Hawaii Governor Josh Green, M.D., has reopened all of West Maui, except for Lahaina, to tourists. Tourists will not be displacing residents by booking hotels or vacation rentals. Travelers are encouraged to visit Maui respectfully to enjoy and support Hawaii’s second-largest island, as approximately 70% of Maui’s economy relies on visitor spending.
Starting Today Travel Can Resume in These Areas
Green stated, “People from Hawaiʻi and around the world can resume travel to this special place and help it begin to recover economically. This difficult decision is meant to bring hope for recovery to the families and businesses on Maui that have been so deeply affected in every way by the disaster.”
It’s a Delicate Balance
“The outpouring of concern and generous support from our guests around the globe who feel a profound connection to our island community has been overwhelming and deeply appreciated,” shares Four Seasons Resort Maui General Manager Ben Shank.
“As we move forward, Maui finds itself managing a double crisis – the devastating tragedy on the West Side and now, the resulting impact on the entire island’s economy. While we grieve for our ‘ohana in Lāhainā and remain dedicated to supporting all those directly affected by the wildfires, we also acknowledge the urgent need to welcome back visitors to other parts of the island, which are open and beautiful.”
Don’t Know What To Think?
For people with Maui vacation plans and those considering booking a trip, here’s what local businesses and residents want travelers to know.
Lahaina Town is Not a Tourist Attraction
On August 8th, wind-fueled wildfires consumed 2,200 Maui acres, killing 96 people and destroying more than 2,200 structures in the historic and culturally significant town. While West Maui is open, Lahaina’s 9 square miles will remain fully closed to the public until further notice.
Investigations Continue in Lahaina
“Lahaina Town should not be part of any visitors’ route,” says Morgana Havas, Director of Operations, Hawaii at Vacasa. “There are still officials and investigators surveying the area, so it’s important that tourists do not attempt to travel there to try to get a glimpse of the impacted area. We understand people are curious, but we must allow the recovery effort to move forward.”
It’s Disrespectful to Take Pictures of Lahaina Right Now
“Folks traveling to Kā‘anapali and Kapalua will drive past some of the damage, and seeing some of it is unavoidable, but the remainder is not a tourist attraction. Never, ever take pictures of the fire damage. But, please come and enjoy yourself in the greatest spot on the planet,” said Peter Merriman, Chef and Founder of Merriman’s Hawaii.
Be A Respectful Visitor to Hawaii
“For a small island community, the devastation of the fires affected everyone – even if not directly. When traveling to Maui, be compassionate and patient. Let the aloha spirit of kindness, unity, and love guide you,” advises Monica Salter, VP of Global Communications and Social Responsibility for OUTRIGGER, who is welcoming tourists again to OUTRIGGER Kā‘anapali Beach Resort and OUTRIGGER Honua Kai Resort & Spa.
Its Only Been Months – Not Everyone is Ready to Talk About It
Hotel employees share that while guests mean well by asking if the wildfires affected them personally, even bringing up the subject is upsetting as they grieve. Additionally, not all Maui residents may be ready to welcome back tourists, and visitors should be empathetic and compassionate.
Leave Maui Better Than You Found It When You Arrived
“For those visiting Maui in the coming months and beyond, we urge you to practice respectful and regenerative tourism. This is an integral time to re-instill the practices we should all be equipping ourselves with when we travel,” says Kalei ‘Uwē ko‘olani, Grand Wailea, Cultural Programming Manager and Leadership Educator.
“Leave the island better than it was when you arrived by picking up after yourself and others, educate yourself on and respect the local culture, support local businesses, and join in local volunteer work.”
According to the Hawaiʻi Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism, approximately three million tourists visit Maui annually, spending $5.4 billion. Tourism is the economic engine of Maui, with 3 out of every 4 dollars attributed directly or indirectly to visitor spending.
A Maui Vacation Is More Than Just Travel Spending
“A trip to Maui is literally going to be life-changing for small businesses and one of the greatest ways to aid those affected on Maui. Consider your booking much like a donation to a relief fund, except it goes directly to those in need,” explains Kyle Ingram, PADI’s Regional Manager.
Frequent Local Businesses
“People coming to Maui should be generous with their money and resources, as many of our residents rely on tips for a living,” said Chef Merriman, who helms award-winning restaurants Monkeypod Kitchen, Merriman’s, and Hula Grill. “Many locals and residents have had their place of business burned, but for those who have not, they are currently half empty.”
Shop and Stock Up in Other Areas of the Island
For those visiting Kaanapali Beach, Nāpili, Honokōwai, and Kapalua, it’s essential to remember that these Lahaina-adjacent areas are just re-opening. For example, plan to fuel and stock up on groceries at the airport, in Kihei or Wailea, as store hours and supplies in newly opened communities may be limited during this phase.
Marriott Vacations Worldwide advises visitors to their four oceanfront timeshare properties in Kaanapali Beach that their next stay may differ from past ones. “It is important for people to understand that given the situation, activities and food and beverage outlets at our resorts, and other locations on the island, may be open for limited hours and limited services due to staffing,” says Samantha Sanders, Senior Manager, Brand Public Relations, Marriott Vacations Worldwide.
Almost Everything on Maui is Open Again
“If there are certain experiences in Maui that you can no longer do, find gratitude in the experience you can have,” adds Ingram. “Those offering excursions, adventures, and tours provide the best they can offer, whether people seek adventure above or below the surface. For example, while Mala Pier is no longer accessible by boat or shore diving, every other dive site on Maui is open.”
Don’t Cancel Your Trip
“Now is the time for people everywhere to show their support for Maui by booking trips, making restaurant reservations, and frequenting Maui’s retail stores and attractions that support workers and their families,” says Daniel Nāho‘opi‘i, Chief Administrative Officer of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority.
So Go and Enjoy Paradise
“Most of Maui remains just as beautiful as it always was – no beaches or golf courses sustained damage, and Hana, Iao Valley, and other breathtaking sights are untouched. We on Maui have always appreciated our visitors, but now we appreciate them more than ever. This is one of the best opportunities for voluntourism ever,” continues Merriman.
“All you have to do is come to Maui, enjoy your vacation in a responsible and mindful way, and you’ll be helping others.”
Here’s How I Saved $7,000 On Our Summer Family Vacation To Hawaii
With its unique aloha spirit, volcanic mountain terrain, tropical rainforests, national parks, fantastic food, and the best beaches in the world, it’s not a surprise that Hawaii is a top destination on people’s vacation wish lists.
If you think it’s out of reach for your family to visit the Aloha state, here’s how I saved $7,000 on our trip with just two booking strategies.
15 Delicious Places to Eat and Fun Things to Do In Kihei Maui
Whether you’re coming to Kihei for the day, travel through on your way to other Maui activities, or are staying in town, there are so many fantastic places to eat Hawaiian food or grab a drink. One of the best things to do in Kihei Maui is eat. And eat, and eat!
Say Aloha to The Original Maui Escape; Stunningly Upgraded but Still Locally-Owned: The Royal Lahaina Resort
With over 900 hotels in Hawaiʻi , it is almost a part-time job to pick one that hits all the right notes. If you’re looking for an oceanfront resort on one of the best beaches in the world with a traditional Hawaiian ambiance, five-star service, and locally owned, then stop your search. The Royal Lahaina Resort is all you’re looking for. Plus, its room rates are below the staggering $488 average nightly hotel cost in Maui.
Located on world-famous Kā‘anapali Beach, the iconic resort unfolds across 27 acres of sun-kissed, tropical gardens and offers an island-inspired ambiance in a regal, beachy, timeless yet unstuffy setting. Starting to take reservations for January 2024 and beyond, it’s sure to please.
20 Years in the Making, Oahu’s #1 Farm-to-Table Restaurant Now Has a Waikiki Beach Location; Here’s Why It’s As Amazing As It Sounds
Everywhere you turn in Hawaii is paradise. However, on Oahu’s Waikiki Beach, there is a new slice of paradise that is utter heaven. It’s a stunning open-air 12,000 square-foot space directly on the powdery sands of the Pacific Ocean with epic views of Diamond Head and the sunset.
It offers delectable food from the founder of Hawaii regional cuisine, iconic cocktails, and local craft brews in a fun and joyful environment. It’s the warm, welcoming Aloha spirit in physical form. It’s Monkeypod Kitchen’s newest location.
When’s the Best Time to Visit Hawaii? Here’s 13 Answers Based On What’s Important To You
With its unique aloha spirit, volcanic mountain terrain, tropical rainforests, national parks, Hawaiian flowers and world-class beaches, it’s not a surprise that Hawaii is a top destination on people’s vacation wish lists. If you’re thinking of planning your first trip to Hawaii, you probably have a lot of questions, including When is the Best Time to Visit Hawaii?
Well, that’s not an easy question to answer. That’s because if you’re a surfer, you’re going to want to come at a different time of the year than someone who wants to whale-watch. And if you’re on a tight vacation budget, you’re going to want to steer clear of the most popular times to visit the Aloha state when prices double or triple!
This article was produced by Media Decision.