No matter who I’ve talked to recently it seems like Hawaii is all the rage. A likely factor is probably the crazy weather we’ve been receiving lately in Calgary. Just looking outside nobody would believe its spring. Yet there are so many different warm places around the world, so one wonders why Hawaii? I can see its charm, after our trip to Hawaii last year I understand firsthand why so many people are flocking to the Hawaiian Islands.
We decided to visit two Hawaiian Islands on our trip, Maui and the Big Island. Two islands that are so close in range but vastly different in topography and atmosphere. Maui is a true holiday destination with all the amenities one requires when on vacation, great restaurants, amazing shopping, serene spas and wonderful beaches. Many visit during the winter months to soak up the sand and ocean breeze.
For those who love snorkeling and diving, Molokini is one of the most beautiful places to snorkel and dive. There are amazing coral structures and species of fish that live only in those waters. Plus, if you haven’t seen your first turtle in Hawaii yet, this would be the place to do it. Not to worry if you haven’t spotted a turtle, all along the coastline of the islands are the turtle’s playground, so you can’t miss them. If you kayak out, being the curious creatures that they are, they’ll often come by to visit and say hi.
One of the highlights for us in Maui was the Feast at Lele Luau. A luau is a must when visiting Hawaii, but Feast at Lele ups the ante by providing an amazing view along the shoreline where the stage is set and the performers execute their demonstrations of Polynesian dance. The food is also just as wonderful with 5 filling courses served family style alongside free flowing cocktails and wine, you truly experience Hawaiian hospitality.
A tourist favorite is the Road to Hana. This is a full day trip and I suggest going as early as possible to avoid traffic on the road and the rush at Mama’s Fish House, which is a must stopover. We didn’t start the day till later and ended up heading to Mama’s first (good and bad). The food there was too delicious and our group lingered a little too long making the rest of our road to hana trip a bit rushed. The best part is the drive itself and not the goal of getting to Hana so you’ll lose out on the amazing sights if you rush, plus it’s hard to scene the coastline once the sun goes down. So start early and stop at each recommended location and revel in the beautiful surroundings.
If you’re a big seafood or sushi person, I highly recommend checking out all the various restaurants. One of my favorites was Sushi Paradise in Kihei, the fish was fresh and succulent. I decided to order mostly sashimi because the fish was so delicious, it didn’t require any rice allowing me to taste the flavour of the fish itself. The owner also suggested that we eat it with just a bit of wasabi mixed with lemon juice as to retain the original flavours of the fish. My favorite Hawaiian seafood dish is the poke. Similar to ceviche, it is made with fresh seafood mixed with various ingredients like soy sauce and sesame oil to create a flavourful dish. You can find it almost at every restaurant or grocery store in town. No matter where you go in Hawaii, you really can’t go wrong with seafood!
Lucky for me, we stayed just down the road from the Shops at Wailea. For those who enjoy their shopping, this is the place to be, with many designer brands such as LV, Tiffanys, Gucci and more. There’s also a Honolulu Coffee Company which serves delicious local Hawaiian coffee, not to be missed.
The Big Island on the other hand is more rugged and less developed. We stayed in Kona, the largest city on the island and drove out to visit the various sites. Starting with an authentic Kona Coffee tour, we got to sample various blends of locally grown coffee and learn all about the germination and development of the coffee tree. The coffee also made for perfect souvenirs for those at home.
A must visit was the Hawaiian Volcano Park located south of Hilo. It took us roughly an hour to get there but it’s worth the drive. The main attraction is the Halemaumau Crater and hiking path. The hike takes you along the rim and slowly leads you on to the face of the crater. It was truly a unique experience. I felt like I was walking on the moon especially with the steam rising from the vents all around us.
Another highlight of our trip was the 1 hour helicopter tour around the Kilauea Volcano. Departing from Waikoloa the helicopter flew over the active volcano where we got some amazing shots of the lava flow. Then we flew over the coastline to observe where the lava meets the ocean. It was amazing to see the amount of steam and heat rise from the meeting point. After meandering through the valleys of the Kohala Mountains we ended our tour with the amazing waterfalls deep within the rainforest where the ancient Hawaiian settlements are still visible. I highly recommend it for those who have a bit of time in Kona.
Now that I’m thinking back on our trip, I can definitely see why everybody is finding a way to get themselves to Hawaii. I might just have to book another quick trip!