If you are in need of a vacation…
Aloha – Francesca here!
I am a self-proclaimed island child. When I was eight months old I took my first trip to Maui and ever since I’ve been a water baby (all known as a fish) – swimming, snorkeling and coming to land for sips of fresh coconut water. My vision of paradise: swimming all day, lying on a hammock, fresh Mahi Mahi, bare feet on the sand and ocean surf tangling my hair. Having recently spent a week in Maui with my sweetie, I cannot stop gushing about my passionate love for this lush, romantic Island! Maui sucked us in, soothed us deeply, and turned us away to come home with a deep appreciation of the power of place and of each other.
WHERE TO STAY…
For me, Maui is about a balance of relaxation and adventure, and no other oasis better facilitates this than the Four Seasons in Wailea. The Four Seasons Wailea remains my all-time favorite place to stay – it is simply spectacular and incomparable. Our intention during this trip was to focus on romance and connection, so the beachfront to Wailea was perfect for our daily sunset swim followed by Pineapple Mai Tais in the saltwater hot tub overlooking the ocean.
The Four Seasons truly goes above and beyond with little touches of love… there were often unexpected treats waiting on the coffee table when returning to the room and the fresh ginger lemonade available daily in the lobby is to die for. These little extra treats made our experience all the more enjoyable. One of our favorite discoveries was the comfortable and covered cabanas by the pool and beach (great for make-out sessions). Unlike other resorts which charge $100-$500+ a day for such an amenity, the Four Seasons includes cabanas in your room charge.
WHERE TO ADVENTURE…
AHIHI-KINAU NATURAL RESERVE
Ahihi-Kina‘u is one of the last truly wild and protected places of natural wonder on the earth. I am obsessed with snorkeling and although my partner in crime had never been snorkeling before, he quickly fell in love at this gorgeous coastal lava field that is a habitat for numerous rare and endangered species. Common and uncommon fishes are found here, as are five of the state’s federally protected species: humpback whales, Hawaiian green sea turtles, hawksbill sea turtles, spinner dolphins, and the exceptionally rare Hawaiian monk seal. The water starts at about knee deep gradually getting deeper so there’s a variety of depths for all skill levels. The water will be clearest in the morning before the wind picks up. Because it’s so calm we were able to clearly see all the variety of fish and even sea turtles interacting with each other – an amazing experience filled with color, magic and delight.
THE ROAD TO HANA
The Road to Hana is like entering a mythical jungle filled with magic on every turn. Hana is remote, wild, lush green, and has the most incredible beaches in all different shades, black, red, and white. I thought Maui was slow paced, but Hana as a slow rhythm of its own. Hana is a small, rustic town filled with farmland on the far east side of the island in the middle of a lush jungle filled with waterfalls, mineral cave and gorgeous views of the ocean crashing against volcanic rock. The drive is 64 miles and takes you around the whole island. It leads you twisting and turning through luscious tropical landscape abundant in hidden treasures for the curious. Be ready for a full day trip and bring snacks in case the food stands on the side of the road are closed (the people of Hana lead a life of their own and do not keep strict business hours).
The drive is long, so leave early with a full tank of gas! Hana is a small, rustic town filled with farmland on the far east side of the island in the middle of a lush jungle filled with waterfalls, mineral cave and gorgeous views of the ocean crashing against volcanic rock. We took the road less travelled and completed the full drive around the backside of Haleakala. We watched the setting sun Upcountry near Makawao while snacking on our variety of jungle fruits we had collected from Hana. It was amazing to say the least!
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There are 59 bridges along the way, most of which are one lane so it’s important to learn yield etiquette. We adored everything from red sands beach to the many waterfalls to the random fruit and coconut stands like the ones pictured above.
My favorite stop by far was 122 acre Wai’anapanapa State Park
. The translation for Wai’anapanapa is “glistening water” or “water flashing rainbow hues”. It is obvious once you venture from your car to the ocean views that the name perfectly fits this powerful natural oasis – featuring a dramatic black sand beaches, large sea caves, volcanic tubes, and a volcanic blowhole. I had a wonderful time swimming in one of the freshwater caves filled with skin-soothing mineral water.
Legend tells of a Hawaiian princess that ran away from her husband, hid in the cave only to be found and killed by that husband. Supposedly every year thousands of tiny red shrimp appear in the pool making the water look like blood as a reminder of the Princess’s death.
Waioka pond aka Venus Pool
Waioka pond is the perfect gem for spending a day cliff jumping, swimming and sunbathing in a sheltered area from the rugged shoreline. The trail crosses coastal pastureland to the ocean, where there are beautiful freshwater pools in the sculpted deep rock grottos.There are two ledges, one higher and one lower for jumping off depending on your need for an adrenaline rush. Near the shore’s end there is a lava-rock island and another little pool where you can access a skylit cave, depending on the level of the water.
Accessing Waioka is a little bit difficult, as the locals do not want an influx of tourists invading their territory and it is gated off. However near mile 48.1 we found the opening get to the trail head on the shore side of the road. We hiked out about a mile to the entrance, and it was worth the effort!
I am a big foodie, and Maui has an abundance of delicious restaurant and local fare that will keep you in the tropical spirit! We did treat ourselves to the Four Seasons famous brunch and it was to die for, but we focused on venturing out around the Island to explore local flavors. Along the road vendors often sell locally grown treasures like starfruit, passionfruit, papaya and fresh young coconuts. Unfortunately the prices are relatively high ($10 a coconut is pretty normal), but we did find an amazing organic grocery store – Hawaiian Moons Natural Foods that sold local fruits, coffee and chocolate as well as a variety of delicious smoothie bowls and grass-fed burgers for a very reasonable price range.
We adored this Farm-to-table eatery & bar for Hawaiian fare & its vast cocktail list (the Pod Thai and Passionfruit Mai Tai cocktails are soooooo good)! We literally came her three times for Happy Hour and Dinner. I literally inhaled the fresh fish tacos and stole some of my sweetie’s Hawaiian Pizza….mmmmmm…
ON THE HORIZON FOR MORE…
While I could go on and on about our adventures snorkeling along Kaanapali and trekking up to the freezing cold Haleakala, I’ll leave that for another trip! I definitely left my heart in Maui and encourage you all to make it your own too!
Sending you lots of Mahalo Spirit this holiday season!