Getaway Guide: Maui

February 1, 2013

Thanks to a Vancouver couple’s trailblazing development in Napili Bay in the late 1950s, Maui has always drawn a disproportionate number of British Columbians. Sure, the state’s second largest island has tourist traps, but a modicum of digging reaps rewards that belie its size. Here, we uncover the hidden side of Maui.

 

STAY

Not everyone has Silicon Valley-sized pockets to spring for a permanent oceanfront villa. Good thing there’s a collection of postcard-perfect places to find a room of one’s own—if only for the night.

Maui’s toniest lodgings all cluster around the ritzy south shores of Wailea where, thanks to the leeward side of Haleakala volcano, it’s sunnier and drier than anywhere else on the island. Fresh off a $28 million retrofit, the Fairmont Kea Lani (from US$499. 4100 Wailea Alanui Dr., Wailea, 866-540-4456. Fairmont.com) evokes a Moorish palace on 22 sweeping acres of prime azure waterfront. And who says size doesn’t matter? Each of the 413 one-bedroom suites clocks in at a generous 860 square feet, while villas are positively cavernous—perfect for well-funded families.

The “Road to Hana” leads to killer views, epic nausea, and the most authentically Hawaiian part of the island. (It’s also where Oprah owns property.) Perched near the rugged lava-rock shores, Travaasa Hana’s (from US$400. 5031 Hana Hwy, Hana, 855-868-7282. Travaasa.com) 47 plantation-style sea cottages are quaint with organic linens and ceiling fans (open the lanai’s porch doors to let in the Pacific cross-breeze)—it’s like the love child of the Four Seasons and a lake cabin. There are no TVs, Wifi, or clocks in your room, but once you let go of your pathological need to check email, losing track of time starts to feel like the real luxury here. That and the killer onsite spa.

Western Canadians flock in droves to Maui’s west shore at North Kaanapali Beach thanks to the Intrawest provenance and unbeatable location of the Honua Kai Resort & Spa (US$249. 130 Kai Malina Pwy,
Lahaina, 808-662-2800. Honuakai.com). Two new 10-storey U-shaped buildings have space to spare: each apartment (from 595 to 2,650 square feet) is kitted out with a slick kitchen, laundry room, and dining room—all the easier to have dinner with Dick and Jane from back home. And if your aim is to get away from it all, lose them in the 38 acres with four pools.

Next up: where to eat

EAT

Eating in Maui used to consist of two options: stratospherically priced hotel restaurants and authentic but impossibly hard-to-find local holes-in-the-wall. But off the Honoapillani Highway in serious industrial park territory there’s now Star Noodle (286 Kupuohi St., Lahaina, 808-667-5400. Starnoodle.com)—Maui’s most exciting eatery. Sheldon Simeon (named one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs 2012) dishes up scallop shots and pad Thai with fresh housemade noodles.

The new Ko (4100 Wailea Alanui Dr., Wailea, 866-540-4456. Korestaurant.com) at the Fairmont Kea Lani ditches the resort vibe by taking recipes from the local staff’s families—Hawaiian, Chinese, Filipino, Portuguese, Korean, and Japanese—and marrying them to haute cuisine. Order the whole fish, tail and all.

Alan Wong is the Jean-Georges of the Island and his brand-new Amasia (3850 Wailea Alanui Dr., Wailea, 808-875-1234. Wailearesortdining.com) in the Grand Wailea Resort is his latest homage to all things local: Maui Cattle Company “cowboy” ribeye steak and coconut-ginger-lemongrass broth in a note-perfect setting (which includes 800 tons of rock from Mount Fuji).

Stop in at laid-back Paia on your way to surf Ho’okipa Beach (or, more likely, watch people surf Ho’okipa) for a sandwich, 38 choices of seaweed, or take-away from the raw-food chefs on staff at Mana Foods, a warehouse-sized (by island standards) grocery store that serves as Maui’s natural food mecca (49 Baldwin Ave., Paia, 808-579-8078. Manafoodsmaui.com).

Wailea’s Monkey Pod Kitchen (10 Wailea Gateway Pl., Unit B-201, Kihei, 808-891-2322. Monkeypodkitchen.com) rides the locavore wave but does so without the hefty Wailea price tag. Expect housemade ketchup, Hamakua wild mushroom pizza, and that elusive island treasure—an actual pint of beer (from a voluminous list).

Yes, Kapalua is synonymous with Sansabelt slacks, but there are few more perfect spots in West Maui than, hokey name notwithstanding, the Pineapple Grill (200 Kapalua Dr.,
Kapalua, 808-669-9600. Pineapplekapalua.com). Service is spiffy professional while the wine list bears a coveted Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.

Next up: where to play

PLAY

The absolute joy of Maui is that in the time it takes to boil an egg, you can rent a paddleboard and be floating 10 feet above the sea turtles—actual sea turtles!—on Makena’s famed Maluwaka Beach. (Rent from 808boards.com, which offers free delivery and pickup.)

While you’re here, might as well sign up for Four Seasons’ Cycling Camp Maui (Nov. 30-Dec. 8, 2012. Mauicyclingcamps.com) where Tour de France veteran and this year’s Giro d’Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal will lead you on a Pro Tour-like regimen.

Make like a swimsuit model and shower under waterfalls or cliff-jump in the rainforest with Hike Maui (866-324-6284. Hikemaui.com), the island’s original hiking outfitters.

Not for the faint of heart, Blue Hawaiian Helicopters (800-745-2583. Bluehawaiian.com) gives a harrowing bird’s-eye view of Maui’s sea cliffs, Haleakala crater, and Moloka’i’s waterfalls.

Ka’anapali Snorkel Sail with Trilogy Excursions (888-225-6284. Sailtrilogy.com) is the only Maui activity company with permission to personally escort guests over to the private Hulopo’e Beach Park on Lanai. (You just have to share the adventure with 35 to 40 other tourists onboard.)

 

Next up: where to shop

SHOP

Much of Maui shopping consists of tourist markets or high-end hotel shops with expensive knickknacks. But the laid-back vibe of Paia Town, a surfers’ oasis, is the best place for local wares like local clothing designer Tamara Catz (83 Hana Hwy, Paia, 808-579-9184. Tamaracatz.com) where a Stevie Nicks-in-sherbert-hues aesthetic charms.

Letarte Swimwear (24 Baldwin Ave., Paia, 808-579-6022. Letarteswimwear.com), designed by two local sisters, channels an Anthropologie-meets-tropical-island vibe and has a seasonal outpost in Nantucket.

For those blissfully budget-free, there’s The Shops at Wailea (3750 Wailea Alanui Dr., Wailea, 808-891-6770. Theshops­atwailea.com), where most luxury brands—like LV and Gucci—are four to eight percent lower than on the mainland

 

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