Right about now, after weeks of rain and snow, a road trip planner starts getting cabin fever and hankers for some fun in the sun. Hopping in your car to find a hot beach might mean a week or more of driving, so hop aboard a plane instead, fly to Maui, then rent a cool car for some prime beach time and road trip adventures.
Apart from the Florida Keys and the U.S. Virgin Islands, you aren’t likely to find warm sandy beaches anywhere else in the United States during the winter. Plus, a sweet bonus; you don’t need a passport to get there!
There’s something sinfully delicious about escaping the chilling rain and snow and stealing away to the warm tropics. It’s more than a sneak preview, it’s telling the local weather, “You’re not the boss of me!”
So pull off your gloves and start adding entries to your road trip planner that will have you basking in the sun while others back home are bracing for yet another wind-chill factor. Here are a few fun-in-the-sun recommendations to get you started.
- North Shore action centers around Paia and the popular windsurfing found in Hookipa Beach. A seemingly endless expanse of deep blue water, white rock and crashing waves, this beach has been called the windsurfing capital of the world and is popular with daredevil surfers as well. However, it is not recommended that you swim here. The surf is as perilous as it is beautiful, and sharp coral reefs lurk below the waves.
- Paia the starting point for the Road to Hana. This spectacular 55-mile drive offers phenomenal views of the coastline as well as lush rain forest surroundings and picture perfect waterfalls.
- Make a note on your road trip planner that, at about the 32-mile marker, you’ll find the exquisite Waianapanapa State Park. This park has a small gem of a beach, black sand, great for swimming and will probably provide some of your best photographic moments. The park is rich with Hawaiian history and stairs will lead you to an icy cave pool, the secret hiding spot of a Hawaiian princess. It’s 122 acres big, so there’s plenty to keep you occupied for the entire day. Red Sand Beach is has a small cove great for snorkeling as well.
- The South Shore gets more than its fair share of sun and thus, you’ll find a multitude of fine beaches here. Check out the world famous, Maui Ocean Center at the Maalaea Harbor. You’ll find lots of local flavor at Kihei, and popular resort activities at Wailea. Further south, make sure you explore Haleakala National Park.
- But since it’s beaches that brought you to Maui, here’s a few top beaches to add to your road trip planner: Makena State Park, a long stretch of golden sand. Visited often by dolphins and turtles. Go to Cove Beach Park off Kihei Road if you want to surf…or learn how to! Or have a blast sitting on the grass watching others surf…or learning to! Wailea Beach is a great spot for easy swimming and snorkeling.
- Steep cliffs separate West Maui from the rest of the Island. Here’s where you’ll find the popular community of Lahaina, the largest city on Maui and the gateway to the famous Kaanapali and Kapalua beach resorts north of town.
- This is where you’ll probably do most of your souvenir shopping but a couple of beaches of note are: Napili Bay, a few miles south Kapalua, is a round, turtle filled bay in a perfect white crescent stretch of beach. Sunbathing, swimming, kid-friendly and a favorite sunset watching spot. Kapalua Bay Beach, off Kapalua Place, is considered one of the world’s best beaches by travel magazines. Walk through the tunnel and your eyes fall upon a pristine bay, perfect for swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing.
Upon your return, your golden tan will serve up a daily smile as a reminder that you really don’t have to hole up for the entire winter. What better reason to grab your road trip planner and head off to the sunny beaches of Maui?