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


Gluten Free Traveling: part 1 Honolulu, Hawaii

We arrived in Honolulu late at night, so all we thought of was bed. We stayed at a hotel just east of the airport, west of Waikiki called the Ala Moana, which we discovered was a gigantic mall. The hotel was within the complex of it. That morning we headed down to the casual restaurant with in it, and was able to cobble together a breakfast for my daughter from the buffet they had. It was fairly GF friendly, sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, and blessedly…..rice. I’ve never seen just plain steamed rice on a buffet, let alone a breakfast buffet, but there it was. You see, we all take toast, bagels, muffins, granola for granted. Protein is excellent, but when traveling and walking and touring, a bit of carbs can help keep you going. (yes, I know there are those who disagree, I am all about moderation)

Then it was off to pearl harbor, which we had allowed the time and day to see. It is a must for anything traveling through the islands. The history there is critical for those younger than I to hear and see, and appreciate the blessings of peace they have been living in. As I’ve said, I’m from the West Coast and while not old, also not of a young age. I remember distinctly in my young years having a cautious eye for the Japanese, and not having that total freedom of fear that maybe my husband has growing up in the middle of the country. You see, as a west coast native, we had been attacked. Maybe not on the mainland proper, but in our parents eyes, we had been attacked non-the-less. My father grew up having to have the drapes drawn at night, very few lights lit….because of the danger of the japanese patrol boats off the coast of the Peugeot Sound seeing the lights and fixing a target. It was a different time, and blessedly, ,my children did not grow up ducking under desks and having to live with thick blankets on the windows. 

Pearl Harbor is a challenge for those who are GF, but I would HIGHLY recommend the tour of the Battleship Missouri (“Mighty Mo”) and while over there, hit the Aeronautics museum. There are extremely cool planes to see, and the video they show is something every American should be watching in school. While there, visit the little cafe they have. If it is your first stop in the islands, it will familiarize you with Kalua Pork. (see previous post)  Kalua Pork is safe for those who are Gluten Intolerant. I’ve never seen it made with anything wheat or with soy. (double check, always double check) 

You can pick up a nice wad of Kalua pork (sans the bun) and a beverage. The hot dogs are all beef also. (check when you go) They also had a nice chicken salad with a caesar dressing that was also wheat free. I didn’t find anything else even suitable to eat for my daughter while there. A trick is to pack a few things from the mainland. We had fruit snacks, Glutino yogurt pretzels and bagel chips we brought with. Those are fine for airport security and great to pack in your purse while traveling. We have come to just not expect that there will be food or snacks available, so we always pack something no matter what. 

We only had until 4pm on Oahu, and so back to the hotel we raced after seeing the Mighty Mo, the aeronautics museum, and the Arizona. (I won’t complain about the lack of respect and poor behavior I experienced at the Arizona and generally at Pearl Harbor, but afterwards I no longer have a lot of hope for America’s soul after seeing some atrocious behavior there) We needed to grab a bite to eat before we got on the local puddle hopper to Maui, but where? We were cranky, tired, hot, and plainly worn out from a long flight, short night and the time change. While I have traveled, my family has not. Needless to say, some grumbling ensued. 

Hubby and oldest offspring had decided fish, japanese preferably. At the hotel where our luggage was being stored, they recommended a place, but finding it was troublesome at best. After wading through a wedding party of asians that I swear was strolling down the halls of the complex at 300+ strong, we stumbled upon an asian place that I INSISTED we check out. (At this point I was becoming tired and a bit cranky, so forgive me) 

What a gem! YuZu was its name: http://yuzuhawaii.com/menu  It featured organic gluten free soy in most it dishes and my daughter scarfed up teriyaki sticks, california rolls and other delights. For me, the Yuzu Mojito was KILLER TO DIE FOR! If you are in Honolulu, and are looking for a place to nosh on yummy asian bites, without having to worry about gluten laden soy, this is the place for you. I am including the link (I don’t yet know how to hyper link, sorry, I’m a work in progress) so hopefully it works and you can click and check out the menu. Go visit it. Places like this need to be supported, so that families like mine can find places to eat while traveling! If you are looking for a ‘travel’ review….the bathroom was spotless, the decor minimal but lovely, and it was clean. The tempura avocado is a must try as well as the aforementioned mojito. 

That wraps up our very brief time in Honolulu and how we managed with a GF traveler. 

(part 2, Maui, soon to come)


Kalua Pork

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While traveling on the island of Maui, we were told to try many dishes and drinks – Moco Loco, Poke, POG, Mai Tai’s, Hawaiian varieties of fish and Kalua Pork, or Kalua Pig which brings me to Hana. Heavenly Hana.

The road to Hana is known not as a destination, but a journey. It is all about the drive along the way. Stops galore with sights that constantly take your breath away. Breathtaking not only for the hair-raising dare-devil, barely two lane road (but mostly one car sized road) drive up perilously treacherous hairpin turns overhanging the ocean hundreds of feet below, but also for the sheer beauty of nature. It’s a journey that should be on everyone’s Bucket List.

We got a late start and hubby took the wheel on the way up. We hugged the hillside so close I swore we were going to take off a side mirror, climbing to over 1400 feet on a road that twisted and turned as it carved in to the hillside on a path, I swear, was made for goats. There were lots of turnouts so there were an abundance of walking and stretching of leg opportunities to take photos, but they handled few cars and one needed to mind where walking, lest you end up bumped off the side!  Up, then back down again, then up even higher, then back down again. Despite the potential for car sickness or other calamities, it was completely and utterly worth the ‘thrill’ of the ride.

We saw painted eucalyptus trees. Trees who’s bark looks like it was painted with an artists watercolor palette. We saw small remote towns who grew Taro in small fields out on a volcanic spits where the waves crash and spray like a steam iron on overload. We saw palm forests that looked like they were out of Jurassic Park, literally. The scenes for the opening of the original Jurassic Park were filmed in one of the valleys on the way to Hana. We saw cattle, bamboo forests, gorgeous plants and flowers one only sees in florist shops, growing wild. We saw Tarzan vines, and roots that looked like the rudders of a ship and were nearly as big. The canopy of the forest was overflowing with beautiful vivid orange tropical flowers, reminiscent of the image in Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ when Bilbo climbs to get his bearings. We saw lots and lots of rain, but then it is a rain forest. That part of the island can an average of 12 feet of rain. There were secluded waterfalls and caverns with their crystal clear blue pools.

We made it all the way to Hana, where the sands are black and the waves are big. It’s a quaint isolated little town, where they were friendly to the tourists. We grabbed a coffee at the local market (which reminded me very much of a Ben Franklin 5&10) and then it was my turn to drive back down. As it was getting late in the day we decided to stop at this teeny tiny little tin covered hut, (which we passed on the way up) that sold Kalua Pork, for an early dinner. It was pouring rain at that moment and it sounded like the heavens above were coming down on us, what with the tin roof and all. A woman standing on a platform behind a counter, with a couple of food steamers and an ice cooler, was serving a nice selection of fish, shrimp and Kalua pork tacos or bowls, ‘homemade’ mac n’cheese, hot dogs and chili. I choose the Kalua Pork bowl. There were giant condiment bottles labeled with masking tape ‘HOT-garlic/chili’, ‘BBQ’, ‘Sweet Chili Sauce’ along with soy, Tapatio, ketchup and mustard. I went for the BBQ, garlic chili and soy. Oh, it was mighty tasty. Sitting there in that forest, hugging the side of the road, with the rain beating down loud enough to make it difficult to talk among each other was absolutely wonderful.

Sometimes in circumstances like that, you wonder if the food was really as good as you thought. Was it? Or was the ambience and scenery so amazing that the food benefits by association? I’ll never know. Kalua Pork on it’s own isn’t all that hard to make based on the recipes I looked up. Maybe it was the atmosphere, or the smell of the rain forest, or the leaves its’ steamed in. Maybe it was the picnic bench covered with a vinyl cloth, or the man next to us in his handmade banana leaf brimmed hat. Maybe it was the chickens pecking about next to us, or the music of the rain on a tin roof. All I know was that it was amazing. It was amazing, and I hope to be back again in my lifetime.

Just because it’s checked off the Bucket List doesn’t mean I can’t repeat it, right?

(The photo up top was taken from my iPhone, during a break in the rain. Quality suffers, but you can find many other professional quality photos online)