Thursday, October 12, 2006

Hawaii Part III: From Maui to Oahu

Day 5: Seeing that this was our last full day in Maui, we decided to head out to the beaches once again. We had read some really nice reviews about Kapalua Beach, so we decided to check it out. We actually had no idea where the beach was located other than that it was somewhere in the Kapalua Resort, so we ended up driving around for a bit until we saw a pristine strip of sand behind the Ritz-Carlton. After parking the car and trudging across the expansive resort with our beach chairs and snorkel gear, we realized that we weren't at Kapalua Beach after all, but rather, we had arrived at D. T. Fleming Beach. As it turned out, it wasn't a problem at all, as we enjoyed the sun and sand as much we did at any of the other beaches we had visited earlier in the trip. One of the nice features of Fleming Beach is that the surrounding palm trees provide a good deal of shade, of which I took advantage while I read a book in my beach chair. After a few hours of lounging around, we started getting hungry and went in search of some nearby eatery.

After a short drive, we found a restaurant, the Sea Horse, at the nearby Napili Kai Beach Resort. As luck would have it, we noticed a sign indicating coastal access as we drove around looking for a parking spot. Could it be? Yes! We had found Kapalua Bay! Wanting to take advantage of our good fortune, we stopped for a quick bite at the Sea Horse, splitting a cheeseburger and small sampler platter, and headed over to the beach. The Sea Horse was on a nice beach as well, but we opted for our original destination. By the time that we had arrived at the beach, it was already getting late in the afternoon, but the sun was still warm and the water inviting. Unfortunately, the afternoon surf had kicked up a lot of silt into the water, so snorkeling wasn't ideal, but we were still able to see a lot of fish in the offshore coral reefs. We hung out at Kapalua Beach for a while, not leaving until the sunset. Unlike the day before, the skies were mostly devoid of clouds so we were treated to a spectacular Hawaii sunset.

After cleaning up back at the B&B, we pondered our dinner options. We had heard from some of the other guests that there was a small hole-in-the-wall place nearby that had great food, so we figured that we would give it a try. This little restaurant, Honokawai Okazuya and Deli, turned out to be a gem. Located in the less than appealing AAAAA Rent-A-Space Center, Honokawai Okazuya was off of the radar of most visitors, but it was definitely known to the locals, as the line was nearly out the door as we arrived. The original owner was formerly a chef at Mama's Fish House, the award-winning restaurant in Central Maui, and he developed the menu and recipes that are still being served today. It was hard to choose a dish as the menu, located on a plastic board behind the cash register, had so many delicious-sounding choices, but my girlfriend settled on the teriyaki steak and panko encrusted mahi-mahi, while I picked the mahi-mahi sauteed with a butter caper sauce. Both dishes were simply outstanding. The sauteed mahi-mahi was one of the best cooked fish dishes that I had eaten in a long time. As one of the other B&B guests had said, that dish would be a $30+ item if you put it on a fancy plate in a fancy restaurant, but it only cost $12 at Honokawai Okazuya. Of course, it was served in a styrofoam box instead of a fancy plate, but that was just fine with me. After finishing our delectable meal, my sweetie was in the mood for ice cream, and not just ordinary ice cream, but Roselani's, which is made locally in Maui. We drove over to the Lahaina waterfront in search of ice cream. We walked up and down the main street and found several ice cream shops, but not one of them featured Roselani. Disappointed, we stopped in one of the shops and got some Lappert's, another Hawaiian-made confection. As we walked down the street, we eyed yet another ice cream shop and saw they were, in fact, a Roselani vendor! Not ones to waste good ice cream, we finished off the ice cream in our hands and headed off for seconds. It was a very sweet end to a sweet day.

Day 6: As we were scheduled to fly from Maui to Honolulu in the late afternoon, we decided to pack up and head back toward Kahului. We stopped off for another plate lunch at Da Kitchen and planned out the afternoon. Over chicken katsu and Kalua pork, we talked about driving out on the road to Hana for as long as we could before turning around to catch our flight. We drove about 20 miles or so before we saw a pack of cars parked on the side of the road. We stopped the car and saw a sign indicating that there were a couple of waterfalls a short hike away. We exited the car and wandered down the trail that led into the thick tropical forest. Eschewing the closer (and smaller) waterfall, we worked our way deeper into the wilderness until we saw something off in the distance. We had found our waterfall! Unfortunately, I was not wearing the proper foot attire to slosh through the foot-deep water to take a closer look at the waterfall, but luckily my sweetie was better prepared. This is what she saw:

After lingering for a while at the waterfall, we headed back to the car and decided to start driving back toward the airport. We still had a bit of time to kill, so we stopped on the way back to check out the ocean at the couple of spots along the shore. We had hoped to see some surfers out catching some waves, but we must have been there at the wrong hour. We headed back to the airport, dropped off the rental car, checked in, and sat through an uneventful half-hour flight to Honolulu.

Making our way from the airport to the hotel turned out to be an irritatingly long and slow drive. Who knew about the crappy traffic in Honolulu? After checking in to our hotel, we decided to check out the famous Waikiki Beach locale where we were staying. First, we wanted to grab some food and recalled from our dining experience at Sansei a few days earlier that there was a sister restaurant in our hotel. Neither of us were up for an elaborate dinner, but we decide to head there anyway. We must have been thinking on the same wavelength that evening, as we both ordered ramen soup dishes. My girlfriend went with the dungeness crab ramen and I picked the Sansei special ramen. Of course, being in a sushi restaurant, we also ordered a couple of pieces of sushi: the Sunshine Surprise and unagi rolls. Both of the ramen bowls were delicious. I noted that the broth in the crab ramen has a buttery finish to it, which was confirmed by our server who said that it was finished with truffle butter. Very luxurious!

After dinner, we wandered across the street and found ourselves walking through the white sands of Waikiki Beach. We took a nice, late night stroll along the beach. There were still a lot of people out, including a number of people still splashing out in the warm water under a moonlit sky. We walked for a while and decided to stop off for a nightcap at Duke's. We found a beachside table, sipped on a stream of mai tais, and enjoyed the sights and sounds of Waikiki until last call.