As winter drags on, many pilots tinker with their airplanes in the hangar, dreaming of summer. But you can go flying now in Maui, and enjoy Hawaii your way. Cruise above tidy pineapple fields and lush rainforests, fly by tall waterfalls, and soar over Haleakalā’s stark volcanic landscape. Or land at Hana Airport for a taste of old Hawaii without the hours of driving on a narrow, twisty road.
See photo captions for more details on the Maui flying, lodging, and activities described below.
Hana: Hana is the best of the “old” Hawaii, before so many people discovered and developed it. You can fly yourself here and spend the night near a secluded black sand beach. About 12 miles south along the coast, the grave of Charles Lindbergh sits at the base of a tree near Palapala Ho’omau Church. Numerous small pools linked with streams and waterfalls in a lush tropical setting comprise Hana’s 'Ohe'o Gulch, often called the Seven Sacred Pools. From here, you can hike two miles up the Pipiwai Trail, passing through a tall bamboo forest to 400-foot-high Waimoku Falls. The award-winning Travaasa Hana nestles above iconic Hamoa Beach. Ride in a glider, or, if you can’t get enough flying, try a different kind of adventure in a powered hang glider. Zoom up over the 10,023-foot Haleakalā crater, skim the water near shoreline cliffs, or soar over verdant rainforest in a 30-, 45-, or 60-minute tandem lesson.
North Shore, Haleakalā, and Wailuku: In winter, Maui’s north shore is home to gigantic waves that lure big-wave surfers. Windsurfing is popular the rest of the year. The funky little town of Pa’ia, east of Kahului Airport, boasts a surprising variety of restaurants in all price ranges, as well as boutiques and coffee shops. Nearby Baldwin Beach is a perfect place for sunning or a leisurely stroll. A classic Maui excursion involves rising in the dark and shuttling to Haleakalā’s 10,023-foot summit, where you’ll greet the sunrise and feel on top of the world. Then you’ll bike down Haleakalā through several climate zones. If you drive the Haleakala Highway yourself, don’t miss Maui Wine, the island’s sole commercial winery, near Keokea. In Wailuku, you can get a close-up view of Maui’s diverse ocean life, including sea turtles, sharks, and corals at the Maui Ocean Center. Next, make the easy hike to the Iao Needle, a 1,200-foot basalt volcanic plug surrounded by dense greenery.
Northwest Maui: Lahaina is the quintessential Maui town, with wooden Colonial buildings and ever-popular restaurants, including Kimo’s and Longhi’s, across from each other on the 800 block of Front Street. Lahaina is the place to party late into the night. Just 15 minutes north of Lahaina, the Napili Kai Beach Resort perches above Napili Bay. Swim in the calm water and dine on the beach at the Sea House Restaurant or check out the nearby Kapalua Resort with its two world-class golf courses.
Wailea and Makena: Southwest Maui tends to be sunnier and less windy from Kihei down to Wailea and Makena. We’ve rented a condo at Kamaole Sands in South Kihei (lushly landscaped with pool and tennis yet cheaper than most resorts) and barbecued fresh local fish. The uber-luxe Fairmont Kea Lani rests above Wailea’s pristine white-sand beach and offers more activities and excursions than you could probably cram into a week. The nearby Wailea Golf Club has three championship courses, while the Wailea Tennis Club offers 11 SportMaster courts. At the Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a Restaurant (OK, Humuhumu for short) is world-famous. Stop by NaPua Gallery to see master works or sign up for art classes. But don’t forget to book a diving trip. Going beneath the sea is a perfect way to cap off a week of exploring Maui from the air and on the ground. Aloha!
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