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Magnificent Maui – The World’s Best Island

By Daniel Resnik on October 22, 2014 in Other

Photo: Daniel Resnik

Photo: Daniel Resnik

For the last 20 years, the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards have seen Maui voted the world’s best Island. Renowned for its stunning scenery, beautiful beaches, national parks, dormant volcanoes, waterfalls, whale watching, surfing, diving, snorkelling, championship golf courses and the world’s best scenic road trip, it really is quite obvious why.

Going away is one thing, but choosing accommodation in Maui was always going to be incredibly difficult due to the huge range of resorts and hotels on offer. After much research, I chose the Grand Wailea Resort, which in 2011 was name the Best Resort Accommodation, the Best Resort Restaurant and the Best Resort Spa by Maui newsreaders – not a bad rap coming from the local community, especially considering the huge amount of accommodation options available on the island.

The Grand Wailea is a Polynesian-style resort set on 16 hectares. Amongst the many standout features is a gorgeous chapel set amongst colourful manicured gardens. If you’ve ever thought about getting married or renewing your vows, Maui is definitely the perfect place to do so.

The resort has all the usual facilities, including two swimming pools – one for the children (noisy, slides, fun, etc.), and an adult pool where peace and serenity reigns supreme. If you’re not a pool person, you can stroll down to Wailea Beach, situated right in front of the resort. It’s the ideal beach for swimming, kayaking and relaxing while sipping late afternoon cocktails as the setting sun melts into the distance.

There is also a 3km coastal walk adjacent to the hotel that emphasises the island’s beauty. We walked every afternoon along this peaceful path and the views are nothing short of spectacular.

In between relaxing by the pool, swimming, golfing, working out and walking it was a no brainer to visit the Wailea’s pièce de résistance, the Spa Grande. Voted one of the top ten spas in the United States and number one in Hawaii, the choices of treatments available are extensive and cater for everyone. From my personal experience, I have to agree with the spa’s top rating.

From the months of December through to May, Maui turns on a display of whale watching that is simply mesmerizing – welcome to humpback heaven! Maui is where these magnificent beasts come to play and breed, and for mothers to tutor their young calves. You can see whales from the beach all day as they play and cavort in the distance, but to really appreciate the sheer size of these massive mammals, I suggest you go on one of the many whale watching boat tours that are available. I went out on a large catamaran, but there are many other viewing options.

While I was quite happy to lounge by the pool and spend time at the beach, I’m so glad everybody I spoke to raved about a road trip to Hana. Hana, a small, untouched town on Maui’s eastern coastline. You can hire a car and drive there, or you can get your hotel to organise a tour for you, which for me was the best option, and as I later discovered, it’s quite a long and arduous drive (54 bridges to cross and 620 hairpin turns!). The road to Hana is one of the most scenic drives in the world and you get to see some classic Hawaiian beaches, massive waves (in winter), beautiful rainforests and waterfalls, and plenty of scenic lookouts.

Another highly recommended tour I took part in was a day trip to Molokini, a small crescent moon-shaped island that is a State Marine Life and Bird Conservation District. Lying only three miles from Maui’s southwestern coast, Molokini spans over 7 hectares and rises 53 metres above coral-filled waters, and it’s a great place for snorkelling.

For the golf fanatic or first-time novice, Maui has 14 magnificent golf courses to test your skills. I only played on one course, the Wailea Blue, and as good as it was, I still managed to lose plenty of balls – if anyone finds some new Taylor Mades, they’re mine!

After only a week in Maui, I was already plotting my return. The sensational reviews don’t do this magic island the justice it deserves, so I recommend you go and see it for yourself.


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