To celebrate the New Year we spent 10 days in Maui with my wonderful and crazy family. We have a tradition that every other year we choose a different destination to explore and this year it was the beautiful Hawaiian island of Maui. This is my first time going, but my dad spent a year there and summers in high school so it was great for him to go back and see how the island has changed. A lot of it reminded me of home and California beaches (minus the tropical fish!) but it was the lush jungle and what they call “upcountry” that made me excited about Maui! I also finally got to go to a real Hawaiian Luau, which was a blast! It was also a special trip because my sister Bethany’s boyfriend proposed to her on the top of Haleakalā! We’re super excited! Below is a guide to almost everything we did, ate and a very charming video my talented husband created for us. Also about 40 photos to show you all the beauty, ha!! Huge thanks to my papa for always organizing these incredible vacations for his family!
A Charming Travel Guide to Maui
Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop – Delicious breakfast, charming location and some very yummy pies! Famous for their banana cream!
Mala Ocean Tavern – This was my favorite restaurant on the island. Cool beach tavern vibe, on the water, with incredible food. The Ahi bruschetta and the oyster shooters (Zan’s pick) are to die for!
Sansei – I’ll admit I’m a sushi snob (I LOVE it) and we’re very spoiled in LA. We heard great things about Sansei so we tried it and it was very fresh and tasty! We also had the best time there as a family, loud and crazy, drinking sake and eating sushi. It was great, but Sugarfish (in LA) you are still my number one.
Star Noodle – This was my 2nd favorite Maui restaurant!! It was started by Sheldon Simeon, who competed in Top Chef! They serve fresh homemade noodles and Asian specialities and it’s all amazing! The chicken wings and garlic noodles… oh my gosh.
Flatbread – A wonderful pizza place in Paia. It’s very similar to the Full of Life Flatbread we have here, but we definitely enjoyed it.
Bad Ass Coffee – Almost every morning I got a half soy, half non-fat (that’s my regular order at home too, ha!) iced latte with macadamia nut flavoring from Bad Ass and it was the best coffee I had on the island!
Ululani’s Shaved Ice – The best shaved ice I’ve ever had! So many tasty flavors and unique combinations! I highly recommend getting it with the macadamia nut ice cream and snowcapped with a sweet cream mixture. Yum!
Grandma’s Coffee House – A tiny (kind of shack-looking, which I like!) café in upcountry. They offer some more traditional Hawaiian dishes and I had the chili which was really good. Zan had the Bullseye – which is eggs on top of corned beef hash with Spam. Yes, Spam is a popular ingredient on the island and Zan loved the dish!
Kimos – We went here on a recommendation for lunch and it was very good. The view and vibe are unbeatable! Great Mai Tais and it’s in old town Lahaina which is fun, in more of a touristy way.
Plantation House – We ate here for breakfast and had the eggs benedict. It was very good and has spectacular views of the golf course and coast. The actual building isn’t very charming, but the food was great and I love all of the open windows!
Luau at The Sheraton – This was beyond fun! Open bar, delicious Hawaiian pork, a wonderful show and great company. My family and Romeo had the best time at the Luau!!
Nakalele Point – A stunning view at the top and a crazy blowhole at the bottom!
Lao Valley State Park – An incredibly lush and short hike (with a lot of steps) up to the iconic 1,200 foot Lao Needle. The view is stunning!
The Pools of ‘Ohe’o – Aka the 7 Sacred Pools… they are very beautiful and extremely cold, haha! I took the plunge and swam in the pool with the largest waterfall because when will I ever be there again? But I should have taken note that I was the only one in there… it was freezing! The road to get here was pretty awesome, more on that below.
Napili Bay – A very charming and tropical beach cove.
D.T. Flemming Beach – A quiet beach near the Ritz Carlton. The waves were huge the day we went, so all of the surfers were out which was fun to watch.
Black Rock – Large rocks to jump off of and great snorkeling.
Kahekili Beach Park – A long stretch of beach in front of the Westin, Aston and Royal Lahaina, where the water is warm and has the most gorgeous shades of blue!
Paia was my favorite place for shopping. It has small, locally-owned boutiques and more of a local vibe, but with tourists if that makes sense! We didn’t stay here, but we went for pizza and to hang a bit. It’s a much younger crowd and a little more hip!
Places We Visited
Lavender Farm – Beautiful gardens overlooking the island below and the most amazing lavender scones, tea and jam on the patio!
Lahaina Animal Farm – We did this more for Romeo, but it was super cute and in the hills of Lahaina. And they have a very charming farmhouse vacation rental with gorgeous views!
Our Day Trip
We took one day to drive to upcountry Maui. We drove the 37 freeway and made stops at the Lavender Farm for scones, tea and jam. Then drove to Grandma’s Coffee House for lunch. We continued along the 37 until we got to the winery and the general store. We kept driving south to ‘Ohe’o and somewhere it turns into the 31. This drive is unbelievable! It’s pretty much the back road to Hana and can be a little scary with narrow one-lane streets around turns and cliffs, bumpy gravel roads for miles and at one point an entire portion of the road gone to a giant pile of rocks! I drove it and loved every second, haha! It was so peaceful driving through a lush rural area for about 33 miles. We saw the most amazing things including the old church you see in the photos, animals, lookouts and even stumbled upon the most charming coconut hut! We made it to the 7 pools, swam and then drove back to Kaanapali before dark. Maui was a unique experience. It was different from what we had in our heads, but still a very special place to experience!
All photos by Zan Passante for Sugar and Charm. If shared, you must link back to the original post.