Maui, Hawaii

The fantasy island of Maui recently became GW’s favorite vacation destination. The second largest of the Hawaiian Islands, Maui boasts a breathtaking landscape, as well playground of activities and hospitality. As one of the most sought after locations on the planet, and with accommodation to suit almost any traveler, it’s no wonder why we had to visit it!

“The B&B” The Old Wailuku Inn at Ulupono – Just 10 minutes from Kahului Airport, one can find this hidden gem of a B&B. Boasting a 1930s-1940s Hawaiiana style, stretch you legs on the grand front lānai, overlooking a beautifully landscaped garden. The Hawaiian name “Ulupono” means “to grow and flourish in righteousness.” And although the name was newly bestowed when the property was opened in 1997, the feeling at the lovingly restored Old Wailuku Inn at Ulupono is most definitely that of Hawai‘i as it used to be. Close your heavy eyes in cozy rooms, such as “The Bird of Paradise Suite,” and wake each morning to a home made breakfast, as native-born innkeepers Janice and Tom Fairbanks share their knowledge of the Island and culture.

“The Private Cottage” Haiku Cannery Inn – If you are looking for privacy, quaint intimacy and a lush Hawaiian jungle getaway, this is your spot. Situated on three tropical acres in Haiku, Maui, these cottages overlook pastures and the Haleakala volcano to the south and the blue ocean of the North Shore to the north. Originally the Manager’s Residence for the Haiku Pineapple Cannerys in the 1920’s, this fully restored inn, provides the ideal seclusion. Owner, Benni D’Enveau, has seen both the property, and island, change over the last 30+ years. The wisdom and warmth she brings to the Inn is obvious in it’s wooden charm, wild yet beautiful landscaping, and touches such as the breakfast brought to your door every morning. The local town of Paia is also worth checking out, for great boutique shopping and lots of fun ‘surfy’ restaurants.

“The Boutique Hotel” Hooilo House – Ever visited somewhere and thought, “yes I could live here;” well we did on arrival to the Hooilo House. Situated in the West Maui Mountains, this quiet, private Bed & Breakfast offers incredible views of the Pacific Ocean and islands surrounding Maui. Decor is luxurious yet minimalist, combining both Hawaiian tradition, with Asian and Balinese touches. Wooden four poster beds, complimented by white linen and dark marble floors, blend seamlessly into the raw natural landscape. Features such as the sculpted faces, outdoor showers and the open plan of this hotel, make it both unique and incredibly sensual…a perfect couple’s getaway.

Perhaps the best part about this hotel is its location on the popular west side of the island, just minutes from the historic whaling town of Lahaina, which boasts some spectacular restaurants such as Sugarcane. If you do eat at this fantastic spot, overlooking the ocean, be sure to try Chef Chin’s Homemade Focaccia with Hawaiian Sea Salt Butter, as well as his unique Ahi Nachos (seared ahi tuna, sesame spinach salad, won ton chips, trio of aioli.) All of the latter washes down great with Sugarcane’s Signature Mai Tai!

If you do decide to surf on your trip to Maui (or paddleboard) – and you should at least try it once – a little further past Lahaina you will find 808 Boards Inc, who can hook you up with both boards and advice on where to hit the water.

“The Resort” The Fairmont Kea Lani – If you are looking for more of an all inclusive experience in Maui, look no further than the Fairmont Kea Lani. As Hawaii’s only all suite and villa luxury oceanfront resort, this luxurious spot is situated on 22 acres of tropical landscape in sunny Wailea. With the newly-opened 9,000 square-foot Willow Stream Spa, three swimming pools and beachfront location, you get the best of everything. The Award Winning Willow Stream Spa boasts numerous treatment rooms, a Wailele (Waterfall) Suite and various treatments inspired by earth & water, such as the Lomilomi (traditional Hawaiian massage) that provide ultimate island relaxation.

Let the hotel welcome you with a traditional “lei,” before heading to any one of the resorts lookout points with a chilled cocktail. Staff are incredibly friendly and informed of the area, so if you do decide to venture out anywhere, there is always help. However, located on site is the award winning signature restaurant, Kō, known as one of the best places to dine in Maui. Other hotel amenities include a 24-hour fitness center and classes, a year-round kid’s club, boutique shopping, full wedding coordination services and 36,000 square feet of meeting and event function space and a business center.

In the nearby resort of the Hyatt Regency, it’s also worth booking to see The Drums of The Pacific Lu’au (no your trip wouldn’t be complete without some hula dancing!) Sway to the sound of the conch, the beating of the drums, and the echoes of the Hawaiian chant signal the start of Hawaii’s most exciting Lu’au. “Drums of the Pacific” Polynesian Spectacular (a Tihati Production) takes you on a journey through the islands of Polynesia, complete with a traditional imu ceremony and the exotic flavors of native Hawaiian cuisine. We feature authentic dances and music of the old Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand, Tahiti, Tonga, and Rarotonga in the hottest Lu’au Show in the Islands.

All in all, Maui is a dream island for any vacationer. Choose your spot, and let the island breeze whisk you away!

The Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Rated one of the seven wonders of the world, and protected as a World Heritage site, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is imagined to be filled with colorful corals, an abundance of fish, and home to other marine mammals. Being an experience diver, and having dove all over the world, the Great Barrier Reefs were sure a disappointment when I traveled there back in July 2014. Everything I had come to imagine about diving in this once top diving site, was not what I experienced. Usually the hardest part about my dives include the struggle to fit into my wetsuit but not this time.

Descending down the water column, I look below me at the coral reef . Having studied issues in the marine environment for years, I immediately notice how bleached the corals look. For the newer divers in the group, it was exciting for them to see one parrot fish eating the reef or scaring the christmas tree worms back in their holes, but for me this was disheartening. The hardest part about this dive was accepting this reality, compared to my expectations. I see more colors, fish and life on the reef just in South Florida, and our reefs do not nearly have the same ‘prestigious’ reputation as the Great Barrier Reefs.

Now the crew upon this day trip dive vessel was extremely nice, educated, and helpful but the dive location was not ideal. I believe the reef is suffering because everyday these large vessels are taking out hundreds of people to scuba dive and snorkel in the same area. People will, subconsciously and conscientiously, hurt the reef by kicking it and exposing it to harmful chemicals from their bodies. For instance, people will put on sunscreen then jump into the ocean not knowing that the toxic chemicals are too harsh for the fragile corals, exposing the corals to ocean acidification. Ocean acidification can come from a number of different sources, but this is a crucial event that people need to be more aware of, because without coral reefs our lives as human beings are even at risk.

Now before I totally turn you away from diving at the Great Barrier Reefs, I was given the names of some worthy dive sites from some local Aussies. These included diving the famous wreck S.S. Yongala and Osprey Reef. The desirable diving resides way out in the reef, therefore one must go on a ‘live aboard’ ship for a few nights to get the best diving.

Another area for divers, or ocean enthusiast to visit include the Whitsunday Islands. It is off the coast of Australia’s northern state, Queensland. When you dive at the Whitsunday’s you are technically diving the outskirts of the Great Barrier Reef, but this is where I had one of my most memorable dives to date. When I was there in July it was whale season, and while I did not personally see any whales I could hear them underwater during my dive. The whales come to the warm, protected, calm waters of the Whitsunday Islands, typically between to months of June to September, to give birth to their calves. During this time, I stayed on a ‘live abroad’ and had the unique opportunity of seeing a threatened dugong (related to the manatee) in the wild. Standing on the island, I looked around at all the tropical forest, sanding in powder soft sand, and swimming in the crystal blue waters I realized this is the Australia I came to experience.

By Erica Allen, Diver and Ecologist


Why you should travel with your children

I have recently learnt that traveling with kids, particularly young kids, is never easy. As parents, we need to re-think how we travel, and a lot of it is letting go of our own expectations of ‘the perfect trip.’ Instead of expecting perfection, we should just be as well prepared as possible and know that any hiccups will only add to the stories you will remember at the end of a trip.

So how does travel help our children?

Travel breaks down barriers and enhances connection. Travel also shows your children that though we all look different, we are the same. It is a great opportunity to teach our children about diversity in the world and interact and even make friends with children that come from different cultures, places and experiences. Travel is also an opportunity to leave behind the technology that feeds out childrens’ hands nowadays and reconnect with life, family and the world. If you keep technology and the news of the day to a minimum and enjoy each other’s company and conversation, you can teach your kids that the best things in life are free.

Travel broadens our perspective and enhances developmental milestones. Whether you travel to the next town or around the world, moving out of a comfort zone or everyday routine will enhance your family’s understanding of our world and the lives of our fellow citizens. Travel helps children experience a wide repertoire of sights, smells, sounds, colors, faces and languages from an early age. Travel opens up endless possibilities in their tiny minds and they become open and used to trying new things.

Travel builds character and helps kids become more adaptable and flexible kids. Traveling with young children exposes them to a new ‘normal.’ It allows them to be more adaptable to changing situations and be more flexible in their habits. They are used to sleeping in their beds, sleeping in prams, sleeping on an airplane seat, sleeping in a crowded shopping mall or outside, under a blanket. It also provides an opportunity to model what matters most – delayed flights, weather changes, poor service or a rocky road help all of us learn to live in the moment, share resources, manage unexpected consequences and see the bright side of the occasional travel mishap.

Travel is inspiring and educational. Travel with young kids means exposing them and making them interested in geography, world maps and airplanes early on. They start to form a better understanding of their environment and the knowledge that it’s a big world out there. They are interested in learning capitals of the different countries they visit, and being able to look for it on a map.

Travel helps ignite children’s imagination. Travel encourages children to engage in creative play – skills that they develop during childhood. Feed your children’s natural curiosity through travel. Do they yearn to learn more about art, history or science? Whether you opt for magnificent museums, nature’s classroom or immersive experiences, expand their knowledge (and your own) by exploring new ideas and destinations together.

Saltie Girl, Boston

I recently had the delightful opportunity to visit one of the northeast’s most treasured cities, Boston. When you think of dining in Boston, you can’t not think of seafood, particularly lobster. Yet in the recent years I have made brief trips to the city, I have grown tired of the same style of old Bostonian lobster rolls and milky clam chowder.

Recently opened by Kathy Sidell (President and Culinarian of the MET Restaurant Group) with the help of Chef Kyle McClelland, Saltie Girl brings traditional seafood to 2016, while still preserving the freshness of it’s flavor.

The restaurant focuses on globally sustainable iterations of fresh fish & seafood, be it fried, sautéed, raw, house-potted, smoked or in tins. Dishes include fried lobster and waffles with sweet corn butter and spicy maple syrup and French burgundy snails with black garlic butter to name a few. Chowder, bisque, an amazing raw bar, fried whole belly Ipswich clams by the ounce are all on the menu.

The decor is intimate, calming with nautical touches; reminiscent of a mermaid’s chamber. Sit in a wooden, ship like booth and order up a glass of vino, or their infamous copper “Pineapple” of elyx, lemongrass and citrus soda, and you’re ready to set sail! Some of my favorite dishes included the Tuna Poke with soy, sesame, ginger, togarashi, and the Tinned Tuna with jalepeno. And, despite my earlier comment, their Gloucester Lobster Roll, served in a brioche bun, is a must.

On you’r next visit to the area, be sure to make a stop in, not only for a mouth watering seafood experience, but also for some of the friendliest, knowledgable and attentive service I have experienced in a while.

Oh and I hear they also do a fantastic brunch….