by Chantal Guillou-Brennan
If you think that you woke up in paradise you’re not far off: this is Maui. From the summit of Haleakala Crater to the shore of Big Beach in Makena, Maui has a breadth of exhilarating outdoor sights, activities, and entertainment for every visitor, plus accommodations for every style and budget. To find out what to do and where to stay, read on.
Activities and Places to See
Ringed by 120 miles of coastline, Maui boasts 81 accessible beaches, 39 with public facilities. Some renowned favorites are: Big Beach, Makena which is a beautiful white sand beach popular for bodysurfing, bodyboarding; Ka`anapali Beach (West Maui) excellent for swimming and snorkeling. To the right end of the beach you will find the famous Black Rock with a large assortment of fish, sea turtles and coral; and Baldwin Beach Park (North Shore) with a large sandy beach and lots of grassy and shady areas.
Maui’s year round warm water attracts more than tourists. From mid November to mid May, over 10,000 humpback whales migrate from their summer feeding grounds in Alaska to Maui’s sheltered waters to mate and give birth to their calves. The Whale Center of the Pacific in Kaʻanapali Resorts Whaler’s Village shopping complex tells the story of these gentle giants. Whaler's Village Museum depicts the human history of the whaling trade by means of actual artifacts from the days of Moby Dick.
Many cruises are available from Lahaina Harbor, some with a cause like (not for profit) The Pacific Whale Foundation who’s mission is to promote appreciation, understanding and protection of whales, dolphins, coral reefs and our planet's oceans. During a two hour cruise, available several times a day, onboard marine naturalists explain, and point out, the social behavior of humpback whales while you listen to whale songs from an underwater hydrophone. For cruise information visit www.pacificwhale.org
Enjoying the underwater world without getting wet is possible with two alternatives: Through a 54-foot long acrylic tunnel inside the 750,000-gallon the ocean exhibit at The Maui Ocean Center observe numerous reef sharks, stingrays, and thousands of tropical reef fish and green sea turtles. Located in Ma‘alaea Harbor, Maui Ocean Center is open daily, 9-5, July and August until 6pm. 808-270-7000 or visitwww.mauioceancenter.com
Another popular alternative is a trip onboard the Atlantis Submarine. The two-hour tour takes you out from Lahaina on a colorful journey. This tour operates daily with hourly departures from 9:00 a.m.to 2:00 p.m. Save 10% when you reserve online at www.atlantissubmarines.com
Once a whaling village, Lahaina offers an combination of history, culture and vibrant night life. The old grog shops have been transformed into more than 40 art galleries and a wide range of restaurants. The Old Jail Gallery run by the non-profit Lahaina Arts Society, is home to 185 member artists. You can explore Lahaina’s rich history by following the signs on Lahaina’s Historic Trail located throughout town or take a guided tour with Maui Nei Native Expeditions, recipient of the 2008 Best of Lahaina Award. (808-661-9494, www.mauinei.com).
What you can’t miss in Lahaina, is the largest banyan tree in the U.S. which is over 60 feet high and covers almost an acre, but what you might miss is one of the largest statues of Buddha outside of Japan in the Lahaina Jodo Mission on Ala Moana Street.
The Dining ‘Experience’
No visit to Maui is complete without experiencing a lu’au (feast) in historic old Lahaina, and sunset is the perfect time for it. The oceanfront Old Lahaina Lu’au offers a popular sunset feast right off Front Street where you can enjoy traditional Hawaiian cuisine including a kālua pig, cooked in an earthen oven, poi and haupia (coconut pudding), along with a buffet of more familiar foods, an open bar, leis, live music and skilled hula performances under a spectacular starry night. (800-248-5828, www.oldlahainaluau.com)
There are over 300 restaurants on Maui to match your vacation dollar and taste in cuisine. Located right on famous Kaanapali Beach, is Leilani's On The Beach offering an open air dining room and a menu of house specialties including succulent fresh fish and the famous Kimo's Original Hula Pie. (808-661-4495, www.leilanis.com)
On the water's edge at Kaanapali Beach, the Hula Grill serves renowned chef Peter Merriman's Hawaiian regional seafood in the relaxed ambiance of a plantation era beach house, (808-667-6636, www.hulagrill.com)
Road Trip Itineraries
The legendary road to Hana is only 52 miles from Kahului, but the drive can take up to 4 hours to complete because it's fraught with narrow one-lane bridges, hairpin turns, and incredible island views with plenty of opportunities to stop, so get an early start and take your time.
Many tourist guides will direct travellers to secluded “sacred sites” but encourage your clients to please respect the “No Trespassing” signs to avoid conflict with locals.
Beauty is everywhere on Maui. Three opportunities to stretch your legs for more than a few minutes off Hana Highway include: The Garden of Eden Arboretum at the 10 mile marker is opened from 8:30am to 3 p.m., ($10 admission). A little farther past the 16 mile marker is the Ke’anae Arboretum (no entrance fee and always open) boasting a spectacular cluster of rainbow Eucalyptus trees, ornamental trees and medicinal plants. A half a mile beyond this point you can take Ke’anae Rd. toward the Ke’anae village and its 1860 church and continue onto the peninsula lookout for a scenic view of the jet-black lava coast.
Hana itself is an small undeveloped town, home to the Wai’anapanapa State Park but about nine miles beyond Hana lies Haleakala National Park at Kipahulu (your $10 entrance fee is reinvested in the upkeep of this wonderful 30,000 acre park) where you can swim in the tranquil pools of Oheo Gulch, or Seven Sacred Pools then take a two hour hike through a spectacular bamboo forest up the Pipiwai Trail to the 400-foot Waimoku Falls, which is well worth the trek.
Stretching across the island to east Maui, the Haleakala National Park is also home to Haleakala Crater, rising over 10,000 feet above sea level. Visitors to Haleakala Crater wake up early to drive up 9,740 feet, to the Haleakala Visitor’s Center to watch the sunrise or sunsets. On a clear day you can spot Mauna Kea on Big Island, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai and part of the west shore from Lahaina to Kapalua.
South & West Shore Accommodations
Talk about choices! From a world-class 5 Diamond resort, to an intimate seaside boutique hotel, Maui has it all including championship golf courses available to guests from all four major resort areas of Ka’anapali, Wailea, Makena and Kapalua. Below rates are low season, 10%-15% commissionable, call respective resort for details.
Destination Resorts Hawaii offers a stunning collection of luxury condo and villa rentals throughout beautiful Wailea and Makena ranging from studio to four bedrooms, in seven unique resorts: Wailea Ekolu Village, Wailea Grand Champion Villas, Wailea Ekahi Village, Wailea Elua Village, Polo Beach Club, Makena Surf, Wailea Beach Villas. Wailea Grand Champion Villas offers fully equipped one-, two- and three-bedroom garden view or partial ocean view rentals, on Wailea Blue Golf Course, featuring full kitchen and washer/dryer. Rates start at $275 for a 1 bedroom gardenview. Wailea Ekahi Village condo located on 35 acres of manicured gardens, offers guests the convenience of golf, tennis and the beauty of Keawakapu Beach. Studio condo residences starts at $240. Security-gated, luxury property Makena Surf features one- to four-bedroom condos with oceanfront locations, spectacular views and two swimming pools, two whirlpool spas and four tennis courts. Two bedrooms start at $675. Ideal for a Maui golf getaway or a quiet retreat, the Wailea Ekolu Village one- and two-bedroom condos overlook the championship Wailea Blue Golf Course. A two bedroom oceanview starts at $400. Wailea Beach Villas offers guests comfort and privacy in magnificent private condos, while delivering services and amenities in the style of a grand resort. A two bedroom Gardenview starts at $1,200, and $2,750 for a 3 bedroom Oceanview villa. Available on a monthly basis only, two-bedroom/two-bath Wailea Point condos offer the ideal option for an extended family getaway or holiday. Prices start at $11,000. (866-384-1366, www.drhmaui.com)
Perched above the crystal blue Wailea coastline is a haven for rest and rejuvenation known as Diamond Hawaii Resort & Spa, the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion or honeymoon. The complimentary use of the Japanese style Hydro Therapy is said to cleanse the body and restore the spirit! The resort offers free shuttle to/from beaches, the Shops at Wailea and three Wailea Golf Courses. Spa packages and Hawaiian Lomilomi massage are available. The Romance Package rates start at $379/night and include 50-minute massages. For other package offerings visit www.diamondresort.com or call 800-800-0720.
Located 17 miles from the Kahului Airport, on pristine white sands of Polo Beach, close to Wailea's golf courses, The Fairmont Kea Lani, is a luxury all oceanview suites and villas resort. Each unit includes a spacious living room, separate master bedroom and elegant marble bathroom. The resort features a full-service spa, a fitness center, three swimming pools, four restaurants, shopping, wedding services, 30,000 sq/ft of meeting facility. On the beach you can rent a Kayak, stand-up-paddle board or catamaran in hopes of catching a closer look at the traveling whales, or embark on the Hawaiian Canoe Experience to learn the basics of Hawaiian paddling and their native chants. Rates for the Early Summer Aloha package start at $385 dbl./occ. in a one-bedroom moderate suite. For rates and packages visit www.fairmont.com/kealani/ or call 866-540-4456.
Immerse yourself in the spirited atmosphere of Lahaina town from the newly remodeled accommodations at Outrigger Aina Nalu. The Aina Nalu provides a spacious, relaxing setting, just steps from Front Street and its quaint waterfront in a peaceful garden setting, hosting two swimming pools and whirlpool spa. Studio units include full kitchen and washer/dryer in one- and two-bedroom units. Rates for two-night minimum start at $165 and are bookable at www.outriggerainanalucondo.com or call 800-367-5226.
Nestled at the westernmost tip of the island, on the expansive grounds of the renowned Kaanapali Beach Resort, Outrigger Maui Eldorado offers its guests privileges at five resort golf courses, use of 19 tennis courts, three swimming pools, and private Cabana Club, full kitchen/washer/dryer in every condominium, all set in a quiet, lushly shaded garden atmosphere, minutes from Whalers Village shopping mall. With two-night minimum stay required, rates start at $150 pp /per day. Visit www.outriggermauieldoradocondo.com or call 800-688-7444.
Boutique Hotel on Maui's Tropical North Shore
Visitors come from all over the world to enjoy Maui's north shore a unique combination of warm clear water, consistent surf, and steady trade winds, perfect for surfing, windsurfing, kiteboarding. The town of Paia is where you’ll find a fun and a laid-back atmosphere, lively street ambiance–day or night, trendy boutiques, great restaurants and a health food store –Mana Foods open 8:30 a.m./p.m.
Off Hana Highway, in the heart Paia and just steps away from the beautiful white sand beach is the newly renovated Paia Inn. This amazingly quiet, upscale boutique hotel offers a haven of relaxation, coffee/tea/fresh muffins that you can pick up on your early start to Hana, oceanfront yoga (Wed./Sat.) and an art gallery featuring local artists. Each carefully decorated cottage offers luxurious and comfortable rooms with full kitchen, and private beach access. Nightly rates for one bedroom suite: $259 and two bedroom suite: $299; Petite Room: $169; Deluxe Rooms: $199 and Junior Suite: $239. Call 800-721-4000 or visit www.PaiaInn.com.
Getting There and Getting Around
To really experience all that Maui has to offer, you should consider renting a car. All major rental companies have offices/rentals at Kahului Airport (OGG) the island's main airport and Kapalua Airport (JHM) on the Kaanapali side. The smaller Hana Airport (HNM) gets travelers to this isolated area. Many airlines fly direct to Maui while others include Oahu as a stopover. There is also ferry service to and from Lanai and Molokai.
For additional information call the Maui Visitor Bureau at 808-244-3530 or visit www.visitmaui.com, for activities www.hawaiiactivityworld.com, www.maui.net or www.gohawaii.com for history www.hawaii-luaus.com