In a nutshell: Highly personalized touring, hiking and adventures.
Minuses: High quality isn’t ever cheap.
Sound-bite: “We all felt like we had done something truly amazing, adventurous and memorable.”
UPDATE, MAY 2010 – Looks like one of the bigger and certainly most aggressive players in the market is forcing Alicia out of business. Unfortunately the hike guide business is highly restricted by Maui law, and not a level playing field. A real shame, because exactly what Alicia offered was her taking you out to special places as a friend – something that Maui government, and one of the more established tour operators in particular don’t want to see. If this looked like your dream and you’d like me to set you up with someone special, head over to the contact page and let me know – I can probably hook you up with a knowledgeable local guide.
Awapuhi Adventures is a small one-woman operation, and let me be the first to tell you that one woman is precisely who makes it so spectacular. Alicia (owner and guide) is a well versed naturalist and has such a passion for the island that it is infectious. Alicia also takes the time to understand your abilities, needs and desires before she designs the perfect adventure for you.
Since this is such a highly personalized tour, you’ll also always get to go at your own pace. You won’t ever feel rushed to hurry up and move on, or pressured to do anything you aren’t comfortable doing.
Alicia has a true gift for understanding her guests, and making the spectacular wonders of Maui accessible to the full spectrum of travelers, whatever their ability. Believe it or not, you don’t even have to be a hiker or a swimmer to see spectacular hidden sights, to snorkel and to experience being under a hidden waterfall.
Awapuhi Adventures stands out because your day is tailored so that you visit more than one place and really get to experience Maui in all her glory. In the same day you can experience waterfalls, snorkel in tidepools, visit cultural sites, and have a picnic lunch on a secluded beach. If you find that one of the things scheduled along the way is somewhere you’d rather stick around, then by all means you’ll stick around. It is a whole lot more like coming to visit a friend who is sharing what they love than anything else you might go in to this expecting.
And you’ll actually become immersed in what you’re doing – eating wild fruits right off of the trees, learning about Hawaiian culture, the history, and the unique flora and fauna – oh, and you’ll have such a load of fun doing it.
The price is all inclusive, and includes healthy and yummy home-made food (tailored to your taste and any dietary restrictions), all the equipment you’ll need for your chosen adventures, and pick-up/drop-off from your hotel. Alicia is also trained as a wilderness first responder, and carries a first-aid kit. (Don’t take that for granted…I’ve found more than one guide that had no training for responding to an emergency.)
Definitely don’t let the price scare you off – if you’re a family or small group, it won’t cost more than the group tours. If you’re a couple or traveling alone there is an old saying that goes something like “you may not always get what you pay for, but you never get what you don’t pay for.” A day with Awapuhi Adventures is quite impressively ranked by every single customer review I could find as among the most special and memorable activity they did. If you need more convincing, see the link to their Tripadvisor reviews below, when I wrote this Awapuhi had 27 reviews on there and every single one was 5/5 stars. (I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.) In fact, another theme runs though those same customer reviews: several who were initially tentative about the value came out so highly satisfied that they booked an additional day.
Location: Pickup or Meet
Rating source: Maui Guidebook & Tripadvisor
Price: $100-$200 per person (Typical, actual cost depends on your party size, tour time & destination.)