Just a short hop from Honolulu, the island of Maui is the perfect place to get away from the traffic and bustle of the city. Hawaii’s second largest island offers spectacular natural beauty, a taste of local culture, and a variety of accessible outdoor activities. Take a long weekend to reconnect, share an adventure, and enjoy some of the highlights Maui has to offer.
One of West Maui’s newest hotel properties is the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas, located on 3-mile-long Kaanapali Beach. In addition to a lagoon pool, and an easy-to-access, zero-entry beach pool, this 16-acre, luxury resort offers a cultural center featuring artifacts and exhibits, and staffed by experts who can answer your questions about Maui’s culture and history.
Start your Maui weekend on the water, by signing up for one of the outrigger canoe tours leaving from Kaanapali Beach. The resort offers a daily tour leaving at 7 a.m. Accessible to all ability levels, the tour will take you on a short paddle down the length of Kaanapali Beach to Black Rock, where you’ll have the chance to cool off with a short swim in the water. Along the way, guides share Hawaiian words and the history of outrigger canoe paddling, and point out wildlife — keep your eyes peeled for sea turtles, as well as humpback whales between the months of October and April.
After your early start, take some time to relax — the resort’s two plunge pools offer a quiet area to lounge in the sun. Then it’s time to hit the road and explore the rest of the island.
On your way to Central Maui, stop in at Maui Tropical Plantation, just outside Wailuku. This working farm offers an up-close look at tropical plants and crops like pineapple and sugar cane. Recharge with a cup of locally-grown coffee, then check out the plantation’s sunflower fields, its newest attraction. Three fields planted in rotation ensure you’ll almost always find a crop of cheery sunflowers in bloom.
It’s time for lunch, and locals line up outside TINROOF, the latest eatery opened by local celebrity chef and Hawaiian Airlines Featured Chef Sheldon Simeon, of “Top Chef” fame. Inspired by plate lunch classics, the menu features dressed-up local style comfort food like succulent and crunchy mochiko chicken, roasted and deep-fried pork belly, and chop steak, which includes savory chunks of flat iron steak wok-fried with garlic and scallions, topped with a dollop of ginger-scallion pesto (the chef’s “Beet Box,” featuring roasted, fried beets, kale, garlic aioli, and a furikake-Funyun crumble, is a delicious and healthy option). With seating limited to a narrow counter, you can squeeze in and enjoy your kau kau hot off the grill (or out of the fryer), or take it to-go for a gourmet picnic lunch.
Take some time to wander the quaint Main Street and quirky shops of historic Wailuku town at the mouth of Iao Valley, then cool off with a treat at Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice.
This artisanal shave ice shop has become a Maui favorite for its powder-soft texture, and house-made syrups in a rainbow of vibrant flavors, ranging from classics like strawberry, banana, and vanilla, to new concoctions including tamarind, wet lemon peel, and wedding cake. Try a “No Ka Oi” (coconut, mango, and lilikoi), and top it off with toasted coconut or pieces of fresh, soft mochi.
As the day turns into afternoon, cruise toward Maui’s Upcountry for a scenic drive through rolling green pastures dotted with purple jacaranda trees. Then head up winding Crater Road to take in the sunset from the top of Haleakala. Although Maui’s tallest peak is a popular tourist attraction at sunrise, you can skip the big crowds — and the baggy eyes from waking up at 3 a.m. for the predawn drive — by visiting this dormant volcano at the end of the day. Get to the top early enough to view Haleakala crater and its spectacular cinder cones in the last light of day, then turn west and watch as the sun sinks in to the sea. Bundle up, open your thermos of hot cocoa, and settle in for an evening of spectacular stargazing.
Staying for the weekend? Plan on taking a full day to explore Maui’s legendary Hana Highway. As they say, it’s about the journey, not the destination, so pack plenty of snacks and water so you can take your time stopping at waterfalls, make a detour down to the Keanae Peninsula, and admire the black sand beach and freshwater cave pools at Waianapanapa State Park.
Be sure to stop for a stroll through quaint Hana Town, then continue a few minutes down the road to pristine Hapuna Beach for a swim. If you’ve had enough you can turn back and retrace your steps for a spectacular drive home, but the adventurous can complete the circuit and continue down the road to Kipahulu, where you’ll find the Pools of Oheo and Pipiwai Trail, a part of Haleakala National Park. For road conditions and other information click here.
If you keep going, you’ll get a breathtaking view of Maui’s remote leeward coast, including the town of Kaupo and the “back side” of Haleakala. While rental car companies once reportedly warned tourists not to drive here, today almost the entire length of highway is paved.
Getting back to Maui’s central valley and resort areas at the end of a long day feels like a return to modern times after a trip to old Hawaii. A sunset dip — and maybe a mai tai on the beach? — is the perfect end to your Maui weekend.