The Best Hawaiian Island: Maui, Part II

Yes, I may be a little bias with my love for Maui seeing I have not been to any of the other islands, but from what I’ve heard Kauai doesn’t have the greatest of beaches, Oahu is a concrete slab, and The Big Island gets a lot of rain. Now of course I am generalizing. I’m sure you can find great beaches on Kauai, you can get away from Honolulu by going to the other side of the island, and The Big Island has its own perks, but I really do think Maui has the best of all the islands: amazing beaches, quiet towns but still great amenities with a lot going on, and a ton of sunshine and blue skies.

If you missed it, check out the first four days of our trip to Maui via the link.

Wednesday morning we slept in, went running, and then got ready for a late breakfast at The Gazebo. The Gazebo is literally hidden between two resorts and while a lot of people have come to find this gem, I think there’s a lot of people who still don’t know it exists because of its secretive location. (I am going to do a more detailed post on the restaurant since there isn’t a lot of information online about it.)

DSC_0131Surprisingly we didn’t have to wait too long for a table–maybe 20-25 minutes. Last time we waited about an hours, so it paid to go around 11:00 a.m.

It didn’t take long for our food to come and we sure ate up. Um, yeah, that would be two giant pancakes, a veggie omelet (that is just half the order), toast, potatoes, and Portuguese sausage. DSC_0145

Yeah, I think I was just a tad hungry. As always, the food was delicious and the view was even more spectacular. DSC_0144

Everything was very good. I’ve always eaten breakfast like a king.  DSC_0146

This was definitely a sugar overload: pancakes with bananas, macadamia nuts, pineapple, and a lot of whipped topping! Can’t do that every day. DSC_0147Afterwards we hit up one of our favorite beaches: Napali Bay. It is always very busy, but there is still room to do whatever your heart desires: stand up and paddle, snorkel, boogie board, swim, etc. You can do all of these in this bay, which is why it is so popular and great for people of all ages.

DSC_0149Seriously, so breath-taking. I can’t get over how turquoise and blue the waters are.


After a while we walked the pathway to the neighboring cove—Kapalua Beach, which is an amazing snorkeling location and one of the best we’ve found. (We thought it was better than Black Rock.)DSC_0148

After a few hours in the sun, our skin was starting to feel dry and tight, so it was time to head back to the condo, relax a little, and then get ready for our sunset dinner cruise that evening.

We boarded our boat around 5 p.m. and left the bay with a picturesque view of Lahaina.   DSC_0164

As we were sailing into the sunset (literally!) a rainbow peeked out from the clouds. DSC_0169

We enjoyed a lovely meal. I had the fish, Craig had prime rib, which also came with potatoes, steamed carrots, a salad, and cheesecake.

It was so peaceful sailing the waters in the evening and soaking up the amazing views of Maui from the sea. We also saw several whales from the boat, which is always cool. DSC_0175

We sat across the table from another couple until (we think) the wife got a little sea sick and had to go down to the lower deck, so Craig and I ended up having the table to ourselves to talk and hang out.

Once the sun went down, they turned off the lights on the boat so could see all the stars in the sky. I was in heaven. I don’t think you realize how much I miss my stars! I rarely see any stars in Anchorage because in the summer there’s too much daylight and during the winter it is often too cloudy. Although we also do live in the city, so if we went somewhere else we could see them. But come on, who wants to sit in their snow suit looking at the stars? Not me.DSC_0185

Thursday morning after an 8 mile run in the late morning sun, Craig and I headed to Choice Maui to meet up with Yolanda and her husband, Bill. I met Yolanda through my blog a few years ago and when we discovered we would be in Maui at the same time, we of course had to meet up.

Yolanda and her husband were so friendly and we all connected right off the bat. I distinctly remember Yolanda telling me a couple of years ago that running a marathon was beyond her reach and capability. But with diligent work over the years, she finished the Portland Marathon this past fall. I truly admire her persistence and believing in herself to do something she thought was unattainable. DSC_0192

Choice Maui is a vegan, raw restaurant with amazing food and was on our must-go-to restaurant while we were there. (We actually went twice.)


They have great acai bowls along with fruit and vegetable smoothies and one of the best kale salads I’ve ever had. I could eat there every day. DSC_0100

That afternoon we headed to Kihei, which is about a 35 minute drive from Lahaina. While in Kihei we went to Lululemon, the fancy mall, and a beach. While we were at the beach, I started to feel a slight headache coming on, so we headed out. We had spent a lot of time in the sun so far that week, so we thought it would be best to get out of the sun. We ended up at Monkey Pod Kitchen for a bite to eat. DSC_0201

While we were there, we enjoyed cool drinks and some half-priced appetizers.   DSC_0196 DSC_0195

The pizza was good. I liked it; Craig didn’t think it was anything special.DSC_0198

Craig really liked his kale salad though. I only had a few bites because greens did not sound appealing. I wanted savory foods. It was about this time when my headache started to intensify and I was not feeling so hot. As soon as we finished eating, we headed back to Lahaina. Unfortunately, I was the designated driver for the rental car all week, and I am not sure how I stayed focused enough to safely drive us back; I was feeling worse as time went on.

DSC_0199As soon as we got back to the condo, I immediately laid on bed and didn’t have the energy to move a muscle. I didn’t even want to watch TV because the thought of the extra noise and stimulation made my head ache more. The headache and intense fatigue also lead to vomiting and a fever. A few hours later Craig came into the room with Gatorade and declared I had heat exhaustion. I was grateful for the overly sweetened beverage because even though I had been drinking a lot of water, it wasn’t cutting it. I sipped on the Gatorade the rest of the evening, slept for 12 hours and thankfully woke up feeling like new.

This was a very good thing that I was feeling better because we had reservations for a snorkel cruise bright and early at 6:30 a.m. Friday morning. DSC_0202

We boarded the small super raft for a trip across the ocean to a smaller island, Lanai. They dropped us off on the island for a few hours while we explored the area.


There isn’t a lot on the island—mostly just locals live there and rich people who can afford to stay at the very, very nice resort that starts at $600 a night.

We explored the resort, checked out the restaurant menu with a dinner course of $120 per person, and marveled at its amenitites. DSC_0223

At the beach, we did some snorkeling. I didn’t want to get heat exhaustion again, so I tried to stay out of the sun as much as possible.   DSC_0233

We hiked around the area, checked out Sweetheart Rock (the rock on the right), while Craig took pictures of the lava formations, birds, and other various creatures. DSC_0240After exploring the island, we were picked back up by the boat and then stopped at another spot to snorkel. This little cove area had so many fish in the area it was unreal. I only snorkeled for about 20-25 minutes before I got too cold and had to get out of the water.

That evening we went to Hula Grill and had dinner on the beach. We had received a couple of recommendations for this place as well, but we were sadly not all that impressed. Has anyone else gone here? Should we have eaten inside instead of on the “Barefoot” side? Or did we just order the wrong items? Craig did have the fish tacos, which were supposed to be very good.


I did have this amazing fruit platter, which was filled with a whole bunch of fruits I had never tried before. DSC_0279

Saturday morning I only ran 4 miles and took it easy running a couple of those miles with Craig. DSC_0281

We ate some of our breakfast foods in the condo but by the end of the week we were running low on anything substantial, so we headed to Cafe Cafe for a quick bite to eat. If I lived in the area, I would definitely be a regular at this small, quaint cafe with outdoor seating and the best bagel I’ve ever had. Plus you can rent scooters here!DSC_0288

Our next destination was Waihee Ridge Trail on the northern side of the island (a.k.a. the rainy side). After seeing this trail featured in a recent Runner’s World magazine as one of the Rave Runs, I knew I had to hike the trail myself.

DSC_0302The scenery was absolutely breath-taking. It was about a 5 mile hike to the top and back. Overall it was a moderate hike in my book—moderately steep and the rains made for some slippery, muddy conditions coming down.

DSC_0289The first third of the hike it was raining pretty good. I was very glad I brought the rain jacket.


We also made sure to stop for a lot of water breaks to avoid any more heat exhaustion. The Gatorade bottle was repurposed and came in handy.


Our view from the top. These pictures don’t even do justice. DSC_0318 DSC_0330

Saturday evening was our last night on the island. As I mentioned in my first post, there was a family we knew from Anchorage who was also staying there, so we met up for dinner our last night.

We had a very lovely evening enjoying each others company, watching one last sunset, and eating amazing food cooked on the BBQ.


Sunday I did one last run in Maui because I couldn’t let an opportunity to run in shorts and a tank top pass me by. We got our things packed up and checked out of our condo before we had to head to the airport. It was a very sad drive to the airport and things like, “Can’t we stay?” “It is okay if I don’t show up for work, right?” were said.

But alas we boarded the plane and returned to snowy, cold Alaska. DSC_0362Maui, you once again surpassed my expectations for an amazing vacation, and I will be back some day!



20 responses to “The Best Hawaiian Island: Maui, Part II

  1. As always a beautiful job. Such great pictures. What camera do you use if I may ask? Glad you had such a good time. I feel the same way about St Martin-French side/St Barts. I think it’s the place to be. Six weeks of unforgettable times. Unfortunately it’s been a few years since I’ve been able to go. Pretty expensive.
    My girlfriend feels just as you do about Hawaii. She worked on a dive boat for several years. She’s returning in just over a month for a couple weeks. Spends a lot of time snorkeling and diving so if you ever want a dive partner let me know, she’s always up for it. I’m kind of inundated with people that love Hawaii. The family that owns the resort property I live on has a beach front home on Maui and the general manager and family are from Oahu.
    Thanks again for the great blog. Hope you have a great week, Randy :o)
    Note: Just finished making another loaf of bread. I substituted flax meal for some of the flour this time around. About to see how well that worked.

  2. We tried out Hula Grill (they had a good Happy Hour!) but preferred Leilani’s–which had basically the same food and my husband said it was a little cheaper! Looks like you had a blast, I love Maui!

  3. We go to Maui every year for Alaska’s spring break. WE Love it there too! Such a beautiful place to vacation. I had no idea they had a Lululemon store there. Where in Kihei is it at? Your photos were beautiful!

  4. A very nice recap and I appreciated the time you set aside so we could finally meet. By the way, do not eat beach side at the Hula Grill, the finer dining is much better. But I still prefer bar side at Leilani’s of the two. 🙂

  5. We tried to eat at the Gazebo twice last time we were on Maui but the wait was too long, We ended up walking across the cover to another restaurant. We also went to the Hula grill, it was ok. We went during happy hour and sat outside, there was some dude playing guitar and certain drinks were on special. It seemed alright at the time but nothing spectacular.
    I have been to Kauai, Oahu and Maui. I think each has it’s charms but I do enjoy Maui the most. I have/Had family and friends on each island so I felt I was able to experience the true vibe of each island. Also I was deployed to Trippler Army Medical Center for six months so I spent considerable time on Oahu. My aunt and uncle also lived on Oahu while I was deployed there so I would visit them and stay with them during my time off. I like certain elements to Oahu but it is a big city, for the most part, and to me it was like Phoenix with a beach.
    Kauai was beautiful and rural but people were not as friendly. My friends owned a dirt biking business there and they had many struggles with locals being territorial. Still, it was beautiful and I will never forget my hike along the Na Pali coast or Waimea canyon by helicopter.
    On Maui I have friends living there and I have had the most fun there. I would love to live there for a year or so if my husband agrees. (Especially after living in Alaska!) I love the delicious fresh organic produce that is grown there. I had some of the spiciest fresh arugula there, I haven’t had any as delicious since. My husband and I especially loved the upcountry, Kula in particular. We went to a friend of a friend’s place in Kula and truly enjoyed it. It’s not quite as hot as the coastal areas, very lush but there is more rain. We also saw Mick Fleetwood stopping at Grandma’s for coffee that day! (that’s near the Thompson Road walk I mentioned)
    So, I’m in agreement with you even though I have not been to the Big Island, Maui is the best!

    • To avoid the wait at the Gazebo it seems like the trick is to go later in the day, which would make sense since most people go there for breakfast. Yeah, we weren’t that impressed with Hula Grill either. Someone told me that you have to eat inside. They also said they prefer Leilani’s, which is next door. Thanks for the details on each island–that was very helpful.

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