We were finally getting to the point where we got in all the big tours and activities into our trip. Vacation can be a hard balance to get right, too long and you get sick of the place and want to go home, too short and you don’t feel rested. We have two full weeks for vacation here. Several of the families we have met at the condo just came in for a few days, and they say the same thing. some only just start to relax and unwind and it’s time to go. I can do Vegas for about 3 days then I need to get out. Cabo lasts about 10 days then we’ve had enough. But we have been so happy with Maui, especially with staying in a condo instead of a hotel or resort.
I feel really pressured at a lot of resorts, it’s fine for a few days. But once my brain begins to unwind it doesn’t take long until I hit the point where I can’t find any space. At the condo we have lots of space, not just in the room, but we have our own beachfront, and a quiet neighborhood. I can grill my own eggs in the morning. I can write on the kitchen counter. Sasha has her own room and can get away from us to wind down as well, or sleep in.
It’s a better experience and extends the vacation.
After our day on Lanai, we slept in. Yulia and I woke up and had breakfast after a while, but Sasha was completely out. We didn’t bother to wake her. We didn’t have any plans. We sat with our coffee (current batch – Maui Coffee Roasters 100% Peaberry Ka’anapali Dark Roast) and watched the surf. Considering the rough waves we were caught in the previous day, this was very calm. Shortly we got our suits on and went snorkeling.
W few years back in Mexico we picked up a set of Billabong Swim shirts. The problem with snorkeling is that you tend to get burned pretty quick as the sunscreen washes off pretty quick in salt water. These are for surfing, and work great for snorkeling as well. We’ve been using them all week, and they are a lifesaver. Especially for a pale bastard like myself.
We took the GoPro, and swam up and down the reef. I found a pink pufferfish hiding around one rock, he was being moved around by the wave action more than swimming on his own. Lots of fish were out, and also getting bounced around. it was surprising, we have snorkeled a lot on this trip, and the little reef just off our condo has some really amazing fish on it’s own. Our local Sea Turtle (Turtle Union – Local 53) was also out, and popped up a few times then swam off for food. I kept an eye out for him on the northern areas of our reef, but didn’t see him again.
Eventually Sasha woke up and came down to lie in the sun. We stayed out for a while longer until the waves were a bit too much (for both us and the fish) and we all made plans to head into town. It was already past noon, so food was on the agenda. We just weren’t sure where yet. We drove north along our neighborhood road to check out the beaches, but development was really tight. I couldn’t see much for beach access, and there didn’t seem to be anything outside of the resorts, so we headed back towards Lahaina.
We decided that Sasha needed a trip to Hilo Hattie’s in any case. If you’ve ever been to Hawaii, you recognize two stores right away. The ABC stores are the Hawaiian 7-11, but usually with more kitschy beach stuff, and a pretty good deli. They are also more frequent than Starbucks in Seattle, and that’s saying something. The other is Hilo Hattie’s. Hilo Hattie’s is where you go to get discount shirts, trinkets, gifts – pretty much anything about Hawaii. It’s cheaply made, and priced to match. but they had everything. Wiggling dashboard Hula dancers – check. They specialize in those hideous matching family Hawaiian shirts and dresses. Nasty stuff.
But the Lahaina Hilo Hattie’s has hit on hard times. The store is in it’s original location, but the mall is an outlet mall now. We walked into the store, and were given shell leis by the door greeter, at least that hadn’t changed. But the interior of the store was now just 1/3 of it’ sold size. I could peek through an open door and see the rest of the old store mostly empty, just some boxes strewn about and clothing racks. The rest of the store was mostly clothing now, the gifts was now a smaller section, but it was still pretty neat to see. I’m sure it is hard to complete with a lot of the other stores in the area. More things changing.
The day was hot. The trade winds weren’t blowing, and we were baking walking along Front Street. We were also really hungry now, and decided on Cheeseburger in Paradise. Yulia and I were here close to 20 years ago, and it hadn’t changed much. The upper story of the restaurant is open with a roof, and has great views of the harbor. We were lucky with some live music playing, just one guy with a guitar, and some automated backup for percussion. It was great to sit and cool down a bit. We ordered drinks and were hit with a quick tropical rain, cooling everything back to a comfortable level and filling the air with the smell of ozone.
The burgers were really good. Everything was fresh, Sasha got a lettuce wrap, and Yulia had fish tacos. That and a side of onion rings to share was just a little too much food, and just what we needed. With a few Mai Tais and beers down, we were all back to a regular temperature. We walked across the street, and decided to go through a few galleries for a change.
Lahaina isn’t short on art galleries, and we enjoy art, so it made for a fun time. One of the ladies working in a bigger gallery walked us around all the art, talking about each artist, showing off some of the sculpture, etc. It was nice to get some explanation of what each artist prefers, and what kind of art they create. Along one wall, we saw some very familiar art, and recognized an Argentinian artist that we had ourselves. We had picked up a piece for home at a gallery closing, and had really liked the style. It was very dark, with two dancers in an embrace, very Latin and mysterious looking. It is a distinctive style, so when we saw the work we recognized it right away. Apparently this gallery is one of his major displays, and he has become very popular. His new work was just as good, really stunning. We also hit a surrealist gallery down the street. This was owned by a Russian Artist, and his work had a very Dali flavor to it. Like Dali, he repeated many themes with variations across his work, with some in paint, some sculpture, but all of it captivating.
Back at the condo, it was getting close to sunset, and for a change there were a lot of people on the patio. We headed down with the conch shell and a few drinks, and as the sun set, two old ladies in walkers grabbed me to join them in blowing the shell for sunset. They were very insistent that we do this right, and had their own shells in the baskets of their walkers. All three of us blew our shells for the sunset, shouted aloha, and then watched the sun go down. It was nice to be embarrassed as part of a group for a change.
The next morning we made plans to head out to Honolua Bay after breakfast. This was the stone-covered snorkeling bay we had hiked to earlier. We also wanted to go out for breakfast, we really only did this once on the trip, when we went to Hana, and thought it might be nice for a change. We drove into Lahaina back to Aloha Plate Lunch, which was not busy for breakfast. Where we were here the first time, we saw that they had a breakfast menu as well, and thought it would be good to try out. It was a good call, they had huge omelets, great coffee, and I had a Kahlua Pork hash that was amazing. We were under continuous attack by small birds begging for crumbs. It was cute, but I expected Alfred Hitchcock to make a cameo at any moment, just before they all organized for an attack.
It was a pretty short drive north up to Honolua Bay. We were lucky finding parking, as the big crowds hadn’t arrived yet. We hiked back out to the beach, and found a good spot on the rocks in the shade. Sasha had taken the remains of her omelet to go, and sat down to finish it while Yulia and I got the gear together and worked our way to the water. The rocks were fairly big, and a bit slippery, so it was pretty slow going to get down, but once at the water it was sandy, and we could get the masks on easily without getting knocked over. It was calm with almost no waves, and the water was amazingly clear.
The reefs in the bay ran along the edges, with the bay center being fairly clear and sandy. Tour boats were arriving and anchoring in the center, dropping off huge groups to snorkel the edges. It was good we were there in the morning, as more boats kept arriving throughout the day. The fish were large and very beautiful. It was a different rock and coral structure than at our condo, with larger single rocks covered in bursts of white and yellow coral. Our reef was a low flat rock, with cracks running lengthwise that the fish hid in. We saw a school of needlefish, some cuttlefish, and far too many that we couldn’t identify. We also saw a massive pufferfish, about a foot and a half long. He was hanging out beneath a rock, and would just peek out, then float back underneath.
Sasha joined us, and we swam a few more of the edges. I was circling a really big rock when I saw what looked like an odd boulder near the bottom. It turned out to be a napping sea turtle hiding in the rock. It was even larger than the turtles in our bay, with big barnacles across it’s back. We all hovered around watching it for a while. Fish darted back and forth, but the turtle just slept. Finally the bay started to get crowded as the big tour boats arrived, and we headed out. We had been swimming non stop for well over an hour, and were getting tired. We rested on shore a bit, you don’t feel how tired you are until you get back out and have to balance and walk on the rocks.
We cleaned up back at the condo, and headed out towards Lahaina again. it was hot enough that we kept the top up on the convertible, and ran the AC. I’ll be happy when the winds start up again. We drove up the hillside a bit to a dragon fruit farm, we saw that is was around and thought it would be cool to see how it grows. Yulia and Sasha really love dragon fruit, so this seemed like a fun short trip. The farm was up in the area that used to be Sugar Cane, but had long ago been subdivided. Zoning meant that it still had to be agricultural-related, but we saw homes going in, with what looked like small fields next to them, and the Dragon Fruit farm also had zip lines and some other “Eco Adventures”. So it appeared that everyone in the area did just a little farming so they could use the rest of the land. Not a bad compromise.
We talked to the guys at the Farm, and if wanted to walk around, it was free. We didn’t need a full tour, so that sounded fun. They had pineapples, bananas, and dragon Fruit growing between the zip line towers. If you haven’t seen it, Pineapples grow in little bushes, with a single pineapple out the top. Dragon Fruit are a cactus flower. We chatted for a little with some of the people bagging up the dragon fruits with little bird-proof bags. I need to start doing this at home for our grapes, we were cleaned out last year. We walked back to the front of the farm, and tried some samples of their fruit. The dragon fruit was good, but I’m not a big fan of dragon fruit in general. But this was absolutely the best damn pineapple I’ve ever had. These were first-generation pineapple, even the core was soft, not woody. We bought two dragon fruit, and a massive $20 pineapple. That’s going to be a good breakfast.
We headed back into Lahaina town and stopped at a tasting room for a local coffee grower. it was at the base of the old plantation smokestack, and the building appeared to be the last remnants of the sugar factory there. The coffee was great, and the historical photos on the walls about the old Lahaina planation were equally interesting. There’s a lot changing fast on this island, and it’s nice to see a little of the history saved.
It was still too hot out, so we grabbed a late lunch at Hard Rock Café, as they were shaded and cool, and we usually visit a Hard Rock if one is around us on vacation. The food is just OK, but the music memorabilia is always worth seeing. They had Jimmy Buffet’s guitar, lots of Elvis in Hawaii stuff, and Hawaiian shirts from Jerry Garcia and the dead guy from Sublime. We cooled down, and had a few drinks. On the way out, I bought a new Zippo lighter. I have a Hard Rock Café lighter from Maui that I bought over 20 years ago. It still works. That old one is brass with the Hard Rock logo painted on, the new ones are chrome with the logo etched. Pretty neat to have a set.
We spent the rest of the day at the condo, doing nothing. The winds finally came and cooled us down. we had a little Ahi Poke for a dinner, and made Banana-Pina Coladas. We’re saving the pineapple for tomorrow. The old ladies didn’t come out to assist me with the conch shell, yesterday must have been too much for them. Good conch will do that to you.