The Hawaiian Paradise Must-Do’s
Written By: Nick Pachelli Maui
Living in California, the islands of Hawaii are always on your radar for the next vacation whether it’s with family, a husband or wife, a significant other, or friends. Hawaii never seems to disappoint. But how can it, really? With lush forestry, long winding waterfall hikes, and beaches that are pure Instagram-gold, a weekend or weeklong adventure never gets old.
For us, Maui is where it’s at this year. The island is experiencing rapid development in tourism and population as more people see the perfect combination of food, Hawaiian culture, and hospitable people on the island. From the roads of Hana to the resort-line Kaanapali Beach, Maui is the island to seek out for the next vacation. It’s easy to see why Maui is the fastest growing island in the chain.
When you land at Kahului airport, passing over the North Shore on your approach, you are immediately faced with two options, to go east or west. To the west is most likely where you are going, the largest volume of hotels are concentrated on Kaanapali Beach. On this drier side of the island you can get your fix of golf, snorkeling, pool time and picturesque beach.
If you go east, rather southeast toward Kihei and Wailea, there are fewer hotels and a more authentically “green” feel to it. The hotels here aren’t quite as close together and interconnected as on the west side, and you have quicker access to beautiful non-resort beaches like Big Beach (and the nude beach over the hill from Big Beach). If you’re staying here you also have quicker access to the other towns like Paia and the upcountry region, which both have the highest concentration of dinner spots you’ll want to check out.
We want to bring you a taste of three different personalities of the island for where you should stay. Here, you can decide for yourself how you will experience Maui next time you go.
Where to Stay: Honua Kai Resort
Why: The condo-style resort brings the amenities of a resort with a constant feeling of seclusion.
For many traveling to Maui, the standard hotel room with a simple pool and beach just doesn’t cut it. Those travelers need a kitchen included in their room and a secluded feel to their luxury resort stay. Enter Honua Kai Resort & Spa.
Honua Kai Resort & Spa sits on the north end of Kaanapali on a 38-acre plot of land. The condominium-style resort allows guests the opportunity to cook some of their own dinners while still offering the option to eat at Duke’s just off the pool area. The beach is secluded and the ways on the northern tip of the bay are tepid. The pool weaves throughout the beachfront property offering plenty of space to relax and not feel like you’re sharing the space with hundreds of other people. Mai Tais here are aplenty! You won’t want to leave.
Honua Kai has an incredible base of repeat visitors to the resort, and you’ll feel like they were always off on an adventure. Here, the concierge is your best friend. After all, Maui is an island begging to be explored. You can sit down with one of their super connected concierges and soon be set to go on a rainforest hike and a helicopter tour. If you are in the mood for an adrenaline rush, you can rappel down a waterfall or zipline over pristine waters. Of course, surfing on Maui is always an option and you should take full advantage.
When you wake up in the morning, take advantage of the onsite breakfast cafe located in the main building of Honua Kai. The breakfast wrap with a smoothie is amazing—definitely not your everyday hotel food. Next time you go, sit down on the patio with your morning coffee to breathe in that fresh ocean breeze before jetting off for the day.
If you’re on your way to this side of Maui and you’re bringing the family, think about staying in one of the spacious Ali’i Suites. Some come with a grill on the deck and the open space is something the kids will love.
130 Kai Malina Pkwy
Lahaina, HI 96761
Where to Stay: Ka’anapali Beach Hotel
Why: To get a taste of real Hawaiian culture without leaving your hotel.
After a few days on the island, it’s easy to get swept up in the resort life, going into Lahaina town for a few dinners or walking around Whaler’s Village for the day—if you’re staying on the west side of the island. We found ourselves wanting some authentic Hawaii, and our next stay fulfilled that desire perfectly.
Kaanapali Beach Hotel always wins the award for Hawaii’s most Hawaiian Hotel. Seriously, every year they win. And it should come as no surprise, really. You will not find any other hotel on the island, or in the state for that matter, that goes to greater lengths to prove their worth as the home of Hawaiian culture in the form of a hotel. We learned that the hotel trains all of their employees extensively, for months, on traditional Hawaiian culture and language so anyone on staff is prepared to teach guests about the local culture.
After swinging the clubs around at the 36-hole championship course just out the front door of the property, make sure to check out the cultural events available at the hotel. We caught a hula show and a musical performance at the outdoor stage. You can sit alongside the best instructors on the island and learn how to do traditional Hawaiian lauhala weaving as well as quilting as lei-making—that lei-making class is every kid’s (and adult’s) Hawaii dream.
When you’re done living the traditional Maui dream, the Tiki Bar will be calling your name (we frequented the outdoor bar every night before and after dinner). Here, you have a rare opportunity to chat up the most popular guy on Kaanapali Beach. His name is Dale, and he’s been spinning cocktails at the Tiki Bar at KBH for decades. Ask him anything about life on Maui and get ready for the Mai Tai to take down all Mai Tais.
Before you leave the hotel, make a quick stop at the award-winning Sunday Champagne Brunch. It’s open between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the Tiki Terrace restaurant and they offer a diverse spread of Hawaiian specialties, seafood, fruits and desserts.
2525 Kaanapali Pkwy
Lahaina, HI 96761
Where to Stay: Hotel Wailea
Why: Because the adult-only chateau will make you feel like you have the entire place to yourself.
Now, Kaanapali Beach is not the only place to stay on Maui, in fact, we recommend switching between sides of the island to get the most holistic experience. For a tranquil, totally secluded bit of paradise, you’ll be staying at the 5-star enclave, Hotel Wailea—an adult-only property on the south central side of the island. The property was recently renovated, and the space is perfection down to the last details from the open-air gym to the concierge service with rides in a Mercedes-Benz to the private beach club area. That’s right, the resort is not beachfront. But, frankly, we liked it more because of it. You’re secluded on a hilltop, and with a relatively small volume of suites, only 72, on the 15-acre property, you feel like you have a private escape.
Your first stop should be the pool area. The cabanas are chic and the drinks are some of the best, hip cocktails you can find anywhere. The bartenders are incredibly hospitable and will make anything you want. Everyday at 5 p.m., you can also stop by the pool for wine hour, where the bar gives out red or white wine free of charge to all guests. You can enjoy it on your way to the onsite restaurant Capische! That is undoubtedly one of the best, locally sourced meals on the island.
The resort is designed for couples, it’s peaceful and offers some of the best private amenities in Hawaii, like the newly launched Treehouse, where couples can reserve a private dinner for themselves in, you guessed it, a treehouse setting overlooking the ocean.
When you and your significant other are looking to get active on the island, your options are plenty when booking through Hotel Wailea or staying on property. You can dip into complimentary yoga or a group fitness class with TRX and then ride on a traditional Hawaiian outrigger canoeing experience on Wednesday mornings. They also offer mixology classes on Saturdays and preferred rates at the Kiteboarding Academy on the north shore near Kahului.
Round out all your days here with a nighttime chill around the hot tub and firepit, and savor this hotel because it has landed on top 20 lists for the most romantic hotel in the word, and you’re getting to experience it first hand.
555 Kaukahi St
Kihei, HI 96753
Welcome to Maui, Where the Adventure Never Stops