This is Day 7 of our Maui adventure, to read Day 1, go here.
The last few days we spent in Hana and Paia had been the trip we had dreamed of. While in Wailea-Makena our fear was that the rest of the island would be over run with hotels and tourist. Thankfully that fear was unfounded and In all honesty in our entire time here, we felt like we were here in our own little world. It wasn't crowded like we expected, nor was it a desolate. We didn't have to look far to avoid crowded areas and it didn't take much to get lost in nature.
Hana was still fresh on our minds, but now that we were back in the "city" we realized that our time was going to be coming to an end soon. There was work and pets at home waiting for our return, the return ticket for our airplane was the constant reminder of our final days on Maui.
There was also still so much to see. Since Big Beach, we hadn't done any snorkeling due to the chaotic nature of the oceans near Hana. The chances of having perfect weather and calm oceans to allow you to snorkel off South side of Maui is slim. The winds bring waves in full force and the weather changes quickly.
Being near the calmer side of the island, we now had a chance to find some more snorkeling spots before we headed home. Before the trip had even started we had planned to stay in Paia because it seemed like that perfect mid point location. If we came back from Hana and still felt we had not seen it all, we could easily make the drive back to see more. If we finished Hana and still felt there was more to see Wailea-Makena then we had that chance as well. Today we decided to take advantage of the nice weather and head to Little Beach in Wailea-Makena.
But first... Coffee!
Maui Coffee Roasters
There's something magical about coffee in Maui. We highly recommend finding one of the local roasters and trying out their offerings for your mornings. This great place is right next to the airport.
The inside is bright and colorfully decorated. Brings the mind alive. We asked for some Kona Extra Fancy and Kona Peaberry coffee which was made to order, so there was a bit of a wait.
Bagel with guava butter. Not much to say. But it looked pretty.
Kona Extra Fancy and Kona Peaberry
Some people ruin their coffee with cinnamon.
The coffee was delicious and the kick that we needed to get our day started. The Peaberry is an excellent choice. Little Beach was suppose to be right next to Big Beach, which we had visited on the 3rd day
.We had now come full circle on the island and were passing the hotel that we had already stayed at in order to get there.
We followed the signs for Little Beach but unbeknownst to us we were actually on Oneuli Beach. It was a long twisty dirt road to get to it and very little parking space. Driving through the thick woods it feels like you aren't going to hit the ocean, but eventually you do. And you have it all to yourself.
Click picture for a larger version of Oneuli Beach.
Getting into the water is much more difficult than Big Beach. At Big beach you can run to the edge and dive right in. At Oneuli Beach, right when the sand stops at the waters edge, the corals started. Sharp rocks and coral. Getting into the water took a bit of maneuvering and careful foot and hand placement. Little Beach is not the place for leisurely swimming as stepping on any these would be very painful. Eventually the corals drop down enough to allow you to float slowly further out to the deeper depth. It feels right away that you are swimming in an aquarium.
We saw the most fascinating array of living colors beneath the waves. Bright blye and yellows eels, fish of all colors of the rainbow, just hanging out, dancing to the flow of the current as it rocked back and forth. So much life within an arms reach, hiding amongst the expansive underwater landscape of coral. The water was cold, and the sun was barely up, but all of the amazing sea life distracted us from that. At Big Beach there is a sudden drop of 15 feet or so and a big clearing before we saw corals. On little beach the corals stayed under 5 feet from us. There was so much to see in one spot, we barely had to swim. Big Beach was where the fish might swim, but Oneuli Beach was where they lived.
Words can't really do it justice, and unfortunately, we didn't have a camera capable of taking pictures underwater. Take our word for it, If you ever get a chance in Maui, you must snorkel on Oneuli Beach if its the one thing you do. It was well worth the drive from Paia.
The best part was seeing our first sea turtle. We were cruising along looking at all of the different coral and schools of fish and we spotted it immediately floating along just like us no more than 10 feet away. The interesting part about the sea turtles was that their colors were not green or yellow that I had expected, but a darker browns and dark greens. We watched as it popped its head out of the water for air and then it must of spotted us because the turtle immediately froze and sank like a rock. At first I had no idea what was going on, so we froze, as not to scare it. We watched as it sank down to the coral and ever so carefully position itself underneath the coral like some kind of sea ninja turtle. A fascinating display of a sea turtles technique for avoiding predators.
We spent hours floating in Oneuli Beach just watching the sea life. After the amazing swimming around Oneuli Beach, we decided to head back to La Perouse Bay where we first saw dolphins. People had been snorkeling there and swimming with them once and we wanted to see if we could spot anything. Unfortunately the waters were too deep and murky from the wind. Windy days normally means sand is going to be kicked up which makes visibility harsh and snorkeling no fun.
Click for a larger version of La Perouse Bay.
La Perouse Bay is still a beautiful site to see and like Little Beach is full of sharp rocks.
We had spent so much time at Little Beach that it was already lunch, so we headed back to Paia for some pizza. Flatbread Company, which although a corporate company, was praised for its involvement with the local communities. They showcased local foods that were used with their pizzas and a nice list to show what the choices were.
Local growers and suppliers displayed on the board. An interesting list of combinations and components for pizza.
We had drinks and pizza and talked about the adventure we had at Little Beach. We asked to have one pizza split with two orders so we could try something different.
1/2 - BLT pizza - Garlic oil base with zuhair tomatoes, nitrate free bacon, mozzarella, parmesan and herbs, topped with local lettuce, avocado, and aioli.
1/2 - Homemade Sausage pizza - homemade nitrate-free maple-fennel sausage with organic sulfate free sundried tomatoes, caramelized organic onions, mushrooms, whole milk mozzarella and parmesan cheese baked on organic bread dough with homemade organic garlic oil and organic herbs.
The pizza themselves were good, but we prefered the homemade sausage over the BLT, as the lettuce was soggy like wet cabbage from being cooked andwas not an item to have on a pizza.
After pizza we walked down the street to Gelato company for a bit of a treat.
Ono Gelato: Pistachio and Thai Lime, Coconut & Ginger
The rest of the day past quickly as we spent it relaxing and enjoying ourselves in Paia.
Before our trip to Maui, we finished the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi
. It's a fascinating look into a master sushi chef's restaurant in Tokyo. If you are a sushi fan you should see it. Koiso sushi reminded us of this documnetary. The dedication and quality that the sole sushi chef puts into his work at Koiso is masterful and fascinating to watch him create each roll piece by piece. Reservation required!!! You will get turned away if you come without a reservation.
An older gentleman and his wife run the shop. From the outside it seems like nothing special to look at. A small room in a little strip mall and there were only 12 seats, 5 couples get a seat at the bar and 2 small tables for other couples. The menu was simple and displayed the fresh fish for the day. The chef was enthusiastic but focused on his work. He took your order, prepared it, served it, and then moved on to the next person, each one waiting his turn. After everyone was served he would come back to the first person and start all over again, each piece made only by him.
Toro (Fatty Tuna), Hamachi (Yellowtail), and Sake (Salmon)
The rolls. Perfection. No overwhelming sauces, no fancy flourishes. Just fresh fish, perfect rise and the taste of seaweed with a perfect mix of wasabi and ginger.
Spicy Tuna Roll
With the rolls packed away we decided to try some of the sushi we rarely order due to freshness issues.
Uni (Sea Urchin) Unagi (Eel), Maguro (Big Eye Tuna), Tako (Octopus)
Watching the chef at work is entertainment in itself. The cleaning, the prep, the start, the slicing, the folding of sushi into the rice all masterfully done. The Tako was heavenly and a step above the Tako we ate the previous day. Another item we ordered at Koiso sushi was Uni (sea urchin). Due to handling and storage of Uni, it isn't something I order from just anywhere, as it's very easy to get food poisoning from bad Uni. The flavor of the Uni at Koiso was superb and a bit unreal. It's a shame we can't go back on a regular basis to enjoy such a meal. It will be hard when we arrive back in the Mojave Desert with no sushi restaurants that come close to the quality of food we had at Koiso.
To continue to our final days in Maui, go here.