This little photo diary is featuring some of my favorite scenes of West Maui; notably, Ka'anapali and Lahaina. Maui is jaw-droppingly beautiful, and the perfect subject for photos at any time. Everything about it is paradise - naturally, intoxicatingly, hypnotically beautiful. We discovered indulgence in sampling numerous mai tais, leisurely pool days, and perhaps the best part - stopping to hear the birds, admire the flowers, or to gaze into the flowing water around us. We also indulged in our adventures, delicious meals (see our favorite spots below) and beach walks. I kept writing in my actual journal: "travel is always worth it!" And it is true - every single aspect of this trip was nourishing and rejuvenating. Every single day induced happiness, wonder, gratitude, and appreciation for nature.
I'll break down our favorite Ka'anapali Beach spots:
Japengo | This was S's #1 favorite dinner! If you want a first-class type of a meal, this is it. Fresh fish, delicious appetizers, and innovative menu (you can split dishes, so it won't bust your gut or wallet). Perhaps the most magical part is the view. Elevated above the beachwalk, the ambience and heightened "feel" can trick you into thinking you're at your own private restaurant.
Hula Grill | This might tie for #1...we stumbled upon Hula Grill as hungry, travel-tired and not-so-picky honeymooners as soon as we arrived. This was the first restaurant we ate at, and it was the last- it was so good we went back twice. The fish tacos rival Leilani's, which are renowned as the "best on the island" - I might have to hand it to Hula Grill. Also, I have a soft spot because they gave us the cutest little dessert for congratulations on our honeymoon. And my first mai tai was imbibed here. Oh, the memories! P.S. No need to wear shoes here. Part of the restaurant is situated in the sand.
Leilani's | This is a chill happy hour spot. And yes, the fish tacos ARE good. I am not sure of the rest of the menu, but their other appetizers were underwhelming and expensive ($7 for one slider). Other than that, the beachy feel, live music, drink selection and view is great!
Monkeypod | This was another restaurant we tried twice. The first time was magical - foamy pineapple mai tais, potsticker appetizers, and a fantastic mushroom gnocchi - it was a refreshing break from all of the Hawaiian/fish tacos we ate.
Duke's | We didn't realize that Duke's was a part of the Westin - oops - but we loved the early morning vibes. Not a lot of people apparently are up at 7:30am, but somehow S and I were waiting at the outdoor hostess stand before anyone even got there. We had heard good things about their macadamia nut pancakes. They were overwhelmingly good - I am not a big pancake person but they were deeelish! I'll always remember that we saw a whale right from our table at breakfast. The one thing I love about Ka'anapali is pretty much every restaurant is beachfront.
Relish Bistro at The Westin Maui Resorts & Spa | S and I voted this restaurant as the winner for the best mai tais! We loved this particular one, which had extra rum in the ingredients - Cruzan Coconut Rum, to be exact (order the no ka 'oi mai tai - you will not be disappointed!). Relish was our pool-side go to. We tried everything from the nachos, to the calamari, to the spring rolls, to the chicken tenders. Everything was awesome and I loved that our hotel had this amazing restaurant in such an accessible spot.
CJ's Deli and Diner | This is the place where I said, "WHY did we find this on our last day!? Oh, how I wish we found it sooner!" A casual, deli-style breakfast/lunch spot, CJ's is perfect if you're on a budget (or just sick of paying $25 for an entree). If my memory serves me right, I got the "American Breakfast," which was more than enough food for a great deal compared to the resort restaurants. I loved the hometown, local feel. If you're staying near the Westin it truly is only a short walk away.
Old Lahaina Luau | So, we couldn't not do a luau in Maui. We had never been to one, and I need to totally commend S on this one - he did all the research and picked out THE BEST LUAU EVER. Old Lahaina is seriously the most insanely fun luau ever. I left feeling so fulfilled and bouyant (maybe it was the lava flows), because we met a really nice family at our big table and I ended up hitting it off so well with our sweet waitress named Kona. She was so cool. The Luau had amazing food - but even beyond that, I got a little education in the history of Maui and Lahaina, the local delicacies, the culture, and a serious appreciation for the prep that goes into this production. If you're going to go to a luau in Maui, don't bother going anywhere else...it is THAT good. Plus, you get a lei and tuberose for your hair, ladies :)