Traveling Hawaii: Maui Edition

Maui Honeymoon Vacation Planning

Around our first anniversary, we did something that’s not too common in our marriage – booked a very typical American vacation. I had traveled to Hawaii for work a while back, and stayed on the remote side of Maui the entire time. It was stunning and beautiful and one of the many places that I swore I’d visit with my one-day husband.

Our trip, which fell a couple of weeks before our actual anniversary, but also over my husband’s March birthday, made for an ideal celebration. And let’s be serious, who doesn’t want an infusion of sunshine as we wait out the achy chill of Michigan winters?

Planning on this trip was a bit ad hoc. We were gearing up for busy spring seasons at work, and our goal was to chill, so I admittedly slacked a bit on forming our itinerary … that said, I got lucky because it couldn’t have turned out better.

Thank goodness to our friends (more than one!) who recommended that we pick up the Maui: Revealed guidebook.  I can’t overstate how helpful it turned out during our stay, guiding us to the off-the-beaten path waterfalls and best roadside food stops. {Side note: I downloaded the ebook on Kindle, so it was easy to toss into my bag and carry everywhere. Until now, I haven’t been sold on digital guidebooks … but now I can attest, it works!}

Our Itinerary:

  • Day 1 – 3 // Wailea, Andaz Resort
  • Day 3 – 5 // Hana, Hana Kai Maui
  • Day 5 – 7 // Lahaina, Hyatt Regency Maui

Wailea

If you’re looking for the luxe side of Maui, this is it. Beautiful beaches and a walking path that meanders in front of all the gorgeous resorts makes it especially perfect for aimless strolls (and impromptu bar crawls, it turns out).

We checked into the Andaz Maui, based on great feedback from two sets of good friends – one of which who had honeymooned there. With its chic tiered pools and location at the edge of the mega properties strip, this resort offered the best of both worlds. It was relaxing and not over run by beach combers, tucked behind a craggy coastline that just about hides the property from folks who may not be too familiar with the area. But it’s also new and youthful, with minimally styled rooms and an excellent sushi restaurant overlooking the water.

If you’re not enjoying the pools, there’s a small beach (and plenty more within walking distance) where whale watching outrigger tours and kayaks depart.

We spent our days lounging by the pool – for the love, please order yourself the loaded pork waffle fries – and walking the beach, popping into other resorts along the way for drinks and apps whenever we felt like it. It. Was. Bliss.

Our favorite stop outside of our resort was, believe it or not, the lobby bar at the Grand Wailea called Botero Lounge, which was happily abuzz with live music and a great charcuterie board.

Hana

After a few days of luxury in Wailea, I was eager to head out and explore Hana. We picked up a rental car right from the Andaz and headed directly to a grocery store to stock up on wine and dinner foods, as well as snacks, anticipating not many restaurants on the opposite side of the island. Once we loaded a soft-sided cooler with groceries and ice, we began our trek toward Hana.

This is where our guidebook proved invaluable. While every bend along the Highway to Hana is striking, the book outlined the “must-see” stops that any tourist would have otherwise driven right past. We crawled along a slippery rock creek quite some distance before we came upon a stunning waterfall – completely to ourselves – near mile marker 13. Of course, we made several other stops before we pulled into the small, beachfront Hana Kai Maui Hotel and found ourselves mesmerized by the black stone beach.

We stayed in Unit 2, which was a small studio style guest room with a kitchen and queen bed and the most beautiful oceanfront balcony view I’ve maybe ever seen. {The sound of the waves rolling over the smooth stone beach was magic, y’all. I mean, sound machines have nothing on this!}

Breakfast was fresh banana bread picked up along the drive to Hana, lazily enjoyed on the balcony, and lunch was apples, cheese and wine while we laid on Red Sand Beach for our first full day. We end-capped it with a couples massage and hot tub soak at the nearby (and only) luxury resort Travaasa, followed by cocktails at the bar, before we went back to our room and cooked crab cakes and fresh asparagus for dinner. Side note: Can I please replay this day in my head over and over and over?

Our second day in Hana would’ve been hard to compare, but I’d booked a surprise birthday activity for Trevor – power hang gliding – which, again, came highly recommended by friends who had done it before us. We arrived at the tiny Hana airport, where Hang Gliding Maui is based out of a small hanger. The tandem gliding experience probably seemed a bit intimidating at first glance, but after Trevor landed from his 45-minute tour, he was on a true high. Armed with a ton of photos from the excursion, we scrolled through them approximately one million times over the next hour – oohing and ahhing as I listened to him relive the experience of seeing  Maui from an entirely new perspective.

That afternoon, we ventured to the Pipiwei Trail, part of the national park system, south of Hana. Just about two miles, the trail is a popular one, which winds upward – and through a magnificent bamboo forest – before ending near a 400′ waterfall.  If you have the time, put this on your must-do list. Note that the Seven Sacred Pools trail is also right near the trailhead and is an especially popular stop, although the pools were closed for swimming when we were there, unfortunately.

After our hike on our third day in Hana, we were headed over to the opposite side of the island – to Lahaina – and so we opted to take the less-traveled southern road out of Hana. If you do the same, be ready for lots of long bumpy dirt roads and hairpin turns. Also, wildlife. Like the bull that was standing in the middle of the road when I was behind the wheel. And if you can, pre-plan and hit the open-and-rolling-hill middle of the route just around sunset. It was shockingly beautiful, enough so that we pulled over alongside a handful of cars just to watch the glowing sun settle beneath the hills, washing the southern part of Maui in golden hues before it dipped out of sight.

Lahaina and Ka’anapali Beach

I hadn’t really planned on tacking on another “stop” during our stay, but my husband wanted to stretch the trip out a bit, and let’s be serious, I wasn’t complaining. So, we opted to head toward the more populated part of Maui – Lahaina. I had realized when booking our stay at Andaz – part of the Hyatt brand – that by booking Hyatt properties through Costco you received a member discount (woot!), so I ended up booking the Hyatt Regency Maui since it seemed like a solid, easy choice and a different atmosphere than our previous properties.

Unlike what we tend to gravitate to, the Hyatt Regency is a BIG family style resort that has its own network of pools, restaurants, bars and a fantastic stretch of pristine sand beach. We had great ocean views from our room on the top floor and the hotel even left us a complimentary bottle of bubbly and chocolate-covered strawberries in honor of our anniversary, which was an extremely appreciated touch.

Our only gripe was that this was the type of resort where you’re required to wake up early and stake claim to decent lounge chairs if you want to hang by the pool. Which we did … don’t get me wrong … after I nudged and prodded husband to go do it. {He’s the best.} And gripes aside, we ended up sitting quite close – literally – to a sweet Australian couple who unexpectedly, but delightfully, imparted their words of marital wisdom to us over the course of the morning. {See? My only complaint really ended up working in my favor.}

We toured downtown Lahaina and its cute shops and restaurants and also found time to drive through the clouds to the top of Maui’s volcano, which one half of our traveling duo loved and one half {me} sort of thought was not that impressive …

And then, it was time to head back home. Tanned and buzzing with that sort of zest for life that you really only get when you’re simultaneously not working and in one of the world’s most beautiful settings, we left Maui. Not without committing to return, of course.

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Walking the Ka’Anapali Beach near the Hyatt Regency Resort

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Cartwheels and rainbows! Wailea at it’s best.

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Red Sand Beach in Hana

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Powered hang gliding outside of Hana

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Desolate waterfall stop along the Highway to Hana

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A natural soaking pool along the Highway to Hana

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Best. View. Ever. at Hana Kai Maui.

 

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