Maui Beach Review – Blend into Paradise by adopting the unique language – Mahalo!
Written By - Alex Richwagen
When I think of a tropical paradise, here’s what I ultimately envision: I want be on an island, have tremendous beach sand, warm water, and plenty of things to do and see (not to mention WIFI of course, haha). Let me be one of many to tell you that Maui Beach hits all of the requirements. Maui Beach has been rated one of the best beaches in the world several times by various articles. I must say, I agree 100%. The scenery and beautiful ocean breeze surely does not disappoint. The setting is amazing and is definitely one of those to knock off “your bucket list” at some point.
I stayed at the Hyatt Regency while I was in Maui, which I’ll get into later, but one of the great things about this stretch of beach is the walking/running path. See the path in the picture above. While in Maui, I woke up several times around 6-7 a.m. to catch the morning breeze for a morning jog along with several others looking for the same thing. It’s extremely relaxing to the soul just running next to the ocean water crashing against the shoreline while getting some fun exercise. Even if you don’t want to use it for a jog, it just as great for a stroll with the wind at your back and sun in your face.
The sand is more unique than any other sand I have come across as it has a mix of a soft canvas with an interesting tan brown color. In the accompanying water are several black rocks scattered along the beach that are very cool in general to look at, touch, and feel their smooth surface. They kind of resemble a type of granite look and feel. The water itself keeps a constant temperature of about 75-80 degrees of perfection that is the clearest I have ever seen. It’s like looking to the bottom of the pool, but obviously with sand instead of concrete. Very cool to see. This is key for folks like my fiancé who love to see what’s below the surface to feel safe roaming around in the ocean water. Like I said, very cool if you haven’t seen water like it before.
Just down the shoreline south of the Hyatt Regency is a wall of the black rocks that stand about 20-30 feet tall above the shoreline. This is called “Black Rock.” The section is right past the Maui Sheraton and serves as the public beach access point for folks that are looking to explore. In my opinion, it was a very safe area for families and kids, with no sightings of scary sea creatures (like sharks, jellyfish, manowar, etc.). Just below the surface contains a very interesting and must see collection of coral reef. This is a very traditional spot to do some snorkeling.
In order to go snorkeling, you are going to need some gear. There’s plenty of local spots along the walking path on the beach to rent snorkeling gear so don’t worry about options. Here’s a hint about getting a better price. If you rent along the shoreline, you are likely to pay $20 for a few hours of $30-40 for the day. I rented mine from a local spot called Bob’s Snorkeling Gear for $9 per 24 hours, which was a much better deal than the ones along the beach. Snorkeling down by Black Rock has plenty to see below the water’s surface like several types of beautiful fish (Raccoon Butterfly, Rainbow Butterfly, and Yellow-Tail Wrasse) as well as giant sea turtles swimming around the coral reef. If snorkeling isn’t your deal, don’t worry. There’s plenty of other options at the local spots like paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and simply backpack chairs to relax by the shoreline.
There’s two adventures I would highly recommend while in Maui, the first is the Maui Sunrise. It might be one of the most breathtaking sights you will ever see. It’s about 1.5 hours from the Maui Beaches shoreline and you’ll want to leave no later than 3 a.m. (yep, it’s that early) to catch the sunrise. While we were there, the sunrise was at 5:57 a.m. and completely threw off our sleep schedule, but was well worth it. The Haleakala Summit sits atop a volcano crater and is located in the Haleakala National Park. Here are some quick tips –
Wear warm clothes – Remember, the crater is 10,000 feet above sea level and was 48 degrees while we were there in August. I’d suggest wearing some thermal wear, shoes, and even bringing a blanket to stay warm.
Leave early - We left around 3 a.m. to make it there by 5:20 a.m. The last 30 minutes can take up to 60 minutes due to the windy road on a volcano with steep hills. Plus, you do not want to miss the sunrise if waking up that early.
Bring a snack – Granola bars will save your stomach from growling, trust me.
Bring a Camera – You will want to capture the memories
Bring friends / family – It was so beautiful, it only makes sense to share it with friends in life
The second adventure is called Road to Hana. This trip of a lifetime displays Maui’s beautiful landscape, waterfalls, and of course, the culture. Please truly take in the Hawaiian culture and relax on this journey. Don’t be afraid to jump in the waterfalls, learn the history, and smell the fresh lavender flowers along the way. There’s two ways to do this 3.5 hour tour. First of which is just drive yourselves. If choosing this option, be sure to pack lots of food the night before, and go all the way to Hana and backtrack. You will run into far less traffic this way and it helps get back to the original departure instead of backtracking at the end. The second way, and more convenient, is to rent a coach tour and let someone else handle the driving. I found a fantastic guide online at Frommer’s.com that I would highly recommend using or download an app on the smartphone for $5. Best $5 EVER!
I mentioned in the beginning that I stayed at the Hyatt Regency. It’s a premium luxury spot to stay while in Maui and has everything you’d expect from a luxury hotel. The hotel is right on the beach with two interconnecting pools. The pool is a great spot to play some outdoor water games like Cornholeonwater as we did while there. There’s an outdoor bar, Umalu, that has all the cocktails and food selections needed for a perfect day near the water. While by the pool, we grabbed a few chicken sandwiches, shredded pork potstickers, and a shredded pork quesadilla that was loaded with meat (very tasty). The next day we had a very fresh salad, Paniolo, with chicken, fresh corn, tortilla chips, and a few other ingredients (see a full menu here). I forgot to mention, the ocean breeze will relax the dickens out of you.
None of our food choices disappointed satisfying our heavy hunger pains after a long day in the pool and sun. Drinks prices are what you would expect – Beers around $5-7 per draft/bottle and mixed drinks around $8-10. Another hint – Go to the hotel convenience store, Accents, and grab a six pack of beer for $10 and bring it with you, the staff doesn’t seem to mind (just put it in a cup). Connecting the two pool areas is a really cool swim-up bar called the Grotto Bar, which is covered with shade by a rock cave. The bar has exits on both side that take you back to the sunshine, but provides some shade in Hawaii to keep you from getting too hot.
On the other side of the Grotto Bar is a kid’s area complete with a pool slide, fountains, and soft sand to keep the kiddies entertained. Nearby is a fun adult slide that spits you out in a 9 foot pool and lasts just long enough to lose your bearings for a moment. It’s just fast enough to build up speed and make a huge splash where your friends will be waiting to cheer you on at the end of the slide. What about the rest of Maui? Let’s get to it.
Along that fantastic walkway I mentioned earlier, there are a slew of restaurants to enjoy a bite to eat along with the breeze from the ocean.
Sugar House Island Kitchen – The Sugar House resides at the Westin in Maui right along the walkway. The term sugar in Sugar House refers to the hand tossed thin crust pizzas in case you were wondering like I was at the time. They have a great selection of food to choose from on the full menu here. Here’s a few items that we tried and really liked. If you want a pizza, be sure to grab the Hot & Sweet as it’s covered with arugula, pepperoni, fire roasted peppers, mozzarella, and some hot chile oil to top it off. The combination of the peppers, arugula, and chile oil really set it off and make your taste buds dance. For appetizers, just go ahead and get the Day Boat Fish Tacos (lightly tempura Mahi Mahi with smoked chile cream on top of a cabbage landing) and the Sugar Cane Satay (teriyaki chicken skewers with spicy peanut sauce) to start off the meal. Both offer a taste of Hawaii’s spice and fresh fish. For our entrée, we couldn’t resist more skewers, opting for the Grilled Shrimp Island Skewers served over pineapple fried rice. The combination of the spicy shrimp and sweet local pineapple hit the spot. If you happen to going there earlier during the day, they have a daily happy hour stating at 2:30 p.m.
Hula Grill Barefoot Bar – I would heavily advise getting here early as the patio fills up very quickly. The Barefoot Bar is at the edge of the Whaler’s Village, offering up great scenery with food to match. For anyone used to Bahama Breeze (Darden’s Restaurant), it has a very similar feel to it. Considering the wait, we opted to grab a few barstools and have dinner there. Let me be the first to tell you that I will always choose simple food done very well than complicated dinner that goes wrong. Given that, the Barefoot Bar fits the bill. We ordered a Hula Cheeseburger with Fries and the FireCracker Fish entrée (island fish, spicy aioli, with avocado black bean salsa). Both packed a punch of flavor and were just prepared extremely well despite a packed house of guests all eating at once.
Maui Fish & Pasta – We heard from the locals at our hotel to make sure to check this place out. Since our schedule was tight, we only managed lunch one day, but it was well worth it. We went with the Pasta Bolognese and the Pan Seared White Shrimp on Kula Corn Ravioli, based on recommendations from the server. The Bolognese was extremely flavorful with a well-balanced in house marina sauce to match the salty parmesan cheese, sautéed beef with yellow onions, and garlic. The shrimp and ravioli was a unique blend of fresh basil pesto, tomatoes, and Parmesan-Reggiano cheese. See the full menu here to look at everything they have to offer.
Kaanapali Luau – There were a few options to attend a traditional Hawaiian Luau, but this one stood above the rest as far as other reviews and local recommendations. The Luau is just down the street from the strip of hotels and the beach walkway and isn’t very far to drive or a cab. I think the setting of the Luau is the first thing to talk about as it backs up to the ocean to provide a perfect backdrop at sunset. The stage is set in the middle of a circular like seating area providing a great view from anywhere. I bring this up because we checked a few other locations that had a less than ideal setup for seating. Anyway, just like most Luaus, Kaanapali boasts very tender pork that pulls a part with a fork, fresh fish, and an array of sides to choose from at dinner. This is definitely your spot for a traditional Hawaiian Luau.
Cool Cat – The Cool Cat Bar & Grill is located in the old section of Maui in the downtown district. The restaurant itself is located on the upper level of Front Street providing a nice view of the downtown area. The spot is known for its burgers, so naturally, that’s where we ended up with our meal. I ended up with “The Duke” and changed out the onion rings for grilled onions and the BBQ Sauce on side leaving us with a Hand Cut Bacon Cheeseburger with grilled onions to spare. Let me give you a tip on the sauces. Ask the server for the in house BBQ sauce instead of the traditional and a side of the in house hot sauce as well. Both pack a lot of flavor and spice especially with the hot sauce. The burger was cooked a perfect medium with a warm pink center, crisp outside, perfectly melted cheese, and that burger juice running down the side of your arm to let you know it’s juicy. Since all the burgers come a la carte, we grabbed a basket of onion rings & fries for the group of six, which was plenty. Good spot to grab a burger and beer in downtown Maui. Enjoy! Full Menu Here…
After spending about a week in Maui, it’s easy to see I enjoyed my stay. I’d highly recommend staying the same amount of time due to the travel time it takes to get there. Travel with family and friends to make Maui a destination of choice to spend with loved ones. Maui will always be special for me and I hope it will be for you. If you would like to add to the article or feel like I missed your favorite spot, please feel free to leave it in the comments section so others can see too. I’m always willing to learn a new spot or ideas when it comes to Maui, Hawaii.