Maui: It's All About the Heat

Even the clouds want to linger along Maui's verdant coastlines  (PhotoDisc)

Once outside the airport on Maui, a single deep breath should be enough to convince you that you've landed in paradise—if you happened to have had your eyes closed when your plane came in over the sparkling blue waters and lush green interior. Caressed by soft tropical breezes richly scented with plumeria, wild ginger, and jasmine, couples of all ages find the best in romance and relaxation on this special Hawaiian island. Maui, known for its golden beaches, dramatic green cliffs, and volcanic peaks, has become one of the world's top wedding and honeymoon destinations.

Just lolling around and enjoying the delightful sensation of doing nothing here can be romantic enough, especially with a tall cool drink and a platter of freshly picked pineapple nearby. But Maui is also full of outdoor opportunities—such as scuba diving, whale-watching, surfing, snorkeling, hiking, and bicycling—that are surely more fun when in a pair.

Dozens of guided charter boats ply the fish-filled waters around the crater of Molokini, an extinct volcano whose rim just barely pokes up above the ocean between Maui and the island of Kahoolawe. The array of marine life on display for snorkelers and divers is stunning, although the area can get crowded. Dive outfitters abound on the main island, so do shop around for the best times and prices to fit your budget and schedule.

More remote (and less discovered) is the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Preserve, on Ahihi Bay along the south coast. Although the two of you won't be alone, seeing the sun flame up over the lunar-looking edge of the Haleakala crater is a once-in-a-lifetime moment best shared with one you love. For the full experience, drive up with a guide and, once the sun's up, zoom on a mountain bike the whole 37 miles down Highway 378 to sea-level. A number of bike-tour outfitters can hook you up with wheels, helmets, and a guide, including Maui Downhill (199 Dairy Road, Kahului, 808.871.2155, www.mauidownhill.com). Or, for the best of all possible road trips, take a spin along the coastal Hana Highway (Highway 36), Hawaii's most scenic stretch of blacktop. Stop along the way for a (skinny?) dip in the refreshing pool below the 30-foot Puohokamoa Falls (just look for the trail at mile marker 11).

If ocean-side luxury—complete with private beachside villas (each with its own plunge pool and lanai), pampering spa treatments, high-end service, and loads of amenities—is your vacation fantasy, then you'll adore the pricey but luxe Fairmont Kea Lani Maui (4100 Wailea Alanui Dr.) along one of the island's most gorgeous beaches in popular West Maui. Kea Lani also houses Nick's Fishmarket (4100 Wailea Alanui Wailea, 808.879.7224), one of the island's top restaurants (despite its seafood-shack moniker).

At the northern edge of West Maui, offering views of the islands of Molokai and Lanai, Kapalua Bay Hotel and Villas (1 Bay Dr., Kapalua), combines an elegant, old-Hawaii main hotel fronting beautiful Kapalua Bay with a collection of fully equipped private ocean-view condos. Nearby is the ultra-romantic Plantation House Restaurant (2000 Plantation Club Dr., Kapalua, 808.669.6299, www.theplantationhouse.com), with marvelous views, elegant teak furnishings, and a menu specializing in local seafood.

For tucked-away, bed-and-breakfast charm, lodge at the Plantation Inn (174 Lahainaluna Rd., Lahaina), with its vine-draped central courtyard, pool, hot tub, and highly regarded French restaurant, Gerard's (808.661.8939). True upcountry seclusion is found at the Wild Ginger Falls cottage in Haiku, located in East Maui, or the private cottages and swimming pool at the Banyan Tree House (3265 Baldwin Ave., Makawao). And at Malu Manu (446 Cooke Rd., Kula), you'll bask in sweeping views of the whole island from your perch 4,000 feet up on the slopes of stunning Haleakala Volcano. No worries though; the volcano last erupted in 1790. But perhaps your Maui rendezvous can turn up the volcano's heat a few degrees...

Published: 27 Jun 2005 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

Best Hotels in Maui

$995
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Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea
$759
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The Fairmont Kea Lani Maui
$649
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The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua
$324
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Honua Kai Resort

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