ALOHA and MAHALO for checking out my top 10 places to eat, drink, eat and drink some more while enjoying one of the most magical places on earth: Kaanapali, Maui. Don’t worry there are plenty of outdoor adventures like running, surfing, swimming, diving and playing going on around each meal, completely offsetting the caloric intake of most of these tropical foodie dishes.
My list will ensure you don’t waste time, money, or sunshine searching for the perfect meal. I must be transparent by saying I’m 100% bias and a lifelong 96761 resident so everything on this list revolves around the 10 mile coastline along the Honoapiilani highway, between Front street, Lahaina, and Kapalua.
Every experience big or small, short or long, day or night along the Hawaiian islands should directly revolve around the people, places, and things of the land – fresh and local. If you settle for a chain like Bubba Gump’s or order a burger from the Hotel restaurant you are losing!
With so many different styles, types, and tastes of Hawaii at your fingertips it’s hard to get them all in on one trip and a shame if you don’t get full trying.
In addition to sharing my Top 10 places for GRINDZ on the Westside of Maui, I have also added my favorite dishes and the location, website or phone number of each locally owned spot. Bonus: I’ve included some PIDGIN to help you not seem so BARNEY when you order PLATE LUNCH for the first time.
At the very top of my list, located in the heart of Honokowai, is the smallest and in my opinion greatest plate lunch in Hawaii, Okazuya and Deli. Don’t let the Deli fool you, they do not serve turkey on rye here. The mahi mahi w/capers and veggies with one scoop rice and one scoop mac salad will satisfy any beach day and is the perfect meal to eat in the car or enjoy across the street at the Honokowai Beach Park.
After ordering, head next door to the Fish Market Maui and try the fresh Pokē. A local favorite combining fresh Tuna, soy sauce, green onion, sesame seed, chile oil and Maui onions. They also serve a lobster bisque made fresh from all island ingredients.
My next celebration of food would have to be the Seahouse @Napili Kai for a few reasons. First, anytime you can walk out of the ocean and onto the patio of a place where no shirt and no shoes is no problem you get my vote. The Napili Bay is also a top choice for shore break wave riding, snorkeling and body surfing.
The top dishes are Lani ribs, Romaine wraps and Kalua Pork tacos. Just about everything on the Happy Hour menu that runs from 2pm-4:30pm daily is amazing. Park on the street next to the house with the SICFIT banner hanging from the garage gym. If you time it right you can get in a Training Assignment at Kawika’s house.
If you’re planning on staying out and away from your hotel room bring a change of clothes and a towel. Napili Kai is breathtaking for sunset and the perfect place to see the GREEN FLASH. You can rinse off at the beach shower before heading up to Kapalua just one exit north for the greatest Sushi ever, Sansei. Sit anywhere you want before 10pm or try hard to find a seat anytime after when 50% off specials and live Karaoke make this after hours spot rocking all night long.
You can’t go wrong with any of the 9 award winning dishes, but the one you may want to order twice (and my wife Najla’s favorite dish), is the miso glazed butterfish that will fall off the fork and melt in your mouth.
Next up, the following day of course, it’s time to visit the historic Old Lahaina Town. Stop by “The Block Maui” for an awesome beach body workout by Anthony and Maui Jen. Then head directly to Choice Health Bar for a fabulous organic, raw, fresh and local melting pot of super sexy, half naked Yogi’s reading the Maui Bulletin and TALKING STORY.
My kids both love the O.G Acai bowl with fresh banana, apple juice and local honey on top. My favorite post-workout breakfast is the papaya bowl stuffed with goji berries, bee pollen, coconut, lime, and granola. ONO!
Leave your rental car in the parking lot and walk into Old Lahaina Town for some post workout, post Choice cruising on Front street. Visit the Wyland art gallery, take a photo under the worlds largest Banyan Tree or stop by the Lahaina Heritage Museum for a look into the rich history of Lahaina and the Hawaiian islands.
I have saved the best combo for last…if I only had one day left on Maui, or earth for that matter, this is exactly what I would do.
Breakfast at Castaways Cafe on the water at the timeless classic Maui Kaanapali Villas and host of the Good Vibe Tribe. The Good Vibe Tribe is an intimate 3-morning mind, body, and surfing adventure. A dive off of world famous Black Rock, a beach body workout, sunrise yoga, and stand up paddle board session. Space is limited so be sure to register today!
Now back to breakfast…. A trip to Hawaii would not be complete without a local favorite and one of my earliest memories of local food as a Keiki. The LOCO MOCO is the grand daddy of local foods, combining 2 scoops rice, 2 hamburger patties topped with two eggs, onions and gravy. After a 10 mile run to burn off the MOCO it’s time for lunch. HA! Well maybe a few hours later either way the next meal is a short drive up the MAUKA side towards the giant “L” on the side of Pa’upa’u mountain overlooking Lahaina.
Star Noodle: This is the only spot on the list that you will need a reservation for and may need to make it a day or two in advance. Everything on the menu is KIND and it wouldn’t be fair to give you my personal favorites again so I will only give you a hint on ordering another local dessert. It’s called the Malasada, and you will soon find out exactly why this traditional Filipino treat is another island favorite!
Since we’re on the subject of desserts here is another traditional Hawaiian favorite and BROKE DA MOUTH sweet to enjoy.
Ululani’s shave ice on Front street has two locations within a half mile of each other. Go BIG order any 3 flavors you like and add the scoop of vanilla ice cream at the bottom. P.O.G or passion fruit, orange, guava and coconut are a hard combo to beat. Often imitated never duplicated do not fall for any other shave ice truck, store or stand you see!
So what are you waiting for? Book your flight from anywhere in the world directly to O.G.G. Respect the land, the people, and the water. Take a friend, your family or fall in love with a complete stranger! Maui has everything you could possibly imagine in a tropical destination…and it’s still on American soil.
With less than 24 hours away from our next trip I have to hurry up and go pack!
Alright, well that was easy! Now it’s time…WE GO!
Aloha: hello and goodbye
Mahalo: thank you
Shootz: let’s do it, O.K, sounds good
Pidgin: the slang spoken in Hawaii
Barney: inexperienced surfer or tourist acting up
Plate Lunch: any meal consisting of two scoops white rice, macaroni salad, and an entrée.
Talk story: share experiences and memories
Ono: #1 only the best
Kind: dank, also the best
Broke da Mouth: tastes amazing! Delish!!!
Green Flash: optical phenomena occurring right before sunrise or sunset
Automatic: HECK YES and RIGHT NOW!
Aina: land and life outdoors
Mauka: towards the Mountains
We Go! let’s get out of here!
Nah: no like
My name is Luke Kayyem and for the past 37 years I have traveled, lived, worked, played, fished, surfed and shared this magical place I still call home with my ohana and friends.
My Grandfather, Faiz El Kayyem, first visited Hawaii in 1940 months before the attack on Pearl Harbor. A few years later he would return along with my Grandmother, Rose Marie Kayyem, and Mom, Regina Kayyem.
Everyone immediately fell in love with Hawaii and decided to make the soon to be 50th state their summer home, even if it meant enduring the week long cruise line from Los Angeles to Oahu.
In the 60’s my Mom would spend most of the year traveling the world and the other half surfing tandem longboards at Canoes and Queen’s in front of the world famous Moana hotel.
By the beginning of the 70’s, the classic coastline of Waikiki Beach was flooded with hotels and tourists from around the world and the once secret paradise hidden in the middle of the Pacific ocean had been found.
In 1972 my Mom, Grandma, and Great Aunt Renee would take a short 45 minute flight over to Maui for the first time to get away from the city life.
When they arrived they were amazed by how quiet, calm and clean the beaches of Kaanapali were and how magical the views were from the Mauka to the Makai.
I was born in October 1978 and within weeks I made my first trip to Hawaii. After attending a few years of grade school in Manoa and a school year on the Big Island we moved back to the mainland where I would graduate from high school and began my career as a Coach.
Maui is my heart, love and heritage, and when the time comes will be where my mind, body and legacy are left for my children and grandchildren.
I see my life, vision and future more clearly the moment I arrive and I become a happier, healthier human when I leave.
Maui ~No ~Ka ~Oi