Why I always recommend to follow the locals.. even if it means ending up at a place called Tasty Krust. Yes, you read that right. Tasty. Krust. The autocorrect on my laptop keeps attempting to change it on over to trust, a notion I had relied on all week when Bill’s aunts housed and acted as our impromptu tour guides. This would be the first time I traveled from home without a family member with, or to greet me upon my arrival in a new place. Putting my trust completely in Bill and his family, I decided I wouldn’t plan anything, and stick by:
Rule No 1: Follow the Locals.
I’ve always been a fan of anything that’s off-the-beaten-path, so when one of Bill’s aunts, an honorary local who had lived on the island for the past 25 years, wants to take us for a drive through her favorite places on the island, we readily agreed. As we rounded the corner into town, it was easy to miss the plain-lettering sign for Tasty Krust if you really weren’t looking for it, same with the sleepy little building, for that matter. I do know that if Bill and I were driving in the same area, famished and looking for a bite to eat, we would have easily flown by this place.
Hesitant at first, I figured this was going to be your traditional, plain-flavoring diner, which I’ve grown to shy away from. I don’t know what it is, but over the past couple of years, my appetite for diners has significantly decreased. Maybe it has to do with the numerous freeze-dried strawberry topped waffles and weak coffee. Let’s just say, Tasty Krust did not disappoint.
Upon entering, we were greeted with the swivel of heads from every table, all locals bent over their lunch and newspapers. We sat near the entrance to the meeting room in the back, sneaking glances at the bizarre gathering of women as the door quickly opened and closed for food or incoming members. A secret society of sorts in the back of a Hawaiian diner, I liked it.
Another rule I attempt to stick by when traveling, though sometimes it may be challenging for my inner picky eater, 12 year old self was:
Rule No. 2: Always Try Whatever The Locals Recommend.
I really just started putting this practice into effect over the past few years, and I have yet to be disappointed by any sort of dish that is ultimately put in front of me. In this case, it was the banana pancakes.
Not one for pancakes usually, I was pretty worried about this one, afraid to disappoint Bill’s aunt when I was only able to take two bites. You know how certain people can’t stand certain textures? The flat expanse of a pancake does that for me. I quickly found out how wrong I was to have worried, these banana-filled, fluffy pancakes quickly became the best pancakes that had ever graced my taste buds.
Bill and I ended up going back for dinner another night, needing another taste of the Krust before leaving.
When you’re on the beautiful island of Maui, it’s tempting to want to stick to the towns built specifically for resorts, golf courses, and massive crowds of tourists. It’s easier, everything is within walking distance, and you don’t have to do much thinking. I’ll admit, we drove through one of these during our stay, parked the car, and took a look around. No shame in that, I got to see one of Peter Lik’s galleries (the guy who sold the highest selling print ever) and was blown away to see how incredible a photograph can look in person versus on a tiny laptop screen.
The thing that did surprise me was how lackluster the view from these resort towns sometimes were. That day, we had just come to the end of a winding road on the opposite side of the island from the famed Road To Hana. Weaving through the steeped-in-green mountains, slowing to a crawl on hairpin turns that threatened to send you over the edge every time you took your eyes off the road to admire the view. None of the breathtaking beaches or painterly mountains surrounded these towns. Figuring they bought up the best view in town to plop their all-inclusives, I was pleasantly surprised to find I wasn’t really missing anything by not staying in one of the many hotels in the area.
Trust is something that is typically earned, not just given at random. When you’re traveling, the connections you make are often fleeting and brief, so one must rely on their instincts to guide them to the right kind of locals, not really having the luxury to watch them from afar or slowly build up a rapport. People are generally decent, I’ve come to realize, there’s just those bad eggs that can ruin it for the lot.
Most of the places I’ve been, though it has yet to be far and wide, I’ve discovered that the locals are usually pretty happy to guide you in the right direction, showing off their city or their small town on an island, taking pride in a place they’ve called home for longer than they can remember.
So I always make it a point at least once in the trip, to follow my third and final rule:
Rule No 3: Visit Your Must-See Spots in a Location, But Always Include At Least One Local’s Recommendation.