Our Trip to Maui: Wedding Bells and Adventures

I have been absent from the blogging world for the past 2 weeks, but I have a good excuse. Besides the fact that temperature in Ohio has been over 100 for several days this month and our air conditioner is on its last leg (not conducive for baking), we went to Maui for my dear friend, Chelsea’s wedding. This was our first time visiting the Hawaiian Islands and we had a wonderful time (big props to Chelsea and Brian for picking the perfect wedding locale!).

We had plenty of time before the big day to take in the sights, tour, and enjoy delicious Hawaiian food. As always, the vacation went by very quickly, but we took around 1000 pictures documenting all of our fun.

Instead of boring you with every single detail (because I really could go on and on) and because it was such a fantastic trip, I decided to make a list of our top 10 favorite things from Maui.

Here it goes:

10. The Banana Bread- Our first morning at Maui I was sitting next to a young boy in a tour van and he pulled a small loaf of bread wrapped in plastic wrap. It wasn’t until he removed the plastic that the the warm and buttery smell wafted into my nose- the smell of fresh banana bread. My friend Chelsea, who should have been a travel agent, pointed out to me that she read in her travel books that there are several small shacks that are famous for their banana bread. My heart filled with delight.

We ended up stopping at place called Auntie Sandy’s along our trip on the road to Hana. The mini loaves had just been baked and even Robert, my banana-hating husband, enjoyed the treat. It was a beautiful moment. ;)

9. Iao Valley: The Iao Valley is a lush and beautiful area in Maui where 4 streams run together. The Iao Needle, standing over a thousand feet tall, was supposedly used as lookout point during wartime on the island in the 18th century. I wouldn’t want to be the one who drew the short straw on that task.

8. Macadamia Nut Pancakes from Gazebo Restaurant: As soon as we touched down in Maui, I had a hankering for macadamia nut pancakes. I did some research online and found consistent good reviews for the Gazebo Restaurant. I’m so glad I did. It’s a quaint, open air (literally a gazebo) place to eat and the service is very friendly. Even better, are their macadamia nut pancakes. Robert and I split an order of these fluffy delights and we gave the hotcakes two thumbs up. Topped with whipped cream and an extra sprinkling of macadamia nuts, my craving was fulfilled and my soul was happy. Food can do that to people (or is that just me?).

7. The Coffee: One of my favorite moments from Maui was getting up early and enjoying a cup of hot Hawaiian coffee on our balcony. Since Ohio is six hours ahead of Hawaii in the International Date Line, Robert and I got up between 5 and 6am while we were there. We didn’t mind, though. There is something so peaceful about getting up before the rest of the world-or island, rather- awakes. Watching the waves crash in and feeling that cool ocean breeze while sipping the smooth “cup of Kona” is my idea of heaven.

6. Seven Sacred Pools (on the road to Hana): The Seven Sacred Pools- or the ‘Ohe’o pools- is one of the last stops on the road to Hana. By the time we got to this spot, we were all pretty exhausted from a long day of traveling the winding road (it took us 12 hours round trip!). In retrospect, I wish we would have given ourselves more time for this spot. The part of the falls that we were able to see was so breathtakingly spectacular and it dumped into a beautiful cove of bright blue waters.

5.  Stillwell’s Bakery: Robert’s sweet gesture lead us to this scrumptious haven of sweetness. He’d read about Stillwell’s Bakery  and requested that we go there for breakfast before our trip to Iao Valley. He’d seen pictures of their pastries and he thought it would be the perfect place to take me. When we pulled into the driveway, we were a little apprehensive- it wasn’t in a great part of town and it looked a little outdated. Boy, were we wrong. We walked in to see a case of beautiful, handcrafted desserts- passionfruit cheesecakes, mango mousse, chocolate eclairs, cream horns, tarts, the list goes on and on.

I always love things that look pretty, but they don’t always taste as good as they look. This was absolutely not the case with Stillwell’s. After we ate breakfast there, we bought some things to bring back to our condo and share with our friends. Mr. Stillwell happened to be the one packaging up our treats and he proudly boasted about the fact that they make their food, including their chocolate mousse, from scratch. A good man, indeed.

It’s fine dining with Spam!

4. Snorkeling: The Pacific Ocean is so piercingly blue in Hawaii and there are lots of coral reefs, which makes for excellent snorkeling. The beach off of our hotel and the beach at Black Rock were hang out spots for several sea turtle and tropical fish. Chelsea had a special underwater case for her camera and got lots of great pictures- I will have to post some when the lovebirds get back from their honeymoon in Kauai.

That brown spot in the center of the picture is a sea turtle!

3.  The Fresh Fruit: Oh, baby. I have never tasted better pineapple, mango, passion fruit, and even watermelon. The fruit tastes like it was grown by gods in a magical garden. It’s so sweet and fresh. I don’t know if I will ever eat a pineapple from my grocery store again…okay, I will, but you get the idea. Delicious!

2. Black Sand Beach (on the road to Hana): The Black Sand Beach was one of the places I was looking forward to the most on our trip to Hana. Formed by liquid hot magma (Austin Powers, anyone?), the beach’s sand is full of charcoal-colored pebbles, lava holes, and a spectacular view. I’d seen this spot featured on the Travel channel before, but it was even better than I imagined.

1.  Mount Haleakala: Our favorite adventure from Maui has to be watching the sunrise on Mount Haleakala and then biking 25 miles down the once-active volcano. We scheduled our tour for the first morning we got there. We had to get up at 1:30am to make it to the bike shop by 3, but it wasn’t bad because it we were still on Ohio time.

After we got our gear, we made the 10,000 foot ascent in a fifteen passenger van while it was still dark. We finally made it to the top and stepped out to windy and very cold weather. The tour guides warned us to dress warmly and they weren’t lying. Our teeth were chattering and we had to huddle together to stay warm, but I think that really added to the experience, or at least that’s what I kept telling myself (a few children were crying- it was that bad).

Finally, after about 20 minutes of waiting, the sun peaked up through the horizon and we got to see one of the most amazing views I have ever witnessed. Thousands of miles away from a worry in the world and above the clouds, it was incredible. I would definitely do it again.

Congratulations, Chelsea and Brian. Thank you so much for inviting us along on a wonderful Hawaiian adventure!