It’s true. Ever since we went in August, my heart truly belongs to Maui. Which I never thought would happen. Before visiting, I thought Maui would be just another pretty place. That we would have fun, but that we would be happy to leave and return to our home.

Not a place that had an impact on the core of my being. Months later my heart still aches for it. There is a peace…A feeling that washed over me. And yes we were on vacation in an amazing location which eases the stress of everyday living. But I’ve been on vacation to other breathtaking locations before. This – was entirely different. It affected me. And I quickly figured out after talking to former mainlanders who went on vacation and never returned home, why they stayed.

kahana maui on 35mm film

The people are unbelievably nice. From the people that grew up there to the ex-mainlanders. Everyone is warm and welcoming. They want you to know just how special this place is. And the locals know where the good stuff is, from where to eat, the best beaches for snorkeling, paddle boarding, surfing or just sun tanning. They can tell you about secret scenic locations and they can tell you what to avoid and what is dangerous. Because Maui although magical and peaceful has places that are deadly, like crazy rip tides and sharks. We were very fortunate to meet some wonderful people like models Brooke and Jasmine and I look forward to seeing again when we return.

I would strongly recommend staying in a vacation rental over a giant resort. In my opinion, the resorts are just too sterile. For me, I didn’t connect and feel the overwhelming peace in the resorts or the tourist trap areas. Instead we stayed in a vacation rental owned by a wonderful family, perched up on a hill with hardly anyone else around, overlooking the ocean with views of Lanai. It was a quiet escape. You can check out their listing on airbnb – here.

molokai holgaroid

The food in Maui is amazing. Probably, the best pineapple you will ever eat in your life is on Maui(or any Hawaiian island). I’m not sure what these so called things masquerading as pineapples are hanging out in our local grocery store – because they taste nothing like the ones back in Maui.

maui gold pineapple

But besides the amazing pineapple, you could throw a rock and find great food in Maui. Our favorites were :

Star Noodle – Located in Lahaina this place always has a line to get in. And it’s so worth the wait. We ate there one night for dinner and had the Pohole Salad, featuring Hana Fiddle Head Fern, Maui Onion, Ebi and Kombu. Which when Milan first ordered I wasn’t too jazzed about, but then when I tasted it…wow…so flavorful, I think I ate more than he did. We followed that with the Star Udon with ground pork recommended to us by our waiter. And then we finished with Malasadas, which are Portuguese donuts and are down right addicting. We were so in love with this place that we went back the next day for lunch to try more dishes. And they did not disappoint. If you are going to Maui you have to go here.

Honu Seafood & Pizza – This place you can find in downtown Lahaina. We had the wok fried dungeness crab and then ordered one of their amazing pizzas featuring the local Ali’i mushrooms and lavandar with truffle cheese. It was heavenly.

The Gazebo – This hidden gem is best known for breakfast and had by far the longest wait of all the places we ate at, but we did show up at peak breakfast time. You gotta order the macadamia nut, banana, pineapple pancakes and top it with their pineapple coconut syrup, which is surprisingly not overly sweet. If I could have ordered 12 of these I would have 🙂

Da Kitchen – We got off the plane in Kahalui and after picking up our rental car drove straight here. This place features authentic Hawaiin lunch plate style food. And GIANT portions. Seriously we made 3 meals out of our leftovers.

Slappy Cakes – Now this place is a chain found in Asia, Maui and Portland of all places. It’s a fun breakfast place that features – chicken fried bacon with maple sauce. It was incredible. Seriously. So wrong…yet so right.

The Shark Pit – Is a food cart featuring all local ingredients and a rotating menu of what’s in season. The owner is very passionate and it shows in his delicious food.

Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie’s – This charming place is great for lunch and definitely pie. Their key lime was some of the best!

macadamia nut pancakes from the gazebo Maui

chicken fried bacon from slappy cakes maui and malasadas from Star Noodle Maui

When not pigging out 🙂 we were adventuring. We took the road to Hana…well actually we took the Road Beyond Hana (and only went part way), which was quite frankly the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I was not prepared for the one lane gravel ‘highway’ that had hair pin turns, no guard rails, signs that said to honk before going around, because they were completely blind – AND – featured a violent drop to the churning sea below. So why did we go? Well, I wanted to see the waterfalls, Seven Sacred Pools and had heard a lot about this scenic drive. And quite honestly we HAD NO IDEA how dangerous the drive was. Despite the hair raising, adrenaline filled drive, which took us 3 hours to drive maybe…60 miles, it was SO worth it. The scenery along the drive was unreal. It was rugged and truly wild. And had many different types of scenery, from jungle, to foggy upcountry, to almost high desert, and canyons made by flowing lava long ago.

maui sugar cane field holga 120

road to hana by jeep

road to hana maui on holga

After driving all that way, on the insane so called ‘road’ we were on, we get to Seven Sacred Pools and there were tour busses and people everywhere. This could not have been more dissappointing. To go from feeling like the only two people on the island to packed in with all kinds of tourists…we were not happy, and thus did not stay long. So, to sum up, the drive there – amazing epic views with scenes like the photos above…Seven Sacred Pools although pretty…overcrowded 🙁

after driving to seven sacred pools via the road beyond hana

We went to Iao Valley and did a fashion shoot with model Brooke featuring her fashion designs. This place is all things lush and serene. With banyan trees, thick jungle, waterfalls, random rainstorms (it’s definitely a real rain forrest) and swift river running through it. But what it is best known for is the Iao Needle, which is pictured below. It is a sacred site holding a lot of Hawaiian history which you can read – here.

iao valley maui on impossible project polaroid film

Milan also did this beautiful video of our visit to the Iao Valley

And then there was Makena Beach…Located past the big resorts in Wailea and surrounded by wilderness where all kinds of tropical birds and mongoose play. Which when I first saw a mongoose in person, I thought I was seeing things. I seriously stopped and told Milan, I thought I saw a mongoose, but that can’t be right…But indeed it was a mongoose. It was fun to watch these little guys zip between the swamp and forrest area behind the beach. This beach was by far my favorite. It has a stunning view of Kaho’olawe a small island off the coast of Maui.

Kaho'olawe island as seen from Makena beach Maui

maui on 35mm film

impossible project sx70 polaroid of maui palm trees

To this day…I dream about Maui. I throw on some island music on Pandora and drink pineapple juice hoping somehow it will quench my need to return. But it never does. It just makes it worse.

Any other Maui lovers or Hawaii lovers out there? I’d LOVE to hear your experience and/or recommendations!!

*photos taken with mixture of Holga, 35mm, iphone & polaroid featuring Impossible Project film.

 

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