The Garden of Eden, Maui, Hawaii

Guest Post: Ruth Elayne Kongaika

I never knew the Garden of Eden was in Maui, Hawaii, but sure enough, it is. I even found myself looking around for Adam and Eve as I sauntered through the flowering trees, bamboo forests and exotic anthuriums of the tropical gardens.

The botanical garden known as the Garden of Eden is located in Haiku on the Road to Hana. Created by Alan Bradbury, a certified arborist and landscape designer in 1991, the garden was opened in 1996. It has been recognized by the state of Hawaii for excellent conservation practices, development techniques and proper land use.

Garden of Eden, Maui, Hawaii Copyright Ruth Elayne KongaikaOur walk through the Garden of Eden was educating, relaxing and breathtaking. I even saw a flowering Jade Vine, with shades of blue rarely seen in nature. It is usually found in the Philippines, and I was totally enthralled by this species. The vines wind around each other and create natural art. Signs identify many of the trees and plants and come from around the world.

Jade Vine Garden of Eden, Maui, Hawaii Copyright Ruth Elayne KongaikaThere are a host of ti plants in the garden. These plants are utilized by Hawaiians for a variety of reasons. The roots can be eaten or used for a drink. The leaves can be used to cover an imu (underground oven), wrap laulau (food cooked in underground oven), catch fish by tying them to fishing nets to scare the fish inside, or used as sandals to protect the feet or as a protection from the rain. Ti leaves are used as hula skirts and are believed to keep evil spirits away from the home.

Variety of Plants Garden of Eden, Maui, Hawaii Copyright Ruth Elayne KongaikaTrails are covered with gravel for safety throughout the garden. A map is available so you experience all there is to see over the 26 acres of enchanting pathways and not get lost. It is quite humid in the area, so it is best to wear good walking shoes that have a good grip. The average rainfall in the area is 150 inches per year.

Hong Kong Orchid Garden of Eden, Maui, Hawaii Copyright Ruth Elayne KongaikaAreas available to see include a tree farm, banana patch, enchanted forest, bamboo alley, anthurium garden, duck pond, bird feeding area, valley overlook as well as a waterfall overlook. You can see the Puohokamoa Falls from the ridge line on the Hana side of the gardens. A 100 year old mango tree is located near the center of the gardens. My favorite were the bamboo gardens. I had no idea there were so many different kinds of bamboo. I also loved the Hong Kong Orchid Tree.

Ruth Elayne Kongaika was raised in the mainland, USA, but has been living in the South Pacific for the past forty years. She enjoys trying to capture the beauty of the islands through her photography, painting and writing. She has a blog which shares some of her art and favorite subjects at:



Endless Pacific Bliss–Summertime Activities on Maui

It's the cool breeze coming in off of the waves as you approach the Pacific; the sounds of the birds as you make your way through the forest past the tumble of a secluded waterfall–these are the joys of a Maui summer. Whether you're coming from another hospitable climate or turning to the island shores to seek refuge from the cold, taking advantage of every waking minute is essential. With such a myriad of activities available to you, time is at a premium. While packing your itinerary will be the least of your worries, you'll want to escape the crowds, partake in some delicious authentic cuisine, and exercise your adventurous side–all before escaping back to the comforts of your resort. With efficiency and variety in mind, here are a few suggestions to make the most of your summer vacation on Maui's shores.Kaanapali beach Maui, Hawaii By InternetAge Traveler

Never Hit the Same Beach Twice

You've seen them on desktop backgrounds and dream sequences in films–they're the golden sands that continue to entice travelers from all over the world to Maui. You'll undoubtedly spend large chunks of your time soaking in the rays, but a daily change of scenery will open your eyes to the many different landscapes that make up the island's coast. Begin your day at Wailea Beach, just down the road from the Hotel Wailea and other summertime hot spots before escaping up the coast to Napili. Round the horn of the island to discover another wealth of possibilities.Wherever you wind up, you surely won’t be disappointed.

Maui Brewing Company By davemurfRefresh at Maui Brewing Company

If you're parched after a long day out, there’s no better place to refresh yourself than the legendary Maui Brewing Company. Not only do they champion a well-decorated beer list–they can cook a mean meal! Depending on your mood or the weather outside, pick one of their many brews that take full advantage of local tastes and flavors. If you're unable to choose, take the brew tour and end up with a sampler back in the brew pub, where you'll be able to whet your palate with a host of different ales and lagers.

Iao Valley, Maui, Hawaii By InternetAge TravelerHike To Your Heart's Content

It will almost certainly be hot if you're visiting during the summer. Swimming in the waves may feel like you're only respite from the heat,but the views of Maui are not to be ignored.Should you want to marvel in the vast stretches of luscious green landscapes and miles of ocean in every direction, gathering your group and going for a hike is the perfect way to steal your breath. Kualoa Point, which hugs the southern side of the island, will introduce you to some of the island's most remarkable lookouts, and isn’t nearly as strenuous as it looks.


Hawaii’s Playground Pools

Guest Post by: HNLhulagirl

Although the islands have many options for water sports including surfing, snorkeling and diving, many enjoy the allure of a fantastic resort pool where waterslides, coves, kid free areas, kiddies’ play areas and more to round out the perfect Hawaii vacation.

 There are many resort pools in the islands but three come to the top each time, without a doubt. The Grand Hyatt Kauai, the Hilton Waikoloa and the Grand Wailea have by far the best pool facilities in the state.Hawaii Resort Pools

 Here is a rundown of the best of the best in Hawaii-nei.

Grand Wailea – 3850 Wailea Alanui Drive, Wailea, Maui, HI 96753

Hours: 7:00 am – 10:00 pm. Slides are open daily from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.

Located in the upscale and sunny resort area of Wailea, Maui the Grand Wailea is by far the largest and most opulent resort in the islands. The pool is no exception. No less than 30,000 feet of aquatic bliss that offers something for everyone. Located makai or beachside of the massive resort, it is actually a series of pools that offer something for everyone. The most peaceful pool is the adults only Hibiscus pool. The mosaic lined pool is the spot for serene sunbathing bliss. Located just steps from the ocean and away from the high energy slides and waterfalls, this pool has a large deck, two whirlpool spas and lots of sun all day long. The star of the resort is the Water Canyon Activity Pool. Actually a series of different water experiences connected by a river descending some 40 feet to sea level. This pool offers the active and energetic guests an opportunity to whisk down any one of seven slides, run rapids, ride the river current, rope swing, ride a water elevator, explore caves, enjoy whirlpools, swim up for beverages, wander through jungle pools and even an infant pool and sand beach for the resort’s youngest guests.

Hyatt Kauai 1571 Poipu Road, Koloa, Hawaii, USA 96756

Hours: 24 hours

It’s the best resort on Kauai. Located about 25 minutes from the Lihue airport, the resort at the heart of luxury in the sunny Poipu area. The pool is a fantastic collection of fresh and salt water lagoons, freshwater lazy rivers plus the wide and lush white sands at Shipwreck beach. The best part is that its open 24 hours and the activities run a wide range of activities from soaking up the sun to kayaking. The intermingling pools and lazy river are built on descending levels that offer quiet respite adult areas, private coves and waterfalls. The salt water lagoons are quite unique offering guests the option to enjoy the natural waters without having to venture out into the rough conditions along the shoreline. There is an additional lap pool available at the Anara Spa that offers adults to swim laps undisturbed by other activities.

Hilton Waikoloa Village 69-425 Waikoloa Beach Drive Waikoloa, HI 96738

Hours: 8am-11pm

This affordably priced resort is located about 20 minutes from the Kona International airport. It is the largest man-made pool complex in the islands. There are three freshwater pools and a large salt water lagoon that offers activities that include sunbathing in solace to rip roaring waterslide and numerous waterfalls. The ocean tower pool is enveloped in lush tropical vegetation for those seeking rest and relaxation. The Kohala River pool offers a meandering river that flows through the pool area where guests float and wander under the sunny South Kohala sun. The Kona pool is the largest pool on the resort. It’s the center of resort activity and adjacent to the bar and casual poolside restaurants. The lagoon is a unique man made feature of the resort that allows guests to snorkel with tropical fish, enjoy kayaking and stand-up paddle boards in controlled and safe conditions. The massive waterfall is the focal point of the lagoon which is located adjacent to the dolphin habitat.

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Merriman’s Monkeypod Kitchen in Maui

Guest Post by: HNLhulagirl

Finally, an enjoyable alternative to the overpriced and overdone resorty restaurants in Wailea has arrived, and this one is a keeper. I must admit that I skipped it once only because being from Kauelma, home of Merriman’s notable flagship restaurant and Merriman’s Café in nearby Waikoloa, I felt that perhaps something more unique to Maui would be the better choice.
After a couple of disappointing stints on previous trips at other Wailea resort restaurants, anticipation of Peter Merriman’s casual café was high and my table reservations were confirmed for just after noon.


Merriman’s Monkeypod Kitchen in MauiMaybe it’s me, but being a lifelong island girl, hotel restaurants with very few exceptions fail to impress me regardless of how crisp the linens, how beautiful the ocean views or how attentive the service. Loyalty in the resort restaurant world is unrewarding and runs thin like a badly made buerre blanc. Re-purposing and new trends make changes regular and often seem to result in a much too mainstream experience that fails to delight or even amuse.

I will put my money on the local Hawaiian chefs any day. These folks are the crux of island cuisine and offer patrons more bang for the buck, more creativity for the cash and more ferocity for the funds.

Island chefs like Sam Choy, Alan Wong, Bev Gannon, George Mavrothalassitis, Göran Streng and Peter Merriman not only have the challenge to keep the menu interesting but also have the daunting task to keep the establishments profitable. These chefs have all succeeded in winning over the hearts and appetites of islanders consistently over the years. Each one is successful, creative and offer high-quality dining experiences..

I finally arrive on Maui after a morning of airport security, seat belt fastening, carry-on stowing. After a task-oriented morning, I was looking forward to my early afternoon respite at Monkey Pod Kitchen. The Wailea Gateway location is wonderful. The restaurant is located upslope and on the fringes of the upscale Wailea resort just far enough from the tourist haunts to make it agreeable. Access is simple and quick via Piilani Highway, which negates having to slog along South Kihei Road. The upper-level location provides just a sliver of ocean, and Kahoolawe views and is wedged along the corner of Wailea Ike Drive.

I entered early and was greeted promptly by host staff in a dining room that was more empty than full. For lack of a better description, I will call the décor tropical trendy. It was inviting and fresh without being kitschy or mundane. The bar occupies the length of the restaurant positioned to take in the ocean views and afternoon light while the open kitchen is toward the rear. The bar is quickly gaining speed as a popular happy hour and meet-up place for islanders and the bar staff is certainly the reason for this acclaim. Aside from being cordial and efficient, they mix a list of fantastic specialty cocktails and offer over thirty types of beer. In addition, there is live music on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Most of the tables are located on the wrap-around covered patio while banquettes are limited to the air-conditioned interior. For those who enjoy dining alfresco, tables near the front entrance are best to see and be seen while the side patio area offers more privacy but only a view of a resort intersection. For those dining alone, there is seating along the kitchen counter and even a few oversized banquettes for larger parties.

The menu is classic Merriman with a few fresh twists. I was delighted to see his popular white Hamakua mushroom pizza front and center on the menu. I was also excited to see new items, including a designer saimin, dry mein with vegetables and a very interesting Coconut Seafood "Seabury" Chowder that I will certainly try during my next visit.

My visit was filled with a bottomless glass of iced tea, my favorite wood fired pizza (yes the white mushroom one) and a slice of banana cream pie for dessert. Merriman’s pizza is done on a thin crust topped with exotic Big Island mushrooms and parmesan cheese. Their selections of pies are made on Maui. My huge slice was silky and creamy. It was filled with generous slices of banana and a flaky homemade crust.

The dining room was cool and comfortable and even though the meal was a bit on the pricey side, it was worth every cent. This restaurant is the perfect spot for long ladies’ luncheon, business brainstorming, cocktail co-mingling and delectable dining. Overall the service and food was spot on. I cannot wait to return during my next trip to Maui.
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