If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that I posted a few photos of palm trees, blue skies, and sandy beaches late last year. After four years without a proper vacation, my better half and I decided it was time to treat ourselves.
It took us about 30 seconds to decide that we wanted to visit Maui. Paradise is just a six-hour flight away from Vancouver, and we were happy to make the trek. Since vacations are so few and far between for me, we decided to treat ourselves by staying at Kapalua Villas, luxury condo rentals on a picture-perfect golf course next to the ocean.
The only word that I can use to describe our trip is magical. I wanted a relaxing, lazy vacation full of beach days, road trips, and mellow mornings on our balcony, drinking coffee and breathing in the island air – and that’s exactly what we did.
I’ll be the first to admit that when I travel, I like to stay at swanky hotels. For some, a hotel is just a place to rest when they go on vacation. For me, it’s my temporary home, and I often take advantage of the amenities and services that are included.
The Kapalua Villas were even better than we expected. We got a fairway view villa, complete with a full kitchen so we could cook the majority of our meals and save money since we splurged on our resort. Coming from a city where cramped living is a standard for most residents, the villas were incredibly spacious: two bathrooms, two balconies, a bedroom that was the size of my entire apartment in Vancouver, and an open concept living room, kitchen, and dining room.
Thanks to a few helpful friends and family members, we made the most of our visit by doing a combination of exploring and relaxing:
Snorkelling – We quickly discovered that we loved snorkelling in Maui and went to numerous bays to (respectfully) spot eels, coral, fish, sea urchins, and sea turtles. We purchased our own snorkelling gear in Vancouver before we left so we didn’t have to worry about repeatedly renting gear. We used the GyPSy app (see below) to find some popular and hidden snorkelling spots, and visited a new beach everyday.
GyPSy – The best $10 that we spent on the entire trip was downloading the GyPSy App; this is an absolute must if you’re renting a car and driving around the island. Without using any data (which means you won’t get any surprise charges on your phone bill), the GyPSy uses cell phone signals to essentially turn your car into a tour bus. We activated ours every time we got in the car, and learned about everything from pineapple plantations to the best (and often secret) viewpoints.
Mount Haleakalā – At 10,023 feet, Mount Haleakalā was another one of our can’t-miss spots. Many websites suggest going for the sunrise, but since we couldn’t bring ourselves to set our alarm for 4:30AM, we decided to go for the sunset. The sky turned vibrant shades of candy-coloured hues, and it was worth the 1.5 hour drive up the mountain. Be sure to bring blankets, sweaters, and pants, as it gets very cold very quickly.
Eating gluten-free in Maui definitely had its challenges; in fact, finding fast, fresh, healthy food proved to be a challenge quite quickly. On our second day, we made the trip to Costco, choosing our ingredients carefully and planning the majority of our meals. It was definitely worth the trip, as the prices at Costco were noticeably less than the local grocery stores and markets.
We only ate three meals out during our trip, but our absolute favourite wasn’t the most expensive, fancy, or flashy. In fact, it was our most economical meal: Star Noodle in Lahaina. A mouth-watering menu of noodles, fresh drinks, and desserts, the food was fresh, not overly greasy, and they were more than happy to work around my gluten-free diet. I highly recommend the Filipino bacon and eggs, garlic noodles, and pad thai.
My favourite part of the trip was actually a complete surprise to us. We hadn’t planned on making it part of our vacation, but it was the icing on the already mouth-watering cake: Kapalua Spa. Unbeknownst to us, access to the spa was included in our condo rental, meaning we could use the infinity pool, outdoor waterfall shower, steam room, sauna, and other spa facilities. Luckily, I dropped by the spa the day of our arrival to book an outdoor couples massage, and the staff informed me of the complementary access. After just one visit, we started ending our afternoons off at the Kapalua Spa to watch the sunset and get ready for our evening plans. If you’re considering getting a couples massage while in Maui, I highly recommend it. A massage just feet away from the ocean and among the songs of the island birds is something that I’ll never forget.
All in all, Maui was magnificent. We both agreed that ten days in paradise wasn’t enough, so we are already planning our next visit to the island. It likely won’t happen for a while, but Maui is certainly worth the wait. Mahalo, Maui!
Disclosure: This post is not sponsored by any of the above mentioned parties. All opinions expressed are my own.