Insider’s Guide to Hana

By The Tig

The Tig Archives 05 / 22 / 2015

Growing up in LA, with a travel agent for a mom, we would pop down to Hawaii a couple times a year – a quick jaunt to immerse yourself in beaches, culture, and a heck of a lot of pineapples. And while I still have the fondest memories of my Aloha experiences, it’s been many a shaved ice since I ventured down to Hawaii. Cue Lindsay Ellingson – Victoria Secret angel, and business mogul who just launched her amazing beauty collection, Wander Beauty. Not only does she know a thing or two about strutting the runway & building a brand, but when planning her honeymoon, she and her hubby proved to be quite the travel savants in magical Maui. Here is the lovely Lindsay’s guide to Hana – a nook of Maui that is as awe-inspiring as it comes. Thanks Lindsay – so much Tig love for you, lady!

FROM LINDSAY:

My husband Sean and I were married last year at Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina. We did a lot of of research on where to go for our honeymoon. We wanted a beautiful beach, no kids (sorry parents), and an adventure! We ultimately decided to spend 10 days in Hawaii. Neither of us had been before, and as a bonus there’s no dealing with customs! As I’m sure many of you know, planning a wedding and a honeymoon at the same time can be overwhelming. I was also in the midst of building my new cosmetics experience, Wander Beauty, so I needed a little help. I hired a travel agent who was highly recommended by a good friend. It was such a relief! Ginny Paton at Smart Flyer was incredible and so well traveled. She had our trip planned in just a few days and gave us insider tips on where the locals go and the best places to stay. We spent time at the North Shore; the Four Seasons on the Big Island; but best of all, Hana, Maui! It was like another world – so magical, and we got the adventure we were looking for. Keep reading to hear all about our journey!

STAY

The Road to Hana – My husband’s co-worker owns a house in Hawaii and has driven the Hana highway many times. His advice: hire a driver! The locals jokingly nickname it the “Relationship Breaker” because many honeymooners drive themselves and end up fighting or turning around. The 52 mile trip takes between 2 and 4 hours to complete and consists of 59 bridges, many of them one lane wide and made in the early 1900s. There’s also approximately 620 curves with views of cliffs, beaches, waterfalls and miles of rainforest. It was awe-inspiring. One of my favorite sights was the rainbow eucalyptus trees, it seemed otherworldly, like Avatar’s planet Pandora. Our driver, Butch Weatherly, kept us comfortable inside his roomy escalade with snacks and mini bottles of champagne to toast our recent wedding. Being a local, he knew all the great places to stop along the highway, none of which were tourists traps. He told us to stay away from the Seven Sacred Pools, the thought of thousands of tourists taking a dip in those pools didn’t sound appealing. Instead he brought us to a secluded waterfall off the highway with fresh icy water falling from 10k feet. It was a magical Hawaiian moment.

Travaasa Hana Resort – After a few hours we arrived at Travaasa, which in Sanskrit translates to, “memorable journey.” And that it was! The Hotel is situated on the coast near many famous beaches, including Red Sand Beach (more about that later). We stayed in a private cottage near the salt water pool. There was no TV and limited internet and cellular connection. I enjoyed disconnecting for a few days to truly spend quality time with my husband Sean and enjoy the amazing views. Each day there was an itinerary of activities we could sign up for, from yoga to archery, lei making and canoeing, they had it all! It was the adventure we were looking for. Most of the locals were of polynesian descent, born and raised in Hana. One memorable experience was our canoe trip. This is not a sit back and relax type of boating excursion, it’s a team coordinated effort to get you canoe to move where you want it to go. Our tour guides told us the history of the Polynesians, how they came to Hawaii in canoes across the Pacific. What an incredible feat. The swells were at least 10 feet as we coasted further from the shore.

EAT

Mama’s Fish House – Our first stop was a wedding present, one of our good friends gave us a gift certificate to Mama’s Fish House. We were told the food is the best on the island. I recommend making a reservation because it’s very popular. The restaurant is about 20 minutes from the airport in Maui and positioned at the start of the infamous Hana Hwy. Mama’s sits beach front with a dreamy view of twisting palm trees and gorgeous red ginger flowers. I was impressed by the menu which listed the fresh catches of the day, including the name of the fisherman and where it was caught. The food and service were impeccable; I would definitely recommend it to anyone traveling to Maui! Now let’s not forget about the Mai Tai’s, you can’t experience Hawaii without trying one. I have to say, theirs was the second best Mai Tai I had during our trip. Read on to find out who made the best!

Ono Farms – Every morning my husband and I would bike to Ono Farm’s fresh fruit stand not far from our hotel with the most delicious tropical fruit. I tasted star and dragon fruit for the first time. At Hamoa Beach, not far from the hotel, Ono Farms has a smoothie stand set up, we enjoyed fresh mango, strawberry and dragon fruit juice- hands down the best smoothie I’ve ever tasted! You can also visit Ono Organic Farms and do a fruit tasting, which I plan on doing next time I visit. Additionally, if you like wine tasting, I recommend stopping by the Winery at the Ulupalakua Ranch. They make delicious pineapple wine which is surprisingly not too sweet! I highly recommend doing a tasting.

FROLIC

Red Sand Beach – Now about red sand beach, the people who work at Travaasa will NOT tell you how to get there. It’s not a safe hike for anyone unaccustomed to slippery, narrow, edge of a cliff walkways. I conquered my fear of heights to get there, almost in tears towards the end! Besides the nudists and the hot rocky sand, it was quite a view. The contrast of red sand and bright blue water was incredible and it was great for snorkeling. If you want to go, I suggest you ask a local for directions and bring a great pair of hiking shoes and flippers!

“The Art of the Cocktail” – Sean and I signed up for this fun and relaxing afternoon event after a day filled with bodyboarding at the beach. We met Ryan Poe, the bartender at Travaasa’s restaurant. A few couples joined us as he taught us how to mix the perfect drinks. His Mai Tai was unlike any other, he used only top shelf liquors and left out the canned pineapple juice, it was the real deal original recipe. Definitely ask for him if you go!

In conclusion, those ten days flew by! Hawaii will always hold a special place in my heart, there’s no place in the world quite like it. In Hana you get to experience true Hawaii; there’s no McDonald’s or Starbucks in sight, but you won’t miss it! All in all, it was an incredible trip and I cannot wait to go back. Until next time…Aloha!

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Last updated on June 29th, 2019