Brad Novak, Travel Specialist
Email | 403-293-8279
The Hawaiian Islands, in my opinion, are some of the most magical islands in the world. Each island has it's own unique charm — from the bustling city life of Honolulu to the relaxed pace of Kauai. But there's something special about Maui that keeps calling me back. I first went there with my family when I was a young boy and have been back numerous times since.
The Warm Welcome Has Nothing to Do With the Weather
The moment you arrive, you are treated to a warm Hawaiian welcome with a traditional lei greeting ceremony — it’s a perfect way to start your island adventure, and a good introduction to the friendliness of the locals.
Within Shopping Distance
Besides the great weather and stunning scenery, what I love about Maui is that everything is close by, making it easy to get around. The town of Lahaina, located on the west side of the island and the once former royal capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom, is a shopper's paradise. I recommend visiting the nearby towns of Kihei and Wailea to explore all the fun little shops they have to offer. Just remember that most airlines have weight restrictions on your luggage!
A Little Piece of Home
Kihei, located on the south side of Maui was our home during our eight-day visit. I always like to rent a condo when visiting Hawaii because it provides all of the comforts of home, including a full kitchen and barbeque facilities. Renting a condo can be a good money saver since you aren’t eating out at restaurants each day. There is even a Costco located near the airport so you can stock-up on groceries on your way to check in.
My Top 10 Recommendations
Maui has so much going on that it’s hard for me to give just a few recommendations on what to do; instead, I give you my top 10 suggestions to keep in mind when planning your vacation:
- Drive the Road to Heavenly Hana. With its 56 one-lane-bridges, over 600 curves, and endless tropical beauty, this drive takes you into a part of Maui that has been untouched by time. While you can drive yourself, I prefer to leave it to the experts so I can keep an eye out for some of the many waterfalls along the way. Besides, many of the drivers and tour guides were born and raised on Maui, so are a treasure trove of information when it comes to the history and mythology of Maui and the Hawaiian Islands. As an added bonus, but weather dependant, the smaller tour companies will even take you on the rarely seen south side of Maui through Kaupo and Ulupalakua, an area where larger buses and rental cars are forbidden to go.
- Catch a wave. If you love the ocean as much as I do, then you’re going to love the abundance of water activities that Maui has to offer. First time surfers will feel comfortable in the calm rolling waves in Kihei, while seasoned surfers will want to try their luck on the shores of Kapula, or tackling the waves that the local’s call ‘Jaws’, which roll in during the winter months off of Maui’s north shore.
- Kick back, beach style. If challenging the waves isn’t your thing, you can always sit back and watch the professionals do their thing. Grab a fresh made lunch or smoothie from one of the many shops in Pa’ia and head east to Ho’okipa Beach, one of the best beaches to catch surfers and windsurfers taking on the waves.
- Explore life underwater. Maui is home to lots of unique aquatic sea life (including my personal favorite, sea turtles), and snorkeling and scuba diving trips are probably the island’s most popular activity. To get the best value, book directly with the tour company — preferably one that is local. (Don’t be fooled by those discount ads you see in the tourist brochures; it may sound like a good price, but usually involves having to sit through a sales presentation, similar to those you find in Mexico.) If you prefer to enjoy sea life without getting wet, visit the Maui Ocean Centre to view a vast array of aquatic life including fish, sea turtles, and even sharks. The grand finale of the tour is a walk through a glass tunnel where you’re surrounded by a large assortment of sea life.
- Chill with an ice cream or two. The one thing I always have to do when I visit Maui is have a taste of my two favorite kinds of ice cream, and only available in Hawaii: Kauai Pie and Kona Coffee. There is a small ice cream shop in the Wailea Shopping Centre south of Kihei that serves these along with several other unique Hawaiian flavours. If I could take home a tub of Kauai Pie ice cream without it melting in my suitcase, I would do it in a heartbeat.
- Journey to the volcano’s top. A visit to Maui is not complete without making a journey to the top of Haleakala, a volcano that has sat dormant for over 400 years. On the drive up, you’ll travel past fields of sugar cane, lavender farms, as well as travel through a forest of eucalyptus trees. On a clear day you can see much of Maui’s west side, including the Iao Valley and the central Maui valley that divides Haleakala from the Iao Valley. Even on a cloudy day, you can peer into the crater and see the unique red moon-like texture that makes-up Haleakala. For you early birds out there, watching the sunrise over Haleakala will be something you’ll remember for the rest of your life. The high altitude combined with the unique cloud formations produce vibrant colours that are not like any sunrise you’ve seen before. You’ll have to leave really early though if you want to catch the sunrise (like 3:30 a.m. — yawn!) as the drive to the top can take over two hours.
- Take in the (sunset) view. If getting up early isn’t your thing, then how about viewing a romantic sunset on the beach? A daily ritual for many visitors, the sunsets on Maui are just as vibrant and beautiful as its sunrises. The beaches of Kihei and Wailea are the most romantic places to watch the sun set and are also known for hosting many sunset weddings.
- Take a hike. Drive into the lao Valley on Maui’s west side and go for an easy hike along these historic trails — the lao Valley was home to one of the bloodiest battles in Hawaii’s history during King Kamehameha's push to unite the islands over 200 years ago.
- Get a leg up. The flights to the Islands can be quite long. If you can, and depending on whether the airline you’re flying on offers it, ask if you can get the seats that have extra legroom. I had the Plus Seats for the trip home with WestJet, and for an overnight flight the extra 6-8-inches of legroom made a huge difference. Even on the daylight flights the extra legroom makes the flight more comfortable and is well worth the extra cost for these seats.
- Enjoy a final meal. Have a late flight out of Maui? Grab a seat at one of the several seaside restaurants or bars, like the Lahaina Pizza Company (one of my favorites), and enjoy a drink as you say ‘Aloha’ to a wonderful vacation in paradise.
Looking for a Similar Adventure?
If you have any questions, or are interested in enjoying a similar island experience, you can contact me by email or call me at 403-293-8279.