Our first day in Maui was centered around exploring the island and taking in its beauty. I got off of the plane and first noticed the mountainous range next to the airport, then a beach at its base. Kanaha Beach is just a hop, a skip, and a jump away – only a leisurely three-minute drive from the airport. We visited the farmers market on the roadside (to Lahaina). They sold fruit smoothies, fresh fruit and vegetables, coconut candy (more on that later) and homemade banana bread. The market stands held dragon fruit, mango, pineapple, starfruit, papaya, coconut, avocados, and taro.
Taro is a staple of the Native Hawaiian diet, and it is so highly regarded in Hawai’i that it is considered sacred. Often called “kalo,” taro is served as a rich starch in the Hawaiian diet. As a mineralized, hypoallergenic, satiating vibrant tuber, it’s so versatile that it can be made into nearly anything including burgers, chips, pies, and a creamy stable dish called “poi.” The Hawaiian custom of growing and cultivating the kalo plant is a tradition that dates back more than a thousand years. It is believed that the Hawaiians honored and managed the production of kalo and in turn, were fed and supported by it for multiple generations.
I started my morning at Slappy Cakes with a typical Hawaiian breakfast, complete with Portuguese sausage, seaweed salad, eggs, and a scoop of sticky rice. My husband ordered the less traditional breakfast – candied bacon, imo (purple sweet potato) pancakes with macadamia nuts, pineapple, and coconut syrup. I nabbed a few bites and I highly recommend!
We traveled southwest along the coast and stopped by the sugarcane fields at the sight of a double rainbow (the first of many). The west coast, near Lahaina, had multiple viewpoints and I just couldn’t help but stop at every one of them. The water was so blue! Also, Maui’s terrain was notably intriguing – the mountain range west of the Kahului airport is dry and almost desert-like; it is lined with wind turbines, which contribute to this green, eco-friendly island. In contrast to its mainland terrain, the coastline has tropical beaches, volcanic rock, and coral reefs. East of the airport lies the Hana Highway, which winds around a lush, rich jungle…and volcano (but we’ll get to that later).
That evening we walked down Front Street, one of the main boardwalk spots in Lahaina. Lahaina is well-known for its art, culture, and restaurant scene. Known as the largest CDP (census-designated place) in West Maui and home of several famed restaurants, including Lahaina Grill, Morimoto, Merriman’s Kapalua, and Star Noodle, it’s a very polished and perfectly charming town. As it was the night of our first Polynesian Luau, we skipped the five-star scene and sat in the front row of the Feast at Lele.
The Feast at Lele is not a traditional Hawaiian luau. It is a culinary Polynesian tour with five epicurean courses from the Pacific island nations of Hawai’i, Aotearoa – New Zealand, Tahiti, and Samoa. It is located on the same beach where the royal family of Maui dined and entertained. Paired with these five courses was a dance from each of the Pacific islands. The performers seemed to enjoy performing with each other, which made the show all the more magnetic. Happy reading!
For more information: Feast at Lele
NOTE: All blog posts, articles, and photographs are the intellectual and creative property of Melissa J. Koziol. Thank you for reading!