travel: old lahaina luau – maui

well friends… i came, i saw and i conquered.  hawaii was, as expected, an absolute delight.  maui was a whole new experience and honolulu was the same loveliness that i adore.  the differences between the two were more pronounced than expected, but both definitely have a place in my vacation plans.

i have a few blogs to post about maui in the next few days… i’m going to split up the trip into a few different events, because i have a ton of photos to share.  if you have me on faceboook or instagram, then you’ve seen some… but i’ve been purposefully holding back some pics for the blog, so it won’t be all repeats.

i’m starting with the luau.  we chose the Old Lahaina Luau for our outing, based on the feedback that it was the “most authentic” and totally not cheesy.  it absolutely delivered on all counts.  the setting was stunning, the food excellent and the service top notch.  the show was a delight, although i’ll admit to being distracted by taking photos, so i kinda missed some of the story.

this was the setting…

rough, huh?  😉
the thing about hawaii is that every little thing is exponentially more beautiful, simply because of where you are.  sunsets go from lovely to magical… the trees are things to marvel at… the colour and clarity of the water seems unreal.
it just oozes sheer beauty.
…but back to business.

so, my husband learned how to make poi…

and then we watched the delicious pig get unearthed from it’s underground oven.  okay, really, 3 pigs to feed us all – but i only took pictures of the first one, because the ridiculous aroma was killing me…

so here’s the “before” picture of the pit…

and then the fun begins!

ya, pretty magic. and let me tell you, that pig was ridiculously delicious.  so tender and smokey from cooking all day underground… i’m drooling just thinking about it.

here’s a snapshot of my plate…i really did not do this meal justice with this picture… but i was too intoxicated with free mai tai’s and the aroma of pig to care.  i just needed to dig in.

and then, the show!

i honestly can’t say enough good things about this event.  we paid around $90 each and all felt it was well worth it.  we all agreed that it was one of our favourite nights of the trip, just perfect from start to finish.  i heartily recommend this luau.


travel: always be prepared

well team, i’m off today for 15 glorious nights in hawaii.  so i’m just working on all that last minute stuff… you know, laundry, packing… blogging?  sure.

it occurred to me a couple weeks ago that i am in need of new luggage.  i’ve never actually owned a proper luggage set, just random suitcases that i’ve acquired as the need for them has come up.  i have no proper carry-on size suitcase… i’ve always just used backpacks… fine for the random things to carry when you’ve checked a bag, but not so great for those weekend trips where you really could just get away with that little bag.
also, my mid-size suitcase is starting to not zip so well… and my larger one is so giant that filling it means that my bag is always overweight.

so yes, it was time.
i’ve been on the hunt for a while… hard case or soft case?  this was the dilemma.  hard cases are lighter, but are they more durable?  i just wasn’t sure… but then i thought about it, and really, it’s not like i’m going to have this suitcase for the rest of my life.  i’ll use it for 5 years or so and then it’ll give up the ghost because i just travel so damn much.
really, my main priority was getting a bag with the 360 spinning wheels.  if you’ve never owned a bag with this, you’re doing yourself a disservice.  they’re so far superior, it’s actually not even fair.

so, after a lot of shopping around, price hunting and quality control, i am now the proud owner of an actual brand new, high quality set of matching luggage.

and i’m pretty stoked on it. they’re totally awesome.

i’m using the small one for my carry-on bag and the medium size one for my checked luggage.  but the big daddy is sitting this trip out.  he’s for my big trip to europe in september/october.

i went with heys, and yes, i did go for the hard shell.  they’re customizable with these cool dot stickers, but i’m not sure if i’m going to use them or not.  i might just throw on one or two so that i can be sure its mine.
but, i’m pretty happy.

now that i have the luggage, i’m on to the actual packing part.  the good news is that for 12 or my 15 nights, i’m in a condo with laundry, so i don’t need to pack everything i own for this trip.  also, it’s hawaii.  i really just need bathing suits & dresses.
buuuuut… packing is not really my strong suit.  i’m forever jamming my suitcases full of stuff i don’t wear at home, let alone on vacation.  and i usually come back with a lot of things that never saw the light of day.  so, i’m trying to do better with that.

the one thing i am really good at is the paperwork.  i mean, as a travel agent, i should be, but it’s definitely where my organization soars.  i have files and folders of things that i may or may not need.  this trip includes: plane tickets, hotel confirmations, spa confirmations & gift certificates, restaurant, luau & tour confs, more plane tickets, condo info & maps and various “facts & must-do’s” for maui.

but overall, i have very little planned.  it’s hawaii.  just being there is the plan.
tomorrow i have a massage, facial & body scrub at the spa at the hilton.  dec 23rd we have a luau booked… and dec 26th is my organic farm tour.  that’s it.
(unless you count dec 29th where i cry and hang on to a palm tree as my family tries to drag me home.  but that’s more of a tentative plan)

the other things to be penciled in are: molokini snorkeling trip, maybe the road to hana… ummm… maybe the sunrise over the haleakala crater?  because, i mean… come on! look at this!

ya, that’s pretty much the reason i’m packing my tripod.

alright, and speaking of packing, i best get on it.  the flight leaves at 2:30pm and i tried to check in online, but have already been flagged for “additional random checks” (hooray) so we’ll be getting there extra early.

i may or may not be blogging from destination… i have internet access, i just might not care to be on it that much, lol.  merry xmas & junk!

travel: maui foodie activities

i’ve been on the lookout for something fun for the husband & i to do in maui.  just the two of us. he’s really good with my family, but if after 12 days i’ll be going crazy, he’s going to actually murder someone.
so an “alone” activity needs to be planned.
i’d been looking at hikes and such, but i figure that can be more spur of the moment… we already have a luau booked as a family for dec 23rd… and we’re planning on getting in a boat & doing some whale watching & snorkeling… and i’d really like to watch the sunrise from the crater… but that’s “everybody inclusive”, right?

yesterday my friend sent me on facebook a link to some cool foodie related maui activities and i booked us into the O’o farm lunch & tour.

it’s a beautiful organic farm that exists mostly to supply their restaurants with organic produce.  and i’m pretty excited to eat a freshly prepared meal right smack in the middle of the farm.

i’ve enquired, and yes, they are happy to accommodate me with a wheat-free meal. in fact, theeir food often doesn’t contain much wheat, since it’s all focused on being as farm fresh as possible.  i’m pretty excited and i’m going to take 5000 pictures there, lol.

this whole experience is a good value, $50 per person plus tax & tip.  but i’m getting a slight discount on account of my travel-agent-ness.  still, the food served is akin to their higher end restaurant’s servings, so the price point is just fine.  as well, they encourage you to bring your own bottle of wine. perfection.

i did also consider the tour of the goat farm with cheese tasting, because i am a whore for goat cheese… but the tour & tasting weren’t really well received by reviewers on trip advisor.  so i figured i’d skip it. it’s in the area of this farm, so we may drop in anyways.

love letters to hawaii: a liquid post

in less than 3 weeks, i will be in hawaii.  a place, to me, of pure bliss.

i am set to spend my longest ever vacation there… 15 nights.  to be split 3 in honolulu and 12 in maui.  i’m so excited.  it’s been just over a year since i was in hawaii last, but before that it had been about 12 years.  and i’ve never been to maui.  it’s funny, because at work i sell a LOT of maui, and i’ve basically just been faking my way through it based on my knowledge from other islands.  but no more.  when i return from this trip, i will be WELL versed.

i get asked a lot about my favourite destinations and hawaii is always high up on the list.  to me, it’s perfection.  it’s easy to get to – direct flights to 3 islands from YVR, it’s safe and easy to visit on account of being in the usa, it’s cheap comparatively – sure there’s no all inclusive packages, but the booze is dirt cheap in america and almost every hotel room has a kitchenette and lastly, it’s just so fucking stunning.  the beach and the ocean are incredible, the people & culture rich and intriguing. there’s volcanoes, rainforest, beaches, hikes, waterfalls… everything you could ever want.

i love hawaii.  give me hawaii over mexico any day of the week.

if you’ve ever wanted to see my face when i’m truly happy… this is it:

beachfront in hawaii, local beer in hand, sunkissed and utterly relaxed.

i’m normally not much for the sugary drinks, but when in hawaii, well, it just seems wrong if you’re not enjoying the occasional mai tai.

pretty much every single place will make one, some places are (obviously) vastly better than others.  our hotel (outrigger reef on the beach) had a great place called the shorebird that we frequented.  the mai tais weren’t the best ever, but they were cheap (especially during happy hour) and definitely went down smooth.

now that one is a little heavy on the grenadine… but it was still tasty.  also the pic is a little coloured, but you get the idea.

i had a few other delicious beverages while i was there…

ooh look!  another mai tai!  shocking!  i actually believe this is my first one upon landing.  i’m not even sure we brought our bags to our room first, lol.

and of course, every trip starts with plane vodka
hey, don’t judge… it’s a LONG flight!  …and i get thirsty…

…and sometimes you have to have a local beer on your hotel patio while overlooking the ocean.  because life is rough, yo.

these next ones were my favourite drinks of the trip.  on the lanai at the royal hawaiian, overlooking waikiki beach.

mine is the blendy basil drink – the chi, and my mom’s is the royal mai tai, made properly.  i snapped a pic of the menu because every drink sounded like heaven.


…and of course there’s a beer at the airport at the kona brewing company brewpub.


alright hawaii, i’ll see your sexy self in 19 days.

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