BEST OF THE REST
Former host to Senior Tour and LPGA Tour stops, Kaanapali Tournament North ($130-$150; 808-661-3691) has fallen on hard times owing to financial problems with its parent company, but this rollicking Robert Trent Jones Sr. design is on the comeback trail and deserves golfers' support. Wailea Blue ($120-$140; 808-875-5155) was the first course at the resort around which it tours; it makes for a solid warm-up to area tracks.
Maui and Lanai Plus
Kahului Airport is serviced directly from the continental U.S. by five major carriers (American, Delta, United, Air Canada and Hawaiian Airlines), or you can connect via Honolulu. Located in the north-center of the island, the airport is convenient to both the Kapalua and Wailea areas (about fifty and thirty-five minutes, respectively). The Maui road system is so simple and well signed that it's unlikely you'll ever need to use a map. Lanai, nine miles to the west, is accessible by air from Honolulu or via a forty-five-minute ferry ride from Lahaina Harbor that costs $52 round-trip.
There are more than eighty beaches on Maui, and you'd be hard-pressed to go too far wrong. Like golf courses, however, each has its own strengths and character. Kapalua Beach (which was once named "the best beach in America" by the University of Maryland's Laboratory of Coastal Research—nice work if you can get it) is one of the three beaches at Kapalua Resort and offers some of the best swimming. People watching is the focus at nearby Dig Me Beach at Kaanapali. Big Beach at Makena Beach is long, wide and sparsely populated; farther west, we are told, is a less family-friendly beach for people who don't like tan lines. The water-sporty can check out Hookipa Beach in North Maui, near the intersection of Haleakala Highway and Hana Highway. On Lanai, Hulopoe Beach at the Manele Bay Hotel is the choice.
Start your day like no other by watching the sunrise over Haleakala ("House of the Sun"), a 10,000-foot dormant volcano. This will require a long predawn drive to the observatory at the summit. For power peddlers, Cruiser Phil's (808-893-2332) offers a thirty-eight-mile, three-hour mountain-bike ride back down to sea level. For the lazy, or those with an early tee time at Makena or Wailea, drive a few minutes past the courses to the nearby black lava fields for a less elevated and dramatic but awesomely quiet view. Call the National Weather Service (808-877-5111) for sunrise, sunset and weather info. The other major natural attraction is the Road to Hana and Hana's famed seven pools, Ohe'o Gulch, on the eastern tip of the island—a good two- to three-hour haul each way. You'll average about 15 m.p.h. due to the more than 600 hairpin turns and fifty-four one-lane bridges, so the drive is best done in tandem to avoid yellow-line fever; but the hidden pools, waterfalls and tropical jungles are well worth the time. Less famous but starkly beautiful (and unfrequented since it is unmarked) are the rock formations a few miles past Kapalua known as Hobbitland and Iao Needle, a 2,250-foot stone pillar in central Maui's Iao Valley State Park.
Save a late afternoon and evening to stroll around the honky-tonk waterfront town of Lahaina, a place that might have been conjured from Jimmy Buffett's imagination, with funky shops, open-air restaurants, art galleries and a just plain mellow vibe. The days, of course, should be filled with outdoor exploration, and Maui has more options than you can shake a hip at, which reminds us—you might want to check out the luau at the Outrigger Wailea Resort (808-879-1922, outrigger.com).
For the island's stunning, varied topography of mountains, rain forests, waterfalls and the like, there are few better places to take a helicopter tour (Sunshine Helicopters, 808-871-0722, sunshinehelicopters.com). The adventurous can also choose to see the sights from the ground on motorcycles (Harley Davidson in Kahalui, 808-877-7433, mauicarsandbikes.com), ATVs, mountain bikes, good ol' horses and mules, or on foot. (Maui's a smart place to rent a Jeep or SUV as many of the roads near the sights are better navigated with four-wheel drive; a local purveyor to consider beyond the major chains is Aloha Rent A Car, 877-452-5642, aloharentacar.com.) The aquatic are no less overwhelmed with options: Surfing lessons are readily available (admit it, you've always wanted to try—Outrageous Adventures Surf School, 877-339-1400, youcansurf.com), and of course there's bodysurfing, windsurfing and kayaking, as well as some of the world's best scuba and snorkeling (Maui Diving Scuba Center, 800-959-7319), especially around Molokini crater (Action Sports Maui, 808-871-5857, actionsportsmaui.com). Kapalua Kai Sailing Charters (808-665-0344, sailingmaui.com) features a fifty-four-foot luxury catamaran that's extremely popular among the Tour pros and their families during the Mercedes Championships. For the fearless, paragliding is another "leisure" option (except in winter humpback whale-watching season). Kahului Airport offers many excellent brochures, but the simpler approach may be to ask your hotel concierge for recommendations. Finally, while shopping may be the last thing on your mind, the places to do it are the Shops at Wailea and the Kapalua Shops. The wares are more imaginative than the names might suggest.