Editor’s note: We encourage our readers to consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for up-to-date information on how to travel safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the COVID-19 pandemic brought international travel to a halt, Americans’ eyes suddenly turned to what many say is an international, passport-free destination: Hawaii. As is the case with islands during a pandemic, the local population is more vulnerable due to limited space and fewer evacuation options. But like many tropical places, Hawaii’s economy relies heavily on tourism. As a result, the pandemic has created a complex situation for a state that normally receives nearly a million visitors a year.
Today, Hawaii is open to domestic and international travelers, but with some restrictions in place and incentives to be more intentional with our vacations. Through a new statewide initiative called malama hawaii, visitors are encouraged to think more seriously about sustainable travel practices and to give back to the islands. By volunteering in paid activities, such as beach cleanups, Hawaiian quilting, planting native trees, weeding, and harvesting produce, visitors can earn special hotel discounts or free nights.
Aloha State welcomes responsible travelers to enjoy its pristine beaches, parks and trails. Known as the Valley Isle, Maui stands out as a popular vacation destination for mainlanders, with daily direct flights from several west coast towns. Although idyllic beaches are a given here, there is so much more to discover. Follow this Instagram guide for the best Maui sights, activities, and foods to savor on your next visit to the island.
Visit Haleakala National Park
Haleakalā, or “house of the sun” in Hawaiian, is a dormant volcano over 10,000 feet above sea level. The crater is touted as one of the best places to watch the sun rise or set. sunset, attracting most visitors between 3 and 7 a.m. for sunrise tours. As temperatures are about 30 degrees cooler at the summit than at sea level, it is important to pack warm clothes. Be sure to bring snacks and fuel up before you hit the road, as you won’t find any businesses outside of the Visitor Center facilities.
Currently, advanced reservations are required for sunrise, available online up to 60 days in advance. Cycling Haleakalā is another popular way to experience the volcano, but its steep curves aren’t for the faint-hearted. Several hiking trails run through the park, with Keonehe’ehe’e (aka Sliding Sands) and Halemau’u being the most popular. Don’t be surprised if you witness a marriage proposal while spending time in this picturesque location.
Paddle in a Hawaiian outrigger canoe
Spend a day on the water with a guided tour of Hawaiian Outrigger Experience, during which you’ll not only learn about the ancient practice of the outrigger canoe and its important role in Hawaiian history and culture, but you’ll also likely spot whales (if visiting between December and April) or sea turtles. sea. Owner Kevin Hoke has a wealth of knowledge and will teach you about celestial navigation, native ocean life, and even teach you Hawaiian words and songs. Daily hour-long tours depart from Wailea Beach in South Maui.
Explore the hinterland
Paia, the small hippie town on Maui’s North Shore known for its excellent windsurfing, is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the mood for shopping, island cuisine and local color. Stroll the main drag along Baldwin Avenue and Hana Highway to stock up on souvenirs and goodies. In the nearby cowboy town of Makawao, you’ll find art galleries and old-fashioned saloons. Within this community of artists coexist Hawaiian cowboys, or paniolos, who hunt cattle from nearby fields on horseback.
Stay in a dream resort
The majority of hotels and resorts are located in West Maui and South Maui, where you’ll find a large concentration of beachfront accommodations. For a luxury stay in South Maui, the Wailea Beach Resort offers experiences unique: think sunrise massages overlooking the ocean, followed by signature breakfast (known as the Awaken in Wailea experience); private sunset candlelight dinners along the sea cliffs; and floating cabanas located in their infinity pool. The resort is flanked by two beaches, is home to three pools and a long waterfront, and runs parallel to a seaside boardwalk path that makes for a great walking or running path. Its on-site restaurants include the popular Roy Yamaguchi Humble Market Kitchen, which serves contemporary Asian cuisine, and a more casual dining option, KAPA Bar & Grill.
Located on Ka’anapali Beach in West Maui, the Westin Maui Resort & Spa is the liveliest resort on this popular stretch of beach and features six pools, two waterslides, and several beachfront cabanas. stay in its new Hokupa’a Tower, which offers exclusive all-day access to The Lanai. Here you can snack on free bites, order from a private bar, and partake in cultural activities such as lei-making, coconut weaving, and taro, or simply watch the sunset over the Pacific. You’ll find traditional Hawaiian cuisine at its two beachfront restaurants, Waicoco and Hale Moʻolelo, where crowds gather nightly to listen to live music from talented local artists.
Enjoy the dishes of the island
Luaus are a great way for those who like to dine with a show to sample island cuisine. Local menus are full of beef, pork, and fish (don’t skip the poké and sushi), but there are other must-try specialties like malasadas and shaved ice. Malasadas are Portuguese donuts – without a hole – covered in sugar, best served hot. Head to Maui’s Ultimate Donut, a no-frills food truck where you can customize the flavor of the topping and type of sugar coating, for the best malasadas on the island.
Ululani Hawaiian Shave Ice is also distinguished by its ultra-fine ice chips and cane sugar-based syrups. Try a cup with up to three flavors, plus toppings like mochi (tapioca balls) or haupia (coconut cream).
Arguably the most sought-after reserve on the island, Mom’s fish shop in Paia is currently booked approximately three to six months in advance due to high demand following the COVID-19 closures. This family-run restaurant has an incredible location overlooking Ku’au Bay and serves expensive but delicious seafood dishes such as fish curry, bouillabaisse, and mahi-mahi stuffed with lobster and crab.
To the favorite of Asian fusion star noodle, you’ll find handmade ramen, saimin and udon, as well as specialties like pad Thai and Singaporean noodles. Get there early to enjoy the sunset over the water from the restaurant’s large patio. Near, Down the hatch in Lahaina is a casual outdoor spot for fish tacos, burgers and salads, served with live music.
Island-Hop in Lana’i
Make the most of your trip to Hawaii by visiting multiple islands. Maui is just 38 miles from neighboring Lana’i, which is accessible by ferry (45 minutes one way) or plane (30 minutes one way). With a total population of around 3,000 people, Lana’i is where tourists go for a relaxing crowd-free getaway.
the Four Seasons Lanai Hotel is a destination hotel that rightly attracts people from all over the world to its beachfront utopia. Here, you can enjoy poolside cabanas, beach lounge chairs, and free snorkel gear. for use on Hulopo’e Beach. The sprawling property is home to botanical gardens, koi ponds, and four restaurants, including steak and seafood restaurant One Forty, upscale sushi bar Nobu, SoCal’s favorite Malibu Farm, and the casual all-day cafe The Break.
The resort can also coordinate excursions like a two-hour sunset sail; cruise along the coast with cocktails and appetizers in hand. When you want to venture out of the resort, free shuttles to the small town of Lana’i City run every hour. Many are surprised to find that Lana’i City is much colder than the surrounding beaches due to its elevation of nearly 1,700 feet. You will find a few small grocery stores, restaurants and shops here, but not much more. The town square surrounds Dole Park, a grassy area with towering pine trees that hints at Lana’i’s nickname as “Pineapple Island.”
If you’ve fallen in love with Maui, book a trip here.