Each year, master chefs (not just any chefs, but many being James Beard award winning and/or operate Michelin Star restaurants) from Hawaii and around the country are invited to create unforgettable dishes as well as chat with guests about their love for food and awe of Hawaii. Master sommeliers serve wines from around the world and unbelieveable cocktails are shared from Hawaii purveyors. Numerous events are held during the week across Hawaii (Big Island, Oahu, and Maui) to share local talent and big names from the culinary world.
We were fortunate enough to be invited for a staycation at the Whaler by the Ka'anapali Beach Resort Association in order to experience the many incredible festivities held during the 2018 Hawaii Food and Wine Festival. We accepted with apprehension, since we have 2 small children, and we weren’t sure if we could get away with wining and dining. Turns out, there was a ton to do with the keiki, and we got a babysitter for our big night out.
We were given plush accommodations with Aston at the Whaler, right next to Whaler’s Village. Really, this is one of the better locations, especially if you’ve got a family. Our room was PERFECT and much more than we’d expected. A full kitchen, big garden and ocean view lanai, huge living room, kids nook with bed, and comfortable master bedroom with a king. We were a mere 1-minute walk to the pool and 2 minute walk to the ocean. This is a great place to stay in Lahaina area.
After getting settled, we took a very short drive to the Royal Lahaina Resort to enjoy their luau, the Myths of Maui. After fresh flower leis and kukui nut lei greeting, we made our way to grab a quick cocktail and found our table. The sun had just set over the ocean making the sky brilliant! The buffet had everything you’d expect at a luau, and it was all delicious. What we didn’t expect was a section available for kids, which was just what we needed. Our kids will eat the poi and rice, but it’s hard to get them to eat anything else. After a few hotdogs and juice, we had some happy kids who were ready to party!
The show was fantastic! Great music, beautiful hula (our kids got a chance to get on stage and show their own moves), and then the impressive fire dancing capped it off. This is a top Maui luau, for sure.
We had a blast, but a word of warning: having been to most Maui luaus, we sometimes find the cocktails to be on the weaker side. I made the mistake of expecting this, and had 4 mai tais. BAM! Yes, I had an especially good time and my wife had to drive “home.”
We got up early to take my older child on UFO parasailing, but it turned out the waves were unusually large. With the wind and waves, it was postponed (more to come!) Probably a good thing after those mai tais. They weren’t kidding either; the waves were MACKING! I’ve never seen Kaanapali Beach throwing overhead barrels directly on the beach. This is pretty rare. We enjoyed watching the explosions and stuck to the whaler pool and jacuzzi.
After a relaxing day walking around Whaler’s Village, having pool time, and exploring the koi ponds at the Whaler, our babysitter arrived, and we headed out to the Sheraton Kaanapali for SPIKED! What an event! The video at the top of this page captures it pretty well. Booth after booth of mind-blowing dishes, delicious cocktails (I was more careful this time), and all topped off with fireworks from the beach! We had a chance to chat with each chef and ask questions, which you don’t usually get to do with world-famous chefs (see our quotes below from some of our favorite chefs). We especially enjoyed that the Maui Culinary Academy students were the workforce behind each booth. Talk about an education! These aspiring Maui chefs were beaming with gratitude and love of the craft.
The next morning we took the kids over to Keiki In The Kitchen, a free kids event at Whaler’s Village. They had all kinds of hands-on activities available for our children. It was a BLAST! Ravioli making, screen printing, rock painting, lei making, kids doing amazing hula, photos and class with baking celebrity Rosanna Pansino and more!
In the end, we obviously had the time of our lives and will be attending again next year. Being able to share our love of food with our kids as well as have some quality time with my wife at such a remarkable event was like hitting the reset button. We all came home a little closer with stories to share and photos/video to prove it!