Beautiful Maui may surprise you with its diversity. There are bountiful beaches on the western shores of Kaanapali and Lahaina; south in Wailea, you can snorkel with sea turtles at Makena Beach; and along the north shore in Kapalua, golden sand sits below towering fir trees. Up country, the air cools as the ocean recedes, replaced by towering Haleakala, a dormant volcano and national park whose verdant slopes are great for exploring. The east side of the island is reached by the famed Road to Hana, a twisting corkscrew one-lane highway framed by waterfalls and quirky roadside stands. Somewhere among all of this abundance of natural beauty is your perfect resort, at the perfect price point.
Often, when you find a well-priced hotel in a popular resort area, you end up walking blocks to the beach from a less-than-prime location. Not so with Kaanapali Beach Hotel, which calls itself the “Most Hawaiian Hotel in Hawaii” and was one of the first properties in the area. What does this mean for you? A perfect location near the hopping shops and restaurants of Whaler’s Village and beachfront access for sunning, snorkeling, and SUP (board rentals here are just $25). The hotel is known for its authentic Hawaiian activities, all included with your room price, such as lei making, hula, and pineapple cutting. Not only are rooms well-priced, starting at around $207, but “Friends and Family” packages include a car rental -- a great perk to explore the island -- for just $10 more than the basic room price.
Use your car to explore the lush up country near Haleakala. One highlight is Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm, perched at 4,000 feet with views of Maui spread out around you and gorgeous gardens of fragrant lavender, flowering protea, fruit trees, and romantic gazebos dotting the land. Admission is just $3, and if you complete the complimentary scavenger hunt around the property, you’ll receive free lavender shortbread cookies in return.
In quiet North Kaanapali, the recently opened Westin Nanea Ocean Villas was built with the input of local Hawaiian craftsmen to create a stunning, art-infused, beachside property. Accommodations here feel like sleek apartments with full modern kitchens, including dishwashers and washer/dryers, spacious living areas, and private verandas to soak up all the sunny Maui vistas. The freestanding, egg-shape tubs are the stuff hotel dreams are made of. Outside, a multi-level pool complex, including a kid-friendly lagoon pool with a sand zero entry, offers plenty of space to spread out. Out front is the Kaanapali Boardwalk that leads to the soft sand beach as well as to the sister Westin Kaanapali property next store. One bedrooms start at $399 off-season and go up to $939 in high season (Christmas and Spring Break).
For dinner, the Nanea’s Mauna Mea, which just won best new hotel restaurant on Maui, has gorgeous sunset views and is enticing enough that you won’t want to leave the hotel. The sizzling rock beef appetizer is a must-order menu item.
When you’re ready to break away from the beach, explore the sparkling Pacific Ocean with a snorkeling tour to the tropical fish and colorful coral filled Molokini Crater with the experts at the Pacific Whale Foundation (from $99).
Tucked into the far eastern side of Maui, laid-back Hana feels like the land time forgot; cell service disappears as you traverse the serpentine turns in the Road to Hana, and as you emerge from the lush jungle landscape, the undeveloped coastline instantly invites relaxation. Travaasa Hana is the only resort in remote Hana, and it’s well worth the effort to get to this peaceful oasis property where rolling green hills reach down to the sea. All the rooms here are suites with vaulted ceilings, lanais, tropical views, and small kitchenettes where you can perk a pot of the complimentary local coffee and nibble on the banana bread you receive at check in.
While most visitors do the 6-plus hour round-trip Road to Hana drive in a single day, staying at Travaasa Hana allows you to fully appreciate the unique setting and also enjoy some of Hana’s natural highlights, such as the black sand beach. Activities here are among the property’s highlights, especially horseback riding, SUP, and yoga with views over the Pacific. Rates at the 70-room resort start at $525 for two in a garden view room and $1,025 for the Ocean Front Bungalows that look straight out over the Pacific and feel like you’re floating over the sea.
Although Hana is a flip-flop and shorts kind of place, dress up for dinner at The Preserve + Bar where open-air dining is complemented by live music, tropical cocktails, and dishes with all locally sourced ingredients.