Shannon Did What / Travel + Lifestyle Blog

Snorkeling with Sail Maui

TravelShannon GuerreroComment

The main theme of my blog is to go out of your comfort zone and do something that scares you.  I always go back to the quote from Eleanor Roosevelt that says, “Do one thing everyday that scares you”.  I think it’s really important to make yourself try something new.  I know for me, a big motivating factor is the fear of regret or as the young-ins today call it “FOMO” (fear of missing out).

During the planning for this Maui trip, snorkeling was one activity that came up.  Since I’ve been encouraging myself to conquer my fears through my blog, I thought, well, maybe this time I should try again.

I’ve been snorkeling before.  Maybe I should say, I’ve tried to snorkel before.  My family vacationed in Hawaii every summer growing up. I had multiple chances to snorkel in the lagoon at the resort we always stayed at.  It was a favorite activity for my dad and brother.  One year I decided I wanted to join in.  I was probably about 9 years old.  I got into the shallow water, tried to put my head down, but as soon as the fish came near, I bolted in the opposite direction.  Thinking about it, this could stem from the fact that I’m not an animal person.  Nevertheless, me and fish didn’t mesh well from a young age.

It’s funny because I am such a beach person.  I’m a beach person but for some reason I don’t really love the water.  The idea of fish, the deep water and the unknown just don’t sit well with me.  It doesn’t matter how clear the water is - I still don’t like it. So, how does someone with fears of the deep water and sea life go snorkeling?

You find a great tour company with an experienced staff and a great boat.  That’s where Sail Maui comes into play.

Let’s be honest, there are quite a few tour companies you can choose from to go on a sailing or snorkeling adventure during your time on Maui.  This was very apparent as we were walking down the pier searching for Sail Maui’s Paragon II.  The major thing we noticed was that every other boat tour was jam-packed full of people.  The boats were either stacked with people sitting shoulder to shoulder or had a good couple hundred aboard a larger boat.  One thing I don’t like is large crowds of people, especially on vacation.  We really lucked out on the day of our tour.  We only had 11 people total on our boat.

We chose to explore Molokini Crater as it’s a top snorkeling destination.  After an early morning arrival, you check in and board the stunning Paragon II.  You’re treated to a continental breakfast that can be enjoyed while lounging on the front hammock areas of the catamaran.  It took us just over an hour to sail to Molokini Crater so there was plenty of time to enjoy the scenery and digest or in my case prepare mentally for the adventure ahead.  The great part about Sail Maui is that they provide all of the snorkel gear you could possibly need including pool floats to help you stay above water.

Right about now is when I got a bit more nervous about snorkeling.  In preparation for this adventure, Nick had us do a test snorkel just days before in the shallow waters in front of our hotel.  Thank god he did because after the captain informed us that the water was 30 feet deep, I had some doubts.  I put on all the gear, got prepared and headed down the stairs into the water.  I’m pretty sure I screamed a bit after the initial shock of looking down and seeing the 30 feet of open water beneath me.  After a few seconds and lots of reminding myself to slow my breathing down, I realized, hey I’m snorkeling.

I think my mental toughness came out in full force because once I started believing there wasn’t a giant shark swimming behind me, I started to enjoy myself.  I think my initial fears are really just stories I make up in my head of something going wrong, but if you take a second to take in the beauty of the scenery that all rushes away.  I think the fact that I had a camera with me, also, was a great thing as it served as a distraction for me.  I was focused on documenting my adventures and  wanting to film the colorful coral.

After you’re done snorkeling, the crew sets out a delicious buffet lunch for you to enjoy while you sun bathe on the journey back into the harbor.  Can I just say, I was expecting mediocre food on a boat, but Sail Maui pulled out all the stops and the food was fresh and delicious.  

Moral of the story, if you don’t face your fears, you’ll never know if you’re missing out on something fun.  I’m so happy that I was able to not only go snorkeling, but enjoy myself in the process.

Second moral of the story, next time you’re in Maui, choose Sail Maui to go on an awesome adventure on the water.  They not only offer snorkeling tours at the Molokini Crater, but also sunset cruises, trips to Lanai and even whale watching tours.  Check them out here or if you want to go on this snorkeling trip to Molokini Crater, click here.

Happy snorkeling!

Yours Truly // Shannon

*Sponsored Post: My tour was provided in collaboration with Sail Maui! All opinions are my own.

The Ultimate Guide to Maui Eats

TravelShannon GuerreroComment

When I was trying to figure out what blog posts to write about Maui, I started outlining out the usual ones - where to go, Instagrammable Spots, hidden finds - and then I thought, wait, how could I forget about the food?  It dawned on me.  When I do my research for my trips, I usually focus on the places and things I’d like to do and see and not on food.  Food should be at the top of your list the next time you visit Maui.

This foodie guide basically is ten+ years worth of eating and research.  Big kudos goes to my mom who could probably tell you about any eatery on Maui because she’s eaten at them all.  I actually heard of a couple of places on Instagram to eat at and her response was no don’t go there, t’s a tourist trap and the food’s not actually good.

So, this guide is approved by mom which undoubtedly makes it the best places you should eat at while on Maui.  I realize now that I didn’t take nearly as many photos as I should have of my food, but it makes sense.  All my dishes smelled and tasted so good, they were consumed way faster than I could’ve taken out my camera.

DA KITCHEN

This is probably one of the most authentic Hawaiian places you can eat at.  It’s become the place my family eats at directly off our flight because it’s just 10 mins outside of the airport and right near the Costco.  Here’s how it goes - land in Maui, eat ’til we can’t eat anymore at Da Kitchen and then pick up more food at Costco.  It’s all about food.

It used to be more like a hole in the wall, locals only stop but more recently more people have heard about it causing there to be long wait times multi times a day.  And when I say hole in the wall, it’s a term meaning the best possible, authentic type of place.

Try the fried spam musubi or if you’re feeling super hungry and brave get the Notorious B.I.G. Moco.  It’s Loco Moco on crack, literally.  If you don’t know, Loco Moco is hamburger patties topped with fried egg over rice covered in gravy.  Imagine that with four times the amount of food.  That’s the Notorious Moco.

ALOHA MIXED PLATE

Someone asked me the other day if I had Poke while in Hawaii.  My response was, “I don’t go to Hawaii for Poke, I go for the mixed plate”.  Really, poke may have been invented in Hawaii, but if you want real Hawaiian food you get mixed plate.  Aloha Mixed Plate is the absolute must go-to spot in Maui.

I’m pretty sure everything on the menu is delicious, even though I don’t think I’ve ever eaten anything but a Kalbi Ribs plate here.  For you newbies, mixed plates are usually meat, rice and the famous Hawaiian macaroni salad.  My family also highly recommends the Kalua Pig sandwich.  It comes with some pretty tasty local farm grown sweet potato chips.

This was also a hole in the wall place but over the years they’ve really done amazing expansions and renovations.  You’ll most likely encounter a line here, as well.

ULULANI’S SHAVE ICE

Not all shave ice are equal.  I’m telling you, it all comes down to the consistency of the ice.  Some places just don’t have the right kind of machines.  Ululani’s have the right kind of ice machines.  Their shave ice is that melt in your mouth, super fine ice.  Just like snow.

My new favorite flavor combination: Mango, Lilikoi (Passion Fruit) and Guava.  The perfect tropical Hawaiian flavors.

There’s a great location in the heart of Lahaina.

LEODA’S

I’m starting to think every recommendation on this list usually has a wait out the door.  Leoda’s is no exception.  Unless you catch it at exactly the right time, like we lucked out on.

Leoda’s is famous for their homestyle comfort food and homemade pies.  My boyfriend and brother happened to order the special of the day and it was literally the only thing they both talked about the entire rest of the trip.  They had the special pastrami sandwich that had caramelized Maui onion, sweet bbq sauce on a fresh potato roll. Oh boy was it incredible.

STAR NOODLE

Most of the spots I listed above are lunch spots, maybe dinner, but Star Noodle is a can’t miss dinner spot.  If you guessed their noodles are absolutely delicious, why yes you would be correct.  You can’t go wrote with the Hapa Ramen, Star Udon, Singapore Noodles or Pad Thai. Literally writing this is making me hungry.

Come here for the noodles, but order the pork buns, too.  Pictured above. Best piece of advice I have is share.  That way you can get all the dishes to try. That’s why there’s only one pork bun shown above! Normally comes in three.

Make sure you make a reservation, otherwise, like the rest, you’ll definitely be stuck waiting!

JAPENGO

This has become my family’s last dinner in Maui tradition.  I don’t know if it’s more because of the view or the food.  It really is a combination.  Japengo is located inside the Hyatt in Ka’anapali perched just above the pool, overlooking the ocean.  If you time it right, you can catch the sunset from your table.  And there is nothing like a Hawaiian sunset.

Japengo does Asian, Hawaiian, farm-to-table fusion like no one else.  Literally you can’t go wrong with anything on this menu.  My absolute go-to on the menu is the Japengo Fried Rice.  The malasadas are delicious for dessert too.  Though they’re not quite Leonards on Oahu, they come with to die for dipping sauces.  Guaranteed, you’ll be liking your fingers.

Bottom line, come here for the food or come here for the view, either way you won’t be disappointed. 

KULA LODGE

We more or less stumbled upon the Kula Lodge this trip and were so surprised we had never visited before.  Their food is delicious, but their location is the beyond.  Located on the side of the Haleakala volcano in upcountry Maui, the vantage point from Kula Lodge is pretty much incomparable.  You can see almost the entire island of Maui.  They also have a really cute garden that has a very Hobbit-eque vibe.  Its unique architecture just makes it they much more enticing to see.

I will also say the Caesar salad here is one of the best I’ve ever had.  There was just something about their house-made Caesar dressing.  I can just taste it now, yum.

MALA

Mala is the place to eat for ocean side dining in Lahaina.  When I say ocean side, I literally mean on the ocean.  There’s maybe 3 feet between the ocean waves and Mala’s windows.

If you like oysters, you have to try the Hood Canal Oyster Shooter (pictured above).  In all honesty, it looks a bit suspect when it arrives at your table, but oh my, this is one savory, tasty shooter.

You can also head over to their sister restaurant located directly next door, Honu.  The same breathtaking ocean views, but seafood and pizza based.

I hope my lack of food porn photos don’t discourage you from putting these places on your food bucket list.  I promised they will not disappoint.

Happy eating!

Yours Truly // Shannon

15 Photos That’ll Make You Want to Visit Banff, Canada

TravelShannon GuerreroComment

The colors and scenic views that Banff has to offer are world famous. Even if you’ve never heard of Banff or the province of Alberta, Canada, chances are you’ve seen pictures of these iconic turquoise blue lakes.  They’re that beautiful.

When I first visited Banff, these are the famous views I thought I would be witnessing, however, I mistakenly chose to visit Banff during the month of April.  This is still winter, so, the lakes were actually still frozen over in ice and the ground was covered in snow.

There are about 3-4 summer months during which you should visit Banff if you’re aiming to be able to see these magnificent lakes and colors.  The glaciers and lakes begin to thaw mid to late May.  If you plan to visit in the summer, choose sometime between May and August. If you visit in September, it’s possible you may get a glimpse of the lakes unless winter starts early and you’ll be met with snow.

If you have heard of Banff before or even if these are the first photos you are seeing, you’re probably wondering how and why these lakes are the color they are.  There is a very scientific explanation for this.  When the rocks underneath the glacier ice shift, they grind together creating a silt or rock flour.  This rock flour is very lightweight and can float in the lake for a long period of time.  The sunlight reflects off the silt giving them their brilliant turquoise blue, green color.

I’ve been told that if you visit the first or even second week, just after the ice thaws in May, is when the lakes are at their most vibrant.  This is due to the lakes having the most floating rock flour in them.

Here’s a tip: the higher your vantage point at most of the lakes, the bluer the lakes will appear. For example, at Moraine Lake, if you choose to hike up the rocky area to the left of the entrance, you will get a great view and more vibrant blue lake from above.

I’m not really sure I really have to convince you to want to visit Banff.  I feel like these 15 pictures might speak for themselves.  Point is summer or winter, this is a bucket list worthy destination that I’m sure you will love.

If you’re interested in seeing why you should visit in the winter, as well, click here.

So, what are you waiting for?

Yours Truly // Shannon