Maui takes R & R to another level, with new luxury hotels, elevated cuisine, and SUP yoga. Two tickets to paradise, please.
Gazing toward the horizon from the stylish open-air lobby at the new Andaz Maui in Wailea, the ocean’s immeasurable expanse seems within arm’s reach. Three levels of sparkling infinity pools vie for your attention, and if this doesn’t relax you, book an omakase treatment at the Awili Spa. For lunch, a gooey lobster grilled cheese at the Bumbeye Beach Bar calls your name. If the Andaz is where sophisticates sojourn, an hour away in Ka’anapali, the Hyatt Regency is where budget-conscious young families and frisky collegiates stay. The property has a lively pool scene, complete with neon umbrella drinks, and the nightly all-you-can-eat luau. A jam-packed fitness schedule (7 a.m. power yoga, anyone?) provides opportunities to work off sushi from the property’s award-winning restaurant, Japengo. If you like your tropical weather with a side of cool trade winds, head to the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua on the north coast, where the mercury drops 10 degrees (exhibit A: pine trees!). The resort’s Jean-Michel Cousteau Center offers naturalist-led underwater photo safaris and rainforest hikes in the name of environmental exploration. Golfers should be sure to book a tee time at Kapalua’s famous Plantation Course, where the PGA Tour stops once a year. Nearby, the Montage Kapalua Bay debuts this spring.
Go to Morimoto Maui (808-243-4766), the Iron Chef’s second Hawaiian outpost, for the delectable hand-rolled sushi, but stay for the oysters on the half-shell, upgraded with an impossibly rich bump of foie gras; the delicately fried tempura sweet-and-sour rock shrimp; and the silken tofu with a light drizzle of housemade ponzu, made tableside, weather permitting. The Japanese fare at Sansei Sushi has a local following for its affordable award-winning food: think Dungeness crab ramen with Asian truffle broth, a highly evolved cousin of the dorm-room staple known as Cup Noodles. Even though former Top Chef finalist Sheldon Simeon is no longer manning the kitchen at Star Noodle, the joint still suffers from a fame-induced two-hour wait time. But many will attest that the lip-smacking garlic noodles and Vietnamese crêpes with shrimp and spicy-sweet nuoc cham sauce are worth the wait.
Take a Blue Hawaiian chopper for a bird’s-eye view not just of Maui’s moonscape mountains and verdant valleys, but also of the dramatic sea cliffs on nearby Molokai, where Steven Spielberg shot the opening scene for Jurassic Park III (the movie’s theme song cues up in the helicopter cabin just as the precipices come into view). A zip line excursion is another exhilarating way to take flight. Skyline Eco Adventures offers two tours on Maui; we prefer the Ka’anapali circuit—eight zip lines that whiz you through the West Maui Mountains at breakneck speed. If you prefer ocean sports to aerial feats, try yoga on the ocean, using a stand up paddleboard as a “mat.” Tracy, the Andaz’ resident yogi, offers an 8 a.m. class on Fridays. Since the wobbly surface makes even downward dog a core challenge, imagine the ab-sculpting benefit of a water-based triangle pose. Word to the wise: Skip the Lululemon and don a bikini instead. Falling in is just part of the fun.