You can’t expect the man who built his career around chasing down “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” to take a typical vacation. So when Guy Fieri brings his family to Hawaii, he doesn’t spend much time by the pool.
“There are so many great places on the islands. The more you dig into it, the more you find,” he says. “Spend your two days on the beach and then go see things.”
He highlights new finds and old favorites on a new four-episode series, “Guy: Hawaiian Style,” which debuts Saturday, on Discovery+ network, and shares some favorites with USA TODAY.
Hawaii may be discouraging tourists from visiting right now due to rising COVID-19 cases in the state but you can still put them on your bucket list for your next visit.
► Hawaii governor urges tourists to stay home amid COVID surge: ‘Now is not the time to visit the islands’
Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort
When the Fieri family heads to Maui, this is where they set up base. “It’s our go-to spot, centrally located and easy to get around,” Fieri says. The modern-style resort has an open-air lobby and four pools. “It’s more quaint, not a big, huge place, and they’ve got a great beach. If it’s spring break time, most likely, you’ll see us there.”
More information: hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/hawaii/andaz-maui-at-wailea-resort/oggaw
Fieri got his scuba certification with this Maui company and brought his wife and youngest son for classes as well. Part of the class involves taking off your mask while 20 or 30 feet underwater. It’s usually an unnerving moment, but his instructors were “super conscientious,” he says. “These folks are so hands-on and so helpful, and so aware.”
More information: lahainadivers.com
This Asian-style noodle joint on Maui should change its name to OMG, Fieri says. “It’s the kind of place worth making a trip for. I’d eat there every day.” Highlights include homemade ramen made with an 80-year-old machine from Japan and a Vietnamese crepe filled with shrimp and pork bathed in coconut milk that you eat wrapped in lettuce. “It’s a big flavorful, unique presentation.”
More information: starnoodle.com
► Tightening restrictions: Hawaii imposes COVID restrictions for restaurants, bars but does not change visitor entry requirements
Maui Sporting Clays
Anyone can go to Hawaii to surf, but how about shooting skeet? Fieri says when he tires of the beach, he heads to this hidden spot, located inside an extinct volcano. “This is nuts. The views of the ocean are mind-blowing.” The instructor, an award-winning shooter, takes clients through dozens of stands. “In two hours, he changed my way of shooting,” Fieri says.
More information: mauisportingclays.com
Although Fieri may love eating and cooking seafood, he has never claimed to be a fisherman himself. Still, he was amazed by what he learned about marlin and other species during an outing with this Maui charter fishing company. “It was such a great experience. It’s like getting a full master’s course in what big game fishing is all about,” he says. “These guys did such a great job.”
More information: piper-sportfishing.com
Fat Daddy’s Smokehouse
As a member of the Barbecue Hall of Fame, Fieri’s glad to have found Fat Daddy’s Smokehouse on Maui, which draws from both Texas and North Carolina styles. “The guy’s burnt ends are bananas, and the cornbread blows my mind. It’s not go-to-the-basics cornbread. It’s the real deal.”
More information: fatdaddysmaui.com
Umekes Fishmarket Bar & Grill
You can taste your way around Hawaii at this authentic Big Island spot. Fieri loves everything from the poke to the lau lau – pork and Hawaiian salt wrapped in taro leaves and steamed for 10 hours. The chef, he says, brings a passion to every dish. “It’s about the authenticity, the creativity, and highlighting the Hawaiian experience,” he says.
More information: umekesrestaurants.com
Jack’s Diving Locker
Fieri had an unforgettable experience diving with manta rays at night off the Big Island, using a light to attract plankton. The fish, which can be 20 feet wide, are drawn to the food and put on a show. “They’re the size of a barn door, and they’re flying over you,” he says. Guests that don’t dive, can still enjoy the adventure, using a snorkel and mask to watch from above.
More information: jacksdivinglocker.com
Alley Restaurant at Aiea Bowl
Perhaps it’s no surprise that the host of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” swears by a Honolulu restaurant based in a bowling alley. This is where Fieri celebrated a recent birthday, hosting his production team, parents and children. “It’s a total local place. It’s the bomb.” Fieri even had its oxtail soup – made with Chinese spices, ginger, mushrooms and peanuts – shipped back home to the mainland. Another highlight: the grilled Pepsi cola-marinated turkey sandwich.
More information: aieabowl.com/restaurant
In a state where even the convenience store poke can be amazing, you have to be doing something pretty spectacular to bring the marinated raw fish salad to new heights. But Fieri swears by this Oahu restaurant, which serves 20 different varieties. His favorites include ahi poke topped with limu seaweed and tako (spicy smoked octopus). “You can really taste the authenticity,” he says.
More information: freshcatch808.com