Saturday, September 12, 2009

Maui - The Magic Isle

Maui, ahhhh my favorite island of them all. Maui offers visitors a little of everything on one island. Where Oahu has lots of night life and Kauai offers the quite solitude, Maui offers both. When you land in Maui you feel like you are on an island. It's a small airport with warm tropical breezes that will meet you as soon as you step off the plane.

Before you get on the plane you have a lot of decisions to make. This is a large island and when you book a hotel you must choose the right part of the island. So, what questions do you ask? What time of the year are you travelling? How much or little action do you want around you? What type of experience are you looking for? The two basic areas in Maui are Kaanapali and Wailea. Wailea is the quieter side of the island and it also will typically have the most sun and least wind in the winter. The hotels tend to have less floors giving you more of an island feel. Kaanapali has lots of action. It boasts a beautiful white sand beach with restaurants, water activities and shopping galore. While you will need a car for both sides of the island, Kaanapali will will require less driving.

Once you choose an area as your base now you must choose a hotel. I've had a lot of fun on both sides of the island and there are some fantastic hotels to stay in. In Kaanapali I would recommend, Hyatt, Marriott or Westin if you are travelling with children because they have fantastic kids clubs and pool areas. They also have timeshare units which may sound like a deterrent but if you can avoid the salesmen it will give you the spaciousness of a condo with the activities and services of a hotel. Looking for a condo property only? The Kaanapali Alii is on Kaanapali beach and if you don't mind not being in the main area then check out the Embassy Suites.

Travelling without children? Sheraton has a beautiful property on Kaanapali beach. Located at Black Rock, this hotel gives you more privacy then those further down the beach. What do all of these hotels (except the Embassy Suites) have in common? Golf! Nearby and world class Golf.

Activities abound in this area. At your hotel or nearby you can arrange for Snorkeling or Surfing equipment and/or lessons. Lahaina has lots and lots of shopping and restaurants, so many you won't be able to eat at them all. My favorite activity of all is Trilogy! Trilogy is a company which provides tours such as snorkeling to Molokini or Dinner cruises but my absolute favorite is the cruise to Lanai. This tour takes you out on their catamaran all day. You start in the morning with fresh, hot, Cinnamon buns, fruit and coffee. You cruise to Lanai and sometimes you see dolphins and you will have time for pictures then when you arrive in Lanai you will choose whether to take the short tour of the town (the town is so small!) or go straight to the beach. All your snorkeling equipment is provided and the beach is at a cove which is home to dolphins so many times the dolphins will approach you (please do not approach the dolphins). Lunch is prepared there for you and it is soooo good! There is just something about eating freshly cooked food outdoors. Then at the end of the day you are on your way back to Maui. Make sure to save room for the ice cream! This was a highlight of a recent trip I took with 3 of my close friends. We all turned 40 the year we went and we needed to somehow make this milestone paletable. So we spent 4 nights at the Grand Wailea and took a daytrip to Lanai with Trilogy. It was well worth the money!! We look forward to turning 45!!

I suppose at this point you are ready to settle down in Kaanapali but.....Wailea has it's own special features. In fact Wailea is my favorite spot. Why? Because it doesn't seem as crowded and it has great weather even when it's raining in Kaanapali. Plus my favorite hotel in all of Hawaii is the Grand Wailea. I have stayed here with and without children and it's just as special either way. The Grand Wailea has one of the, if not the best spa on the island and maybe all the islands. I just love it! The pool is second to none; not only does it offer 3 slides but also a water elevator. Yes, a water elevator. I don't think that I can properly describe how wonderful this hotel is, plus they have a new section with 2 and 3 bedroom units with fully equiped kitchens and full access to the hotels activities. This is not the only hotel in Wailea but it is my favorite. The next one on my list and if you are looking for a smaller hotel this may be the best one for you. The Kea Lani. This hotel is actually all suites and very luxurious. If you are celebrating a special occasion with your special person this is the spot. They also have 2 and 3 bedroom villas right at the beach and each unit has it's own bbq and plunge pool. Need something more economical? Marriott Wailea is the spot. The beach is next door but a great place to snorkel. It's a beautiful hotel with a relaxed atmosphere.

Ready for more activities? Well there is one more in the Kaanapali area that is good for everyone. The Old Lahaina Luau. This is the more authentic luau in all of the islands and it's well worth the money if you are looking for a great luau. Close to Wailea is the Maui Downhill. This is a good one for early risers. The van will pick you up in the early morning and take you up to the top of Haleakala where you may or not see the most beautiful sunrise of your life but whether or not you can see it you will head down the mountain on a mountain bike (with wide seats) then depending on what package you chose you may have breakfast at the end. You should be back to your hotel by 11 am or so, just in time for a siesta on the beach! Make sure to get a picnic lunch and take a day trip to Hana. Take your tennis or hiking shoes and bathing suit and get ready for a fun day on the road. There are plenty of waterfalls and other places of interest along the way. Make sure to be safe when pulling over for pictures.

Maui has so much to offer that you could return over and over and still feel like it's the 1st time. Remember the rule, don't feel like you have to do everything at once. Choose your favorite activity, enjoy your hotel offerings and if you don't have time do it next trip.

Well until next time, travel safe and travel often.

Yellowstone National Park Resident
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