If I could choose to move one place in America (besides maybe New York), it would hands down be Maui, Hawaii. I had the opportunity to spend six days in Maui and was able to really explore the best the island has to offer. Below is a full break down of my MAUI MUST SEE’S:
WHERE TO STAY
The Four Seasons Resort Maui Wailea is one of my new obsessions. With an extensive and stunning new renovation recently unveiled at the end of 2016, the newly designed resort takes perfection to a new level. With floor to ceiling transformations of its luxury guest rooms and suites, the resort is in even a better place than ever before. The new aesthetic honors the nature and beauty of the island while still maintaining a contemporary feel.
I stayed in one of their luxury suites with a beautiful garden and ocean view. With a spacious living and dining room, bathroom, bedroom and two large balconies, it really gave you the feel of being in your own private home or luxury apartment. Some other highlights of the resort:
Spa: Indulge at the spa with a wide variety of services to choose from. I recommend the Hale Hau Oceanside Massage. It’s a relaxing full-body massage in an open-air Hale Hau (traditonal Hawaiian hut) nestled among beautiful flower hedges overlooking the ocean and Wailea Beach. Sunset hour makes it particularly special.
Beach & Pools: Relax in the sun with a cocktail in hand at one of the resort’s three pools overlooking the Pacific. There is a secluded adults-only “Serenity Pool” with luxury cabanas. Snorkeling is a must in Maui, and right off the Four Seasons beach is one of the best places to snorkel on the island. Twenty feet out you can swim with wild turtles and beautifully colored fish. Complimentary one hour snorkel gear is also provided by the resort. There are other activities offered as well, located right on the beach.
Dining: Food is a very important contributor to what makes a 5-star resort. There are three main restaurants on property, including Wolfang Puck’s “Spago.” DUO seafood and steakhouse was out of this world (check out what I ate below) and Ferraro’s Bar e Restaurante is great for lunch by the pool or beach during the day. Breakfast was also incredible–I enjoyed the in-room dining for breakfast-in-bed as well as the breakfast buffet every morning at DUO. I suggest trying both.
The Four Seasons Resort Maui exceeded expectations in every aspect and really made my Maui experience special. I can’t wait to return soon.
Fairmont Kea Lani- This is another world class resort in Wailea. I will do a thorough review in my full Hawaii guide on all islands in my next post!
WHAT TO DO
-Rent a Jeep. Having a car gives you the freedom to see the entire island at your own pace and leisure. It’s a pretty big island and renting a car is definitely the best way to get around—there are several rental car companies at the Maui International airport.
Road to Hana. The Road to Hana is an absolute must and was definitely a highlight during my trip. I stayed in Wailea and the Road To Hana starts on the other side of the island, about an hour and twenty minute drive away. The drive to Hana from Mile Marker 1 (Road to Hana starting point) takes around three hours or more, depending on how often you stop. It is an all-day excursion (I suggest getting an early start) so be prepared for a lot of driving. There are several beautiful waterfalls, viewpoints and secluded beaches to stop at along the way. Be sure to stop and get gas in Paia before your journey, as there are no gas stations until you get all the way to Hana. And stop and get fresh banana bread off the side of the road…you won’t regret it!
-Paia- Paia is a beach town right before the Road to Hana starting point. It is around a 45-minute drive from Wailea, and is a great place to stop for a coffee or quick bite before beginning your journey. There are plenty of cute boutiques, local mom and pop shops, and restaurants.
-Twin Falls- Park on the side of the road and hike up to the beautiful Twin Falls and take a dip! (Mile Marker 2)
-Black Sand Beach (Papilla Beach) at Wai’anapanapa State Park- The Black Sand Beach was really unique. The black sand glistens and sparkles against the sun and there are cool caves to explore around the beach. (Mile Marker 32)
-Red Sand Beach (Kaihalulu Beach)- Although it is located in the center of Hana Town, this beach is considered a “secret” beach. There aren’t many people that venture to see it because it isn’t easy to get to, but it’s well worth it. The sand is a dark, rich red color and the ocean is a deep royal blue- the contrast is a sight to see.
Haleakala National Park. If you ever want to know what it’s like to drive above the clouds, pay a visit to Haleakala National Park. It’s a 37-mile drive from sea level to the top at a 10023 ft. summit and the views at the top are breathtaking. It’s the worlds highest elevation gain in the shortest distance. There is a $20 admission fee into the park. Dress warm, as it’s freezing no matter what time of day it is (I learned that the hard way). If you really want to be adventurous and brave the cold, Haleakala is the best stargazing spot on the island. You can camp at night in the middle of the crater to stargaze and wake up to watch the incredible sunrise at Haleakala. Tip: It is a long drive from pretty much anywhere on the island (approx. a two hour drive from Wailea), so make sure you stop and get gas before the adventure!
Snorkeling. You can snorkel off most of the beaches in Maui. I snorkeled off the Four Seasons Resort beach in Wailea and it was great. Most resorts have complimentary snorkel gear, or stations on the beach for rentals.
Experience a Hawaiian Luau. You can’t visit Hawaii without partaking in a traditional Hawaiian Luau. Taking place every night at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort in Lahaina alongside the beach, The Drums of the Pacific Luau is one of the best in Maui. Enjoy a traditional Imu Ceremony (unearthing of the kalua pig), an authentic Hawaiian food buffet, Hula dance lessons and the Drums of the Pacific Luau show which is a combination of songs, chants and dances from Hawaii and the neighboring Polynesian islands that have influenced Hawaiian culture and customs for centuries.
WHERE TO EAT
Mama’s Fish House. If you are a foodie and have done your Maui research, you’re most likely familiar with Mama’s Fish House. Located in Paia on Maui’s North Shore, Mama’s Fish House is a family-owned restaurant established in 1973, serving fresh seafood caught daily and authentic Hawaiian cuisine. It’s famous in Maui, and Trip Advisor coined it in the top 10 fine dining restaurants in the US.
Nick’s Fish Market. Located at The Fairmont Kea Lani, Nick’s Fishmarket is also considered one of the best restaurants on the island, and for good reason. I enjoyed a few of their signature dishes such as the Black and Blue Ahi and Fresh Oysters topped with Ahi tartare and White Truffle oil for appetizers, the Potato “Scaled” Mahi Mahi for the main, and the spectacular Strawberries Panzini Flambeed Tableside with Grand Marnier for dessert, which was quite the presentation. It was an exceptional dining experience.
DUO. A premium seafood and steakhouse located at The Four Seasons Resort in Wailea, DUO gave me a dining experience to remember. The 35 Day Dry Aged Bone in Ribeye was by far one of the best steaks I’ve ever had, and the Black truffle Mac & Cheese was a game changer (I consider myself a Mac & Cheese enthusiast!). Other dishes worth mentioning include the Crab Cakes with Maui Honey, Calamansi Aioli, & Avocado, the Foie Gras Parfait, Sesame Crusted Ahi, and the Truffled Hamakua Mushrooms.
Mahalo Maui for an unforgettable time.
To see my full Hawaii video, check out previous post here
And to see more of my travel pictures, visit Instagram.com/NicoleIsaacs.