by: Jennifer Boden

If you’re dreaming of a spring vacation, consider Maui. Moments after you get off the plane, you notice, the island runs at a different pace than the rest of the world – slower, calmer, more leisurely. But that doesn’t mean it’s an idle vacation. Maui is both blissful and busy (if that’s what you want) and The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua is one of the best places to enjoy it. 

The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua

The hotel sits on 54 acres and offers numerous dining options – from a casual burger joint to fine dining – plus pool, spa, golf. There are 466 rooms, suites and residence, all the way up to the 2,500 square foot Ritz-Carlton Presidential suites.

During my trip, I was wowed by the Ocean View suite.

Suite at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua

It featured a separate living room, two spacious lanai balconies, with views of the Ocean, a marble bathroom with separate shower and bathtub, dual vanities, walk-in closet, plush king bed and more.

Suite at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua

All the rooms feature hard wood floors, Hawaiian-themed art and all the regular technological conveniences.

Suite at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua

Beach Vibes

The resort is only a short walk away from DT Fleming Beach or the Kapalua Coastal Trail, but that’s just one of many options. If you’re a snorkeling aficionado, take the quick drive north to Honolua Bay, which has some of the best viewing on the island. *Pro tip: Get there early before the crowds. The tourist boats start arriving around 8:30.

Honolua Bay is a bit rocky to just lay around. For that, head south to Napili Bay, which is a great place to drop your towel, lie back and listen to the surf. Imagine water that’s warm, gentle and five shades of blue in a beautiful cove with the islands of Lanai and Molokai off in the distance.

Or rent a poolside cabana back at The Ritz-Carlton. These offer room for eight people and include a credenza with refrigerator, electrical outlets, flat screen TVs, HIS connection, Bluetooth speaker and a fresh fruit platter.

Numerous cabana packages are available, including enhanced décor, Moët Champagne and a fun Moana-themed occasion for the kids.

That’s only the beginning. There are ample opportunities to surf, parasail, rent a paddle board or tour the coast on an outrigger canoe. You can also enjoy tennis courts, basketball, whale watching, hiking and a variety of eco tours. 

The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua nestled in nature preserve

“The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua is also adjacent to a Honokahua Preservation Site, one of the most important historical sites in this part of the island”, said Andrew Rogers, General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. “Our history and dedication to the Hawaiian culture is quite unique. We proudly maintain The Honokahua Preservation Site. A 13.6-acre parcel of the land between Honokahua Bay and the present hotel site, the Honokahua Preservation Site is the resting place of more than 2,000 Hawaiian kupuna (ancestors) dating from A.D. 850 to the early 1800s.”

Honokahua Preservation Site

Unearthed during construction in 1987, as the discovery’s significance became apparent, the hotel was redesigned and moved inland. 


The Ritz-Carlton offers six different restaurants, featuring fresh seafood and vegetables from the resort’s organic garden. The Banyan Tree fuses Hawaiian, French and Filipino traditions. 

Banyan Tree at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua

Ulana is known for its breakfast delights, including one of the best brunches I’ve ever eaten.

Ulana Restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua

Begin your day with coffee or pog juice, pancakes with coconut syrup, a made-to-order omelet, papaya spears, kapalua mochi balls, tropical lychee fruit cocktail, banana caramel macadamia nut pound cake.

Ulana Restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua

Of course, there are traditional buffet items, like bacon, eggs, smoked salmon, fresh bread and more. There are also mimosas and a Bloody Mary bar to round out your morning.

Ulana Restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua

For a casual meal on your way back from the surf, check out the Burger Shack. Poised on the edge of DT Fleming beach, the restaurant offers scrumptious burgers and cocktail milkshakes.

Cocktail Milkshakes at Burger Shack

You can also take advantage of the Olu and Kai Cafe, poolside meals and private dining experiences.

Chef Bella Toland’s favorite dishes include:

  • Banyan Tree – Fresh Catch Ceviche and Seafood Pot for Two
  • Olu Café – ‘Olu Ahi Poke Bowl and Island Fresh Catch Fish Tacos
  • Kai Café – Salted Brown butter Donut
  • Ulana Terrace – Uncle Edsel’s Famous Fried Rice
  • Alaloa Lounge – Slammin Salmon Roll and Tiki Deep Dish Pizza
  • Burger Shack – Maui Ono Mushroom Burger – James Beard Foundation Blended Burger Award Winner 2019 paired with Mai Tai Milkshake

Spa Treatments and Fitness

If you want to take your relaxation to the max, visit the spa. Try a couples, deep muscle or stress relief massage. There are also facial, full-body and beauty treatments. 

Spa Treatment Room at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua

To keep up with your regular workout, or maybe start a new routine, The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua Fitness Center has the latest equipment, including Peloton Bikes, and provides a wide range of fitness classes, particularly yoga and Pilates. There are private classes for a more personal touch.

Fitness Center at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua

“Our spa was inspired by Waihua, healing waters that ancient Hawaiians believe was the most pure form of water. It was captured on the leaves of taro plants and used for healing,” said Rogers. The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Kapalua has 15 treatment rooms, half of which open to private outdoor shower gardens. Their spa also features volcanic stone grottos and a co-ed relaxation room perfect for couples to relax before and after their treatments.

Special Events

The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua hosts signature annual events including:

  • February – Whale Tales brings marine biologists from around the world to share the latest humpback whale research. You can see the whales breaching from the shore or enjoy the Jean-Michel Cousteau Ambassadors of the Environment whale watch led by Cousteau-trained naturalists. 
  • Easter Weekend – Celebration of the Arts Hawaiian Cultural Festival
  • June – Kapalua Wine & Food Festival
  • October – XTERRA World Championships
  • Fall – Kapalua Wellness Week

If one of your #goals this year is more fun in the sun, Maui is an essential destination. Imagine yourself immersed in warm water, following schools of fish in your snorkel gear, enjoying a nice cocktail at the bar and a fine ocean view dinner. That’s just day one.