Maui’s western region is the island’s prime vacation destination. A 45-minute drive from Kahului Airport, this region boasts the best beaches and most spectacular sunsets on the island. Its location on the western coast gives the region a climate that is optimal for water and beach sports, and visitors flock to the white sand beaches here for resort-style vacationing and memories of a lifetime!
West Maui – Not Just For Royalty Anymore!
Traveling north from Ma’alaea Bay along the Honoapiilani Highway (HI-30) and into the region of West Maui, you’ll arrive in the historic whaling village of Lahaina (more recently recognized as Maui’s “Hot Spot”). Hundreds of shops, restaurants and recreational attractions line Front Street and fill this historic landmark. My top Maui restaurant pick by far is Jurg Münch’s Lahaina Grill. Voted “Best Maui Restaurant” consecutively for the past 20 years in Honolulu Magazine’s Readers Poll, this place proves to be a delightfully memorable dining destination. The staff at the Grill is exceptionally friendly, knowledgeable and accommodating. Among my fave dishes are the Seafood Stuffed Blue Corn Chile Relleno, Bufala Tomato Salad and the chef’s consistently amazing and varied preparations of locally caught Opakapaka while in season. Clearly, the “best of” awards proffered upon the Lahaina Grill are duly earned! Please make dinner reservations in advance as this restaurant fills up quickly! (http://www.lahainagrill.com)
North of Lahaina along western Maui’s coastline is the resort area of Kaanapali Beach. Once a retreat for Royalty, this area is now a destination for all seekers of western Maui’s captivating allure. Puu Kekaa or Black Rock, renowned for daily cliff diving ceremonies, marks the north edge of this signature beach and the posh Hyatt Regency Maui Resort symbolizes the southern point (http://maui.hyatt.com). Aligning the three mile stretch of white sand beach between these two points are numerous condominium villages and resort hotels including the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa (http://www.sheraton-maui.com) and Westin Maui Resort & Spa (http://www.westinmaui.com). Just an “FYI” … having sipped Chi-Chis and Lava-Flows throughout Maui, I’ve personally rated those mixed at the Westin’s pool bar as #1 on the island! Perusing the enticing boutiques located in The Shops at Whalers Village is a great reprieve from the island’s intense afternoon sun rays. (http://www.whalersvillage.com)
Two golf courses, the Royal Kaanapali and Kaanapali Kai, offer lovers of the sport an opportunity to glimpse migrating whales breaching off the coast while enjoying a round of golf. Numerous Maui-based ocean adventure companies offer whale watching excursions, parasailing, surf lessons, helicopter tours, snorkeling and dive charters, ziplining and more. UFO Parasail is conveniently located on the beach just in front of Whalers Village. Their staff has been professional, friendly and safety minded every time we’ve booked their services. (http://www.ufoparasail.net) Kaanapali is also home to dozens of fantastic restaurants including The Hula Grill & Barefoot Bar (http://www.hulagrill.com) and Leilani’s. (http://www.leilanis.com) These restaurants serve inventive, flavorful entrees made from seasonally fresh local ingredients, and well crafted cocktails to quench your thirst! For an authentic island experience a few of the resorts here present a luau complete with a native Hawaiian feast and island entertainment. Kaanapali’s magnificent sunsets make it a haven for weddings, romantic walks and memorable dining experiences. On many trips to Maui we’ve been fortunate to secure a roomy and luxurious oceanfront condo at the Kaanapali Alii. I will never tire of my daily ritual to view the sun setting on Maui with the islands of Molokai and Lanai in the horizon while sipping a cool refreshment on the oceanfront terrace at this lovely condo resort! (http://www.kaanapalialii.com)
Capitalizing on the prime weather and ideal western location, resorts line this side of Maui. From Napili traveling north to Kapalua, condominiums, hotels and vacation homes flow into one another. Kapalua, world-famous for championship golf courses and private estates, embodies a more peaceful and elegant tone than the busy beaches and sidewalks of Kaanapali and Lahaina. A windswept shoreline strewn with rock outcroppings, stately Cook pine trees and pineapple plantations gives this region a topography that is unique unto itself. Kapalua is home to the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, a five-diamond oceanfront luxury resort (http://www.ritzcarlton.com/kapalua) and two championship golf courses (The Bay Course and the Plantation Course). The Pineapple Grill (http://www.cohnrestaurants.com/menu-restaurants/the-pineapple/) and Merriman’s (http://www.merrimanshawaii.com) are strategically located to offer incomparable views in elegant dining settings, and the award-winning entrees I’ve ordered are consistently delectable. My favorite sushi spot on Maui … hands down … is Kapalua’s Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar. Their location in Kihei is just as delish! (http://www.sanseihawaii.com)