As our time on Maui has come to an end and we are back into survival mode in the frozen tundra of Alberta, I’ve been reflecting on the highlights of our trip. From the best golf on Maui to the best food, there are no shortage of great memories.
The island has so much to offer — golf, fresh seafood, scenic drives, hiking, beautiful sunsets, lava fields, Luau’s, whale watching, recreating in the ocean, and more. Did I mention it has a Costco?
The one thing that surprised me about Maui is how big it actually is. For whatever reason, I expected everything to be no more than a 20 minute drive. I was mistaken. We stayed in South Kihei and to get up to Kapalua, for example, took a solid hour.
It’s hard to do everything in just a couple of weeks. You’d have to spend a lot more time on Maui to truly experience everything it has to offer, while still fitting in sufficient time to relax on the beach. Although we didn’t do everything (after all, you have to leave something to come back for), here is GiM’s “Best of Maui”:
Best Value Golf – Pukalani Country Club
For only $65 (including a cart) or $45 for Hawaiian residents, Pukalani debunks the notion that playing golf in Hawaii is too expensive. It’s not just cheap, it’s also a helluva lot of fun to play.
Best Golf Course Design – Kapalua Plantation Course
You all know this golf course from watching the Tournament of Champions every January. I can safely say that television does not do the terrain and views justice. They give you lots of room to drive the golf ball, but challenge you with endless contours, several blind shots, and well protected, sloping greens. I’m sure there’s a flat spot on that golf course somewhere, I just couldn’t find it.
The par-5 18th hole from the fairway:
Best 19th Hole – Maui Nui Golf Course
With a patio that provides a beautiful view of sunset, and awesome happy hour specials, I highly recommend planning to finish your round sometime during their 4pm to 6pm happy hour. Or make a special trip — it’ll still be worth it.
Best Service at a Golf Course – Manele Golf Course (on Lanai)
OK, Manele isn’t technically on Maui, however, taking the 45-minute ferry ride over to Lanai makes for a great little excursion. The experience was unlike any other, and their 5-star service is a big part of that. The aloha spirit at this golf course keeps you smiling the whole round, and leaves you itching to go back.
Enjoying the ferry over to Lanai with Maui behind us (and watching for whales):
Best Golf Value/Experience Combo – Kaanapali Golf Courses
I didn’t know too much about the Kaanapali Golf Courses going in, but they exceeded expectations. Both the Royal and the Kai courses were a lot of fun to play. There was a lot more undulation and elevation change than I expected from both of these courses, providing some scenic ocean views throughout a good portion of the round. With very friendly, welcoming staff who provide great service, Kaanapali is a no-brainer for a mid-range price on Maui (approx $120-$160).
Best Overall Golf Experience – Manele Golf Course (on Lanai)
The design of Manele Golf Course was a very close second to the Plantation Course at Kapalua, but the elevated service and welcoming feeling you get at Manele gives them a strong edge for overall experience.
When you know it’s going to be a great day. View overlooking the driving range:
Best Happy Hour – Three’s Bar and Grill
I can’t figure out what I like more — the patio with live acoustic music and view of the setting sun, or the $3.50 cocktails and huge selection of quality appetizer specials. Just go here between 3pm and 6pm and you won’t regret it.
Best Fish and Chips – Paia Fish Market Kihei
Loved this place so much we had to go back a second time. The fish and chips are killer, and the beers are cold. I don’t know how I can possibly make a better case for stopping here.
Best Fish Tacos – Jawz Food Truck
We found this guy parked along the road between Wailea and Makena. Whether you’re on a leisurely drive, or coming back from surfing and snorkelling in the Makena area, it’s well worth a stop. I’m a sucker for delicious truck food.
Best Calamari – Kina’ole Food Truck
Safely the best calamari I’ve ever had. I never crave calamari, but I found myself craving their calamari. A short walk from Kamaole Beach 1 made this food truck dangerously convenient on beach days.
Best Adventure – The ascent to Haleakala Crater.
From sea level to soaring above the clouds at 10,023 feet in an hour to an hour and a half drive, with accessible lookouts along the way and lots of hiking options once you arrive. Cost is $15 per car. Very, very worth it.
Driving back down into the clouds:
One of those “awe” moments at the crater summit:
What I learned about Maui is that it doesn’t matter if you’re there for golf, adventure, lazing on the beach, the food, or a little bit of everything like us, you can have a great time.
To those lucky readers out there who have been to Maui — what would your “Best of Maui” look like?
Happy golfing, and Mahalo!