Life is made up of facts and opinions. It’s a fact – for the past 20 years, Conde Nast Traveler has named Maui “The World’s Best Island.” This award should come as no surprise – since Maui has everything a honeymooning couple could desire. Read on to discover the latest and greatest characteristics that set Maui apart.
10. Maui Has The Best of Everything.
The statistics will convince you. According to Terryl Vencl, Executive Director of the Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau, Maui has a whopping 60% repeat guest rate. “We know we’re a sweet spot for honeymooners,” Vencl says, showcasing the fact that with its diverse choices of accommodations, cuisine, activities, and shopping, Maui has everything for honeymooners – and at every price point. “You can do many different activities in the course of one day,” she says, and also schedule quiet time for the beach and relaxation. That means you might zipline in the morning, snorkel and jet-ski in the afternoon, take a stroll before sunset, and still fit in a romantic dinner and a spa treatment.
9. The Sense of Family.
Here’s what you won’t want find in other destinations: The sense of ohana (family) that pervades Maui. “Maui’s culture, our kindness, compassion and culture – that’s something that nobody else has,” says Vencl. “Everybody dreams of experiencing it, “ she adds, noting that this is the reason so many couples return to Maui for their second honeymoon, anniversary, a vow-renewal, or a trip to share with their children and grandchildren.
8. Maui’s Beaches Are The Bomb.
Maui is home to award-winning beaches – from the unforgettable black granules of Waianapanapa State Park in East Maui to the dramatic red sands at Kaihalulu in Hana. Maui has more than 30 miles of spectacular beaches, and each is different. They’re also FREE and accessible to everyone – even the stunning sands that front the luxury resorts.
7. Maui has plenty of FREE natural wonders.
Tired of the beach? Take a trip to Haleakala — the world’s largest dormant volcano rising 10,023 feet above sea level, with 36 miles of hiking trails. Then there’s the Iao Valley, a 6.2-acre state park also offering excellent hiking trails. Don’t miss the ride to Hana with its many beautiful waterfalls, one-lane bridges and hairpin curves (including the Halfway to Hana roadside stand where you can try fresh banana bread and shave ice – the world’s best “snow cone”).
Sunny Kaanapali has some of the island’s best weather, and is home to big, beautiful resorts. Of course, the big draw here is the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa, with its seductive fantasy pools and grotto, live penguins, and pristine beach where you can sun and snorkel to your heart’s content. Book yourself on a Regency Floor, offering delicious food presentations all day long, plus great snacks and coffees. And no trip to Hawaii – or the Hyatt – would be complete without experiencing its “Drums of the Pacific” luau. (There’s nothing sexier than seeing beautiful wahines dancing the Tahitian tamure, to a throbbing drumbeat.) You’ll dine on delicious sweet taro rolls, fresh fish, poi, Molokai sweet potatoes and haupia (coconut custard) – and learn how to dance the hula. Two restaurants here will delight you: The romantic Sonz at Swan Court, and Japengo, famous for its sensational sushi. After dinner, take in the Hyatt’s unusual “Tour of the Stars” up on the roof, where noted astronomer Ed Mahoney will give you a new outlook on the sky – and offer you chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne. And when all is said and done, in the moonlight, tuck yourselves into one of the Hyatt hammocks fronting the beach, curl up, and steal a kiss from each other. You’ll never forget it.
Also worth noting: the oceanfront Kaanapali Beachwalk, which is great for holding hands and strolling. Check out the shops in Whalers Village – and dine at Hula Grill where you are steps from the beach. (More on the Hula Grill in a minute.)
This upscale area is where glamorous resorts and high-end shops and restaurants are located, and where the FAIRMONT KEA LANI RESORT is laid out in all its splendor as Wailea’s crown jewel. (There are many good reasons why this award-winning resort has accolades too numerous to mention.) The Kea Lani offers everything you could want from your Maui honeymoon, including lavish all-suite accommodations complete with coffeemakers, refrigerators, microwave ovens, gorgeous imported bedding, and a location right on stunning Polo Beach, where you can sun, snorkel – and smooch — all day long. Just opened is the resort’s new multi-million-dollar Willow Stream Spa, specializing in indigenous Hawaiian treatments that help you tap into your mana – your spirit and sense of balance. The spa features posh pamperings utilizing fresh-picked herbs from the resort’s garden, along with local plants and Kerstin Florian products, plus Maui’s only “wave table,” which tilts and pivots during your massage so you feel like you’re floating. The Kea Lani adult pool is unparalleled in its elegance – wear your chicest bathing suit, bring your tube and float in style. Get a great lunch from Caffe Ciao before working out in the 24-hour gym. At the Kea Lani, you can also dine on its excellent “Lifestyle Cuisine,” with a wide variety of special menu items, even those that are vegan, microbiotic and gluten-free. While you’re at it, schedule a private cabana dinner at twilight for the ultimate romantic rendezvous. Before your trip, join the Fairmont’s President’s Club, to receive all kinds of great perks. At the Fairmont Kea Lani, we came, we saw, and we were charmed.
Also in Wailea: you can enjoy “Wailea on Wednesdays” – otherwise known as WOW — an arts and entertainment series at The Shops at Wailea, with special receptions, sales, and entertainment.
4. Maui Has Great Entertainment.
Get ready – because here is our opinion of Maui’s best value: The dinner and comedy magic show at WARREN & ANNABELLE’S. It showcases magician Warren Gibson, who wows audiences with jaw-dropping sleight-of-hand and clean, hilarious comedy. When Warren is out of town, the club presents not one but two comedy magicians: We watched Chris Blackmore and John Shryock do amazing things with hundred-dollar bills and bowling balls. Book the Royal Flush package ($104.50pp): this impressive option includes two-hour magic show, two cocktails, combination platter of four huge gourmet appetizers (the coconut shrimp and ravioli will rock your world), an enormous homemade dessert and gratuity. There is also a 50 percent discount for admission on the Royal Flush package for anyone with an active military ID. Book before you leave home as the show always sells out.
Another great source of entertainment? Maui’s Front Street in Lahaina, which is ideal for people watching, ice-cream eating and shopping.
You can also experience one-of-a-kind cultural performances, stage shows, musical events and sports competitions throughout the year on Maui, such as its annual Film Festival, the Maui Onion Festival, Wailuku Town’s monthly street party with live music, sidewalk artisans, crafters, food vendors, plus the Maui Invitational Basketball Tournament.
3. It’s Also Called “Mother Maui.”
On our first visit to Maui 25 years ago, during a spa treatment, a masseuse told Debbi all about Maui’s healing properties, and that it was frequently called “Mother Maui.” It’s true: Maui is a special place with rejuvenating energy to soothe your spirit with beautiful rainbows, spectacular sunsets, powdery sand and fragrant plumeria flowers. Ashley Salberg, the Spa Director at the Heavenly Spa by Westin at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa, knows all about how special Maui is, saying that the natural beauty that Maui offers makes it very curative. “You can snorkel, surf, hike and more on Maui, and when you experience nature like that, it’s very healing…We have a high focus here on wellness.” Furthermore, the Westin’s Heavenly Spa is one of the only Maui spas with a beautiful ocean view, where, according to Ms. Salberg, you can even have an oceanfront cabana massage while you hear the waves, and also, during whale-watching season, actually see whales breaching. How’s that for fabulous?
So here’s the million-dollar question: Have you ever had a massage where you soaked it up like a sponge, and desperately didn’t want it to end? That’s how Deb felt all during her Aspire massage at the HEAVENLY SPA BY WESTIN Masseuse Ann offered the treatment just the way Deb likes it – a very gentle effleurage with very little oil, making it simultaneously relaxing, rejuvenating and reviving.
2. Maui Offers Fabulous Food.
With its abundance of award-winning chefs, local farms, and extraordinary cuisine, Maui is just the ticket for magnificent meals. Take KO at the Fairmont Kea Lani Resort, for example – it was named the 2013 Maui Restaurant of the Year in the local Aipono awards. The cuisine is sensational. Ko means “sugarcane” in Hawaiian, and Ko highlights the varied menus of Hawaii’s sugarcane plantation era with eye-rolling Hawaiian, Chinese, Filipino, Portuguese, Korean, and Japanese cuisine. Even better, most menus are local family recipes that were passed down for generations. You’ll be wowed by everything on Chef Tylun Pang’s menu, including taro rolls with edamame hummus, Oishi sushi, mushroom-and-shrimp spring rolls, lavender-honey macadamia-nut shrimp, Molokai sweet potatoes, and especially the chocolate custard dessert. If you only eat on one restaurant in Maui – Ko is it.
Another magical memory: Dining at the award-winning HULA GRILL on the Kaanapali Beachwalk. We could make an entire meal of the fresh focaccia (served in a silver lunchbox) complemented with deliciously sweet chili water (buy a bottle to take home) accented with a homemade lemonade. Dining Room Chef Bobby Masters offers delectable cuisine, especially our favorite — the macadamia-nut-crusted mahi mahi. This excellent eatery also offers numerous dishes that are gluten-free (such as poisson cru), nut-free (such as poke tacos), and dairy free (such as kiawe-wood grilled swordfish). Complete your night with the homemade chocolate lava cake served with Tropical Dreams espresso ice cream – it’s so yummy you’ll want a portion the size of Haleakala.
FERRARO’S AT THE FOUR SEASONS RESORT is celebrity central, and offers an oceanfront, open-air setting in which you’ll enjoy delicious Italian cuisine along with live music, ocean breezes, and the chance to glimpse Hollywood A-listers. One of Ferraro’s great advantages is that you can pre-order special requests 24 hours in advance. We didn’t do that, but the staff still went out of their way to cater to our special requests for dishes made without the requisite olive oil. The chef served us a delicious mahi mahi with a side order of pesto, dry grilled vegetables, and he even walked over to the Four Seasons’ other restaurant, Duo, to get us a baked potato. Bravo! For dessert, you must, must, must order the chocolate lava cake served with an exquisite jammy strawberry ice cream that will take your breath away, and try a glass of the island’s own Mauicello lemon liqueur.
1. “More Hula, Less Moolah” Budget Options.
Think you have to drop a fortune to enjoy Maui? Forget about those deep pockets – it’s a fact that Maui offers plenty of great values. At FLEETWOOD’S ON FRONT STREET, you can order oysters for one dollar each at 5PM, followed by a bagpiper presentation during Happy Hour (a tribute to drummer Mick Fleetwood’s heritage). At LEILANI’S ON THE BEACH on Tuesdays you can enjoy Taco Tuesdays when the award-winning you-know-whats in tomatillo sauce are discounted to just $4 each from 3 to 5 PM and drink specials are $5. Every day, diners can also enjoy Aloha Hour from 3 to 5 PM with some draft beers, mai tais and margaritas for $5, and sliders for just $4 each. Downstairs on beachwalk-level, entrees also start at just $11.95 all day long — in Hawaii, that low price is a steal.
For another champagne experience – with no price tag – head to the SHERATON MAUI RESORT & SPA at sunset, to watch its remarkable cliff-diver take the plunge, after a special ceremony. At sunset, sit at the Sheraton’s poolside Cliff Dive Bar, and have a cocktail (tropical drinks are discounted to $8 between 3 and 5 PM).
Add it all up, and it definitely puts the “wowee” in Maui.
By Debbi K. Kickham and William D. Kickham, Esq.
Travel writer Debbi K. Kickham is owner of MAXIMA MARKETING. William D. Kickham, Esq. is a practicing Massachusetts ATTORNEY when he’s not traveling.