Last week, the not very romantically named Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) saw fit to crown Maui the preeminent of 10 “lesser-known (but just as engaging!) wedding proposal sites in the U.S. and Canada.”
“There’s nothing better than warm weather to beat the winter cold, and the Road to Hana in Maui offers lush rainforest, beaches, numerous waterfalls, and plenty of privacy,” the group announced on Feb. 7. “Considered one of the world’s most beautiful drives, the coastal road lets travelers take in the scenery via guided tours and overnight stays.”
Yeah, we guess the road to Hana is kinda romantic, if you like driving at slow speeds around hairpin turns and don’t get car-sick. Then again, Maui is always popping up on someone’s list of the most romantic islands or best places to pop the question or so forth. There must be something about colorful sunsets, soft sea breezes, swaying palms and white sand beaches that couples find attractive.
Of course, naming this or that spot on the island “the most romantic” is highly subjective. It depends on who you’re with, or were with. The fried chicken counter at Minit Spot can be the most romantic location on Maui–if that’s where you met the love of your life.
Keeping that in mind, the staff at MauiTime decided to honor Valentines Day this year by giving you our personal choices of where romance, for us, blooms on the island.
There’s a little beach that’s on the road in Makena. You go past Big Beach, and you come up to a brick wall. There’s a truck beyond it a little ways that sells tacos, but it’s not Jawz. There’s a little cutaway in the wall that says Beach Access. Some call it Secret Beach, but it has a lot of names, I guess. Anyway, you go through that opening, and you see the rocks and cove and the waves coming in onto the sand, and it’s like you’re stepping into a postcard. That’s the most romantic beach on Maui.
Lahaina has the most exquisite sunsets I’ve ever experienced. One of the most romantic nights of my life was with my wife, as we sat down nearby the Lahaina library and watched the sun go down. Nearby, a couple locals were playing their ukuleles as the sky grew a vibrant orange. Every time we’re in Lahaina, we make sure to be on the boardwalk as the day turns to night. The boardwalk across from Front Street, facing the ocean, is a perfect spot for proposals, stolen kisses and holding someone close as you watch the best show on earth.
-Barry Wurst II
Romance is anywhere with someone you love, but a favorite romantic spot that comes to mind is spending a Wednesday evening (to the wee hours of Thursday morning) at Ladies Night at Casanova Italian Restaurant in Makawao. Start the night off sharing a wood-fired pizza and bottle of wine at a candlelit table in their romantic dining atmosphere and end it with your partner in crime on the dance floor as DJ Kurt throws down the sexy club beats. Maybe I’m a little biased because I met my boyfriend there a year ago. Either way, you’re in for a romantic treat.
I’m not a Valentine’s Day person, but the Ali‘i’s Kula Lavender farm has sweet smells, gorgeous views and patches filled with flowers. Stop at the shop for a snack and maybe even an oil or bath product for later, if you’re lucky (but don’t push your luck if it’s an early date; stick to picking flowers and maybe a scone). Upcountry is filled with excellent restaurants and isolated spots. Bring a blanket and stargaze in one of Maui’s least light-polluted areas. And remember: if your partner says he or she is cold, take the hint and hold a hand. Move in closer or prove that chivalry isn’t dead by offering a jacket. But please: no making out in front of the giant Buddha statue, lovebirds. I think that’s the fifth Noble Truth.
For me, the most romantic spot on Maui is probably that tiny beach fronting the Te Au Moana luau on the Wailea beach path. My girlfriend and I were walking down the path one night around sunset and stopped to see a portion of the luau. But our gaze, as is perhaps inevitable, migrated over to the ocean, where we saw a few green sea turtle heads bobbing in the shallows. Stepping down to the water’s edge, we stood there in silence as the turtles fed. As the attention of everyone else on the path was squarely fixed on the luau, we quickly realized we were the only ones paying any attention to the turtles. We’ve returned to that spot a few times, usually at sunset in hopes of capturing such a moment again, but so far the turtles reside only in our memories.
One of my favorite romantic spots on Maui would have to be the Sugarman Estate in Makena. I’ve attended a few weddings on the property and it just exudes island romance. I think we all agree anything oceanfront equates deserted island mystique. Whether it’s convenient access to the ocean or the quaint cottage that sits on the property, or even the cozy road that leads to the estate, there is something storybook about the whole place.
Far be it for me to expose myself as some sappy romantic–I’m more like to find romance in a glass of iced tequila than anything else. But if I must sheath my cynicism in some romantic delusion, it has to be the rocky reaches below Kanaio, found via the horse trails of the Triple L Ranch, the late Louis Bully DePonte’s stomping grounds. The whole area, naturally arid and untouched by developers, harkens back to eras hundreds of years ago when visible skin was too risqué to creep out of your clothes and ladies had to ride horseback with their knees locked together, lest they get too lusty. Even these days you can’t drive down, as there are no public roadways. Your only viable option is by putting a horse from Triple L Ranch between your legs. The horses aren’t your usual trail trudgers–they roam the grassy hills wild at Triple L when not called upon for their duties–and their spunk is a welcome addition to the adventure. When you reach the onyx ocean from the rigorous ride down the mountain, you’re treated to the natural wonder that is miles of salt and pepper shoreline made from bleached coral rocks stacked atop scorched cinder rock lava. Views of the Big Island are breathtaking. There’s no asphalt, no buildings, no sign of any modern industrial life, save for the occasional tiny white speck of a boat on the horizon. You can’t help but breathe in a different life, far from the bourgeoisie bustle, that’s foreign and sexy. Signs indicate the ancient King Kamehameha’s path around the island, with lava rocks carefully placed so a person could still walk barefoot centuries later. My only wish was that the tour guide would beat it so I could have really rode the stallion.
Cover design by Darris Hurst. The cover art, “Aloha Wave,” is a BeWChee collaboration with Beth Warmath and CHEETA Chad Ruis.