‘Somewhere over the rainbow, blue birds fly…’ drifts up to our balcony, but it’s not any version of the song I’ve heard before. Instead, the strings of a ukulele and a low voice take this song back to basics – add in the backdrop of crashing waves and the wind gently moving through the palm trees, and this moment is so uniquely Hawaiian, it will stay with me forever. The ukulele originated in Hawaii back in the 1800s, but it wasn’t until Jason Castro sang this song, on this instrument, in front of the world (ok, ok, it was on American Idol), that the humble ukulele catapulted back to stardom. You don’t have to go far to learn how to serenade someone – most hotels offer free lessons as part of the resort fee. The Fairmont Kea Lani’s group lessons are always popular. Pluck a few strings next to the pool, or the beach, and you’ll win over hearts in no time.
This is just one of the moments that convinced me Maui has a special kind of magic. Here’s a few more reasons why you and your special someone should put this island paradise on your list:
There’s something incredibly romantic about a waterfall. In Maui they seem to be around just about every corner. Especially when you’re on the Road to Hana. This world famous 100km road will take your breath away – not just when you drive past dramatic waterfalls sending their spray right up onto the car window. There’s more than 60 one way bridges along this winding road that takes you through rainforest to the peaceful town of Hana. Download the GyPSy app for GPS-tracked narration as you drive to ensure you don’t miss some of the hidden waterfalls tucked off the road. Twin Falls is just a short walk back from the road near the start of the drive and a real stunner. Grab a smoothie from the roadside shack for the rest of the drive.
2. Whale watching
While it doesn’t sound particularly romantic, trust me, watching a mother Humpback whale teach her calf how to breach is a moment you’ll both treasure. Many destinations are famous for their ‘whale watching’ but Maui is one of the few places I’ve been where you don’t need to go anywhere to watch them. The oceanfront resorts along the Wailea coast are practically prime time seats – sit on the sand, your balcony, even the bar, and keep your eyes on the ocean – whales lazily launch into the air not even 100 metres from shore, raising a tail or a flipper, startling kayakers and stand up paddle boarders from dawn until dusk. If you’re after a wild ride, book onto the Molokini Wild Side Snorkel Tour out to the Molokini Crater. The 54 foot Ocean Explorer gets closer to the crater than other tour boats, and the savvy guides have the best tip – put your snorkel on, your head under and listen. If you’re lucky, you’ll hear the soul aching song of whales singing to each other. Whale season kicks off at the start of the year, so get your trip booked in early now while there’s great deals on Hawaiian Islands.
3. Dining under the stars
Looking for a way to really wow your sweetheart? You’ve got two options. Book a heart achingly romantic dinner at The Restaurant, adult only Hotel Wailea’s fine dining venue and request seats out on the balcony to watch the sunset while sipping crisp champagne and dining on locally sourced island-to-table dishes like burrata and Tamimi Farm tomatoes and torched Ahi tuna. Or, get your hearts racing with a flaming performance by traditional Polynesian fire throwers at the Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott’s Luau. The Te Au Moana luau tells the history of the Polynesian cultures through song and dance, to the dramatic backdrop of the Marriott’s sprawling manicured grounds and 180 degree ocean front views. Wearing a fresh flower Lei, you’ll try traditional underground oven cooking – the unveiling of the roast pork is a main event – before settling in for quite the show. Whether you’re dining at a luau or a fine dining restaurant, this is your chance to get dressed up. You’ll see plenty of couples making the most of their resort wardrobes – think maxi dresses and chinos. There’s no need to stint on the wardrobe – book your long haul flights and your connection through to Maui on one Hawaii Airlines ticket for a real bonus – 2 x 32 kilos of checked baggage at no cost all the way from New Zealand. Hawaiian Airlines is famous for its generosity when it comes to baggage on international flights, with two bags the standard allowance, but this way you get to take advantage of that same quota on the domestic island hop too.
4. Sunrise on the water
When you’re on holiday, waking up for sunrise sometimes seems counter intuitive. If you’re ever given the chance to see sunrise from an outrigger canoe, set your alarm immediately. At most hotels, outrigger canoe trips run throughout the day and are part of your resort fee, but the early bird gets the worm, and the earliest paddles are the best. After a quick on-shore lesson, we push our wooden canoe into the water, with the guide doing most of the work upfront. We simply pop up over the gentle waves Wailea is known for, and glide out onto the silent water, getting a good distance from shore in quick time. The guide stops us to look down at the ocean floor – it’s crystal clear and we watch fish dart past. I’ve got my eyes out for a whale, as yesterday’s morning crew saw a few, but they’re sleeping in this morning. Instead, we cruise over to the rocky shore to meet some turtles. With the water so clear, we spend 10 minutes peering down at the coral and the turtles. We catch a baby wave to glide back into shore – now that’s a great way to start the day.
5. Spa time
What’s a romantic holiday without a couple’s massage? At the Andaz Maui’s Awili Spa, the focus is on blending traditional local and Eastern wellness experiences. Visits start at the blending bar, for an Apothecary Blending Experience to pick the oil just right for you. Request an ocean view treatment room, with a view of the adults only pool (put that on your post-massage to do list) and settle in for a Hawaiian Lomilomi massage. Nicknamed the ‘Loving Hands’ massage, its combination of deep tissue work and flowing strokes is a winner.
It’s never been easier to get to Maui, with Hawaiian Airlines flying from Auckland to Honolulu several times a week. The flight to Maui from Honolulu is a quick 40 minutes, with departures every half hour or every hour from 5am all the way through to 10pm. You’ll get a whopping 64 kilos of checked luggage (2 x 32 kilo bags), food by Hawaiian Airline’s Executive Chef Lee Anne Wong, drinks and top notch entertainment to keep you occupied. The Hawaiian punch just before landing is a very nice way to get the holiday started.
Whether you want to bliss out, go adventuring or settle in for a night under the stars, Maui’s magic is made for a romantic getaway.
For great deals on the Hawaiian Islands, click here.
Lisa was the guest of Hawaii Tourism and Hawaiian Airlines