(credit: Christine Kirk)

While Los Angeles has its fair share of beaches, there’s nothing quite like getting out of Dodge, in search of tropical breezes and fruity cocktails with little umbrellas. Maui, Hawaii is an ideal getaway destination for Angelenos looking for an escape, just five hours away from LAX, with direct flights by all the major airlines. Here is our list of top things to do on Maui and recharge your batteries.


Click to watch video of the whales. (credit: Christine Kirk)

Humpback Whale Watching

Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment Center
The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua
(808) 665-7292
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During humpback whale season, the best whale watching on Maui is through the Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment program offered exclusively by the Ritz. The Zodiac Expedition is the most intimate whale watching adventure, getting you up-close and personal with these behemoth, yet graceful mammals. Forget those big catamaran tours with 100+ people, the Zodiac ensures that every seat is front row. Before you hit the water, a thirty minute tutorial is included by a knowledgeable naturalist, who provides insight into humpback whales, and teaches proper terminology like “spout,” “breach,” and “footprint.”

(credit: Christine Kirk)


Maui Dive Shop
2435 Kaanapali Parkway
Lahaina, HI 96761
(808) 661-5117
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Maui has wonderful snorkel spots, the most well-known being “Black Rock” on the famed Ka’anapali Beach. However, try “Airport Beach” (as it’s called by the locals) just north of Black Rock. Here, you’ll find an enormous stretch of coral reef right off shore and minimal waves. Tip: Skip renting snorkel gear from the resorts where they overcharge. Try the Maui Dive Shop in nearby Whaler’s Village. Snorkel sets go for $5 a day or $20 for an entire week.

The Plantation Course, Hole #18. (credit: http://www.kapalua.com)


The Plantation Course
2000 Plantation Club Dr # B
Lahaina, HI 96761-8781
(808) 669-8877
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The par 73, 7,411-yard Plantation Course, is the course of the champions and site of the PGA TOUR Hyundai Tournament of Champions each January featuring an elite field of previous year’s PGA TOUR winners. It’s been played by golf greats like Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh.


(credit: Merrimen's Restaurant)

Merriman’s Restaurant Kapalua

One Bay Club Place
Lahaina, Hawaii 96761
(808) 669-6400
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Merriman’s Kapalua is the idyllic Maui restaurant — open-air, on a bluff overlooking the ocean, with the most picturesque sunsets you’ll find.  More than just a pretty picture, it offers the best gourmet cuisine Hawaii has to offer. Executive Chef and Owner Peter Merriman offers fish that was caught the same morning and uses vegetables harvested the day that they are served. Say hello to Brandi Romain, the GM at the restaurant, who is warm and friendly, and embodies the Aloha Spirit.  My favorite? The Merriman’s Original Wok Charred Ahi and Butter Poached Keahole Lobster. Paradise!

(credit: Christine Kirk)

Star Noodle

286 Kupuohi St
Lahaina, HI 96761
(808) 667-5400
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Star Noodle is for the traveler who wants to go where the locals eat.  Located in the industrial district of Lahaina hidden between warehouses, there’s nary an ocean view in sight. But, Hawaii’s acclaimed Chef Sheldon Simeon churns out some of the best food Maui has to offer. It’s homey, the staff treats the restaurant as their own, and the food is…epic. Try the “Vietnamese Crepe” with shrimp, pork, and bean sprouts or the “Pad Thai”. The “Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Kim Chee Puree” are definitely not the ones your mom used to make. For dessert, order “Malasadas”, these hot, sugar-rolled donuts with chocolate and butterscotch caramel sauces and peanuts won’t disappoint.

(credit: Mala Ocean Tavern)

Mala Ocean Tavern

1307 Front Street, Lahaina
Maui, Hawaii 96761
(808) 667-9394
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Located right on the water, in the heart of Lahaina Cannery Row’s Front Street, Mala combines delicious cocktails, great food, and an intimate outdoor seating space to watch the sunsets. Be sure to take a stroll along Front Street’s Cannery Row to browse quaint shops, local jewelry stores, and art galleries after dinner. My menu must-haves were the “Hood Cana Oyster Shooter”, with ponzu — a citrus-based sauce — wasabi, Tobiko caviar and Chives. The seared “Ahi Bruschetta on Flax Seed Toast”, with Olowalu tomatoes and edamame purée were also yummy. For dessert get Chef Mark’s signature dish, the “Caramel Miranda”. You can thank me later.


(credit: Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua)

The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua

One Ritz-Carlton Drive
Kapalua, Island of Maui
Hawaii 96761 USA
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The Ritz-Carlton is a luxurious resort destination nestled up near the northern most point of Maui in Kapalua. One of the most unique places on the island, Kapalua features Norfolk pine trees, making for an “alpine tropical paradise” that is ideal for relaxing and unwinding. Guest rooms are gorgeously designed with island accents, wood floors, spacious baths, and sliding glass doors that automatically turn the air-conditioning off, so you can let the tropical breezes in.


Christine Kirk advises luxury hospitality, technology, and lifestyle brands on social media marketing, public relations campaigns, and online branding. Visit her website at http://www.socialmuse.com or follow her on twitter @LuxuryPRGal.