Makawao, Road to Hana, and Mama’s Fish House: A perfect day in Maui

Woke up in Makawao, a small inland town in Maui. With freshly brewed white tea and swollen, ripe fruit hanging off the branches in the garden, my significant other and I were in one of the best Maui family vacation rentals on the island. The owner ran a yoga shop a five-minute walk away; we were welcome to join a complimentary class if we had wanted. The house was warm and inviting, with positive notes plastered all over the rooms and a lingering scent of burned palo santo in the air.

Three minutes away by foot was the coffee shop and restaurant on the main strip. It’s a local favorite where time stands still. The same chipper barista hands you a perfectly dialed Italian espresso while you double take at the couple that hasn’t seemed to move since yesterday. Full of freshly baked biscuits and caffeine, it was time for an adventure.

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We headed out in our rental car, excited about the day’s itinerary. The famous Road to Hana and its splendor would be ours today.  Leisurely we took the 52-mile stretch of narrow roads to Hana, stopping often. A tranquil walk through the arboretum, countless photo ops, and climbing to a thrilling outlook over a cascading waterfall took up our afternoon. After a remarkably delicious roadside pad thai and fresh berry smoothie for lunch, we begrudgingly started to head back. As we drove along the windy road that sliced Maui’s coastline, we savored the tropical rainforest and cliffside ocean views.

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Back at home base, we got dressed up and ready to go to Mama’s Fish House in Paia, the most revered and famous restaurant on the island. While relishing the red snapper brushed liberally with its garlic, white wine, lemon, and caper sauce, I had been transcended into old Polynesia and onto a new plane of existence. And oh! The appetizer with sirloin, maui onion, cooked with the best spices, served in a grilled papaya. Dessert was a Tahitian Lime Pie with a perfect blend of tart and sweet. It was glorious beyond measure and to this day, the best meal I’ve ever had.

After giggling our way out the door, exuberant from our feast, we walked straight out onto the beach. Too stuffed for a stroll, we laid down in the sand, the bright moon diffused by the palm trees arching overhead. A perfect day in Maui and a wonderful last night to escape the cold January weather that inevitably awaited us across the ocean.