Monday, September 2, 2013

50 Things I LOVE about Maui!

Grown on Maui Farmers Market at Whaler's Village.
I've spent the past week in paradise, on a hosted trip to the second annual Ka'anapali Fresh: A Culinary Experience. It's a delicious celebration of the growing local food movement on the island, a welcome move toward sustainability.

Maui is one of my favorite places in the world, an incredible combination of beautiful beaches, historic towns, gorgeous hikes. The last time I was here, I hiked into Haleakala National Park, a once in a lifetime experience I'd love to repeat someday. And, of course, there's the food! AMAZING!! All those things and more are what keep me coming back to the Magic Isle.

Here are the 50 things I love about Maui:

1. The macadamia nut pancakes with coconut syrup at Pioneer Inn.

2. Spicy ahi tuna poke from Foodland. Heck, all the poke at Foodland. Yes, I've tried them all.

3. Geckos.

4. Spam macadamia nuts. OK, I've never tried them, but the idea that they exist cracks me up.

5. KPOA, 92.9 FM. Love the mix of old-school island music and contemporary tunes, too.

6. Aloha Fridays! No work 'til Monday.

7. Swimming in the super mellow waters off Airport Beach.

8. Plate lunch from Da Kitchen and Honokowai Okazuya. Chicken katsu pictured here.

9. The Korean seafood pancake at Japengo.

10. Yoga with Karen at the Hyatt Regency. She's a gifted teacher and a massage therapist, too.

11. Speaking of massage, can I get an aloha for the oceanside lomi lomi by Helena at Spa Moana? Pure bliss by the sea. Truly.

12. Sleeping with the slider open and listening to the sound of the surf.

13. The crab-stuff Kona shrimp at Pulehu Italian Grill at the Westin Oceanside Villas.

14. Hawaiian Sun guava nectar.

15. Roadside stands selling coconuts, especially the ones that have a box where you pay. The honor system is alive and well on Maui.

16. Banana bread from Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop.

17. Hello Kitty soft coolers from ABC Stores.

18. Wearing my swimsuit all day long.

19. The cookout culture. Love the fat camps people set up at the beach parks. Just saw a guy using a boogie board to try and get some charcoal going! Not this guy, he obviously knows what he's doing, prepping for a luau.

20. Longboard Lager.

21. The sound of keikis splashing in the ocean. Reminds me of coming here with my kiddo many years ago, back when she was just learning to swim. Wonderful memories.

23. Boogie boarding at Fleming Beach Park. Got my butt kicked this trip! Still a blast.

24. Kokohead's smoked ahi spread from Foodland. Great on crackers, but I also made a killer tuna melt with it.

25. That friendly aloha spirit. It's not put on for tourists. Promise.

26. No shirt, no shoes? No problem! Especially dig restaurants where there's soft sand on my feet and a cold bev in my hand.

27. Taro chips with poke on top.

28. Snorkeling at Kapalua.

29. Rainbows.

30. MauiGrown's awesome coffee! Thanks for the plantation tour Kimo!!

31. The scents of the tropical flowers.

32. Sticking one of those beautiful-smelling blossoms in my hair.

33. Leis. This trip, I got a gorgeous lei for being a judge at the Ka'anapali Fresh Festival's chef competition. Win!

34. The deep, deep blue of the Pacific Ocean.

35. The red, green and black sand beaches in Hana.

36. Anthony's Coffee in Paia.

37. Drinks with paper umbrellas.

38. Baby Beach.

39. Running into my brother's buddies. He lived on Maui for 25 years and his friends miss him.

40. The crazy-fun DIY cocktail class with the charming Chandra Lucariello.

41. JAKE! Absolutely blown away by the magical performance of Jake Shimabukuro, ukulele rock star. What a joy to watch him!!

42. Meeting the farmers at the market. So, so impressed by Ono Farms, Surfing Goat Dairy, Hana Fresh, Ho'O Pono Farm, Hana Herbs and Flowers, Olinda Organic Farm, Evonuk Farms, Otani Farm, Kula Country Farms and the righteous microgreens from Napili Flo Farm.

43. Sitting at the bar at Mala. (Where my bro, Chris, used to work.)

44. Sitting at the bar at Mala. (Where my bro, Chris, used to work.)

45. The seafood! Monchong, mahi mahi, uli and especially ahi tuna.

46. Papaya. I don't eat this fruit anywhere but here.

47. Maui Gold Pineapple! Especially when somebody else is cutting it up.

48. Sugar cane swizzle sticks.

49. Rainbows.

50. The way people say "aloha" instead of "hi" and "bye."

And speaking of so longs, I hate to leave, but as they say in the islands, a hui hou! Until we meet again.