If the chill of winter and a lack of sun is beginning to get you down, an escape to the tropics with warm gentle breezes, swaying palm trees, dazzling turquoise waters, and soft sand beaches may be just the thing you need to boost your mood.
Last fall, Conde Nast Traveler readers voted Maui the best island on the entire planet for the 18th time; there are few better destinations in the world to spend a tropical holiday, with temperatures from November through April typically ranging from the low-70s to the mid-80s. If you aren't sure if the Magic Isle is for you, here is a look at just five reasons to consider booking a trip this winter.
From mid-December through mid-April, majestic humpback whales call the waters surrounding Maui home. The county is actually made up of four islands, sheltering a much shallower basin than that of the Pacific, with its warm waters virtually predator-free.
The whales frequent Maui's west coast, breaching, calving, and mating, and can be spotted from land along the southern and western shores between Wailea and Ka'anapali. While a whale-watching tour provides the best opportunity to get up close and personal with the 45-ton creatures, they can easily be seen propelling their bodies from the sea, even from a distance.
Stargazing at Haleakala National Park
Haleakala Crater in Haleakala National Park is the crown jewel of the island and also the location for one of the best places to see the stars. Haleakala Observatory sits at an elevation of 10,000 feet above sea level -- above one-third of the earth's atmosphere -- and with frequently dry conditions, the air is still completely free of light pollution. The intense darkness creates an ideal setting for stargazing.
During the day, a drive up to the crater brings views that are truly awe-inspiring. Arrive in the early morning hours for a chance to watch the incredibly vibrant colors of the sunrise.
Sunsets at Makena Beach
If you're looking for a little romance, sipping a Mai Tai -- the island's quintessential tropical drink -- on the ultra-soft golden sand found at Makena Beach is just one of the reasons travelers return here again and again. Sunsets here at the edge of the crystal-clear waters are often some of the most magnificent in the world.
The Road to Hana
If you're familiar with relaxation techniques like those CDs that ask the listener to envision a tropical paradise, perhaps imagining a refreshing dip into an emerald pool with a waterfall gently cascading across your back, Hana Road is the place to experience that scenery in real life.
The road is more about the journey then the destination itself, starting at Kahuli and ending at the tiny town of Hana. The scents of guava and ginger fill the air with the lush, tropical landscape filled with stunning falls and basalt-lined pools.
Snorkeling at Molokini Crater
Hawaii's only Island Marine Sanctuary at Molokini Crater offers the ideal opportunity for snorkeling with unsurpassed underwater visibility. There are thousands of brilliant fish and marine animals found here, along with a flourishing coral reef.
Swimming through these warm waters, it's hard to imagine the frigid weather and dreary days back home.