For our honeymoon, we jumped in the car and headed to Palm Desert because it was what we could afford at the time. But we always wanted to take a far away vacation together, just the two of us, and this year being our five-year anniversary, Nadia picked Hawaii. She planned an adventure that I luckily reaped the benefits of.
Maui is one of the seven Hawaiian islands and is shaped like the bust of a woman. In our seven days we made our way around each curve of the island, and if there’s and one lesson I learned it’s that I will get motion sickness by land or by sea.
Worth it though, for the sights, sounds and tastes of this island paradise. We stayed in Kihei, a small, quiet beach town on the “inner bust” of the island.
Before heading to Kihei … first priority was to go straight from the airport to the opposite side of the island for a meal at Star Noodle in Lahaina. It’s run by Top Chef finalist Sheldon Simeon, who cooked delicious-looking Hawaiian and Filipino dishes on the show. But enough looking. Time for tasting.
It’s attached to his American-ish concept Mala, both at the Marriott in Wailea, which felt like the Beverly Hills of Maui.
We ordered through different sections of the menu from there …
We started exploring the very next day, heading around the “head” of the island. It was a solid three hour drive (with a handful of blind cliffside turns), but the route was full of great places to stop and take it all in.
I joked that this place looked like a Rick Ross video. Straight palatial.
There are two big luaus on the Kihei side of Maui and Nadia chose the Grand Wailea’s because of the open bar. The buffet was stellar, with kalua pig, grilled chicken and beef, fried fish, and an array of Hawaiian sides dishes (poi, lomi lomi salmon, potato mac) and desserts.
By the time we got to the black sand beach for lunch, I stumbled out of the van, curled up on the grass and slept it off for 30 minutes. Nadia made me eat lunch and the rest and food made me feel better.
We were exhausted after the 10-hour tour, so we ate through leftovers in the hotel room and called it a day.
I didn’t get much of a break from the motion sickness because the next day we went snorkeling at Molokini Crater, a crescent shaped volcanic rock jutting out of the ocean about 9 miles from shore. To sum it up, I hate the ocean.
Nadia, earlier in the trip, won a ticket to Ulalena, a Cirque-like show about the Hawaiian islands. It was well choreographed, immersive, and I haven’t been able to get the last song out of my head for days. A great experience on par with the excellent show at the luau.
We kept hearing buzz about Peter Merriman’s Monkey Pod Kitchen in Wailea. I took the opportunity to reward myself for enduring the snorkeling with an impromptu dinner there.
After the Hana trip, I really wanted to sink my teeth into se grass-fed Maui beef. The special that night was a New York strip with cilantro/Kula corn salsa and carrot spaetzle. The beef was lean but full of flavor with a thin ribbon of white fat running down one side. “Bovinty divinity.”
Located at the Grand Wailea, Amasia is a Japanese/Asian labyrinth of a restaurant with a sushi bar, hibachi counter and full service kitchen. The menu is tapas, “pupus” in Hawaiian, sushi, entrees and desserts. We ordered a bunch of small plates and two of the restaurant’s most famous desserts. Beware: Lots of food photos to follow …
Over the course of the week we had a couple of lunches out when we weren’t grubbing on leftovers (shout out to the Maui Coast Hotel for having fridges and microwaves in the room). There are a couple of plate lunches I have to mention:
In the search to kill time before our 9 p.m. flight we ended up at the local mall before hitting up Da Kitchen Express near the airport.
I’d had enough plate lunch, but found inspiration at the table next to us and went with the towering mahi mahi tempura sandwich. There was so much battered fish I eventually picked off the batter and ate just the flesh, but this was worth the money both in size and taste.
It kept me full until 6 a.m. the next morning when we arrived back at LAX.
A perfect end to a perfect vacation!