With nothing but low temperatures and howling wind outside my window I cannot help but wanderlust for some sunny sky, ocean breeze and palm trees. I know there are a lot of gorgeous islands and romantic destinations on our planet and I’ve had a chance to visit some of them, be it turquoise waters of Caribbean, breathtaking Cote’d Azur, magnificent Palma de Mallorca or vibrant island of Cagliari. However, the place I still keep dreaming about is Hawaii. There is something about this place – exotic, spectacular, romantic, adventurous, fascinating – all at once. These qualities make it the world’s most desired honeymoon destination as well as ideal spot for a romantic trip. There was no long deliberation as to where we would spend our honeymoon – our mind had been already set on Maui, place neither of us had been to. Mr. B handled all the arrangements, and quite honestly I did not object. What is better than have a personal tour operator plan a trip of your dreams for you?! ;) As cheesy as it may sound I was quite thrilled at the idea of escaping with my loved one to the perfect lush tropical corner of the world to enjoy our first week as husband and wife. Pale beaches are surrounded by Polynesian wildlife and water to die for. The sun is always shining, so you can enjoy amazing vistas without leaving your resort. In addition, plethora of outdoor activities is bound to keep you busy and entertained during your stay. There is so much inherent charm that it can be overwhelming when planning your daily activities. You can make your stay as relaxing or as action-packed as you like. To make your future planning easier, I compiled my top 10 things to do in Maui so that you can make most of the romantic Hawaiian retreat and enjoy your days of adventure in paradise.
STAY IN A HOTEL WITH A VIEW
No matter which island you stay on, there is a wide array of high-rise hotels, upland lodges, isolated resorts and cozy island-style B&Bs. We personally opted to stay in Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa in a gorgeous suite with an ocean front view to enjoy sunset every night from our balcony. Hotel is located by the famous Black Rock on Ka’anapali Beach. Ancient Hawaiians believed that this was the place where their spirits went to jump off to join ancestors forever. Unlucky souls who could not be shown the way by their family ‘aumakua’ (guardian animal spirit), would wander and attach themselves to rocks in the area. To counterbalance a gloomy legend surrounding it, the Black Rock is known to be one of the prime spots for snorkeling from the beach. The resort itself boasts with lush tropical grounds and beautiful coastline that will take your breath away.
GET ON TOP OF A VOLCANO
The dormant volcano Haleakala towers 10,023 feet high above the magical island of Maui. There are various options of getting up (hiking, biking, etc.). We chose more comfortable way and booked a tour with Mountain Riders who drove us on top of the volcano to spend some time at the crater, and then gave us bikes to ride all the way down to where we started! When we got to the top, I truly had a feeling I was on top of the world. The sweeping views of the surrounding islands took my breath away. The crater is an extraordinary landscape of spewed red cinders and gray lava hills. It is so big that an entire city could fit inside. Those who don’t mind waking up early can book a special sunrise tour and watch the sun rise at the top of Haleakala. How romantic is that?!?! Only, Mr. B and I both preferred the comfort of our bed at 3 a.m.. Bike ride back down was absolutely scenic as well. The slopes of the mountain hold native rain forests, lavender farms, eucalyptus groves and open pastures with large cattle ranches.
Other popular activities to be experienced at Haleakala include enjoying Sunset, Ranger Guided Tours, Hiking, Drive-up Camping, and Backcountry Camping on Maui.
ENJOY MARINE LIFE
Due to its warm coastal waters Maui is main wintering grounds for North Pacific humpback whales, making the island one of the best spots for whale-watching. While it was almost an end to the whale watching season when we traveled there, we still were lucky to see a whale breach from our balcony! In general, Maui’s finest shoreline whale-watching spots are the stretches from Olowalu to Maalaea Bay and from Keawakapu Beach to Makena Beach. In addition, island has one of the most spectacular marine lives for you to admire. Thanks to a fantastic tour organized by Four Winds II we had a chance to snorkel/snuba dive at the sunken volcanic crater of Molokini. The water was crystal clear and colorful fish, gorgeous coral and adorable sea turtles were my friends that morning. Maui is also a mecca for windsurfers although we never tried it. Peddle boarding is also popular as ever.
IMMERSE IN LOCAL CULTURE AT LUAU NIGHT
Even though Hawaii is part of the United States, it has very distinct cultural heritage that distinguishes it from other states. For a wonderful introduction to local culture, traditions and cuisine I highly recommend booking a Luau Night – traditional Hawaiian feast that marks special events. While most of the hotels offer luau nights to their guests, we decided to book Old Lahaina Luau which, based on our research, is highly praised and indeed turned out to be an amazing experience. From the warm aloha greeting to the extravagant feast, everything was truly outstanding. Set right on the beach with a perfect view of the sunset the event is reminiscent of a fair with musicians, dancers and craftsmen providing top-notch entertainment. Traditional decorations create authentic ambiance. And then of course, there was food – a crucial part of any luau. While you admire the performers’ hula and firedancing skills, you’ll dine on Hawaiian specialties such as kalua pua’a (), fresh mahi-mahi and poi (mashed taro plant) and an array of salads and sides. Served in a buffet style each dish was absolutely delicious. The main course at luau is kalua pua’a – pork roasted for eight hours in a pitlike earthen oven known as imu. We had a chance to watch how the pig is unburied before being served to the guests.
LEARN HOW TO SURF
Something that totally blew my mind and got me hooked was a day spent surfing. One day Mr. B decided to surprise me and booked a special tour with Maui Wave Riders, where a private instructor taught us all the basics to properly surf. Her name was Sol. She was fantastic instructor, very knowledgeable, patient and fun! While it was incredibly challenging in the beginning, there was a feeling of achievement in the end when I finally managed to stand on the board!
GO ZIP LINING
Now talk about exhilarating adventure high above the ground! And don’t get me wrong, I am terrified of heights. But our charismatic tour guides from Maui Zipline assured me we were totally safe and I gave in. It was so thrilling to slide down at high speed one tier at a time while also admiring spectacular views of the shore and the ocean. Totally worth it!
LIVE A BEACH-BUM LIFE
Not every day has to be filled with action and adventure. In fact, it is almost imperative to soak up the sun at one of those long stretches of beautiful beaches and pristine waters. Whether you choose to stay on a crowded resort beach or find a secluded and undeveloped strand, you are bound to have a romantic and relaxing time with your loved one.
ROMANTIC DINNER ON THE BEACH
What can be more romantic than a dinner for two under the stars with a sound of ocean waves in the background. Mr. B did not fail to plan one of our most romantic dinners. Sheraton definitely obliged with arranging all the logistics of it all.
INDULGE IN GOURMET FOOD
Eating in Hawaii can be a real treat as the islands’ ethnic diversity has given rise to hundreds of different cuisines. You can find every kind of Japanese food, regional Chinese cuisines, spicy Korean specialties, native Hawaiian dishes and excellent Tai and Vietnamese food. Hawaii also has many restaurants run by reknown chefs that feature gourmet foods of all types, including continental fare. One of the restaurants I highly recommend is Mama’s Fish House, which according to TripAdvisor is on the list of Top 10 Fine Dining Restaurants in the US, while Zagat names it no.1 restaurant in Maui for its food. Make sure you arrive a little before sunset to enjoy a spectacular view. The atmosphere here is very comfortable and cozy with rustic decor. You really feel like you are at your mama’s house on the beach. Similarly, each dish we ordered was totally delectable. I have also come across a wonderful post from a fellow blogger and food enthusiast who lists top places to eat in Maui. Have a look!
TAKE A RIDE AROUND THE ISLAND
Last but certainly not least, the scenic coastal drive to Hana via route 360 is definitely one of the island’s highlights. Be prepared to drive on a rugged and extremely narrow roads along the mountains, but the views are absolutely worth it! Sadly, back then I was not a crazy blogger so keen to document every step, plus my camera battery died and I do not have many visuals to share. However, I found a wonderful video that will provide a great mile by mile guide of the route to Hana.
Overall, with a volcano in the background, and a Tiki drink in your hands, you can be sure Hawaii will ignite your marriage. I definitely cannot wait for Mr. B and I to go back some time in the future to explore other islands of Hawaii.
Have you been to any of the islands? Which one? How did you like it?