The Best of Maui’s Ka’anapali Beach

My first visit to Hawaii in December and I loved it! Why? Ka’anapali Beach Maui, that’s why. I loved the fresh take on the Holiday Season — so unique seeing Christmas trees, decorated with surfboards no less, against the Pacific and the weather is cooler than in summer. It’s the best.

Christmas tree, decorated with surfboards.

“Is December a good time to go?” Yes! Maui is a great place to spend December. But really, is there a bad time to visit Maui? I’ve visited quite a few times and I would have to say, “no.” In the spirit of aloha, I’d like to share some highlights with you.

Standing on Ceremony

Our flight arrived at night. The next morning, early at 6:15 a.m., I was blessed to participate in a purification and cleansing ceremony. When I met with the group for a Hi’uwai and E ala E ceremony, or ritual, I didn’t think too much about it and had no expectations. What did I know about traditional Hawaiian culture? I found it fascinating that Hi’uwai and E ala E are for when one feels unbalanced. I found it similar to my meditating in nature practice, so I was eager to include the ocean.

Ever since I read “The Miracle of Water” by Masaru Emoto, I feel at peace with the seas and have a better understanding of the power of water and its magical qualities. (Think about packing this book on your next transcontinental and/or transoceanic flight.)

“During the Hi’uwai, you dedicate time to thinking about your life, the people who came before you,” according to Mr. Naeloe, goes by the name Keppa, (short for lokepa).

Here are some Hi’uwai basics. First, we made our way into the water.  You can just get your toes wet, completely submerge your body, or somewhere in between. I chose only to get my feet wet. Then, we reunited on the shore, facing east and chanted E ala E until the sun came up. The sunrise represents the birth canal opening and is nature’s way of offering forgiveness, a new day, and a chance to reset one’s life’s path.

Did I feel different afterwards? Yes, but since I have a meditation practice, I’m very familiar with the sense of calm after a session of contemplation, especially in the presence of Mother Nature.

Hi’uwai and E ala E ceremony

For those wanting to participate in the Hi’uwai and E ala E rituals, it’s best to inquire with a hotel’s concierge for assistance. These are genuine cultural experiences. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Discovering How to Help Marine Life

Believe it or not, the Hawaiian Islands serve as a colander for all the trash of the North Pacific Basin. The water passes through and what remains is The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a coil of floating debris bigger than Texas. Enter the Hawaii Wildlife Fund. Made up of volunteers from around the globe who not only collect the marine debris but use it to create art and for research purposes. According to their website, they remove an estimated 15-20 tons per year, mostly large bundles of net and line (many weighing over 1,000 pounds).

On my next visit to Maui, I want to participate in the Hawai‘i Nei Marine Debris Removal Project. So far, 369,393 pounds have been removed. Want to join me? Read this story and see all the good we can do together.

Ka’anapali Ali

Celebrating Traditional Hawaiian Crafts & Culture

Maui isn’t just about chasing sunsets and rainbows. And neither am I. We’re a good fit, Maui and me. My first local experience was creating some Hawaii memories with Lei Po’o @TheWestinMaui and catching this dramatic sunset.

Dramatic sunset from The Lanai. The Westin Maui Resort which finished phase 2 of it’s planned $130 million refurbishment.
Gorgeous view from @TheWestinMaui

The Westin Maui Resort & Spa is committed to the community and keeping the traditional culture alive. There are lei making classes available at the property. Make sure to stop by and learn how to make your own leis from materials found right in your backyard! Almost any type of flowers, leaves, ferns, and so on may be used to make a lei. Take a peek at the lei-making lesson I took.

Where to Dine

Our welcome dinner with the Ka’anapali Beach Resort Association was at HuiHui Restaurant. Believe me, the pictures don’t do the food justice. The meal was out of this world (those words don’t do it justice either). Take a virtual tour. It’s the newest oceanside restaurant in the Ka’anapali Beach Resort Association and the setting is pretty spectacular. I think after your virtual tour, you’ll definitely want to dine here.  Those scrumptious lobster dumplings were my favorite. If you only have three nights in Maui, make the HuiHui a restaurant must. I love their cocktails and even went back the next day and ordered a chocolate espresso martini.

Ka’anapali Alii

For our last three nights, we stayed in a luxury condominium at Ka’anapali Alii. The General Manager and his team prepared a BBQ cookout by the sea. I loved watching other families dine by the ocean as the Grill Master orchestrated their experiences, adding flavor with his special spices. A home cooked meal by the ocean — magical! The Grill Master will recommend how you can marinate your food, and I noticed he brought his own sauce to toss the salads. I like that you can use the fresh herbs grown on the property.

Meet the Ka’anapali Alii team!

I thoroughly enjoyed the casual dinner and conversation with this fun group of new friends. If we had an extra night, I definitely would have revisited the BBQ by the sea with Grill Master Cromwell Baclay. Mahalo for taking the time out of your busy schedule to share a beautiful meal with us.

Our farewell dinner was at the Hula Grill. Here’s what I enjoyed: COCONUT SEAFOOD CHOWDER (lobster, shrimp, fresh fish, bok choy, shiitake mushrooms, peanuts, coconut cilantro broth) and WOOD GRILLED FISH (sauteed local vegetables, surfing goat cheese, aged balsamic, roasted red pepper romesco). I really can’t tell you which one to order. They were both excellent!

Interesting tidbit: Venison is a special dish served in many restaurants. On neighboring Molokai Island, deer overpopulation is a big problem as they have no natural predators. And there’s a beef shortage on the populated islands of Maui and Oahu. So, the chefs prepared venison on a few of the dinners we were hosted. It’s a win-win.  Although I passed on the venison (since Bambi and her mother visit me quite often at home), I hear it was quite good and has its own distinctive taste, similar to grilled pork.

Hale ʻĀ at @TheWestinMaui. The bartender makes a perfect Pina Colada. It is wonderful because the cocktail is quite punchy (meaning quite generous with the rum mix). You will only need to order one. I love their shrimp tacos!

Two words: Whalers Village. You have shopping and eating, not to mention stunning views of Moloka’I and Lana’i. The Mauka Food Court offers quick service/casual fare and finer fare and cocktails at one of the beachside upscale restaurants. The Whalers Village had Louis Vuitton, Johnny Was and Lilly Pulitzer to name a few shops. I don’t recall these shops from my last Maui visit.

Don’t want to forget to tell you about this great restaurant. Visit Paia Fish Market in nearby Lahaina before leaving town. I dined here last time and was glad to revisit again. Heads up! There is a constant line of customers.

Lastly, the Hyatt is a must for the fresh sushi and sunset views.

Here is a virtual tour of my luxury condo by the sea: Ka’anapali Alii (where we had the BBQ cookout). We also stayed in a two-bedroom condo. Someone asked which would I recommend. If you love a spacious “home away from home,” then the Ka’anapali Alii will be perfect. Our two-bedroom space with a lanai and master bedroom beach and garden view, costs about the same as a resort hotel room. You will need to check on availability when you book.

My first visit to Hawaii in December.

Insider Tips for Traveling to Maui

My flight back to reality was at 11:20 p.m., eastbound to Washington D.C. I stayed at the Ka’anapali  Beach Resort area the entire week. Even though we had a rental car, there was plenty to do at the resorts and only used the car to drive back to the airport.

Make sure to plan your dinner reservations one month ahead. Luckily Chef Gevin Utrillo arranged a reservation for us at @Japengo. Price is $$$$ but if you love sushi, it’s totally worth the splurge.

Thank you Shelley ツ and team for getting us on the @japengo list and, of course, for a week in paradise with perfect weather.  I love Maui.

Covid Notes

If you have been fully vaccinated OR have a negative PCR test, you may travel to Maui. The convenience of being fully vaccinated is not having to take any PCR test since I have had the booster.


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