A Vegan Travel Guide to Maui, Hawaii

Aloha, my lovelies! Wow, it’s already been, what, nearly two weeks since I last visited Maui in Hawaii! The time has zipped far past us before we could even capture it in our memories. 2019 is already upon us and close to hitting the double digits in the dates!

Let’s just say it has been one crazy week of preparing for my winter quarter, hence why I have not been super active on my blog during the latter half of December as well as this week itself. Fortunately, I just moved in today (January 6th, that is) and I am pumped to publish this post as soon as possible! I can elaborate on every single place over and over again, but I will maintain concision throughout each review given that this blog post may become an online novel.

That being said, here is is, FINALLY–my vegan guide to traveling in Maui! Obviously, if you are not vegan, you can still take away all the recommendations here. There are so many marvelous activities and destinations in this Hawaiian island that even this guide may not do this travel favorite justice. Hey, there’s always next winter break!

WHERE WE STAYED

  • Aston Mahana at Kaanapali: no words can describe how hospitable this resort is. The view is exquisite, the rooms are sophisticated, and the resort itself is within walking distance from everything–a supermarket, a farmer’s market, the beach, and a shopping mall! My family and I absolutely adored cooking our breakfast in our resort room and eating it outside every morning as well as walking by the shore every evening to enjoy nature. I give this resort five out of five stars!

FOOD

  • Sweet potatoes: is that really a surprise? There are so many Japanese sweet potatoes, purple sweet potatoes, really sweet potatoes of any kind! Throughout my vacation, I did stick to Japanese and purple sweet potatoes since they are my two favorite varieties. They are wonderful snacks and breakfast ingredients due to their nutrient density and satiation factor! Note: they are best when roasted, but boiled or steamed also work very well.
  • Banana bread, pumpkin bread, and pineapple bread: banana bread appears the most frequently, but try them all if you ever have the opportunity! It is a fantastic sweet treat for breakfast, as an afternoon snack, or a post-dinner dessert with fluffy and fruitful aromatic bread-like qualities that warm the soul.
  • Pineapple: I did enjoy pineapple very frequently during my breakfast feasts in my hotel room and in salad. In all seriousness, I have officially been converted into a pineapple fan…Hawaiian pineapple, that is.
  • Vegan sushi and spring rolls: why am I not surprised? Vegan sushi such as cucumber rolls, avocado rolls, inari, vegetable rolls, or spring rolls is a wonderful meal choice for lazy days by the beach, explorations on-the-go, or even just a cozy night-in for dinner while you’re watching movies in the resort. The vegan brown rice sushi roll served as a late dinner whereas the inari was enjoyed after I went snorkeling!
  • Lentil chili: fantastic and easy-to-prepare dish that is high in protein, vitamins, minerals such as iron and folate, as well as fiber and flavor! Just integrate lentils, tomato sauce (or tomato paste + vegetable broth/water), garlic, onions, herbs, and spices! I personally paired mine with iceberg lettuce as a simple salad to accompany sweet potatoes or banana bread.
  • Vegan gelato: traditionally enjoyed in the summer, I made sure to have at least one gelato fix during my trip. In reality, I ended up with two, both of which were marvelous experiences! First up was a small cup of dark chocolate sorbet and strawberry sorbet from Ono Gelato–stupendously delicious! The second and last gelato indulgence (also a splurge price wise) took place at a shaved ice booth called Surfing Monkey where I purchased a original coconut gelato made from coconut milk. Was it worth the expense? A million times absolutely.
  • Kale salads (and other types of salad!): to be healthy or not to be, that is the question. Just vibe off whatever you feel like! Throughout my vacation, I made sure to accomplish at least one primarily vegetable-based meal or anything with heaps of leafy greens. Afterwards, I’d gladly enjoy my dessert! Kale salads never disappointed me, but any salad that contains a lovely dressing with fun ingredients are stellar!
  • Taro patties: Hawaii’s taro is similar to what would be considered California’s orange or Idaho’s potato. You’ll see taro EVERYWHERE and for valid reasons. The specific taro-based dish I always ate came in the form of a taro patty that usually was topped on a large salad. Believe it or not, the taro patty on the left tasted like meat–hearty, dense, and gloriously flavorful. On the other hand, the right taro patty was a little more flimsy and soft, but still had a strong kick and crunch from the grill marks. Regardless of your preference, do try a taro patty for sure!

RESTAURANTS

  • Monkeypod Kitchen
    • Happy Hour became a quick favorite once we spent a little too much time at the beach and realized that lunch would be eaten pretty late. However, we stopped by Monkeypod and were struck by some luck–their appetizers were half off and their pizzas were only $10 each along with discounted alcoholic beverages (which I really don’t care about even though I’m of legal age). My favorite dishes from this restaurant are the vegan corn chowder, kale salad with mandarin oranges and golden raisins, and (guilty pleasure) garlic truffle fries! Oh yeah, and did I mention pita bread is served with almost EVERYTHING? Total plus all around. The vegan corn chowder is hearty, loaded with veggies, thick from the coconut milk, whereas the salads are refreshing and vibrant and the fries are perfectly banging with a slightly crispy exterior but soft inside along with the crunchy garlic and truffles. Do give this place a go–you will love the live music while you enjoy a nice meal out with incredible service!
  • Choice Health Bar
    • Needless to say, I was lucky to come across this small corner shack around Whaler’s Village. This stop specializes in purely plant-based goods (but honey is served with their smoothies) such as acai bowls, smoothies, raw vegan desserts, sandwiches, and many more. I decided on their vegan kale Caesar salad and raw chia brownie! Not going to lie, this place isn’t perfect. The items are pretty pricey for what you receive and there really was nothing extraordinary about the salad that could have used a source of protein such as tempeh, tofu, beans, or even a taro patty. However, the brownie was small but it tasted quite nice from the cacao powder and canistel (eggfruit)!
  • Hula Grill
    • First stop in our Maui vacation…EVER. We rushed to find a place that was open on Christmas Day and were fortunate to have found this lovely restaurant by the beach. My order was a beautiful salad with butter lettuce, avocado, papaya (ew, sorry), toasted coconut, and a taro patty with an orange vinaigrette. The taro patty blew me away! Believe it or not, it actually had a much heartier and robust structure and texture that even resembles meat unlike a flimsy veggie patty. Along with the avocado and toasted coconut, it was the perfect accompaniment for the meal.
  • A Saigon Cafe
    • Vietnamese food was a crucial craving to the hearts of my family members and I. We found this little gem in the heart of Wailuku while we visited the Nakalele Blowhole. At first, we were a little intimidated by the modest exterior but were taken aback once we stepped inside to a beautiful setup that seemed so unlikely in comparison to the outside. The food? Even more surprising (in the best way!). I adored my spicy curried eggplant that, sure, probably does not look like any extraordinary, but it has a deliciously flavorful sauce like Japanese curry! It paired perfectly with a few fresh DIY spring rolls I created along with the rice.
  • Miso Phat
    • Once we finished a relatively successful trip to Hana–I emphasize relatively due to the fact that my sisters and mother got horrendously carsick and complained about it for the entire ride there and back–we were all in the mood for a sushi dinner. Even though finding a table at Miso Phat took twenty minutes, our entire experience here was absolutely worth the wait. The servers pampered us with attention and recommendations from the menu. I devoured a loaded vegetable roll, a ume and shiso roll, and a natto roll, all three of them being delightful!
  • Lineage
    • After my sisters’ and father’s ukulele workshop at a shopping mall, we scrambled to find places for dinner and stumbled upon Lineage just at the corner of the mall’s exterior. The bougie surface definitely resembled that of Crustacean back in California, but might as well on New Year’s Eve, right? It is unlikely to be seated without a reservation, but the owner was so kind that she placed us at a table for another reservation that was exclusively set for another party arriving less than an hour later. Little did we know that Lineage was opened by Chef Sheldon, a contestant on “Top Chef: Seattle” and “Top Chef: Charleston”. As for the actual dining experience, we were pampered with Asian-style tapas such as my favorite garden poke with root vegetables and spring greens! The vegan entree I selected was the hekka, otherwise a dish consisting of sweet dashi broth-marinated rice noodles, tofu skin, mushrooms, onions, carrots, and bok choy. We all devoured the dish and basically ended up in a food coma before and during the entire flight home.

DESTINATIONS

  • Maui Garden of Eden: by far, one of the most beautiful gardens that I have ever seen! Lily ponds, colorful flowers, poignant trees, an exquisite waterfall, and of course, peacocks as residents, you will feel like royalty in this majestic stop to Hana.
  • Black Rock Beach: take a splash (and a snorkeling trip) around Black Rock beach, because it’s freaking amazing. There is a friendly energy, plenty of aquatic life around you (well, not in the general ocean–unfortunately, marine life is declining rapidly on a global scale), and an ocean that reels you in. My family and I visited this beach daily, whether it be walking at night or spending a sunny morning snorkeling!
  • Nakalele Blowhole: you know how a whale has a blowhole that expels (seemingly) vaporized water? Well, this blowhole does the exact same! A bonus? There’s a rainbow seen whenever it spews out water and right across from the blowhole is a heart-shaped opening in a rock. Additionally, you’ll have a ball hiking the beautiful forest trail and beach on the way to the blowhole around the same road.
  • Farmer’s Market Maui
  • Old Lahaina Center: basically the Santa Monica of Maui–wonderful outdoor mall that include heaps of restaurants, shops, and a beautiful sidewalk right by the beach. Be sure to view the sunset–it’s a marvelous sight!
  • Whaler’s Village: the family’s favorite outdoor shopping mall, this splendid area is steps away from the beach and is home to countless boutiques, a grocery store, restaurants, a food court, a patio, and other specialty stores!
  • The Shops at Wailea: another fabulous shopping mall that features fun stores, specialty shops, restaurants, and more
  • Iao Valley State Monument: around Wailuku is a magnificent medley of mountains (one shaped like a needle), a river, and several hiking trails in the same surrounding area. Be adventurous and climb around the rocks in the river–the long hike is also incredibly worth the trek!
  • Road to Hana Maui Waterfalls: yes, more waterfalls! This one is a visually breathtaking warm-up for the seven sacred pools, which is the last stop of the nature-esque road trip to Hana. You can even swim in the pool, but be sure to bring heaps of towels when it gets cold!
  • Pools of O’heo (Seven Sacred Pools): being the most popular tourist attraction in East Maui, the seven sacred pools serve as a sublime and somewhat rustic scenery for nature. There are heaps of waterfalls, rivers, and mountains that are blanketed with trees. You will never see any other views like these! Not to mention, another marvelous hike, so wear suitable and comfortable shoes!

ACTIVITIES

  • Hiking
  • Snorkeling
  • Swimming
  • Scuba diving*
  • Parasailing*
  • Window-shopping
  • Eating outside
  • Hula dancing*
  • Surfing*

*= activities I did not do on this trip, but recommend

WHAT TO AVOID

  • Facilities and activities where animal exploitation and confinement are practiced–these are not limited to but include: aquariums, zoos, horseback riding, pet stores, horse racing, dog fighting, circuses, etc.
  • Animal-derived foods such as seafood, meat, eggs, dairy, casein, gelatin, bee pollen, and be especially wary of honey since it is in everything!
  • Products that contain animal derivatives such as beeswax, insect fragments, sheep’s wool, fur, leather, snakeskin, fish oils, and many more (see PETA’s extensive list of animal derivatives). Look for labels on clothing, beauty products, hygiene, and many more.
  • Littering–seriously people, it’s the 21st century. We should not be trashing our oceans, beaches, hiking trails, and gardens with dismantled waste.

Have you ever traveled to Maui? What are your tips for traveling vegan-friendly?


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