I just got back from a week in Maui. It was raining on my last day so the post-vacation shock was somewhat mitigated. I haven't been to the Hawaiian isle in almost eight years. In addition to the stunning natural beauty, I was impressed by the scope of hotel, dining and shopping options.
Here are some of my top picks, mainly from the southern end of the island, so the Kihei, Wailea areas, which is where I stayed.
Pools at Andaz
The Andaz hotel Wailea* is easily the chicest hotel on the island. Opened in summer 2013, the airy decor here makes this hotel feel so much fresher and more modern than other hotels in the area. The focal point is the four cascading infinity pools that make their way down to the Wailea walkway and the beach. Rooms look simple yet sophisticated, with clean white decor, wood finishings and ikat print textiles. The coffee shop carries the best gluten free coffee cake I’ve ever had.
Morimoto Angry Chicken. Photo: Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle
There is no shortage of dining options in Maui, many of which will put a good dent in your pocketbook. Morimoto’s eponymous restaurant at the Andaz hotel was so delicious, I ate there twice. The iron chef doesn’t disappoint with the spicy shrimp tempura, blackened cod or angry chicken. And duck confit fried rice is divine.
For more casual and less pricey fare, try Monkeypod. Its hilly perch at Wailea Gateway Place is well situated for sunset viewing. It has some of the best drinks on the island. Try the Monkeypod Mai Tai or the Pod Thai. Also good for family dining.
Top Chef: Seattle finalist Sheldon Simeon’s Migrant at the Marriott Wailea is also a must visit. The street corn, Filipino style sweet pork and Korean fried chicken were all finger licking good.
When you’re up north in Paia, try The Flatbread Company for pizza (gf crusts available too) and organic salads made with locally sourced produce and dairy. This is what avocados and goat cheese are supposed to taste like.
If you’re in the market for beachwear or bathing suits, Maui is the place to shop. Locally made Letarte has a storefront in the quaint surfer town of Paia, but their swimwear and cover-ups can be found in almost every swim shop. For the best selection, try Cabana at the Four Seasons or Cruise at the Grand Wailea. I could have brought home a whole suitcase of goodies.
When the clouds roll in (there’s a reason it’s so lush here), head to the Shops at Wailea. Far better than Whalers village, check out Canyon Beachwear, Maui Waterworks and Tommy Bahama. This location is half shop, half restaurant. (The coconut shrimp is legendary.) I like the Gap here too, as it carries workout clothing, pjs and undergarments and has sales galore.
Of course you’ll spend much of your time swimming, snorkeling and maybe even surfing. When you’re ready for some exploring, head to the above mentioned Paia and to Makawau, which is a little further up the road. This charming Western style town town is dotted with cute restaurants, galleries and shops. Grab a donut at the old school Kimoda bakery before you amble back to the beach shores.
One final tip. If you’re staying in a condo and have a Safeway Club Card, be sure to bring it. There are great deals to be had, especially in the wine aisles.
*I didn’t stay at the Andaz but hope to on my next visit. If you have stayed there, would love to hear about your experience!