We just got back last week from our vacation to Maui and the Big Island and it has been so hard to switch back from Island Time. Maui was my favorite of the two islands we visited – beautiful warm weather, crystal blue waters, black and white sand beaches, cool looking tropical plants and exotic wildlife to enjoy. The food and fruit…..well, not what I had envisioned at all. I was expecting to sample local dishes and fruits indigenous only to Hawaii. I really thought there would be so much fruit to try that I would running around like Carmen Miranda with a giant hat made out of fruit. But no, not at all. The hubs and I even went to a local Swap Meet/Farmer’s Market, but we were very disappointed when we didn’t find much fresh fruit and vegetable stands. There were plenty of little stands selling flower clips or leis made out of seashells, flowers and kukui nuts, but no exotic fruit to load up on. The hotel was the only place to eat fruit, and even then it was a little disappointing. We were eating the same fruit that I could get back home!!
It wasn’t until our Road to Hana expedition that I got to have my first fresh tropical fruit. The hubs and I pulled off at a little vista point overlooking a taro farm and the ocean. Parked right next to us was a little Toyota truck filled with coconuts in the truck bed. When I saw a woman get out of the truck and set up a sign advertising fresh coconuts, I couldn’t help but do a happy dance. I picked out my coconut, gave it to the woman to crack open and became amazed and a little nervous when she pulled out a a giant machete. I then realized that this was a one woman act.
She held the coconut in one hand and with a frightening swing of her other arm chopped off the top. I personally thought she was going to lop off one of her fingers but am glad to report she didn’t. She then stuck a straw through the hole and handed over the whole fruit to me. Not only was my coconut the size of my head, it was heavy and filled to the top with coconut water. I have to say it was a very refreshing and satisfying drink on a hot day. After emptying my coconut I gave it back to the woman, who couldn’t have been any bigger than me. She then steadied it on the ground with one hand and used the other to chop open the fruit with her machete. When I got it back it was split in two with lots of meat in it. To my surprise it wasn’t very tender or overly sweet. She then explained that coconuts lose their sweetness as they age and the meat actually becomes thicker and crunchier with age. It still was a delicious coconut and I was pretty excited about it for the rest of the day.
We then got back on the road to Hana and ended up stopping at the Garden of Eden Arboretum. It’s an amazing garden full of walking trails with picturesque scenery, made up of beautiful flowers and plants indigenous to Hawaii. Another cool thing about this park is that there is a trail that takes you to see the cliffs that are in the opening scene in the Jurassic Park movie.This park is a must see for anyone who is traveling along the Road to Hana. We unfortunately didn’t have a lot of time to spend here, but we did take a small hike through some of the garden areas. Along the way, we met a man who we both thought was the groundskeeper. We stopped and chatted with this nice man for a little while and watched as he tried to fish out avocados from a very large and old tree, using a small machete attached to a long stick. What we didn’t realize until after we left was that the very nice man who ended up taking a couple of pictures of us and giving me one of his avocados was actually Alan Bradbury, the owner of the botanical gardens.
We took the avocado back to our condo and the hubs served it with our dinner that night. Hawaiian avocados are very different from those here in California. Hawaiian avocados are three times larger, a different color and have a sweeter, more buttery taste. It went very well with the Opa (moonfish) and brown rice the Hubs served for dinner that night. Not bad, considering we had a postage stamp-sized kitchen with ancient pans and a stove top that barely registered heat.
So I didn’t fulfill my dream of being Carmen Miranda for a day, but I did enjoy my trip to Maui and can’t wait to go back. I think if I want fresh fruit, though, I’ll have to just stick to the hotel breakfast buffets.