Imagine making your way to the top of Mt. Haleakala while the stars still pepper the night. As you listen to the deafening quiet at the crater’s rim, a sliver of light pinks the horizon as the sun god Maui begins his journey across the sky. Then it's time to begin your own journey, biking down that same switchback road toward the sea. Staying in Kahului or in neighboring Paia puts you close to Maui Downhill Bicycle Safaris, the company that created one of the hottest excursions on the island of Maui.
Kahului doesn’t get as much attention as Ka'anapali Beach or the Wailea resort area. Many visitors just land at the airport or arrive by cruise ship, pick up their rental cars and then head for the southern parts of the island. Hotels in Kahului are smaller, more laid back, and located within a block or two of the waterfront. Staying in a Kahului hotel puts you within two miles of Maui Downhill Bicycle Safaris. It also gives you a chance to get in a round of golf at the Maui Lani Golf Course or take a stroll through the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens.
Maui Seaside Hotel
Find Kahului Bay framed between your toes as you relax on a lounge chair next to the Maui Seaside Hotel’s large outdoor pool. The open lawn area between the two story hotel wings is lined with palm trees. Combine that with the rattan and floral furnishings in both the lobby and the guest rooms, and you have a laid-back, relaxing atmosphere that is warm, welcoming and infinitely Hawaiian. Choose a room with a garden, mountain, partial ocean or pool view.
Maui Beach Hotel
Holding an enviable position on the center curve of Kahului Bay, the Maui Beach Hotel offers comfortably furnished rooms overlooking the green-hued mountains or the blue Pacific. Managed by the Castle Resort and Hotel group, the property has an impressive number of amenities for a hotel so moderately priced. Take a swim in the outdoor pool, arrange for a massage at the 24-hour front desk or treat yourself to a Japanese buffet at the Rainbow Terrace dining room. Indulge in a nightcap at the Lokelani Lounge before retiring to your room and relaxing on your furnished lanai.
If you’d like to do a bit of time travel on your Maui vacation and the beach is your happy place, consider spending a few nights in Paia. This wind, kite and board surfing hot spot is only seven miles east of Kahului and the Maui Downhill Bicycle Safaris. Colorful 1950s-style clapboard buildings line the town streets housing art galleries and trendy eateries. Visit Hookipa Beach Park and take to the waves, or find a spot in the sand to watch the action. This is Maui’s answer to Oahu’s North Shore and a venue for world-class surfing competitions.
Paia Inn Beachtown Boutique Hotel
The Paia Inn offers eclectically furnished rooms with original Hawaiian artwork, bamboo hardwood floors and the latest in electronic gadgetry, yet still retains a relaxed, beach town charm. Borrow one of the property's boogie boards and try your luck on the waves of Paia Bay, more forgiving than those at neighboring Hookipa. Visit the hotel boutique and indulge in some sweet-scented natural skin and hair products or your very own Paia Inn T-shirt. Walk two blocks down to Aloha Shave Ice for the Hawaiian version of the snow cone, or try an Italian favorite with a twist of pineapple at Flatbread Pizza, only a block away.
- Haleakala image by mdanielj from Fotolia.com