The Maui Guide
Maui has a sterling reputation as being the most luxurious island in Hawaii, replete with some best-in-the-world resorts. There are some small hippie pockets that have popped up over the years, like Pa’ia in the north, which offer an alternative spin on the glitzier sections. And then there’s the staggering natural beauty, from the dazzling beaches, to the volcanoes, to the rain forests. Not your cup of tea? We also have a guide to the lovely and low-key Kauai, a guide to the more urban Oahu (the North Shore is stunning, and Honolulu deserves a guide of its own), and a guide to the family-friendly Big Island, which is home to every climate zone.
The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua1 Ritz Carlton Dr., Lahaina | 808.669.6200
Fresh off a resort-wide renovation, this North Shore Maui hotel benefits from its relatively out-of-the-way location. Unlike the string of hotels that cluster around beaches further south, The Ritz-Carlton stands alone on a bluff overlooking the Pacific and the tiny island of Molokai. All 466 guest rooms have been updated with a neutral, subdued color scheme and hints of what’s outside—green accent pillows that echo the color of the palm trees, coral-patterned textiles, conceptual images of surfboards as artwork. Of the five restaurants on-site, our favorite is Ulana—especially for breakfast. The macadamia and banana pancakes are worth the indulgence, though the healthy smoothies (like the Green Goddess, made with spinach, kale, avocado, kiwi, apple, chia seeds, and matcha powder) are a very close second.
Andaz Maui at Wailea3550 Wailea Alanui Dr., Wailea | 808.879.1234
The new Andaz Maui is a relaxed and affordable changeup from the Wailea beach big-hitters (Four Seasons, Fairmont…). Designed by David Rockwell, we hear the open-air lobby is insanely cool: You enter on a footbridge that crosses an infinity pool to arrive at a sandpit (where you’re encouraged to remove your shoes) while checking in…on an iPad. It’s super contemporary—even the apothecary-style spa, which means your therapist will custom-blend locally grown herbs, plants, and fruits for your treatment. Oh, and in addition to Ka'ana Kitchen, an onsite restaurant with a great breakfast spread, Morimoto is here, too. There are also lots of beachside activities, from boogie and paddle board rentals to snorkeling gear (which can be deployed right in front of the hotel), all of which are included in your resort fee. They book up fast, so make a reservation at the kiosk off the beach right when you check in. Friends have also told us that it's worth taking advantage of the hotel's car service for exploring Wailea, as the über situation is still pretty few-and-far-between.
Montage Kapalua Bay1 Bay Dr., Lahaina | 808.662.6600
Seeing as this is a Montage and all, this lavish, 24-acre beach-front resort is splashy in the best possible way: there's a huge golf course, camps for both kids and teens, tennis, plenty of pools, hiking, snorkeling, and really good on-site restaurants. It's all suites, with many multi-bedroom options for families, meaning it's the sort of place where you can easily spend an entire holiday vacation—the fully decked-out spa (with plenty of daily fitness classes) certainly helps.
Four Seasons Maui at Wailea3900 Wailea Alanui Dr., Wailea | 808.874.8000
Along with the expected Four Seasons fare (beachside cabanas, sunglasses cleaning, poolside Evian spritzing), an abundance of only-in-Hawaii extras make the Maui at Wailea outpost a playground for kids and adults alike. For one thing, Kids For All Seasons—a daily camp for littles ages 5 to 12—allows mom and dad to explore the spa, spend the day surfing (lessons and board rentals are readily available), or lay out at the adults-only serenity pool while the kiddos build sand castles, craft Leis, and take Hula lessons, all under the watchful eye of trained staff. Thoughtful touches from complimentary swim diapers by the pool to a lengthy roster of family activities (snorkeling, boogie boarding, putting greens) make vacationing en masse a total joy. At night, take your pick of three on-site restaurants, including Wolfgang Puck’s award-winning standby, Spago. Best part? Kids 5 and under eat free at Italian/Hawaiian fusion eatery, Ferraro’s and at the seafood-centric DUO. For the surfing-inclined, surfing legend Dave Kalama hosts surf camp and lessons here.
Ka’anapali Beach Hotel2525 Kaanapali Pkwy, Lahaina | 808.661.0011
If you are looking for the kitschy, camp Hawaiian vibe—leis draped around your neck, hula dancing, a whale-shaped pool, tiki bars, umbrellas in your drinks, snorkeling—this is the place. It’s really well-priced, especially for being on the beach in Maui, with rooms at just $169 a night. There are often more "Swimmies" in the pool than people, so this is definitely more a family place than a romantic getaway.
This tiny, incredibly lush private island (it’s easily accessible by ferry or charter plane) is close enough to Maui to justify a daytrip, though we think it’s worthy of a weekend stay. As of right now, it’s home to two Four Seasons properties—the Manele Bay beach resort is fresh off a top-to-bottom refresh and the forest lodge is in the midst of one right now. There's a great Asian-inspired restaurant called Lana’I City Grille, and little else—though the island’s new owner, Oracle founder Larry Ellison, has big plans to reimagine it as a sustainable, 100% eco-friendly tourist destination, meaning now is a good time to go if you’re looking for a bit of peace and quiet.
Lumeria Maui1813 Baldwin Ave., Makawao | 808.579.8877
Chill out surrounded by lush, tropical gardens at this historic Maui compound and learn to live Aloha for a while. Here you can practice mindfulness, learn to meditate, take an aromatherapy class–or learn about the land through their horticulture programs. The beauty and serenity of the island attracts yogis of all disciplines and from all over the world to practice, so check the calendar for upcoming retreats and workshops. You'll leave feeling completely refreshed.