By Sharon Kurtz ~
Maui is one of the most beguiling and breathtaking islands on earth, with crystalline waters, refreshing trade winds, and incredible pristine beauty.
Often called the Valley Isle, its 120-mile coastline has something for everyone. From endless white sand beaches to dramatic cliffs and more, “Maui no ka ‘oi” — Maui is the best.
The thought of a relaxing vacation in Maui — with a tropical drink in hand — is a good one. Now, with direct flights to Maui from Dallas and with the entry of Southwest Airlines, it’s never been easier to visit this island paradise.
If you’re traveling to Maui for the first time, I recommend staying and playing in the Ka’anapali Beach area on the west shores of Maui, enjoying this tropical piece of heaven where the Hawaiian royalty came to play.
Along the North Shore coastline is the Nakalele Blowhole, where one can observe water shooting 40+ feet in the air along with amazing waves crashing over the surrounding lava rocks.
A little further is the Ohai Loop Trail and overlook, a short hike with spectacular views and photo opportunities. The rugged coastline and undiscovered parts of the North Shore rival the more famous twisty Road to Hana, without the full day that drive requires.
Many tourists skip those two stops, so take some time to explore them.
Best Beach on Maui
The Ka’anapali Beach is hard to beat: It’s one of Maui’s longest beaches with some of the island’s best oceanfront resorts and hotels. The beach is wide enough to never feel crowded and has watersport activities for every type of beachgoer. I recommend snorkeling to view the abundance of marine life, including the protected native green sea turtle. If you want to stroll in the surf, or just lounge and soak up the rays, that’s OK, too.
For thousands of years, whales have made a six-week winter’s journey from the Pacific Northwest to bask in Maui’s warm waters. There, they mate and give birth to calves.
The massive mammals put on quite a show when breaching the water, slapping their tails and flukes, and spouting water from their blowholes as they surface for air.
You can sometimes see the whales frolicking from the shore, but I enjoyed a closer look during Captain Steve’s Whale Watching Zodiac Tour. Throughout the tour, the onboard marine naturalist provides an informative commentary on whale behavior — a highlight of my visit.
Historic Lahaina Town
Nestled between the West Maui mountains and the pacific on the northwestern shore of Maui, Lahaina is a charming town and the original seat of Hawaiian royalty.
Famous Front Street, right on the water, is home to hundreds of shops, art galleries, and restaurants. My favorite stop was Fleetwood’s on Front Street for happy hour, live entertainment, and excellent cuisine — yes, that Fleetwood, as in Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac fame. If you’re a classic rock fan, you will enjoy the memorabilia adorning the walls.
Fresh Island Cuisine at Whaler’s Village
Local dishes like poké bowls and fresh local fish make Maui a seafood lover’s paradise.
You won’t find better combination of great food and stunning ocean views than Leilani’s on the Beach in Whaler’s Village. We like to go early for happy hour, with live entertainment and the perfect vantage point for amazing sunsets framed by the nearby islands of Lanai and Molokai.
This three-mile stretch of magical white sand is where Hawaii’s royalty came to surf, paddle, and play. You’ll see for yourself how this tradition continues, today.
One visit is not enough to experience this magical island. As they say in Maui, “a hui hou” — until we meet again.