It’s getting chilly outside. Instead of complaining about the cold, let’s dream of laying out on a warm, sunny beach out in the middle of the Pacific instead. What do you say?
For my fellow dreamers out there (including those of you who are planning a trip to Hawaii), here’s a list of my 8 favorite things to do whenever I’m on Maui. (Confession: this is also the perfect excuse for me to bore you to death with my vacation photos.)
Seriously. As soon as I get off the plane, I blow out all the air in my lungs—along with all the tension and worries of Real Life. I then proceed to suck in a long, deep breath of sweet vacation air.
Hawaii isn’t New York. Everything’s slower, mellower. (Traffic included.) I don’t fight it. Whenever a bit of stress creeps into my shoulders or neck, I take a deep breath and remember how lucky I am to be here.
2. LOAD UP ON GROCERIES
Dining out every meal on the island can get expensive fast—and finding Paleo-friendly foods on restaurant menus can be a challenge. You can save a bundle by just cooking breakfast every morning and a few suppers.
As soon as we leave the airport, we always hit the Costco and/or Whole Foods to stock up on everything from purple sweet potatoes and fresh pineapple to grass fed meat and farm-fresh eggs. Down to Earth is another great place to stock up on natural foods in Kahului. Produce from the mainland is definitely more expensive, so try to get locally-grown stuff from Kula.
And to replenish throughout the week, we usually head to the Foodland Farms in Lahaina and the (vegan-friendly) Honokawai Farmer’s Market.
3. GO RESTAURANT HUNTING.
Cooking is awesome, but it’s not vacation if you find yourself in the kitchen preparing all your own meals.
Our restaurant excursions have ranged from special-occasion joints (Mama’s Fish House, Lahaina Grill, Pineapple Grill, Sansei, Honu)…
…to cheap plate lunch spots (Da Kitchen, Aloha Mixed Plate).
Vacation’s the perfect time to visit out-the-way eateries (like The Hali’imaile General Store) and food trucks (like Shark Pit), too.
We’re not always Paleo-compliant while on vacation, but we’ve found that most places are super-accommodating to dietary restrictions.
For example, longtime readers know that I can’t get enough of Star Noodle – I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve eaten there in the few years since it opened. We don’t order from the “noodles” side of the menu, but there’s plenty of other dishes to enjoy. There are gluten-free items, too.
And brunch at Mala Ocean Tavern has become a family tradition – there’s nothing better than digging into a plate of perfect sunny-side up eggs, Brussels sprouts, and freshly-made lamb sausage patties in the morning.
We started visiting Mala before we transitioned to Paleo, and I still remember eating their “Health Bread” and edamame purée. These days, we make substitutions on our plate, and are able to easily construct meals that are not only Paleo-friendly, but incredibly satisfying, too.
Oh, and a sunset splurge meal at Merriman’s in Kapalua is a must.
And it’s surprisingly kid-friendly! (Especially for kids who like to eat scoops of butter with a knife.)
p.s. The acai bowls and grain-free treats at Choice Health Bar in Lahaina are awesome. I kind of want one right now.
p.p.s. If you have celiac disease or other serious gluten issues but want to eat with abandon, check out Maui Brick Oven in Kihei, a restaurant that’s entirely gluten-free. The menu items use a bunch of alternative grains, so it’s not Paleo, and I’m not a big gluten-free pizza fan, but I have to tell you: the fish and chips at Brick Oven are really good.
4. BE A BEACH BUM
This is a given.
I love swimming with my little buddies.
Pool time is fun, too.
Hawaii’s a great place to get your circadian rhythm back on track.
Wake up when the sun does. That way, you can head outdoors and take advantage of all the insanely great sunshine. This past trip to Maui, I arrived feeling like I was coming down with a cold – but after some time in the sun, the natural boost of vitamin D got me up and at ’em again.
And then when the sun goes down, rest up. Vacation’s about the R&R, right?
6. EXERCISE (WHEN I FEEL LIKE IT).
For the past few years, Henry and I have dropped in to classes at Lahaina CrossFit whenever we’re on the island, and we’ve always had a great time getting our butts kicked. But on our most recent visit, I just wanted to laze around a bit and ease off the high-intensity stuff, so we ended up just swimming and hiking around with the kids. Do what feels right to you!
7. EMBRACE MY INNER TOURIST.
We’ve gone to the top of Haleakala (bring a jacket!), driven down the Road to Hana, and gazed at the I’ao Needle, but I have to confess that I’m not a big fan of sightseeing. I’d rather spend my time on experiences like snorkeling next to sea turtles off Molokini…
and ziplining (wheeeee!).
Getting up close and personal with the voracious goats at Surfing Goat Dairy is fun, too.
(And if you’re cool with dairy, the goat cheese there is yummy.)
8. JUST HANG OUT WITH EACH OTHER AND DO NOTHING.
It’s the best.
Lost? Looking for recipes? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPad® app, and in my cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel, December 2013).