Despite inhabiting the West Coast (California, Oregon and now Washington) for 93 percent of my life, I had never been to Hawaii until last week. Frankly, it was never near the top of my travel priorities (although neither was Buenos Aires, until we got a wild hair about going there a few years ago). No I dreamed of Europe (alas, it remains a dream).
We almost went to Maui and Kauai a few years ago, but a scheduling snafu caused by my decision to go back to school threw a wrench into those plans. So, when the opportunity came a few months back to acquire a pair of highly affordable tickets to Maui, we pounced. No matter that August is not a prime travel month for Hawaii…we sort of like travelling against the grain.
To say that deciding on lodgings is enough to make your head spin is an understatement. We settled on a condo that some friends had stayed in before (that’s also how we chose our Buenos Aires apartment rental). We were dead set on a condo, because we don’t like being reliant on restaurants for all of our meals, especially for trips of more than a few days.
We had a late night arrival, so the next day we made the hour drive from the Napili/Lahaina area where we were staying to the center of the island, where we could find a Costco and Whole Foods. We stocked up on  Greek yogurt, whole grain bread, milk, eggs, cheese, lettuce, sandwich fixings, snacks and wine. We supplemented this from fresh fruit from random fruit stands (many of them small affairs with “honor system” cash boxes on a table just off the road), odds-and-ends from nearby grocery stores (condiments, mineral water) and super-fresh fish from The Fish Market, which was just a few miles from our condo. I also packed some healthy snack bars and two baggies of oatmeal-for-two (dry oats, cinnamon, chia seeds and raisins) that we cooked with milk and water.
Our only dining-out excursions were for fish tacos (we had a preference for the Baja Grilled Fish Tacos at Maui Tacos) and for beer, sliders and salad at Maui Brewing Company (I would walk over hot coals for their Coconut Porter and Drip Dry Coffee Stout). Our one dining out mistake (there’s always one) was to go to a breakfast place that everyone said we HAD to go to. Their macadamia nut pancakes came highly recommended, but they were little more than reasonably tasty piles of white flour. And when I found out that what I thought was whipped cream on top was actually a faux whipped topping, Jeff and I exchanged “what were we thinking?” looks. It was a tourist trap, pure and simple.
All and all, this worked well for us, but if we make a return visit, we’ll instead rely on local markets. We really liked The Farmers Market of Maui (no website, but they are at 3636 Lower Honoapiilani Road in Lahaina. They have an actual farmers market in their parking lot a few mornings a week, with fresh produce and value-added goods (like the papaya and the carrot-bran muffins pictured above), and the store itself had reasonable prices with a really good selection of “health foods.” Like, sprouted grain bread, bagged-from-bulk nuts and granolas, etc. It’s right across the street with Honokowai Beach Park, too. But when you don’t know an area, but you do know where there’s a Costco and Whole Foods, that’s a pretty no-brainer place to start!
We were much happier enjoying our breakfasts and dinners on our lanai while we watched the sun rise (or set) as the sea turtles popped their heads up in the cove to catch some air than we ever would have been in a restaurant. It was more pleasant, more affordable…and healthier. One word on the fabled higher food prices: While they were higher, they were not nearly as bad as we expected. Especially at Costco. I think this may be a testament to the fact that food prices have gone up on the mainland.
Tomorrow: Vacation fitness fun!