Mahalo, Maui

It pains me a bit to write this blog post…it’s rainy and 60 degrees outside here in Portland, which makes it hard to shuffle through the gorgeous photos from our trip to Maui and remember the awesome times we had with Rob and Amy. (Sigh.) It was sooo much fun.

Jeff, Rob, Amy and I booked our first trip to Hawaii to celebrate our anniversaries – our third anniversary was August 22, and Rob and Amy’s fifth was October 26. Jeff and I made a pact to take a trip for each anniversary in lieu of exchanging gifts. First anniversary: Nashville, Tennessee. Second anniversary: Astoria, Oregon. I have a feeling it’ll be tough to top this year’s anniversary trip…

The scenic lookout from Huelo Lookout Fruit Stand

View from Huelo Lookout Fruit Stand

Our home base for six days in Maui was the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. It was a perfect location, tucked in the warm Maalaia Bay and surrounded by resorts, golf courses and swanky shops. The best part: the coast-hugging sidewalk that runs the entire distance of the Wailea shoreline. It was amazing – and it’s how I discovered the neighboring Grand Wailea Resort’s free 7 a.m. beach yoga class. Sweet! Somehow Maui makes you want to get up early and work out. 🙂

The sights were ridiculous, and so was the food. Pricey, yes, but insanely good. Our first taste: a delicious $18 monster basket of mahi-mahi fish & chips at Da Kitchen Cafe in a strip mall near the airport. We adored Star Noodle, an Asian small-plate restaurant captained by James Beard Award nominee Sheldon Simeon, and Mama’s Fish House, home of the best seafood (caught the same morning by fishermen listed on the menu) I’ve ever eaten. Surprisingly, the ahi poke from the supermarket Foodland was delish (we got that tip from our bike tour guide). Monkeypod Kitchen – named for the unique, broad-canopied trees that dot the landscape – was great for dinner, and Rob and I slurped up key lime pie gelato at One Gelato Company in Paia. The drinks and ambiance at the Four Seasons lobby lounge were also pitch-perfect.

We spent a fair share of our time lounging by the Marriott infinity pool overlooking the Pacific Ocean, but we also packed in activities such as an evening Te Au Moana Luau with a smoked pig buffet, tropical cocktails and Te Au Moana (“The Ocean Tide”) luau show. The Haleakala Bike Company‘s summit deluxe tour took us to the tippy-top of Mt. Haleakalā, towering 10,023 feet tall and forming more than 75 percent of the island, before dropping us off for a 23-mile bike ride zig-zagging down the volcano. We spent most of our last full day driving the switchback-filled Road to Hana, 60 miles of highway carved into ocean cliffs that cut through lush rainforests, hidden waterfalls and breathtaking beaches.

And the snorkeling! We waded into the ocean just outside our hotel and found coral formations, tropical fish and tons of sea turtles just like Crush from Finding Nemo. No need to pay for an expensive snorkeling boat tour! I’m a weak swimmer so I snagged a pool noodle from our hotel and paddled around just fine. I might even be developing a snorkeling addiction.

It was a perfect vacation, and we loved getting to spend it with Rob and Amy. With flights to Hawaii cheaper and more plentiful than flights back home to Michigan, we might have to take advantage of the islands’ proximity a little more often!

Map of Maui for easy reference

Map of Maui for easy reference

Cheers! Our first mai-tai of the trip (at Grand Wailea Resort)

Cheers! Our first mai-tai of the trip (at Grand Wailea Resort)

A stop along our morning run on the Wailea beach trail

A stop along our morning run on the Wailea beach trail

Fab views from all angles at the hotel

Fab views from all angles at the hotel

Ready for our 9 a.m. tour and bike ride of Haleakalā

Ready for our 9 a.m. tour and bike ride of Haleakalā

The amazing, endangered Haleakalā silversword plants

The amazing, endangered Haleakalā silversword plants

The crater at Haleakalā National Park (seen from the visitors' center)

The crater at Haleakalā National Park (seen from the visitors’ center)

Above the clouds...

Above the clouds…

The four of us on the driving tour portion of our Haleakalā bike excursion

The four of us on the driving tour portion of our Haleakalā bike excursion

Jeff taking in the amazing Haleakalā National Park

Jeff taking in the amazing Haleakalā National Park

On top of the world at the Haleakalā summit

On top of the world at the Haleakalā summit

Ready to rock on our bike tour down the mountain/volcano

Ready to rock on our bike tour down the mountain/volcano

Jeff and me, pausing to take in the beauty on our 23-mile ride

Jeff and me, pausing to take in the beauty on our 23-mile ride

Hang glider sailing down Haleakalā

Hang glider sailing down Haleakalā

Ho'okipa Beach Park on Hana Highway, one of the most famous windsurfing sites in the world

Ho’okipa Beach Park on Hana Highway, one of the most famous windsurfing sites in the world

Surfer taking a break at the Ho'okipa Beach Park

Surfer taking a break at the Ho’okipa Beach Park

Surfers and windsurfers galore!

Surfers and windsurfers galore!

Spectacular sunset before our Star Noodle dinner

Spectacular sunset before our Star Noodle dinner

Me doing morning yoga at the Grand Wailea (sneaky Jeff walking by and snapping pics!)

Me doing morning yoga at the Grand Wailea (sneaky Jeff walking by and snapping pics!)

Lounging poolside at the Marriott

Lounging poolside at the Marriott

The "adults only" infinity pool. Ahh.

The “adults only” infinity pool. Ahh.

Toasting Rob and Amy's anniversary on their hotel room balcony

Toasting Rob and Amy’s anniversary on their hotel room balcony

Rob and Amy, sporting their fresh flower leis at the Te Au Moana Luau

Rob and Amy, sporting their fresh flower leis at the Te Au Moana Luau

Unearthing the imu-baked kalua pig

Unearthing the imu-baked kalua pig

Enjoying our luau feast

Enjoying our luau feast

Can't beat the backdrop at the Te Au Moana Luau (at the Marriott)

Can’t beat the backdrop at the Te Au Moana Luau (at the Marriott)

Hula dancers at the Te Au Moana Luau

Hula dancers at the Te Au Moana Luau

Climbing rocks outside Mama's Fish House on the Hana Highway

Climbing volcanic rocks outside Mama’s Fish House on the Hana Highway

Jeff relaxing outside Mama's Fish House

Jeff relaxing outside Mama’s Fish House

Best lunch ever at Mama's, one of Maui's most famous restaurants (look at that yummy poke!)

Best lunch ever at Mama’s, one of Maui’s most famous restaurants (look at that yummy poke!)

Enjoying my tropical drink at Mama's Fish House before our journey on the Road to Hana

Enjoying my tropical drink at Mama’s Fish House before our journey on the Road to Hana

The ocean views along the Road to Hana

The ocean views along the Road to Hana

Huelo Lookout Fruit Stand, one of many shaved ice, banana bread peddling shops on the Road to Hana

Huelo Lookout Fruit Stand, one of many shaved ice, banana bread peddling shops on the Road to Hana

A stop at Upper Waikani Falls

A stop at Upper Waikani Falls

Jeff and me, loving life in Hawaii

Jeff and me, loving life in Hawaii

At the black sand beach at Wai'anapanapa State Park

At the black sand beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park

Crazy black pebbly beach

Crazy black pebbly beach

Overlooking the ocean at Wai'anapanapa State Park

Overlooking the ocean at Wai’anapanapa State Park

Epic views

Epic views

Packing up the rental Jeep Wrangler in front of our hotel lobby - goodbye, Maui!

Packing up the rental Jeep Wrangler in front of our hotel lobby – goodbye, Maui!

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