Our first full day on Maui was dedicated to relaxing, which is sometimes a challenge for us on vacation. We put off volcano-climbing til the next day, and headed out to see what else was going on around Maui.
We drove south to the resort areas of Kihei and Wailea. Wailea appeared not to have a real town at all; we drove around on the winding drives through resort complexes for miles before finally finding a gas station (in Kihei, conveniently attached to an ABC Store).
We drove back to the superfancy mall in Wailea right as it opened, because Stephanie wanted to go to Tiffany, and also (this may come as a surprise), we’re fans of shopping. I was vastly amused at Tiffany, because we got some attitude presumably because of how we were dressed. If there’s anything snobby salespeople should have learned from the tech boom, it’s that sometimes even slobs have a lot of cash to spend. It’s funny.
The mall had pretty good shops, at least of the chain variety. There were the usual surf shops, souvenir stores, 8 or 9 ABC Stores, and a store selling tons of Paul Frank merchandise. I found the new version of my black skull flipflops, and purchased them with great excitement.
We had read in the travel guide about a highly-rated restaurant called Seawatch, but had trouble finding it in the maze of resort-streets (they’re not like real streets, they’re meant to confuse you into giving up and staying there forever). After two phone calls, we located it in the clubhouse at the Wailea Golf Club. Now that was some funny shit.
We sat out on the veranda, totally out of place and amused. The server had never heard the word ‘vegetarian’, so I got a not-very-good salad, but the view of the ocean was worth it. I had never in my life spent time at a golf course like that, let alone an exclusive one on Maui. It was too entertaining.
We drove back up the coast, stopping in Lahaina for coffee and to visit Hilo Hattie, because it’s the most famous tacky tourist shop in the universe (well, barring maybe Wall Drug and South of the Border), and I felt, after seeing no fewer than a million ads for it, that we should visit. I later discovered that Hilo Hattie is also located in places like Orlando and Las Vegas (as are ABC Stores), still selling Hawaiian souvenirs. I kind of love that.
We drove further up the coast, past Kaanapali Beach and the man still standing on the side of the highway dressed as a cow, complete with a giant rubber udder. We were in search of the top-rated beach on Maui, along the north shore. Kapalua is another resort community, but they’ve provided public access from one area, if you’re lucky enough to find it. Well, we’re determined, so we did.
We cut through the resort, speedily evading the Jesus-freak who told me I was beautiful and should not be afraid to touch him. We snuck into the bathrooms at the resort and changed into our beach gear, then headed through the pool area and down to the beach. The resort lawn had a giant pool complex with waterfalls, pool and other game tables on the lawn, two bars, a massage booth, and beach chairs, umbrellas, and cabanas everywhere. It was pretty amazing. The beach was a smallish c-shaped inlet, with perfect-colored water and warm sand. We laid out for an hour or so, and I spent a lot of that time staring up through the palm trees at the sky.
the world’s largest banyan tree
We headed back down the coast and stopped in Lahaina again to get drinks and to witness the most gigantic banyan tree ever. It was so large that I hadn’t realized it was just one tree when I drove past it before; I just thought the courthouse had a grove planted in front of it. It’s one tree that takes up an entire city block. There was no way to fit it all in one photo.
On the way back across the island to the Kahului side, we stopped at a roadside fruit stand so I could buy papayas and a pineapple. The man there barely spoke English, and would yell, NO CHEMEEKAL! in response to whatever question I asked. By the time I returned to the car, I had adopted his bizarre accent, and couldn’t stop talking that way. I still catch myself doing it constantly. Do not do this. It ees kapu. It gave me a really bad headache, and still amuses the hell out of me.
We drove back down to Paia to check out the shops I had put on the mental must-visit list the day before. A lot of them had already closed (since stores and restaurants in Hawaii open and close whenever they feel like it), but I found one awesome one with a maneki neko sarong in the window. It was pretty expensive and I have little use for a sarong in Minnesota, so I decided to pass. I got a glass neko ornament for my xmas tree instead. This didn’t stop me from obsessing about the sarong, however, because it was beautiful.
west maui mountains
Back in Kahului, we pored through the travel guide in search of restaurants that looked promising for vegetarian folks. Usually I have trouble at Italian restaurants, but the menu at Marco’s Deli seemed awesome. We arrived and found this very popular place that looked straight out of 30’s Chicago. It was awesome, and the food and service were great. I ate too much of an Italian vegetable sandwich, and returned to the hotel wanting to die of fullness.