What I love most about Hawaii (other than the freedom to wear shorts and sandals day and night) is the abundance of opportunities to improve. A getaway to Hawaii always makes me feel healthier, more relaxed and connected, and aware of the natural power of the islands to heal and rejuvenate. Native Hawaiians call it “nanea” – mind, body, and spirit relaxation – and it keeps me coming back to the islands again and again.
During a recent stay on the idyllic island of Maui, I was hoping to hit the reset button after so many months of pandemic shutdown. I’m happy to say that I came back feeling recharged and refreshed – and even a few pounds lighter. Mahalo, Maui!
Maui’s top resorts are tapping into the wellness trend, offering everything from sunrise spa treatments and yoga on the beach to guided fitness runs on an oceanfront trail and workouts. outrigger canoe and stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) with Maui boatmen. Of course, you don’t need to be pampered at the resort to reach nirvana. Maui offers many opportunities for mindfulness and wellness activities, each guaranteed to restore your inner glow. Here are some of those offers.
Ka’anapali Sunrise Yoga
There’s no better way to achieve Maui mindfulness than with a sunrise yoga session on the oceanfront lawn at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa in Ka’anapali, which offers views serene on Molokai, Lanai and the Au’au and Pailolo canals with the asanas.
“In yoga, you say, ‘Wake up, say hello in the morning, and say, yes, it’s going to be a beautiful day,'” says Lysha Kamisato, one of the resort’s five yoga instructors.
Her hour-long session invites you to breathe, meditate, and practice classic yoga poses such as adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog) and vrksasana (tree pose). It’s free for guests, but you’ll need to reserve a spot.
“Tell yourself, this is the best day of your life,” Kamisato tells us. And it’s.
The resort’s new Waterman program offers three levels of engagement for enthusiastic novices and more advanced adventurers, and activities ranging from a two-hour beach clean-up and conversation to paddleboarding and outrigger canoes.
You can join Ka’anapali Surf Club’s new SUP course on-site and paddle just over a mile from North Ka’anapali Beach to the Westin Maui waterfront. Or go canoeing with local boatmen to Pu’u Keka’a (or Black Rock). You’ll get a floating introduction to this ancient Polynesian mode of transportation, while learning about the Lahaina region and its importance to Hawaiian people and royalty.
And then there’s the Heavenly Spa at the Ka’anapali resort, where treatments start at $190. It was just the wellness ticket for my wife, who enjoyed an aptly named Heavenly massage, with a warm back compress and a fragrant blend of pineapple and Hualani passion fruit for a combination of touch and aromatherapy.
If you’ve let loose a bit too literally during the pandemic era, Westin is offering 250 “running concierges” at its hotels around the world to help you get in shape. I accompanied Brad Kukral, running concierge and marathon enthusiast, who led an easy three-mile group run along the Ka’anapali seaside trail. The race is free and meets on the resort’s beach lawn at 6:30 a.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but you’ll need reservations.
Details: Find more information about the Westin Maui Resort & Spa at Ka’anapali, which is located at 2365 Ka’anapali Parkway in Lahaina, at westinmaui.com.
Located atop Pu’u Keka’a (Black Rock), the Moana Oceanfront Rooms at Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa offer some of the most awe-inspiring seascapes in all of Ka’anapali. These luxurious rooms make you feel like you are floating above the ocean. And Yoga at Moana lets you start your day with a self-guided yoga experience on the beachfront lawn with complimentary yoga mats and those scenic views. The resort also offers three guided yoga sessions: sunrise yoga, slow flow, and stretch and release.
Do not leave the station without offering yourself the Black Rock Spathe Hawaiian “lomi lomi” (loving hands) massage, from $150. The massage technique has been passed down from generation to generation by native Hawaiians and aims to engage your mind, body, and spirit in deep relaxation through flowing, rhythmic movements.
Details: Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, 2605 Kaanapali Parkway, Lahaina; sheratonmaui.com.
Polo Beach Stabilizers
Nestled in Maui’s beautiful Wailea beach area on the island’s south shore, the Fairmont Kea Lani offers an outrigger canoe (wa’a) experience guided by a local ho’ekele (navigator). It begins with a traditional Hawaiian chant as the sun rises on the resort’s Polo Beach to welcome the dawn of a new day. Paddling on calm seas in the morning, you learn about this ancient tradition and paddling techniques and, in all likelihood, you will see honu (sea turtles) near the shore. Weekday paddling is free for Kea Lani guests, but reservations are required.
The resort’s state-of-the-art Willow Stream Spa offers a full menu of locally inspired experiences — starting at $130 — that combine Maui products, oils, and herbs with ancient Hawaiian tradition. The goal: to elevate your spirit and restore your mana or life energy.
Details: Fairmont Kea Lani, 4100 Wailea Alanui Drive, Wailea-Makena; www.fairmont.com/kea-lani-maui
Coconut expands in Wailea
Marriott’s Wailea Beach Resort offers a beautifully scenic sunrise yoga program overlooking the ocean and an innovative coconut-based “Coco Yoga” class. The fruit is used as a weight, stretching support, and possibly food, as participants sip their coconut at the end of the session.
The resort also offers a wide range of spa services, but its new “Awaken in Wailea” experience is a particularly luxurious affair. It includes a private “lomi lomi” massage at sunrise with meditative sound wave therapy produced by Tibetan singing bowls by the ocean, followed by a wellness-focused breakfast with local ingredients .
Details: Wailea Beach Resort, 3700 Wailea Alanui Drive, Wailea; waileabeachresort.com
It’s no secret that when you do good, you feel good – and the Malama Hawaii State Program hopes to help you do just that. The program promotes beach cleanups and other activities that give back to the islands and foster mindfulness and appreciation for Hawaii’s native culture and natural treasures. Several Maui resorts have partnered with the state to offer incentives to participate, such as a free night (with a five-night minimum reservation) at the Grand Wailea, for example, if you volunteer with the Hawaii Land Trust. Find details on www.gohawaii.com/malama.
You don’t have to stay at a lavish resort to enjoy wellness activities. One of my favorite ways to absorb Maui’s abundant natural beauty is simply by taking an early morning or evening swim in the ocean, a walk on the sand or on a coastal path, admiring the extraordinary polychromatic displays of the rising and setting sun.
Park by a koi pond – which sits on the grounds of Maui hotels including the Sheraton Maui, Westin Maui and Kea Lani – and watch these colorful Japanese carp swirl and twirl like living paintings, a relaxing and meditative scene.
For an off-resort activity that connects you directly with Maui’s natural world, I recommend a Makena “Turtle Town” kayak tour. Maui Kayaking Adventures offers a 3-hour kayaking and snorkeling trip to the turtle town of Makena Bay, where gentle honu – green sea turtles – thrive in a set of vibrant reefs, with ‘cleaning stations’ where the turtles hang out. congregate to allow fish to clean algae from their shells and fins.
You float above a cave-riddled reef amid a rainbow of tropical fish. We found butterflyfish, parrotfish, wrasses, convict tangs, damselfish, trumpetfish and – my favorites – delicate and colorful Moorish idols and angelfish. It is an extraordinary immersion in the underwater world of Maui.
Whatever Maui elixir is, it is real and powerful. I may be back home in the Bay Area, but I still relish a pleasant, lingering spirit of aloha.