During our visit to Canada this summer, S and I made a side-trip (can you really call a 5+ hr flight a ‘side’ trip?) to Maui, Hawaii. We had dreamed of going there together but the journey straight there from Germany is, shall we say, extremely far. We thought that while we were in the North American ‘neighbourhood’, it would be a good time to visit an otherwise very difficult-to-reach destination.
We asked other people which Hawaiian island to visit. Some suggested Kauai for the lush scenery, others the Big Island for its volcanic activity. In the end, we picked Maui, the tourist favourite, for its spectacular beaches, food, landscape, and activities.
Maui was absolutely the right choice for us – it was one of our favourite holidays to date. Unlike many of our city trips where we sightsee nonstop from AM to PM, we took it easy this trip and spent our days doing exactly what we felt like, when we felt like it.
Unlike my other travel blog posts where I break down a specific destination into several posts (say restaurants, museums, and sights), I decided to write about our time on Maui and my recommendations of what to see and do and eat in one post.
I spent a lot of time researching where to stay on Maui and what kind of accommodation to pick. Hawaii is very expensive, so many online forums suggested choosing a time share or apartment-style accommodation with a kitchen so you can cook some meals to save money rather than eating out all the time. We nearly went this route until we found an excellent deal to stay at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, a 4-star resort in Kaanapali. Though the rooms didn’t have a kitchenette, they did have a mini fridge, a coffee machine, and a kettle so we could still have breakfast and snacks in our room.
We absolutely loved the resort. Positioned at the Black Rock, one of the best snorkeling spots on Maui, it was as picturesque as could be. We loved stepping outside our room onto the golden Kaanapali Beach and going for a swim or a snorkel whenever we liked. S saw numerous sea turtles (I only saw 1 ) and there were more tropical fish than we could count. Tip: If you like to snorkel, bring your own snorkel gear with you to the island so you don’t have to rent on site.
The Whalers Village shopping centre is only a 10 minute walk away. It’s a good place to grab a quick, affordable bite, or pick up a few souvenirs. They also offer free hula shows, as well as hula, lei making, and ukelele lessons during the week.
As I mentioned earlier, we didn’t want to jam-pack our schedule, so we just planned three special activities while on Maui. We chose to do a Road to Hana tour, attend a luau, and take surf lessons.
Road to Hana
Many people suggested driving the 100+ km Road to Hana ourselves, but with 620 curves and 59 one way bridges, we thought it best to leave it up to the experts so we could enjoy the scenery. After reading a lot of reviews, we decided to go on tour with Valley Isle Excursions. Our driver, Lynn, has been a tour guide for 30 years and knows the island and the Road to Hana like the back of her hand. Over the course of the 10+ hour tour, we drove through tropical rainforest, drove by the Keanae Peninsula, spotted lush waterfalls, walked across the black sand beach at Waianapanapa State Park, visited the Pools at Oheo Gulch, and drove through the Kipahulu section of Haleakala National Park. We made several stops throughout the day, even at a roadside stand serving warm, fresh out of the oven banana bread. It was a long but well-spent day and we really felt like we got a chance to see some of the most beautiful spots on the island.
Old Lahaina Luau
S’s dream was to attend a luau on Maui. There are so many to choose from, but all reviews pointed toward the Old Lahaina Luau, the most traditional Hawaiian luau on Maui. For me, it was the absolute highlight of our trip. We were greeted with fresh flowers leis and mai tais upon arrival against the backdrop of the sun setting on the Pacific. Prior to dinner, we could walk through the grounds and learn about Hawaiian history and culture, as well as watch the kalua pig get unearthed from the Imu, the traditional Hawaiian underground oven. The dinner was a plentiful buffet of classic luau fare, such as the Imu-roasted pork, poi (steamed and mashed taro), ahi poke (raw marinated yellow fin tuna), taro leaf stew, and much more. The entire show and dinner was so well-coordinated and the hula dancers were spectacular. At the end of the night, we were all gifted with a small banana bread to enjoy for breakfast the next day. 100% recommended!