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March 23, 2008
By ANDY LLOYD Photo Chief

MAUI, Hawaii — Sun. Sand. Surf. And plenty of golf.

The best way to describe the island paradise that is Maui is that it’s truly a heaven on Earth.

Although I haven’t been on the other Pacific Islands, there is no way they could be any more beautiful than the tropical haven of Maui. Starting with the view from the plane as you begin your descent into the Kahului Airport, of the bright blue sky and white puffy clouds  hanging from the tips of the mountain tops, you get a sense of what lies ahead.

Having visited the island about five years ago, I had forgotten just how breathtaking the scenery is. It’s a photographers dream. 

 The resort towns of Kihei, Lahaina, Wailea, Kaanapali, Makena and Kapalua offer the best in sightseeing, golf, food, lodging and shopping. And being that Maui is an island means that everything is easily accessible in a reasonable amount of time.

If you enjoy food, you’ll love Maui. The island’s fresh fish and mouth watering steaks take a back seat to no other place.

My favorite eatery is Marco’s in Kahului. Being one who tries to eat healthy, Marco’s fits the bill, building its reputation for high quality Italian food along with other fine foods, good prices and great service.

In Kihei, I visited Gion Dons, also featuring Italian food but offering a variety of other fine dishes. I had the Mahi Mahi, which was excellent.

While in Lahaina we ate at Kimo’s, a very popular restaurant and bar, where I had the best swordfish I’ve had in ages. Lunch at the Wailea Golf Club consisted of some kind of fish that was so good I was afraid to ask what is was because I knew it probably wasn’t good for me.

But this was vacation, so you’re allowed to cheat sometimes.

Probably the highlight of my trip was an all-day golf lesson at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy at The Wailea Golf Club. Maui News Publisher Joe Bradley called and asked if I would shoot an assignment for them. I agreed. Well, the assignment was to spend the day at Leadbetter’s Academy, shoot pictures and do a story. The reward was to be included, with six others, in the all-day session and get personal lessons from Leadbetter himself. It was quite a day.

The next day we went to the Wendy’s Champions Skins Game in Kaanapali, one of the premier golf courses on the island. We played golf at Kahili and Makena and the Dunes. Both are beautiful courses with spectacular views of the Pacific in the distance.

If you’re going to play in Maui be prepared to spend at least $100 or more for greens fees.

There are 16 courses on Maui, some ranked near the top of the world’s best list, with fairways that sit beside lava flows, tees that are surrounded by palm trees and views that are breathtaking.

The drive along the Honoapoliani Highway from Kahului to Lahaina is a real treat. From the road you can see the whales spouting and doing their tricks almost like they know you’re watching them. There are numerous boats available in Ma’Alaea Harbor to take you out on a sightseeing tour of the area, along with several shops and restaurants.

There also are a few places along the highway you can stop and pull off and watch the whales from the cliffs. You’ll also see scores of surfers along this route, as the waves in Maui are some of the best in the world. The drive also is a sight to see as you move along with the ocean on one side and the majestic mountains on the other.

Some of the things to see and do on Maui include:

- Watch the beautiful sunrise atop the 10,000 foot-high Haleakala Crater, a 90-minute drive from the island.

- The rain forest  in Hana is a must see for those who love waterfalls, freshwater pools, hiking trails, colorful exotic plants and flowers, and endless tropical scenery. 

- For those who like the water, there is snorkeling at Kapalua Beach where you’ll be fascinated by all the different species of fish. 

- Lahaina has the largest Banyan in the nation located in the center of the shopping district. You can also ride an authentic Sugar Cane Train and learn of Maui’s rich plantation-era history. 

- Take a helicopter tour of the island from one of many “Flight Seeing” tours.

All in all there is something to do for everyone.

 The weather is ideal, with lows around the 60s and highs in the upper 70s to low 80s, which is perfect for any of the activities you have planned.

Article Photos

Capping a perfect day in Hawaii is the sunset
at Kihei.

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