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Perfect summer getaway: Maui

Tracy E. Hopkins is an accomplished writer, blogger and editor living in New York City. She has expertise covering travel, fashion, health and entertainment.

Maui done right

SheKnows Travel contributor, Tracy E Hopkins, chronicled her recent stay in Maui. Get a peek into the aloha way in Hopkins' travel journal!
Maui done right

Day 4

We wanted to explore more of this beautiful island. So at four in the morning we drove to Upcountry – where Oprah owns a 1000-acre ranch -- to watch the sunrise at Haleakala. Despite the nauseating twists of the winding, hour-and-a-half drive to the volcano's 10,023-foot summit, the trip was totally worthwhile. On a clear day you can see the entire island and the crater's surface felt like walking on the moon. During the drive back, we stopped for perfectly made pancakes at a quant diner and visited the tranquil Alii Kula Lavender farm, where I bought a small, inexpensive bottle of lavender oil. Midday, we returned to Ka'anapali and went on a whale-watching excursion with the fun-loving crew of Sailing Adventures. We aren't big on sea travel, but the two-hour boat excursion was smooth sailing. We even saw a few Humpback whales slapping their tales and breaching (jumping out of the water) in the distance.


The Pacific Humpback whale migrates from Alaska to Maui from mid December to mid May, so it's worth a trip back in the spring to see these whales in their natural habitat. No, Sea World doesn't count.


Later that afternoon, we took a short drive from the resort into Lahaina, a Key West-reminiscent beach town full of shops, restaurants, galleries and museums. I'm a thrift store hound so I was excited to find a Salvation Army where I scored a colorful print Muu-Muu from the '80s. On Sundays, there's an outdoor craft market at the Lahaina Civic Center where I picked up several inexpensive, exotic seashell and kola nut necklaces.


In the evening we attended the Hyatt's festive Drums of the Pacific Lu'au and savored the buffet's typical Hawaiian fare of Lomi Lomi Salmon, Pacific Ahi Poke, and Poi (made from taro root and definitely an acquired taste). The effortless hip shaking of the hula dancers mesmerized John and inspired me to hone my hula skills. Beyonce's got nothing on these Hawaiian beauties.


Mid-way through the luau, the day's hectic pace caught up with me and I nearly dozed off. But the muscular male dancers twirling fire torches kept me interested.


The three-hour performance takes guests on a journey through the Polynesian islands and features authentic dances from Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand, and Tahiti.
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