Luau Loving and Final Maui Adventures

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Three weeks after my trip, I’m finally getting my last and final blog post up about Hawaii. Though it is the last, it includes possibly one of my favorite nights of the trip! Mid week we got a decent amount of rain, so shopping and reading on the porch filled much of our time. We also tried to drive up to the top of Haleakala to see the volcano, but once we got there it was cold. Like 30s and raining… I wore shorts. We took a look at the gorgeous sights, snapped a photo or two, and hopped back into the car.

We laughed about how silly it ended up being. Who would have thought it could be so cold in Hawaii!? That night we had some of the best food of the week at Lahaina Fish Company. Like a terrible blogger, I didn’t take any photos, but I enjoyed a macadamia nut encrusted mahi mahi. Best fish I’ve ever had. I almost licked the plate… a definite must try if you come to Maui!

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Thankfully, the sun came out again to play on Thursday night just long enough to set again over an incredible night at the luau. Just check out that sunset.

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Arriving at 6 pm, we walked up to the beach for the Feast at Lele. We received a lei of beautifully smelling flowers around our necks and a mai tai in hand. My kind of welcome! Friendly staff seated us at our own table and bombarded us with more drink options… I literally had just started the mai tai… But I didn’t complain!

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After settling in and grabbing a few homemade plantain chips with pico, we ran off to the beach to grab a picture with the sunset.

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My mom specifically requested a photo of me with a lei in a dress on the beach. And here you have it!

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I was really entranced by the lei. It’s that one thing that really separates Hawaii from any other gorgeous island. That, and the fantastic dancing (you’ll see!).

As our next round of drinks hit the table, we hustled back so we didn’t miss any of the show. The reason we chose to attend the Feast at Lele was that it included cultural dances and food from four different countries. Starting off in Hawaii, we were served a salad of pohole fern, asparagus, and heart of palm, seared i’a (a firm white fish, similar to swordfish) with mango sauce, kalua pua’a (pork prepared in the traditional Hawaiian style), and poi (a sort of root vegetable paste). I really enjoyed the fresh, crunchy salad and the sweet and tender Hawaiian pork, though I decided I am not much on i’a, the firm texture made it more meaty than fishy, and we couldn’t decide how to eat the poi… it kind of felt like baby food… Diving into another serving of pork and a Lava Flow (my most favorite drink of the night – a pina colada with banana and strawberry swirl), we watched a traditional song and hula dance by the women and men.

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The next course was from Aotearoa, New Zealand. The performance included lots of chanting and oratory skills, followed by a war dance which was very different from the sweet hula we had seen before. Then the women came out to end the dance using poi balls and singing a song describing their story.

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The food from Aotearoa was probably my favorite of the night. We started with a rakiraki salad with poha berry vinagrette and duck tenderloin. YUM. The harore kumara (roasted mushrooms with sweet potatoes and onions) were to die for…though they looked less than appealing, and the miti hangi (steak with kiwi fruit) was exceptionally juicy. I remembered to take a picture of this course, but like I said, a lot of it didn’t look as good as it tasted.

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Our next stop was in Tahiti where we enjoyed e’iota (fresh catch) served in coconut milk and lime, along with baked scallops in a sweet potato and lobster cream sauce, and moa fafa (steamed chicken and taro leaf in coconut milk). The scallops were served like a little crumble with a crust on top that I liked a lot, and the fish and chicken were solid dishes as well.

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The performance here was a traditional creation chant followed by the island’s official dance. We really liked this performance because the dancers all performed a sort of dance off, coming on stage and shaking their hips as fast as humanly (or inhumanly) possible!

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Round three of drinks came out and I enjoyed a Blue Hawaii – this drink was SWEET. I like sweet, but I could feel a hangover in the works on that one. I decided to skip the end of that blue concoction and sipped on my delicious wine pairings to finish off the night.

Some of the other favorite drinks of the night included the traditional pina colada, the chi chi (a pina colada with vodka instead of rum – we actually liked this version better!), the banana madness (rum, pineapple juice, coconut and Irish cream, and banana), and the island tea (mango orange juice, orange liquor, and ice tea). I should have taken more pictures of the drinks because they were all gorgeous, but the darkness really messed with the lighting. Here’s the island tea for good measure.

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Lastly, we spent the end of the night in Samoa where the performances became even more incredible! The women did a beautiful dance with ribbons, but the excitement rose for the men when they came out for the fire knife dance! I tried to snap a photo for you, but they came out like flashes of light since the dancers were moving so fast. Truly an incredible performance.

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The food in Samoa was my least favorite but still delicious, a shrimp and avocado salad with some sort of dressing, palusami (taro leaf and coconut milk with squash), and grilled gufe’e (squid with herb sauce). The salad and palusami just weren’t to my taste, but the squid was very tasty!

To top off the night, we ended with a dessert of caramel macadamia nut tart with haupia, Hawaiian vintage chocolate truffles, and tropical fruit. It was definitely one of my favorite nights of the trip. We got to try so many unique dishes and drinks, and were so relaxed while watching the performances.

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To finish off the week in Hawaii we spent more time at the beach, tried our best to eat as much fish as possible, and set off on an incredible whale watching boat ride! We chose a small boat with the Pacific Whale Foundation, and they took us out into the water with a group of about 20-30 people. Though it was the end of whale watching season, we saw tons of humpback whales included moms and babies! They swam right up under our boat and came up on the other side. It was seriously incredible to see them so close up! About halfway through the ride the captain got a call and we raced off to catch a group of about 60 or so spotted dolphins. They jumped out of the water so much more often than the whales did, but I still managed to hardly catch a photo of a tail, failing you again. Just take my word that you have to whale watch if you ever get out to Hawaii, the whales are everywhere and the Pacific Whale Foundation group is amazing at finding them.

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Sadly, we had to leave. I could have stayed another two weeks, but I’m so thankful I got the opportunity to experience this gorgeous place. I hope you get a chance to enjoy a trip to Maui some day! Feel free to ask any questions you might have, there’s more to do than you have time for so it’s hard to make decisions! Until next time, aloha!

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