Maui HawaiiHang Loose in Maui
Looking for the perfect balance of refined relaxation and fun in the sun? Maui’s waiting. Grab your keiki, bathing suits, and some shades and hop a flight. You’ll be hanging loose faster than you can say “Humuhumunukunukuapua’a.” (Yes, that’s a word.)
Good For: Families seeking a tropical adventure.
- Tasting goat cheese truffles at the Surfing Goat Dairy
- Picnicking along the road to Hana
- Joining the hula at the Old Lahaina Luau
- Beach-hopping along West Maui’s North Shore
- Taking a ukelele lesson at Travaasa
Suggested Stay: 5–7 days
What to Know: Even in the traditional winter rainy season, the rain generally doesn’t last more than an hour or two. Also, certain areas, like Wailea and Kaanapali, get far less rain than Hana and Kapalua. If you don’t want to sacrifice a minute of sunshine, head south, to Kihei, or to Big Beach (Makena Beach Park), which generally manages to escape any passing showers.
Only on Maui can you start your day with a sunrise hike to the top of a waterfall and end it with a sunset luau. Embrace the shaka spirit and rent a convertible for cruising around. As you leave the airport, explore the lush landscape with a scenic drive around the island.
Life’s a Beach
Although it’s tempting to decamp at your first glimpse of glimmering white sand, plan to do some beach-hopping. Some of the beaches have huge waves that are daunting for little swimmers, while others offer much calmer waters and easily accessible tidepools. Check out Black Rock for prime snorkeling, Baby Beach and Kapalua for quieter waters, and Kaanapali for round-the-clock action.
There’s no better way to enjoy the beach than from the private courtyard of your oceanfront villa at the Fairmont Kea Lani. The hotel has several tempting restaurant options, but don’t miss Nick’s Fishmarket.
For an overnight adventure (or a very long day trip), head to Hana, where getting there is more than half the fun. Before you leave, pack some snacks and a good audio guide, so you don’t miss any of the spectacular sights along the drive. Leave at sunrise if you want to beat the crowds and fit in a peaceful family hike through the tropical wilderness before the midday tourist crush. Make a stop at the Hana Ranch Centerand the Hasegawa General Store for some gourmet picnic supplies, and then head beyond Hana to see the Pools of Ohe’o. A night or two at Travaasa Hotel Hana (formerly the Hotel Hana) is a Hawaiian fantasy, where you can go throw net fishing or learn to play the ukulele. But if you must return the same day, take a more leisurely pace on the journey home, stopping along the way for dramatic ocean vistas and some banana bread at the Keanae Landing Fruit Stand.
The old whaling port of Lahaina has something for everyone, from art galleries, souvenir shops and a huge variety of restaurants to historic buildings and the Small Boat Harbor. After a morning of shopping, grab a Hawaiian ice, sit in the shade, and take some playful family snapshots by the giant Banyan tree. Time your visit for the Friday Art Night, where Front Street art galleries host a variety of events, inviting the public to chat with artists, listen to music, and celebrate the arts.
No trip to Lahaina is complete without a visit to Hilo Hattie, a one-stop shop for all the Hawaiian shirts, dresses, costume jewelry, trinkets, candy, nuts, and other Hawaiian souvenirs that you need to take back to civilization. Aloha shirts for the boys and matching dresses for the girls complete your perfect sunset family photo op.
Cooling off in Kula
A day trip to Kula requires little more than a light jacket and a good appetite. Head upcountry and stroll through the artsy Hawaiian cowboy town of Makawao, where you can watch local artists at work. On the way back, take a breather at public gardens and local farmers’ markets, before lunching at the Haliimaile General Store.
A highlight is the Surfing Goat Dairy, where you can tour the dairy, feed and milk goats, watch the cheese-making process, and munch on fresh cheese and even goat cheese truffles (which are delicious – trust us). Top off the day with a wine-tasting at Tedeschi Vineyards and sunset views of Wailea and Kihei.
Catch of the Day (and Night)
Maui is famous for its regional Pacific Rim cuisine, prepared in a Californian-Asian style, as well as its unique “gourmet plantation” food. With the huge variety of fresh seafood, your best choice is often the “catch of the day.”
Crown your Maui visit with a luau. Go traditional at the Old Lahaina Luau, which offers a historical narrative in a beautiful oceanfront setting, with traditional Hawaiian dancing and delicious food. Or, splurge at the Hyatt Regency Luau, which features an extravagant mix of Tahitian and Hawaiian food and entertainment, along with catchy Hawaiian tunes that get the crowd to their feet to dance along.
Before leaving, do a final souvenir run for some chocolate-covered macadamia nuts and fresh papaya to sweeten your flight – and the return to the daily grind.
(Photos courtesy of Fairmont Kea Lani and Surfing Goat Dairy, among others)