As I experienced first-hand recently, Maui – the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands, boasting a resident population of roughly 150,000 – is a beautiful place and can be a very relaxing vacation destination for those wishing to escape the hustle and bustle of their busy lives and relax in this wonderful small town environment.
Like other islands in the archipelago excursions and adventures abound, such as boat charters for snorkelling, whale watching, fishing and trips to the adjacent islands of Lanai and Molokai. However unlike other islands of Hawaii – such as Waikiki – there are no tall high-rises marring the skyline. Additionally there are 15 golf courses on the island, so if you are an avid golfer my word of advice is do not leave home without your clubs, you will surely regret it.
If it’s sightseeing you seek, fear not for Maui has some of the most wonderful sights you could possibly see, such as the Halekala crater – a must see in my opinion – which offers spectacular views, including (if you dare venture out before dawn) possibly the most amazing view of the sunrise one could ever experience. This dormant volcano can be accessed by care via a long and windy – but well maintained – road that will bring you up to the summit elevation of over 10,000 feet.
I would also suggest taking a sightseeing trip to the town of Hana, which will take you down a windy, and scenic road, with 56 one-lane bridges and over 600 sharp turns, will take you throughout the east side of the island. I would suggest for this excursion to book off an entire day, as the road is littered with various small hikes up to canyons and waterfalls, which made me say to myself “It is true what they say that it is the journey, not so much about the destination.”
To get to Maui I flew Westjet from Edmonton, to Vancouver, and then non-stop to Maui, with an inverse return. At the Kahalui airport in the north central portion of the island – where most visitors will fly into – I rented a car, which is a must if you want to get out and explore the various features of the island, as it is spread out. here are 4 main areas where travellers will stay, these include Wailea Makena in the southwest coast, town of Kihei in central Maui along the southwest coast, Lahaina along the northwest coast and the Kaanapali and Kapalua regions further north of Lahaina.
Wailea and Makena is an upscale area with a few premium hotels including the Fairmont Kea Lani, Four Seasons and the Grand Wailea. There is limited shopping and restaurants are typically those found on the grounds or within these hotel properties. Kihei has much more in the way of hotels, condos and vacation rental properties. Kihei boasts a number of restaurants, small shops and cafes. Lahaina is an old whaling village that has a few hotels and great little restaurants along Front Street, the main street next to the ocean, various boat charters leave from the Lahaina pier.
Further north is the Kaanapali and Kapalua area that are filled with hotels, condos and vacation rentals. There are several private and public beautiful beaches in this region.
I stayed at the aforementioned Fairmont Keal Lani in a spacious 1-bedroom suite (spacious at approx. 800 sq feet), which was plenty of room for a family, with a beautiful lanai overlooking the ocean, which could be accessed from both living room and master bedroom. The beach in front of the hotel, Polo Beach, is a gorgeous beach with very limited coral. Perfect for boogey boarding, floating or just enjoying the waves breaking near shore. Not an ideal area to snorkel, but perfect for those just wanting to hang out at the beach.
The food I had on the island was quite good, and I could not possibly have dined at all of the restaurants the island had to offer. However I was able to try Monkey Pod restaurant in Wailea, which has local food at decent prices and happy hour between 3 and 5:30pm with ½ price drinks and appetizers; Nick’s Fish Market at the Fairmont, which had good food with a nice ocean view; and the new Ko restaurant in the Fairmont, which has just undergone a 5.3 million dollar renovation.
If your looking for something a little more familiar then Lahaina is right up your alley, with favourites such as Hard Rock Café and Bubba Gumps overlooking the water.
I would definitely recommend a visit to Maui for anyone looking for a fun and relaxing vacation, with the potential for a little light-adventure. However With all the possible activities and many hours on the beach, be sure to give yourself a minimum of 7 days to take in all of what Maui has to offer.