This year, I didn’t have a traditional white Christmas, but rather, swapped out snow for a white sandy beach, and got white Christmas Hawaii-style. My family (with my fiancé!) spent the Christmas holiday in Maui, Hawaii, and what a treat our weeklong winter vacay was!
Maui is one of my favorite destinations! It’s the second largest island in Hawaii, and promises something for everyone. The island offers breathtaking shorelines, historic charm, local tradition, popular tourist districts and secluded towns and beaches. Here are some of the highlights on our trip:
We stayed on the West side of the island, in the coastal region of Kapalua. Kapalua is a bit more private and secluded than other areas in Maui, and has many options for accommodations—from luxurious resorts and hotels, to condominiums and private home rentals. My family enjoys vacation rentals as we enjoy the perks of having a private home-like space and daily conveniences of one’s home.
The foodie scene in Maui seems to have exploded over the past few years. From the local food trucks to the hip and trendy beachside restaurants—there are many options when it comes to dining. During the few months before the trip, I did some research and decided on our three “musts” to experience in the culinary scene.
Our first night in Maui, we enjoyed a hit meal at Merriman’s Kapalua, a picture-perfect restaurant that sits within the Kapalua Bay. Merriman’s Kapalua features authentic Hawaiian cuisine, and uses local ingredients from the islands’ farms. The food is fresh, the service is fabulous and the view is better than a postcard.
Christmas dinner was indeed a treat at The Plantation House—an open-air restaurant that offers “Hawaiian Eclectic” cuisine and captures island style ambiance. The Plantation House is truly a special venue—it promises scenic views from the mountains to the ocean. I recommended a reservation that coincides with the sunset—it’s majestic.
Our “splurge” dinner was at Morimoto Maui in Wailea. Chef Morimoto has grown in popularity in recent years thanks to Iron Chef and Iron Chef America and his food lived up to his legend. Some of our favorite dishes included Toro Tartare, Wagyu Beef Carpaccio, Pork Gyoza, and Kakuni (10-hour braised pork belly in rice congee). And the sushi…oh the sushi…absolutely divine!
My family and I enjoy cooking, so for those nights in, we picked up fresh catch-of-the-day at the local Fish Market and added seasonal veggies to complete our home-cooked meals. In addition to the fresh fish, The Fish Market also offers delicious tacos and homemade poke!
For a sweet indulgence, I absolutely recommend Ululani’s Hawaiian Shaved Ice—you won’t regret this frozen treat.
Maui promises much to do—from outdoor adventures to lazy beach days. We spent much of our time exploring the local beaches from Kapalua to Lahaina, as we had “restful” on our minds. Since this was my fiancé’s first visit to Maui, we also included some sightseeing. Here are some of our highlights:
- Alii Kula Lavender Farm: Nestled in the Upcountry region of the island, the Alii Kula Lavender Farm was a perfect beach-break daytrip! Throughout the late morning, we strolled through the various winding paths of lavender, enjoying the therapeutic aromatics. Before we left, we enjoyed a sip of lavender tea and a bite of a lavender scone while overlooking the breath-taking view.
- Iao Valley State Park: Located in Central Maui, this state park is the historic site of the iconic Iao Needle, a distinctive volcanic rock formation that stands central in the valley. In addition to this impressive State Monument, the valley offers rainforest paths, lush plants, tropical flowers and running streams to stroll through. I recommend the Iao Valley State Park for easy hiking and sightseeing.
- Historic Lahaina: A stroll through downtown Lahaina is the perfect way to experience local culture and historic charm as a tourist. Lined with surf shops, easy ocean-front restaurants (such as Cheeseburgers in Paradise!) and galleries, Lahaina was once the capital of Hawaii. I definitely recommend one of my personal favorites, the Honolulu Cookie Company—these distinctive pineapple-shaped cookies make perfect gifts for those back home!
Maui, Hawaii really is an incredibly special place and it was a treat to spend the Christmas holiday there! My fiancé and I came home already making plans for our next visit! Please share your Maui favorites with us!