Three Décor Items for your Hawaiian-Style Dwelling

decorheadernewI’ve mentioned it before, but I think one of the best ways to remember a special place (or a whole trip) is with adding a piece of it to your home. Aloha shirts, jewelry, and locally-made soaps and snacks are all wonderful mementos, but I’d like to shed some light on some more permanent (and maybe a little pricier) souvenirs that will last a lifetime—and then some. And yes, a painting is wonderful, but here are some other ideas to help you bring the spirit of the islands to your everyday life, wherever you are!

  1. Hawaiian Quilt
    Hawaiian quilts are absolutely stunning, and have a personality all to their own. When I think “quilt,” I might think of a stuffy, not-so-chic patchwork affair, but that’s not the case at all with Hawaiian quilts. Beautifully graphic, with a wonderful contrast between their bright colors and stark white space, Hawaiian-style quilting is a three-hundred-year tradition that feels modern and new. You’ll find them inspired by flowers, fruit, and other muses from Mother Nature, and their crisp, geometric patterns are unique and stunning. If you’ve got the wall space, they’re gorgeous hanging up (properly framed and preserved, of course), but they have an even bigger impact on a bed, and can complement a number of different décor styles.
  2. Koa Wood (anything!)
    Koa is certainly the ubiquitous Hawaiian luxury item—from Koa wood bowls, to rocking chairs, surfboards, paddles, to even watches and wedding rings, it’s everywhere. And it’s no wonder: koa is a hard, beautiful, and unique wood, which has a shimmer, beautiful color variations, and a fascinating grain pattern. It’s expensive for the genuine, sustainable Hawaiian koa, but it’s an investment that’s well worth it when adding a piece to your home. Koa surfboards are an unmistakable show-stopper, but smaller paddles, bowls, and other items may be more within a limited budget—and have just as much meaning and connection to your Hawaiian vacation.
  3. Vintage Travel Posters
    For those who like a little Mad Men-esque appeal, vintage airline ads touting the beautiful Hawaiian Islands are perfect. Hung in a guest bedroom, along with some tropical potted plants and perhaps even a Hawaiian quilt, you’ll give your out-of-town guests a little “Hawaiian getaway” feeling right in your home. The real-deal vintage posters from the ‘60s and ‘70s will run you a pretty penny, but reproductions will bring the exact same feel to your space, and will still bring you back to lazy afternoons sipping a cocktail on the beach.

Even if you haven’t been to Hawaii in years, or if a trip here is still a long-term goal, you can still get that Hawaiian vibe in your home without it looking like a cheesy luau or a tiki bar—unless you’re into that!

Haleakala Sunrise – FAQ

Haleakala Volcano Tour Guides in MauiIs seeing the sun rise atop Haleakala on your Bucket List? If it is, or if you’re just curious to see what all the fuss is about, we think (of course!) that the best way to go is with us—in the comfort of an eight-passenger Luxury Limo-Van, escorted by a Hawaii Certified Tour Guide, and followed up by a hearty breakfast at Kula Lodge. It’s one of our most popular tours, so we field plenty of questions about it on the daily. Here are some of the most-asked, and some of the most important:

What time will you pick me up?
Great question! This all depends on what time of year it is, and where you’re staying. Here’s the deal: we need to get to the Summit of Haleakala at least one hour before “first light,” to give you ample time to freshen up, pack on your layers, and get settled in a prime viewing spot before the crowds move in. Over a thousand people head up the mountain every day to view the Sunrise, so it’s important to be there as early as possible. Your pickup time could range anywhere from around 2:00 AM to 3:45 AM—if you’re staying on  Maui’s West Side (Kapalua, Honokawai, Napili, Kaanapali, or Lahaina), you’ll be on the earlier side, since it takes up to two hours to make the drive to the top. South-Side and Central guests can expect a slightly later departure. Most of our guests traveling from the US mainland don’t mind the early wake-up calls, since their internal clocks are still several hours ahead.

What should I wear?
Layers! You’ll be comfortable without them on the drive from your hotel or resort, but please bring them along. Be ready for a bit of a shock when you first step out of the Limo-Van at Haleakala National Park—we’re not kidding when we say it’s cold! It’s in the forties most days, but can dip to the low-thirties pretty often. Since it’s at 10,023 feet, it’s definitely windy, and the air is thin, so it can feel much colder. We tell guests—at the very least—to have long pants, closed-toe shoes, and a jacket. If you can find room in your luggage to bring along a hat, some gloves, and some extra-thick socks for your tour, even better. For hygienic reasons, we don’t provide jackets or winter gear on tour.

What’s the tour itinerary?
We’ll head pretty much straight from your resort to Haleakala National Park—with a bathroom stop of course! On the drive up, many people choose to doze off (don’t worry—your Tour Guide won’t take offense), or listen to the narrative provided by your Certified Tour Guide. Once we reach Haleakala National Park, you’ll have the opportunity to freshen up and put on any extra layers you might need. Then, your Tour Guide will direct you to the best spot at the Summit for viewing the Sunrise, and get you settled in with some coffee, cocoa, or tea, along with a tasty breakfast pastry. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy as the first light of dawn emerges, and the sky starts to illuminate with breathtaking colors. After sunrise, you’ll have some time to explore Haleakala during the daylight, and then you’ll head down the mountain a bit for some breakfast at Kula Lodge. Finally, you’ll have time to browse the shops at the Kula Marketplace and the fascinating protea garden before returning to your hotel or resort by around 10:30 – 11:00 AM.

What’s for breakfast?
We’ve worked closely with Kula Lodge to create a breakfast menu to satisfy our hungry, post-sunrise guests, no matter what your dietary preferences. Traditionalists might opt for a Belgian waffle or bacon and eggs, or if you’re caught up in that Hawaii vibe, try some pancakes or Upcountry French Toast with coconut syrup. Feeling lighter? Enjoy some tasty fruit, yogurt and granola. Feel free to order a mimosa or a bloody Mary if you’re so inclined—but just remember that alcoholic beverages aren’t included with your breakfast (coffee, tea, or hot cocoa are), and you’ll get your separate bill for drinks after breakfast.

Okay, I’m sold… how far in advance do I need to book?
Go ahead and reserve your Haleakala Sunrise as soon as you’re sure you want to do it! Because of the National Park’s rules, we’re not allowed to take more than two vehicles per day into the park for Sunrise, which means a maximum of sixteen guests per day. It’s best if you’re flexible with your dates, and again—reserve early!

What should I bring with me on tour?
Apart from warm clothes, be sure to bring your camera (and make sure it’s fully charged) and memory cards, if applicable. You’ll be snapping tons of photos once the sun starts to rise—probably more than you expect! Besides that, we’ll take care of the rest. A light snack and full breakfast are provided, along with bottled water and tropical soft drinks throughout the tour. Coffee, tea, or cocoa are served at the Summit, but feel free to bring your own hot beverage in a travel mug, if you prefer.

I think I’ve covered most of the important info about our Haleakala Sunrise tour, but of course, we’re always here to answer your questions! Email us, Tweet us, drop us a line on Facebook, or call us at 1-800-817-1234. Our friendly team is happy to help—and we can’t wait to see you at Sunrise soon!

Maui – A Health Food Haven

healthyblogWhen I’m on vacation, I know that the last thing I want to do while enjoying my hard-earned retreat is worry about what I’m eating. However, I find that over-indulging on vacation leads to continuing that pattern once I’m back home. I try and make an effort to treat myself only to what I’ve really been craving, and then fill my other meals with healthier options. If you’re looking to minimize any damage to your diet while visiting Maui, here are some of my favorite spots to check out:

Down to Earth – Kahului

Down to Earth has been one of my favorite places to eat and shop since I was a kid. It’s a strictly vegetarian grocery store and deli, and they offer a huge variety of healthy options for both groceries and meals on the go. If you’re looking for local produce, and can’t catch the Swap Meet or a farmer’s market, Down to Earth is your best bet for organic, Hawaii-grown fruits and veggies. I never leave the place without a big bag of local apple bananas for a great price. Their hot and cold bars also offer a great selection of delicious vegetarian and vegan options, and their deli makes my absolute favorite roasted-pepper hummus and tofu wrap. If you’re in central Maui, and especially if you’re a hardcore herbivore, you need to stop by the newly-renovated Down to Earth on Dairy Road.

Farmacy Health Bar – Wailuku

This spot has been open on Market Street in Wailuku for just over a year—and they’re gaining a huge following. It’s certainly well-deserved! With a philosophy of only organic, GMO-free, whole, natural foods, there’s literally no way you can go wrong when making a choice at this spot. From their uber-healthy smoothies to their acai and poi bowls, from their gourmet vegetarian sandwiches to their freshly-pressed organic juices—it’s ALL good! Watch their Facebook and Instagram accounts for daily specials, and discover a new favorite from the minds of these creative health-food gurus.

Mana Foods & Maka by Mana – Paia

Since these two places go hand in hand, I thought I’d give them both a mention. First off, Mana Foods: my favorite health-food store of all time. It completely embodies the spirit of Paia: laid-back, healthy, quirky, and vibrant. The layout and narrow aisles (especially in their amazing “vitamin room”) may throw you for a loop at first, but you’ll get used to navigating your small cart through organic, imported, gourmet, and locally-grown fare. Their prices are also un-beatable—most of the time even underbidding standard grocery stores like Safeway and Foodland. Omnivore? Check out their organic, local meat department, and both veggie and non-veggie options on their hot and cold bars.

Right up the road from Mana Foods is Maka by Mana—their new vegan restaurant. Offering an incredible array of gourmet vegan dishes—including an impressive amount of raw options—this place is the new “place to be” for island herbivores. Try their tempeh dishes, the famous “Coconut Stacker,” and save room for dessert—including house-made vegan ice cream and other tasty treats!

Of course, these aren’t the only spots to get your fix of healthy eats while on Maui. There are healthy options at virtually every eatery on the island—from the plate-lunch spots to the high-end resort restaurants. With an incredible selection of locally-grown produce and Hawaii-raised meats, you may not have to stray from your eating habits at all while you’re here. Happy munching!

Food Trucks – Maui Style!

OUR FAVORITENo matter where you live, chances are that the food truck trend has rolled its way into the culinary landscape. Maui is certainly no exception; food trucks have been showing up on the island increasingly in the last few years– and we couldn’t be more thrilled! The food truck “culture” fits perfectly with Maui’s laid-back, casual, beachy vibe. Whether you’re ready for a day of lounging in the sand, exploring the rainforest, or just strolling around town, you can find the fuel you need at one of Maui’s many food trucks. Here are three of my favorites:

Geste Shrimp Truck
Have you seen this one? Maybe not; it’s parked near Kahului Harbor, along Kahului Beach Road. If you’re visiting Maui, you may not have a reason to head back that way– that is, until now. If you leave without trying one of their tasty, shell-on shrimp plates, you’ll be doing yourself a serious disservice. It’s an unassuming white truck, with red lettering and a giant pink shrimp gracing the side. For $13, you’ll get a generous serving of shrimp (cooked in one of four ways), a scoop of rice, and their to-die-for crab and macaroni salad. I can never stay away from their Hawaiian Scampi flavor (hint: mix that garlicky goodness with your rice when you finish the shrimp) but I have friends who swear by the lemon pepper style. No matter what you get, you’ll be getting some of the best shrimp on the island.

Jawz Fish Tacos
If my husband and I are ever heading out to Big Beach in Makena, I have one thing on my mind: fish tacos! Located right at the beach park, this is the ubiquitous beach-day lunch stop. They’ve got an incredibly extensive menu for a food truck– burritos, quesadillas, nachos, and more– but their fish tacos are truly where it’s at. They’re made to order with your choice of fresh fish, and topped with simple yet delicious ingredients. You can also enjoy refreshing shave ice and tasty fruit smoothies, right from the truck. If you’re planning a day at Big Beach, Jawz has you covered for a hearty lunch, drinks, and even dessert. Not gonna make it to Makena? Never fear– Jawz has a brick-and-mortar restaurant as well, located in Lipoa Center in Kihei, where you can get a tasty margarita or a frosty beer to chase down some of the best fish tacos on Maui.

Like Poke?
Yep– this food truck’s name is a question, and my answer is always YES! Find these guys parked at the “food truck food court” across from the Costco gas station in Kahului, and enjoy their incredible selection of freshly-caught seafood dishes, especially poke. What’s poke? Most simply, it’s cubes of fresh, raw fish in a light sauce, mixed with other veggies like onions or seaweed as well. This is a theme that has countless variations, the best of which you’ll find at this popular food truck. Their fish is beyond quality, and is always melt-in-your-mouth fresh. You can get poke by itself, or “plate lunch” style, served with rice– a taste sensation, by the way. Raw fish not your bag? Not to worry, their other lunch selections are just as good, and they even do a deep-fried version of their poke that is simply irresistible.

This isn’t meant to be the definitive list of Maui’s food trucks, as new ones are popping up almost weekly! Keep your eyes open while you’re out and about on Maui, and find your new favorite meal on the go!