Whether you want to go on a golf trip with the guys, experience a romantic anniversary getaway or just sit on the beach, Maui provides plenty of choices. This Hawaiian paradise offers 17 golf courses, some of the world’s most luxurious resorts and postcard-perfect scenery throughout the 729-square-mile island barely bigger than metropolitan L.A.
While Kapalua, Makena and Wailea will resonate with the golf crowd and discerning travelers will be drawn to the Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons, the island offers plenty of other diversions, including world-class dining, fishing, art, whale watching and nature excursions.
Perhaps best known for its sand-and-surf culture, Maui offers sun worshippers a unique mix of white, gold, black, green, garnet and salt-and-pepper sand on 81 accessible beaches, as well as year-round average temperatures in the 70s and 80s. Early January to mid-February is especially ideal because it’s the off-season, with deals to be had and few crowds to compete with—on the links or in the ocean.
Kapalua Resort, refined in the tradition of the former plantation it inhabits, presents three lavish, expansive layouts. The centerpiece is the Coore/Crenshaw-designed Plantation, host of the PGA Tour’s season-opening Mercedes Championships in January. Play Plantation first; the Bay course will seem like breather.
Extravagant Wailea Golf Club awaits with three courses of its own on the sunny southern end of the island dominated by 10,023-foot Mount Haleakala. The Blue is a friendly resort track where the biggest hazard is humpback whale viewing. The Emerald and Gold are both Robert Trent Jones Jr. designs. The former is a lush, tropical playground and the latter is a bust-loose, bunker-heavy test that’s home to the Wendy’s Champions Skins Game.
Makena sits on 1,800 natural acres with only one luxury hotel and two RTJ Jr. courses. The North is mauka (mountainside)—a hill-climbing, ravine-spanning, lava-flirting spectacle that feels as ruggedly remote as perfectly coddled golf can get. The South is makai (oceanside) and features a recently tweaked layout that provides a sense of serenity that only proximity to the aptly named Pacific Ocean can provide.
Kapalua Bay Hotel
Maui Prince Makena
Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea
Grand Wailea Resort & Spa
Tequila shrimp and firecracker rice at David Paul’s Lahaina Grill; Ka’uiki Pacific Rim fusion at Hotel Hana Maui; Seawatch Restaurant, Wailea; Spago at Four Seasons; Old Lahaina Luau.
Post-round drinks at the Beach House, fronting historic D.T. Fleming Beach; kayaking, scuba diving and snorkeling at the beaches of Ka’anapali, Makena and Kama’ole; Hana Coast Gallery, Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Bailey House Museum.