Café O’Lei Kihei (Maui, Hawaii) Part 1

As much as you’d likely love for me to jump right in and review the restroom for this hip, happenin’ Hawaiian café, I feel it somewhat necessary to first comment on the circumstances leading up to my unexpected, unwanted, and altogether unforgettable voyage across the Pacific to this purportedly must-see paradise.

Don’t worry. I know we’re living in a post-literate society, so I made sure to take some pictures to plop in between these weird, foreign looking chunks with letters (a.k.a “paragraphs”).


Maui sunset on a beach with an error message pop-up that says "unable to enjoy."
Well, shit.

Everyone is always talking about how great Hawaii is. They’re always saying things like: “Hawaii is so beautiful, it’s beyond description. Ridiculously gorgeous. Nay, resplendently gorgeous. Nay, inexplicably re-phlemulently gorgeous. Gor-ticious, really.”

Snowman made from white plastic cups surrounded by tropical foliage. Thought bubble says "My whole existence is flawed."

If they’re not boasting about about their own overblown island vacations, they’re trying to convince you that a visit to the Aloha State is some essential rite of passage. “You don’t want to end up shrivelled up, alone and regretful on your death bed that you never tried an island-grown, organic papaya, do you?Or “At our last resort, you could pick organic papayas directly out of the waiter’s ass. Simply divine.

Also: What’s up with the dating scene here?

Tinder screen with palm tree wearing a bra. "Palmela, 37. Stripper."
“Well, former stripper. Btw, I’m 42, not 37. Young at ♡ though.”

It’s even worse when these winter-break-blowhards feel compelled to outline the complete itinerary of their trip: “We just got back from Hawaii and I came in my pants on an hourly basis.” They always seem to have the photos to prove their point, too. (And sometimes even the pants).

Well, I can’t speak for all of Hawaii–but Maui has pretty much all the same shit you’d find at any other tropical paradise.

Except for this guy. Sadly, I think there’s only one of him.

A convertible car decorated with tinsel and Christmas bows. The driver is wearing a Santa Clause hat and sunglasses.
I guess wrapping paper would have been overkill.

Sure, I got to experience some “breathtaking beaches,” but it’s not like I haven’t been constantly exposed to this crap on every version of Microsoft Windows for the past 30 odd years anyway. My sad, sheltered life in the dark has seen a surprising amount of ocean sunsets, compliments of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

As a result, I hope you’ll understand that most of these “Maui moments” didn’t have much of a major impact on me. (Especially since a majority of them were taken shoulder to shoulder with a crowd of amateur photographers and preteens posing for predator-friendly TikTok content).

For anyone curious, swipe left to see my own amateur collection of Hawaii hogwash.

Perhaps my perspective is skewed due to circumstance. I mean, it’s not very often that you have to go to Hawaii. That’s right. An emergency trip. Can you believe that? (At least I hope the E.I. claims department does. Here’s a photo of me in Memorial Medical Centre in Kahului, just in case. Aloha, Government of Canada!)

Selfie taken in the emergency room at Memorial Medical Centre in Kahului.
Precious memories.

Actually, here’s another photo — because the view from the emergency ward was quite lovely. For anyone who was expecting a postcard, I hope this will suffice.

View from the window at Memorial Hospital, Maui. It says "Wish you were here. Oh wait, nevermind!"

Maybe you think it’s in pretty poor taste for me to be making light of such a serious situation. Well, this is a bathroom review blog. Everything here is in poor taste.

As you can probably tell by now, I never truly had any desire to go to this bloated-ass island with its weird, expensive butter and bikini-clad trees.

All I ever really knew about Hawaii was from television and movies: Grass skirts, cutesy ukulele’s, surfer babes, and that Nicholas Cage movie where Sarah Jessica Parker practically cucks him with some rich old guy.

Screenshot from film Honeymoon in Vegas, where Nicholas Cage looks depressed, next to a drink.

Disappointingly, I didn’t see any of those things on my little trip. Nope. Not even Nicholas Cage. What a crock. I didn’t even get “lei’d” when I got off the airplane, which I’m pretty sure is criminal negligence on the airline’s part (according to Hawaii State Law).

Photo on airplane. Babies screaming: "I want apple juice," "I shit myself again" and a woman saying "organic papayas."

After my skull-throbbing 7-hour flight surrounded by 4 insufferable squealing babies (and their children), the only “official greeting” I received was the sound of more squealing babies at the baggage claim.

In the end, I’m grateful to say everything turned out fine. By the third day of my little trip, the situation at the hospital was looking a bit better, so I finally made some time for myself. And boy did I need it. Even Panda Express could tell I was about to crack:

Fortune that says "Go for a long walk to clear your mind."

Just to clarify, the Panda Express wasn’t mine. That’s the difference between my elder sibling and I. When I travel, I usually aim to check out some local shit. When he travels, the only shit he seems to want is the liquid hot kind.

Anyway, I took the fortune cookies advice and went for a walk, but instead of immediately hitting the beach like most Canadian ‘Berta boys would most definitely do–I decided to buy myself some lunch and check out a bathroom at the weirdest looking establishment I could find: The Café O’Lei in Kihei.

Café O'Lei Kihei.
Maybe I could get Lei’d here?

Mele Kalikimaka at the Café O’Lei

Café O'Lei in Kihei, front view. The building is teal/turquoise and a tan colour.

First of all, what’s up with this building? It looks like a giant Lego set or something. It’s almost as if someone couldn’t decide where to put their weird Christmas gift after assembling it and eventually opted to drop it in a random parking lot.

Lego set with Café O'Lei signage, set up in a JC Penny parking lot.
“Just leave it here. No one will give a shit.”

This Café O’Lei place has a lot of stairs. Bold move. I guess they want me to work up an appetite and some sweat. That’s fine by me. I walked here, so I’m already hot, hungry, and grumpier than usual for anyone visiting Hawaii.

Turquoise / teal staircase outside the cafe. A tiny man is at the bottom with binoculars.
Didn’t anyone tell you it’s rude to stair?

My lustrous forehead, furrowed brows, and damp t-shirt will be part of my attire for lunch no matter how many obstacles you throw in my way. Here’s hoping they’ll give me extra napkins I can dab my pits with.

There’s a menu posted at the top of the stairwell, which is a pretty clever decision. Even if I don’t like what I see, my legs are practically rubber by now. There’s no way I won’t want to sit my frumpy, fatigued fanny down to at least catch my breath. And when I’m done panting, I might just be in a good enough mood from my “runner’s high” that I’ll cave and fork out the cash for some Kihei Cuisine.

2 exhausted cartoon women next to the Cafe O'Lei Kihei menu.
Pants encouraged.

Or maybe I’ll just use their bathroom to vomit from heat stroke. Either way, it’s a win / win for everyone.

As I enter the Lego lobby, I’m kind of expecting to be greeted by a giant plastic figurine who’ll silently gesture me toward some blocky, brick-like furniture.

Lobby of Cafe O'Lei Maui with Lego man serving a hot dog.
What do you tip a Lego guy?

Thankfully, my hostess appears to be a fully functioning human being, complete with flesh, multiple facial expressions, and something resembling a personality.

After I catch my breath and compose myself I can’t help but take a look around. There is a notable lack of Christmas crap displayed for a restaurant during December, which is probably not such a horrible thing. This place is already decorated quite..appropriately. You certainly won’t forget you’re in Hawaii, anyway.

I can also see that I may have been wrong about the “random parking lot” comment. This parking lot has considerably more prestige than one you’d find at a JC Penny’s. I stand corrected.

View from a table at the Café O'Lei in Kihei.
Not as breathtaking as the staircase, but it’ll do.

In fact, the Cafe O’Lei is almost in an amazing spot. It’s right across the road from the beach, which would be fantastic for touristy types if you could actually see the ocean from the dining hall. Unfortunately, the windows aren’t quite facing the right direction, but so what? I’m more than happy with the scenic view of rental cars.

On the other hand, I’m a little more than irritated to discover this establishment has no free public Wi-Fi. I can’t help but notice that they do have a surplus of networks for their own use. All of which are essential, I’m sure.

Wi-Fi Networks on cell-phone: 5 Networks for Cafe O'Lei. 2 extra networks: "Nice try, schmuck" and "HAHA FUCK YOU."

Come on. I can’t be the only tourist in this place who can’t afford a roaming plan. I guess people here in Kihei really want you to do some genuine roaming, hey? I almost feel like roaming to another restaurant. Well, you know what they say…”When in Roam.” Not digging these “roaming” jokes? Fine.

Maybe I’m just grumpy because my stomach has been acting unpredictably since I landed on this island. I’m sure some questionable seafood will help.

I decide to try out today’s Special: “Panko crusted Ono,” which sort of sounds like it could have been one of John Lennon’s weirder solo albums from the 70’s.

Album cover with Café O'Lei's Hula girl and John + Yoko. Titled "Panko Crusted Ono Band."
Happy Fish-mas (War is Over)
Panko crusted ono, caesar salad, and rice on a plate.
Only losers take photos of their food for Instagram. A blog
is much more sophisticated.

All kidding aside, I’m a little underwhelmed with the presentation–but what do I know? I’m not the fucking Michelin Man. Besides, this butter sauce is delicious. And as a recovering alcoholic who’s recently come off a ketogenic diet, I have more than enough experience with butter and sauce.

The Ono is pretty tasty, too. I ask the server if it was caught today. She says:

“Yes! Well, maybe yesterday-ish?” I look puzzled. “Well, the fisherman doesn’t really get here bright and early,” she admits.

At least I think that’s an admission, although I’m not exactly sure what it means. A tardy fisherman? This is an island. How far do they really have to go? Are they sailing out to the Arctic or something?

Maybe I should just ask the chef.

Lego version of the Swedish Chef on the Muppets saying "Flerpty Floopin' Bork Bork Bork!"

On second thought, it’s probably time to check out the restroom. I’m not in the mood to learn Hawaiian.

Here’s Part No. 2

12 thoughts on “Café O’Lei Kihei (Maui, Hawaii) Part 1

  1. Brilliant post. Full of wit, sarcasm and my kind of humour. I like your writing style too. Since you do bathroom reviews, you should travel to India. The things I’ve seen lol. If you commute from one state to another here by car, you might prefer using the bushes than a public toilet lol. Anyhow I digress. That cafe is one of the most unique things I’ve seen, but I doubt I’ll try yesterday’s fish though. Sounds shady. At least the waitress was honest. Looking forward to reading more posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would absolutely love to visit India. Is that where you live? I could definitely use a nice culture shock! I have heard so many unbelievable things—ranging from beautiful to bizarre. Thank you so incredibly much for reading my post and commenting. It means the world to me, and I can honestly say that if you’ve ever done your business in a bush to avoid a bad bathroom—then you’re in great company.
      Thanks again, friend!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes. I live in India. It’s definitely a culture shock for people who aren’t from here lol. Yes, there’s this juxtaposition of bizarre and beautiful, or weird and wonderful. It’s a place of triumph and tragedy too. You’ll see abject poverty on one side of the road, and a very rich person walking his pedigree dog on the other. And you’re very welcome. I enjoyed the post, and love the theme of your blog. Yes, I have done my business in a bush, but some of the bathrooms I’ve seen here are well… indescribable. You could do a whole series if you came here lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Wow, that sounds surreal. The only place I ever saw such a sharp contrast of wealth and poverty was in San Francisco—although I’m sure the two are hardly comparable. The toilets there were decent at least. Well, mostly. One day I will visit India. I’ve always wanted to. I’ll be absolutely sure to record my findings on my trip. Thank you for your comments and the conversation!

        Liked by 1 person

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