The Valley Isle 8

Where Outdoor Adventure—and Relaxation—Awaits

Our mountains are beautiful, and they offer endless escapes and adventures. But on the other side of the world, bathed in fresh and vibrant shades of green, are a different set of mountains that harbor a whole new side of adventure.

Set in a string of paradisiacal isles, Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian islands, offering 727 square miles of idyllic escape. Folks like to call it the Valley Isle, and with good reason; the island’s soaring mountains and scooped plateaus play in perfect harmony, stunning sights that stunt our own Carolina peaks. The winding paths, dense forests and sheer waterfalls make for an outdoorsman’s paradise, while pristine beaches gift moments of relaxed respite. Pack your bags (don’t forget your raincoat) and cross the continent for a holiday that’s part relaxed, part adventure, and all outdoors.

Rest Up

Intrepid families looking to explore the natural side of Maui can rest their heads at the Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa, a sprawling campus tucked into the western curve of Maui’s Kā‘anapali Beach. The Hyatt intentionally capitalizes on the natural beauty of the island and works in tandem with it. You’ll find the stunning scenes of Maui incorporated into the landscape that surrounds the hotel, while the hotel itself is devoted to sustainability, from using as many locally-sourced ingredients as possible, to building with LEED design in mind (the resort achieved a Silver level green building certification, the first in Hawaii to do so).

The Hyatt’s location gives your family unparalleled access to the west side of Maui, but you might not want to leave. With a swim-up grotto bar, plenty of fun programming for kids, one of the finest beaches in the world and excellent dining—like award-winning sushi restaurant Japengo—there’s plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors without ever leaving.

If you’re leaving the kids at home, your head should rest on a plush pillow at Hotel Wailea. This chic couples-only resort is drenched in authentic Hawaiian style and pure, unadulterated luxury. At just 72 suites, it’s small, and it feels as exclusive as it sounds. Its acreage abounds with lush, zen-inspired landscapes and manicured corners begging to be discovered. The pool and its cabanas make the most of Maui’s sunshine, serving it up with serenity and comfortable affluence.

Like the Hyatt, Hotel Wailea is meditative in its incorporation of the natural with the manmade, bringing the outdoors in. Whether that’s on the restaurant’s menu, which includes a bevy of locally-sourced ingredients, or the eco-friendly electric bicycles to cruise around the coast, you never forget the natural beauty that abounds around and within the hotel.

Get Outside

The resorts offer temptation and reprieve, but the call of the wild will beckon. Maui is a trove of winding roads, sheer cliffs, dense forests and crashing waves. But it’s also very, very big. Folks familiar with the outdoors and with plenty of time on their hands could explore the mountains for themselves, but having a local, knowledgeable guide by your side is invaluable.

Maui native Kellen Ferguson founded Local Maui Tours with the intention of sharing the true beauty of the island with visitors. For now it’s a one-man show, and it feels as intimate and personalized as you’d expect. Ferguson loads guests in his van and takes them on an adventure they won’t forget, one that’s completely structured to their style. If you embark on the Halfway to Hana tour, you might pull over for a romp through a bamboo forest, climb up a rocky river and her waterfalls, ascend the mountain and swim through a pool and dance in the waterfall at the peak. It’s the kind of sweaty, dirty adventure outdoorsmen will love.

As much as the tour is about muddy, vibrant exploration of nature, it’s also about the exploration of Maui’s culture. Perhaps you’ll stop for lunch at an impromptu barbecue stand and chat with a local about the island, or pick up a loaf of fresh banana bread. You’ll sway to the sound of the beach and watch surfers test the waves in a remote cove, and talk to the popular turtle advocate on the sandy shores of the beach. The beauty of Maui lies not just in her land, but her soul.

Whether you decide to explore the bountiful natural riches of Maui with a guide or on your own, from the bumpy passenger seat of a jeep or the cool underside of a poolside umbrella, Maui’s outdoors are calling.