Hawaii :: Outside The Resort Ribbons

hawaii without the cheese[trip style = beach + sun]

Yesterday it was snowing in Vancouver. It's ironic that the white stuff had to be helicoptered to Vancouver's mountaintops for last year's Winter Olympics in February, and now we're getting snow at sea level in April. I hear the weather is odd in other parts of Canada and the US too.

To get your mind off the weather's fickle fumbling, here's a little sun 'n sand inspiration from a recent reader question:

The Question Can you suggest a tropical, seaside destination that's not too touristy or cheesy, where my husband can surf and I can stay in a beautiful room and sit poolside with my baby. No Hard Rock Cafes or malls allowed. We're willing to spend money but don't want to do the top-end Four Seasons thing. Any suggestions?

The Answer MAUI There is a town called Paia on the road to Hana, that's small and down to earth. It is very organic {it actually has an organic food store}, with local bakeries and unassuming boutiques. The people you see there are motor bikers, barefoot  hippies and others who've purposely chosen a slower pace of life. It's the antithesis of diamond-encrusted the island's other resort areas, but don't be fooled by its low-key vibe, in Paia, the wealthy people act and dress like everyone else.

One great feature of this small town is it's only a 5-minute ride from the airport and Kahului should you want to buy baby supplies, do a bigger grocery shop, etc....

Flanked between sugar cane fields and the North Shore, it's also close to Ho'okipa beach {famous surfing and kite-boarding area} and near Mama's Fish House, a destination restaurant and seaside hotel. The restaurant is a little pricey {lunch is cheaper than dinner}, but combine the aloha beach vibe with fish caught within about 12 - 18 hours, and you'll be sold. The umbrella drinks help too.

Staying in Paia - Mama's Fish House - VRBO vacation home & condo rental site - Hotels in town and around

Getting there - Hawaiian Airlines flies direct year-round from Seattle - As I've mentioned in my recent low season travel trend piece, flying to Maui from Vancouver is very reasonable in the spring. Case in point, this month a one-stop Air Canada flight is $404 return {taxes in} and a direct WestJet flight is $551 {taxes in}.


  • Napili, Maui. Off the beaten track, more local than touristy and one hour from the airport.
  • Kihei, Maui. Very local with a few snowbirds and vacationing families. I've stayed there a bunch and find it's a good balance point between doing Maui high/low with Wailea within five minutes away.
  • North Shore, Oahu. Check out Turtle Bay Resort, where "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" was filmed. Though this hotel is resorty, it feels out of the way.
  • The island of Lana'i. There are only three hotels on the island. Four Seasons owns two of them {one beachside and one in-land} and compared with other Four Seasons, both hotels have very good rates.

[photo by @tripstyler]