After stepping onto the balcony of my suite at the Four Seasons Resort Maui overlooking Wailea Beach, the view immediately catches me off guard. The sight of Kaho‘olawe—the smallest of the eight volcanic Hawaiian Islands—looming in the distance is, of course, stunning. However, what I’m most struck by is the number of resort guests balancing atop paddleboards, snorkeling along the water and zipping over waves in kayaks. They far outnumber those simply lounging on the beach under umbrellas sipping Mai Tais. While relaxing on the sand is a popular way to pass the time here, loyal guests return year after year for the abundance of oceanic activities—from whale watching to scuba diving.
“We have a fabulous oceanfront,” says director of recreation Jeff Melcher. “And people keep coming back for the staff, who treat you like a family member. They make sure you know what you’re doing and are as safe as possible.”
On the first morning of my Four Seasons Maui sojourn, I meet up at 6:45 a.m. outside the spa for the resort’s newest offering: stand-up paddleboard yoga. My group is led out and individually anchored to buoys in the middle of the ocean for the most exhilarating yoga I’ve ever experienced. Surrounded by the morning sun and emerald green water, it’s idyllic. From child’s pose to downward dog, I mostly make it all the way through the guided lesson without falling off my board. That is, until we attempt warrior pose. I can’t quite keep my balance without plopping into the drink. The instructors keep assuring me the refreshing dips are part of the fun.
After a breakfast smoothie, I grab a paddle for an outrigger canoe lesson, the resort’s most popular recreational activity. It’s part scenic tour, part cultural lesson—with a little bit of an upper-body workout. From the third seat of the outrigger, I hunt for sea turtles and urchins while hearing about the history of Maui. “It’s a way to connect to our past because our ancestors were voyagers,” chef concierge Sam Wilhelm tells me.
The next morning, after some time on an elliptical machine in the open-air gym, I meet up with Rob Lohle of Maui Undersea Adventures, which operates the resort’s underwater activities. I opt for scooter snorkeling, where a bright yellow personal propeller allows me to cover three times more area than relying solely on fins. During the 90-minute session amid coral reefs located just offshore, Lohle and I zip alongside schools of colorful butterflyfish and several green sea turtles.
After a couple of days, I’ve only scratched the surface of the resort’s offerings (which also include a compressive children’s program). I didn’t do any scuba diving. I also missed the spa, tennis courts and Wailea Golf Club. Heck, I didn’t even have a Mai Tai on the beach.fourseasons.com/maui
Colorado Springs, CO
Brush Creek Ranch
For adventure seekers who also like a touch of luxury, this 30,000-acre cattle ranch and resort channels the Old West with back-to-nature activities and log cabins (happily, with modern amenities). “There is so much to do, from hiking to horseback riding,” says designer Tory Burch. “It’s like being back at summer camp.”brushcreekranch.com