The Hawaiian island of Maui is one of the top paradise destinations for luxury travelers in search of both adventure and relaxation. With breathtaking sceneries at every turn, and so many options for luxury accommodations, Maui is the premier island among all of the Hawaiian islands for luxury travel. Though Maui bodes warm tropical weather year-round, visiting during mid-February not only meant I was able to celebrate my birthday on this beautiful island, but being that the month of February is also peak whale watching season made for an excellent time to visit. In this Maui blog post, I’ll share where to stay and what to do for your 5-star trip to Maui.
A Luxury Maui Blog Post on Where to Stay and What to do
Where to Stay in Maui: The Ritz Carlton Kapalua
If you are considering which hotel to stay in Maui, definitely do not overlook the Ritz Carlton Kapalua. This Ritz Carlton Maui resort exudes the feeling of aloha in every sense of the word. The hotel and its staff are all so warm, welcoming, and ready to ensure your time on the island is as comfortable and relaxing, yet invigorating and enthralling as it can be. The Ritz Carlton is situated on the beautiful beach of Kapalua, and the resort itself is a part of one of Hawaii’s largest nature preserves and has two marine sanctuaries on site.
6 restaurants on the property make for plenty of world-class dining options, and all of them provide some of the tastiest and freshest Hawaiian and fusion cuisine on the island. Breakfast at the Terrace includes a full daily buffet spread; or those in search of a quick bite can grab coffee, açaí bowls, pastries, and other fast breakfast items at the Kai Cafe. For lunch, enjoy cocktails and tacos by the ‘Ai’ Ono pool bar, (they even have poke nachos!) or hit the burger and milkshake shack right on the beach. At sunset, have drinks and light fare while watching the daily sunset ceremony followed by nightly entertainment at the Alaloa lounge; and for dinner, the upscale Banyan Tree restaurant offers heavenly Hawaiian farm-to-fork delicacies.
Activities and Amenities
Activities await at every corner of the Ritz Carlton Kapalua. For those interested in recreational sports, the resort contains 2 championship golf courses, 2 award-winning tennis courts, daily yoga classes, a gym with amazing views, beautiful hiking trails, and a huge pool with private cabanas to relax by after a solid workout. Beach activities include snorkeling, surfing, kayaking, scuba diving, and jet skiing.
The Ritz in Maui is as much of a playground for activities and adventure as it is a sanctuary for rest and relaxation. I received one of the best massages at the Ritz’s Waihua Spa, right after enjoying a nice soak in the spa’s sauna and hot tub. Local Hawaiian plants, flowers, fruits, and herbs are used for all different types of spa treatments at the Waihua Spa; however one of my favorite features about the facility is their aromatherapy and vitamin-C-infused showers. The spa is also a great place to relax if you want to wait out one of Hawaii’s infamous tropical storms, and provides several areas to rest and unwind.
For off-site activities, the Ritz Carlton offers plenty of excursions to show you the best of Maui. ATV/horseback/helicopter tours, sunset sailing, whale watching, luaus, and Ulalena (a modern Hawaiian hula dance show) are among the top activities offered by the Ritz Kapalua. The resort’s friendly concierge are also extremely resourceful in helping you plan your own perfect D-I-Y itinerary should you want to explore the island on your own. My favorite off-site activity offered by the Ritz was without a doubt the whale watching trip. If you are visiting during whale watching season, (May 15 – December 15) the Maui whale watching tour is one activity that definitely should not be missed.
Whale Watching in Maui
The Ritz Carlton Kapalua and the Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment Maui whale watching excursion is unparalleled to all others on the island. Led by a certified naturalist and marine biologist, we were joined by just a few others for an intimate 2-hour excursion. Out at sea, we learned about the social behaviors of Humpback whales and the interactions between mother whales and their calves, as well as between males and females. My favorite part (aside from the sightings of the whales of course) was listening to whale sounds through the underwater hydrophone. Through this device, we were able to detect when whales were near, and the anticipation as we waited and watched for whales to pop out from the water was so exciting to experience. Each time we spotted a fin reach from the surface or watched in awe as water exploded out of a blowhole, we observed intently as we anticipated the whale’s next move. Would it be a simple dip and tumble or a large breaching splash? Just like a safari, whale watching is best when you go multiple times as each time is different and you never know what you’ll see. A huge thank you to the Ritz Carlton Kapalua for gifting me this bucket list experience – I can’t wait to go whale watching again!
Best Stops on the Road to Hana
A trip to Maui is never complete without experiencing the Road to Hana The Road to Hana is a full day trip and one of the most beautiful drives in the world. We began our expedition at 6:00am and did not get back to the Ritz until 6:00pm. Those who have traveled the Road to Hana know it is not about the destination, but the journey itself; and the journey does not end in Hana but extends far beyond it. Take your time and savor the roads, sites, and stops along the famous Hana Highway as there is a lot to experience. My strategy for sites to stop at on the Road to Hana was simple: quality over quantity, and skipping the more laborious and difficult falls to get to. Here are my favorite stops along the way. If you want a more detailed guide for Road to Hana stops, click this link.
Haipua’ena Falls – mile marker 10.5
Lookout spot over Honomanu Bay – right after mile marker 14.5
Ke’anae Peninsula – around the 15-16 mile marker, take the dead-end road to the coast
Ching’s Pond – just before mile marker 17
Waikani Falls – between mile marker 18 and 19
Upper Waikani Falls AKA Three Bears Falls – between mile marker 19 and 20
Makapipi Falls – shortly after mile marker 25 you’ll be directly above it
Nahiku Road – Next to Makapipi Falls, 2 1/2 miles down park near the church and follow the lush path down Nahiku Road to the ocean.
Coconut Glen’s – best coconut-based ice cream past the 27 mile marker
Wai’anapanapa Black Sand Beach – just past the 32 mile marker
*Red Sand Beach (Kaihalulu) – in Hana. Yay you made it to Hana! Now keep driving…
*Edit: A reader wrote in with the following note: “We are trying to reduce the visitations to this beach as it has numerous safety issues…This is a beautiful spot that needs to be kept quiet. Too many visitors are coming unprepared…” There are other red sand beaches in Maui that are safer and more accessible. Visit at your own risk.
‘Ohe’o Gulch AKA Seven Sacred Pools – Haleakala National Park a few miles past Hana
There are two ways to go home after Hana: Option 1, go back the way you came from or option 2, keep traveling through Upcountry as you loop back to where you started from. I highly, highly recommend option 2 (even though your rental car company might not). Driving through Upcountry will provide even more new and incredible sights and is a great way to see a part of Maui that is so different from the rest. From here, you can plan to see Halaekala at sunset. If you plan to stay in Hana overnight, consider heading to Upcountry for sunrise at Haleakala. Even if you are not staying over, a trip back is worth it to witness this majestic and legendary sunrise (or sunset), accompanied by a trip to the Haleakala crater.
Top things to do in Maui
Now that we’ve discussed Maui’s main attraction, the Road to Hana, here are 9 more things you must see, do, or eat when visiting Maui.
- Visit the Haleakala Crater for sunrise is a must, as mentioned above
- See the Nakalele Blowhole
- Snorkel at my favorite snorkeling spot at Honolua-Mokuleia Bay (on the way to the Blowhole)
- Walk down Front Street in Lahaina with its many shops, restaurants, and bars. Make sure to stop at Ululani’s for the best shaved ice on the island (and make sure to get it with ice cream on the bottom!)
- Visit Banyan Tree Park at Front Street that is home to the oldest tree on Maui
- Relax at one of my favorite best beaches in Maui: Kapalua Bay (good snorkeling and great sunsets!) Napili Beach, and Ka’anapali Beach
- Eat fresh poke. An insider informed me that some of the best and freshest poke could be found at a liquor store of all places. Tamura Fine Wine & Spirits did not disappoint.
- On the way from or to the airport, have lunch or dinner (make a reservation in advance!) at Mama’s Fish House for fresh seafood at the most famous restaurant on Maui
- Visit a pineapple plantation
Best Maui Day Trips
The Road to Hana should be a part of every Maui itinerary, but if you are looking for day trips from Maui that leave the island, you can take the ferry to the islands of Lanai or Molokai.
With its lush greenery, breathtaking beaches, and so much to see and do, the island of Maui is easily one of the best of all the 8 large Hawaiian islands. Maui is a beautiful island that deserves to be explored in its entirety. I recommend staying at least 4 nights and renting a car to experience as much of the island as you can.
Maui Travel Hack
So now that you’ve made it to the end of the post (first of all, congrats!) you may be dreaming of drinking a Mai Tai in Maui but thinking that staying at the Ritz Carlton is too expensive or slightly out of reach. Well, here’s my tip for making all your Ritz Carlton Maui dreams come true: Sign up for the Ritz Carlton credit card to get 2 free nights at the Ritz plus $300.00 USD travel credit. There is an annual fee of $450.00 USD for the card BUT with the $300.00 travel credit you receive back, it is like you are spending $150.00 for 2 nights at the Ritz – a steal! Another bonus for signing up with the Ritz Card is a membership to Priority Pass which grants you VIP lounge access at airports, plus a reimbursement for Global Entry/TSA Pre-check, which is a must for every traveler. So what are you waiting for? There is no bad time to visit Maui. [UPDATE: The Ritz Carlton card is no longer being offered. More credit card hacks & info here.]
29 thoughts on “A Luxury Maui Blog Post on Where to Stay + Everything You Should See & Do”
Oh wowww.. Such a beautiful place
we did most of these in Maui as well! Hana, mamas fish house, lahaina. its such a magical place! I would love to go back to the islands and visit Kuauai – ive never been!
Isn’t Maui so amazing? Kauai is also next on my list to visit when I go back to Hawaii. I hear it’s very different than Maui and I can’t wait to experience it!
We haven’t been to Maui yet, but I’d love to stay at the Ritz in Kapalua. They are a surprisingly very kid-friendly hotel chain. Your photos of the road to Hana are gorgeous!
The Ritz are very kid friendly! They offer amazing kids programs, and have designated play areas just for kids. I don’t have kids myself so I didn’t cover anything about what they offer for little ones but I did see many families on the resort. Thank you so much for reading I’m glad you enjoyed this post! 🙂
I’d love to visit Hawaii, it’s so beautiful and it looks like you had a great trip! Love the pictures and tips to enjoy this great location!
Your pictures are stunning. I felt as though I was there with you experiencing this gorgeous island. I would love to do the road to Hana one day. I don’t know if I would ever make it to Hana as I would want to stop and take pictures every 5 seconds. LOL! Thanks for the great post!
Haha, stopping for photos every 5 seconds is part of the experience 🙂
Ahh I really need to go to Maui, it looks like such a gorgeous island (I’ve only been to Oahu). Those waterfalls are insane. And staying at the Ritz must have been such an amazing experience!
I would love to go to Oahu next! And Kauai…there are so many beautiful islands in Hawaii but Maui sure is surreal.
So pretty. One of these days, I will get my husband to Maui. I’ve heard so many get things about it. It certainly is beautiful and your post gives so many things to do. Excellent ideas.
My husband loved Maui 🙂 I’m sure yours will too!
Sounds wonderful! I loved the Road to Hana and you have chosen lots of great stops along the way. I actually stayed in Hana for a couple nights and explored a bunch.
I would love to stay in Hana next time. I feel like there is still so much to see in the area! I can’t wait to go back.
Wow the Ritz looks gorgeous! Hawaii is such a pretty place with so much to do! Looks like you had a great time!
Wow the Ritz looks so gorgeous! Hawaii is such a beautiful place with so much to do! Looks like you had a great time!
Heaven on earth! I had a wonderful time, thank you for your comment! 🙂
That looks like such a gorgeous resort! We’ll have to check it out next time we go to Maui…which fingers crossed may be this year!
Yes!! I hope you visit both Maui and the Ritz. Happy travels!!
This is amazing timing- I was just looking up Hawaii last night, hoping to go later this year. Love the idea of whale watching- something I wanted to do in Vancouver but sadly never made it. Sounds like you had an amazing trip.
Perfect timing! I’m looking to go to Hawaii later this year and looking for inspiration on which island to pick and things to do. I didn’t know you could go whale watching and that is something I really wanted to do in Vancouver but didn’t get the chance. One up for Maui!
So happy to hear that, Hannah. You should definitely consider Maui – the island has so much to offer! Have an amazing trip!!
I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii! It looks stunning and your photos are beautiful! The whale watching experience looks amazing, I can’t imagine how beautiful they look in their natural habitat
Thank you! The whales were one of the greatest highlights of my trip. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!!
Wow this is amazing!!!
We lived on Oahu and got married on Kauai, but I’ve yet to make it to Maui. Your post just convinced me we need to go ASAP!
The road to Hana looks amazinggggg. Thanks for sharing your favorite stops. And thanks for telling us about the Ritz credit card! I’m all about the credit card sign up bonuses and this one sounds really good! I might just have to sign up 😀
Yes yes do it do it!! Kaui and Oahu are both high up on my list now that I’ve visited Maui. Can’t wait to explore more of Hawaii!!
We love Maui! I hope you tried Ululani’s Shave Ice! It’s our favorite on the island! And glad you experienced the Road to Hana! It’s breathtaking!
I did try Ululani’s while I was on front street! Sooo good! I should add this to the post!! 🙂