Go: Maui, Hawaii
The Islands are popular destination for USA travelers, particularly from the western states. Rated the top island for tourism is Maui.Direct flights from LAX are numerous and very affordable. All major airlines fly to the islands. There are no off-seasons for the islands. Average temperatures range from a high of 85 to an evening low in the low 70s. Inflated fares and hotel rates occur during prime USA holiday periods.
The primary resort areas are Kaanapali, Kapalua, and Wailea.
Wailea is 15 minutes from the airport and offers numerous high-end resorts: Four Seasons, Westin, Andaz, and the Grand Wailea Resort. Wailea is known as the windy side of the island as it sits at the tip of the bay with strong head winds. Golf, shopping, dining, and excursions are easily accessible. Wailea is the newer development, offering minimal local ambiance.
The Four Seasons is a smaller hotel, situated on the water with the traditional open air architecture. A quiet, private beach and pool offer good food and spirits. The lobby is a favorite for a nightcap. Bonus: a grass area separates the Grand Wailea from the Four Seasons. If you are lucky, you may be able to catch a free concert on the beach by notables. During our last visit, we grabbed a bottle of wine, beach chairs and watched two hours of free music performed by Michael McDonald. Andaz is a newcomer to the island. As all of their properties, the brand prides itself on luxury with an environmental conscious.
The Green Papaya is located in one of the many strip retail sites. Don’t be put off by the exterior presentation. Once inside, you will enjoy great tacos, burgers, and fish and chips. Reservations are a must.
A 15-minute drive from the airport on the road to Hana is the town of Paia. One of the historic towns on the island, settled as a off beat surf town, is now an artisan community. Lots of small boutiques, cafes, and galleries are worth a stop.
Continue through Paia about two miles, turn left at the soccer field and park in the free public lot. The beach is a favorite for swimming, napping, and picnicking. A protected white sand beach with tables, barbecues and showers is nirvana. At the end of the road is a Zen retreat.
Continue on the Hana Road towards Hana to Mama’s Fish House. Pull forward to the mandatory, complimentary valet. Mama’s is known worldwide and serves consistent, perfectly prepared fish plates. Take note that the menu is printed daily and each dish identifies the fisherman responsible. A favorite is the mahimahi stuffed with crab. The crème brûlée is a minute in heaven, as is the crumble with vanilla ice cream. Wander the grounds, wade in the tide pools, nap on a beach chair.
The road to Hana is torturous, long and beautiful. If you are considering the journey, leave early before the tour bus leaves. The tine doubles on the two-lane highway behind bus after bus.
Lahaina is known as the historic city, and the window to the world. Watching the comings and goings of chiefs, kings, missionaries, whalers, and celebrities. The most popular landmark on Maui is the sprawling Banyan Tree, which is over 100 years old, has sixteen major trunks and spans a quarter mile in circumference.
Aloha Mixed Plate is a staple for both locals and tourists. Paper plates with a million dollar view. Great pupus, coconut prawns. MALA is one of the notable restaurants sitting on the water's edge on the way out of Lahaina towards Kapaluala. An eclectic menu, large array of tapas, signature fresh fish. Don't miss the hibiscus martini. Delicious.
Next door is Frida’s Mexican Beach House. Worth a stop in. The historic Pioneer Inn and Grill is great for breakfast. Watch the arrival of the local catch destined for the island island restaurants.
Duke's Beach House captures the essence of the Hawaiian lifestyle. Filled with historic memorabilia. Farm-to-fork cuisine.
Miso Phat's sushi is worth standing in line for a table. Bring your own wine or beer, with no corkage fee. Love the butter fish, freshest crab, and light, light shrimp tempura. Reasonably priced.
Napili Kai Beach Resort is one of our favorites sleeps. Resting in one of the best beaches in Maui, steps to the quiet gentle surf, great snorkeling, and spa. Rooms are comfortable and understated. The surfer beach is right next door. Morning walks to the Ritz Carlton, Montage, and General Store.
A quiet hotel I enjoy is The Mauian. One of the original hotel of Napili, The Mauian underwent a tasteful refurbishing. Modest, comfortable, opening on to the bay.
Barbecues are for guests to grill and watch the sunset. The Gazebo always has a wait, serves the best macadamia pancakes on the island and overlooks the ever-popular beach Napili. Be patient, as they move the customers through quickly and offer free fresh coffee while you wait. Great tunafish salads and build-your-own omelette. Open only for breakfast and lunch.
Sea House Restaurant requires a reservation. Request a patio table if the weather is warm. Picturesque Napili Bay is the perfect setting to watch sunset. Personal favorite is the the macadamia crusted mahi mahi, papaya salad, and daily specials. Tiki torches light your way from the resort. Moderate to high $$$.
Merriman's is directly next door the Napili Kai. It is the spot for a fashionable rendezvous. Drinks and dinner can set up back. Great patio for sunset. $$$$$$
Sensei sushi next to the General Store is a must. Masters at sushi, artists at dressing and blending accompanying sauces. Try the firecracker shrimp, spicy sweet burst of flavor. Share a platter of the glazed butterfish, or the asparagus avocado tuna roll. Delicious. The restaurant will only accept reservations 48 hours pre-dining. Be prompt, tables are released 10 minutes after the reservation. Or, join the line that forms around 4:30 for a 5:15 pm for door opening.
Old Lahaina Luau, a traditional Hawaiian luau. The largest and most elaborate of luaus. Recommended by Zagat Survey, endorsed by National Geographic, New York Times and the Travel Channel.