Maui Travel Guide

Maui Travel Guide

David Durán

All of the Hawaiian Islands are special and unique but Maui is arguably the best one. Known for being a lover’s paradise – all lovers by the way – Maui has a bit of everything for everyone. Before planning a trip, it’s best to know a little about the different areas on the island. From Wailea to Kaanapali, things are a bit spread apart, so knowing ahead of time where you are staying and the activities you want to do will help ease up on the long driving sessions that can often occur when not properly planning ahead. Traffic does exist on the island and when you are in it, you will not only hate it, but you will be missing out on vacation time, so spend a little time getting to know the island before arriving.

Maui is all about Aloha, and beyond being a word used to greet people it is also a way of life; a really, truly fabulous way of life. Maui locals are wonderful people and for the most part, embrace anyone who is respectful of them and their land. There are no designated gay bars here, because everyone is welcome on Maui and most everyone visiting is typically happy, so why not be happy with everyone and enjoy the same places? So when you do make it over to Maui, slow yourself down a bit, take your shoes off, embrace that aloha life and soak in not only the sun but all of the magic of Maui.

The best hotels in Maui

There are so many gorgeous resort options on Maui and it’s all about which part of the island you want to stay in. Wailea, dubbed the Beverly Hills of Maui, is a more secluded, upscale part of the island where visitors go to avoid the cruise ships and the extra touristy areas of the island like Lahaina. Not that there is anything wrong with Lahaina, as it does have great things to see, but it’s a standard on the visitor’s checklist. Wailea is home to resorts like the Fairmont Kea Lani, which is stunning and has recently undergone some large-scale renovations, the Four Seasons Resort, which well, is the Four Seasons, so you can’t really go wrong, and the newer, younger, hipper Andaz Maui, where their multiple cascading infinity pools will give you some serious pool envy if you opted to stay elsewhere.

Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort | Photo: Eric Laigne

Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort | Photo: Eric Laigne

Our favourite, though, is the Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort mostly due to its epic size, dining options, brand new full room renovations, the massive pools and water slides, and the glorious Spa Grande, consistently deemed as the best spa in Hawaii by anyone who knows anything about spas. The Grand Wailea is a family friendly resort but not to worry, there is a perfectly situated adult pool with cabanas, and craft cocktails along with a to die for food menu to accompany those drinks with the tiny umbrellas. You don’t really ever have to leave the Grand, as it sits on the perfect stretch of Wailea Beach, there’s a mini shopping mall, top-notch dining, pools galore, a spa that will make you hate every other spa you will ever go into afterwards, and even a cute little wedding chapel, just in case you decide to get hitched while there.

The other hotel-heavy part of Maui is Ka’anapali, best known by well, everyone and it’s a much livelier scene. So if walking from bar to bar along one long beach stretch is more your thing, this might be the best option. Here you have a lot of resort options but the Westin Maui Resort & Spa has a great pool and is located right in the heart of Ka’anapali, making it convenient to get to and from everywhere in the area by foot (although they do have courtesy shuttles as well). Its sister property down the way, the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas is perfect for long stays as the villas have washer/dryers, large living spaces and all the amenities of a beach resort, including their Spa Helani, which rivals the Westin Maui’s Heavenly Spa (both are great, take our word for it). The Hyatt Regency is another great option, and if you do or don’t stay there, try and check out their Luau, Drums of the Pacific Polynesian Spectacular – it’s kind of a step back in time, so wear your Hawaiian shirt, grab a mai tai and take it all in.

Just a bit further down from Ka’anapali is Kapalua Bay, where you will find the Ritz-Carlton and the Montage. The Ritz-Carlton is classic, elegant and has everything one would come to expect from that particular upscale hotel brand. The Montage is also very upscale although the main focus here is the size of the accommodations, as they are just radically spacious. The Spa Montage is a close second behind Spa Grande at the Grand Wailea, so it’s worth a visit just for a treatment.

And if you do make it out to Hana, which let’s face it, you probably will and should, there’s no way you could not stay at Travaasa. It’s so serene and spectacular and special, and it’s one of those places that you will just always remember.

Photo: Travaasa Hana

Photo: Travaasa Hana

Where to eat in Maui

There’s a whole lot of food happening on Maui, and it’s impossible to eat at every amazing restaurant during one trip, but you can try. There’s even a book, The Foodist Bucket List, dedicated to 100 edible adventures on Maui. It’s worth picking up if you are serious about your food while travelling. Over in Wailea, the one not to miss is the one that’s the hardest to say, Humuhumunukunukuapua’a (Humu for short), over at Grand Wailea. It’s the real deal and their award-winning Chef, Mike Lofaro, (who happens to be rather TV famous, along with his SEARCH Hawaii co-host Kainoa Horcajo, who are both easy on the eyes as well), really showcases his skills and proves his various accolades by having one very impressive food menu. Duo Steak and Seafood at the Four Seasons is a good choice if you can’t decide which you want more, and oddly enough, they have introduced a killer wellness menu that is practically gluten-free and vegan and has items that compliment the main menu, so it’s not a bad thing to pair items from each menu. Nick’s Fishmarket, inside the Fairmont has a dessert for two worth going for, but don’t just go for the dessert, as the entire menu is mouth-watering. But when you do go, the Strawberries Panzini is the way to end the night, especially if you want to spark a little flame between you and your date. And for a more fun, low-key environment, jump in an uber and head over to Cow Pig Bun. It’s always a good time here, and it tends to stay open later than most places as it’s a popular hangout for the local service industry folks. The mac n cheese, burger, as well as every single cocktail on the menu is worth trying.

Photo: Eric Frankum

Photo: Eric Frankum

Over in Kaanapali, Japengo is the place to go for sushi, while Pulehu is the Italian cuisine aficionado. Although, in Kapalua, there’s a fresh kid in town also serving up some Italian eats, paired with urban drinks. Taverna, in the heart of Kapalua, is a favourite, especially on Sundays with their Sunday a la carte Italian Brunch. Others that also come highly recommended and which are spread out over the island are Mama’s Fish House, which requires a reservation every day of the week because it’s that good, Plantation House and Mill House, both equally as inventive and exciting due to their head chefs, yet each distinctive, and Frida’s, because beyond the good Mexican food, their cocktail menu is on point (try the La Paloma).

Shopping in Maui

There’s a lot of shopping on Maui and one could spend days sifting through stores for that perfect Hawaiian attire. In Wailea, The Shops at Wailea is upscale and trendy and well, have the stores that most dream of being able to afford mixed in with surf shops and galleries. Whalers Village in Lahaina is another large outdoor mall with a good mix of everything and conveniently located in an area where one can walk around and see tonnes of unique boutique shops and art galleries. But back to that perfect Hawaiian attire…there’s only one place and luckily each of the malls above has a retail location. Tori Richard is the answer to modern Hawaiian wear, and the cuts of the shirts are most flattering and slimming.

Photo: Eric Frankum

Photo: Eric Frankum

Things to do in Maui

Wondering what to do in Maui? We’ve already mentioned how you will most likely drive the Road to Hana, and sipping cocktails at sunset near the beach is inevitable. But there are definitely a few tips we’d like to highlight to get the most out of your holiday. In Wailea, located at the Grand Wailea is Five Star Scuba. Don’t worry if it’s your first time as there is actually a dive pool at the resort where anyone can get trained and comfortable before jumping into the deep blue waters of the ocean. For pros, private dives are also available. Back over at Kaanapali, with six locations spread out on the beach, Kaanapali Surf Club is your best source for stand-up paddleboard lessons and rentals, surf lessons and rentals, kayak rentals and now they even have a guided kayak snorkel eco-tour that’s a little bit educational and a whole lot of fun. If you still want to enjoy the water without being in it, Teralani Sailing Adventures has two 65-foot catamarans that offer seasonal whale watches, sunset cocktail cruises as well as dinner cruises. Additionally, they do offer morning snorkel sails for a good mix of fancy boating with some underwater time.

Parasailing is also a fun day option on Maui, but for something really different, try paragliding with Proflyght. Drive out to Upcountry where you will get to see an entirely different landscape of Maui, strap on to your professional jumper and run downhill really fast until the wind swoops you up and takes you for one incredible ride. While you are out there, you might as well stop by the lavender farm and Surfing Goat Dairy, both a bit off the tourist radar and both a good time. The Dairy does sell all of their delicious products, but keep an eye out on food menus throughout Maui, as many use their goat cheese in their dishes. Lastly, try and make it out to the Ocean Vodka distillery for a quick tour. The organic vodka is smooth, and the unique bottle makes for that perfect gift to take home to give to your envious friends.

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