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On our recent vacation to Hawaii, we visited 3 islands in 2 weeks. We spent 3 nights in Oahu, 5 in Maui and 5 in Kauai. But the island that we drove around the most, this time, was Maui. We stayed in 2 resorts–one in the Ka’anapali Beach area and the other in the Wailea area. We visited resorts in Kapalua, Ka’anapali, Wailea, Makena and Hana and we drove around as much of the island as you possibly can.
1. West Maui— Kapalua down to Lahaina
2. South Maui– Kihei down to Makena
3. East Maui — Hana
These 3 regions comprise most of the resort areas and some fabulous hotels, resorts and condo style hotels. Each is different. Even a couple of miles down the beach can make a difference in the feel of the area.
West Maui can sometimes feel like an island on it’s own. With the West Maui Forest Reserve as it’s backdrop, it’s set apart from the rest of Maui and connected by 1 main road, Route 30. With great golf courses, wonderful beaches, great dining options and some fabulous resorts and condo style hotels, West Maui is very popular with honeymooners, families, golfers and spa enthusiasts looking for great views and lots to do. This is the Maui that you’ll see on postcards with the jagged mountains, green valleys, gorgeous beaches and some of the most beautiful sunsets imaginable.
We visited the Ritz Carlton Kapalua on this vacation which is located on a beautiful long stretch of beach. Within minutes of the resort, there are 3 championship golf course, hiking trails, ziplining, horseback riding and more. Kapalua is the upscale resort area lined with 5 bays and 3 white sand beaches. Doctor Beach has named D.T. Fleming Beach one of the most beautiful in the world and this is the beach fronting the Ritz Carlton.
A couple of miles south of Kapalua is the Ka’anapali Beach resort area. This is where you’ll find the popular resorts like the Hyatt, Sheraton and Westin all lining the beach mixed with smaller hotels and condos. There is a walking path along the beach from the Hyatt all the way down to the Sheraton. With lots of restaurants along the walking path, as well as in Whaler’s Village, the Ka’anapali Beach area which was Maui’s first planned resort community, is very popular with honeymooners and families. One of the best snorkeling areas in Maui is in front of the Sheraton, near Black Rock and don’t miss the sunset cliff diver who lights the torches along Black Rock and then dives off it.
The main town in the region is Lahaina which is a historic whaling and fishing village that has been transformed into shops, restaurants and art galleries. You can still feel the history of Lahaina by taking a self guided walking tour. For those vacationers that want a nightlife, Lahaina is the place to be after the sun sets. With 2 of the most popular Luau’s in Maui, as well as a theatrical production showcasing Hawaiian culture and a magic show that is part comedy and part magic, plus lots of restaurants and shops, Lahaina is worth a visit or two for anyone staying in Maui. It’s also the harbor for the ferry to the island of Lanai and Molakai, fishing boats and whale watching boats.
South Maui is the warmest and driest coastline on Maui. Wailea is likely My Vacation Lady’s favorite part of the island. The beaches are wider and the resorts are more spread out than in the Ka’anapali area. With 5 star resorts like the Four Seasons, Fairmont Kea Lanai, Grand Wailea and the brand new Andaz, it is surrounded by 54 holes of championship golf, fantastic beaches and a 3 mile long beach walk that starts at the Fairmont and ends past the Andaz. While known for luxury, Wailea is not out of reach for many honeymooners and families that want to treat themselves to a bit of privacy and serenity.
So many of the resorts now offer shuttle service all around the Wailea area that, if you aren’t going to explore the rest of the island, you might not even need to rent a car. The Shops at Wailea is full of restaurants and shops that has everything from the ABC store to some of the priciest stores. We strolled down to the shops for dinner and then called the resort to send a shuttle to come and pick us up.
A bit past the Wailea are is Makena. It’s about as far south as you can go in Maui along the coastline. Bordering a beautiful beach, the Makena Beach Resort is a great moderately priced option for those who want the great beach along with more seclusion.
East Maui has been made famous by the Road to Hana. This 52 mile stretch of road winds around 600 curves and crosses over 50 1 lane bridges. Driving along the Road to Hana is not for the faint of heart but it is a day trip worth making. If you have even more time, the Travaasa Hana is a resort that is unlike any other on Maui. Spread out on 66 acres, this resort is designed for those who want to escape from reality. They even have a cell phone beach cubby in the lobby for you to park your cell phone during your stay and completely disconnect.
Unlike the high rise resorts in West or South Maui, the rooms are spread out in cottages all over the resort grounds. Known for wellness and activities, a couple of nights at the Travaasa Hana will rejuvenate even the most stressed executives.
Hana is 3 hours away from the West or South Maui resorts. We drove from the Hyatt Regency in the Ka’anapali Beach area almost straight through to Hana. Since we had made most of the stops prior to Hana on our previous drive along the road, we drove straight through to Hana, visited the Travaasa Hana and then continued on to the 7 Sacred Pools. Called Ohe’o Gulch, it is actually only 5 pools and it’s part of the Haleakala National Park system. To get to the upper pools, fed by Waimoku Falls, it’s a 2 mile hike up and through a bamboo forest.
We made it up to Makahiku Falls (the smaller of the 2) but still beautiful and enough of a hike for us. We wanted go up to the
Bamboo Forest but it was getting late (already 4pm and the sun was setting by 5:30pm) so we decided to turn around after we visited the Makahiku Falls. We were told that the rest of the way was easier but we’ll leave that for our next visit.
Maui is a beautiful island and if you are planning to visit Hawaii, a visit to Maui is a must. Since so many of My Vacation Lady’s clients are coming from the east coast, they want to see as many of the Hawaiian islands as possible. For those who only have 10 nights, we might recommend 2 islands- 5 nights each. For those who only have a week, spend the entire time in 1 island and really explore it.
You can easily spend 10 nights in Maui and still not get bored. The hardest part is probably deciding on which part of the island you want to stay and how much you want to see, do and experience.
As a Hawaii Destination Specialist, and the top rated honeymoon specialist located in New Jersey by the brides on Wedding Wire, My Vacation Lady can help plan your dream vacation or honeymoon to Maui. We can guide you to the best resort location and the best resorts to stay in that will fit your dreams and budget. Then, we’ll make suggestions on what to see and do during your stay. By taking the personal approach to vacation and honeymoon planning, you’ll see the difference that we can make in your Hawaii honeymoon or vacation planning experience.