Five Favorite Maui Indulgences
Leah Walker May 20, 2013

The trip to Maui alone is an indulgence with its dream-like beaches, countless waterfalls, lush mountain landscapes, and picturesque small towns. Over two million visitors per year can testify to the beauty of the Magic Isle. But once on the island, what are the best ways for tourists to treat themselves? Here are my favorite Maui indulgences.

Exercise your credit cards at the Shops of Wailea



Contrary to popular belief, I’m not a big shopper when traveling. Unless it’s an awesome market or something unusual, I normally pass. But when I saw the shops of Wailea just a stone’s throw from my hotel, the Wailea Beach Marriott, I knew I had to take a look.

What I discovered is that with over 70 stores, galleries, and restaurants, the Shops of Wailea is the premier shopping destination on Maui. Oh-la-la! Luxury designers such as Bottega Veneta, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton are standouts, as are perennial favorites, Baron & Leeds and Tiffany & Co, for jewelry. For something unique, check out everything from jeweled flip-flops to wedding gowns, at Enchantress Boutique. Finding a swimsuit is a breeze at places like Maui WaterWear or Canyon Beachwear. In the market for art? The Shops have galleries such as Eclectic Image Gallery and The Art of Peter Max Gallery.  Basically, if you need it then it can probably be found at the Shops of Wailea.

And in addition to an arm full of bags, you might just have a Steven Tyler sighting. I hear he’s a regular at there.

Get your hands sticky with Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice in Lāhainā

Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice Maui

I’m not a huge fan of standing in line (Hello, Doughnut Vault) and I almost didn’t when I saw one about 15 deep at Ululani’s. But thanks to a Twitter tip, I sucked it up and stood my ground. It wasn’t ten minutes before I was ordering my very first Hawaiian shave ice.

The first thing to keep in mind when visiting Ululani’s is that the small is really large and the large is really giant. Had I spotted the micro size in time I would have ordered it. C’est la vie, y’all. At $4.25 for a small and $5.25 for a large, it’s still a bargain at twice the price.  Step up to the counter and choose your size. Up to three flavors are included with add-ons such as ice cream, sweet cream, coconut, and azuki beans (!) costing extra. Choose from some of the suggested combinations or go with your own.

I picked pineapple, coconut, and lychee. It was pretty darn tasty. Not only was this sweet treat refreshing, but it gave me sticky fingers and turned my tongue a neon shade of yellow. Unnatural colors blended with ice and pure cane sugar… What’s not to like about that? Nothing, I tell you.

Zone out with a massage at the Four Seasons Maui at Wailea

FS Mauismall02 1


Simply walking into the changing room of the Four Seasons Maui at Wailea Spa will do wonders for those looking to relax. The dim lighting, deafening silence, and soothing surroundings prepare guests for the ultimate in pampering. The plush robe and squishy sandals continue to set the tone. Make sure to get a cup of the warm ginger drink available. It’s divine. Nibble on dried tropical fruit in the waiting room until your name is called. Whether having a skin treatment or a massage, guests are sure to feel revitalized and restored.

For me, after flying over 10,000 miles in less than two weeks, a massage was as essential as air. The spa’s signature Lomi Mohala massage combined the magical hands of Jennifer and an exclusive herbal oil blend. My back, once shaped like a question mark from too many cramped airline seats, was better than normal after the 50-minute treatment. Typical of Four Seasons, the experience, service, and facilities were worth their weight in gold.

Sip on a Nick’s Sunset at Nick’s Fish Market in the Fairmont Kea Lani.

Nick's Sunset Maui Hawaii

There’s a plethora of brightly-colored drinks filled with vodka, rum, and various flavors of fruit juice found throughout Maui. Pick your poison: Mai tai, blue Hawaiian, piña colada, or lava flow. I sampled my fare share of these drinks on Maui, but none held a candle to Nick’s Sunset at Nick’s Fish Market. A version of the lava flow, Nick’s Sunset is made with Meyer’s Platinum Rum, DeKuyper Peachtree Schnapps, and juices blended with a sweet mango puree.

I promise that this calorie bomb is worth the extra exercise. It’s like dessert in a glass and gives a little buzz as an added bonus. Drink one (or three) on the patio during sunset for an awesome Maui evening.

Dive into Molokai Sweet Potato Gnocchi at Pulehu in the Westin Ka’anapali.

Molokai Purple Sweet Potato Gnocci Maui

 I made gnocchi once. What a disaster! It was an inordinate amount of work for pitiful results. I was so traumatized by the incident that I haven’t been able to even order gnocchi since. Then I walked into Pulehu and met executive sous chef, Wesley Holder. One of his specialties is gnocchi made from purple sweet potatoes grown on Molokai.

Purple sweet potatoes? That’s what I thought, too. Created by L & R Farms in 1978, these special spuds are only grown on Molokai and it’s rich volcanic soil.

I couldn’t resist the novelty of ordering this dish, and I’m so happy I did. Despite my recent aversion to gnocchi, I was pleasantly pleased by Pulehu’s purple dish. Tossed with sautéed Kula onion and bacon and garnished with pine nuts, currants, and micro basil, the Molokai sweet potato gnocchi was everything I hoped it would be. That’s good news for my taste buds and bad news for my waistline.

Maui Sunset

Of course, a Maui sunset could be one of the best indulgences and it doesn’t cost a thing. They do say that the best things in life are free.


I was a guest of the Maui Tourism Board. In no way was I prompted to write a positive review based on their righteous rainbows, spectacular seafood, or brilliant blue water. As always, opinions are my own.

Note: There are affiliate links in this post, meaning I make a small commission if you make a purchase through my links. It costs you nothing more, but helps keep me stocked in French wine {and a roof over my head}.

Leah Walker

Leah has a marketing management company specializing in strategy, content creation and implementation for luxury brands and destinations. She's also a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. Leah documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. She sometimes freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, USA Today 10 Best, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel and wine ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's lived in Paris for five years, and was awarded additional time with a Passeport Talent visa. Though, her talent for speaking French is abysmal.


    1. I do believe you are correct, Mrs. O. Maui has beautiful scenery, great beaches, luxury properties, and gin. I think you’d be A-OK. Perhaps we should return together.

  1. Fantastic photos. It looks so interesting and I want to go there… may be on my list for Q3/Q4-2013 and the Four Seasons look fantastic… thanks for sharing – have a great week!

    1. For sure, Vanessa. I’d totally recommend Maui. In fact, I’m counting the days until I am able to return. There’s so much I didn’t get to do.

  2. I’ve never made the “leap” over to Maui, as I’ve spent most of the time visiting or working on the Big Island. However, your beautiful and delicious photos should help anyone to make the short hop over from Oahu or Hawaii proper. 🙂

    1. Why wait, Henry? As you said, it’s a short hop. Make sure to give Maui a shot the next time you’re in that part of the world. Or better yet, just go there directly and take me with you! 🙂

  3. I can’t wait to get home and have some shave ice! I miss it so! Glad to hear you enjoyed my home. Hopefully I’ll be there next time to buy you a drink 😉

  4. So I’m reading the list and fondly remembering my own Maui indulgences. When I get to the bottom, I’m reminded that you are exactly right – that beautiful Maui sunset, a gentle reminder that you are, after all, on Maui, is the best indulgence of all. Thanks for sharing…and adding to my Next Visit To Do List! 🙂

    1. Maui would absolutely make a great honeymoon location. And with you being in the Bay Area, it’s easy to get there. I know Delta and United both have direct flights from San Fran.

  5. I am with you – not much of a shopper while on the road, or at home for that matter! But when I shop, I generally come home with multiple bags! Think I would be heading to that spa….that is right up my alley!

    1. Yep, when it rains it pours for me in regard to the shopping. I could use a day at the spa right now, as I know you could, too.

  6. ok, you know what. this post just makes me angry. your shave ice looks NOTHING like my cockamamy experience. i’m flying back to hawaii right now just to do it RIGHT.

    ps shnazz new site design! probs late to the party, but i likey, i likey.

    1. I’ll meet you there. We can share one with a side of vodka. That would be good, don’t you think?

  7. Le sigh. Hawaii will always have a place in my heart. Looks like you had a blast in Maui. Next time, I’m taking you to Oahu where you’ll experience Matsumoto’s shave ice 🙂

    1. I think I’m going to Oahu in September, so I’ll make sure to give it a shot. Although, it would be more fun with you and the Captain.

  8. Oh, Maui! I’m convinced, I need to visit here asap. What a beautiful place, and all of those activities sound right up my alley. Love it!

  9. Wow, the food at Pulehu looks good. And what makes a Hawaiian shave unique? I grew up eating shaved ice and wonder if there is a difference.

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