While up on Maui last month, Aunty Cora (sister of Lehua Kalima) invited us to a luau at Seabury Hall for the graduating high school class of 2013, whom her twin daughters are a part of. Seabury Hall is a private school situated on the slopes of Haleakala in beautiful “upcountry” Makawao.
Before I continue on about the luau and Seabury Hall, a few words about Makawao, as this is definitely another town you MUST visit on your visit to Maui. It is absolutely BREATHTAKING up there! And I mean that both literally and figuratively, as Makawao’s elevation is quite high up above sea level on the Haleakala slope, overlooking sweeping views of central Maui, from southern Ma’alaea to northern Kahului, and of course the West Maui Mountain as its backdrop.
From the surf and sea below, suddenly you’re transported into “paniolo cowboy” country, surrounded by lush green pastures and farm land, along with a wonderful cool snappy crisp in the air. We were there during the summer, however during winter, Makawao is certainly a place you’ll need a jacket. It’s actually almost like you’re not even in Hawaii anymore, but more like say, Montana. Seeing the blue Pacific ocean from there out in the distance almost seems out of place.
On the main streets of Makawao, it appears many of the old stores have been converted to modern tourist-oriented shops, similar to what you’d find in Waikiki, yet at least some lean towards the cowboy/country theme to fit in. Of course there’s still the old school Komoda Bakery, famous for their Butter Rolls and other unique specialty pastries. Casanova’s is also still there, an Italian restaurant that moonlights as one of very few hot spot nightclubs on Maui at night.
Now for the subject at hand at Seabury Hall on Olinda Road… in a word, WOW! First time I’ve been there, and I must say, it’s absolutely GORGEOUS! While the architecture and grounds are of course nicely maintained and manicured, it’s the LOCATION of that property that really makes the Seabury Hall campus stand out, even above top tier college campuses on the mainland. With lush pastures and farmland flanking the sides, along with an open view of said central Maui (in Hawaii, hello!) from high above, it really is a stunning property to behold. Where you practically have to slap yourself upside the head and think, “Am I really at a high school? This looks more like the house of GOD!”
While schools such as Kamehameha’s Kapalama campus, and even St. Louis/Chaminade have scenic sweeping views of Honolulu, the dense urban sprawl and concrete “jungles” below are somewhat detracting. Because central Maui is relatively undeveloped, the view from upcountry still has the charm of God’s given natural beauty, plus again as a pun intended “icing on the cake”, the chilly snappy upcountry Maui air that’s so uniquely captivating while you stand there and take it all in. You just have to be there to experience it yourself in your skin and soul. No photos or words can convey the feeling.
And in case you’re going to ask, tuition at privately operated Seabury Hall does not come cheap, as does hardly anything on Maui. Try $18,000 per year. While that’s up there, it’s not the highest in the state, where according to Honolulu Magazine in a recent 2013 article, Punahou is now at just under $20,000 for grades 9 thru 12, while top tuition honors goes to the Big Island of Hawaii at Hawaii Preparatory Academy, where it’s at $22,300 per year for high school students. And get this: HPA’s total annual cost can soar as high as over $50,000 if dorm facilities — which are available there — are factored in. Dang it, there goes that new fishing boat or backyard swimming pool you wanted, right?
Getting to the grindz, for the class of 2013 graduation luau, the menu included Kalua Pig, Lomi Salmon, Poi, Teriyaki Chicken, Baked Mahimahi with a Lemon Caper Sauce, Steamed Broccoli, Okinawan Sweet Potato, Caesar Salad, an assortment of cakes and Haupia.
Here’s a few sample plates…
And? Winnahz! For a catered event held out in the open chilly air like that, every dish, except for the steamed broccoli was executed really well. The Teriyaki Chicken was flavorful (the teri’ sauce was really ono!), moist and tender. Same for the Kalua Pig, which had a nice smokey flavor and lots of tasty, porky fatty juices drippin’ in the pan to scoop up goin’ on. You know how that rolls. Lomi Salmon nailed it. Had enough salted salmon to not be “Lomi Tomato”. Dressing for the Caesar was good, lettuce was crisp, croutons full of herbal flavor and crunchy. Okinawan Sweet Potatoes were also steamed perfectly al dente and, unlike the steamed broccoli, were full flavored, regardless of not having any salt on it. That Aloha Poi Factory Maui Poi just as good and fresh as the Taro brand here on Oahu. Haupia tasted like the instant NOH stuff, which actually is quite good if you ever tried it. The chocolate cake really moist and not too sweet, which is always my biggest peeve with cakes. This one had good balance.
Overall, I give 3 out of 5 Ume/SPAM Musubi (very good) for Seabury Hall’s 2013 graduation Luau grindz. If they lost the tasteless steamed (most likely previously frozen) steamed broccoli, and swapped that out with Chicken Long Rice or Squid Luau, this spread would have gotten a 4… providing the Chicken Long Rice or Squid Luau was good! Everything else on the plate was very good to excellent!
For lots more photos where that’s coming from, check out the full gallery of the Seabury Hall 2013 graduation luau, as well as a few photos of surrounding Makawao here…
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