HomeAway staffer J.R. Link shares his 10 favorite moments from his trip to Maui:
Maui, Hawaii is one of my all-time favorite places in the world. I had the amazing opportunity to spend a week on the postcard-esque beaches of Kaanapali, just north of the historic town of Lahaina, on Maui’s west coast. When you need to escape the hustle and bustle on the “mainland”, there is no place like Maui! Whether you’re a beach bum, thrill seeker or just along for the jaunt in paradise, there is something for everyone in majestic Maui. The top 10 list for Maui includes the following:
On the east coast of Maui, following a scenic drive through the center of the island, lies one of the most breath-taking natural wonders of the world. Haleakala is a drastic change (both geologically and temperature-wise) from the beaches of the shore that surround it. During the 90-minute drive to the summit of the ancient volcano, we witnessed temperatures drop from 82 degrees to 39! While it is an absolute MUST during any trip to Maui, make sure you pack accordingly! My swimsuit and light sweatshirt were not ideal for the harsh winds and cold temperatures, but we snagged some amazing photos!
9. Haile Maile General Store
One of my favorite restaurants in Maui, best saved for a post-Haleakala visit, is Hali’imaile General Store in Haliimaile (center of the island). An unassuming country store/restaurant, the food here is DELICIOUS, and the staff always welcoming and friendly. I highly recommend the blackened salmon tacos!
8. Penguins at Hyatt Regency
If you’re looking for an activity that would be both kid-friendly and entertaining for the older crowd…you need to go see the African black-footed penguins at the Hyatt Regency, along the Kaanaplii beachwalk. Once you’ve satisfied your inner-child, you can then continue on to the swans, exotic birds and other native animals living on the grounds surrounding the Hyatt’s grand entrance.
7. SUP (stand-up paddle boarding)
By far my favorite activity during the week, we went stand-up paddle boarding for a few hours in the early morning to avoid crowds/heavy current. This is the perfect activity to spend time on the water and experience Maui from an entirely different perspective! We were paddling among giant sea turtles, whales and incredible schools of fish!
6. Kaanaplii Beach Walk
Whether it’s early morning or the middle of the evening rush, you have to stroll along the Kaanaplii Beach Walk to enjoy the people-watching, whale-watching and gorgeous views of neighboring islands Lanai and Molokai. If you’re lucky (or in town during the winter months), you might catch a glimpse of the humpback whales showcasing their massive jumps while on their annual vacation from Alaska!
5. Black Rock
If you’re seeking an adventurous afternoon, I highly recommend exploring Black Rock, at the northern end of Kaanapalii Beach by the Sheraton hotel. Jutting out amidst the blue water, you can dive from the top of the rock into the waters below, or simply take in the picture-perfect sunset while enjoying the sights and sounds of the evening luau at the Sheraton’s great lawn.
4. Drive across the island
If you have a spare morning or afternoon, you need to spend some time driving around the island and seeing the many natural wonders and man-made additions to Maui. One of the most striking sights, upon driving back to the airport in Kahului, was that of a giant wind farm atop of the West Maui Mountains.
3. Hammock on the Beach
While I’m not normally one to calmly enjoy vacation (I like to go, go, go!), no visit to Maui is complete without spending an hour along the beach in a hammock. Leave your ipad and your iphone at home, and just enjoy the simplistic nature of one of the most beautiful islands in the world!
2. Friends and family on the beach
I would recommend bookending your visit to Maui with long days riding waves, playing bocce ball on the beach and just enjoying the oceanfront lifestyle! Bring your friends and family and hang out on Kaanapalii beach, which is often ranked among the most beautiful in the world!
As we flew out of Kahalui airport, I realized one thing. I will be coming back to Maui, again and again. The view out of my window as we flew over the waters of Hawaii was incredible. So visit Maui, create your own memories, and then go back!