Learn to surf on the beaches of Ka'anapali or party until the wee hours in the historic whaling town of Lahaina. Play a round of golf on greens with panoramic views of the Pacific. Stroll the six miles of sandy beaches in Kihei or brave the Hana highway on Maui’s wildest but arguably most scenic coast. The saying is that Maui is “no ka oi,” meaning it is the best. Explore this multifaceted island and its resorts and decide which part is your best.
West Maui - Ka’anapali
Ka’anapali Beach on west Maui is where it all began. This is the home of luxury resorts like the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa and the Westin Maui Resort & Spa, both with manicured tropical gardens, creatively designed pool areas and eye-popping stretches of beach to explore. Then there is the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, the first hotel on Ka’anapali Beach. Built in 1963, it takes up prime beach space at Black Rock. Part of the nightly torch-lighting ceremony is watching diver’s plunge from the top of the cliff to the ocean below. Lahaina, the one time capital of Hawaii and former whaling town turned party central, is only a few minutes away.
South Maui – Kihei, Wailea
South Maui is known for long stretches of white sand and championship golf courses. Wailea is the luxury resort area, featuring such gems as the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel and Spa and its innovative river pool and water elevator system. Travel from one pool to the other through water slides and mini waterfalls. When you get to the bottom the water elevator fills with water to bring you to the top level and you swim out. Another luxury property is the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea. As the brand implies, customer service and only the finest foods, accommodations and entertainment will do. Kihei, the other major tourist center in south Maui, is more family-oriented, offering an assortment of moderately priced hotels and condos. Kamaole Beach Parks I, II and III offer safe, swimmable beaches with lifeguard protection, picnic area and nearby shops and cafes.
Central Maui – Kahului, Paia
Many who visit Maui for the first time land at Kahului Airport, find a rental car and head for the more well-known parts of the island. Kahului is more laid back, with hotels fronting Kahului Bay, usually within a block or two of the water and the cruise ship terminal. One example is the family-owned Maui Seaside Hotel. Its twin wings surround an open lawn and pool area that is fringed with palm trees. Seven miles east of Kahului is the windsurfing and surfing hot spot of Paia. The waves here rival those of North Shore, Oahu, and championship meets are held frequently. The town itself is quaint with clapboard buildings painted every imaginable shade housing trendy cafes, boutique shops and art galleries. One hotel of note is the Paia Inn. It is 200 yards from the beach, filled with eclectic furnishings and Hawaiian artwork and even markets its own souvenir Paia Inn Tee Shirt.
East Maui - Hana
East Maui is wild, natural and the scenery takes your breath away. The two-lane road that leads to Hana, the largest town in east Maui, is an adventure in itself. Drive this coast-hugging route with its 600 curves and 54 one-lane bridges and you will have the right to brag. Take breaks along the way to take in the ocean views or munch on a papaya from a roadside fruit stand. Once in Hana, stop in the age-old Hasegawa General Store to look for locally made souvenirs, including the "I Survived the Road to Hana" T-shirt. History buffs can continue past Hana to the Palapala Ho'omalu Church. Aviator Charles Lindbergh visited west Maui and decided to retire there. Follow the tiny road to where he is buried overlooking the ocean. If you are looking for a bit of indulgence on your Hana visit, consider spending the night at the Hotel Hana Maui. Choose a Sea Ranch Cottage with a private hot tub and find yourself in pampered luxury overlooking the Pacific.
- Maui, The Magic Isle
- Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa: Contact Us
- Westin Hotels & Resorts: The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Ka’anapali: Contact Us
- Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa: Map and Directions
- Grand Wailea: The Waldorf Astoria Collection: Contact Us
- Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea: Fact Sheet and Contact Info
- Paia Inn Beachtown Boutique Hotel: Contact Us
- Seaside Hotels Hawaii: Contact Page
- Hotel Hana Maui and Honua Spa
- Maui Information Guide: The Road to Hana
- Sites: Charles Lindbergh’s Grave
- Aloha Hawaii: Hana: A Slice of Maui Heaven
- maui image by Brett Bouwer from Fotolia.com