Tall palm trees, relaxing beaches, mouth-watering food, beautiful sea life and the chillest of vibes – Maui is truly a dream destination! There’s just something about this island that calls to you and will become a part of you once you visit this place. Honestly, Maui is one place I could revisit time and again.
Oh man, where do I even start. Just reminiscing about this paradise island brings back all the beautiful memories. From the lazy mornings, to enjoying some warm milk bread, to lounging at the beach, to being up close and personal with the sea-turtles, to even freezing to death at -3 ℃ (or 26 ℉) just so that we could see the breathtaking sunrise at Haleakalā Crater. We remember it all as if it was just yesterday. Take me back, please!
There’s so much to do in Maui and of course, you need your time to relax at this beautiful island as well, so we thought we’d help you a little with this – ULTIMATE TRAVEL GUIDE TO MAUI, HAWAII.
When’s The Best Time To Visit?
Truth be told, the weather of Maui is perfect throughout the year. So, there isn’t really a bad time to visit this place. The temperature ranges from mid-80s in the summer and mid-70s in the winter months. But if you’re looking for dry months, then avoid visiting between November to March, as this is the time when Maui receives most of its rain. However, even if you wanted to visit during these months, there are no issues, since the rain spells are fairly short and you will definitely be able to enjoy your time outdoors.
We visited Maui around early December, and we still had plenty of sunshine and warm weather to keep us company!
Where to Stay?
While you’ll find a wide range of accommodation options all over the island, we feel the best place to stay in Maui is Lahaina or Kaanapali. You’ll find lots of budget friendly hostels as well as fancy resorts available near-by, you’ll also be close to many restaurants, shopping areas, grocery stores and most importantly, you’ll have some of the best beaches on the island to yourself!
We stayed at the Royal Lahaina Resort and enjoyed every bit of our stay. I’ll share the details of this resort in another post, but to keep it short – it is a perfect resort, which will not only be well within your budget, but also offers some of the most relaxing pools and spa tubs right on the ocean. (What could be better that that, right?) And oh, not to forget, it is home to the famous Old Lahaina Luau as well.
Top Things To Do
If it was up to me, I would just lounge all day at the beautiful Kaanapali beach, watch the beautiful sunrise, see the massive waves hitting the rocks as the day went by, watch the majestic sunset and repeat it the next day as well – so basically I would just relax and do nothing!
But no, while relaxation is equally important to us when on vacation, we try to make sure that we explore every place to the fullest and don’t miss out on its major attractions.
So here goes our list –
1. Drive The Road To Hana
The 52-mile long Highway 36, which is popularly known as Road to Hana is definitely one of the most scenic drives I’ve done. Full of twists and turns, and rocky cliffs, the moment we hit this road we knew that this drive was going to be an adventurous one.
In order to fully enjoy this scenic road, you will need to carve out an entire day from your itinerary. There are plenty of spots worth stopping at throughout the road and you’d not want to miss any of them. I’d suggest leaving early around 7 am so that you are able to be back by 8 pm.
While you’ll find some really beautiful scenery all along, some of the highlights for us were seeing the Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees, visiting the Hóokipa Beach Park and enjoying some fresh coconut water there, eating organic food from a food stand and seeing the Seven Sacred Pools.
NOTE: If you’re the kind who doesn’t feel very comfortable driving through a road with lots of sharp turns and cliffs, then I’d suggest taking a Road To Hana tour. There are multiple tour companies offering such tours. They usually pick you up at 6 AM and drop you off at 7 PM. It’s a great option if you just want to sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenic road.
2. Watch The Majestic Sunrise At Haleakalā Crater
Now, if you thought driving the Road to Hana was hard, then get ready for this one! But first, let me tell you that this was the most epic thing we did.
In order to catch the sunrise at Haleakalā, which happens roughly around 6:40 am, you will need to get up around 2 am. Yes, you read it right, 2 am! Now, I know some of you might be thinking – this is when I go to sleep, and you’re asking me to wake up then; that ain’t happening. But, trust me I told you it’s well worth it!
And, as hard as waking up at 2 am may sound, that was not the toughest part of the experience. Well, the hardest part was going from 28 ℃ (or 82 ℉) to -3 ℃ (or 26 ℉) in a matter of few hours. Yes, you’re still in Hawaii and it is THAT cold at Haleakalā. So, keep in mind to carry a proper winter jacket for this one. (We didn’t, and we almost froze to death!)
Once you reach the top and see the sun rays piercing through the clouds over an active volcanic, you’ll have only one word to say – Otherworldly!
NOTE: If you don’t want to drive up the crater in dark, a lot of Sunrise Tours are available to help you. We took this Haleakalā Sunrise Tour.
3. Snorkel At Molokini Crater
If you love being amidst sea creatures, just like us, then you’re going to love this one. But to experience it, you’ll have to have yet another early start – oops! Since, you can’t snorkel around the crater by yourself, you will have to book a snorkeling tour for this one. They will pick you up around 6 am.
Ever thought you’d be snorkeling inside of a sunken Hawaiian volcano? No right? We didn’t either. Known for its fabulous underwater life and visibility of up to 150 feet, this crescent-shaped partially submerged volcanic crater is one of Maui’s prime snorkeling hot spots.
Catch your breath because once under the water, you just won’t have the time as there are endless things to see. From school of fish, to red pencil urchins, to big sea turtles, and ornate corals reefs; you would just not want to come out of the water.
4. Experience Luau
Your trip to Hawaii isn’t complete until you experience a traditional luau yourself. Full of music, exotic dancing, and delicious food, this is surely a night not to be missed.
The two most popular luaus in Maui are the Old Lahaina Luau and the Feast at Lele. Both are equally charismatic so choose whichever suits you best, based on availability and location. We went for the Old Lahaina Luau, simply because it happened at the resort where we stayed.
Make sure you book in advance because tickets sell out fast and you’d want a ticket closer to the front.
5. Check Out The Black Sand Beach
On our way to Road to Hana, we had taken a quick detour to Waianapanapa State Park, which is popular for its Black Sand Beach, Pailoa.
It isn’t really a place where you’d want to sit-down and relax by the ocean water, but you’d definitely not want to miss it as it’s quite fascinating to see.
It was formed hundreds of years ago when Maui’s largest volcano, Haleakala, sent lava flows through the district of Hana, which subsequently turned into a black sandy mass due to heavy rainfalls.
6. Relax At Kaanapali Beach & Shop at Whalers Village
We all will agree that our Hawaiian vacation can’t be complete until we get sufficient Sun on our skin and sand in our hair! So, for that WE NEED BEACH TIME!
We particularly enjoyed spending our time at Kaanapali Beach because it wasn’t as crowded, which definitely made it very peaceful. Luckily for us, our resort was only at a 5-minute walking distance from the beach!
Now, you won’t find white sand beaches in Hawaii, and I know they are very beautiful and all but once we’re at a beach, do we really care about the color of the sand? I don’t! Just give me the Sun and some cool breeze from the ocean.
Whalers Village is a really nice area to stop. You’ll find most of your favorite brands here as well as many local ones.
A bonus for people staying in Lahaina – there’s a shuttle that runs every 15 minutes and will pick you up from your hotel and drop you at the Village and vice versa as well.
What To Eat?
Pancakes at Slappy Cakes
Slappy cakes is a fun pancake restaurant in Lahaina. Its menu quite resembles that of IHOP and the dishes taste great too, but one thing that stood out for us was their – Make Your Own Pancakes At Your Table option. Yes, that’s correct!
You will get to choose what kind of pancake batter you want (chocolate or vanilla); you can also ask for their endless toppings, and they will get everything for you to your table. They have a small griddle at the center of each table and once it’s warm enough, you can show your creativity and design your pancakes in whatever fun shape you want! So much fun, isn’t it?
When in Hawaii, you should definitely try a lot of fresh seafood this place has to offer. Almost every other restaurant or food stand you go to, you’ll find seafood so fresh, like nowhere else.
We loved having Fish Tacos at Lahaina Luna cafe. They were so fresh and tasty!
Shaved Ice from Ululani’s
Shaved Ice is a famous Hawaiian delicacy, and rightly so – you need some cooling down after an entire day under the sun!
Every time we’re in Hawaii, we make it a point to have shaved ice at least twice or thrice. With so many flavor options to choose from, you’d want to have it everyday in fact.
For an added bonus, add a scoop of Macadamia Nut ice cream and then top it off with loads of shaved ice (our favorite flavors were orange and coconut) and condensed milk. Try out this combination!
Pie at Leoda’s
This pie shop is totally a dessert lovers’ paradise. Its endless pie options will just leave you confused.
We loved having its Banana Cream Pie (because we are bananas about bananas)!
Try out Spam Musubi
Just like shaved ice, Spam Musubi is another Hawaiian delicacy. It is basically a slice of ham along with some rice wrapped up in seaweed. Sure, you won’t be in awe after eating it, but when in Hawaii, why not try all the things its famous for!
You can easily find it at grocery stores, delis, and gas stations.
Eat Loco Moco
Now this is what the locals eat and you have got to try it for yourself! It’s so simplistic and still the flavors fall together perfectly.
Loco Moco, although has many variations, is traditionally some white rice topped with a hamburger patty, fried egg and some brown gravy. And it actually tastes pretty good. You will find this dish at almost every other restaurant.
Buy Loads of Mac Nuts
Macadamia Nuts are extensively harvested in Hawaii. Because of this you will find loads and loads of macadamia nuts all over the island. They are one of the most popular items that people take back to the mainland and are truly a local treasure. How do you prefer your macadamia nuts? Plain, spiced, chocolate covered or something else? You will find it all on the Hawaiian islands.
With so many varieties available like the Mango Siracha, Jalepeno, Crispy Caramel, Chocolate, and more, it will be quite difficult to just stop at one! Therefore, buy loads of them!
How To Get Around?
Maui is quite a large island and there are so many things to do all around the island. Things like Road to Hana, Waianapanapa State Park, and Haleakala are some of the must-dos when in Maui and public transport just won’t cut it.
Now, there are two options. First, group tours are available for almost everything in Maui. So, if you opt for them then you wouldn’t really need a car. Additionally, if you stay in West Maui then there are loads of restaurants within walking distance and Uber service is also decent.
The second option definitely is renting a car and exploring the entire island yourself. If you’re the kind who feels stressed in group tours and would rather explore a place at your own leisure, then you must go for the rental car option! You can find most rental car companies at the airport itself.
By now you all know that Maui isn’t just like any other sun and sand destination, it’s special. It has a rich culture and history behind everything you do, it’s blessed with spectacular beauty from oceans to mountains, and to top it all, it has some really delicious dining options as well! So, embrace the island and all its unpredictable moments with an open mind, and you will return home with memories that will last a lifetime.
Are you ready to pack some beach wear and sunglasses now? LET’S FLY TO MAUI.
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