Travel day. This was probably not the best time to go on vacation as school had just finished and it was long weekend – Canada Day long weekend. The airport was rather full and our plane ride to Hawaii (10 hours in total) was also quite full as families were going on vacation. We flew Westjet to LAX for a stopover then with Delta to our final destination – Maui. We got our car rental from Enterprise – an Elantra that we named Frankie. The car rental is off the airport property and requires a bus shuttle to take you to it.
First stop before making it to our accommodation – Foodland. Foodland is one of the grocery chains with one big specialty – Poke. I grabbed wasabi poke & a chicken musubi for dinner. Time change wasn’t hitting too hard and timing wise, my friends – Herbie & Elvia were in Maui as well in nearby rental down the block so we went to meet up with them.
Road to Hana
The infamous Road to Hana drive is something one should attempt while on Maui. We decided to start our trip in reverse. We drove all the way through the Road to Hana past the town of Hana as this is probably the most time consuming and requires so much focus and light to drive. It is a 1-lane in each direction with tons of turns with occasional 1 car only bridges. The speed limit isn’t very high as you have turn after turn. Sometimes, it makes it easier to pull over to the side to let the locals pass if you happen to have people tailing you. Tiffany was our driver for this epic drive. Not going to lie, there were points during the drive I got a little dizzy but it passes. Our first stop at the very end past Hana was Pipiwai Trail which is apart of Haleakala National Park. Good thing Lulu was able to grab her brothers annual USA state parks pass as we save money for park entry fees. It would have been $25USD.
We did the Pipipwai Trail (which features a Bamboo forest) to Waimoku Falls then finished off at Seven Sacred Pools at Ohe’o before hitting the road again. It was highly recommended to download the Gypsy Guide and purchase the Road to Hana tour guide as they tell you about the history of Hawaii plus they tell you about places you should check out. After our hike through Pipiwai Trail, we followed the route back and with the helpful tip from the Gypsy Guide app, we found ourselves at Koki and Hamoa Beach before making our way to find lunch.
I had originally read that Braddah Hutts was a great place to eat but it unfortunately wasn’t open so we ended up going down the road to the food trucks – Da Fish Shack, Troys and a unnamed truck. I went with the unnamed truck and got the Coconut crusted Ono with garlic shrimp, mac salad and corn $16USD. The girls grabbed fresh fruit from the fruit stand which was cut up for them to eat on the go.
After lunch we went to Waianapanapa State Park. It’s free parking. We walked down to the Black sand beach. Once you get down the stairs, just to the right of the stairs, you will find the entrance to the cave (it’s not very large but it’s a interesting view from inside. If you continue down the beach, you can walk up and see the blowhole (try not to walk onto the wet rocks – indication of where the blowhole well blows). Tiffany was following the crabs and ended up a little too close for comfort by the blowhole. You can continue walking along the path to see the lava rocks. We ventured for a bit but we weren’t quite sure where it was leading to and it was getting really hot so we turned around and situated ourselves on the black sand beach.
We stayed at black sand beach for a little before deciding to head back on the road back towards Paia. The Road to Hana app was very resourceful on the drive back but we tried not to stop so we could make it to Hookipia Lookout to spot turtles. Herbie had mentioned that he arrived at Hookipia Beach around 230PM and there was a few dozen of turtles laying on the beach. When we arrived in the late afternoon, we had only spotted maybe 3 turtles.
The best view of the turtles on the beach was actually from above nearby the carpark. We went past the fenced area and onto the tall grassy area – be careful as this area is a cliff and make sure you are stepping onto solid ground. After watching the turtles lay on the beach and some surfing in the distance, we drove through Paia to find food. We wanted to eat at Paia Fish Market but it was way too busy. We walked across the street to Ululani Shave Ice for shaved ice. I got the Ulu (medium) with azuki red bean base with 3 flavours (Melona, Li HIng Mui & Guava) $5.50USD.
Since we were in that area of town, we decided to have dinner at Poi by the Pound for more traditional Hawaiian cuisine. I order the Lau Lau Plate $12.95USD (pork, wrappers in taro leaves, lightly flavoured with Hawaiian soft and slow steamed to perfection served with rice, poi, lomi salmon & salad). Poi is a unusual food to eat if you aren’t use to it. Poi is this purple paste. It is a Hawaiian dish made from the fermented root of the taro, which has been baked and pounded to a paste. It is usually served cold and you mix a little bit with meat to give you an interesting texture and flavour. Tiffany had the most unusual dish of poi with poke that is served separately then you mix them together – unusual but not bad.
The airport is super tiny and we had absolutely no line to get through security. We ended up taking the smallest plane I’ve ever been on with Air Canada using a EVAS – everyone had a window seat (minus the first 2 seats – which I had one of) and you can see the pilot and all the gears and buttons. It was a relatively smooth flight however because of the geography of where PEI is located and Newfoundland & Labrador, we had to stopover in Halifax before making it into St John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador.
We stayed in downtown St John’s at the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland (115 Cavendish Square, St. John’s NL A1C 3K2). Since we arrived in the evening, we took to Signal Hill to catch the sunset. We definitely did not pack appropriate clothing for St John’s weather having gone from 25 back home to 8-22 in Nova Scotia to PEI to 3-5 degrees in St John’s. The view is spectacular from Signal Hill both sides (water side and city side).
St John’s reminds me of San Francisco with all the hilly streets but the beautiful coloured homes makes this town so much more enchanting. We made our way down to George St – one of their famous streets condensed with all the pubs/bars you would ever need. We ate at Piatto Pizzeria (377 Duckworth St, St. John’s, NL A1C 1H8) that night. We started off with Bruschetta and olives and among the 3 of us, we ordered 3 pizzas. We ordered the VPN Margherita ($15CAD) A base of San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh fior di latte mozzarella, fresh basil, EVOO + Grana Padano.), Americana ($17CAD) (Fresh fior di latte mozzarella + garnished with pepperoni) and Dolce e Fumoso ($17CAD) (Roasted garlic cream base, chili flakes, smoked mozzarella, crispy prosciutto, finished with a drizzle of honey + chopped parsley). The best overall of the night – Dolce e Fumoso.
We had spoken about waking up early and taking in the sunrise at Cape Spear (The most Eastern point to take in the first light of day) however the weather called for rain. I ended up waking up at 430-5AM to find a layer of fog taking over the skies.
Our final breakfast before getting to our last shoot location of the week long trip was at Bagel Café (246 Duckworth St, St. John’s, NL A1C 1G8). This place is known as the spot for breakfast and no not just bagels. St John’s is also known for their local favourite dish of Touton – (pronounced “tau-tin”) which are deep fried pancakes that is considered a breakfast food. To me personally, it tastes and resembles the Chinese dessert fried dough sticks (Yeoteww). Such a comfy restaurant with all the kitschy interiors you want. I ordered the Harbour main deep fried cod with hollandaise and smoked salmon touton ($17CAD). It was a little heavy but so worth it.
After our shoot, we had a few hours left before we needed to depart to the airport to head back home to Toronto. We had to return to the hotel to check out and once we did, we ventured out to Quidi Vidi (a small fisherman’s village). We went down a steep single laned road and came upon a quaint little neighbourhood. We wanted to have our final meal at the Mallard Cottage (8 Barrows Rd, St. John’s, NL A1A 1G8) but the place was packed and booked up. We walked over to QVFC (Quidi Vidi Fish & Chips) (31 Barrows Rd, St. John’s, NL A1A 1G8). Regina ordered the single piece of fish and poutine as I ordered the Fresh fried Cod bites – the tartar sauce was intense but in a good way and tasting the fish was super fresh and the poutine had more than a good amount of cheese curds to make anyone happy. We drove back up the road and ended up taking in our last sights at Quidi Vidi Battery before making our way to the airport and finally flying home.
I will be back one day to explore more. Our goal of seeing Puffins, Whales and icebergs was not fulfilled. However, from St John’s, a 3.5 hour drive to Elliston you can find the trifecta. Fishers Loft is the best accommodations in the woods but there are also many Airbnb’s out there too. If you want the true feel of Newfoundland & Labrador – visit Trinity Bona Vista.
Back on the road we went enroute to Prince Edward Island (PEI). We drove across the Confederation bridge into PEI with such a scenic view. The sky was surreal. If you are driving over, there is a $47CAD toll upon returning across the bridge leaving PEI.
We took the first exit off the highway once we had gone over the bridge and stopped to see the bridge in all its glory by a small lighthouse.
Back on the road towards Charlottetown and when I mean road, there is only one road and this road is like a roller coaster – up and down and up and down – extreme angles at times.
We finally arrived to downtown Charlottetown and oh boy the architecture is stunning with all the old houses and all the colours. We stayed at The Holman Grand – (123 Grafton St, Charlottetown PE C1A 1K9). Unlike Nova Scotia & New Brunswick, the weather started to get a little colder.
The downtown seems to run on a nice grid like system with everything within walking distance. I ended up walking around a bit by myself and found myself walking on Victoria Row which I guess is the Chinatown area of Charlottetown. Many stores of Anne of Green Gables. Cows Creamery also originates from PEI. Cows Ice cream is to Canada as Ben & Jerry’s is to USA.
After a quick rest, we walked over to Hopyard (151 Kent St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 1N5) for dinner. This was by far the best experience we had in terms of East Coast hospitality. Once we walked in, the atmosphere was laidback and cool. We took to a booth seat and was approached by a server. The server was amazing. He let us know the rundown of the restaurant and the food and drink list. Hopyard is exactly what their name says – Beer – Food – Vinyl. There is a table of vinyls in the middle where you can browse and find a record you would like to play and bring it to the bar so they can put it in the queue. If you feel the need to own the record, you are more than welcome to purchase it as the vinyls are brought in directly from a nearby records store.
The menu itself is complex but great value and a variety of flavours. The menu changes every few weeks and the top of the list are the vegetarian options while the bottom half are the meat options with some fun dessert options. Majority of the things on the menu are $8CAD each. The menu is a complex fusion of Asian flavours and a play on new mixes. The theme for the dishes during our stay was Qingdao to Incheon. The beer menu is also a long but great list to choose of for local and slightly further Canadian brewed craft beers.
Among the 3 of us, we ordered a bunch of dishes and they all had distinct flavour.
What we ate:
-Nuoc Cham Spring Rolls (Crispy Veg Rolls, Nuoc Cham, Fresh Cilantro, Black Sesame Sour Cream), – the black sesame sour cream was AMAZING!
-Bun Mi (Marinated Roasted Tofu, Salted Cauliflower Relish, Shredded Carrot, Cucumber Kimchi, Hoisin Mayo, Spicy Salt on a Brioche Bun)
-Qingdao Fried Broccoli (Fried Broc, Shoyu Mayo, Cherry Sauce, Hot Salt and Scallions) – The biggest surprise in taste was the broccoli – it tasted like candy.
-Sesame Hot Wings (Sesame Candy, Chili Salt Mayo and Cilantro BBQ Sauce)
-Crispy Fish Taco (Flour Torts, Iceberg, Black Bean Sour Cream, Wontons, Jalapeno Ginger Tartar, Cashew)
Unfortunately one of our subjects bailed so we had the morning free to explore PEI. We found ourselves indoors at Receiver Coffee & Co on Victoria Row (128 Richmond St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 1H7) because it was raining outside. We had breakfast in the cute little coffee shop. I ordered the Smoothie Bowl (avocado based smoothie with cinnamon, blueberry, strawberry and cucumbers) and paired it with a chai latte. We ended up staying here for majority of the morning before we hit the road to explore a bit before catching our flight.
The server from the previous night mentioned that we need to check out Brackley Point beach and drive through (shoe horse) via the PEI national park before making our way to the airport. With our laidback morning, we ended up not really having enough time to explore. We drove 20 minutes to Brackley Point beach but unfortunately we only had about 30 minutes before we needed to get to the airport and because it is part of the national park, we were unwilling to pay the fee to see the beach for a few minutes and drove to the airport. We were told that once you make it to Brackley Point Beach, if you go under the bridge, you can walk on the sand dunes. The park itself is suppose to be worth its while and should not be missed if you have the time.
Back on the road, we continued to our drive to Moncton, New Brunswick which was our next shoot location. 3 hour drive into the sunset with high winds. We stayed at the Chateau Moncton & Suites – (100 Main St, Moncton NB, E1C1B9, Canada.)
Wear bugspray as the winds die down a bit here and the slight humidity brings out the bloodsuckers. After our tiresome drive, we were seeking a good meal and down the Main St strip we went. We found a place called Tide & Boar Gastropub (700 Main St, Moncton, NB E1C 1E4). We luckily arrived with 15 minutes to spare as the kitchen was about to close. I ordered the Tuna Poke ($20CAD) (with ahi tuna, macadamia nuts, avocado, apple, sticky rice, scallions and soy). We sat outside on their alley patio which was the perfect spot (minus the mosquitoes).
The best coffee shop we found in the area was Café Codiac (666 St George Blvd, Moncton, NB E1E 2C2). I ordered the Moncton Fog which is their twist on a London Fog but they used Peppermint instead of Earl Grey – Delicious. The others had soups which they said were hearty and delicious.
Before leaving town, we stopped by Notre Dame De Parkton (376 St. George St, Moncton, NB E1C 1X2). The interior is what you think a small town restaurant should look like and we got our meals served to us on plastic school meal trays with old VHS recordings of Wheel of Fortune being played on the television. It was perfect. I ordered the Cubana with chips ($13CAD) while I am told the coleslaw is amazing. An extra bonus for those with a sweet tooth, they have an array of candies you can take from at the front desk.
Coming from Toronto and spending more money and time at Bubble tea places than bars, Chatime in Moncton brought me back home for that sliver in time. Taro milk tea with coconut jelly to made the next 2 hours on the road to PEI that much more relaxed.
If we had time and the weather was in our favour from Moncton, we would have taken a detour to Hopewell Rocks (131 Discovery Road, Hopewell Cape, NB E4H 4Z5). It is about a 30 minute drive south from Moncton. Hopewell Rocks is also known, as the Flowerpots Rocks which are 40-70 feet tall rock formation that you can walk through when the tide is low. It is a destination that I visited my first time road tripping the East Coast with my family almost 20 years ago.
After flying and driving a bit, we found ourselves looking for a good meal. We ended up going to The Five Fisherman (1740 Argyle St, Halifax, NS B3J 2B6). We all ordered The Five Fish ($44CAD) – Scallops, shrimp, lobster, asparagus risotto, salmon and swordfish. It was the best way to taste a bit of everything and the start to our East coast food experience.
We took a day trip to Windsor & Falmouth, Nova Scotia for work. While there, we ate at Fry Daddy’s (109 Gerrish St, Windsor, NS B0N 2T0). I ordered the Seafood Chowder ($9.95CAD) – Scallops, local haddock and shrimp all simmered in a potato chowder base . Served with homemade biscuit.
After heading back to Halifax from our day trip, we had a reservations to The Bicycle Thief (1475 Lower Water St, Halifax, NS B3J 3Z2). It might be a little touristy but this place is a MUST! By the harbourfront, you get great views overlooking water but also come upon a cozy interior with great energy and even better food and staff. We got a round of NS oysters and they were so tasty! I also ordered the The Infamous BT housemade chopped Tenderloin Burger, double smoked Bacon, Caramelized onions, very old Cheddar cheese, lettuce & tomato, Sea salted Frites ($20CAD).
After our delicious breakfast, we started our adventure to Peggy’s Cove on our day off.
Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia
It is a long yet windy 45 minute drive to get to Peggy’s Cove from the core of downtown Halifax. We walked to the Lighthouse and rested on the rocks taking in the sounds of the waves crashing and the warm sun beating down with the wind blowing over us. We hopped back into the car and went back down the road (Prospect Rd) to an area where there were a few spots alongside the road. We parked and followed the trail into the roads and trees towards the water. It’s like a different world and looks amazing. The lighting was absolutely perfect however the breeze was strong but the sun was warm. Bring a sweater!
On our way back to Halifax, we stopped at Shaw’s Landing (6958 Peggys Cove Road, West Dover, NS B3Z 3S8). It is definitely a hidden gem of a restaurant to find. You will see a giant Lobster in a yellow rain jacket standing on the roof that marks the spot. The portions are quite large and the view is great in the patio to overlook a small inlet while you eat. We ordered fried pickles and I ordered the fish and chips (Fresh deep-fried haddock). The tartar sauce had dill in it and was very tasty.
Before heading to Moncton, New Brunswick, we stopped back in Halifax to meet up with a friend who moved to the East Coast at Seahorse Tavern (2037 Gottingen St, Halifax, NS B3K 3B1). It has a Kitschy interior that continued out into their patio. Perfect for a summer day with a laid back atmosphere and is attached to Propeller Brewing Company. I ordered the Cove Kombucha.