Maui, An Idyllic Tropical Road Trip by Carmel L. Mooney

Aside from being a tropical paradise destination, the Hawaiian island of Maui encourages couples to bond, slow down, and create treasured experiences with its unique blend of beauty, activities, history, and variety. With its ever shifting landscape, perfect year round climate, gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, crystal skies, warm tropical waters and spectacular beaches, Maui offers a couples’ paradise for a vacation or world-class honeymoon.
Whether it’s enjoying the variety of beaches and sand, a sub marine dive, a lei making class, wine tasting, ATV rides, fine dining, casual snacks along the Hana Highway, waterfalls, pools, or a goat farm, Maui appeals to everyone.

Although we’ve been to Maui in previous years, our most recent trip stands out as the most diverse visit, as Maui has successfully blended the old with the new, and we were fortunate to explore and experience all the rich facets of Maui including many new activities and hot spots. We arrived on Maui, the “Magic Isle” via the Kahului airport, rented a car, and embarked on our unforgettable adventure.
Our first Maui style meal, we savored at the fun Pineapple Grill at Kapalua Resort. This casual yet elegant dining establishment has impeccable service. We’ll never forget the beautiful presentation of each offering like my macadamia crusted goat cheese salad and monchong fish, not to mention the melt in your mouth desserts like Maui gold pineapple bread pudding with pineapple brandy sauce. The Maui gold pineapple upside down cake, and apple pineapple crisp were the best I have ever tasted. Yes, I sampled them all! No wonder they have won numerous awards.

Our first few nights we stayed at the beautiful Napili Kai Resort just a few minutes from Lahaina.
Five pools on ten acres, fun daily activities to bring the guests together, full kitchens, the most spectacular beach for snorkeling and swimming, and more relaxed low rise two story buildings that blend naturally into the natural beauty are the recipe that makes this resort a favorite. A beautiful place for honeymooners; no wonder manager Gregg Nelson says, “First time visitors frequently arrive saying, `This is what I thought Hawaii would be like.’”

Our second full day, we embarked on a new adventure on the Atlantis Submarine. Located at Lahaina Pier #30 we enjoyed viewing fish and sunken ships as we sunk to a depth of just under 200 feet.

Another unforgettable meal unfolded at David Paul’s Lahaina Grill where we enjoyed New American cuisine. A list of awards too numerous to list is no surprise after one taste of specialties like Kona Lobster Crab Cake, Tequilla Shrimp, Kalua Duck and Maui Onion and Sesame Seed Crusted Seared Ahi. Desserts like “The Road to Hana,” must be both seen and tasted to be fully appreciated.

Wanting to experience the culture and history a bit we enjoyed Maui Theater’s presentation of Ulalena. Telling a compelling story in a theatrical experience of amazing effects, Ulalena presents some of Maui’s most talented musicians and performers as they weave a history from the first Polynesians to Captain Cook.

Another experience that must be lived in Maui is the Old Lahaina Luau. Although we have a special place in our heart for the original magical and historically significant location from years ago, the newer location and presentation offers a sampling of wonderful Hawaiian luau fare while watching Hawaiian dance and music on stage. This luau continues to be a great place to mix with other island visitors and find out their discovered “hidden Maui gems.”

We stayed at the beautiful Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa for the middle portion of our visit. We enjoyed the unique pool with rivers of fun, lei making and hula classes, nightly cliff diving, and 23 ocean front acres where we could swim or snorkel enjoying the resident turtles and fish. Ten minutes from Lahaina, it is the perfect hub from which to enjoy Maui’s activities.

A few days into our visit we embarked on the Molokini and Turtle Arches Snorkel Ec-Adventure. This amazingly fun activity blended good food, snorkeling with fish and turtles, and education in a perfect fun filled day. After snorkeling with the tropical wildlife, we enjoyed an educational presentation about fish, turtles, coral, and ecology on board.

Right after our day was done we walked over to the nearby Maui Ocean Center. This Hawaiian Aquarium provides an opportunity to view Maui’s tropical fish, sharks, turtles and other aquatic life. If you don’t snorkel you will feel like you did after a visit here.

Our last few nights were spent at the gorgeous Fairmont Kea Lani Maui Resort, a mecca for movie stars and affluent Maui visitors. One moment at this spectacular property and it’s no mystery why this resort is in a class of its own. The moment you arrive, one is presented with a fragrant fresh lei and servers offer fresh tropical juices as you check in. The true Aloha spirit is exemplified here by every staff member in a genuine and refreshing way that makes your every minute as a guest, one of tranquility and feeling completely welcome. Guests can stay in elegantly appointed suites or lovely private villas overlooking the beach with their own private plunge pools, the ultimate honeymoon or anniversary idea. Every detail from the beautiful pool and water slide to the finest dining Maui has to offer, along with the extraordinary spa, creates a magical paradise within a paradise at Maui’s Fairmont.

One early morning at the Fairmont Kea Lani Maui Resort, we met two Hawaiian men on the resort’s private beach for an unforgettable Hawaiian Cultural Canoe Experience where together we paddled a huge white outrigger around the area, visiting the local coves, as they taught us local history and culture and Hawaiian chants and lore. We even stopped the outrigger to jump out together and swim with sea turtles. It was amazing.

No stone is left unturned at this magical property where hospitality, attention to detail, activities, dining and recreation are meticulously and perfected orchestrated. With five award winning restaurants and three bars, no need is unmet. We savored specialties like Maui Onion soup and Lobster Tempura on the property. They were simply amazing.

Upcountry Maui is another paradise altogether where farms and ranches abound high above the sprawling coastline. There we explored the Surfing Goat Dairy where we sampled award winning cheeses and delicacies like a passion fruit cheesecake made from goat’s milk. The delicious products from this farm are shipped to the best hotels and restaurants around the world. A guided tour of the farm was educational and fascinating.
Finally in upcountry, we enjoyed the lovely Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm where we toured the grounds and learned so many interesting uses and histories of the various lavenders after a relaxing tea service of lavender scones and tea.

Our final Maui dining experience we enjoyed was at the Sea Watch restaurant where we savored masterpieces with local Maui treasures like Maui onions, purple Maui sweet potatoes, fresh vegetables and micro greens from local Maui farmers and the best, freshest Maui seafood available. “The fresher it is; the better it is,” is the chef’s motto. Serving three full meals a day, this restaurant on one of Maui’s finest golf courses, offers outstanding dining with unparalleled views of whales and astounding sunsets. The food, ambiance, and service were perfect in every way.

While Maui has grown tremendously in recent years, some things never change. Maui is considered the “best island” by millions and for good reason.