It’s true. Ka'anapali, with its stretches of white sand and mega resorts, like the Sheraton Maui Hotel & Spa and the equally decadent Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa, does get most of the tourist press. But in the shadow of this mesmerizing giant are areas that have their own special charm. Head south to vibrant Lahaina and explore Hawaii’s first capital. Go north to the wilds of Kapalua to discover a more laid-back but luxurious lifestyle. Either way, find your own special Maui hideaway in these fringe neighborhoods of Ka'anapali.
Best Western Pioneer Inn -- Lahaina Town
Enter Lahaina town via land or sea, and the red roof and gingerbread trim of the Best Western Pioneer Inn is hard to miss. Built in 1901, the hotel has welcomed such varied personalities as Jack London, Spencer Tracy, Frank Sinatra and Jackie Kennedy Onassis. Over the years, modern amenities such as air conditioning and Internet service have been added to guest rooms and public areas. Yet developers have given a gracious nod to the past, complementing the sculptured high ceilings with period furnishings and plantation-style ceiling fans. Sample a brew at the vintage Whalers Saloon or enjoy all-day breakfast or lunch at the Pioneer Inn Grill. Pubs, art galleries, boutique shops, the Lahaina Harbor and Banyan Tree Park are within steps of your front door.
Lahaina Shores Beach Resort -- Lahaina Town
Part hotel, part condo, the Lahaina Shores Beach Resort sits on the southern end of town and is the only beachfront resort in Lahaina. The ivory façade, with its white columns and arched balconies, give a hint of Southern grace to this low-rise property and its studio and one-bedroom units. Choose an ocean view condo and watch the whales spout from your furnished lanai, or balcony. Certain condos have been designated premier accommodations and offer designer interiors, which include original artwork by local artists like the iconic Pegge Hopper. Take a dip in the oceanfront pool or relax in the hot tub while checking out the action at the beach at the same time. Though this is the quieter end of Lahaina, the shops and restaurants of 505 Front Street are just next door. Indulge in an authentic beachfront luau, the Feast of Lele, also adjacent to your condo hideaway.
Napili Kai Beach Resort -- Lahaina Town
Offering an assortment of hotel-style rooms and condos spread out over 10 oceanfront acres, the Napili Kai Beach Resort is a self-contained family paradise. Snorkel in the calm waters of Napili Bay, practice your game at two on-site 18-hole putting greens, take a swim in one of four swimming pools or relax in the oversize hot tub. Participate in such planned activities as the weekly mai tai party, putting parties, hula lessons or horticultural tours. Indulge in a massage at the Makai Massage and Bodywork Spa, located within steps of the ocean. The Napili Kai Keiki Club, a children’s program for kids from 6 to 10, keeps the young ones busy with bamboo fishing, ukelele lessons, lei making and even a safari to search for lizards. For a casual lunch try the poolside Makai Hale snack bar. The Sea House Restaurant, located on Napili Beach, is open all day, every day. After dining at the water’s edge, stop in at the Whale Watcher’s Bar and Sea Breeze Terrace for a sip of your favorite island cocktail.
On the northwestern tip of Maui sits the resort community of Kapalua. Million-dollar-plus condos, championship golf courses and a shoreline of lava cliffs and three white sand beaches make up this laid-back but exclusive locale. In the midst of all this is the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua. Fronting D.T. Flemming Beach, the 463-room property offers accommodations filled with fine linens, koa wood accents and spacious, furnished balconies. Spend some time at the 10,000-square-foot, tri-level pool with man-made, step-like waterfalls leading from one level to another. Tee off on the adjacent greens or if you want some expert help with your game, book a session or two at the neighboring Kapalua Golf Academy. Dine at one of five restaurants, including the Banyan Tree and the Japanese Kai Sushi. Enjoy a lomilomi massage in a private treatment room set within a tropical garden at the Ritz-Carlton spa. Ka’anapali, should you wish to visit, is just six miles away.
- maui image by Brett Bouwer from Fotolia.com