Staff Picks: Maui: The Land of Aloha
Out of all the amazing places I have been in the world, Hawaii is the one place that truly captures my heart. It is known as the Land of Aloha (Love) and for me, there is no place more magical.
I was born and raised on the island of Oahu and spent my childhood running around barefoot with a plumeria in my tangled mess of salty sea hair. We didn’t have a lot of money or fancy toys growing up, but I was none the wiser. We were rich with the beauty of our surroundings and nothing store-bought could compare to having the beach as our playground.
I moved to Los Angeles over 13 years ago. After a particularly stressful year, I was thrilled to return home a few months ago to lead a yoga retreat at Lumeria on the island of Maui.
Stepping off the plane, you are greeted by the gentle caress of light tradewinds and the familiar fragrance of fresh flowers in the air. It is a place where you pause to simply breathe it all in.
On the way to Lumeria, make sure to stop off in Paia, a former sugarcane plantation town, whose history is kept alive through its quaint wooden storefronts. Paia is a wonderful place to sample local cuisine ranging from fresh papaya smoothies to traditional helpings of Kalua Pig and rice. You won’t find any big chain stores here. Local art galleries, clothing boutiques and funky little mom-and-pop shops are what give this town its charm. For the health-conscious traveler, Mana Foods is a must-stop. Don’t let the modest exterior fool you. Inside you will find aisles brimming with local, natural and organic delights. Mana prides itself on sustainability and the deli uses biodegradable plastic-wear and to-go containers made from corn. The fresh produce section is filled with exotic tropical fruit like lilikoi (passion fruit), ulu (breadfruit) and dragonfruit.
Just up the road from Mana foods, awaits Lumeria, a luxury boutique hotel situated on six acres of edible organic gardens. Whoa. Talk about mana. In Hawaiian, mana is a word used to describe people or sacred objects with great power or supernatural forces. Lumeria has some major mana. When you enter the property, time slows down and you feel like you are stepping onto sacred ground. There’s a peaceful, yet palpable energy that hints of Hawaii’s rich cultural mythology and legends of old. This is a place to be fully present, while staying deeply connected to spirits of the past.
Lumeria was designed with tranquility in mind. The lush property houses a yoga studio, meditation room and massage rooms. Peaceful Buddha statues watch over the immaculately manicured outdoor spaces and walking paths guide you through tropical foliage and whispering pines.
The elegantly appointed rooms are marked by their absence of televisions. This truly is a place to unplug. HBO will be the last thing on your mind as you stare up at a canopy of shooting stars.
During the day, pack your swimsuit and head to Baldwin Beach. On weekdays, you will often have the luxury of this pristine stretch of white sandy beach almost entirely to yourself. If you’re craving a little more action, a short 5-minute drive up the road will take you to Ho’okipa Beach Park, which offers up some of the world’s best windsurfing. On a typical day, you can watch pro-windsurfers and kite-boarders from all over the globe catching big air at this famous spot.
When you need a reprieve from the sun, strap on your sneakers for a trip to Twin Falls. The Twin Falls Farmstand on the road to Hana marks the entrance to this short hike to several beautiful waterfalls. The water is crisp and refreshing and perfect for a dip! If you’re up for a drive continue on the long, winding, and at times one-lane road to Hana. The road to Hana is less about the destination and more about the journey. You’ll want to plan at least a full day for the trip and make sure to stop at Wai’anapanapa State Park to explore fresh water caves and a black sand beach
No trip to Hawaii would be complete without experiencing a traditional Hawaiian Luau. The Old Lahaina Luau in Lahaina Town is consistently voted one of Maui’s best attractions. Come hungry and thirsty, because the buffet is bountiful and the mai tais flow freely all night long! If you want to cheer on the Polynesian dancers like a local, shout “Cheeeehooo!” The Haoles (foreigners) will think you’ve had too much to drink, but the dancers will appreciate the spirited support. The luau crew will treat you like Ohana (family) and if you haven’t already discovered the true spirit of Aloha, you will definitely find it here.
Most luaus conclude with the famous song “Aloha Oe“ (Farewell to Thee) penned by Hawaii’s Queen Liliuokalani.
But you never have to worry about saying goodbye, because Hawaii is a place that lives on in your heart.
Liz Arch is the creator of Primal Yoga®, a dynamic yoga/martial arts fusion class that merges Vinyasa yoga with the artistry of Kung Fu and the grace of Tai Chi into a creative and mindful flow. She is a retreat leader for The Travel Yogi, an athlete for Respect Your Universe and has over ten years of experience in various yoga and martial arts styles, including Power Yoga, traditional Northern-style Kung Fu and Yang-style Tai Chi. She teaches free yoga to women who are survivors of domestic violence and is a proud advocate for A Window Between Worlds, the only national non-profit organization that uses art as a healing tool for women and children who are survivors of domestic violence.