Gluten Free Travel: Pt 2, Maui, Luau & Snorkeling

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We arrived in Maui after a long day in Honolulu. It was about all we could do to get to our condo, unzip the luggage, find our toothbrushes and crash in bed.

Next morning husband and I woke to beautiful weather, brewed a big pot of dark yet smooth Kona coffee, and sat on the balcony while waiting for the girls to rise. Once they got up and got themselves dressed, we headed down to the small restaurant they had in the facility to have breakfast. We stayed on the western side of the island, in Kaanapali. It’s a beautiful side of the island, quieter and lower key than the south eastern side down near Kihei. We loved it. There was plenty for the girls to entertain themselves with on our first leg in the islands, but not so ‘touristy’ that us adults were put off.

Gluten Free was really quite available we found in our travels through the islands. My husband utilized his ‘YELP’ phone app to find places and check reviews, and the only time we had a mediocre meal was the one time we ate in Kauai as a walk-in with no – Yelping. (is that what its’ called? well, that’s what I’ll call it!) Since we were 5 days in Maui, we utilized the kitchen in the condo to have breakfast and make lunches. Right up the street from us was a ‘Times’ grocery store that was quite busy and appeared used by the locals. It was suggested to us to stop at the Walmart on the way out of the airport, but it was pitch black, late in the evening, and we just wanted to find our place and sleep. Walmart may have been cheaper, but for lunch meats, corn tortillas, lettuce, eggs, sausage and fruit for breakfast/lunch it was reasonably priced.

So we hit the store after breakfast, went back to the room, packed the cooler with waters, GF sandwiches (corn tortillas, lunchmeat, mayo and lettuce) and headed off to the beach. By the way, if I have not said this before, I HIGHLY recommend packing a collapsable cooler in your luggage. We used it everywhere we went, and that is highly advisable when you have someone who has dietary issues. It was just easier to pack a lunch or snacks to the beach than worry about local joints who didn’t know the ingredient lists of their products. Plus, it’s a great way to save a buck you can then spend on something else; for example, a trip to Molokini (see previous post!) or Mai Tai’s! (Just remember to pack some extra heavy duty ziploc bags in your luggage to put ice in!)

For eating out in Maui and Kauai, you can’t go wrong with the group who runs a number of the restaurants on the islands, which thankfully sports Gluten Free menus or accommodates GF selections. On Maui there was Duke’s Beach House in Kaanapali, Kimos in Lahaina, and on Kauai there is Keoki’s.

Here is the link to check out the Menu

Luau on Maui:

Here is my one word of caution for all Hawaiian travelers who have gluten issues: either find a Luau which offers gluten free options or don’t bother going. My daughter was frustrated and hungry went we left, and considering the price of a Luau, we were disappointed. The salad dressings had soy, the meats (except for the kalua pork), the vegetables, even the fish all had soy or gluten. Since she also has sun allergies and has to stay away from citrus, the fruit platters were off limits also. She ate pork and that was about all. (She was not interested in the taro root vegetable dish, which she said looked like green slime. And it did. ) The entertainment is fun, but I’m guessing you can find a free or food free version of a hula dance show somewhere else.

Snorkeling:

Be sure to rent the snorkel gear from a local shop and snorkel. It’s amazing over on the west side where it’s more volcanic rock and there is a lot of reef. I saw a sea turtle on my first outing and the fish are breathtakingly beautiful. The vibrant colors of the fish and clarity of water just can’t be beat. The place I got my gear from in Kaanapali gave me a bottle of de-fog and custom fit the mask and flippers. It was worth the little higher price compared to the gear I rented on Kauai that was not custom fit and didn’t include the de-fog. You can find places that are cheaper, but decide what you want and need and then price shop. I’d rather have gear that fits than gear that didn’t fit as well. I found I was much more comfortable and fussed less with leaky or foggy masks, and my flippers never tried to fall off with the custom fit shop. It’s up to you. But if you don’t snorkel while in the islands, you are missing out on a lot of what makes the hawaiian islands unique and breathtaking. So, just like Molokini and Hana are a ‘must’, so is snorkeling. Just do it.

coming soon: Pt 3, Kauai


On the road to Hana, stop at Keanae!

On the road to Hana, stop at Keanae!

On the road to Hana, take a swing down to the little (kinda sorta) ‘town’ of Keanae. It lies on a volcanic spit that jets out to the ocean where you’ll find, a historic church made from lava rock and coral, waves crashing spectacularly against those ancient black flows, and the best mango bread you’ll ever have. (no, it is not GlutenFree, but now I am determined to make one just like it GF)

We stopped at this quaint sign, which was someones house and sported a small goat eating leaves, to buy a loaf of Mango bread. It was handed to us by a young boy of maybe 13, warm still in a brown paper bag and the mark of oil attesting to its’ moistness.

Oh la la! It was delish torn off in hunks eaten warm, but even better the next morning, toasted, served along with papaya and fresh squeezed lime juice.

Whether or not you stop for the mango bread, the vista was well worth the time taken for the side trip.


Molokini. Just Do It.

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I have a friend who lives on Maui, and she told us what our ‘must do’s’ were and what beach to snorkel on. 

A ‘must do’ is the Four Winds 2 Catamaran out to Molokini. Be sure to do the morning ride, that is the one that takes you out to Molokini. (The afternoon trip goes somewhere else, because the Trade Winds kick up and it gets too rough out in the crater) You see, Molokini is an old blown out volcano that is partially submerged under the water. It’s crater makes for ideal snorkeling and the trip out there is breathtakingly beautiful. If you go in late December thru late February, you are guaranteed to see a whale or two. We saw quite a few, including a mother and her calf along with her ‘escort’ (A male who hangs out with them providing protection for baby and hoping for an opportunity to ‘score’ with mom), and a couple of junior whale breaches. We stopped at ‘Turtle Town’ on the way back, where turtles stop to get their shells cleaned of by the fish. 

I need to tell you why this is the tour group to go with, and that starts with a flashback to another trip of mine. 

When I was a senior in college, my mother and I went on a mother-daughter trip through France together. We started in the South of France and ended up in Paris where my father met up with us and we took one of those barge trips through the champagne country. (If you are keeping a bucket list, this should be on it!) The group was a large one, so they split us on to two barges, about 8-10 of us went on this little tiny barge that was tethered on the outter side of the massive barge. Climbing over the bigger barge, I’ll confess we started to feel a bit downhearted that we got the little boat. Then we met our crew. They LOVED their little barge, and I mean…LOVED it. They kept it sparkling clean, were happy, friendly, and proud of their ‘home’. (The crew lives on the boats) The best part for us? We had a French Cordon Bleu chef who shopped at all the local ports and made 5 star meals every night. The other barge had a British chef, and well, this was well before the chefs like Jamie Oliver appeared on the scene. Needless to say, fairly quickly we learned not to mention how happy we were on our little boat, because the passengers on the bigger barge were most definitely not wanting to hear about how wonderful our experience was by comparison. 

I guess the point I’m coming to is that your experience is not always what you think it might be at first blush. Never pre-judge, have a great attitude and listen to what the locals say about what to do. The catamaran we came to was big enough but not overly impressive. It also looked crowded and I was a little concerned about feeling cramped. I need not have worried, there was plenty of room we discovered, and the ship was spotless and well run. The crew is amazing and the captain, while running a safe and tight ship, was enjoyable, funny, personable, and extremely knowledgable. He talked without rambling. He regaled us with great stories, lots of information and things to see or watch for. For me, it sounded like this was his first time out explaining things, not his thousanth. These people LOVED what they did, you could tell. 

For those who are gluten free, or have dietary issues, just talk to the steward when you board, or be sure to mention it to the agent who books it for you if you are going through an agent. We used the Expedia agent at our condo complex to book, but I completely forgot to mention gluten free. That would have been helpful for breakfast, since it was bagels and fruit. We ALWAYS pack some emergency snacks, where ever we go, so my daughter munched on glutino bagel chips and drank POG. (pineapple, orange, guava) I talked to one of the hands immediately upon boarding, asking what might be available for her to eat. They were making kalua pork (see my ‘Kalua Pork’ post) and he said he would set aside some pork before they added BBQ sauce. They also had marinated grilled chicken burgers (every day they rotate who creates the marinade, ask and I bet they would accommodate no soy, that day it was a soy marinade), hot dogs and hamburgers, along with veggie burgers. I didn’t know if the veggie burgers had any wheat, so we stuck with the pork for my daughter. Maui chips (YUMMMMMMY) are served along with veggies. 

Couple of tips that might help you enjoy it as much as we did: 

1.Take a dramamine if you are not totally seaworthy. My husband and daughters did, and still got a little sea sick, they should have taken 2 pills, not just one. (my youngest has inner ear damage which makes it worse) Always watch the horizon if you tend to get sea sick, don’t text or spend all your time looking through the viewfinder on your camera! I have sea legs (inherited from both my parents, who were navy men through and through) and so didn’t have a problem. Some will, so be proactive. 

2. Keep your eyes open. I was the one who spotted all the whales, but I grew up on the west coast and know what to look for. If you are there during whale season, there is nothing more thrilling than see a whale blow, or better yet, breach! 

3. Pack a suit fit for snorkeling. This is not a fashion show. You are going to snorkel in Molokini, so wear a suit that is practical and comfortable. There is no room for sunbathing, and you will want to cover up after snorkeling, because going back was going in to the wind. (for us at least)

4. Rent the wetsuit. Yes, it’s $5 extra but you will thank me. The water isn’t ‘cold’, but it’s not as warm as the beaches. Having that wetsuit top will insulate you just enough that you will be cozy comfy and able to stay out as long as you wish. 

5. SNUMA. If you don’t have an inner ear problem (like my daughter who was going to go with me) then for goodness sake do it. It’s like snorkeling, but better! No pool certification, looking at nasty lost bandaids, but a quick 20 min lesson and then you are in the water. I did this when I was younger and in the islands with my family, but this go round I chose to forgo because my daughter could not go (the only one who was brave enough to do it with me) with her recently damaged her inner ear. They have an on-board underwater photographer who will take your photo. They were awesome, I recommend getting his CD. 

No, I’m not a sales agent for this tour. I just really, REALLY enjoyed myself. I made friends with the crew members, who were sweet and remembered my name right off the bat. I met a charming young college freshman, who was transferring from UofW (washington) to WSU, my fathers alma mater. We chatted for most of the way back to dock. At the dock, my husband tipped the crew, who then rings the bell. They earned it. They kept us safe, took great care of us, and made the trip feel like we were traveling with family, not just a tourist. 

Molokini. When you do it, do it with the crew of the Four Winds 2.