Summit Lavender Sojourn

SUMMITAs amazing as the Road to Hana is, many people consider the quiet, Martian-esque landscape of Haleakala to be the highlight of their Maui vacation. And while, yes, sunrise at Haleakala is certainly the place to be among many Maui visitors, plenty of folks enjoy a visit to the Summit of Haleakala any time of day—us included! We’ve created a couple of tours that include a daytime visit to Haleakala, including one of our classic favorites—the Summit Lavender Sojourn.

More than just a trip up the mountain, the Summit Lavender Sojourn is a full-day upcountry adventure. Like most of our tours, it starts with a morning departure right from your hotel, resort, residence, condo, or ship’s pier. From there, you and a group of like-minded travelers will enjoy the narration of your Hawaii Certified Tour Guide as your luxury Limo-Van makes its way to the top of Haleakala.

There, your Tour Guide will be full of fascinating information about the history of our famous dormant volcano, from its geological origins to its cultural significance to both ancient and modern Hawaiians. You’ll also learn how important Mt. Haleakala is to scientific communities worldwide—especially astronomers!

After the visit to Haleakala, you’ll make your way into Kula for a visit to the scenic Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm. This world-famous farm features huge fields as well as quaint gardens full of lavender, succulents, and other beautiful, fragrant flora. You’ll have a chance to smell and experience the different varieties of lavender that, despite not being native to Hawaii, flourish in Kula’s cooler weather. After exploring with your Tour Guide, you’ll have a chance to spend some time in the charming gift shop, where lavender goodies ranging from soaps to salts, lotions to lemonade abound! While you’re there, feel free to treat yourself to a lavender scone and some hot tea on the lanai, and marvel at the incredible, lavender-scented view.

After the lavender farm, it’s time for lunch. Your Tour Guide will escort your group to a scenic upcountry location and set up a delightful al-fresco lunch, including a grilled herb-marinated chicken wrap, a seven-spice seared ono wrap, garden vegetable pasta salad, chilled Maui Gold pineapple, and fudgy macadamia nut brownies. After lunch, it’s time for a stop at MauiWine, where your Tour Guide will go into detail about the production of Maui’s only local wine, and show you around the beautiful, serene grounds. Afterward, join their knowledgeable staff in the tasting room for some samples, and decide which bottles you’d like to take back to your hotel, if you’re so inclined! Read more about MauiWine here.

Finally, your Tour Guide will take you to Makawao, Maui’s quaint “cowboy” town. You’ll learn about this charming spot from your Tour Guide, and then you’ll have an opportunity to visit its many shops and galleries. Ever seen live glass-blowing? You may very well have the opportunity with a stop at Hot Island Glass, where they demonstrate their incredible skills daily. You’ll also enjoy browsing local wares at Maui Hands, and viewing incredible island artwork at Viewpoints Gallery Of course, there’s much more to see, do, eat, and drink in Makawao, so enjoy!

You’ll return to your hotel at a relaxed, Maui-style pace by around 5:00 PM—more than likely loaded down with some goodies from your travels! If you are looking to see some of the more unique sides of Maui, and visit our incredible Haleakala National Park, then the Summit Lavender Sojourn is definitely for you!

Motion Sickness on the Road to Hana

Motion Sickness-We field quite a few questions from prospective guests about one of the more infamous aspects of the famous Road to Hana. For those prone to motion sickness, the thought of a drive featuring 617 hairpin curves might not be too appealing! And, sure, for some, they’ll just choose not to experience this bucket-list item, and spend a bit more time with their toes in the sand. Sure, but what about for those of you who really, really want to see this world-famous Maui journey, but are still a little wary about queasiness? We’ll do our best to help!

  1. Let us know!
    This is the most important thing. If you’re prone to motion-sickness, tell us when you make your reservation! That way, we can give your Tour Guide the heads-up, and, if you’d like, reserve you the “shotgun” seat, to minimize the effect of the curvy road. From the front, it’s easier to fix your focus on a single point, if need be, to help keep you from feeling sick. It’ll also allow you to check-in with your Tour Guide frequently, and let him or her know when you need to get some fresh air and a bit of a break. Luckily, on a small-group experience, this is definitely something we can do! Also, if someone else has already requested the front seat on the date and tour you’ve requested, we can work to reschedule your tour well in advance.
  2. Ginger
    Our favorite motion-sickness deterrent, apart from sitting up front, is ginger candy. Before your tour, pick up a stash of it from the local candy section of almost any grocery or chain store on the island. Most places stock it for exactly this reason! Make sure it’s made with real ginger, and toss it in your day bag, and a couple in your pockets. Ginger is known around the world for its stomach-calming properties, and even just smelling it can do you some good when it comes to combating an upset stomach. Feel free to bring some ginger ale as well, if you’d like—Canada Dry is made with real ginger, and some of the more “indie” brands pack an even more powerful ginger punch!
  1. Other Remedies
    Do a little homework on what will work best for you. Apart from ginger, other folks swear by peppermint to prevent motion sickness—either natural peppermint candies, or a little peppermint oil on the back of your hand or in a handkerchief to sniff throughout the day. We’ve also heard that people have had great luck with the acupressure wrist bands, which take advantage of a particular point on the wrist that, reportedly, negates any nausea. What we don’t recommend, generally, are the motion-sickness tablets that might cause drowsiness—even if they claim not to! While we don’t mind if you nod off, we certainly don’t want you to miss the beauty of the Road to Hana!

On that note, even though you’ll hear about it most on the Road to Hana, some people prone to motion sickness may feel its effects head up to or down from Haleakala as well. Remember, we host thousands of guests every year, and if worse comes to worse, every seat in our Luxury Limo-Van is equipped with an “Aloha Bag,” just in case. Trust us—we’ve dealt with plenty of troubled tummies, and are ready to help! For whichever tour you’ll be joining us, please let us know how we can help make it comfortable for you, and, more than likely, taking just a few precautions will alleviate any discomfort you might’ve experienced.

A hui hou!

Best Desserts on Maui!

dessertsLast week, we talked breakfast. This week, let’s skip ahead to dessert—because why not? We’re on Maui!

You never know where you’ll be on the island when you suddenly get a craving for something sweet. Whether it’s a cold scoop of creamy gelato, a piping hot malasada, or even a vegan, gluten-free cupcake, you’ll be able to find whatever your sweet tooth is hankering for on the Valley Isle! Here are some of the best desserts around:

  1. Ono Gelato Company – Lahaina
    I love to go shopping on Front Street, but on a sunny Lahaina afternoon, it can get a little hot! That’s why I always make a stop at Ono Gelato Company. They offer some wonderful, creative, locally-made gelati, and even if you’re skipping on dairy, you’ll find a delicious, tropical sorbetto you’ll love! As far as gelato, I personally can’t pass up the cookies & cream flavor (PERFECT ratio in this one!), but plenty of folks swear by the “Sandy Beach,” which is a mixture of peanut butter, sea salt, and graham cracker. You gotta try it!
  2. Snow Factory – Kihei
    Continuing with the frozen desserts theme, I absolutely have to mention Snow Factory. Not shave ice, not ice cream, this is completely different. Others have described the texture of this treat as “frozen cotton candy,” and I’d have to agree—it’s creamy, flaky, light, airy, and absolutely delicious! It’s an interesting hybrid of shave ice and ice cream, and it comes in more flavors than you can imagine, and can be topped with sweetened condensed milk, mochi, crumbled cookies, and my favorite—fruity poppers! If you’re up for a completely different dessert, find this place tucked away in a shopping center on South Kihei Road, and experience this indescribable delight!
  1. Stillwell’s Bakery & Cafe – Wailuku
    Got brain-freeze yet? Let’s switch it up, and visit this charming little Wailuku spot. It’s a favorite among locals for breakfast and lunch (get the crab cake sandwich!), but a big draw is the pastry case. It’s brightly lit, and chock full of beautiful, traditional pastries, many with a Maui-style twist. You’ll want to try everything (and, really, who can blame you), but I’ll point you in the direction of the lilikoi cheesecake, crème brulee, and (my favorite) cream horns. Most items are under five bucks, so you can take a variety of goodies back to your hotel or condo to enjoy at your leisure—provided you don’t devour them all on the drive home!
  1. Maui Sugar Shop – Lahaina
    Can’t indulge in gluten, wheat, or have another specific dietary consideration? Still craving something sweet? Maui Sugar Shop should be your next stop! This totally gluten-free bakery offers an incredible selection of different cupcakes, cream puffs, cannoli, doughnuts, cookies… all gluten-free, and many also vegan! They’re committed to using only the highest quality, organic ingredients in their homemade delights, and their enthusiasm for their work shows in each and every muffin, pie, and cinnamon roll. And for those here for a magical destination wedding, look no further than Maui Sugar Shop for your beautiful, gluten-free wedding cake! They do amazing work!
  1. T Komoda Store & Bakery – Makawao
    You can’t write about sweets on Maui without mentioning Komoda’s. It’s an institution that has been serving Maui since 1916—yep, coming up on 100 years! Like everyone else will tell you, get there early—they tend to sell out! Everything’s extremely reasonably priced, so you can indulge in guava malasadas, stick doughnuts, and cream puffs to your heart’s content. There’s nothing fancy here; just good, family recipes that are freshly made from simple ingredients and have been delighting Maui residents and visitors for a century. If you’re looking for a true “local” treat, try a chantilly cupcake—this chocolate cake with a sweet-and-salty frosting is a Hawaii favorite!

As always, I couldn’t cover everything! In addition to these spots, there are also plenty of restaurants that offer incredible desserts on their menu—I love the strawberry cream pie from Monkeypod, Star Noodle’s ever-changing selection of “Star Screams” ice cream, and the absolutely insane lilikoi crème brulee from Mama’s Fish House. However you choose to indulge your sweet tooth on Maui, I’m sure you’ll find a new favorite that you’ll be missing once you’re back home!

Maui’s Best Breakfast Spots!

breakfastIn the words of Parks and Recreation’s Leslie Knope, “Why would anybody ever eat anything besides breakfast food?”

Some of us feel the same way, myself included. If I’m going to treat myself to a nice meal, there’s a good chance it’s going to be breakfast. Luckily, living on Maui, I’m just a short drive away from some seriously fine dining, good ol’ hole-in-the-wall spots, and everything in between. So whether I want to get a cheap cup of coffee and a short stack, or if it’s a benedict-and-bloody-mary kind of day, I can make it happen pretty easily on Maui. Here are some of the best breakfast spots on the island:

5 Palms
5 Palms is located in Kihei, at the Maui Kai beach resort, and the restaurant itself is just a few short steps away from a lovely, busy beach spot. The view here is absolutely to die for, and if I ever feel like I need to appreciate my tropical island home a bit more, I head to 5 Palms and just take it all in. Apart from the view, though, the food is also absolutely outstanding. They do a truly elevated version of a classic Loco Moco, complete with crispy onion strings piled on top for that “wow” factor. They also boast one of the best bloody Marys around, and their crème brulee oatmeal is unique, hearty, and delicious. My favorite, though, is their seared ahi benedict, paired with a guava mimosa. It’s one of the best ways I can think of to begin your Maui morning!

Koa’s Seaside Grill / Gazebo
These places are run by the same owners, and boast the same breakfast menu. Both offer incredible ocean views, but you’ll find less of a wait at Koa’s, which is located right on Front Street in Lahaina. While they offer all kinds of traditional breakfast fare, you’ll want to focus on two things: their absolutely gigantic macadamia nut, banana, and pineapple pancakes, and their absolutely gigantic plate of fried rice. The pancakes are fluffy, delicious, and topped with decadent toasted macadamia nuts. The fried rice, however, is my favorite, and is chock full of veggies and scrambled eggs. While the full order is plenty for two or three people to share, they’ll also do a half-order, which is still huge. While the patio is a bit bright and sunny for my tastes, the whole restaurant offers incredible ocean views in a lovely, old-fashioned tropical setting. After a breakfast here, you’ll appreciate a nice leisurely walk on Front Street to burn it off a bit!

Kula Lodge
This place is almost required eating after a trip to see Sunrise at Haleakala, and you’ll be joined by plenty of fellow mountain-goers looking to thaw out and fill up. The traditional breakfast fare is served in a cozy, lodge setting, complete with a stone fireplace and sweeping views of almost the entire island. They also feature charming tropical protea gardens right outside, if you’re looking to stroll around a bit after breakfast. How’s the food, though? Kula Lodge offers truly excellent pancakes, along with coconut syrup, and some of the best, thickest, crispiest bacon I’ve ever had! If you’re joining us for a Haleakala Sunrise tour, breakfast at the Kula Lodge is included with your tour, and our exclusive menu features some of the very best selections from this upcountry institution.

I could probably make this entry about three times as long, because I’d love to mention Kula Bistro, Grandma’s Coffee House, 808 Bistro, Tasty Crust, Aria’s, Leoda’s, and more! Needless to say, I am a breakfast fanatic, but you can’t go wrong with the three above, no matter where you’re staying or what you’ll be doing. Rise and shine, and let us know where you like to get your Maui breakfast!