We are heading out on our fourth trip to Maui in a few days and couldn’t help but update our Maui post to share some fresh, updated thoughts with you.

As I’ve said before, Maui is a lush, easygoing outpost that inspires us to eat healthier, be active, and revel in the spiritual spectacle that is nature. From locally-grown organic produce and fascinating lava fields, to humpback whales and colorful customs like the luau, Maui has got it going on.  Here are a few reasons why we love it and some smart suggestions to help you round out your Maui getaway.

O'o Farm, Maui. Photo by Sunshine Scout.

O’o Farm, Maui. Photo by Sunshine Scout.

Feel Whole at O’O Farms:

We come to Maui to bask in the sun, but by day 3, the fear of skin cancer and age spots begins to loom over me like a dark cloud and I’m ready to see something cumulus. That’s when a drive to cool, lush “upcountry” comes in. Nestled on the slopes of Haleakala, 8.5-acre O’o Farm is a biodynamic Eden offering jaw-dropping views and an eye-opening farm tour. They’ve got citrus and coffee trees, along with organic veggies galore. They even have a yurt.

We love the lunch prepared by Chef Eskelsen and served at a communal table, but this year, we’re heading to O’O for the new breakfast and coffee tour! We like to follow up our meal with a stroll and some shopping at the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm. Just up the road, it’s an added aromatic bonus.

Old Lahaina Luau, Maui. Photo by Sunshine Scout.

Old Lahaina Luau, Maui. Photo by Sunshine Scout.

Embrace the Luau:

Sure, it feels a bit like a pricy tourist trap when you’re making that reservation, but once the sun is setting and that gentle Polynesian breeze sweeps in, I feel genuine love for this colorful, convivial tradition “rooted in royalty and religion.” I remember when the Brady Bunch went with Vincent Price and they had a blast. For that reason alone, I think it’s something everyone should do, especially if you’re with the kids.

We enjoy Old Lahaina Luau on Front Street in Lahaina. The other major contender is the Feast at Lele, just a stone’s throw away. Either way, front load the mai tais, sample the starchy gray poi like a gracious guest, then double down on imu-cooked pig, lomi lomi salmon and get your party on. Some kids say, watermelon is the best part! Go figure.

Humpback whale as seen on Alli Nui. Photo by Sunshine Scout.

Humpback whale as seen on Alli Nui. Photo by Sunshine Scout.

Say Namaste to Whales and Sea Turtles:

Stand-up paddle-boarding is fun, but I need incentive. Three hundred and fifty pound Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles provide just that. They remind me of soulful hard shell monks and the sight of them moves me. Literally. Off my sandy, tan-lined ass. Hop on a paddleboard in Wailea and chances are you will see these glorious, peaceful creatures swim up to the surface and linger close by. It’s simply magical.

Equally thrilling, if not more, are the North Pacific Humpback whales that breach offshore (January through March/April). For a closer look, we recommend an afternoon catamaran trip on the Alii Nui, which serves up salty niblets, bottomless cocktails, and a hydrophone so you can hear the these 40-ton mammals sing.

Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Preserve. Photo by Sunshine Scout.

Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Preserve. Photo by Sunshine Scout.

Hike Something Volcanic:

Burn off those mai tai calories and keep that digestive system flowing with a rambling walk on the alien lava fields located down the road from Makena Beach. Or, do as Mr. Scout does and don your Patagonia hiking pants for a daylong trek down the Haleakala crater. Mr. says, “skip the treacherous bike ride down the volcano. Just hike the majestic bowl where you’ll find lava cones and constantly, changing eco-systems.”

It’s a dizzying drive up the volcano and shockingly cold up there. That’s why I, your friend Sunshine, prefer a stroll on the lava field with some sturdy shoes. The view is not quite as life-changing, but it’s also much less of a commitment. I like that.

 

Coconuts Fish Cafe, Maui. Photo by Sunshine Scout.

Coconuts Fish Cafe, Maui. Photo by Sunshine Scout.

Eat Fish Food:

Fish tacos are my favorite. I can’t get enough of them. Years ago, we stumbled upon super-casual Coconuts Fish Cafe in a strip mall in Kihei. We had no idea it was such an award-winner, until we tasted the tacos. If you’re a fish lover like us, eat there and check out Eskimo Candy Seafood Market & Café too, which is even more “unfancy,” but equally delish.

For something more chic, saunter in to Morimoto, located poolside at the Andaz (which is a lovely newish resort, although I’m not crazy about the clunky privacy shutters in the guestroom bathrooms, but I digress.) Order a Hitachino (beer) and oh-toro (fatty tuna) from the sushi bar. For an intimate evening, reserve a twinkling garden table at hip Hotel Wailea (our favorite Maui hideaway, although they no longer accept kids at the resort. Sigh). Very local, artful and fresh. Try the mushroom truffle risotto followed by grilled Hawaiian catch of the day. When it comes to island dining, Maui is simply one of the all-time best places to eat well.

View from Haleakala, Maui.

View from Haleakala, Maui.