Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love became a cult classic when it was published in 2006, empowering people around the globe to seek out wellness of another sort. Since then, it’s inspired everything from impromptu trips to themed excursions to radical life changes. And while it’s been fourteen years since the book was seen in nearly everyone’s hands, its allure has only risen. Because, let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to discover the kind of wisdom and nourishment Gilbert did?
Come to Maui and chances are you’ll experience just such nurturing the second you immerse yourself in its crystalline waters, or peer over a sea cliff at an island in the distance. Others, however, may want a more strategic way to achieve Gilbert’s brand of awe and spirit-sustenance. Whether you’re fifteen or fifty, here’s how you can, in a culturally and ecologically-mindful manner, eat pray love your way through Maui—and leave its shores that much closer to walking for a while in sunshine. After all, as Gilbert says, “You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings.”
Maui’s culinary scene is hotter than ever, thanks in part to the diverse pool of ethnicities that make up its populace. For a true taste of the island’s planation past—and the ethnicities that comprise its mixing pot—look no further than Ko. Located at the Fairmont Kea Lani in Wailea, the menu options here range from seafood garlic noodle pancit to Portuguese bean soup—and cultivate a sense of personal and cultural “nutrition.”
Where you eat is as vital as the food you consume. To connect with the universe—however you might define the divine—consider booking a seat on the Kai Kanani’s Adventure Sunset Sail. Departing from Maluaka Beach and gliding out into the sea amid the ukulele harmonies of Dwight Quenga, the two-hour voyage includes a repast prepared by The Market-Maui: a beloved, local venue that serves farm-to-fork, made-from-scratch, delicious eats. Your spirit will be buoyed as you witness Maui’s “golden hour” while knocking back seared ahi and locally-sourced drinks.
An equally epic experience can also be found just down the road at the Feast at Mokapu. Held at the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, this intimate luau forgoes the buffet tables and its consequent lines for a 14-course, ohana-style meal at tables so pretty they belong in a wedding. The food is exceptional—each dish highlights the native flavors that make up Hawaii—while the entertainment, authentic in style and beautiful in execution, sates the hungry soul in every possible way. As for this luau’s take on an open bar? Forget the mai tais: Each cocktail is handcrafted and personalized to your liking.
There are a dozen ways to pray—and you don’t always have to be on your knees. But you can get on your okole and coast down one of the world’s largest dormant volcanoes on a top-of-the-line mountain bike. Rent a ride (and its attendant equipment) through Bike Maui—a bike company treasured island-wide for its great customer service and excellent rental fleet—or sign up for the outfit’s Sunrise Guided Tour. Commencing between 3 and 4am (yes, you heard us right), and lasting for roughly 8 hours, this journey includes a 23-mile bike ride down Haleakala’s switchback slopes and views of the enormous crater, where, perhaps, in the words of Gilbert, you can “enter into the silence of the heart.”
Which is also precisely what you acquire when you leave behind the hustle-and-bustle of Maui’s busier parts and head to its splendid East Side. The Road to Hana is often described as a journey in itself, and for good cause: The route may be only 52 miles but those miles are filled to bursting with dazzling beauty. (Think: rainforests, waterfalls, botanical gardens, serrated sea cliffs, sweeping coastal views, black sand beaches—and this is us just getting started.) Experience all of this otherworldly gorgeousness in the backseat of one of Valley Isle Excursions’ comfort cruisers on their Road to Hana Tour. Starting early in the morning and ending in the early evening, this comprehensive trip includes stops at Hana’s loveliest spots (including the island’s windswept backside) and gives you a taste of the reverence and bliss Gilbert traveled the world to find.
Gilbert reminds us that love can only land if we love ourselves first—and there’s no better way to unearth such self-empowerment than by zipping above the tree-line. Skyline Hawaii is your ticket to get there. While all of their zip lines feed the soul, their award-winning, 8-line zip tour in Ka’anapali has a non so che (or je ne sas quoi) that inspires real affection. Part of that has to do with the fact that you’ll be soaring above Ka’anapali’s remote coastal landscape; the other part has to do with the fact that it’ll feel like you’re, well, flying—if ever there’s a way to find your inner power. Meanwhile, your tour guide will provide you with info on Hawaii’s culture and history, giving you yet another chance to fall even deeper in love with the islands.
“To travel,” Gilbert said, “is worth any cost or sacrifice.” So it is true—and while Redline Rafting has economical prices (amen to that), they redefine what it means to travel on their Molokini Crater & South Maui Coast Tour. Not only are their vessels different than most—indeed rafts, which are 35 feet long and specially designed for ocean adventures—but their snorkeling excursion goes to a place few visitors see: The secluded South Maui Coast, which is the product of Haleakala’s last eruption. Expect stunning lava landscapes, underwater grottos, pockets of empty beaches, and, on a blessed day, a pod of Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins playing in the water.
Love arrives in many guises but one that’s inarguable? Seeing Maui from a bird’s eye view while you—yes you—man the wheel. Such delights can be found with Fly Maui, an island flight-training school that’s fun, friendly—and affordable. Whether you’re a seasoned pilot or a green flyer, Fly Maui will give you the lessons you need to take to the air, where you’ll not only experience the freeing thrill of helming an aircraft but will also be struck by Maui’s marvelous, panoramic vistas. Check out their Maui discovery flight.
Eat Pray Love
And then there is, of course, a way to eat, pray, and love all at once. Hit up a market—whether that’s Foodland Farms in Lahaina or Mana Foods in Paia—and select locally-sourced eats for a picnic lunch. Set out in your rental along the coast—whether that’s the North Shore or Wailea or Napili or Hana—until you find a spot that calls to you. Lay out your towel. Savor your food. Say thank you, with meaning, to the island. Take a dip in the water. Feel the sunshine on your face. And derive pleasure in, as Gilbert says, “the sweetness of doing nothing.”~