equipment and few users.
We did several touristy things:
- rented stand up paddle boards from 808boards to use daily. The boards were delivered to our hotel. The valet would drive us and our boards to the beach and collect us later when called. I continue to be impressed by the level of service provided to us on this trip.
- drove to see the volcano in Haleakala National Park (an impressive 10,023 feet above sea level)
- enjoyed a sunset cruise on the Trilogy IV.
- The hors d’ouvres were terrific. Pretty day; nice sunset.
- took a doors off helicopter tour with Alex Air over Maui and Molokai. I loved flying over Molokai under the mist to see the waterfalls and other sites such as the turtle shaped island below.
But mostly we ate. And then ate some more. I wish I recorded the food and wine in more detail.
For breakfasts we enjoyed the Sea House, Longhi’s, the Gazebo, Java Jazz and Aloha Mixed Plate. Of these, my favorite by far was the fried rice plate at the Gazebo. Absolutely worth the wait. If you want smoothies, home baked treats or French Pressed coffee, Longhi’s is the place. For higher protein, gluten free, paleo friendly fare, Longhi’s is definitely NOT the place. Many told us that Aloha Mixed Plate was THE PLACE to go for local cuisine but the day we were there they’d sold out pf the Loco Moco and other traditional items.
Sometimes we just wanted fun food – and people recommended Scoops and Ulu Lani’s shaved ice in Lahaina. We tried both. And on a hot day, the flavor combinations were unique and delightful. Many restaurants serve Lappert’s Vanilla Ice Cream (available at Scoops) as part of their dessert masterpieces. It was strange to choose something more exotic and then wonder whether the plain vanilla might have been more enjoyable. Yes, it’s really that amazing. Vanilla. Who knew?
Some days we had up to 23 people in our group including up to 8 children between the ages of about 6 months and 7 years old. Many of these places were not prepared, even with reservations, for groups of this size/composition.
For dinners our group size ranged from 2 to about 10, and several of the restaurants were among the best I’ve ever dined at.
Several people recommended Mama’s Fish House in Paia, and even without a reservation, we received great service and food. While the wine list was less extensive than some of the other places we enjoyed, the ceviche was great, and the service outstanding. Our server talked me out of an entrée sharing that most customers left much of the meal untouched and recommended something likely to be more enjoyable by a mainlander.
We had two meals at Sansei (a sushi place) and the food was terrific. The only downside was that they clearly make a lot of tempura; I strongly recommend a shower/laundry to remove the “fried food” aroma that will permeate your clothes and hair after dining there. Our meal at the Pineapple Grill was below expectations, but that could have been due to the number in our party, especially the kids.
We had wonderful, elegant, extended dining adventures at Merriman’s, Banyan Tree and Lahaina Grill – great wine lists, creative food, and impeccable service. Outstanding meals all; and, my favorite depended on my cravings.