Sometimes I wonder what on earth my husband and I have in common. This troubling thought bounces in my brain as we bound up the Honolua Ridge Trail in the West Maui Mountains. Kevin is happily pointing out the endemic maile and 'ama'u. I'm interested in how introduced aggressive plants wage war against Hawaii's native plants; I just wish we didn't have to hike up the side of a mountain to see the battle firsthand.
OK, maybe my idea of the perfect day is a little less active than his. But in the interest of marital harmony and indulg- ing Kevin's passion, I nod and smile. After all, he's indulging mine as we stay at the newly revamped Ritz-Carlton in the Kapalua Resort area. Set on a working pineapple plantation amid nature preserves, the resort provides a perfect base on Maui for our relaxation and exploration.
After following the Honolua Ridge Trail -- yet never leaving the Kapalua Resort's 23,000 acres here on Maui's north- west coast -- we see the trees part and we come to a clearing overlooking the Pu'u Kukui Watershed Preserve. With a panoramic view of nothing but wilderness and a splash of the Pacific through the trees, it feels like we are the only two people on the island. Maybe this isn't so bad.
Just when I think a little rest is in sight, Kevin persuades me to head to the Kapalua Adventure Center. I'm not a fan of activities that require a weigh-in and a helmet. Yet Kevin wants us to go zip lining. We set it up and then climb into an open-air Unimog shuttle truck for the 20-minute ride to the Mountain Outpost platform. It's not cruising the coast in a convertible, but the all-terrain 'mog's bumpy ride through the fragrant pineapple fields does offer amazing views of West Maui. At the beginning of the first line, it's quiet except for the bamboo clacking in the wind. We rig up side-by-side. Our guide counts down from three and we let go. So much for silence. I may have screamed the whole way down. Or laughed like a maniac. But I can't wait to do the second line. And the third.
As the sun dips behind the neighboring island of Molokai, we head back to the Ritz for dinner at the resort's redesign- ed Banyan Tree restaurant. The evening becomes a food fest as we revel in endless courses of locally grown dishes with flavors from Kona lobster to Maui onion-and-fennel soup. Then, over the chocolate dessert trio, Kevin reminds me that there's a surprise planned for tomorrow. I knew I married him for a reason.
Entering the Ritz's new spa in the morning, I realize from the first moment that today will be my day. The stone walls and the groves of tall bamboo throughout the spa bring the outdoors in, combining the natural beauty of Hawaii with my favorite activity: relaxation. The lomi-lomi massage here is an amazing indulgence. While my formerly spa-phobic husband is not ready to say it, I can tell a difference in Kevin when he sees my blissful look. He is beginning to appreciate my way of experiencing Maui.
Later Kevin takes my hand and leads me to our reserved luxury poolside cabana, one of only seven, complete with personal attendant offering pineapple and passion fruit to nibble on. I'm in my lazy glory, snoozing, talking with Kevin about things serious and silly, strolling to D.T. Fleming Beach to splash and snorkel. On the lounge chair in our cabana, we discover that the pink floral pillows represent Hawaii's lokelani flower. We laugh and agree that there's more than one way to enjoy the native plants on Maui.
Plan Your Trip
- Fly to Maui's Kahului Airport (OGG) on a variety of flights, including direct from Los Angeles (LAX) on American Airlines. aa.com
- Stay at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, which had a $180 million renovation of 463 rooms. It's in the Kapalua Resort area amid the scenery of northwest Maui. ritzcarlton.com
- Eat at the Banyan Tree restaurant, one of six exceptional dining choices at the Ritz-Carlton, ritzcarlton.com. A Kapalua Resort shuttle takes you along the winding coastline to the recently opened Merriman's Kapalua, true to the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement of showcasing authentic local flavors of the islands. kapalua.com
- Find more intimate escapes at islands.com/intimate.