Last month we wrote about a few of our favorite honeymoon destinations for newlyweds traveling to Hawaii, and this month we’re continuing our quest with stops in Maui, Lanai and Kauai
Maui wow-ee! That’s what we have to say. Flying on Hawaiian Airlines from Los Angeles to Maui was a delight. The flagship carrier offered an in-flight experience that was far better than we expected now that airlines seem to care less and less about the customer experience. That’s not the case with Hawaiian: The flight attendants (mostly Hawaii natives) convey the true aloha spirit and make you feel welcome and comfortable.
We landed in beautiful Maui at about noon, and our first destination was the city of Paia, about seven miles from Kahului Airport. This quaint little beach town was once a booming plantation village during the heyday of the island’s sugarcane industry. Today Paia boasts an array of fine specialty shops, art galleries, antique stores, eclectic boutiques and award-winning restaurants that offer everything from casual to fine dining. There’s a hippie vibe to Paia—every time you enter a store, aloha greetings and a big smile are part of the standard welcome. But visitors from all over the world likely come to Paia primarily for its white-sand beaches, warm, crystal-clear water and world-class surfing.
Our accommodations for the night were at the Paia Inn, originally built in the 1920s and recently renovated with the original layout to preserve the history of the building. The friendly staff offered us a tour of their property, which is currently expanding with additional rooms and a sushi restaurant. The guest rooms are tastefully decorated with unique artwork from local artists and come complete with luxurious bedding. For dinner, we decided to check out Mama’s Fish House, one of the most famous (if not the most well known) restaurant in Paia. Originally opened in 1973 as the first fresh fish restaurant on the island, the place is quite large and modern. One of the biggest attractions here is the daily menu of fish dishes—named for the fishermen who caught them and where they caught them! Luckily this wasn’t just a gimmick; the food was absolutely delicious.
The next morning, we had breakfast at the Inn, where they serve locally grown, organic products with a freshness that is something to savor. Fueling our bodies was a must, because Hana, at the eastern end of Maui, about 50 miles from Paia, would be our after-breakfast destination, and getting there is no easy task. This is why it remains one of the most isolated communities in Hawaii and is considered one of the last unspoiled Hawaiian frontiers. Hana is reached mainly via the Hana Highway, with its 600 curves and 54 bridges—so take note: It’ll take a few hours to get there. The route is amazingly scenic, but the roads are narrow, with hairpin curves, and the bridges are mostly single-lane. Much of the drive is at the cliff’s edge, which can be beautiful for gazing, but be careful—it’s a steep drop! With the ocean view on one side and flourishing rain forests, flowing waterfalls, plunging pools and breathtaking seascapes on the other, if you dare make the drive, it’ll be something you won’t forget. (Just don’t try this after dark!)
Relax, Regroup & Refresh: The Travaasa Hana (above) exuding traditional Hawaiian charm. Many Travaasa Hana suites, cottages and garden suites overlook the beautiful Hana Bay (below).
The historic Travaasa Hana is a beautiful retreat in this village that’s deeply rooted in Hawaiian tradition. This renowned spa resort is spread out over plush acres at the edge of Hana Bay, and it is truly ideal for honeymooners, with rooms, cottages and garden suites overlooking the water. We indulged in the all-inclusive package at the Travaasa Hana, which included three meals per day, unlimited nonalcoholic beverages, a daily 60-minute spa session, all the resort activities and use of the wellness and spa facilities.
Upon arrival, we immediately took advantage of the spa package and made our reservations for a massage for two before we ventured from our suite to check out the resort grounds. It’s an amazing property, where you truly feel the essence of Hana. With its lush vegetation, seemingly endless ocean views and spacious property layout, you never feel rushed or crowded—it’s pure relaxation. For dinner, we dined at the Ka’uiki dining room, and it did not disappoint—both the service and the food were outstanding. After dinner, we took a romantic stroll around the grounds to gaze at the beautiful night sky bursting with stars that came to life because there are so few lights on the land in Hana.
Exotic Escape: The lush grounds of Travaasa Hana include its golf course (above left) and its picturesque pool just after dusk (above right).
The next morning we had a quick breakfast and set out for Haleakala National Park, which is about 10 miles from Hana. The park boasts a couple of scenic hiking trails, but it’s best known for the popular pools of Oheo, where waterfalls spill into tiered wading pools leading to the sea. We first took the hike up to the bamboo forest and were surprised to find the walk easier than we had expected. After the hike, we changed into our swimming trunks and headed down to the pools, where quite a few others swam and socialized and had a great time.
Instead of heading out of Hana the way we came, we went the other direction, as it was the best route to our next destination: Wailea. While not quite as scary as the road to Hana, this route was less scenic. However, we did stop by a Maui winery and found the most delicious pineapple wine. After a long drive, we arrived at Hotel Wailea, one of Maui’s luxury boutique hotels. Located within the exclusive Wailea resort community, the hotel is nestled into the hillsides of Wailea, where views of white-sand beaches, crystal-blue Pacific water and lush mountains will certainly captivate your soul. This serene location offers a perfect retreat from the busy and often noisy bigger hotels on the beach. That evening, we had dinner at Capische?, Hotel Wailea’s Italian restaurant and the 2011 Ai Pono Gold Award winner for Best Restaurant of the Year. Capische? deserves the accolades—we were both mightily impressed with our meals.
Maui Luxury: Hotel Wailea's luxurious guest suites (above left) and the property's proximity to the water (above right) make it an ideal romantic escape.
In the morning, we drove to the Maui Plantation where we met our fun for the day: the Flyin Hawaiian Zipline. It’s the longest zip line in Maui and offers adventurers over two miles of west Maui, with hiking through Waikapu and Maalaea to various zip line start points. We got a quick safety briefing from the friendly and energetic staff before we began, and then it was off to the zip line (both exhilarating and frightening) for a day of adventure—and a little conservation. Our guides told us that Flyin Hawaiian was built on the concept of conservation, so each tour participant is requested to take a native Hawaiian plant with them on the journey and reintroduce it to its native habitat. During our excursion, we watered endangered plants placed there by previous zip liners.
After the zip line, we headed back to Maui and stopped by to check out the Maui Sunseeker, the gay and lesbian resort in Maui, and found that they are currently expanding and upgrading the property. But the Sunseeker is still open for business while the expansion continues, so we had a day of fun and sun at the pool with cocktails aplenty!
The next morning, it was time to say goodbye to Maui. But our adventure was not over yet. Next stop: Lanai.
For more of Hawaii, pick up the February Issue of Instinct