As I set to experience my first Hawaiian adventure, I was a little sceptical as most people I had spoken with regarding Hawaii had the same opinion – it’s paradise! Really??? I mean, I’ve seen quite a few Caribbean islands and I’ve found some pretty amazing paradise scenes in some of them, but again personal experiences and opinions can differ greatly. Don’t get me wrong, I was ecstatic to be going to Hawaii, but I was going with an open mind, ready to form my own opinion. And this I did!

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Planning a holiday to Hawaii can be very time consuming if you don’t have the right resources. A great deal of time was spent researching, organizing and planning. Being a travel advisor helped a great deal and I can’t recommend enough that you seek the same within my agency when you do decide on visiting the Hawaiian Islands or other tropical destinations. Since my husband is a golf addict, I planned our holiday around the fact that the PGA Tournament of Champions was to be held on Maui. So Maui it was! As I started the planning process, the anticipation of visiting Hawaii for the first time was exciting to say the least. I knew it would be an adventure like no other I’d experienced before. The anticipation of seeing with my own eyes what most people call paradise was something that I felt would be a once in a lifetime experience (however…I hope I get the opportunity to experience this slice of heaven again).

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Deciding where to have your home base on this island is another subject on its own. With so many accommodation options and locations, one must really research which area would be a better fit. Some prefer to split their stay so they have access to more things to see while experiencing more of a resort life. As for me, I don’t like the packing and unpacking deal, so decided to stay somewhere peaceful and accessible to a golfer’s paradise – Kapalua. Kapalua is located north west on the island, with many small towns close by, yet you feel like your away from the crowds but so close to the beauty of the natural surroundings. With the airport an hour away, a car rental is a must, since taxi prices are costly and most tours and excursions can be done by yourself without dishing out more cash. Driving is easy on the island and the sights are like nothing I’ve experienced while being behind the wheel! Our home base, which was a one-bedroom condo, was gracefully decorated with a beach vibe and perched on a ridge (hence the Ridge Rd), with mesmerizing ocean views and tropical surroundings. Exploring the island from our home base was easy and it gave us the freedom to explore many beaches, restaurants, bars, and different sights.

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OK, so about this paradise saying…. well the sunsets are glorious on Maui! These sights alone made my soul feel as though it was in paradise.

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I’m not sure if these photos are enough to convince you, but words cannot even describe the feeling of experiencing such natural beauty. From whales breaching in the distant ocean to volcanic rock formations from the strength of the waves crashing, it is like nothing I’ve ever seen AND heard. The sounds from our lanai (Hawaiian word for balcony) in the morning and night was the most soothing way to relax any stress away: the birds singing, the waves crashing on the rocks, the palm trees sawing in the wind, it made for the perfect moments… enjoying nature at its finest.

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As for the activities and things to do on Maui, there are so many to do that it really caters to please every traveller. From every price range (but most everything is expensive on Maui – they say it’s the most expensive of the islands), you can do as much or as little as you please with a variance in cost, from free do it yourself to very expensive private charters. We did a few paid excursions which were mostly water based. We had the pleasure to experience two catamaran tours. The first was an Aloha Sunset Tour with Trilogy, just sailing along the West Coast to explore the beauty of the sun setting over the mountains while getting serenaded by an Ukulele.

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The second tour was a full morning tour – Discover Lanai, again with Trilogy, which I can’t recommend enough for exceptional service. These guys know how to take care of their guests! Lanai is one of the smallest Islands of Hawaii, only 9 miles from Maui’s shore with few habitants and with only a few resorts – it felt like we were a world away! We sailed from the harbour at 6h45AM with the main focus being on the sunrise. Wow! With so many mountains, no doubt any sunrise or sunset can be of exceptional beauty which makes it easy to capture amazing pics! Beginning our sail with yummy cinnamon buns and coffee, it was a very special way to begin the day. As we arrived to Lanai, we were taken to a small beach with amazing snorkelling and ended with a delicious traditional Hawaiian lunch before sailing back to the main land harbour.

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Another favorite and VERY popular is whale watching. If you’re visiting between December and March, you are in for a treat! Whales, whales and more whales! You can pay for a tour which guarantees some whale sightings, which of course we did! What a unique experience, to be so close (yet far enough away to respect their space), a must while on Maui! Or if you’d like to save a few bucks, just driving along the coast line or sitting on a beach, you can experience whale sightings pretty much from any point, they are everywhere to be seen!

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One cannot come to Maui and not experience the beauty of the beaches. Whether you are looking for a calm swimming beach, snorkelling off shore, surfing or just sandcastle fun, Maui offers a diversity of options for every beach lover. With our favorite being Makena Beach, also known as “Big Beach” located South on Maui, we were lucky enough to enjoy it on a calm day. Also known as being one of the most dangerous on the island, not only for strong shore breaks, but also for shark attacks, yikes! So one really needs to be careful when swimming here. There are a multitude of beaches to choose from, just driving along the coast, there are beach parks everywhere you can enjoy with picnic benches and bbq’s making it very easy to explore on a budget.

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As there are no All-Inclusive options on Maui, which makes it such a unique place to explore, there is a diversity of restaurants to choose from should you want to refrain from cooking everyday in your condo. We experienced some very expensive restaurants to some excellent value with delicious offerings. You won’t go hungry on Maui and there are options for every taste and budget. A local indulgence is the Banana Bread, yum! It quickly became our favorite breakfast item along with those sweet apple bananas, what a treat is was!

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Well I can’t finish this article without talking about golf, as this was a major decision factor in our trip planning. For myself personally, I am not the biggest golf fan, but I do like to play while we frequent other tropical destinations. Our home base was a golfer’s paradise. The 8th hole of the Bay Course was in our back yard and we could see and hear the golfers in the morning. Just to put it into perspective, Kapalua is engulfed by a golf course. We did have a chance to play this course. Like I said, I’m not the greatest fan of golf, but that course alone could easily make me become one, it was that amazing (although very expensive to play). The other golf club in Kapalua, which is where the Tournaments of Champion was held, was maybe a mile or so from our condo. The Plantation Course is one of the toughest to play on the island, but the views from the holes are mesmerizing, especially with the sights of whales breeching afar. We enjoyed watching the PGA a few days – let’s just say that my husband was in golf paradise!

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Although there are a few things we didn’t get to experience while in paradise – like the Road to Hana and the Haleakala National Park (it makes for the perfect excuse to return one day), we did get to experience the beauty of Maui and I can say without any doubt that it is PARADISE for me! I hope I was able to bring you a slice of paradise to enjoy and when you are ready to experience it yourself, don’t be shy, I can get you there!

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