Insights & Stories

Getaway Maui: Adventure on the Valley Isle

Reading time: 5 Minutes

March 23rd, 2018

Whatever you're looking for in a Hawaii staycation, you'll probably find it on Maui, which Condé Nast Traveler readers have voted Best Island in the U.S. for more than 20 years.

Maui became known as the Valley Isle based on its sweeping expanse of grassy lowlands that stretch between dormant volcano Haleakala (“House of the Sun"), which looms over the eastern side of the island, and the lush West Maui Mountains. The island's 120 miles of coastline include more than 30 miles of sandy beaches, perfect for water activities including kite- and wind-surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing and surfing. Maui also boasts a mix of luxury resorts and casual condo rentals, as well as chic dining spots alongside places serving tasty, local plate lunch fare.

West Maui offers up no-holds-barred luxury resorts, tropical beaches, world-renowned golf courses, and top-notch restaurants, shopping and nightlife. Oceanfront Lahaina is an old whaling town, once upon a time populated by sailors and taverns and now packed with boutique shops, restaurants and remnants of old Maui.

The ranching and farming culture of upcountry Maui is coupled with a mellow vibe and cool weather. You'll find the beautiful and remote town of Hana—where time seems to stand still—at the end of long, winding Hana Highway. The journey to get there winds through thick rainforests, around hairpin turns and past waterfalls before reaching the island's easternmost point.

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Accommodations

While in the spirit of getting away from it all, you might want to treat yourself to some real luxury along the way. Check out the Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria resort set amidst 40 acres of tropical gardens, flanked by Wailea Beach and Wailea Blue Golf Course. The resort's amenities include nine pools, a lazy river with water slides and waterfalls, a 262-foot lava tube slide, and even a water elevator—yes, you read that correctly. It's a small, self-contained swimming pool that lifts passengers between lower and higher levels of the pool. The resort offers a range of ocean adventure, too, including guided kayak and stand up paddling excursions, Hawaiian outboard canoeing, and scuba lessons.

Dining

Three surfer friends who are also chefs run the hip but casual Three's Bar & Grill in Kihei's Kalama Village, and they have incorporated food from their three respective cuisine backgrounds—Hawaiian, Southwestern and Pacific Rim—onto the menu, which takes advantage of locally sourced ingredients. The restaurant, which earned a 2018 Diners' Choice Award from Open Table, was recently featured on the Food Network in an episode called Barbecue, Batter and Beer Can Chicken. And you won't want to miss their happy hour.

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Where to Adventure

On Haleakala, you'll find Skyline Eco-Adventures, operating what Fodor's Travel has called the “most amazing zipline in the world.” The first zipline company in the U.S., Skyline offers zipline adventures in conjunction with seeing the sunrise or biking down the volcano. Since it opened in 2002, the company has planted more than 5,000 native trees, offset more than 2,550 tons of CO2 emissions, and donated more than $1.4 million to environment- and health-related nonprofit groups. It's recognized as a Sustainable Tour Operator by the Hawaii Ecotourism Association.

Moving from adrenaline-pumping activities to the other side of the spectrum, Hoomana Spa Maui, is about pure relaxation. TripAdvisor's top-rated Maui spa is a place of healing in upcountry Makawao where you can choose from several styles of massage, including lomilomi and hot stone, enjoy an herbal facial, or take a Hawaiian Healing Herbal Bath. The spa offers individual, couple or group treatments, and there's also a bed and breakfast on property if you want to turn your stay into a more immersive wellness retreat.

Discover our full list of must-see places to sleep, eat and adventure below!

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