Fashion and travel guru Lia Batkin spends her days exploring the globe – and looking good while she does it. She shares her stylish adventures overseas on her website, VacationStyle. Here, she gives us her take on the heavenly Hawaiian island of Maui.
Where can you have a Tesla chauffer you from the airport and ride horseback through pineapple fields, all in the same day? Where can you dine on an exotic breakfast of sushi in the morning and quote every line from Forgetting Sarah Marshall (“Oh the weather outside is weather”) at a luau dinner? You guessed it – Maui!
Everyone loves Maui. Blondes love it (Kate Bosworth, Britney Spears), and brunettes do too (Megan Fox, Jessica Biel). Travel junkies love Maui – it was voted Number One Readers Choice in Conde Nast Traveler’s Best Islands in the World for twenty years. So chances are, you’ll love Maui too. If you’ve even dreamed about the exoticism of Oceania, the 50th State will not disappoint – and you don’t even need a passport to get there. Crystal clear waterfalls, rainbow colored eucalyptus trees, bamboo forests, black sand beaches and plenty of rainbows, Maui is a playground of mystical nature, from the tranquil pools of Oheo to the idyllic lavender fields of Kula to the powerful Nakalele blowhole. The spirit of the locals is friendly and fearless – Hawaii is where the surfboard was invented, after all. You can even rent a reproduction of a 1950s Porsche Speedster (leave the minivans to the retirees) to drive the road to Hana, stopping off at galleries and gourmet specialty shops along the way, or, take the high road on a private helicopter tour.
Far in the middle of the Pacific, fresh seafood is not hard to come by on Maui. At Mama’s Fish House, Polynesian inspired preparations with locally focused ingredients link up with island classics like sashimi, rolls and ceviche. Each ‘wild fish’ dish lists the species, sides and sauces, as well as the exact location in which it was caught. Creativity here yields some unexpectedly delicious combinations – lobster guacamole? Um, yes!
Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto brings Japanese subtlety to the island with his repertoire of well-known classics – tartare, miso, udon, wagyu, maki and the like. You really can’t go wrong at Morimoto. And what better place to have trendy and healthy farm-to-table cuisine than in Hawaii? At Merriman’s Kapalua, 90% of ingredients are local and sustainable. Order a selection of pupu (appetizers) followed by a regional dish such as keahole lobster. If you prefer not to have your pizza defiled with pineapple and pork, nibble on super fresh fish tacos (not more than five hours out of the sea!) at Coconut’s Fish Cafe, where 17 ingredients go into making that one perfect bite. Try Sam Sato’s cult ramen-like dish, ‘dry-mein’, with noodles sourced from Iwamoto Natto Noodle Factory in nearby Paia. Lastly, pick up some organic groceries and gourmet hippie haven Mana Foods, which supplies shoppers with over 200 kinds of cheese and has an entire wall of artisan chocolates.
The historic road to Hana is an experience unique to Maui. Driving through almost 60 miles of lush, verdant landscapes, you will be tempted by all manner of explorations and indulgences along the way. Stop to hike the Pipiwai Trail all the way to the bamboo forest (pictured right), where you will be dwarfed by the dense stalks, or follow the trail to Kaihulu’s red sand beach. The road to Hana also leads you by most of the waterfalls on Maui, including Nemo, Na’ili’ili Haele, and Twin falls, among many more. Make a pit stop at Keanae Landing Fruit Stand to taste the to-die-for Aunty Sandy’s banana bread, and then go on to Wai’anapanapa State Park to investigate the primordial lava tubes and caves.
A trip to Molokini Crater (pictured below) is a must for snorkel, scuba and swim enthusiasts, as it possesses ridiculously clear waters, prime for catching a view of the vibrant coral reefs and sea turtles. Go by Maalaea Bay to spy endangered humpback whales, from December through May. You can reach it by boat, which you should retain for the evening hours as not to miss the magnificent sunset. A helicopter tour of Haleakala Crater gives you an aerial perspective of the volcanoes that made the island.
No trip to Hawaii is complete without a luau. Beginning just before sunset, The Feast at Lele offers five courses and four music and dances shows from the Polynesian societies of Aotearoa (that’s New Zealand to you), Tahiti, Samoa, and Hawaii. Located on Lahaina beach, where historically the royal family of Maui would throw their parties, the Feast is perfect for a celebration, or just an evening on the town.
For Shopping, 22 Knots at the Four Seasons stocks everything from Tory Burch tunics to Irene Neuwirth and Kimberly McDonald baubles, keeping top designers within reach of your tropical surroundings. The Shops at Wailea is chock-full of big name boutiques, second only to Honolulu in luxury retail. Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Bottega Veneta, the gang’s all here. Front Street, in Lahaina, is lined with dozen of shops, offering an assortment of native goods (pearls, bikinis, ice cream, timeshares) and imported swag (surf gear, jewelry), and just as many art galleries, from the quotidian to the inspiring.
VacationStyle on Maui consists of head-to-toe florals or sporty separates. Suit up in a neoprene Lisa Marie Fernandez one-piece with a Vix cover-up for a sailing trip, or try a bikini from surferette favorite Mikoh while laying out on the beach. If you’re going to get into the action, dress the part in a Duskii two-piece and classic Oakley sunglasses. For a day of exploring the island, wear a chambray shirt or James Perse tee with printed Orlebar Brown board shorts. For an evening luau, slip into a colorful Joie maxi dress – the only accessory you’ll need is a traditional lei or a bloom of frangipani tucked behind your ear.
Ready to go? See where to stay on Maui