There’s nothing like the mainland.
Between subzero weather and indoor malls, traffic jams and police shootings, it’s a wonder why I ever hopped on a plane to move back to Maui.
This place? Time moves like Hamakua honey. The last time I heard a siren, Trump’s candidacy was nothing but a joke and the world had only dreamed of seeing Kim K. held at gunpoint.
The sun sets in sorbet colors, the aloha spirit is palpable, and wardrobe decisions don’t get any more difficult than selecting a pair of Havaianas.
In other words, what the hell am I doing here?
Catching my breath after sixteen years in the craziness that is the continental US, if you must know. That and perfecting my duck dive and hunting for a sugar daddy, but that’s neither here nor there. (Or is it, handsome?)
In any case, I know the aches and pains of life on the mainland—405, anyone?—and frankly, there’s something heavenly about feeling your pulse reach a steady level and hearing little more than waves slap against the shore.
Me thinks you might be hoping for a similar respite on your Valley Isle stay. Drop that smartphone, dodge the crowds and find some serious quiet at these 6 Maui sanctuaries:
How would I know? Why, this is where I was raised—in a little shack (not grass, though we sure smoked a lot of it) on the west end.
That shack is dust and mansions have taken its place, but the beach is just as I remember it—silent, hauntingly beautiful and emptier than an indie author’s book reading.
Comprised of black sand, the beach sits under the shadow of Pu’u O’Lai, a red-veined cinder cone that is the result of Haleakala’s last lava flow. This is mighty impressive and much appreciated, considering that it frames some of the finest views on Maui. Kaho’olawe, Molokini and Lanai sleep on the horizon like beached whales and tourist-heavy Lahaina glimmers safely from a distance.
To the west, you’ll find tide pools teeming with beauties (if that’s your thing) and enough vacancy to go topless.
Happen to be a gent? Keep your pants on, Little Beach is on the other side of the mountain.
Waihe’e Ridge Trail
What’s a Hawaiian vacation without getting your heartrate pumping, while spectacular views spool in front of you?
True, true: Hiking only offers trekkers the chance to catch their breath at the end of the trail, but a jaunt up Waihe’e Ridge or the famous Road to Hana tour is worth every bead of sweat. The acme of this path offers vistas so grand and gorgeous that you’ll wonder why humans ever bother themselves with shit like spreadsheets.
Picture Maui and you probably imagine palms sashaying in the trades and aqua water brimming with magical dolphins.
That’s an apt understanding of the world’s favorite island. But, Maui is also home to forests so soundless that you can hear pine needles—yes, pine needles—splinter and fall to the ground.
Meanwhile, rainbow eucalyptuses scent the chilly air and streams trickle through the grounds, like the music in your therapist’s waiting room. It’s kinda like being stuck in a Robert Frost poem, had that bard ever visited the tropics.
If you’re anything like me, playing cowboy for a day is about as appealing as signing up for a tour of Idaho’s potato farms.
But—no accounting for taste and all that—I would be remiss to leave Piiholo Ranch off this list.
Located just beyond Makawao—a veritable paniolo town that still holds evidence of Maui’s rustic past—Piiholo is upcountry beauty at its finest. The trees are immense, the jungles are thick and the only traffic you’ll hear will be the traumatic echoes of rush hour between your ears.
Come here to saddle up a horse, fly on a zipline or just chill and watch the clouds pass by. Smoke some pakalolo beforehand and you’ll be amazed by the shapes you’ll find in the sky.
Considering that the average American spends a whopping 100 hours per year commuting, driving 45 minutes to get a loaf of banana bread and bum through a gallery doesn’t sound like that big of a deal, does it?
Situated on the island’s northwest side, simply getting to Kahahuloa is half the fun. Spellbinding scenery whips by your eyes, as you pass the tony resorts in Ka’anapali, before getting a taste of Maui’s wilder side.
The village itself is definitely quiet, but the real peace you’ll find is at any number of stops along the way. The views are splendid, the cars are few and the beaches are largely undisturbed.
And, yes, banana bread (thought you lost me there, didn’t you?). Calling Julia’s baked goods the best is up for debate, but her banana loafs are perfectly spongy and balanced. Grab some lilikoi butter, stroll through Kaukini Gallery and acquaint yourself with those voices in your head. (They’ve been waiting.)
Hana gets all of the love and often for good reason: It’s one of the most epic places on the planet—and it’s certainly one of the serenest spots on the island.
Alas, I’m not the only one aware of this fact. But, if you’re looking for wide open spaces upon which to meditate, you’ll find it in Hana only in pockets.
The good news for tired, stressed out you is that the backside of Hana is available for cruising, if you’ve got the balls to do it.
Past Kipahulu, you’ll find a cliff-hugging road that’s thinner than one of Courtney Love’s pre-rehab thighs and just as rough as her past. The drops are sheer and the curves are sharp, but the solitude it presents is astounding.
Think: lava landscapes, bucolic fields and beaches so deserted that you could probably bury a body and get away with it.
Bury your troubles instead. This is the Maui no one knows, where time comes to a standstill and you won’t get a single bar on your smartphone. And, if that’s not utter harmony, what is?