Megan, owner of Bridie Travel, and Robyn, from the Hawaii Visitors Bureau, chat about the current travel restrictions and what the Island looks like today, amidst the pandemic. Robyn has been traveling to Hawaii for over 20 years and she shares her experience while she is on the islands and touches on some hidden gems and must-do activities to make your honeymoon in Maui unforgettable.
You can watch the entire video or read the highlights below!
What the experience is like in Maui right now (during COVID) and the differences you will notice while traveling there
There are protocols in place, but there are step-by-step instructions. You have to take the pre-test before you come, but that’s what a travel advisor like Megan is for: to give you all of the information on where to test and how you need to do it. It’s simple – you take the test, you upload your test results to an app, you show your credentials when you arrive and you’re really free to enjoy the destination. And I think, the one misnomer, no matter where you live, we’ve got new protocols that we’re all living in.
You can find the current travel restrictions for Maui here: https://www.mauicounty.gov/2393/Coronavirus-COVID-19-Transportation-Rela.
Hawaii is a destination that always prioritizes health and safety because it is an Island community. You are required to wear masks in public. For example, if you’re in a restaurant you must wear a mask until you sit down and you’re seated for dinner or if you’re walking to the pool. You may be wearing a mask out of respect for everybody, but then you can sit down and relax. If you’re walking along the beach, and as long as you can social distance outdoors, there’s no need to wear a mask. It’s really a mutual respect kind of atmosphere.
You’ll see slight differences if you have been to Hawaii before, and if you haven’t been it’s the same concept of just social distancing and limiting capacity. The traditional luau experience would have 500 people and people sharing tables and going to a buffet to serve themselves. Now you will see half the people, about 250, and now families and couples have their own private tables with table service where they bring the dishes to your table so that you’re not going to a buffet. It’s really more of an intimate, special experience now. You still have incredible entertainment and the setting is right on the ocean with a gorgeous backdrop of the sun setting.
Maui Island Locations
A beautiful stretch of beach and with a variety of different levels of hotels and resorts. You can find a variety of accommodations from condos to 3.5 star to 5-star resorts with full amenities, like the newly renovated Westin and Hyatt Regency.
Kaanapali is also close to the town of Lahaina, which is a charming little town right on the ocean with lots of shopping, dining options, and some nightlife. The port is also in Lahaina and this is where you would take a sunset cocktail & dinner cruise.
Kaanapali would be a good fit for your honeymoon in Maui if you want to be near golf, activities, dining experiences, and nightlife.
Wailea is a bit more upscale and has a country club-type feel. You will find gorgeous, mostly high-end properties, like Four Seasons, Grand Wailea, Andaz Wailea, and the Fairmont Kea Lani. There is a beautiful boardwalk that faces the ocean, which is great for walking and running.
There is more high-end dining and Wailea is a little bit quieter than Kaanapali. It’s great for honeymooners who have just had a hectic wedding and want to chill in luxury. You will still have access to shopping, dining, and beautiful beaches.
During the winter months, Wailea, being further south, tends to be a little bit warmer and less windy. You will experience more Tradewinds in Kaanapali, but it’s a nice breeze during a hot day. Both areas really have a great variety of activities, but just a little bit different of a feel.
Drive up the slopes of Mt Haleakala and you’re in upcountry Maui. You will find farms, ranches, lavender farms, vineyards, and charming small towns.
Hawaii is very unique in that it is a destination with beautiful resorts, but it’s so much more than a resort experience – it truly is a destination experience. You can carve out your trip by spending a couple of relaxing days at the pool or the beach or going to the spa, but dedicating some time to explore the land of unspoiled Maui and the Hawaiian Islands.
I always encourage my clients to rent a car because they will want to get out and explore these islands. Everything is so spread out so you want easy access to get to these activities and destinations.
A convertible or Jeep is always a fun added touch. When you have a convertible you can put the top down and experience all the senses. As you explore the island you can smell the green and air and feel the Tradewinds. As you drive through Kaanapali you will feel the Tradewinds and as you drive through Hana you’ll see the lush greenery of the rainforest and feel the moisture in the air.
Insider Tip: There is Uber in Maui, but if you Uber all over the Island, it would cost you way more than it would with a rental car.
Activities: Off the beaten path and hidden gems
You always hear about sunset sails and snorkeling during a honeymoon in Maui, and those are amazing, but there is so much more to do. That’s where Megan can help you plan an amazing itinerary. Here are some of our favorite activities that are popular and off the beaten path:
Mt Heakala (means the ‘house of the sun’)
You can actually go up to the summit of Haleakala crater, which is the world’s largest dormant volcano. Going up at sunrise, you’re at 10,000, 23 feet in elevation. You look out over this cloud-covered crater as the sun seemingly rises out of the center. It is an absolutely magical experience. You can go up at other times, but there’s truly something so magical about the dawning of a new day.
Important: You have to purchase a parking pass via recreation.gov. They currently go on sale 7 days prior at 7am HST. They sell out super fast so be sure to create an account first. They only release 50 parking passes so they sell out in a matter of minutes. If you can’t get tickets you can book a tour to bike down 23 miles, which is an amazing experience.
Fairmont – outrigger canoe at sunrise (free)
If you’re staying at the Fairmont Kea Lani they include an Outrigger sunrise tour with your resort fee.
The Outrigger canoe is something Polynesian and allows you to connect to the Hawaiian culture. You must book this in advance. You will head down to the beach in the morning and there will be a Kupyna or an elder and a guide to greet you by blowing into a conch shell to signify the start of a new day. Once you paddle out to sea in the Outrigger canoe, you will experience the sun rising over the sea and see whales and dolphins swimming nearby. It’s an absolutely beautiful and peaceful experience no one should miss.
There are tons of whales from November to March! Definitely a must-see for a honeymoon in Maui!
Ferry to Lanai
The most common misconception about the Hawaiian islands is that people think you can take a boat to each one, but that is not true. You have to fly to each of them, with the exception of Lanai, Maui’s sister island. There are only 3,000 people and you can take a 45-minute ferry from Maui or fly there in about 15 minutes. You can experience two islands without the hassle of getting to the airport and checking your bags. You can easily bring a bottle of wine in your bag and there’s no additional testing when you travel between Maui and the sister Island, which is a huge plus!
You will arrive at Hulopoe Bay in Lanai which is on the South Shore and you will see dolphins frolicking in the surf, which is absolutely spectacular. There are a few hotels on Lanai, one being the incredible Sensei Lanai, which is a Four Seasons Resort. This is an adult-only property with a focus on wellness and an incredible spa. It is absolutely one of the most unique places with beautiful gardens, yoga, hiking, and excursions.
Sensei Lanai is located in the UpCountry of Lanai and you are surrounded by Norfolk pine trees and is super lush. It’s almost a microclimate area – can be a bit cooler or, sometimes misty.
The Four Seasons also has a beachfront resort, which you can easily access from Sensei. One of the best beaches–Hulopoe Bay– has a wonderful farm-to-table restaurant.
You really can visit Lanai for the day or get pampered and stay at the 5 star Four Seasons Lanai.
Insider tip: You will want (or should I say need) a four-wheel-drive vehicle because there are only 30 miles of paved road.
Road to Hana
The Road to Hana officially starts near Kahului Airport on the North end of the island and is about 52 miles along the North coast. You’ll experience approximately 617 curves and 54 one-lane bridges. You definitely want to take your time and plan to do it all day. Enjoy the journey, get a picnic lunch and make stops. Be sure to grab some banana bread along the way, but save your appetite for Hana Farms.
Hana Farms is a new local restaurant, which produces its own locally grown veggies and herbs. They have local fish, roasted Kalua pork with fresh microgreens, and house-made sodas with syrups. It’s really a hidden gem that can’t be missed!
Rappelling down waterfalls (near Hana in Paia)
If you’re looking for an adventure, this is for you. At the Garden of Eden, which is a beautiful garden and arboretum, you will meet your rappelling guides. They outfit you with your gear and you will hike a short distance to private canyons and waterfalls. You will start out with a practice rappel, but then you will go down the incredible waterfalls. Not only do you get to experience this beautiful garden, but rappelling down is unforgettable.
Insider Tip: I recommend doing a morning excursion so you can continue on down the Road to Hana.
Romantic restaurants and hotel lounges
Andaz Wailea Lounge
The lounge is on the third level, overlooking these lay layers of infinity pools with fire pits, live music, great cocktails. They have the best lobster grilled cheese sandwich – it is legendary. But it was absolutely lovely and it’s at sunset. It’s just, just, you know, absolutely magical. One of my favorite and other like romantic things to do.
Sunset Sail Dinner
One of my favorite sunset sails is Alli Nui. They are operating at lower capacity so there are only 20 people on the boat right now. This sunset dinner cruise is one not to be missed – they have an incredible spread of steak, shrimp, poke and cheesecakes. To top it off they serve you champagne, wines and top shelf liquor in any cocktail.
Mama’s Fish House
is just an icon in Maui, right there in the town of Paia. Definitely make your reservation in advance since it books up real fast. You will be seated right on the ocean and book it at sunset for a special dinner to remember.
Private Dinner Experiences
Most of the hotels will prepare private dinners in the cabana right on the beach or at the pool for you. Talk about social distancing!
Farm to Table type experiences in Up Country
O’o Farms is located on the slopes of Mt Haleakala in Up Country. They try to grow all of their own produce to be self-sustainable and you can take a little tour with a local farmer. The chef prepares a lovely gourmet organic lunch and you can bring some wine with you from the winery nearby.
The winery makes their own red, white, sparkling and even pineapple wine. Or grab some organic ocean vodka from the distillery. They have an ocean vodka distillery that makes amazing organic vodka. You can really spend an afternoon in Up Country visiting the lavender farm, winery, ocean distillery and grabbing some goat cheese balls from surfing goat dairy. So many fun and different experiences with amazing views!
Lahaina Favorite restaurants
Lahaina is the perfect spot to be right on the ocean, listen to live music, enjoy fresh fish and just enjoy the Hawaiian life. Some favorites are Five Star Noodle with the shrimp tempura the size of your head and Kimo’s famous burgers.
Insider tip: Live entertainment is typically 7 days a week, but given the scenario we are living in right now, you may want to call the restaurant/lounge/hotel to find out what time and days they have live entertainment.
Ideal time frame for experiencing Maui
If you plan on going only to Maui, a 7 night minimum from the midwest and east coast is suggested since it will be a 10-12 hour travel day with a 4-6 hour time difference. You will gain time going to Maui and your return flight will most likely be a red-eye, which means you will arrive home the next morning. If you do it too short, it doesn’t give you enough time to really relax and truly experience what Maui has to offer.
Many of my clients want to island hop to get a different island experience. I always recommend to my clients an absolute minimum of 4 nights, but that is honestly too short – 5 nights would be ideal before you head to the next island.
Advice and tips on planning a honeymoon in Maui/Hawaii in General
It’s important to work with a knowledgeable advisor as the protocols change and there are so many choices – from the resort areas, resorts, activities, etc.
If you don’t want to plan out all of your days, at least book those big things, like a luau and your parking pass to view the sunrise or sunset at Mt Haleakala. Just have an idea of when you’re going to do activities since the Road to Hana is an all day activity. I don’t want you going home upset that you missed out on something – believe me I missed out on seeing the Waimea Canyon in Kauai and I am still bummed about it!
When you go to Mt Haleakala, you will want to do it your first full morning on the island. You will be waking up early because of the time difference so you might as well wake up a little extra early (around 2 or 3am) to start making your way up the summit of Mt Haleakala. If you miss the sunrise, don’t worry, the sunset is just as good!
Make dinner reservations in advance. Since dining is opening up, they have limited capacity. Be sure to get off the resort property and visit the local places like the Poke Shack.
Hawaii in general really lends itself to social distancing with having a car, getting off the path, eating at all the amazing restaurants outdoors, it’s truly a spectacular destination to experience right now.
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