WHY I CHOSE TO VISIT A MAUI BED AND BREAKFAST
Being a web developer for a destination marketing company, my days are spent constructing websites filled with gorgeous pictures of beautiful locations all over the country that I really wish I was visiting instead of sitting in front of my computer screen. This September, I finally got that opportunity, and it was an absolutely amazing experience.
I decided to visit the Old Wailuku Inn for two reasons. One, out of the multitude of websites I’ve built over the last couple years, theirs has consistently been one of my favorites due to its clean design and amazing photography; and two, it’s Hawaii. Who doesn’t dream of going to Hawaii and sitting on a sandy beach with a little paper umbrella-topped drink?
MAUI: A TROPICAL PARADISE
After a long flight, we landed in Maui late in the evening. As mentioned previously, the inn has some amazing photography on their website and seeing it in person, even long after the sun had set, did not disappoint. There are gardens and patches of gorgeous flowers and other flora dotted all over the property, and you quickly become aware of the fact that you’re in a tropical paradise before your hand ever touches the front doorknob. The interior of the inn was just as beautiful and welcoming, proudly showing off both the Hawaiian aesthetic and history.
After exploring the island over the course of the week, you learn the beauty of the inn fits in perfectly with the rest of the island. Whether driving the highways sandwiched between endless blue oceans and picturesque green covered mountains, walking through intricate gardens and parks, exploring lush hiking trails and waterfalls, or sitting on a red sand beach with gently crashing waves, I’m convinced there is no such thing as a bad view in Maui. Even the grocery store parking lots have vistas that will take your breath away.
WHERE TO BEGIN?
While I probably could have spent the majority of my trip just enjoying these sights, there were already more things on the to-do list then could possibly be fit into a single trip. Maui is packed with things to see and experience. The Maui Ocean Center is an expansive aquarium that does a fantastic job of highlighting local species including live coral which is very unique. The water in their tanks is constantly cycled in and out to the ocean they sit on the edge of, which allows the coral in their exhibits to grow and thrive just as it would in its natural environment. The animals in their exhibits are also temporary and are released back into the surrounding waters and replaced with new ones collected from the same areas on a regular basis. There are also a number of beautiful parks, gardens, and plantations on the island, each of which provides hours of exploration potential.
The most memorable event of the trip would have to be the Road to Hana. The road is 52 miles of two-lane highway running along the northeastern edge of Maui, often perched between a sheer drop to the ocean on one side and solid mountainside on the other. While the 620 curves (many of which are blind hairpin turns) and 59 one-lane bridges are somewhat harrowing for an anxious driver such as me, the trip offers a smorgasbord of once in a lifetime opportunities ranging from rainforest hikes leading to hidden waterfalls and grottos, to beautiful black sand beaches that look like they were pulled directly from a postcard.
For me, the most amazing of these was the aptly named “Garden of Eden,” a 26-acre botanical garden that was originally an overgrown mess of invasive species that was transformed from 1991 to 1996 into an awe-inspiring arboretum. As you walk through the gardens, it’s easy to forget that they are man-made and the beautiful flowers and lookout points jutting out over the crystal blue Pacific are breathtaking.
MAUI RESTAURANTS REFLECT LOCAL CULTURES AND TRADITIONS
All the exploration and adventure around Maui works up an appetite and there is no shortage of delicious restaurants around the island. Cheap local places such as Ichiban Okazuya or the various roadside stands on the Hana Highway serve no-frills, homecooked style meals that reflect the local cultures and traditions. While the trappings and food may be simple the flavors are anything but and these places are a great way to both immerse yourself in local culture and get a full belly while also maintaining a full wallet. There are also higher-end establishments such as the waterfront Fleetwood’s or one of innkeeper Tom’s personal recommendations, The Mill House. This was a beautiful, uniquely laid out restaurant built into the old mill of a still operational tropical plantation. The restaurant is a perfect example of doing the “farm-to-table” trend that is popular right now exceptionally well. Serving food sourced with ingredients from the plantation that surrounds it or other local farms from Maui and the neighboring islands, the restaurant showcases the culinary resources of Hawaii with a more modern, contemporary take.
BREAKFAST AT THE OLD WAILUKU INN
Of course, dinner isn’t the only meal of the day and as everyone says, it’s important to start your day with a good breakfast. The Old Wailuku Inn provided this in spades. Every morning, you’re greeted with a lovely two-course meal that begins with a light yogurt or fruit dish that incorporates local fruits followed by a delicious, home-cooked main course. My favorite hand’s down was Janice’s French toast with coconut syrup (something I did not realize existed before this trip but which I am now determined to track down and keep permanently stocked in my pantry at home). Tom and Janice were constantly moving around the breakfast table making sure that everyone was completely satisfied and taken care of. They also offered helpful suggestions and advice for the day’s itinerary.
HOW B&BS OFFER A REWARDING TRAVEL EXPERIENCE
As someone who would generally be described as “not a people person,” I was a little nervous about staying at a bed and breakfast. I generally gravitate towards more modern chain hotels where I can go through my whole stay with as little human interaction as possible. The prospect of sharing a breakfast table and making conversation with a number of complete strangers was to put it plainly, terrifying for someone like me. Looking back on the trip, I am so thankful I did though. By the end of our stay, the other guests, many of whom had a wealth of experience with either the islands themselves or traveling in general, felt like extended family. Everyone was incredibly warm and friendly and the mornings were spent swapping advice and experiences around the table.
Without the input and advice of Tom, Janice, and the other travelers sharing the inn, the trip would have been a fraction of what it was and I would have missed a number of experiences that I will now remember for the rest of my life. I would recommend staying at B&Bs to anyone looking for a more rewarding travel experience and if you’re traveling to Maui specifically you won’t find a better place to stay than the Old Wailuku Inn.