What island do you call home?
What’s your “Hawaii life” like?
I moved to Maui over 12 years ago mostly to get away from mainland overpopulation and traffic. We came for 6 months, fell in love with the people, land, and lifestyle and decided to make it home. Most people think living in paradise is easy. This misconception is why most people from the mainland get spit out by the 2 year mark. There are several factors for this:
- It’s expensive. Yes, Maui prices for home rentals and real estate are becoming comparable to big mainland cities, but the day to day is more costly. Food, gas, etc… And though jobs are available, finding ones that pay enough to be comfortable are few and far between.
- Island Time. The slower pace can be hard for those looking for excitement. It can also be frustrating for those new to the islands and want to have things done quickly. Those that adapt find the pace a highlight.
- It’s a challenge being accepted into the community right away. Making friends with long-time locals can be hard at first and for good reason. We learned both sides of this firsthand when first moving here. We made great friends with a couple that arrived around the same time we did. They moved away 2 years later and subsequently our friendship suffered due to distance. SO, now we’re more hesitant to put effort into developing strong relationships with those new to Maui. It’s an unconscious defensive mechanism I didn’t realize I had until maybe 5 years ago. It’s pretty common and understandable. Transient friends are great, but adding them to my small sphere of important daily people isn’t something I do.
That being said, it’s an incredible place to live once you adapt and overcome the financial hurdles. It’s funny, I just read that Hawaii is one of the few US States that is declining in population each year. In light of the points above, it’s understandable, but with the increase in visitors, it doesn’t feel like it. Real estate prices and traffic get worse daily!
What’s your favorite thing to do on your island?
Beach time and exploring with the kids. There’s so much to do here! Even when we get stormy days (we live on the north side, so rain’s a pretty regular occurrence), there’s plenty to do with the kids. Keiki Playhouse, Ultimate Air Trampoline Park, The Maui Ocean Center, and more. Or, we can just drive to the south or west side which are usually dry and sunny.
What are your favorite local “gems” on the island? (This can be beaches, hikes, things to do, restaurants, etc.)
Kai Kanani out of Makena. We discovered this sailing catamaran pretty early on. They’re one of the only south Maui vessels allowed to do beach-entries, which is fun. They depart from Maluaka Beach (our favorite beach) in front of what was the Maui Prince (or Makena Beach Golf Resort). Though they run most of the normal boating trips (snorkeling, dinner cruise, and whale watching in season), we especially like them because they keep passengers to a minimum, so there’s lots of room to roam. It also helps them deliver pretty remarkable service. Besides dozens of trips in between, we had our entire wedding party go out on this boat over 10 years ago and we just took their Valentine’s cruise this last month!
What are some places you always take friends and family when they visit?
The beach. We also try to get them Upcountry to some of the farms and restaurants. It’s an area that visitors widely ignore. For those of us that live here, the views and countryside are worth the drive.
Where would you go for a staycation on the island?
Travaasa in Hana or Four Seasons in Wailea. We most often do the west side at the Sheraton Maui because of Starwood point accumulation. The resort is in the perfect location on Ka’anapali Beach and you can’t beat FREE!
What does your perfect day on the island look like?
Waking up pre-dawn to rare glassy, empty surf. Surfing for 3-4 hours with my little crew. Grabbing breakfast somewhere good and talking about our best and worst waves (and any funny characters in the water.) Then going home to be greeted by my kids playing in our yard. Playing with them then eating an ultra-healthy, delicious lunch straight from our garden. Going out and watching an early movie with everyone, then coming home and doing something really good on the BBQ along with some cold beer and sunset. Reading a bunch of books to the kids in bed. Once they’re down, drawing with my wife while catching up on Game of Thrones. Maybe stepping out to see the stars and feeling a “Maui-chill” (not perceivable by mainland folk). Then talking about the day and the future with my wife before digging into a fun book. And finally, sleeping for 8+ hours (which hasn’t happened in over 6 years.)
Pretty simple these days, but that would be my perfect day. I get at least a portion of that day pretty regularly. There’s very little about my life that sucks. My wife is a goddess, my kids are astounding, I love my work, and I feel blessed being on this island. The little amount of stress I deal with is petty in comparison to most. BUT, I’ve worked for it, damn it! Haha! I’m a believer that you have to build the life you want. It’s taken 13 years to finally make our lives on Maui the way we want, and I’m so grateful.
What’s one “touristy” thing on your island that’s totally worth doing?
Going to a Maui Luau is pretty standard for most visitors, which deems it “touristy.” I guess being a teenager with your folks good make it seem lame. But we love it. Even before having kids, we loved doing luaus. Open bar, great food, fun show, relaxing music, sunset over the water, finished with some fire dancing… Why wouldn’t you like that? Now when we go with the kids, they lose their minds! They have a blast. I guess this is also something we do with visiting friends and family. It’s nice to expose them to the music, dance and food of Hawaii and Polynesia.
Another thing that we love doing when we get the chance are helicopter tours of Maui. I have a little issue with heights, and I forced myself to do it early on when living here. Immediately afterwards, I was looking into flight schools. It was AMAZING! You can’t fully appreciate the island of Maui without seeing it from the air and within the nooks and crannies only afforded by an agile helicopter. Our favorite trip is to West Maui and Molokai tour because you get to see a bunch of Maui and the waterfall-draped, towering sea cliffs of Molokai.
Lightning Round Favorites
Favorite beach: Maluaka Beach
Favorite hike: Twin Falls. I know it’s cliche, but being a family man, it’s easy for the kids, only 15 minutes from our home, and the people there keep you out of there’s potential flash flooding. It can get crowded, but the safety, parking and banana bread make it worthwhile.
Favorite snorkel spot: Ahihi Bay
Favorite restaurant to celebrate something special: Maui Chefs Table at the Maui Tropical Plantation. It’s a 9-course experimental weekly event that blows our minds every time. We’ve been going to their Chef’s Table since before it was even at the Mill House (about 10 years now?) The chefs are truly gifted and having an opportunity to watch them work while asking them questions is priceless.
Your most frequented eatery: Flatbread Pizza in Paia
Favorite shaved ice: Surf Break Shave Ice in Kihei
Favorite breakfast spot: It was Market Fresh Bistro until they closed their doors. Makawao is in dire need of more dining options. Habibi and SipMe have brought some great new options for food and drink, but we need more! Right now, we usually do the savory crepes at Cafe Des Amis in Paia.
Favorite lunch spot: It was Taqueria Cruz. Our friend Jorge ran the place with his family (3rd generation Mexican food). Tragically, he just died in an accident at the Grand Wailea. We’re all absolutely heartbroken. He was the real deal. Family man, great guy. Our hearts go out to his wife and 2 young boys. Hopefully they can keep the restaurant going, but whatever they do, we’ll support them.
Favorite dinner spot: Mill House Restaurant – They have a new menu everyday which is completely dependent on fresh, locally-available produce and protein (usually from their own land next to the restaurant). I’ve yet to have a meal that was less than spectacular. With award-winning Chef Jeff Scheer running some of the most talented chefs in the State, The Mill House now rivals Mama’s Fish House as the best of the best (and beyond the food, they’re also rivaling scenery and ambiance.) Love this place!
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