Tag Archives: NACTA

Authentic Maui Continues to Wow, Lana’i and Molokai Refresh

Travel agents can be a jaded bunch. We really do get the plum assignments, like this trip to Maui sponsored by NACTA and ASTA. It’s hard to be humble when the hosts at each location treat you like you’re the best thing ever. Even the notion that the above names groups support us agents so completely, it is heartening!  Rough job to have these VIP’d and sponsored trips, but someone has to do it, so we eagerly sign up and pack.

Our next stop is a farm to table experience overlooking the ocean. Nothing mundane about this place, Oh my Pacific’O. You know the new movement where everything is organic, grown locally and then

Shelia Sweet and Nicole Dalasta dine at Pacific'O, one of the original farm to table venues. Twenty years strong, it is flavorful with a view of surfers!
Shelia Sweet and Nicole Dalasta dine at Pacific’O, one of the original farm to table venues. Twenty years strong, it is flavorful with a view of surfers!

delivered to a restaurant with a discerning chef who insists on only the finest ingredients? This place is your benchmark. Pacific’O was created in tandem with O’o Farm with the intention of having control over produce quality. They’ve been doing it for twenty years people, not the new kids on the block, the pioneers. They even grow their own coffee and my favorite- edible flowers. If you are what you eat, I want to eat flowers. As a small child, my parents made the mistake of letting me hold the pretty red geranium plant in the backseat, heading to grandma’s on Mother’s Day. Have you ever tasted one? By the time we arrived, no flowers; Gulp. So if you haven’t tried edible flowers and they’re not a gift for someone, chow down. So good! But I digress…. I have the Fish n Chips and homemade ice cream- all fabulous, with surfers in the background.

Our next stop is the state of the art Maui Theatre for the production of ‘Ulalena. Interpretive dance and fusion music meet Hawaiian history. The theater itself is a great venue, but the live music, vocals and Cirque style dance weave a spell of enchantment that holds me entranced through the changes Maui has experienced. I am not a musical lover. I don’t want this to end. I want to linger longer in the dark as the mood envelopes me in its magic. A side note: Kalapani Kollars, our tour guide from the Maui Nei Native Expeditions is one of the music makers for this long standing production. This man lives and breathes the true essence of Maui, devotes all of his energy to embracing and dispersing it to interested parties. You will miss something significant if you don’t request him as a guide and then experience his performance in ‘Ulalena.

I have an appetite now and glad to be walking though the high end shopping outlet with a wood fire pizza joint- Pi Artisan Pizzeria. The

Woodfire pizza from Pi Artisan in Lahaina. They stuffed us with amazing salad, pizza and dessert. What a good deal!
Woodfire pizza from Pi Artisan in Lahaina. They stuffed us with amazing salad, pizza and dessert. What a good deal!

sun lowers itself onto the waves as they bring out platters of antipasto, bowls of Caesar salad and then of course the pizzas. All locally sourced with another fabulous view, pizza done right Maui style satisfies everyone, topped off with more platter of dessert. The cheesecake gets me. I don’t need this but I want, I want and I grab a spoon. We later waddle to the vans together.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to wait for a six am ferry. They

Yes, it is chilly at the ferry at 6 am. Yes, I will sit up top of the ferry until I realize the spray is a constant. The quiet of  Lahaina Harbor at dawn is pretty nice!
Yes, it is chilly at the ferry at 6 am. Yes, I will sit up top of the ferry until I realize the spray is a constant. The quiet of Lahaina Harbor at dawn is pretty nice!
Leaving Maui for Lanai
Mikki Fillhouer, Chris Kaiaokamalie, Nicole Dalasta and Julie Bicoy brave the top of the ferry from Maui to Lanai.

give me coffee, a ferry ticket and I roam around with my box breakfast, watching grizzled construction workers congregate with their gear. This ferry is full because crews are heading over to do a refurbish on one of two Four Seasons resorts on Lanai. Oracle founder Larry Ellison purchased the majority stake of the island and is building into the economic and cultural infrastructure of this tiny island. After repeatedly asking many of the residents and reps there, they say the jury is still out on Ellison. It is still too soon to assess if this benevolence is genuine and unequivocally a place where the local’s hearts and his meet. “So far, so good,” they say. “We’ll see,” they say.

The Expeditions  Ferry takes about an hour and we approach the Manele Small Boat Harbor before eight. The harbor is new and nice and our coach takes us up, up, up a winding road that offers sweeping vistas over the fringes of scraggly shrubs. Mountain goats live here on these slopes, but I don’t see any. What I do see when we reach the top is a really nice broad top of an island that is green with cooler temps. Towering [pines lana'iCook and Norfolk pines shoot emerald spikes into that landscape and rim areas of the road in a reminder of genius rain capturing magic. These pines suck the moisture out of the sea breeze and create a micro climate of rain which is desperately needed on Lana’i. And the beauty it has created; I love trees and the town square is Dole Park, named so because the whole island was once a pineapple plantation. These are huge! The tiny Dole Park town square has its own forest. I love this spot! It is cool and refreshing and feels so intentionally lovely. Little art and boutique shops dot the perimeter of the park along with the Hotel Lana’i, our first stop.

Oh take me back here, please! Quaint and charming, I long to return.
Oh take me back here, please! Quaint and charming, I long to return.

Groan, sigh. This place is exquisite in its throw back charm, lovely native art and furnishings, plus its delectable cuisine. This is not the Ritz but an old school inn with a handful of rooms and gathering areas in the center. It is lovely. Ellison has hired top notch staff, many locally sourced and built into their skills to offer a world class experience, tiny island style. This gem offers

Eager to please, we were served huge plates of fruit and delectable brunch fare.
Eager to please, we were served huge plates of fruit and delectable brunch fare.

relaxation of the finest kind. I swoon and swoon again as we are greeted by the manager and fed a gourmet brunch. Touring the rooms yields rustic island furnishings with my Hawaiian quilts in my favorite colors. I am charmed, and as I stated before, as a kind of jaded travel agent, this is a refreshing feeling of delight.

We stop briefly in the tiny Lana’i Culture and Heritage Center. The building is multi purpose, holds other offices but the artifact collection it holds is really impressive. It was formerly the Dole Plantation Administration Building turned cultural center/museum when development began on the island. Another spot where I wish I could linger.

Load into the vans courtesy of Rabaca’s Limousine Service, I’m going off-roading to Shipwreck Beach. We drive and bump and sway over the mostly sand roads.

Honu at Shipwreck Beach. I believe Julie Madrid or Susie Adair took this picture. Ladies? Anyone? I do want to credit you!
Honu at Shipwreck Beach. I believe Julie Madrid or Susie Adair took this picture. Ladies? Anyone? I do want to credit you!

Everyone once in a while there is a clearing of tiny buildings knocked into the scrub where people were living off the grid before it was trendy. There are turtles lolling in the surf when I arrive, fishermen fishing for their real lunch, not as a sport. The ship that was wrecked offshore looms in the distance and there is nothing around here, nothing. Oh wait, that’s not what one of our drivers says. Let’s head into the scrub and check out the

Julie Bicoy (facing away), Amy Chauncey, Mikki Fillhouer and Wendy Kimi peer at the petroglyphs in the brush above the Shipwreck Beach area.
Julie Bicoy (facing away), Steven Wong, Amy Chauncey, Mikki Fillhouer and Wendy Kimi peer at the petroglyphs in the brush above the Shipwreck Beach area.

petroglyphs. This place is the real deal, native etchings that are symbols of importance to Hawaiian history. There are ceremonial stone cairns in the scrub also. This is the Hawaii many miss, the outback Hawaii on a remote island with a steady population of about 3200 people total. This is your ultimate getaway if dodging the crowd is your thing. It is certainly mine at times.

We head back and have time to check out the new Lana’i Theater with it’s leather reclining seats and fancy bathrooms! I browse

State of the art theater represents the ongoing contribution of Larry Ellison on the island of Lanai. This place is plush!
State of the art theater represents the ongoing contribution of Larry Ellison on the island of Lanai. This place is plush!

the tiny shops and grab a lunch from Pele’s Other Garden and head to forest bathe under the giant pines. Young kids play in the park while their hipster moms do yoga on the grass. The call to board the bus and leave comes and I am just the last one on the bus. I want to stay. Charity Texiera from the Lanai Visitor’s Bureau has made the brief stay pleasant, and a little bit of a teaser for more to come. I want to stay to see what the light is like through the pines in the evening; what the air smells like as I bicycle through the early morning hours. What the locals say when the haole woman just doesn’t get on the ferry and go. I just want to immerse myself and stay.

Off we go and the ferry ride back brings me to the vans and then I’m checking in to the Kaanapali Beach Hotel. This is in the hotel zone on Kaanapali Beach, a moderately priced property with sprawling grounds and is considered the most Hawaiian of the hotels in this area. There are native arts and crafts, music and we are greeted with traditional song and then when we congregate later,

Engaging keiki in traditional arts is encouraged through a cultural ambassador pack for young guests at the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel.
Engaging keiki in traditional arts is encouraged through a cultural ambassador pack for young guests at the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel.

are feted with more by lovely women who explain their kukui beads to us. Guests and staff alike receive a bead lei and for staff, every year service garners a different colored bead. For returning guests, it is the same because many, many customers return. Why? Because of the location, cultural offerings and excellent beach. During our room tour, we were shown the kit kids receive when checking in. It is totally cute and it is plain that keiki are given honored status here.

Yup, two pictures of savory dishes from the Tiki Terrace. Sure wish I had some of that now!
Yup, two pictures of savory dishes from the Tiki Terrace. Sure wish I had some of that now!

 

Our hostess at dinner outdoes herself as we are seated on the Tiki Terrace for food and music. The food is out of this world. I have the

Scallops are my favorite and this dish at the Tiki Terrace, Ka'anapali Hotel was truly special!
Scallops are my favorite and this dish at the Tiki Terrace, Ka’anapali Hotel was truly special!

scallops and Ed next to me has the skewered shrimp. It is a feast from the ocean. My friend Mikki has the tuna rare and she goes on and on about how it is perfectly done. Just heaven. But it is bedtime for us and we have another early dock departure, this time to Molokai for a one night stay.

The Molokai Princess Ferry  is coming so again I wander while eating and watching the workers get ready to head over for work. I’m told sitting atop is not a great idea because of the rough seas. It is uncharacteristically windy so we hunker inside and take the ride to Kaunakakai Harbor which is an almost two hour ride this time. I doze.

Arrival has us checking out the golden beach littered with tiny transluscent jelly fish. Not your swimming pals, they are often around you before you know it and the stings can be painful. We gather under a tree and are told we will next be meeting a Hawaiian

Kyrian Van Vliet hails from Holland, has devoted her life to Hawaiian culture, along with following the treachings of her husband, Kuma Pa'a Lawrence Kalainia Kamani Aki. This was taken during his Talk Story at Kalianaole Hall on Molokai.
Kyrian Van Vliet hails from Holland, has devoted her life to Hawaiian culture, along with following the treachings of her husband, Kuma Pa’a Lawrence Kalainia Kamani Aki. This was taken during his Talk Story at Kalianaole Hall on Molokai.

holy man. Kalanianaole Hall is straight Hawaiian plantation style, charming in its simplicity. I remove my shoes and am greeted by breathing the breath of a towering giant, his wife Kyrian Van Vliet and a follower. Kumu Pa’a Lawrence Kalaina Kamani Aki is a 50th generation traditional Hawaiian teacher. Blood lines are very important in Hawaiian society because remember, this is a monarchy and that follows the blood line.

Aki narrates to a power point, explains Molokai culture, how his teaching business is world wide (his wife is a blue eyed Dutch girl) and the movement to reinvigorate the many facets of Hawaiian culture. You can tell this is huge on the islands, the undercurrent of plenty pono (righteousness in Hawaiian) permeates all things Hawaiian. Like many traditional societies, rules are strict. It is fascinating to hear of Molokai’s deep heritage and how many people are building into sustaining it. This is a tiny island also with a population of less than 10,000. Because it has resisted development, it is ranked very high on the worldwide unspoiled island scale.


Next I head up to the rigid Nanahoa in Pala’au State Park with the group. This is the fertility stone and it takes a little hike to get there. I snap a pic and send it to my son, father of four, and tell him to never touch this. It is beautiful and I love the

Fertility rock sacred to the Hawaiian community, it protrudes nicely in a pine forested glen.
Fertility rock sacred to the Hawaiian community, it protrudes nicely in a pine forested glen.

high forest. I almost step on two little mushrooms that look like bosoms. So here is the rock and here are the perfect, tiny bosoms. Interesting. I hike back to the Kalaupapa Lookout, gaze down upon the Kalaupapa Settlement where the leper colony stood and Father Damien took purposeful strides in creating a decent world for people cast off by society before succumbing to the disease himself. Mule rides down into the historic

Tiny bosom mushrooms grew near the phallic rock. I found that interesting!
Tiny bosom mushrooms grew near the phallic rock. I found that interesting!

development are very popular and from what I hear, exciting. Visit the page at Kalaupapa Mule Tour for more information. I didn’t do this, but would have loved the opportunity!

Hard to believe it’s only lunch time but it is. The sandwich buffet is scrumptious at the Coffees Of Hawaii. Julie Bicoy has called ahead and we’re greeted with an amazing frozen coffee drink, perfect refresher after the higher altitude walking we just did. This plantation style building is large enough to house a coffee shop, gift store and boasts a spacious lanai for hosting hula shows and music. Small but charming, this place hits the spot. They roast a wide variety of coffee and their hospitality is fantastic. I don’t want to leave.

We land on a swath of beach three miles long and 100 miles wide. Papohaku Beach. I have never seen such an incredible beach. There

Best beach ever. Unbelievable expanse of deserted and undeveloped sand. Incredible! Papohaku Beach.
Best beach ever. Unbelievable expanse of deserted and undeveloped sand. Incredible! Papohaku Beach.

is no one here with us (okay, a young tattooed couple almost hiding in the rocks). You cannot see a house or anything. It is just sand and surf and the wind. Swimming is  not advised. The seashells are abundant so there I go scouting for tiny treasures. I love when I get them back home and there is sand clinging to the little fissures and openings. The sea coming home with me is nice.

Next stop is a resort where you can rent condos, the Kalua Koi Beach. It seems deserted. We meet a couple from the Midwest who after vacationing here for decades, have just retired and moved here. They say everything has stayed the same. Nothing changes. There is a slow pace they enjoy. I’m not sure about you, but I think this would be paradise, a great place to retire.

Our next ride drops us at Maunaloa Town where the Big Wind Kite Factory is located. It is the store and it is the factory. Back beyond the book section, tables are strewn with kite making materials under big

Magical mystery ride inside this place- total throwback to the 70s and everyone just loved it!
Magical mystery ride inside this place- total throwback to the 70s and everyone just loved it!

windows. The same owners have had it for decades and the vibe is that of a 70s head shop. Jewelry and t-shirts and used books and wind chimes and kites. This is definitely the spot for unique shopping on Molokai. I buy a book about ghosts and climb aboard the van. It is so obvious that unseen forces blend with the seen world here. I don’t really believe in things like that, but from the stories I’ve been hearing, you don’t need to believe in the Hawaiian spirits for them to be real. Your beliefs are not important, haha.

Hotel Molokai awaits. It is a cluster of low slung buildings on the water, under refurbishment and that means the kitchen, too. Our

Rustic and earthy with a patio door that doesn't really lock, I never felt unsafe and am ready to return.
Rustic and earthy with a patio door that doesn’t really lock, I never felt unsafe and am ready to return.

desk clerk is from Peoria, about 100 miles from where I live. The open air concept is charming but this is a rustic hotel; fan only, no A/C. To get to where dinner is being served, I walk through the construction area in the bar. The pool is tiny but lovely and a group of hipsters are there partying it up. The food is great, especially for a

Island bungalows capture days gone by and rustic luxury at Hotel Molokai.
Island bungalows capture days gone by and rustic luxury at Hotel Molokai.

first meal after a renovation. This little engine is trying very hard and doing a fantastic job of reinventing itself for visitors. I really like the laid back vibe of this place. The back of my room is all screen door and there is no lock, just a chain. I sleep peacefully with the screen open. There is very little crime because where would one go after committing a crime? The island is ten by twenty eight miles. Sure you can run, but you really can’t hide.

I am late to the lobby so miss the trip to the Kanemitsu Bakery. I am crushed but wait patiently in the lobby, hoping someone will share this legendary bread and they do. This bakery is open all night because people visiting off island carry it as a gift to ohana and friends. There is no website but there is a great story by wakeandwonder on the jaunted blog website. Most planes leave before 7 am so getting the bread the night before is the way to go! The bread is a warm lump of surprise with cinnamon or fruit filling and is so tasty. I’m not really embarrassed to be tearing handfuls off of someone else’s loaf (thanks Ken and Wendy Kimi), but I should be. What I shouldn’t be is hungry after my recent dinner. Instead, I’m just a tad jealous of everyone clutching their brown bags of steaming bread. Ugh.

The next morning I’m so excited to see the Molokai Airport. Our

Prop over Molokai taken by Ken Kimi. I love a little prop plane. 'Ohana Airlines gave us a short and sweet ride.
Prop over Molokai taken by Ken Kimi. I love a little prop plane. ‘Ohana Airlines gave us a short and sweet ride.

flight leaves at 7 am and this airport is cute and little. Travelers look the same as others the world over; cranky to be there so early, grappling with small children and confused looking elderly. But this place is pretty calm. It’s apparent we’re outsiders. Molokai get about 1000 visitors a day which is a substantial number considering their focus has not been tourism. The ongoing dilemma here is to attain the sweet spot balance between of delicious Molokai culture and inviting and accepting the world flavor. It is problematic but Molokai Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Julie Bicoy presses on, knowing that the right strategy will keep the chill while warming the island for curious world travelers. Molokai is lovely.

Stay tuned for more of your armchair travels. Don’t you want to go? Words and pictures don’t really suffice. Breathing the air, meeting the big Hawaiian teachers and hiking to Phallic Rock? Has to be done. Come…

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Like a Moth to a Maui Flame…. Come Part 1

It’s been a month since I left for a nine day trip to Maui Nei. I had never been to Maui, all islands but. I was excited because I knew there was on old whaling town and how I love history. Little did I know the depth of that history or how it would draw me, like a moth to a Maui flame. Better yet, this trip was sponsored by the National Association of Career Travel Agents (NACTA) and the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA)– two groups that support agents and promote travel in ways that deepen cultural understanding and depth of destination. It is the perfect first trip to Maui and I leave with more friends and bigger Hawaiian dreams.

Arriving – Well the rainbows are personal with me. I love Hawaii and I am not ashamed to say that I think Hawaii loves me. I stop counting at nine rainbows during my ride to the resort.

Welcoming rainbow at breakfast my first day. This was taken sitting at my table.
Welcoming rainbow at breakfast my first day. This was taken sitting at my table.

The skies scream a welcome I could hear, even above the grumbling of the Russian driver. Russian? Yep. Hails from New Jersey, visited five years ago and never went back. Something tells me he doesn’t love his job but that his off hours on Maui make the grind worth it. He grumbles off after our arrival at the Royal Lahaina and I check in, Aloha style. Kindness flows at the front desk and at the end of the open air lobby, I spy the ocean. I rumble my suitcase upstairs and throw open the lanai doors. Ocean view, check. Ocean wave sounds, check. Coffee maker and Hawaiian coffee, check check! Time for dinner.

The sun sinks while the ocean groans and shimmers. It hugs the golden sand like a longing lover, crashing again and again in its passion. I see this from where I’m eating dinner. Tiki lights are lit, Hawaiian music plays and the tinkle of ice from drinkers at the bar supply a background melody. I’m exhausted. I never sleep the night before a trip and I’ve been up almost 16 hours, most of them spent in an airport or airplane. A full stomach has me moving into the corridor and doing the Mai Tai stumble to the elevator. It is time.

When my consciousness meets daylight, I have this great realization that I’m in Maui. Yippeee! Two whole days to explore before my business trip starts so first things first-

Everyone enjoying Aloha life on the beach!
Everyone enjoying aloha life on the beach!

walking shoes and sunglasses, I hit the beach. What a beautiful beach- Ka’anapali. Long golden stretch with the Black Rock sticking out. I meet many other early wanderers and then cruise up to the walking path that separates the Ka’anapali Golf Courses from the ocean. It wanders in front of the resorts in this area so a good long stretch awaits. Everyone is up! People are surfing! The different resorts I stroll through are each unique but I really like the pools at the Westin.

I find a spot to sit and just watch everyone; the workers at the surf shack trying to kill the night’s after effects with coffee, retired

Golden sand and waves whisper. Ka'anapali Beach is incredible.
Golden sand and waves whisper. Ka’anapali Beach is incredible.

ramblers with their fanny packs huffing into their finest stride, families lugging everything needed to host a day at the beach with toddlers- all in a subdued morning mode. No rush, island style, happy and bright with the anticipation of a day in paradise. I find the Whaler’s Village and note there is everything from Kate Spade to Maui Jim’s for shopping, quite a few dining places also. But the town is waiting for me. I have a couple specific goals today and one includes the town square in Lahaina.

Banyan Tree, how did you grow so big? Art show, aren’t you glad to be nestled in its shade? Homeless people sleeping on the bench,

Planted in 1873, this tree wraps a city block in aloha.
Planted in 1873, this tree wraps a city block in aloha.

does this tree protect you? It’s natural magnificence is equal to the historical significance of the Old Lahaina Courthouse. I feel like I have struck gold. As a travel agent, I’m pleased. As a history nut, I’m thrilled. As a genealogist, I know there is royalty buried close and an old prison of dubious nature nearby. Pay dirt! No one besides a triple threat nerd like me could ever understand the thrill running in my veins as a stroll this area.

Museum
The struggle with leviathans was real during the early history of Lahaina Town.

The courthouse is a gem tenderly housing artifacts both native and haole. The banyan tree planted in 1873 has spread it’s branches and roots over the town square. The history is compelling- raucous sailors and warring Hawaiians collide with missionaries and a fledgling government, all with differing agendas. You have to know how juicy that story is but explore for yourself when you come. Spend a couple days wandering the museum now housed in

View over the harbor from the second story lanai of the old courthouse in Lahaina .
View over the harbor from the second story lanai of the old courthouse in Lahaina .

the courthouse. Stand on the second story lanai and look out at the harbor where the whalers would drop anchor. Wander through the Pioneer Inn next door and have some lunch while you watch Maui culture collide with tourists from a cruise ship. “Real surfers!” I hear one say. “Did you see her suit?” says another. “It’s up her butt crack. That can’t be right.” Don’t spit your drink trying to snuffle a choked laugh. Wipe yourself off and head to the cemetery.

Old Prison anchor
Huge anchor attached to an equally large rusting chain at the entrance to the Hale Pa’ahao, the old prison.

Now I don’t know how I was led to cemetery number one except that my mental map and where my feet trod landed me in a spot I hadn’t intended. It was the grounds of the Holy Innocents Episcopal Church but it wasn’t my final stop, I had somehow wandered here in search of a different cemetery. Coincidence? Probably not. If I don’t find them, they lead me to them. The lovely part? After I left the cemetery, there was that old prison I mentioned- Hale Pa’ahao. What a place this was- talk about some history!

Moving on on the bright heat of mid-afternoon Maui, I am finally at my destination- the Waiola Church where Waine’e Cemetery was founded in 1823. Buried here is the last King of Kauai, Kaumualii. He benevolently made an agreement with King Kameahea in order to prevent bloodshed for his subjects. Marriage to Kaahumanu who had royal Maui lineage sealed the alliance. This sacred ground is adjacent to Moku’ula, the ancestral grounds of the Maui royalty. It is being reclaimed with the intention of restoring it from a baseball diamond and parking lot to its original condition. We toured this area as part of our cultural familiarization trip for NACTA/ASTA, but I get ahead of myself. I’m also afraid I will lose you in the name trail. Anything too unfamiliar (i.e. Dick or Jane, Tiffany or Brett) and people’s eyes start glazing over.

Kinoole Memorial
Kinoole Memorial.

But this was it, what I had traipsed around in the hot son for, the sacred burial ground of Ali’i.  I sat on the lava rock wall and watched. Birds visited, people came and brought flowers and then a guy showed up with water for the flowers that were in the graves of Kaumualii and Kaahumanu. He didn’t linger, he was purposeful, but his dedication was sincere. I wanted to know his

Last King of Kauai and his wife- Ali'i burial site.
Last King of Kauai and his wife- Ali’i burial site.

story but oh, there he goes in his pick-up. I look over the abandoned baseball field and parking lot (not yet knowing it was the ancestral home of royalty waiting to be reclaimed)- consider cutting through this field but feel an inexplicable caution so take a longer, scorching way the couple of blocks into town. I later find out it is a historical and sacred site you have to call to the guardian spirits to be invited into and get goose bumps, but am grateful for the sentient whisper that keeps me from overstepping my bounds.

Lahaina Town again and back to the shuttle stop. Great service there from Ka’anapali; two dollars will get you all the way into or out

Many places to explore right on Front Street in Lahaina Town!
Many places to explore right on Front Street in Lahaina Town!

of town. I am beat and ready for a swim in the breaking waves on the beach. The Royal Lahaina sure delivers for stunning views from my oceanfront room and after a dip, I sit on my balcony and relax. Coconut Shrimp from nearby CJs Deli is washed down with onion rings dipped in banana ketchup. Yes, it is good! Tomorrow starts my familiarization trip and from what I have already experienced on my own, I can’t wait to learn more!

Later our group congregates in the lobby and we are a far flung group! Florida, Texas, Vancouver BC, California, Denver, Iowa, Nevada,

Our host at the Royal Lahaina, Jennifer Carvalho. She welcomed us like we were Ali'i!
Our host at the Royal Lahaina, Jennifer Carvalho. She welcomed us like we were Ali’i! Jennifer is center, Steven and Louisa Wong on the left of her, Shelia Sweet and Nicole Dalasta to her right.

New Jersey, Honolulu and more are represented. The Maui and Molokai Convention and Visitor’s Bureaus are represented by people we lean on and embrace for their insider knowledge – Chris Kai’aokamalie and Julie Bicoy. Representing NACTA is Ken Kimi and his lovely wife Wendy. We gather to meet and greet then head over the

Happy FAMers at the Myths of Maui Luau. Left to right: Donna Evans, Renee Drummond, Ed Davis, Lesley Trudelle and Chris Kai'aokamalie enjoying the feast before the show!
Happy FAMers at the Myths of Maui Luau. Left to right: Ken Kimi/NACTA Hawaii Chapter Director, Donna Evans, Renee Drummond, Ed Davis, Lesley Trudelle and Chris Kai’aokamalie/MVCB Director of Leisure Sales, all enjoying the feast before the show!

Myths of Maui Luau on the grounds of the Royal Lahaina. The food and drinks are amazing, the entertainment a wow, especially the cameos set against the setting sun. As great as it has been, the time change hits me and bed awaits, another Mai Tai shuffle to the room.

Bright and early we meet Jennifer Carvalho who shows us fantastic oceanfront rooms at the Royal Lahaina, rooms in the high rise towers and recently redone cottages big enough for a family. Nice and sumptuous, with a heavy

History and caffeine collide at the Maui Grown Coffee Company.
History and caffeine collide at the Maui Coffee Company.

dose of island decorating, perfect for honeymooners, families or any kind of getaway. Next stop, the MauiGrown Coffee next to the old Pioneer Mill site. Old railroad engines that carried the sugar cane to the mill line the parking area, as well as the smoke stack. The operation is tiny but mighty and the brews are sublime, set in the little historical storefront used to be the company office.

We next stop in the parking lot next to a thrift store. A loud backhoe pummels the blacktop while two explorer types crouch in a little hole slightly filled with water, absorbed in the hole with serious

Maui Ne Expeditions guide Kalapana Kollars begins our tour at the Mukele site and then leads us into town.
Maui Ne Native Expeditions guide Kalapana Kollars begins our tour at the Moku’ula site and then leads us into town.

looks.  As we wait for Kalapana Kollars from the Maui Nei Native Expeditions to being our tour, we wander to a large placard that explains the meaning of this Moku’ula site and the plans for its restoration. The field we seek to enter requires chanting in between two of our guides. We stand silent as they voice the greeting and its answer. Then we move forward. This tour and the company that created it is at the root of a cultural resurgence that unveils sites, legends and the native way of life. Hawaii has beautiful beaches, but it is so much more if you open your mind and heart to the true essence of Aloha! …. Stay tuned for more!