The first time I went to Maui I was 14, just about to start high school and I was so excited! The second time I went was as a graduation gift right before graduation high school. It felt appropriate going right before starting high school and right before completing. Since then, I have gone almost every year, making it feel like a second home. My grandparents spend about a month there during the winter and my parents and I go to visit making for a vacation and reunion all at one. Even though I am not a “lay by the beach” kind of person, sometimes I feel that yearning for the Islands and cannot wait to get back to my other home.
Over the years, below are the top five favorite things I have come to love in one of the world’s best paradises:
Ka’anapali is where my family always stays. It is nice and modest by Hawaii standards, very family oriented. When I was younger I hated how everything seemed to close at 10pm, but now I have learned to accept it and give in to the Hawaiian way (aka, hang loose man). It is also conveniently located, right next to Maui’s renown downtown Lahaina, Black Rock which is a great area for snorkeling, surrounded by golf courses and is extremely safe and family oriented. My family always stays at the Aston Maui Ka’anapali
Speaking of Lahaina
Lahaina is a must do, whether you are staying in nearby Ka’anapali or luxurious Wailea. Yes, walking down Front Street is the ultimate tourist trap and I absolutely love it. Here you can find the tourist favorites such as Cheeseburger in Paradise and Bubba Gumps (I limit frequenting chain restaurants but I am weak when it comes to Bubba Gumps, there is just something about that place!), Billabong, Sunglass Hut and sunset backdrops behind hordes of catamarans. But there are uniquities as well. Beautiful galleries with local art (and by local, I mean artists from around the world who have made Maui their muse), local eateries such as Aloha Mixed Plate and best of all the shops across the street from the Lahaina Banyan Tree, where I always get excited to find my next random souvenir.
Paia is my newest local favorite as it has a very “real” feel to it. My hypothesis it Paia is filled with celebrities, artists and millionaires that want to be left alone, along with being filled with delightful cafes. This is not the place to be a tourist but to enjoy the finer things in life. A word of advice, don’t even try asking a standerby to take group photo of your family, they will only lackadaisically oblige.
Hana Lava Tube
You will easily come across this when doing to Road to Hana. The Hana Lava Tube is an easily accessible cave that allows you to explore the surface of the formations created by lava flow, great for anyone with even a slight interest in geology. It is easy to do with children or physical restrictions (my at-the-time six year old sister absolutely loved it).
Hawaii is expensive and for good reason. They have to import almost everything. But their local produce has a precious feel to it. My favorite is to go to a locals’ backyard and eat a banana right off the tree (note: my parents have friends on Maui, it is not appreciated to pick fruit as it is found. Get permission or have it be offered first) or stop at a fruit stand along the Road to Hana or up in the mountains.
Maui really is a magical place that will make you fall in love and never want to leave. I met a lot of people in Maui who did just that and even considered it myself during the trip from my senior year of high school. Mahalo!