I am not a beach vacation sort of gal, as I can't sit still for long and never understood the desire to "layout" in the sun. Although many people do flock to Maui for just that, the island is filled with multisport adventure possibilities. We packed our days with everything from hiking and cycling to SUP surfing and snorkeling amongst bales of green sea turtles and tropical fish. And yes, we enjoyed a Mai Tai or two.
One of my favorite days was spent hiking the lush West Maui Mountains in the morning, then snorkeling along the lava reefs of the south shore in the afternoon, with a big dose of local culture thrown in between. In my own version of the NY Times "36 Hours in X", here is my Adventure Day in Maui.
Based on our experience, mornings are the best time to head out for your active land based pursuits such as hiking and cycling. By the time afternoon hits, it's just too hot to do anything but be in the water. The one exception is snorkeling, as sometimes visibility is best in the morning.
7:00am (or even earlier, as you will still be on mainland time): Join the locals and hit up Home Maid Bakery in Wailuku for fresh, made to order malasadas. The malasada is basically a Portuguese donut, introduced to Hawaiians during the 19th century. Portuguese plantation workers would use up all of their butter and sugar before Lent by making malasadas, dubbing the day Malasada Day. The confections are now available year round in many bakeries across the State. In my opinion, skip the sugar coated plain version and go straight for the cream filled. These are definitely worth the decadent calories.
8:00am: Walk off your fried dough breakfast by hiking 1500 feet straight up the Waihe'e Ridge in the West Maui Mountains. As you ascend, beautiful views unfold over Kahului, across to Haleakala, and deep into the lush rainforest filled valleys. At times I felt like I was on the set of Lost, waiting for the smoke monster to appear. The trail can get muddy and you will most definitely be annoyed by all the helicopters buzzing in your ear, but the scenery, vegetation, and views across the island are worth it.
11:00am: Grab your lunch at TJ's Warehouse. Housed in the Maui Chemical & Paper Products building in the Wailuku Industrial Park, this Asian grocery store serves up an amazing array of bento boxes and ready to eat items at the okazuya deli counter to either grab for a picnic at the beach or enjoy along with the local workers at tables just outside in the parking lot. What might normally cost you upwards of $40 dollars in a restaurant, you can get for under $7 at TJ's. Terry bought a huge Unagi Bento Box for just $6.95.
1:00pm: Grab your snorkel gear and head to Turtle Town. This tiny lava reef alcove off of Makena Road south of Wailea can be filled with hundreds of green sea turtles, as the surrounding caves are a favorite place for them to rest and the reef is filled with sea grass for them to eat. Spend the afternoon floating in awe of the turtles' grace and stellar surfing ability.
4:00-5:30: Head to Monkeypod Kitchen in Wailea for Happy Hour and in my opinion, THE best Mai Tai on the island. Using all locally grown or caught ingredients, the wonderfully fresh and delicious food is reasonably priced at this hour, and can be enjoyed out on the patio, with the warm ocean breeze brushing against your salty skin, gazing up at Haleakala in the distance.
6:00-8:00: Take a sunset stroll up and down the 1 1/2 mile long Wailea Coastal Walk, stopping every so often to enjoy the views or one of the five white sand beaches. Depending on the time of year, you might even see humpback whales breaching offshore with Lanai as a backdrop.
Don't blame me if you never want to come home.