In case you’re in need of a virtual vacation, or could use some tips planning one of your own, here are a few more thoughts from our family’s recent trip to Maui. Our vacation focused around South Maui, which has the most consistently sunny weather of the entire island. However, there are little communities all over the island, tucked into shoreline coves, along the foot of the mountains, and scattered throughout the valley. One such community is called Paia, straddling the border between Central and East Maui. It has quaint little shops and a lot of restaurants, that, according to one local, are all worth checking out! We had time for two, and both were amazing!
The first restaurant we visited in Paia is called Flatbread Company. They have a round, clay, wood burning oven, which is open to the restaurant. It ignites an incredible aroma as each flatbread enters, its crust bubbling and charring until it is just right. They source most of their meats, cheeses and vegetables from local farms. They also offer a gluten-free crust, and salads to round out the meal. My husband claims it was the best pizza he had ever eaten. And while I can’t say the same, it was delicious, and I loved that almost my entire plate was made up of local ingredients.
The second restaurant we visited was on another date night that my parents so graciously encouraged us to take. This time, we visited a restaurant called Mama’s Fish House. It is a restaurant so passionately devoted to fresh caught fish and locally grown produce, that they include each fisherman’s and farmer’s name on the description of each menu item! The focus was all seafood, and the dishes we tried were incredible; and at least half of the menu was gluten-free.
We started off with a sweet-spicy ahi tuna tartare, accompanied with homemade vegetable crisps. For my main, I had a Penang Curry with Mahi Mahi, Ono, and Snapper, served over rice and locally grown vegetables–one of their signature dishes. It even came with a side of condiments. We opted out of dessert, since gelato was the only gluten-free item on the menu, but we lingered to enjoy the view our drinks, and were treated to haupia, a Hawaiian coconut pudding, and a cold, lemon scented towel to freshen up. The food, the service, and the ocean front view were all fabulous… but be warned that it is pretty pricey to eat there!
Beyond Paia is the road to Hana, an experience I still think of with awe and terror. We went into it somewhat oblivious, my only previous knowledge being that one friend didn’t go because she has motion sickness. No problem, I thought. Our kids have grown up traveling in the vehicle, and we love driving and exploring new landscapes. Ten minutes into it, and we were in the middle of thick rainforest jungle, navigating one way bridges, telling our kids to close their eyes to cope with nausea, and checking and re-checking the map to see if we had possibly taken a wrong turn, and if not, how many more of these 180 degree switchbacks there would be before we would reach our destination.
Our youngest determined for us that we had reached the end of our road. She started the trek asleep, but the constant rocking and lurching must have jolted her awake. She started to cry, and not five minutes later, remnants of fruit gummies and rice crackers went spewing all over her, her car seat, and the back of the passenger seat of our rental! This adventure had come to a close. I realized after, that we were only a few miles away from Ono Farms, an organic farm that I was really hoping to visit on our trip. That locale will be one we look forward to visiting if we return again.
Returning to Paia, we checked out a little organic grocery store, stocked from floor to ceiling with at least four of every kind of organic product you could dream of, called Mana Foods. We only wish we had found it earlier! Buskers strummed their guitars on the sidewalk outside; a discreet door that we walked past once before realizing it was the entrance, led us into a maze of narrow aisles brimming with grocery staples, snack foods, frozen goods, and more. Want coconut ice-cream? There are at least twenty options! We loaded up on crackers, lollipops, chocolate, and gummies for our plane ride home.
We had an amazing time in Maui, and we are already dreaming of the places we will go and things we will do if we have a chance to return!