It’s no surprise that Maui was rated the #1 Island in Trip Advisor’s 2016 Travelers’ Choice Awards. For adventure seekers and outdoor enthusiasts, Maui offers waterfalls, tropical hikes, beaches, an inactive volcano crater, and mountain valleys to explore, not to mention any type of outdoor activity you could imagine in these stunning and lush environments.

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IMG_7815We set out to explore as much of the 727-square-mile island as we could, roadtripping along the winding Road to Hana, hanging out in the surf town of Paia, watching windsurfers at Ho’okipa Beach Park, hiking along the Sliding Sands Trail in the Haleakala Crater, seeking out the best Japanese food we’ve ever had in Haiku, touring Maui Winery and tasting pineapple wine, spending a glorious afternoon playing Connect Four at Maui Brewery, braving tropical storm rains in Wailuku, and reveling at the wild range of botanical life.

From our vantage point as outdoorswomen tickled to be on the #1 island for adventure in the world, the home base that best allowed us to relax in comfort and adventure with style was just north of Lahaina at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa. Somehow this glamorous place felt both expansive and cozy, with private nooks and crannies, bejeweled with vegetation, tucked into a tropical paradise fit for those keen to spend their days out-of-doors. To behold both ocean and mountains in the same view is to be in a special place, indeed.

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From our spacious room on Ka’anapali Point, sheets of ocean, hemmed only by the distant island of Moloka’i across from us, swelled and hushed, offering a calming rhythm of tides. Needless to say, we slept well thanks to nature’s most epic and ancient sound machine.

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At the Sheraton for the SwellWomen Surf, SUP, and Yoga Retreat, our days were structured around early morning surf lessons in Lahaina, sprawling brunches back at the ranch, and yoga overlooking the ocean in the afternoons.

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In between activities, we set out exploring on foot, enjoying watching vacationers romp in the sand and water as we ambled along the Beach Walk.

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IMG_8244Between the walk and the plentiful shuttles available, we appreciated the walkability and ease of transportation options during our time there. Swimming, snorkeling, surfing, parasailing, helicopter touring, paddle boarding, deep sea fishing, scuba diving, bike trips, day trips, golf, ziplines, horseback riding, catamaran sailing, oceanfront massages…these are just a few of the host of activities available within walking distance for those who want to explore and make their bodies happy while on vacation.

We also enjoyed exploring nearby Lahaina Town, discovering shops, eateries, and historical sites on foot. We recommend perusing amazing old maps at Lahaina Printsellers (see how Captain Cook mapped out “O Wyhee,” “Mowee,” and “Woahoo”), sitting under the sprawling banyan tree, studying up on some Hawaiian history at the Lahaina Heritage Museum, getting a bite to eat at Lahaina Luna Cafe, and cooling off with shave ice at Ululani’s.

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Back at our home base at the Sheraton, the pool and poolside restaurant were also hot destinations for us and our fellow vacationers. Lounging under umbrellas and cooling off in either the pool or ocean made for lovely, long afternoons. Sometimes a gentle glide through a lazy river is just the right level of excitement for a languid afternoon.

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At Ka’anapali Beach, gaggles of snorkelers flopped down to the water, bobbing and dipping in search of green sea turtles and tropical fish. Black Rock, a curling arm of lava rock at the end of the beach, offers some of the best snorkeling on the island. In addition to green sea turtles, eels, goatfish, needlefish, parrotfish, surgeonfish, and spotted eagle rays can be observed going about their business.

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In a continual parade of thrill-seekers, brave souls leapt from Black Rock, the site of the nightly Cliff Dive Ceremony.

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The Sheraton tells the story of the ceremony: “Legend tells us the last chief of Maui, Kahekili (Thunderer), proved his spiritual strength by leaping from sacred Pu’u Keka’a to the Pacific. With sunset painting the sky, a young cliff diver honors his heritage each evening by re-tracing footsteps in the sand on Kaanapali Beach.” Everyone slows to a standstill on the beach to watch the cliff diver light a trail of torches glimmering along Black Rock, then cast his own torch and lei into the ocean, and leap. You can watch a short video of the ceremony here.

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We found the secluded hot tub on Ka’anapali Point to be the ideal spot for watching both the ceremony and the sunset. A hot soak while the sun goes down over the ocean is an exquisite combination, and one that symbolizes our favorite aspect of Maui: the ability to delight in untrampled places of raw beauty.