Hawaii is a tropical paradise, everything you imagine when you hear the word comes to life when you step on to the lush chain of islands that make up Hawaii. Coconuts, pineapples, and bananas grow in an abundance outside. Clusters of flowers that make up every color of the rainbow grow wild on the side of the highways. Vibrant blue water is met by volcanic mounds, while roads wind all along some of the most scenic views I’ve seen thus far. Being in Hawaii felt like being in a different country, and I still kind of refuse to believe its part of the United Sates. (Don’t worry I know it is) BUT it is unlike anywhere I have been in the United States. They have their own language, there own tribal history, the landscape is more tropical than anything I have seen, and heck, even the native people look different and have such distinct features from the rest of us Americans. But maybe that is why I fell in love with Hawaii so much, because of its exotic beauty and people, it made me feel as if I were somewhere far far away, not in my own country. Now let me state I am by no means an expert on Hawaii, as I only got to spend a fortunate week there. However, I did cover a TON of land, and I want to share my experiences with you! Let me start by saying, you could EASILY spend a whole year in Hawaii and still not even see half it. Beauty and an endless variety of things to do surround you in every direction you look! I’ll start by highlighting my week in review and adding places I highly recommend if your heading to Maui!
“Your not truly free till you sell every possession but yourself.” That was a literal statement of the young traveler soaking in the sun on the laid back streets of Paia that I overheard. Known as one of the worlds coolest and best surf towns! It’s a town for the nomads, gypsies, surf bums, and artistic wandering souls of the world. SO NATURALLY I LOVED IT!!!! Paia is the first town you hit on the way to Hana, and a great little place to spend a few hours at most! It is only about three blocks long and is filled with little shops, cafes, and art galleries! You can easily walk down the 3-block strip and be entertained by the wide variety of street characters! It feels like taking a step back in to the 1960’s. Jewelry makers, musicians, and surfers make the sidewalks their home, so expect to see lots of surfers and a wide cast of characters running barefoot through the town! Just be aware, the shops are pretty high end for such a hippie dippie town. So expect to drop some decent money if wanting to shop! I loved Paia so much so that I went back to it three times. Here are some notable places I would recommend checking out if your stopping through Paia!
This is a fantastic place to come watch surfers, and massively huge waves! (Great picture taking spot!) During the day the parking lot will be filled with vans selling art, fresh cut coconuts, & produce!
PRO TIP: If you go down to the sand at Hookipa during sunset and sunrise many giant turtles usually go sleep and sun bathe in the sand allowing you to get incredibly close to these beautiful and massive creatures!
One of the most entertaining, interesting, and wild drives down a narrow dirt path that is filled with an abundance of abandoned cars. This place kind of has an eerie feel to it and you wonder what kind of past events have taken place on the property, due to all the shattered glass, and hundreds of broken down cars. It almost looks as if it is the scene to a horror movie! Your going to want to be in a good car for attempting this drive! Be prepared for lots of mud, dirt, and road paths so narrow, that they make you question if you and your car will get out alive.
Indigo Paia Art Gallery:
A must for anyone into art, photography, & Travel! (MY DREAM GALLERY) one of the coolest shops and galleries I have ever been in! Owned by photographer, Daniel Sullivan, the store is a piece of art itself. Sullivan is an avid traveler who captures vibrant remarkable images of tribes, Hawaii landscapes, and his adventures around the world. Beautiful metal prints take over the walls making you want to jump into each picture and experience the culture for yourself. Aside from the art, the store is also stocked with jewelry, antiques, rugs, & accessories that Sullivan has brought back from his travels around the world! He is a super cool laid back local that I got to spend some time with! He also offers adventure photography excursions that I would highly recommend! The guy took me out on an unforgettable photo journey through some secret spots of Hana, where we hopped no trespassing fences and flash flooding waterfalls all for a shot! A memory that will stay with me until the end of time!
Flatbread Company: THIS PLACE IS AN ABSOLUTE MUST!!! Being from Chicago, thinking we have the best pizza ever…..this place actually made me wonder?!? Seriously some of the freshest ingredients on a pizza I have ever tasted. They source all their ingredients from local Maui farmers and everyday feature a new special of a “carne” za for you meat lovers and a veggie special for you veg heads. I tried about 6 different flavors, and literally could not choose which was the best. JUST GO! You will not be let down.
Mamas Fish House: This restaurant is a staple of Maui. Definitely up there in the priciest of the bunch, but you’re paying for the overall atmosphere and experience! Said to be the best sunset and romantic restaurant in all of Paia and all of Maui for that matter!
Other notable mentions: Maka by Mana: A very cool grocery store, somewhat similar to a whole Foods. Offering plenty of vegan and gluten free options! They have many local Hawaii staples to try, as well as a full blown Acaii bowl cafe, with a Kombucha bar on tap!
Wailea is a luxury resort community in South Maui. Chains of ocean front resorts with breath-taking views make up Wailea. Turtle Town, situated in front of Grand Walia”s property is a little cove in the water known for some of the best snorkeling that guarantees seeing many turtles!!! I’m talkin’ about the huge, old, wise turtles you dream of swimming up close to! If you’re looking for shopping in the area, there is a large shopping district when you walk outside of the resorts called, The Shops at Wailea. They are filled with delicious restaurants, high end stores, and amazing ocean inspired art galleries!
La Perouse Bay-
There is a beautiful coastal scenic drive you take by driving south through Wailea and Makena that leads you to another stop worthy spot. La Perouse Bay! There are several beaches you can stop at along the way, and many food trucks posted up on the side of the roads! You know your close when you start driving down a dirt path narrow road, literally in the middle of nowhere, that is covered in lava fields! Finally, you turn off and there is a beautiful beach you can swim and snorkel at. Because of the excessive volcanic rock, the ground is extremely hot and you can feel the heat radiating beneath your feet down at La Perouse Bay. Keep your eyes out for Steven Tyler as he lives close by! You might just see him walking down the lava fields like I so weirdly did! (True Story!)
KO Restaurant at Fairmont Kea Lani: Your go to place for a cultural flavorful meal, with an assortment of dishes with flavors of Hawaii, Korea, Portugal, Japan, and The Philippines! They also have Sunday night Luau’s serving up a fresh cooked seafood luau meal! Don’t miss their DELICIOUS hand crafted cocktails, all served with beautiful fresh picked island flowers!
Ka’äna Kitchen at Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort: Boy oh boy how to even begin to describe the meal I had at this place. TOP 5 restaurants I have ever ate at, no doubt! If you have a special occasion, are willing to drop a little bit of cash on a ridiculous meal, or simply are a food obsessed freak like myself, this is your must eat in all of Maui!
South Maui Fish CO. Food Truck: Food trucks are all around the Island, but not all are good! We found South Maui Fish CO. on our first day, and ate there nearly every single day for lunch the rest of the trip! Serving up the catch of the day, EVERYDAY, fresh poke bowls, and fish tacos, this little food truck is an absolute gem! Check the hours for when you are there, because you will want to get there, the earlier the better! They nearly sell out of their fish everyday, and when it’s gone it’s gone!!
PRO TIP: When choosing food trucks in Maui, and well really in general, ALWAYS look for smoke coming out the top or back. This assures you that your food is actually being cooked, and not just zapped in a microwave!
Maui Brewing Company: A great stop to hang out for a few beers in Maui! It is an elaborate and beautiful brewery with island inspired brewed beers! There is a nice little patio out back that commonly has live music and a stunning backdrop of the mountains. Taco food trucks sit out front and change weekly. Be sure to check their website before going for special events, music, and discounts!
THE ROAD TO HANA!
Finally, the famous, glorious 64-mile stretch of beauty that is The Hana Highway! This road lives up to all the hype! If I could spend the next 94738442341 days driving around all 620 curves that make up the scenic route, I would! Every direction you look this highway is surrounded by immaculate dreamy landscapes. Imagine driving down a road with towering waterfalls around every bend, with some of the most luscious greenery flooding the land! The front half of Hana is like you’re in a tropical jungle. Fresh fruit and veggie stands pop up all down the coast, while you can pull off at nearly any curve to find a beautiful natural swimming hole being fed by a fresh waterfall!
Then you get into the back coast of Hana and I felt like I had stepped back into Ireland! Green rolling hills are everywhere! Jagged cliffs give way to violent crashing waters and it rained and misted on and off resulting in several rainbows! Hana is truly incredible, and I’ll say one day is definitely not enough time to see it all! Be prepared for a full day trip when you take it! There are plenty of fresh huts along the way selling food and beverages and when you actually make it to the town of Hana there is a little grocery store you can buy many needs at! Here are some of the notable places I would recommend stopping at on the road to Hana!
Black Sand Beach-
Located in Waianapanapa State Park, the Black Sand Beach sprawls out meeting the perfectly turquoise water. Of all the beaches I have seen in my life, I can not say I have ever stumbled upon a black sanded one! That alone is a sight to see! However, there are several hikes you can take around this beach, as well as many mysterious caves to explore! Make sure you don’t miss the walk in cave on the right as soon as you walk down the stairs to the beach!
There are several bamboo forests on the road to Hana, however the most spectacular to stop at is the bamboo forest along the Pipiwai Trail! There is such an abundance of it, to the point you look up and only see bamboo and no sky. The moderate hike leads you through beautiful treks of bamboo and an absolutely stunning and picture worthy banyan tree that looks as if its been there since the beginning of time. And finally, the 4 mile round trip hike leads you to the 400 ft. Waimoku Falls!
Overall, Hawaii is the tropical paradise you dream of it being. I truly love the laid back, blissful, and pleasant way of life of the Hawaiian Islands and I can not wait to return one day and hopefully explore them all!
Have you ever been to Hawaii? I would love to hear what islands YOU explored, comment below and let me know where you adventured around!
Thank YOU all for reading
Wishing you a day and life full of adventure and total bliss!
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