“Good morning, it’s 5 a.m. and it’s going to be a sunny day with a temperature of 84 degrees.” My typical cranky response to such a predawn wake-up call might be, “I’m no weatherman, but I could have told you that.” However, before I can utter that comeback, I wake from my fog of sleep and realize the voice belongs to the concierge at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea. Sweet aloha!
No backup alarm necessary. I’m up and eager to begin a new day in the land where the lava and the mai tais never stop flowing. Maui’s enduring popularity with vacationers is tribute to its diversity of attractions. For those not bent on beach bumming, the challenge becomes how to take advantage of the multitude of activities and cultural experiences available on the Valley Isle—from riding a bike down the 10,023-foot dormant Haleakala volcano to an eco-adventure hike in the rain forest to playing with the underwater natives of the Pacific.
And the good news for Californians is they can board any trans-Pacific commuter flight and, before they can say “humuhumunukunukuapua’a,” be spreading SPF-30 on their (or their companion’s) sun-deprived skin.
On Maui’s dry and sunny south shore lies the master-planned community of Wailea, with multimillion-dollar homes, condos and plenty of upscale shopping. This 1.5-mile-long area is three times the size of busy Waikiki but has only five oceanfront resort hotels, a collection of multistarred properties that would be a prize catch on a Maui Monopoly game board.
Leaving the luxuries of any one of these beach palaces is no easy task. However, Maui is about discovery. I get my feet wet at daybreak by venturing out with Trilogy Excursions on a snorkel trip to Molokini, an extinct offshore volcano that is home to more than 250 species of fish and giant sea turtles. During the winter, it’s a good bet the voyage will include a sighting of one of the 1,500 humpback whales that have the good sense to visit the Maui waters to mate and give birth to their young.
Four Seasons Resort Maui golf course
Back by midmorning, I have a full plate of daylight available. I’m tempted to grab a cabana and plant myself on the beach. Not quite yet. The golf gods call. The Wailea Golf Club includes three courses: Blue, Emerald and Gold (my choice). Of this trifecta, the latter, with its rugged design winding through lava outcroppings and kiawe forest, provides the biggest test of a golfer’s mettle.
In addition to hosting the annual Wendy’s Champions Skins Game in January, the Wailea Golf Club rolls out the red carpet and erects a giant movie screen for several days each June. As darkness falls, duffers give way to thousands of movie buffs who arrive with beach towels and blankets to watch movies under the stars during the Maui Film Festival.
Over the last seven years, festival founder Barry Rivers and his wife, Stella, have blended their passions for Maui and movies to expand this event into a heavyweight contender on the film festival circuit, attracting celebs such as Patricia Clarkson, Joan Allen and Jake Gyllenhaal.
Following my own humbling act on the fairways, I’m anxious to revel in celebrity-type pampering at my royal Hawaiian residence. Since I’m beyond the age limit for the Kids for All Seasons camp, my most logical move is to head poolside for some adult rejuvenating with a selection from the “Tapas” Spa Treatment Menu (mini versions of the indoor treatments offered at the Four Seasons spa).
As the big orange globe melts into the horizon, a spectacular viewing chair awaits, as does a flashy tropical drink and pupu platter at the roofless Ferraros Bar e Ristorante, situated beachfront on the resort within earshot of the symphonic surf.
Comedian George Carlin once reminded us, “Life is not measured by the breaths we take but rather by the moments that take our breath away.” As I lay my head down that night, I rest assured I’ll be blessed by more such moments when the sun rises again on Maui.