Besides spending time with family and friends at all the wedding festivities and doing (part of) the Road to Hana, we also went to Iao Valley to check out the Iao Needle, aka the penis rock. There’s a small flat trail that takes you past the needle and to a little garden area with a big thatched roof hut. You’re supposed to just stick to the flat trail but that was too boring for Hubby so off we went hiking through the tropical forest. I was wearing my $5 flip flops and was super nervous about slipping off a rock. Parting away tree branches to make our way through and trailing behind hubby, there were a few times where I looked up from the ground only to be smacked in the face with a tree branch! We tried to get to some of the waterfalls but couldn’t get close to one safely. The best we could do was stopping by the stream, which runs through the valley, to eat the sandwiches we had packed. Walking back to the parking lot, we ran into my family who were eating lunch under the hut. My father said it was just like being in Vietnam.
Old town Lahaina is a very laid back area with many restaurants and shops along Main Street. I did notice an abundance of jewelry stores with big signs advertising sales. One man pointed to one and exclaimed “They were going out of business two years ago!”
My sister had her rehearsal dinner at Kobe Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar, which was a lot of fun. The chef cracked jokes and did tricks with the food. The fire was spewing up through the grill. It was Benihana Maui style. When the group were walking past Kobe after our night out, the chef spotted us and ran out to tell us that the State Hwy 30 was completely shut down because of an accident. It was funny timing as some of us were joking about the chef’s faux accent right, which I guess he didn’t hear. A couple in the group were staying in Kaanapali so they had to stay in Lahaina for a few more late hours.
Over in Kaanapali, we went over to Whaler’s Village which has free performances of traditional Hawaiian dances every night. We walked along the beach promenade to the Sheraton to check out the cliff diving ceremony. They have an outside bar where you can get a drink (an overpriced one) and watch the show, which was awesome.
One thing I’m ashamed to admit is that I don’t know how to swim. Yes, I don’t know how to swim. Meanwhile, my dad, who grew up in the Vietnam countryside, was apparently doing backstrokes and laps all over the hotel pool. Once they immigrated to the states, my parents were so busy working that they never took us to a swimming pool or to get lessons. Hubby, coming from a land where every child learns how to swim with their clothes on (you know, in case Holland gets overrun by the sea), has tried teaching me several times but I’m just way too nervous to learn. So while Hubby went snorkeling with friends one day, I went to the Maui Ocean Center by myself. It was fun for a couple of hours and I really enjoyed the turtle show. In the gift shop, I spotted this funny coffee souvenir:
- Breakfast at Lahaina Coolers: It’s like an Hawaiian Cheers, where everyone knows everyone else. Locals come here to watch their soccer while eating big plates of Hawaiian specialties. The Classic Benedict and Loco Moco will put you to sleep for the rest of the morning.
- Drinks at Kimo’s Maui: The food was just standard chain-restaurant quality. The view cannot be beat though and they usually have live music in the evenings. Grab a drink at the bar during happy hour.
- Authentic Hawaiian food at Aloha Mixed Plate: No frills, just plain ol’ good food. Warning: do not attempt to walk there from Lahaina’s old town, as we did one night. It’s a loooong walk with no sidewalks sometimes.
- Another shout out for Flatbread Company in Paia: Seriously the best pizza I’ve ever had.
We had a great time in Maui. Five days in paradise was way too short. We took a red eye flight back to San Jose, with a layover in Los Angeles (it was the only flight redeemable with our travel voucher), which was a nightmare. We’ll definitely never ever take a red eye again, unless we’re flying business or first which won’t be happening any time soon.