Whether we’re working in San Francisco or New York, at offMetro.com, we often find ourselves dreaming of sun, sand, and bath-temperature seas. We recently flew (yes flew, but we offset our carbon footprint; $23 to ameliorate the 4,000 lbs of CO2 emitted) to the Hawaiian island of Maui, where we discovered a dynamic range of comforts, eco-friendly eats, activities, and accommodations that can be enjoyed amidst the breathtaking beauty of the Pacific Rim.
What to do
1. Drink: Get a taste of one of the island’s best Mai Tais—and have a chat with one of its most famous bartenders—at the beloved Tiki Bar and Grill.
2. Take in Hawaiian Culture: Ka’anapali Beach Hotel takes Hawaiian cultural preservation seriously and warmly welcome all into the festive spirit of Aloha. Beyond the myriad classes and activities offered to hotel guests is a free nightly Hawaiian live music and Hula show open to all.
3. Swing a Club: The courses of Wailea capture Maui’s lush green space and stunning views in a world-class golfing experience. Each of Wailea’s three courses offers a unique outing. It has earned recognition from Maui Historical Society for its preservation of prehistoric lava rock walls during construction, and is considered a thinking players course where skill and strategy are consistently tested. As you work you way through any of the courses, keep an eye out for the wild onlookers; birds, geckos, mongoose, and other creatures are sure to be on the sidelines, as are the stunning views of Mount Haleakala and neighboring islands of Molokini, Lanai, and Kahoolawe.
4. Snorkel: On the north-western shore of the island, Black Rock at Ka’anapali Beach and Napili Shores are great places to spot sea turtles, butterfly fish, parrot fish, damsel fish, trigger fish, and the former Hawaii State Fish Humuhumunukunukuapua. Excursions to the tiny crescent-shaped island of Molokini and the aptly-named Turtle Town are among the most popular snorkel and dive destinations in the world. If you didn’t come with gear, 5 Star Scuba does rentals for $10 per hour.
Where to eat
1. Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar
Some Sushi restaurants specialize in tradional and some in modern fusion, while Sansei excels at both. What sets Sansei even further apart from any other sushi experience is the innovation they’ve brought to Maui-inspired seafood cuisine. On an award-winning menu full of rock stars, one stand out is the Cajun Seared White Tuna Sashimi with shaved Maui Onion, Red Jalapeño, and Yukke sauce. The Mango Crab Salad Hand Roll won top marks at the Taste Of Lahaina Festival, showing how well Sansei can capture the excellence of local flavor. Chef Kaipo Nakata cultivates relationships with local vendors to procure the best available products. This translates to premium fresh ingredients across the board. The level of culinary quality and innovation is upscale while staying competitively affordable. All this inviting excellence is wrapped in a décor that is relaxed, simple, and comfortable to fully enhance the vacation vibe. As the weekend dinner hour fades and nightlife descends, Sansei transitions to a festive atmosphere, holding host to a variety of nightly events like Karaoke Thursdays.
2. Mama’s Fish House
Widely considered as possibly the best restaurant in Maui by locals, travelers, and press from around the globe, Mama’s has been serving up fresh and inspired seafood dishes since 1973. They build their menu daily based on what delights they’ve pulled out of the ocean. The fishermen responsible for each particular catch are credited throughout the delectable menu. One dish that gets a lot of deserved attention is the Mahimahi stuffed with lobster, crab, and Maui onion, baked in a macadamia nut crust. Equally impressive is the location, just steps from a secluded beach on Maui’s North Shore. The décor embraces old Polynesia with class and comfort. They’ve used their success to re-invest in environmentally friendly business practices. In talking with Head Chef Perry Bateman, it’s clear Mama’s treats the employees, community, culture, ingredients, cuisine, and environment with love, care, and respect. The ongoing green efforts are spear-headed by Chief Engineer Scott Burns. To date, a giant food processor allows consolidation of eight barrels of food waste, tin, cardboard and other such materials into two barrels of usable food waste pulp. With this, Scott grows beautiful vegetables and herbs in his garden in Haiku, which are used daily to bring local flavors and freshness to the cuisine. (Scott also used this pulp to raise a pig that was ultimately served in the restaurant.)
Where to sleep
The various corners of Maui display a range of flavors for travelers. Hana is a bit hippy, Wailea’s upscale, the Front Street area of Lahaina is packed with nightlife, shops, and bustle. We were drawn to the northwest coast of Maui extending from the world famous K’anapali Beach to the Shores of Napili. Nestled aside neighboring islands of Molokai and Lanai, this ocean corridor ushers in a constant flow of breeze that mellows the sun more than any other part of Maui. As the whale watching season eases in with the beginning of Winter and escalates through the peak months of February and March, you can spy these magnificent creatures from shore. This classic Hawaiian destination truly strikes a perfect mix of the Maui experience.
1. Ka’anapali Beach Hotel
Recognized as Hawaii’s Most Hawaiian Hotel, Ka’anapali Beach Hotel is on a mission to preserve Hawaiian culture and spread the customs and traditions with their guests. Through their Po’okela program, they have become a major leader in cultural tourism today. Offering daily classes and activities, ranging from Ukelele Lessons to Hula Dancing to Language and Leigh Making, Ka’anapali will immerse you in the Hawaiian experience. As for sourcing local, they grow the Taro on their grounds to make the Poi in their Tiki Terrace restaurant. They also grow the Kukui nuts used in the traditional leis they adorn on all their guests. The commitment to their culture, employees, and guests spreads the warming glow of Aloha Spirit throughout everyone who passes through their doors. The Hawaiian experience they create culturally is matched by the comfort of their rooms and the impeccable service and hospitality extended by the staff. The excellence is no fluke as it comes from the central guiding goals and initiatives that have made KBH a traveler’s favorite since the 1950’s. Check the site for frequent special deals.
2. Outrigger Napili Shores
Outrigger has lodging locations throughout Maui. At this location, the mere steps to Napili Shores showcase beautiful views and top notch snorkeling. Outrigger saves all the leftover soaps from guests and donates them to the Clean The World recycling program that redistributes these anti-bacterials to impoverished countries where it can prevent disease and save lives. Their suites come fully equipped to prepare your own island feast. The property saves thousands of gallons of water by using Xeriscaping landscaping, as well as low-flow toilets and shower heads. Photovoltaic solar panels power the entire common area. Energy-efficient pool and spa pumps are used for its solar-heated pools. They have a recycling program and even composts its lawn debris. Outrigger is constantly running specials and have locations scattered around Maui if you’d like to experience a few different areas.
3. Honua Kai Resort
Go green with upscale modern elegance at Honua Kai. Pass through the courtyard of winding pools, water slide, lounging cabanas, and hot tubs to step onto the beach. The stay at Honua Kai is so elegant and comfortable in every detail, that the experience is truly therapeutic. Their suites are fully equipped to create your own meal in a state of the art kitchen. Or you can head downstairs to ‘Aina Gourmet Market or Duke’s Beach House for a delicious convenient bite. Just off the beach you will notice the Sustainable Dunes project that centers on preserving a vibrant system of indigenous plant and wildlife. Other efforts include energy saving appliances, heat generated from ventilation systems to warm pools, solar-powered trash compacting, and a sprinkler system that measures rainfall in order to only the water the grounds when needed. Of course, the water used in landscaping is recycled. All their green efforts not only soothe the soul of the green-minded traveler, but also enhance the lodging experience by preserving the natural wonder that makes us want to visit a place like Maui in the first place. Honua Kai proves that sustainable initiatives can only serve to heighten a luxurious getaway experience. Ultimately, more green equals more Maui.