I have been to the big island of Hawaii, Oahu, Kauai and Maui. I love all of the islands because they each offer their own spectacular natural wonders and man-made splendors.
It had been almost a decade since I had visited Maui and I forgot that this island has some of the greatest beaches of all of the islands. There are 30 miles of beaches in Maui, from coves and bays to open stretches of silky sand and waves. I like to think of Maui as the in-between island; not as busy and crowded as Oahu and not as quiet and serene as Kauai. Maui has its fair share of tourists and residents, higher-rise hotels and condominiums, restaurants and shops. It also has some of the prettiest beaches I’ve had the luxury to vegetate on.
Our hotel Honua Kai sits on Ka’anapali North Beach, a two-mile stretch of white sand and ocean waves. While this was a beautiful beach and definitely convenient, there was a lot of coral; the kind of coral that cuts tiny feet and elicits swear words from the kindest adults.
My parents were staying about 5 miles North of the island in Napili at a quaint and well-appointed boutique hotel called The Mauian. The beach is just a flip flop throw away from The Mauian, and is spectacular and perfect for people with small children in tow. Napili Bay beach has it all: a beautiful spacious sandy beach; gentle ocean waves that break close to shore due to the offshore coral reef; long-board rentals; and lastly (this is just a perk for me, sorry) my mom delivers freshly made sandwiches and drinks from her condo to our beach chairs.
While snorkeling in Napili Bay is nice and calm, perfect for a beginner such as my 7-year-old daughter, some more challenging snorkeling that reaps the benefits is Honokeana Bay (otherwise known as Turtle Cove). My husband, Ava and our family friend Ken hiked 15 minutes on a lava rock trail along the ocean from Napili Bay to get in to Turtle Cove. It has to be timed just right to safely jump off the rocks in to the water; you must wait for the last set of waves to hit before jumping in and swimming out. But once in the water, it took less than a minute for the trio to see a half dozen turtles. Ava was thrilled when Ken pointed out that a turtle was trying to pick his nose.
Chris and Ava had their adventure out at sea, so I thought I would have mine also. I am The Hip Mothership (self proclaimed) afterall, so I can conquer the rough seas. Or so I thought.
I took a paddle board that is a popular item to rent at the Napili Bay beach, scooped up Ava and off we paddled out to sea. I stood up on the board and Ava straddled it in front of me. I wasn’t quite privy or observant enough to realize just how windy it was until I got beyond the coral reef. This is where my paddle boarding experience took a turn for the worst. A heavy gust of wind starting blowing and didn’t stop. Before we knew it, Ava and I were halfway to Molokai. I quickly sat down and got to work. I paddled and paddled against the heavy winds and I feared that we were making negative progress. I started to panic inside, fearing Ava and I might be on the a future episode of I Shouldn’t Be Alive. I tried to hide my panic so Ava wouldn’t be affected and then get scared herself. Apparently my tactics worked, because in the middle of my peril, as I’m trying to save us from being lost at sea, Ava says, “I can’t believe I bought Preston that turtle with my OWN MONEY and he lost it in the ocean!!” Breathing heavily from aggressive apparently pointless paddling, I replied, “Ava, I don’t care about the damn turtle right now!!”
Then my night in shining armor appeared . . . or my husband in swim trunks. . . to save our lives. He swam very far to reach us and pushed us back to shore. It took about a 1/2 an hour but we arrived back in one piece. My friend Ken had this to say to me upon our safe arrival: “well, the really good news is that you have extremely good balance.”
I would also like to recommend The Mauian Hotel. It is very small studio unit complex, but well-appointed and only steps from the Napili Bay. There is a tiny kitchen and bathroom, but the countertops and fixtures are very upscale. The decor is a simple but chic Hawaiian with nice small touches like a ceramic gecko crawling up the wall of the shower. Each room has a small patio, most with an ocean view. There is expansive lawn, a pool, barbecues and two oceanfront shuffleboard courts. I also liked that this hotel was within walking distance of many great restaurants and shops.
We also visited Lahaina Beach and Kapalua Beach. Both beaches were simply stunning visually and offered great opportunities for snorkeling. One of the benefits of Lahaina Beach is that behind it was a very cute little shopping center and a restaurant called Pacific’O. I experienced an unexpected pleasure at Lahaina Beach; I found myself at Pacific’O with the ladies drinking Mai Tais overlooking the ocean while the men played with our children on the beach. I thought they were the best Mai Tais I had in Maui, but the men thought they sucked. While we disagreed about the quality of the Mai Tais, we all agreed that Pacific’O had really delicious Pupus.
Kapalua Bay is known to be one of the most beautiful beaches on the island and great for snorkeling. It is protected by two coral reefs so the beach is calm and perfect for kids. The beach is very easily accessible, which is very important with four kids 7-years-old and under.
In the end, I hold the opinion that there is no battle of the beaches because all of Maui’s beaches are fantastic.
Before I sign off, I have one more tip. If you are going to Maui, do not leave without going to breakfast or brunch at Longhi’s in Lahaina. I have been going there since I came to Maui as a kid, and it has great food. I ordered crab benedict which I practically inhaled, and a mimosa (or two). Chris had the French toast and a bloody mary and he was very happy. Absolutely delicious food, great service and nice views.
Until next time, the mothership is signing off.