Sunny days, starry nights and vegan food in Maui

Aloha! After falling in love with Kauai – the velvety green mountains, wild coastline and scores of rainbows – it was weird arriving in Maui. Where were all the chickens to greet me at the airport? It felt a lot more built-up and less wild and tropical. However, that was just the area around the airport and this island – the Valley Isle – is so beautiful. Crystal clear waters, gorgeous hidden beaches, the moonscape of Haleakalā volcano, bamboo forests and endless waterfalls all await.

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One of my favourite things about Hawaii is how relaxed and friendly it feels. There’s a gentle, happy vibe that is magical. It’s hard to describe the sensation although there are, of course, Hawaiian words which perfectly encapsulate it. As I’m sure you know, ‘Aloha’ can be used as a greeting – for hello and goodbye – but it also means love, affection, kindness and goodness. Another Hawaiian word that speaks to me is ‘Pono’ which generally translates to righteousness but means a lot more too. Living with pono means doing so “with a conscious decision to do the right thing in terms of self, others, and the environment.” If that’s not a guide to life then I don’t know what is!

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As with Kauai the food in Maui is really fresh and tasty. The avocados in the markets and shops are HUGE. It’s a vegan’s dream I tell you. Here’s where I ate:

Maui Tacos
Location: 247 Piikea Ave, Kihei
Omni
Price: $27.50 for 2 lunches + 2 soft drinks + tip
Good for: really tasty food, fast and friendly
Bad for: I have no complaints!

A fast food franchise restaurant that serves Mexican food with a twist of Hawaiian flavour, they describe themselves as “A Vacation You Can Eat” and I like vacations, eating and, it turns out, Maui Tacos! Located in a shopping mall, with food-court seating, this was a very speedy, informal lunch. I ordered the Vegetarian Bowl which came with rice, black beans, potatoes, greens, tomatoes and corn chips. It was highly unphotogenic (which might explain why I didn’t take a photo!) but desperately tasty. Just unashamedly delish. I also loved the posters in-store highlighting how they don’t encourage plastic-straw use to help save Hawaiian turtles. Bravo my dudes.
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Coconut’s Fish Cafe
Location: 1279 S Kihei Rd, Kihei
Omni
Price: $30 for 2 meals + tip
Good for: Chips of dreams
Bad for: Not especially exciting veggie food otherwise

So, this probably wasn’t the most vegan-friendly place in Maui by a long stretch. A menu based around seafood, I ate a pretty average salad and I would probably tell you not to bother with this place if you’re veggie/vegan except… for their chips. They were INCREDIBLE. I’m sorry I forgot to take a photo of them, as I was gobbling them so fast, but they were outta-this-world tasty. Rarely do you find chips cooked to perfection like this. If I could have taken a sneaky jar of Vegenaise to have with them that would have been sheer heaven. I also liked theat the tables inside were shaped like surfboard and that Coconut’s Fish Cafe is named after the owner’s cat!
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Mill House
Location: 1670 Honoapiilani Highway, Wailuku
Omni
Price: $96 for 2 lunches + 1 dessert + two soft drinks + 1 cocktail + tip
Good for: sumptuous views, farm-to-fork dining, relaxed but professional service
Bad for: if they could start selling vegan desserts that would be nice

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First things first, the backdrop to the Mill House is a little bit special. Nestled at the foot of the Waikapu Valley and framed by the West Maui Mountains, the Mill House is located in a tropical plantation. They operate a “farm to table” model, growing and sourcing unique and timely ingredients that are literally yards from the kitchen. The service we recieved was relaxed and our waiter was so friendly, this is fancy dining at it’s best. There is a lot of meat on the menu but it does say to speak to staff if you’re vegan, so I did and my waiter talked me through the dishes they could create or veganize. I ended up with a veggie pasta made with gorgeous mushrooms and fresh corn. It did taste worryingly buttery, but I’m not sure one way or another if there was anything non-vegan in it. As none of the desserts were vegan-friendly I had a cocktail instead. The Easy Rider: Knob Creek Bourbon, Tiki Bitters, Orange, Pineapple, Lemon, Lilikoi, Macadamia Nut Orgeat, Lemon. It was AMAZING. Turns out everything IS coming up Mill House!
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Miso Phat 
Location: Azeka Shopping Centre, Kihei
Omni
Price: $47 sushi for 2 + 2 soft drinks + tip
Good for: tasty, fresh sushi, good value and excellent service
Bad for: All good!

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I am pretty much always in the mood for sushi. And the sushi at Miso Fat was delicious. Alongside some tasty edamame I ordered the Veggie Maki: made with asparagus, cucumber, avocado & inari. It was beautifully presented and tasted as good as it looked. The service was great here too.
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Maui Brewing Company 
Location: Kahana Gateway Shopping Centre, 4405 Honoapiilani Hwy
Omni
Price: $50 for 2 lunches + a beer flight + tip
Good for: clearly labelled vegan items on menu, really lovely beer
Bad for: the website menu said they’d have tofu to add to the salad but they didn’t!

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The Maui Brewing Company brew-pub had really fresh and delicious beers. Some of our favourites were the coconut porter and the pineapple wheat beer (and a quick look on Barnivore reassured me that aside from the beers they make with honey they’re vegan-friendly). The food was pretty decent pub grub – for vegans this included a veggie burger, a trio of hummus and flatbread, zucchini spirals and a salad – I ordered the latter and was a little bummed that there was no tofu to add to it, but I asked for avocado instead and pinched a few of Josh’s tater tots to sweeten my deal.
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Star Noodle
Location: 286 Kupuohi St, Lahaina
Omni
Price: $65 for 2 dinners + soft drinks + tip
Good for: really lovely food, a brilliant waiter who was great at explaining the menu, lovely dining room
Bad for: even with a table booked it was so popular there was a bit of a wait for the table

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I really liked this place and could see straight away why it was so busy. Our waiter was so kind and charming and took plenty of time to talk me through the menu and what was already vegan or could be veganised. I opted for a Pad Thai – made with tofu instead of scrambled eggs – and it was HUGE and really nice. The star of the show was the pan roasted mushrooms we shared as a starter – absolutely joyous. If I went to Star Noodle again I’d try the garlic noodles – they look dangerously garlic-y but I can take a challenge!
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Located really close to the aiport is a big, beautiful Whole Foods. It was the perfect place to stock-up on vegan-friendly snacks, hummus, non-dairy creamers, more snacks and booze for a nightcap by the pool. It was also the location of one of my all-time life highlights. An old hippy dude saw me wearing my ‘Hail Seitan’ tee-shirt there and gave me a thumbs up whilst saying “cool tee”. I have never felt so bodacious.

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In my last post about Kauai I talked about how much I loved eating Shave Ice. It is so refreshing and tasty. The rainbow bright shave ices, like the ones we bought at Ululani’s Shave Ice don’t taste like they’re massively good for you, but what happens in Maui, right?! And who amongst us can say no to a pineapple, coconut and banana shave ice?

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Because I can’t drive – meaning we can’t take turns to be the designated driver – we can only go out for a couple of small drinks when there’s limited uber/public transport, as there seems to be in Hawaii. However, we managed to snuffle out a few fun places to hang out. As well as going to the Maui Brewing Company brew pub we swung by their tap room which was really relaxed and lovely. We also loved going to Kohala Brewery. Like so many places in London, this brewery was located in a unseemly, hard-to-find, slightly scruffy area… so we felt right at home! The bartender was great to talk to and we loved sipping on all of their beers. Being a tiki bar kinda gal I loved the South Shore Tiki Lounge. Whilst not the most sophisticated tiki bar I’ve ever been to, it was fun, served nicely strong cocktails and they screened surfing competitions on their TV. Rad!

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One of the things that made Maui extra special was the Pineapple Inn: our B&B. The second we arrived and laid eyes on the lush, tropical gardens and then the view from our lanai (our huge balcony) that led to the swimming pool we were smitten! Hands down this is the most beautiful place I’ve ever stayed – with plumeria and birds of paradise flowers everywhere, gangs of teeny geckos scuttling about and greedy Love Birds and Java Sparrows stalking the bird-feeder. Whether it was breakfast on the lanai, watching the stars at night, or sunbathing by the jaw-droppingly beautiful pool, this really was paradise.

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Located on the south shore of Maui, the Pineapple Inn was amazing value (as it didn’t include expensive resort fees which so many hotels did). The owners were so lovely and great to talk to, ooh and they had a gorgeous dog called Indy too. We loved that instead of a set breakfast time our room came with a little kitchenette and a fridge stocked with goodies so I could eat hummus bagels and watch the birds eat their breakfast too. We had quite a few really early starts, so would come back later and eat when we’d finished snorkelling or driving up a volcano (how cool is it that I get to say that? Very cool!) and this flexibility was really helpful. I bought additional supplies from Whole Foods including delicious dairy-free creamers that haven’t made it to the UK yet in a clear indication that life is not fair, dang it!

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As tempting as it was to lounge by the pool all day long sipping on cocktails, and believe me when I say that that was VERY tempting, we had an island to explore! I am glad we did. Here’s what we got up to:

Secret Cove: After gazing at the long, sweeping shoreline on Makena beach I thought that Maui was pretty blessed in the beach department, but then Josh drove us a little further down the road and to the Secret Cove and I was blown away! It’s this teeny, gorgeous slice of paradise. Josh wasn’t the only one who’d discovered it – I think there were about 6 newly-wed couples lining up to have their photos taken, each with their own photographers, which was actually a pretty adorable and fun to watch.

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Leilana Farm Sanctuary: my first ever trip to a farm animal sanctuary and I chose a pretty beautiful one. These wonderful, sadly very lucky, animals get to live out their days in paradise and alin peace. It was great to take a tour of the farm (word to the wise: on tropical islands it rains a lot so farms will be muddy… don’t be a bozo and wear sandals like I did!) meet all of the animals and learn some of their stories. Here you can kiss a donkey, stroke a deer, cuddle a chicken, pet the cats, give a pig a belly rub, brush the goats and feed carrots to a rabbit.

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The Leilana Farm Sanctuary tour lasted about an hour and was guided by the owner Laurelee Blanchard, who clearly loved the animals she’d rescued and cared passionately about animal rights and veganism. There was a suggested donation of $20 per person for the tour and knowing how expensive it can be to keep animals fed, watered and healthy (*stares to camera and mouths “Betty and Chester”*) I was very happy to help. Would recommend for vegans who want to be reminded of why they have adopted their lifestyle or for anyone who loves animals – I think that’s most of us!

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Haleakalā crater: We had a pretty early start the day we drove to the top of Haleakalā, although granted we woke up at 6am rather than the 3am had we decided to book tickets to see the sun rise here. Nearly as large as Manhattan, the floor of Haleakalā is 7.5 miles wide and 2.5 miles long. Standing above the clouds, the crater looks intergalactic.

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It was really cold at the summit – even with a hat, thick coat and jeans it was chilly – so wear the right attire if you can. Also, the National Park take card, not cash,  payments. It’s totally thrilling. The view as well as the cold/altitude takes your breath away!

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Lahaina Town: One of Hawaii’s most historic towns, it’s a really fun place to explore. Sights include the the gigantic banyan tree, the historic Baldwin House, the old courthouse, and the old prison. Lahaina is best known for its rich history as a whaling port but has also played a key role in the development of the island’s sugar and pineapple industries and served as the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom in the early 19th century. I am ashamed to admit I was most excited when I noticed it had a Lush store. Ahem. Lush are brilliant though, amiright?

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Snorkelling at Molokini: even though I’m a pretty fearful swimmer – I hate not being able to stand up when I’m in the sea and I have seen Open Water ya know – when there’s a chance to snorkel in a volcanic crater, amongst 250 species of tropical fish, I’m gonna go for it! We snorkelled with Kai Kanani ($91 per person) and as we went for a sunrise trip, when the water is less choppy, this necessitated a 5.30am wake-up. It was worth it. Watching the sunrise from the boat, before jumping into the Pacific ocean and swimming amongst white-tipped reef sharks, turtles and loads of gorgeous tropical fish was absolutely amazing.

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Road to Hana: In every single Maui guide-book I read there was a bumper section on the Road to Hana. Along the Hana highway, which clings to towering cliffs, you count seemingly endless waterfalls and tackle 600 curves and around 50 one lane bridges. I found it a little bit scary, honestly, but absolutely beautiful too. My highlight was the Painted Forest: a group of rainbow eucalyptus trees, which I couldn’t believe was really real! Vegan-friendly stops along the way include Coconut Glen’s dairy-free ice cream and Thai Food by Pranee foodtruck (which looked amazing but wasn’t open when I visited) so if you’re vegan/veggie I’d advise you take snacks as a back-up in case you struggle to fnd any veg-friendly places that are open when you’re on the road!

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What an incredible time we had in Hawaii. Maui and Kauai are both very special places. I can be a tad over-dramatic sometimes but I cried leaving Hawaii, I cried when I heard this Israel Kamakawiwo’Ole version of ‘Somwhere Over the Rainbow’ back in my flat and it conjured up memories from my trip and I’ll probably cry again thinking about how magical it was. There is only one cure for this love sickness.. I’ll need to go back some day. Soon I hope!

8 thoughts on “Sunny days, starry nights and vegan food in Maui

    1. Thank you! I can’t believe I actually got to see all of this with my own eyes. I am finding it very hard to cope with normal life now: commuting/being in meetings etc! I miss Hawaii! x

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading! It was a wonderful trip and my photos and words just don’t do it justice! Hope you’re in beautiful Maui soon!

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    1. It was incredible Jen. I can honestly say I miss being there every single day. Apart from Iceland, there’s nowhere else I don’t think where I’ve just fallen head-over-heels like this! I wish it wasn’t so far away and I could get a train there!! I am hoping to go back one day… next year is Alaska and it looks like it will NAHHHT be very vegan-friendly. Luckily I’ll have my amazing-vegan nosh fix in Portland on the same trip. Phewfs!! XXX

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    1. My pleasure, truly. It was such a beautiful, special place. I hope you get to go there one day soon! Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to leave such a lovely comment x

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