Looking back on all the places we traveled in 2016, Maui stands out as one of two locations where I felt like we were on vacation. I’m attributing that feeling to the laid back atmosphere of Maui, lack of any climbing objective or agenda, and overall fatigue from two-months of travel in 3rd world countries.
Having never been to Maui before I was pleasantly surprised by how small and uncrowded it is. There are no private beaches, so all of the beaches seem to just stretch on forever and with no beach vendors or hagglers, it was peaceful heaven.
To make Maui affordable for our 2-week stay, we rented a small condo next to the Ka’anapli Beach. We were able to find several good grocery stores and ate most meals in the condo as a result. Keeping our housing and food budget manageable, allowed us to scuba dive at the Molokini Crater, take surf lessons in Lahaina, take a tour to Hana, and attend an amazing Lu’au.
I love scuba diving but as I am new to the sport, I still have a little anxiety going into every dive. We dove with Ed Robinson’s Diving Adventures at the recommendation from a friend and it was great! Diving at Molokini crater was a bit difficult as it required more buoyancy control than I have had to do in the past. This was the first time I’ve had to descend to planned depth (60 feet in this case) and stay there, without being anywhere near the bottom. Having an endless ocean turn from blue to black underneath your flippers is a pretty exciting experience! Of course both dives we did there went very well-so it ended up being a huge boost to my confidence as a diver. I also saw my first shark! It wasn’t very close but it was definitely larger than me.
It turns out that learning to surf is complicated. We decided to take a 2-hour private lesson with Hawaiian Paddle Sports and it was really amazing! We met our instructor early in the morning and we had the entire beach to ourselves. The waves were small, manageable, and the beach was forgiving with very few rocks or coral. We both got up right off the bat and caught half a dozen waves before the lesson was over. With a successful outing under belt we decided to rent surfboards on a nearby beach. Without an instructor, I had a hard time determining when to turn the board around, when to start paddling and most importantly which waves were too big. After watching real surfers on the North shore near Paia, Hawaii I realized that I’m stoked to keep learning and crashing isn’t usually fatal.
As I’ve said before, the basics of any trip are housing, food, laundry and activities. With our housing, laundry, and activities all planned out, I ended up spending a lot of time on this trip thinking about my relationship with food. I’ve never been one to diet or count calories, but I do think about food in terms of my relationship with the planet and my body. Sometime in 2014, I started learning more about where our food comes from— more specifically meat. If you’re interested in learning more watch Food Inc., Forks Over Knives, Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead, Vegucated, Cowspiracy, Food Choices, Earthlings, Shark Girl, and many more. Like most everyone I know, I was raised eating meat and I love steak, chicken, fish and seafood. But after learning about how animals are raised and slaughtered, how fishing impacts the oceans, and how the meat industry affects our planet I didn’t want to eat meat anymore.
Over the last two ish years I’ve spent time being vegan, vegetarian, and carnivorous. What I’ve realized is that I don’t really like eating meat. I feel psychologically bad when I eat meat and it never turns out to “good enough” to justify doing it, but I do occasionally eat meat. I’ve also realized that I’m really addicted to cheese and to a lesser degree eggs. I guess that leaves me mostly a vegetarian, who often looks at eating with dread and guilt. But I want my relationship with food to be one of pleasure and delight instead of dread and guilt.
I love to cook! So I’m always searching for recipes (Thanks Pinterest) that are easy and delicious but also feed my body with the energy I need to play hard in the outdoors, and heal my body when I am sick. I also want to be able to eat out and have multiple vegetarian options on the menu, not just the obligatory menu item that never changes and is usually overcooked.
In the category of vegetarian food, Maui turned out to be a bit of disappointment. It’s not surprising that Maui caters to carnivores as most people visiting the island are looking for fresh delicious seafood. Maui has tons of great seafood restaurants that are very conscious of sustainable fishing, so places like Mama’s Fish House tell you the name of the captain who caught your fish that morning. And you can be sure no bi-catch was killed in the process, so that’s awesome. We tried the crab guacamole, ginger crusted ahi, and grilled tempeh photos above.
What we really loved was the fruit! Maui Gold pineapples are in plentiful supply and they are juicy and delicious. The mangos and papaya were also fantastic!
Overall, I learned more about the Hawaiian culture and history on this trip than I expected. I highly recommend finding a tour, wherever you go, that might be off the beaten path but is lead by a local who will share stories, antidotes, and cultural perspective that you won’t get on your own. And of course, try something new even if it scares you or is hard—those experiences are very rewarding and make the memories of a lifetime. Here are some photos from our trip.