Kapalua, Hawaii – 23,000 acres of Maui Heaven

A Kapalua SunsetKapalua, Hawaii is an exclusive resort destination which is something of a best-kept-secret on the island of Maui. I hadn’t heard of it a few months ago, and now I can’t wait to go back.

Before we get into the delicious details, allow me to briefly make my case for why vacationing in Hawaii is like, the best idea ever:
1. All the comforts of home. As I mentioned in my article about the rainforest, Maui has Office Max, Barnes & Noble, Baskin Robbins; everything you secretly didn’t want to go without on your vacation.
2. In addition to the comforts of home, there are also active volcanoes, rainforests, and all your tropical adventure activities like zip-lining, parasailing and more — and don’t you feel a little safer doing that stuff in America, where you know insurance must be bananas?
3. Your money is good here. No changing of currency not only means you don’t have to do math, but you are also less likely to be ripped off by locals whose dollars are worth something else.
4. No customs, no passports, no weird, unexpected laws.
5. The time change works in your favor. Wanna sleep late? You can get away with it, because if you’re coming from the continental US or Canada, Hawaii is a few hours behind. I came from New York, so I would get up at 6 AM feeling like I slept till noon.
6. It’s freaking Hawaii. And yes, it is that gorgeous.

Onto Kapalua and the three places you can stay. Here’s one:
%Gallery-73767%So. Unless you’re into boats, Kapalua is typically reached by flying into Maui’s OGG international airport, then driving about 50 minutes around the perimeter of the island. Yes, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but there’s a volcano in your way (pesky) and it’s a beautiful drive.

There are three places you can stay in Kapalua, making it far more exclusive than Lahaina (which you pass on the way), where everyone and their mother has a hotel. The first and most beautiful digs in this blogger’s opinion is the Ritz-Carlton Club and Residences, nestled stylishly on Kapalua Bay, just steps from some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling in the world. The Residences consists of 84 private ownership properties which start at $4 million. If that’s laughably steep to you, consider the Club — 62 fully-furnished, deeded one-twelfth ownership properties (basically timeshares) which start at $350,000. The Club and Residences are elegantly appointed and fabulously designed — the architecture is stunning and distinctly Hawaiian — and extremely convenient to golf, the brand new Kapalua Spa, and more. Ownership also includes exclusive access to the Ritz-Carlton Club and Residences’ dining and pool, which are not to be missed. Click here for more on all that.

Now, let’s talk about accommodations for those of us who aren’t into buying (or don’t have 350 grand to spare); there’s the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua and the Kapalua Villas.The Kapalua Villas are a great choice for families, as they’re condo-style rentals complete with parking spaces and a large pineapple in every fridge. The Villas are divided into The Bay Villas and The Ridge Villas — and though staying at The Ridge means a bit of a hike to get down to the beach, the views are spectacular, and there are swimming pools on-site up there. Guests of the Kapalua Villas also have access to the pool areas at the Ritz-Carlton hotel, as well as free shuttles to get you all over Kapalua, including to golf, free tennis, and fabulous restaurants like The Plantation House and Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar. The Kapalua Villas run from just $169 per night to around $599, depending on size (up to three bedrooms) and season. And though they may provide the comforts of home like your own kitchen, free phone calls, and a daily newspaper, there is still maid service. Because you’re on vacation.

I know I said that the Ritz-Carlton Club and Residences was the most beautiful option, but the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua hotel is no slouch. The gorgeous, 54 acre property recently underwent a $180 million renovation, and includes a luscious spa and six dining options from the lobby bar with live music to fresh fish by the beach, as well as the extravagant and magical AAA Four Diamond restaurant The Banyan Tree, which sources 100 percent of its herbs from organic gardens located (and strollable) on the grounds. The Banyan Tree alone is worth your trip to Kapalua.

The Ritz-Carlton hotel is also equipped with residential-style rooms, so families who are looking for the hotel atmosphere but want to be able to cook are well provided for. Another amenity for both families, couples, and lone travelers is the Jean-Michel Cousteau Ambassadors of the Environment center on the property, which leads expeditions up to the Maunalei Arboretum Rainforest and takes guests snorkeling with underwater cameras in Kapalua Bay. You can ask about their monthly Give Back Getaway programs, or just arrange a trip to either destination privately with the center. Prices start at $299 and go up to around $6,500 for the lavish Royal Pacific Suite on the top floor.

Check out the gallery for photos of the Ritz-Carlton hotel, and visit Kapalua.com to learn more about this top-notch, cook-pine-peppered, fabulously luxe destination.

This trip was paid for by Kapalua Resort & The Ritz-Carlton, but the views expressed within the post are 100% my own.