Maui: The island for sun lovers
When someone says Hawaii, you think: laying on the beach all day with a cold beer or cider, jumping in the water for a swim, and then back to the shore for a nap or some light reading. You’re not here for an adventure — you’re here for a vacation.
Well, Maui’s your spot! This island is the perfect balance of Oahu’s energetic pace and Kauai’s quiet serenity. There are plenty of activities for those who want to explore a little, but Maui is the place to relax and enjoy the sun.
How to get there
Alaska Airlines flies 8-10x daily to Kahului from 10 West Coast airports including Seattle, Portland, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Anchorage. We strive for balance, as Alaska offers low fares from the West Coast to Hawaii without giving up a great onboard experience! Think assigned seats with power, 400+ free movies and TV shows, a delicious seasonal menu of fresh ingredients and craft beer. We care about you — and we also care about preserving the earth and the beauty of the Hawaiian Islands, which is why we are proud to have the most environmentally-friendly fleet among all U.S. airlines.
What to see
This is really Maui’s claim to fame. There are arguably better beaches on other islands, but you don’t get them at such numbers and accessibility as Maui. In fact, driving along Highway 30 between the airport and the town of Lahaina, you can literally pull over anywhere to find sand and decent swimming.
There’s also Kaanapali Beach, for the finest sand and most temperate sea. This area is surrounded by high-end condos and hotels. If you are looking for a more down-to-earth feel, try the three Kamaole beaches in Kihei. If you find them too busy, head further south to Makena Beach. They don’t call it Big Beach for nothing. With 3,000 feet of sand, it’s not hard to get some personal space here.
Looking for a more exotic spot to lay down your beach towel? Get on the Road to Hana (a bit of an adventure on its own) and stop at Waiapanapa State Park. Besides a lava tube and freshwater cave, there is a black sand beach created by the last eruption of Haleakala hundreds of years ago. Wear some water shoes, it gets hot underfoot!
A trip to Hawaii isn’t complete without a glimpse of some green sea turtles (honu) so head over to Hookipa Beach. Not only can you watch some impressive surfing, but honu actually nest here and you can occasionally see them by the dozens. Remember that they are a protected species, so keep a respectful distance and allow them to enjoy the sun in peace.
Technically Molokini is an island of its own west of Maui. This volcano remnant is uninhabited except by seabirds endemic to Hawaii. However, thanks to its crescent shape, it creates a protected area that’s perfect for exploring its lush reef, some 260 species of fish and the occasional honu. Many tour companies offer snorkeling, snuba and scuba-diving trips from Maalaea Harbor to this marine sanctuary. At the right time of year, you might even spot whales along the way.
The beach and the sea are not the only ways to enjoy the Maui sun. You can also try heading to… the top of a volcano? Yes! Haleakala is a dormant volcano known to the locals as “The House of the Sun.” The sunrises here are legendary. You can opt to join a tour group (popular ones take a van up and then cycle down) or go independently; the road is well maintained and the signage is good. Keep in mind that you have to get up pretty early for the sunrise if you’re staying in Kaanapali, as Haleakala is to the southeast of the island. If you’re not a morning person, don’t worry — the sunsets are just as glorious and you can even stay for some stargazing if you want a break from the daystar. Either way, make sure you bring some warm clothing as it can get pretty cold at this elevation.
Sometimes you want to get off the beach and stroll along the avenue of a cute town, learn a little about Maui’s history or cool off with a shave ice while watching the sun’s rays dance through the leaves of a giant banyan tree. You’re in luck — Lahaina has all of these things and more. Restaurants, live music, luaus, local shops, art galleries… this historic whaling village where it’s at on Maui.
Maui is relaxing, romantic and refreshing. You can spend your days lounging or you can take your pick of activities ranging from gentle strolls to exciting zip lines. If you’re looking for more ideas, check out our Maui destination page! The perfect Hawaiian vacation is what you make it, and we know you’ll be coming home suntanned and revitalized.
Photos by Ingrid Barrentine.