How the heck are we turning the corner on a new month already? November might signal the start of winter across much of the globe, but here in Hawaii it’s the official onset of the tourist season. And is it any wonder? While most of the continental U.S. (to say nothing of other countries) are beginning to experience the first cold fronts—if not full-on rain, wind, sleet, and snow—Hawaii remains near perfect with its balmy temps and brilliant skies. Snowbirds open up their houses for the winter, families arrive for Thanksgiving break, big-wave surfers trek to the North Shore, and the thrill of the upcoming holidays buzzes all the way from beach to luau. I’m so excited to be partnering with Maui Information Guide today to share seven ways to spend your Maui Days if you are heading to the center of the Pacific this November
Surf Lessons + Sunset Whale Watching Tour
Hawaii is famous for surfing legends and massive waves. But don’t worry, if you book a Maui surf lesson, you’ll be taken only to mellow easily managed waves to learn the craft. By the end of your lesson, you’ll be standing and experiencing the thrill of traveling with the ocean’s energy, something you’ll never forget!
One of the biggest draws to Maui during the winter months—beyond the beauty that lasts all year—is the chance to see the first North Pacific Humpback whales leaping through the water. 40-tons, 60-feet long, and breathtaking in their immensity and grace, these marine marvels arrive in the sub-tropical waters to birth, breed, and calve—as well as breach, arch, and tail slap. The potential to see them up-close is made all the more exhilarating with Kai Kanani. Their deluxe catamaran is sheer elegance; their staff knowledgeable and fun. November is still pretty early, but we begin seeing whales journey to our waters in late November and December. If you don’t see whales, you’ll still have a great time enjoying sunset on the water.
Molokini Snorkeling + Merriman’s Kapalua
Depart from one of the closest points to Molokini Crater for a quick, wild ride to snorkel this famous crater. Leaving from Kihei Boat Ramp, you’ll board Redline Rafting for a small group Molokini snorkeling tour. At the crater, you’ll see slopes of reef, schools of fish, and possibly octopus, manta ray, sharks and more! After your snorkel adventure, explore the beaches up and down the south and west side of Maui.
Once you’ve washed the salt off, don your aloha finest for an unforgettable evening at Merriman’s. Located between Napili and Kapulua Bays on Maui’s west side, this posh venue boasts panoramic views, a swoon-worthy fire pit, and the culinary creations of famed chef, Peter Merriman. Start with the searing-hot ono with papaya salsa, move on to a Big Island chevre and Kula strawberry salad, and then dig into Keahole-pulled lobster. If paradise had a taste, this would be it in spades.
Spreckelsville Beach + Paia Christmas Shopping
Historically speaking, Claus Spreckels—a Hanover industrialist who emigrated to the United States with no more than a single German thaler to his name—might be more closely tied to sugarcane fields than protected reefs. But one of the best beaches on Maui’s North Shore bears his namesake—a shielded lagoon, to the east of Baldwin Beach, that offers white sand, stunning ironwoods, and glorious views of the central coastline. Snorkel, sunbathe, walk the sand dunes, and enjoy the sight of the waves before making your way to the heart of Paia, a lively, one-stoplight town that presents some of the island’s top shopping. Here, you can check everyone off your upcoming Christmas list—naughty or nice—with board shorts, bikinis, jewelry, paintings, sarongs, even exquisitely-made wooden puzzles of honu. Dining options are a’plenty in Paia’s hub; for a true Maui experience, pop into Charley’s—a divey Hawaiian landmark that first opened its saloon doors in 1969. Sit at the bar for chicken and waffles (and an ice-cold beer) and feel the musician soul rove through it all—this is one of Willie Nelson’s favorite spots on the island.
Made in Maui County Festival + The Mill House
You might have crossed everyone off your list bouncing around Paia, but what about, well, you? Explore the foreign concept at the annual Made in Maui County Festival—a vibrant, two-day event, held at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, that highlights the island’s profuse talent with 140 vendorsselling everything from locally-crafted wine to one-of-a-kind dresses. It’s really the best event to find products actually made in Hawaii. Food trucks, music, camaraderie, and “choke” guests—as in a record 10,000 in 2017—render this one of the most highly anticipated weekends in Maui Nui. Take a walk along the water at Sandpiles in Waiehu before journeying to The Mill House for an extraordinary dinner. Tucked into the Maui Tropical Plantation, this exquisite venue brings the farm to your table by looking to the land and sea for its menu’s inspiration. And inspired it is—as in Maui’s Most Innovative Menu, 2017, in the annual ‘Aipono Awards—with dishes ranging from bone marrow with taro leaf risotto to gnocchi with fried quinoa and chili butter. End it all with a banana cream beignet and a dark roast French press—coffee is just one of the crops that’s grown right outside The Mill House’s kitchen.
Rainforest Rappel + Casanova
Excitement on Maui isn’t reserved for the ocean: Some of the most electrifying adventures are found in its sultry jungles. One to try: Rappelling down a 60-foot tropical cliff with a canyoneering crew that puts YOLO to the ultimate test. With Rappel Maui, you’ll not only evoke your inner explorer, you’ll also see enormous waterfalls, raging streams (when the water is high), and lush rainforests. Refuel on a trip to Makawao, where Casanova—a treasured spot that’s been in business since 1986—plates out Italian dishes with a tropical twist (like cioppino with fresh island fish).
Extreme Surf Watching + Haleakala Sunset
Widely known as “Jaws,” Pe‘ahi may have earned its moniker for the astonishment and terror it stirs up. Home to some of the largest waves in the world—on select days during the winter months, swells can reach 60 feet high—this globally-renowned break serves as part of the Big Wave World Tour and attracts the bravest, most radical (and arguably) most talented surfers from around the planet. Enjoy its epic-ness as a bystander—these massive waves are impossible to forget—before seeing a spectacle of another kind: the summit of Haleakala volcano. Aboard Skyline Hawaii—an environmentally and culturally conscious company that blends sightseeing with facts, Hawaiian lore, and excellent energy—you can kick back and relish a sunset that seems to go on forever.
Polo Beach + Wailea Restaurant Week
Wailea beaches are, in a word, crowd-pleasers—coves of fine white sand, translucent blue water, perennially sunny skies, and views of the outlying islands. Polo Beach may be one of the savviest ways to spend one of your Maui days, with its terrific swimming conditions and the chance to rent a canoe or stand up paddle board from the bordering Fairmont Kea Lani. Bring a book or nothing at all—this place epitomizes what vacations are made for. When the sun begins to set, take advantage of November’s designation as Wailea Restaurant Week, wherein 21 venues along the tony south side offer incredible price-fixed menus and vistas that are one-of-a-kind. Go with Mediterranean fare at Pita Paradise, try hyper-local inspirations at The Restaurant at Hotel Wailea (one of the 100 Most Romantic U.S. Restaurants, according to OpenTable), or experience what masterminds can do with a fish at the aptly-named Humuhumunukunukuapua’a. (Bonus points: A portion of Wailea Restaurant Week’s proceeds go to the Maui Food Bank.)
Helicopter Tour + Masters of Slack Key
Dizzying-in-their-height sea cliffs, thundering waterfalls, verdant gulches—some of Maui’s most outstanding sights require more than boots on the ground or a boat. Enter Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. Deemed “Hawaii’s premiere helicopter company” by National Geographic, Blue Hawaiian utilizes quiet technology, super-skilled pilots, and crafts known for their safety to take you to Maui County’s remotest and most striking locations. Six tours are offered from their heliport in Kahului; choose your flavor—from the wet rainforests of Hana to the lunarscape of Haleakala—before trying not to blink on the awesome ride. Come dusk, head back to the west side, where slack key—a form of guitar playing unique to Hawaii—is performed in all its gorgeous harmony at the Napili Kai Beach Resort. This is the sound of Maui—mellow, melodic, romantic—and for which local and kama’aina are eternally grateful.
So, who is booking their trip to Maui this fall? If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy The Ultimate Guide To Maui or Our Stay at Hotel Wailea!