Magical Maui, My Lucky Hat, and as Barry Manilow Once Sang…it’s a Miracle!
Updated: May 21, 2020
Dear Friends and Family,
Greetings from magical Maui!!! So many things to cover I don’t know where to start! This update is a little longer than usual. If you can hang in there with me, I promise you an unbelievable ending to my super awesome trip.
When I last left you, I was jetting across the international dateline, well on my way to my redo Wednesday. When you travel to Oceania, you lose a day; and when you come back, you get to redo that day you lost. This is pure genius on the part of the universe. Personally, I think everyone on the planet should be granted at least one redo day a year; there are a lot of situations where this could come in very handy.
I land in Maui after my 15hr flight from Sydney, grab my luggage, and head down to the tram to take me to the rental car centre. I was all settled in, (by now I’m a professional, this is my 10th international flight in 45 days) when the conductor announced the tram was broken and everyone needed to start walking. Remember Steve Martin in that movie Planes Trains and Automobiles? Just imagine 200 Steve Martins hoofing it down the highway.
I finally get to Alamo and head to the parking lot to pick out my mid-size SUV. Except, when I arrive, there is not a car in sight. I say to clipboard guy, “busy day?”. He says, “it was nuts, how about I give you a van?” I ponder this offer for a minute and tell him I’m looking for something a little sportier. He pauses a moment, looks off in the distance, and says; “okay you can have that.” That, gleaming in the distance, is a brand new fully loaded never driven super high-end jeep with every bell and whistle one could ever wish or hope for in a vehicle; especially if one is driving in Maui. I promptly take this as a sign that even though I have just left my children in Australia, am traveling alone, recovering from Dengue Fever, Maui is going to be wonderful and that I am supposed to drive somewhere amazing that would require me to look fabulous in an absolutely fabulous vehicle; destination TBD.
I hop into my fabulous ride, turn up the volume on my surround sound stereo, and head down the coast to Wailea and my super awesome hotel, the Fairmont Kea Lani. After a few days by the pool, some beach walks and a visit to the Willow Stream Spa, I decide its time to start driving. Not knowing where I should go, I do what every single girl might do; I call my mom. Sue picks up and she is full of good ideas. Like me, Sue loves to travel and has already been to Maui. Bottom line: Sue says I need to go to Lahaina, which is a very picturesque 40km drive from my hotel.
I arrive in Lahaina and it is everything Sue said it would be; quaint, kitschy boutiques, gorgeous sea views, and inviting restaurants. It also turns out Lahaina is home to dozens of unique, top-notch art galleries with artists you would not find anywhere else. I walk into gallery number 5 and the guy behind the desk says, “nice hat’. I am wearing my crazy hat, and this hat has been my albatross. I bought this hat in Fiji and I have lost it numerous times. However, every time I lose it, it has faithfully been returned to me. Boat crews have retrieved it from shark-infested Fijian waters, flight attendants have painstakingly kept it intact in overhead cargo bins, and kind strangers have picked it up off seats in airports. And now, if it were not for this hat, I might not have met the guy behind the desk, Bill Wyland of Bill Wyland Galleries, and his visionary artists.
A piece in his shop catches my eye and we start talking. I find out back in the day Bill, an accomplished entrepreneur, owned a whopping 43 galleries globally. I quickly surmise that not only is Bill an astute businessman and very knowledgeable art enthusiast, he is also very charming. He quickly sees my interest in these magnificent artworks and decides I need to go big or stay at home. Then, he promptly tries to talk me into a $12,000.00 USD stunning metalwork by artist Dennis Matthewson. Bill tries to sweeten the deal by offering to buy me dinner with lots of wine at the best restaurant in Lahaina to celebrate. I tell him that sounds like a pretty expensive date.
On my way out the door, he tells me he is having an art show that evening; “my best guys are coming, why don’t you join us?” Now you have to appreciate I am skeptical, and of course safety conscious because I am traveling on my own. After some sunset yoga and a follow-up call from Bill, I decided that he did not fit the FBI profile of a serial killer and accepted his invitation.
What an amazing evening that was; I met genuine people who also happen to be extraordinary artists. One of the highlights was meeting Ruby Mazur, the creator of the Rolling Stones lips and teeth logo. Ruby is 72yrs old and unstoppable; an inspirational man who overcame polio to become an incredible artist painting the most famous celebrities in the world. The extraordinary thing is that all the artists I met, and Bill included, never intentionally set out to do what they are doing now; they followed their hearts and their passion, overcame adversity, and with hard work, things fell into place.
After the show, I hitched a ride to dinner on Bill’s fantastic Harley (#lovethatbike); a beautiful ride under the stars of Maui. Over dinner I asked the team if I was going to do one thing in Maui what would it be? It was unanimous; everyone said I must do the Road to Hana Tour. Like Route 66 in California, The Road to Hana is an iconic white knuckle but worth it drive with lots of twists and turns, narrow lanes, and incredible landscape and scenery. Since it’s a 10 1/2 hr drive round trip and I am on my own, they recommended Temptation Tours. Temptation Tours gives you a luxury-van tour one way, and a return trip via helicopter along the Maui Coast. I decided this would be the perfect way to end my trip.
My Road to Hana day arrives and it is picture-perfect; bright blue skies, a light breeze, and abundant sunshine. However, when I check-in at the Heliport, I find out there has been a delay; the rest of my tour party is stuck in a traffic jam. After about 40 minutes Clarice from Temptation calls me again and tells me we’re going to have to cancel this trip; the road from Lahaina has been closed. I tell her I’m disappointed, I was really looking forward to this trip- it was the highlight of my visit to Maui. And then it happened…Clarice pauses on the other end of the phone and puts me on hold. Finally, about 10 minutes later she comes back on the line and says;
"Hi Jane, I don’t know why this is happening, I’ve worked here for 11 years, and this has never happened before, but you are getting a private tour of Maui today. Your helicopter pilot Granado will be picking you up and together you will fly along the coastline for an hour and see whatever you wish. Then, you’ll land at Hana airport where your driver Wendy will be waiting with your gourmet picnic lunch to take you anywhere you want to go. I hope you enjoy Maui...click.”
I am both stunned, and speechless; not only at the generosity of the offer but the possibilities that lay before me in such a magical place. I have truly never experienced this much abundance in my life, let alone all in one day; and what a spectacular day it was!
I saw waterfalls and jaw-dropping coastlines in a 4.5-million-dollar helicopter, swam under cascading waterfalls, explored a rainforest and drank in scenery that took my breath away; it was truly eye candy for the soul. All the while Granado and Wendy couldn’t do enough for me; they were my guardian angels who made me feel like a celebrity. Ironically when we stopped for a tour at Waianpanapa State Park I heard a woman say: “I wonder who that is? Her companion replied…"I don’t know, but I think I saw her on Ellen once.”
Of course, after a day like this one couldn’t just head back to their hotel and call it a night, I had to celebrate! I suggested to Wendy we grab drinks and dinner on me so I could thank her for a great day. I already knew where I wanted to go; I wanted to go to Mama’s Fish House. Now you must appreciate Mama’s is one of the top 10 restaurants in the USA, and NO ONE gets into Mama’s without a reservation. In fact, I started trying to secure a table at Mama’s before I left Australia, no luck. So, I said to Wendy; “I’m going to just show up and see what happens…”
I hopped in my fabulous jeep and set off for Mama’s. When I arrived, their Valet asked me if I would be dining with them this evening…I replied, “you bet I am!”. I walked over to the hostess and started telling her about my day, and said: “You know what would be the cherry on top of this sundae ( remember, I’m in marketing), is if I could have dinner at Mama’s with my friend Wendy. Do you think you could find any space for us?” The receptionist looked at me, smiled, and said, "of course we can!”.
A divine ending to a divine day, which I am certain would not have happened without divine intervention. Thanks for hanging in there with me. Mahalo and Aloha!
Stay, Play, Dine and Shop in Maui!
4100 Alanui Dr. Wailea HI
If you can, stay at the Fairmont Kai Lani; if you can’t for goodness sakes put it on your bucket list. The grounds, pools, and hotel architecture are stunning. The suites and rooms are clean fabulous and have free laundry on each floor. There is a 4 km oceanfront trail that connects all the top hotels in Wailea. You can easily walk along the shoreline and pop into a property for a sunset drink or a walk on their eclectic beaches. The snorkelling along this shoreline is also very plentiful with an array of colourful sea life and sea-turtle sightings. I would recommend staying in Wailea if you can, even for part of your stay as there are many hotels, shops, services, and restaurants that are very accessible and within walking distance of each other. May is a great month to go to Maui too; there is not a lot of rain and it is shoulder season, so prices and flights are less expensive than in winter months.
174 Lahainaluna Rd. Lahaina, Maui HI 96761
If you are looking for a more affordable option for accommodation, the Planation Inn located in the heart of Lahaina will fit the bill. This Bed and Breakfast/Inn boasts clean, colourful, comfortable guest rooms with picturesque balconies, and a lovely pool, right in the heart of town with tons of activities, shops, and restaurants within walking distance of the inn.
828 Front Street, Lahaina, Maui HI 96761
Boasting an eclectic, unique and colourful collection of one of a kind pieces by one of a kind artists, this gallery is a must see. Extremely knowledgeable, fun and professional, the Wyland Galleries Team will make your visit a memorable one. For a snapshot of the possibilities, click on the link above. If you do pay a visit, of course please say hi to Bill and the crew for me!
15 S Wakea Ave. Kahului, HI 96732
If you are going to do a tour of Maui for goodness sake book with Temptation tours! You can customize your excursion with a private group charter with or without the helicopter and very knowledgeable guide to help you make your Maui experience the best! The Road to Hana is a must do one of a kind experiences and I highly recommend the Luxury Van/Helicopter option. If you book, don’t forget to tell Clarice Jane sent you, and say hi to Granado and Wendy for me!
192 Maalaea Rd Wailuku HI Maui
I spent a fabulous afternoon at this Aquarium. Good for travellers of all ages, the Maui Ocean Centre it is a very accessible and interesting way to spend a morning or afternoon. Located on the coast with a nice little coffee shop and ice cream stand it is great for a family outing or a terrific way to take a break from the beach and learn more about sea life, habitats and marine conservation.
799 Poho Pl, Paia HI 96779
In business since 1973, Mama’s got it going on! Featuring delicious Hawaiian fish and seafood in a gorgeous Hawaiian sea-side setting, Mama’s rated one of the top 10 restaurants in the USA too. Fun fact: Owners Floyd and Doris, now in their 80’s have lived an extraordinary life and still to this day personally oversee the menu offerings. If you go you can try your luck as I did, but I really recommend a reservation well in advance if you can so you are not disappointed.
34 Wailea Gateway Pl Unit A -108 Wailea Maui
Don’t let the name of this place fool you- they are so much more than Pitas! I had some of the best fish and seafood ever from this restaurant. They have a healthy Mediterranean menu, great prices and lovely staff. Pita Paradise also has live music on the weekend and is a great option if you want a quick, healthy lunch or dinner, or to pick up some healthy takeout for the beach.
Front street in Lahaina has some wonderful one of a kind shops, plus an Outlet Centre towards the edge of town. Whether you are looking for waterfront sights, art, clothing, souvenirs, or a great lunch or dinner, Front Street has something for everyone. Just google Lahaina Town you can get the skinny on where to go and what to see to plan your day trip.
The Shops at Wailea is also an option. Many high-end stores such as Tommy Bahama, Tiffany’s are located here. One of my favourite shops in Hawaii is Blue Ginger. Blue Ginger has a location at The Shops of Wailea, but I discovered them in Kauai. Blue Ginger sells gorgeous Hawaiian aloha print dresses, skirts, pants, and tops for women, men, and kids at a very affordable prices- this is a must do visit in my books. For hours and locations throughout Hawaii visit blueginger.com.