Maui is known for beautiful beaches and amazing sunsets, but I don’t recommend getting stuck sun bathing and hanging poolside your whole trip. I’ve visited Maui quite a few times and each time I’ve discovered something different worth coming back for. Traveling is about immersing yourself in the environment and culture and what better way to do that than through the food. Just remember to stay active so you feel no guilt when scarfing down that pile of macadami nut pancakes. Explore this paradise by taking a hike through Bamboo Forest, Snorkel at Molokini Crater, swim beneath waterfalls at Twin Falls, wake up early to watch the sunrise at Haleakala national park and have a scenic bike ride down or try paddle boarding through crystal clear blue water. Maybe you’ll get lucky enough and have sea turtles for company.
Here are my food travel tips for Maui and trust me there is a lot more, but this girl is not
writing a novel right now.
1. Kihei Café – known for it’s casual breakfast and large portions. Line’s are always long, you order at the counter and hover over tables until one opens. The benefit of this self service though is that prices are lower. Aside from the traditional breakfast fair you can try their Loco Moco with pork fried rice or French toast with macadamia nuts and coconut syrup. I opted for a healthier choice with a vegetarian breakfast scramble. Portions are big enough for two or for one really hungry traveler.
2. Uluani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice: That’s not bad grammar on my part, it’s spelled shave not shaved ice. This is a local and tourist favorite with 4 locations on Maui. With so many variety of flavors it’s hard to just choose one. Luckily for us, you can do a combination! I did passion fruit, coconut and guava.
3. Ka’ana Kitchen- I don’t know how Ka’ana Kitchen manages to make casual dining so
elegant and warm, maybe it’s the friendly staff or the open concept design. Making you feel like you’re walking into a home and not restaurant. Since the kitchen is the main focal point for diners, you can see for yourself the great detail the chefs take in each plate. Food is sourced from local farmers, keeping with the growing “Farmed to Table” movement. A few of my favorites is the Abalone Risotto with onsen egg and the colorful Ahi Tataki. When calling for reservations request the Chefs Table, mention the special occasion your celebrating, cross your fingers and if all else fails tell them Myhealthydish sent you.
4. Ko Restaurant – I chose this restaurant because on yelp the photos looked like foodporn and overall everything was good. My only complaint is that the vegetarian fried brown rice did not have enough vegetables and way too much rice. Yet, I would come back just for this little gem. Yes, more shave ice! Look at it as a fancy Halo Halo. This indulgent treat comes with shave ice, coconut ice cream, mochi ice cream, sweet red beans, assorted fruits and a generous drench in condensed milk. I may have swam a few extra laps in the pool the next day, but it was so worth each decadent bite.
5. Monkeypod Restaurant- award winning chef Peter Merriman also a champion of
locally sourced foods of the island makes it easy for this health nut to do what she
does best. The menu was full of so many healthy delicious options it was hard to decide on just one. I had this delicious citrus kale salad before our hike and swim at Twin Falls. Apparently, it has a great happy hour that many locals partake of after work.
6. Julia’s Best Banana Bread – The road getting here was an adventure in itself. The
drive is very scenic, but scary at times because of the thin road and two-way traffic. There were a few narrow turns next to cliffs that made my stomach flop, but was it worth the ordeal? I say 100% yes! It’s not just about the destination, but the journey. We never laughed so hard while clinging to our seats. When you finally make it, you feel a sense of camaraderie with the others risk takers who were in pursuit of the best banana bread. Lucky us, we made it in time to buy the last two loaves of bread and the likoli (passion fruit) butter. Feeling a little guilty for buying the last two loaves, we hung back and shared with our comrades who pulled up after us. I can’t imagine how I would feel after that drive and no banana bread reward.
7. Foodland- I know I know, why a supermarket? Hey, if the locals swear by it then I’m all for it too. If you’re looking to save some money, but love poke come here for a quick bite to eat. We loaded up on Poke, rice and coconut water before our “Road to Hana” adventure. I’ve also took this to go and had a nice picnic on the beach, you can get a great view of the sunset free of charge. I would also like to point out it was hella good poke. That last sentence is for my Bay Area folks.
8. Nahiku Marketplace marker 28 on Road to Hana- If you’re desperate and starving, stop here during your Road to Hana excursion. If you were smart, you would have loaded at Foodland like I suggested. You could also stopped at the town Pa’ia for food, it’s the official start off point before you drive towards Hana. At this marker there are a few places to eat that sounds tempting, but weren’t pleasing to the taste buds. There’s “Island Chef” where we ordered coconuts shrimp, which was pretty much 90% battered shredded coconut and 10% shrimp. The spicy garlic shrimp plate was drenched in; I would guess a bottle of sweet and sour sauce. The kalua taco from “Up in Smoke BBQ” was tiny for $6, which I think was the equivalent of $2 a bite. Lets just say after hours of hiking and swimming during our excursions, our empty stomachs were vastly disappointed. Our only saving grace was stumbling upon Black Sand Beach a few miles ahead. One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever laid eyes on and a great backdrop for photos. I would definitely stomach through that meal again just to visit Black Sand Beach.
9. Fruit Stands- if you must stop to snack I recommend the local residential fruit stands. Most of them go by the honor system, with a small box we can make our payment to. We stopped at a few during our trips to Hana. I was lucky enough to pick my own star fruit and my family had some fresh papaya and sugarcane cut for them. It gave us a great boost of energy before our long hike through Pipiwai Trail ending in Waimoku Falls, home to a massive waterfall.
10. O’o Farms- Now this is what I call “Farm to Table.” How would you like to have a
farm tour, harvest fresh ingredients and have a skilled chef prepare your bounty on
site? It was an experience of a lifetime for this wannabe chef and foodie. They also
provide wine, but of course never enough. Bring another bottle and don’t forget to
share with your neighbors sitting with you.
11. Tiki Lounge- If you’re searching for affordable drinks and “somewhat” of a nightlife
Tiki Lounge has great Mai Thai’s and on some nights live music. Surprisingly, I really
enjoyed their “Hawaiian” Pizza with fresh juicy pieces of pineapple. I guess in Maui
it’s just called pizza…
12. Sansei Seafood and Restaurant & Sushi Bar- Fool me once shame on you, fool me
twice shame on me. I’ve been here twice, each time expecting amazing food only to
be disappointed and leaving really thirsty. Everything is either really sweet or salty.
Yet, this place is one of the big recommendations on many tourist websites. I forgot
the name of this calamari salad we ordered, probably because it was pretty
forgettable. Did I fail to mention the service was horrible as well? I’ve only been to the
one in Kihei, but I don’t think I need to visit the one in Lahaina to make sure I dislike
13. Humuhumunukukuapua’a Restaurant – Say that ten times fast. All I can say is
ambiance, and you’re paying a pretty penny for it. Seating is in grass huts over a
beautiful pond overlooking a spectacular view of the ocean. Come before
sunset for the view or don’t come at all. Prices are high, but come during happy hour and get half off Mai Thai’s and even the lobster! Trust me one Mai Thai is all you need, I
think the room starting spinning and I kissed my lobster and named it Sebastian.
14. During my many visits, I’ve stayed at Royal Lahaina Resort, Makena Beach & Golf
Resort, Honua Kai Resort & Spa, but my best experience was at the new Andaz in
Wailea. Now that’s a staff that has customer service down to a science. I did set aside a full day of fun in the sun to enjoyed our resort. I hit the jackpot when ordering a grilled cheese lobster roll by the pool. Not skimpy on the lobster at all! I’m still dreaming about that sandwich and regret not ordering it go for my flight home. Special thanks to our valet Sherman for mapping out a few or our excursions, he pointed us to many beautiful memories. His genuine smile and enthusiasm is contagious, I even
got a big bear hug from him when I left.