Maui photo journal, Part I + Paia apartment rental review

I don’t know why it took Nick and I so long to visit Hawaii for the first time, since it’s a perfect compromise for adventure vs. relaxation-seekers! It seemed like the area was popular as ever for visitors (Maui was the land of baby bumps), probably thanks to Zika tainting so many other destinations. We split our stay across a variety of lodging – started at a cute apartment rental in Paia, moved on to the Travaasa Hana (a more remote, retreat-style resort), and spent the remainder of our trip at the Four Seasons on Wailea beach. These places definitely cater to different traveler styles and budgets, so I wanted to share some reviews and pictures in case it helps anyone planning a trip!

For this post I’m focusing on what we did/ate around Kahului and Paia, along with our apartment rental there. Paia is a small, laid-back surf town … it’s a short drive from the airport, and is also the starting point of the Road to Hana.

air maui helicopter tour ride doors off hawaii

Soludos striped espadrilles sz 5 flying over Molokai

Maui From Above
One of the first things we did was book a helicopter tour over West Maui and Molokai. I wanted to fly in one without doors, which is a new option offered by Air Maui (everyone who worked there was so helpful and nice). In addition to showing us the waterfalls and cliffs, our pilot kept an eye out for bonuses like whales and a herd of mountain goats, then hovered closer so we could all see. I sat in the outer seat and had heart palpitations most of the ride (but loved it)! As someone sitting on the interior, Nick said the doors-on option might be a similar experience for a lower price. And if you’re a single traveler, they usually have last-minute single seats on the interior at a pretty discounted price of $100 per person.

air maui helicopter tour doors off flight gear

For the doors-off flight, you are allowed to bring only a cell phone (secured inside their lanyard phone cases), and you are required to wear closed-toe shoes, flight jackets they provide, plus some other super stylish safety gear, as modeled above.

gestes shrimp truck lunch maui hawaii

Where to Get the Best Shrimp
From there we went straight to Geste shrimp truck, which was probably our favorite, simple meal on the island. The Hawaiian Scampi shrimp (shell-on) were so flavorful, and the crab macaroni salad and rice were perfect for soaking up that garlicky sauce.

TIP: There’s no seating outside Geste but it’s right on this strip of water, so bring a towel or beach chair and enjoy your food with a view.

maui hawaii couple gestes shrimp truck beach

 Overarching comments on the food trucks we ate at in Maui:

– Don’t rely on the operating days and hours posted online, since some places seemed to open when they please and close early when they sell out. Call first if there’s a phone # listed.
– Service was usually very slow (even if we were the only customers), probably due to the leisurely pace of life. We didn’t mind this; just don’t expect to “grab and go” a quick meal.
– Oftentimes cash only

paia acai fruit bowls maui hawaii breakfast

breakfast at Paia bowls, walkable from our apt (JOA brand dress)

paia fish market maui dinner restaurants

dinner at Paia Fish Market

Exploring Paia (And the Surrounding Area)
Paia Fish Market was probably the most buzzing place in the town center, and under a 10-minute walk from our apartment rental. I’m a sucker for seafood pasta – I can never resist if I see it on a menu. The seafood in this dish was fresh and plentiful, however it was drowned in cream (no bueno for swimsuit bods). Nick loved his fish sandwich, though, and there were a number of healthier options like broiled fish.

ululanis hawaiian shave ice maui dessert

I can’t stand snow cones back home because they’re usually chunky balls of crushed ice drenched in artificial syrup. The shave (funny they leave off the “d”) ice in Hawaii, though, is wonderfully fluffy, and usually topped with natural syrups where you can really taste the fruit. Nick literally had his head in his hands agonizing over which flavors to choose. The employees here were super friendly, and Ululani herself was there and chatted us up.

hookipa beach sea turtles maui hawaii

Old Navy dress xsp, Talbots sunglasses c/o, vintage bag
*dress in xsp is 14.5″ across bust, 12″ across waist, and has a stretchy elastic back panel

Ho’okipa beach is one of the three beachy areas within a short distance from Paia. It’s a hotspot for windsurfers, which I was in awe at, because the crashing waves were downright intense at this location (not really a leisurely swimming beach)! Check out but don’t disturb the dozens of Hawaiian sea turtles napping on the beach, nearly camouflaged by the rocks (look closely at the pic above : ).

cute paia maui airbnb apartment rental review

sprightly living room with pull-out sofa bed

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Our Italian/Hawaiian Apartment Rental
On to our little Paia apartment…we were actually very pleased with this rental find. It’s run by a helpful and responsive host, Manolo (I could tell we’d get along just based on his name, ha!), who designed and built the property just last year. It’s a little slice of local living just a short walk from the center of Paia, and I liked the Hawaiian-meets-Italian vibe. There are four apartment units in the “villa” with different max occupancies – the owner lives in one of them and rents out the other three. Here are links to the different units (we booked #3):

Unit #1 (sleeps 4), Unit #2 (sleeps 2; only unit with AC), Unit #3 (sleeps 3)
And if you’re new to Airbnb, you can get $40 off your first booking (referral).

paia maui hawaii air bnb apartment rental review

upstairs bedroom loft (more spacious than pictured, with 3 walls of windows + skylight)

What we liked:
– Recently-built and very clean; shoes-off outside your front door policy
– Under 10-minute walk from Paia center, with a grocery mart and liquor store along the way
– Has a kitchenette with basics (burner stove, microwave, mini fridge, coffee maker)
– Felt reasonably safe due to security monitoring system and locked gates.
– Host was helpful and also provided beach towels, swimsuit drying rack, cooler, snorkels (you do need to bring or buy your own shampoo)

paia maui airbnb rental review for coupls

bathroom with spacious walk-in shower

We didn’t find these to be cons per se, but just wanted to point them out:
– No AC. There was plenty of breeze from multiple windows and ceiling fans, but it might get hot during summer. Unit #2 in this complex does have an AC unit.
– Bugs and noises of nature. The gardens on this property are very lush and tropical. I was bit a few times upon arrival, but promptly put on my repellent bracelets (wore these 24/7) plus bug spray and was fine for the rest of the stay. There are also roosters crowing at dawn which reminded me of Asia (and which Nick slept right on through), along with some neighboring dogs on the other side of the fence, just FYI.
– We saw the owner daily either outside his unit or maintaining the gardens, so this isn’t for someone who prefers to stay at rentals where you never see the host.

paia maui airbnb apartment rental review

Left: our unit’s private patio // Right: common area with grill (never saw anyone there)

asos pom one piece bathing suit petite fashion maui

ASOS swimsuit sz 0 (sold out), Ray-Ban sunglasses in blue/gold, Baublebar earrings

Side-note, this ASOS swimsuit is unfortunately sold out, but hopefully some of you were able to pick it up from my older post! Here are two other swimsuits from there that I tried on:

– Diamond mesh one-piece w/ removable straps – this one is so cute and flattering due to the strategically-placed mesh, but was long on me. Would recommended for someone taller or with a longer torso.

– Weekday high-waisted textured bikini – I only got the bottoms for mixing and matching. They are very stretchy and comfy, and don’t come up too high on a petite frame or feel restricting like some other high-waisted bottoms. If you want the full set, note the top is not padded. I wore my Bristols 6 “nippies” under some iffy swimsuits, and they stayed on fine for me in the water. Those covers are the best for wearing under tricky tops/dresses, and can be reused dozens of times which helps make up for the cost.

asos pom pom one piece swimsuit petite
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  1. Anonymous wrote:

    Hi there! I was just wondering what your experience was with the bug repelling bracelets. Do you think they can be used independent of the bug spray or would you recommend both?

    Posted 7.10.17 Reply
  2. Hi Jean,

    My ASOS skirt arrived today (was so excited!) but I had some issues fitting it over the butt area–seems to me the waist band is not stretchy at all…was wondering if you had the same issues…probably not because it seems like you managed to get it on. Also, my butt is a very normal size (not large by any means) so it's not what you think….I swear….

    Posted 4.26.17 Reply
  3. We got married in Maui so it'll always have a special place in my heart. These photos make me miss Maui. I can't wait to go back and explore some of these places you visited.

    Posted 4.21.17 Reply
  4. van wrote:

    Hi Jean, do those soludos espadrilles have pretty good traction for you? I bought a pair because they're so cute but they feel a bit slippery (maybe because I was wearing them on my hardwood floor). Debating if I should keep!

    Posted 4.20.17 Reply
  5. That is a brave photo of your espadrilles! Awesome!

    Posted 4.20.17 Reply
  6. Jean wrote:

    Ahh, congrats on your upcoming wedding! It is a long journey but worth it – I'm sure your island-hopping honeymoon will be amazing.

    Posted 4.19.17 Reply
  7. Jean wrote:

    That wound be amazing! I know it's a far journey from France, but I'm sure a fun one!

    Posted 4.19.17 Reply
  8. Jean wrote:

    Hi Elizabeth! We stayed at this air bnb 2 nights and at resorts for the rest. We didn't find that many promising-looking apartment rentals on the island, as a lot of them looked very dated. The price points of rentals will range and change during peak seasons (just like the resorts) – you can see some examples prices in the units I linked above, but be sure to factor in the airbnb and cleaning fees listed. To be honest, we liked staying at the last resort the best, but I know it costs a pretty penny there in comparison. It all just depends on what you're looking for in terms of accommodations and what you're willing to sacrifice, since the experience of living in a rental can be very different from a vacation resort. Hope you guys make it back out soon : )

    Posted 4.19.17 Reply
  9. Jean wrote:

    Hi B – thank you so much for taking the time to write. Your sweet comment means a lot to me. Just the other day I found an old email from my parents to my college self, instructing me to "focus more on studying and stop wasting time on clothing and makeup!" (lol) We have to be thankful to our parents for instilling those values, but I think they were wrong in believing outward appearance is completely separate from career and other life goals. I think all of it goes hand-in-hand, and am happy to help in even the smallest ways on your personal style journey : )

    Posted 4.19.17 Reply
  10. Jean wrote:

    We really loved Maui, but only wish it had the food options of Oahu! : )

    Posted 4.19.17 Reply
  11. Jean wrote:

    Very fun! Lucky you guys to have a family timeshare.

    Posted 4.19.17 Reply
  12. jc wrote:

    Thank you so much for this post! I am so excited to be heading to Maui (along with Oahu and the Big Island) for our honeymoon this September. It will be our first time in Hawaii! Not really looking forward towards the flight from Toronto though. I hope to see more posts on your trip to Hawaii and recommendations on eats and sights to see. Thank you, Jean!

    Posted 4.19.17 Reply
  13. nazita wrote:

    Lovely, as usual. I want to be to Hawaii for my 40 birthday with my family (in 5 years). It's a dream for me.

    Regards from France

    Posted 4.19.17 Reply
  14. looks so fun and beautiful there!

    -Kirsten // pork & cookies

    Posted 4.19.17 Reply
  15. looks so fun and beautiful there!

    -Kirsten // pork & cookies

    Posted 4.19.17 Reply
  16. As always nice photos! 😉

    Posted 4.19.17 Reply
  17. Hi Jean!

    Did you stay in air bnb's the majority of the time in Hawaii? If so, did you find them to be more affordable then resorts? We honeymooned in Maui last June and I am dying to go back, but obviously our resort was very expensive. I am looking for some more affordable options so that I can get back sooner rather than later 🙂


    Posted 4.19.17 Reply
  18. Jae wrote:

    Such a thorough review! Thank you for sharing. My fiance and I are planning on going to Maui this summer and this really helps!
    Jae |

    Posted 4.19.17 Reply
  19. Looks lke you had an amazing time!
    Hawaii is stunning <3

    Posted 4.19.17 Reply
  20. B wrote:

    Hi Jean, as a Brit/ Asian mix measuring 5ft 1" your blog has been a real inspiration to me. My mum (the one who gave me my height) encouraged me to work and study – typical Asian mum – and doesn't put much time into her own appearance in terms of style of clothes or wearing make-up, so I followed her advice, like a good daughter should. I've only just realised this at 24 years of age – twenty four years of baggy clothes and a bare face later – but, better late than never! I'd like to think of you as my new style role-model and the dear friend who taught me how to dress and wear make-up.

    Since reading your blog, I have bought a pair of black skinny jeans and heeled black boots to match (elongating those 27" legs!) to start building my new wardrobe. When I go to the shops now I think 'What would Jean wear?' and if I pick something up I think 'What would Jean say?'. You're the voice of style-approval and guidance I've always need.

    Thank you so so much.

    Posted 4.19.17 Reply
  21. It looks lovely! I really like the bathing suit you're wearing in the first couple of photos 🙂

    Posted 4.19.17 Reply
  22. Such beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing your adventures! I'm loving it! I'd like to visit soon as well! BTW Love your swimsuit from ASOS. Pity that it's sold out. Have much fun dear!

    XOXO // Check out my latest post if you like 😉
    SINCERELY OPHELIA | HOW TO | Small Bag in a Big City

    Posted 4.19.17 Reply
  23. Mizeats wrote:

    Thank you for this wonderfully detailed and helpful post! Great ideas not only regarding Maui food choices but lodging and sightseeing as well! I trust your picks 100%! To be honest, Maui wasn't on my radar until you started posting about it! Now, it is definitely on my list of places to visit! I hope you'll also do a similar post for Oahu as your accommodations, activities, and restaurants visited look like great finds too! Thanks!!

    Posted 4.19.17 Reply
  24. Jean wrote:

    I actually just wore my Bristol 6 nipples covers because it was hot and I didn't want to fuss with a strapless bra, but I know that wouldn't work for those who need support in that area. My usual strapless bra is the Sasha from the little bra company.

    Posted 4.19.17 Reply
  25. Carla Krae wrote:

    I was wondering if you'd gotten to Old Navy for the new florals. 🙂

    Went to Kauai and Oahu as a kid. My mother was in a timeshare and we did 4 days on Kauai then 4 days on Oahu. Loved it. Nowadays, I wouldn't be packing the Cabbage Patch Dolls, though, lol.

    Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives has covered eateries on multiple islands favored by locals, so I'd suggest anyone planning a trip to look up the list of covered restaurants and see what will be near you.

    Posted 4.19.17 Reply
  26. Anonymous wrote:

    Love it! What bras do you use for strapless/thin-strapped dresses like your old navy one?

    Posted 4.18.17 Reply
  27. Everything looks like a dream… ESPECIALLY your white swimsuit! I must get it too!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    Posted 4.18.17 Reply
  28. Janinafran wrote:

    Wow these pictures look amazing <3
    XO Janina

    Posted 4.18.17 Reply
  29. Jean wrote:

    Haha, never … hope we get to cross paths soon!

    Posted 4.18.17 Reply
  30. Jean wrote:

    Yes … surprising, right? It has an elasticized panel on the back center + adjustable straps which both help : )

    Posted 4.18.17 Reply
  31. Ahh, it's been so amazing following your trip! It looks incredible. I want to hear lots more about it the next time I see you!


    Posted 4.18.17 Reply
  32. Posted 4.18.17 Reply
  33. Anonymous wrote:

    did that old navy dress fit w/o alterations?!

    Posted 4.18.17 Reply
  34. Jean wrote:

    Hi Kate – If you're familiar with Old Navy sizing, I think it runs small for that brand. I had tried on a bunch of dresses from there, and all the others fit bigger. The straps are adjustable (not sure about bust support, though), and the color is slightly off white.

    Posted 4.18.17 Reply
  35. Valeri wrote:

    Great photos Jean! Thanks for the share.

    Please, if I ever see you in public, don't be afraid when I yell "Jean" as if I know you. lol

    Posted 4.18.17 Reply
  36. Your asos swimsuit is so cute! And it looks like a fun trip you're having there <3

    Posted 4.18.17 Reply
  37. Ziwei Z wrote:

    the swimsuit is so cute!!

    Posted 4.18.17 Reply
  38. Kate wrote:

    how was the fit of that old navy dress? it's such a cute print but I'm worried for a busty girl the straps might not be enough support? also, is it white white or off white?

    Posted 4.18.17 Reply
  39. This is awesome! Thank you Jean 🙂

    Posted 4.18.17 Reply
  40. La Bijoux Bella | by mia wrote:

    Such beautiful photos … love the outfits, especially the cute swimsuit! So lovely! 🙂

    ��LA BIJOUX BELLA�� | BY MIA | A Creative Lifestyle Blog

    Posted 4.18.17 Reply

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