We were fortunate to spend a much needed week on Maui in early August. As I've mentioned before, my mom is from Oahu and we've traveled to the Hawaiian Islands a fair amount - we've visited Maui in particular three times since 2014 - and had already experienced most of the popular tourist attractions. That didn't stop us from revisiting a few favorites and having an amazing time! You can't beat the beaches, pools, and this time we rented a car to explore more of the up country, which also gave us a chance to check out the fiber arts scene and pick up a few fiber related treasures.
Wherever we travel, I like to find local yarns, which can be a challenge on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I read a bunch of forums and found out that local yarn is available at the Maui Quilt Shop in Kihei, which is just north of Wailea on the southern part of the island, and was about a 10 minute drive from our hotel. The ladies who work at Maui Quilt Shop were very nice and the selection of Hawaiian fabrics with tropical themed prints was impressive. The shop is small, but well stocked. I also purchased two kits to make small Hawaiian quilts that I plan to turn into pillows.
The selection was limited to Maui Yarns' fingering weight yarn, which is a superwash merino wool/nylon blend. There was a great selection of vibrant colors that were hand dyed in West Maui (the entire selection is pictured here). I purchased two skeins each of Orchid and Surfer Boy Blue.
I'm also continuously searching for hard to find weaving books. On the day before we returned home, we saw a huge sign for a book sale when we were leaving the Sugar Museum and were inspired to check it out (book addiction runs in my family!). The book sale turned out to be at Maui Friends of the Library in a location that was definitely off the beaten path for tourists: in the fields behind the sugar factory, around the back of the old Pu’unene School. There were so many cheap books. For $3 I got this weaving book and a few others for an unrelated project that I'm working on and will share very soon! There were other weaving books available, but I already have most of them. It was fun to go through the shelves of books and important to support the local library system.
If you are looking for non-fiber related things to do:
A MUST do is a visit to O'o Farm in Kula. The Coffee and Breakfast Tour was excellent. If you follow this blog, you know that I frequent farms as much as possible and I have never been to a farm with such a breathtaking view. On top of the view, the chance to hear about the process of growing and roasting coffee beans and other organic crops was very informative. We learned that it takes 9 - 10 months for the flowers (pictured on the lower left above) to turn into coffee beans (middle picture above) on Maui. We had a very small group, so we were able to sample different types of coffee beans (pictured on the right above) that we picked as well as edible flowers - who knew wild fennel tastes exactly like garlic? The breakfast was delicious. The tours book quickly, so make sure to contact them in advance for a reservation. Afterwards, you can continue up the same road to the Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm and then stop at the Surfing Goat Dairy on the way back down from the upcountry. At Surfing Goat, we opted for a guided tour that included feeding the goats and sampling the incredible goat cheese varieties - Men's Challenge and O Sole Mio were my favorites. The cheese alone is worth the drive. We ordered more after we got home.
One of our favorite things about Hawaii is early morning swims and walks on the beach before it gets too crowded and the sun gets too hot. The morning was perfect for spending an hour looking at tide pools in the lava rocks along the beach. We saw a sea cucumber, lots of fish, black crabs, and a sea anemone.
We went to Haleakala National Park during the day and the crater was one of the coolest places I've ever been! Each mound within the crater was a separate eruption. The earth at the crater is often compared to the surface of the moon and I can see what they mean.There's a viewing area at 10,023 feet (3055 meters), from which we were able to see the Big Island in the distance. The hotel recommended skipping the sunrise tour because it is very crowded and the National Parks Service now requires you to get a pass to enter the park between 3 am and 7 am and the passes sell out. We were pleased with our midday trip because the roads are very windy with a lot of switch backs. It also gave us a chance to stop at Komoda Store & Bakery in Makawao for malasadas on the way back down.
We stopped at two view points on the way down and saw interesting plants and a cool short hike along the road. At the beginning it looks like you are going to walk into the clouds. As it is a national park, you either need a pass or have to pay an entry fee. I highly recommend getting a National Parks Annual Pass. This was the fourth park we went to on our pass and it was worth every penny.
On our way to the airport, we stopped at the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge where we walked on the coastal boardwalk for an hour. The Refuge is home to two endangered waterbirds - the Hawaiian coot and the Hawaiian stilt - and we saw both! You can see a video of the Hawaiian coot on my personal Instagram @lifewithalbertine. The view was also amazing.
It was a great vacation. In case you are wondering, we stayed at the Andaz in Wailea and I can't wait to return and spend more time in the sun.