A few weeks ago I headed to Maui with my best friend since 5th grade, Jenna Kagawa. I hadn't been to Maui since 1997, so I was pretty excited. All I really remembered was that Big Banyan Tree near the Lahaina Harbor. I had a bit of a rough start to my trip (I missed the flight we were booked on together) and had to book a whole new ticket. Luckily, this gave me the opportunity to fly on Mokulele Airlines. It was a beautiful flight across the ocean and the perfect way to arrive at Kahului Airport. Even luckier perhaps, is that I now have a one-way ticket to Maui so it looks like I'll be back really soon!
An epic sunset we enjoyed together in Kihei, Maui
Instantly after stepping off the plane, I felt that Maui Wind. We all know Maui is the island known for its epic wind conditions. The ideal place for windsurfing, kitesurfing and sailing. It was a beautiful thing to be greeted by that powerful wind and I literally felt myself smiling because of it. My best friend was there to greet me with our rental car (and a coffee) and our adventure led us straight to our first Maui Recommendation, Baldwin Beach.
1. Watch a sunset at Baldwin Beach
The beautiful white sand at Baldwin Beach, Maui
My cousin, Aut Fleming, had suggested we go to Baldwin Beach, as it was close to the airport and a good place to catch up. I met Aut in Australia when he moved over there to pursue a college degree in Horticulture and he is a wealth of knowledge with all things plants. Jenna and I were both stoked when he showed up with a six pack. It paired perfectly with the epic sunset we enjoyed together.
Best friends since 5th Grade, Tina Henline + Jenna Kagawa
Aut Fleming and Tina Henline enjoy the views at Baldwin Beach, Maui
Baldwin Beach reminded me of a mini version of O'ahu's North Shore. A beautiful, long, white-sand beach with a covered pavilion, BBQ's, and lifeguards. It is the perfect beach to bring your family, go for a jog on the sand, or enjoy fun, little shore break waves. I'm sure being north-facing, this beach must have some bigger-sized waves during winter, but being the middle of summer, it was safe and mellow (with just a slight Maui wind blowing).
Cotton candy clouds at sunset, Baldwin Beach, Maui
The sunset that night reflected off of cotton candy looking clouds. These epic conditions, make visiting Baldwin Beach one of our seven recommendations for an enjoyable weekend on Maui.
2. Visit Lahaina Harbor
The beautiful, quaint Lahaina Harbor, image via marinas.com
Enjoying Lahaina Harbor, Maui
Sundot Marine Flags flying in Lahaina Harbor
Of course we had to stop in and visit our Ohana at the Lahaina Harbor. Our only regret is not staying long enough to go on a fishing charter or ocean adventure with one of the many amazing tour operators there. We saw so many of our flags flying as we approached the harbor, it was pretty exciting. Everyone we spoke to was gracious and friendly, and helped us have the best harbor experience imaginable.
We had the most epic conversation with Deli from Start Me Up Sportfishing. This guy is classic and knows his stuff and has been welcoming charter fishermen at Lahaina Harbor for years. Deli was such a nice guy, he gave us some fresh poke and a bag of dried Ahi - both so fresh and delicious - which tied us over til lunch time.
Tina Henline and Deli at the Start Me Up Sportfishing Slip
Nothing beats fresh poke, Lahaina Harbor style
Deli's son Jonny is the captain on the Action and runs a charter boat a few slips down. Unfortunately he was out fishing when we stopped by so we didn't get to say hi this time. Jonny and the boys on the Action, including Tony Knunez, have been flying our Sundot Marine Flags on the boat regularly, and we are so thankful.
We also had the pleasure of meeting Heidi from The Reef Dancer. Her father started the original semi submarine company over 20 years ago, and we love that they are a small, family-run business just like us!
The Reef Dancer, photo via Dale Lancaster
The Reef Dancer offers a much better alternative to the old style glass-bottom boats where you just look down through a window in the bottom. Their cabin is comfortable and offers large viewing windows. They also give you the opportunity to interact with their narrator and divers. We think its pretty cool that Captain Paul will dive in to find octopus or pencil urchins and safely bring them up to the cabin so you can get a closer look!
While we were busy talking to Heidi and learning more about her beautiful adventures and crew, we noticed a boat making its way into the harbor - and it was flying flags!
It was "Killah" on the Attack 2 with the morning's Finest Kind Sportfishing Charter. A couple from Texas had caught a good size Ono and Mahi-Mahi. We surprised them with one of our Mahi-Mahi Flags and they seemed pretty happy to take the flag home as a memory of their catch that morning.
Fresh Ono and Mahi caught on the Finest Kind Sportfishing Charter
The Texas couple stoked on their new Sundot Marine Flag
Adam and Tina talk flags
We got to talking story with Adam Klevin at Finest Kind Sportfishing, and realized we had "virtually met" on Instagram when he enquired about one of our Marlin Patch Hats and shared his action photography with us.
It was amazing to make all of these connections in the harbor and to feel so much Aloha from all of these people who are somehow connected to our Fish Flags. Our Sundot Ohana is so rad, and we feel so blessed to share in their adventures. We definitely did not spend enough time here, and cannot wait to be back to fish, submarine and surf Lahaina Harbor.
Talking story in the harbor made us pretty hungry and leads us to our next recommendation for an epic Maui Trip.
3. Eat at Tin Roof
Tin Roof Shopfront, image via Maui Oceanview Condos
This little restaurant is a must-stop for the best local lunch on the island. Knowing that the Chef / Owner of the restaurant is from the same town we grew up in (Hilo) and listening to all the talk about how good the food was, we just HAD to stop here.
Sheldon Simeon has created a buzzing take-away spot in downtown Wailuku, working closely with local farmers, fishermen, ranchers, artisans, + purveyors to provide honest, ono food to the community. It was clear the moment we walked in that this place was popular. The line up was almost out the door.
The affordable "tins" are like your everyday plate lunch, just add an extra burst of flavor and some epic side order options and you won't be disappointed. We wanted to order everything on the menu, but settled on sharing the Mochiko Chicken, Spicy Chicken Sandwich, Kale Salad and the Beet Box (I'm a sucker for beets). The option to substitute brown rice, kale or garlic noodles for regular white rice makes your options a little healthier.
We picked up a couple cans of Maui Brewing Co. Root Beer and it was the perfect meal.
The most delicious Root Beer in the world!
Our only regret was not getting dessert.
Check out their website here for more info.
4. Spend a day surfing at one of the Thousand Peak's epic beach breaks
I didn't realize how epic Maui was for surfing until I drove the coastline. It offers waves for all types of surfers from big wave pros, to cruisy long boarders (my style). I think I could surf one of Maui's Thousand Peaks every day for the rest of my life and be happy. These little peeling waves are like a mix between uncrowded Waikiki and the south end of Australia's Gold Coast. You can literally find your own peak and just cruise.
Perfect for the Wavestorm, Launiupoko Beach Park
We were lucky enough to spend the day at Launiupoko Beach Park. It's an epic spot for families with everything from a shady grass area, protected kiddie tide pool and fine black sand. The waves were mellow and perfect for beginners and Wavestorms. The locals were friendly and we were stoked to share an unexpected surf while birthday parties and bouncing castles raged all around us. There was enough space on the beach for everyone to enjoy some quality family and friend time.
Good times with good friends, Sundot Ohana, Launiupoko Beach Park
5. Have breakfast in Haiku at Jaw's Country Store and Cafe
Being in our 30's, good food and great coffee seems to have a priority in our lives. We found both of these at Jaw's Country Store. Lucky for us, we were staying in Haiku and this epic spot was within walking distance of our place.
Checking out the menu, Jaw's Country Cafe
If you're driving, you can find it on the road to Hana at mile marker 14.5 on the Hana Highway just past Paia. They are near the world famous big wave surf break, Jaws, (also known as Peahi) and offer freshly made food, cold drinks, coffees and espressos - everything you need to kick start a great day on Maui.
The Jaw's Breakfast Toast + Acai Bowl
We loved every bite of the Jaws Breakfast Toast and the Acai Bowl. The Espresso was perfect. We could easily make this our local morning spot, and can't wait to come back in Winter when the waves are pumping, and share a latte next to world class big wave surfers.
6. Stop and Shop in Paia
The little town of Paia is the perfect place to spend some time to shop for yourself or loved ones. There are so many cute boutiques, we wish we had more time (and money) to spend.
We loved Biasa Rose Boutique. Michelle (the owner + operator) has curated her shop to include a lot of unique locally made products that we loved!
Beautiful locally designed + made products, Biasa Rose Boutique, Paia
There are also a bunch of delicious restaurants you can leave your partner or hubby at to enjoy a beer while you shop. Somebody recommended we have a crepe at Cafe Amis and we were not disappointed! Cute outdoor deco, hot coffee and friendly service.
Enjoying brunch at Cafe Amis, Paia
Delicious ham + cheese crepe, Cafe Amis, Paia
7. Do that famous Hana Road Cruise - at least halfway
The famous Road to Hana, image via Tourist Attractions
Our trip was too short for us to do the entire Hana Road Cruise. You need at least a full day to enjoy the scenic stops and short hikes to waterfalls along the way. On the outskirts, before the scenic drive began, we stopped to check out our flags flying at Mama's Fish House. Arguably one of the best seafood restaurants on Maui.
Sundot Marine Flags flying at Mama's Fish House
We didn't plan to do any of the windy Hana Road and actually got a little lost and ended up on the road by accident! Lucky we did get lost, as we did share a pretty good laugh at ourselves for how far we did end up down the road before we realised we were lost! (we drove a little over halfway to Hana!)
When we stopped to turn around we found the remnants of part of the Flume Ditch. A mini waterfall and the amazing trees, birds and feelings of the forest were enough to make us want to come back and explore more.
Exploring the Flume Ditch with Feather Love Hawaii, Hana Highway,
We were so thankful to enjoy Maui for a few days, and want to thank our Sundot Ohana, Nina + Jon Hans who graciously offered us a place to stay in Haiku and joined us on some of our epic adventures!
We can't wait to visit Maui again soon.