Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Maui 2017: List of things to do

05/26/2017-05/30-2017
Maui 2017: List of things to do

Plan! Plan it ALL!!
Another epic birthday long-weekend trip! Lucky duck. This year, we were lucky enough to be able to get away to the fancy and epic Fairmont Kea Lani in Maui, Hawaii. For this quick 4-day/4-night jaunt to Hawaii -- my first time to the island -- we had to plan well and carefully given the shortness of the trip. As always, my research was mostly based around food.

Oddly enough, I've been in San Francisco for 12+ years now, but never been to Hawaii! So many direct flights and often great deals to get there, and only a 5 hr flight, so it was a bit crazy I had never been there. Fortunately, basically everyone in my office has been, and multiple times at that! Many, many people had specific and intense recommendations, and I also cross-referenced with Yelp and TripAdvisor, the Fairmont Concierge, and many people who live on Maui, have family who live there, or have been 10-15 times to MAUI. Wow. So, tons of great recommendations. And as always with people from the Bay Area, most of the recommendations were for the best of all the foods.

The main takeaway I feel like is that everyone sells fish of all kinds: a fish plate, a fish taco, fish & chips, sushi, and poke. BUT... there are clear and obvious winners for each of those types of food. You CAN get it anywhere but there does seem to be some solid consensus about where is "the best" place. I laughed as the last day at the Fairmont I read a Maui yearly Restaurant Awards magazine, and it was basically an exact summary of the places we had chosen to go to over the past 4 days. Research: WIN. :)

And as always on these trips, as Edna Mode would say, "Luck favours the prepared". And prepared we were! I like to over-plan in advance and do all the Yelp and cross-checking and stuff when I am at home and can spend (waste?!) as much time as I like on it. When I'm on the trip: not a time for figuring out if the restaurant plan is good -- just a time to pick from one of the 10 carefully-verified-in-advance spots.  So, the striking of balance between the usual "plan all the things" and "we should just relax and chill out" is always important, but I find with this amount of over-planning, once we get there I can more easily just chill and go with the flow, knowing I have an epic cheat sheet if it comes up "You know what, I really want some epic poke right now"... and on that note:

A quick summary of "the best fish places"
  • Best Fish Tacos: Coconut's Fish Cafe
  • Best Plated Fish Lunch: Pa'ia Fish Company (in Pa'ia, not the new one in Kihei)
  • Best Fish and Chips: Maui Fish'n Chips
  • Best Poke: Tamura's Fine Wine and Liquors (SERIOUSLY, this place was EPIC).
  • Best Sushi: Sansei (also a Karaoke bar! And great 50% off late-night specials).


Beach/Snorkeling/Surfing
  • Keawakapu Beach (southmost) in Kihei best Kihei beach for sunset, more secluded
  • Big Beach epic for sunsets
  • Malu’aka Beach -- only on calm days, lots of sea turtles
  • Snorkeling at Makena Beach, near hotel
  • Ho’okipa Beach (just to watch, lookout point on eastern side)
  • Molokini Crater Express Snorkeling
  • Swim-up Bar at Fairmont is epic
  • Boogie Boarding
    • Rent from Snorkel Bob’s Wailea - $7/day
    • Big Beach, 3rd entrance
    • “be SUPER careful! Big Beach shore break is NOT to be messed with -- Humility and eye on the ocean is key”

Grocery/Shopping/Farmers Markets
  • Farmers Markets
    • Maui Swap Meet Saturday morning near airport. Like Farmers Market also with local crafts and artisans, looks cute and fun: Sat 7am-1pm
    • Yee’s Orchard Kihei-60yr old fruit stand, epic mangoes 11am-5pm (closed Mondays)
    • KEA: “Main street in Kihei -- farmers just ‘set up shop’”, will be random hours
    • Upcountry Farmer’s Market: Sat 7am-11am (maybe Swap Meet better?) -- Lonely Planet: “Arrive by 9:30am for the best choices”
  • Shops
    • Foodland in Kihei is 24hrs
    • Costco!
    • Whalers General Store (Rec by Sox)-- Bubbie’s Ice Creams!!

Food (near Airport area)
  • Tasaka Guri Guri pineapple sherbet near airport. 4.5*. MUST VISIT. All other days 9-6, Sun 10-4
  • Poi By The Pound -- near Car Rental place. Not super cheap but “Maui’s only traditional Hawaiian restaurant”? Mud Pie looks good. Poi and Lomi Lomi Salmon salad also looks good. Main dish: maybe Loco Moco or Beef Lu’au?
  • 808 Plates Food Truck (fish/katsu truck near airport)

Wailea Food
Kihei Food
  • Coconuts Fish Cafe (for Fish Tacos)
  • Pa’ia Fish Market (for plated fish in different styles -- prob SKIP this branch and go to the one in Pa’ia instead, this one not as good as Pa’ia one)
  • Maui FishnChips (for Fish&Chips, volcano fries)
  • Sansei Sushi (after getting in from airport, 50% off 10pm-1am)
  • Maui Brewing Co. flights look pretty awesome (open till 10pm)
  • Poke: Tamuras - 91 E Lipoa St, Kihei, HI 96753
    • “Best poke in town – do not go Sundays as they don’t have a chef and it will be frozen poke”
  • Local Boys shave ice
  • Eskimo Candy Kihei seafood and poke bar -- only open M-F
Pa’ia Food
  • Pa’ia Bay Coffee seems a win for brekkie: smoked salmon bagel, grilled banana bread
  • Pa’ia Fish Market is also here (as well as Kihei-- this one is better)
  • Honolulu Coffee (Acai Bowl looks good)
  • Island Fresh Cafe looks cute
  • Mana Foods -- very Pa’ia -- might be good for getting lunch supplies
  • Nuka sushi -- 4 min off Hana Highway outside of Pa’ia
  • Baked on Maui
Half-Day Trip to Upcountry
  • First stop: fruit stall in Kihei?
  • T. Komoda Store and Bakery in Makawao: go early-ish for cream puffs and guava malasadas (Portuguese doughnuts)
  • O'o Farms Organic Farm Lunch-- AMAZING!!!
  • Several other cool stops along the road:
    • Pa'ia -- hip little town, good granola spots for quick brekkie
    • Surfing Goat Dairy creamery (tastes, goat cheese chocolate, homemade gelato)
    • Maui Wine (pineapple wine)
    • Ulupalakua Ranch Store (old country store with a burger spot in the back. Famous local beef burgers/elk burgers, all meat raised on the farm) -- Grill hours now 10am-5pm
    • Drive up to Haleakala Crater -- bring a warmer jacket
    • Also: Ocean Vodka Organic Farm and Distillery (not explicitly keen, but also on the way)
Other random stuff/eating
  • Banana Bread
  • Gotta have all the Poke
  • Shave Ice sounds epic
  • Macadamia nuts for the win
  • Mangotini YUUUSS
  • OMG homemade banana bread are you freakin kidding me
  • I must buy Kona Coffee like a fiend
  • Cocktails look insanely epic
  • Lilikoi is Yellow Passionfruit
  • Tons of epic fruit

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