For some, a trip to Maui is a once in a lifetime, bucket list journey and for everyone, it is a trip to paradise.
With any trip, it can feel like a daunting task to decide where to stay, what to do and what restaurants can’t be missed along the way.
So, we’ve put together a comprehensive Guide to Maui, it is divided into sections so that you can see the information all laid out in an easy to understand format.
Where to stay in Maui
This is likely the biggest decision to make, specifically which region of Maui. Maui is the second largest island in the chain of islands making up Hawaii but that still doesn’t mean that Maui is huge by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, the island is only 48 miles long and 26 miles long for a total of 728 square miles.
This area consists of Lahaina, Kaanapali, Napili, Kahana and Kapalua
Typically this area of Maui is considered to be the ‘luxury region’ of the island. That being said it is also the more populated/visited. So you will find more ’touritsy’ sorts of shops and restaurants. However, don’t discount that as a bad thing there are many spots that you will likely want to visit in this region during your Maui visit. You can read about some of the hotels we’ve stayed in here.
Paia, Haiku, Pukalani, Makawao and Kula
This region of the island is well known for its popular windsurfing locations and cute little locally owned shops.
Keanae, Hana, Kipahulu
East Maui is without a doubt the more remote area of the island. The Road to Hana is a huge attraction, with the scenic, hair-raising drive.
Maalaea, Kihei, Wailea, Makena
South Maui is known for being the sunniest, driest part of the island. Boasting attractions like an underwater aquarium and the heavily whale populated Maalaea Bay (in whale season of course).
Wailuku, Waiehu, Waihee, Waikapu and Kahului
This region is the closest in proximity to the Kahului airport and most likely the airport that you will be arriving and departing Maui from.
What to do in Maui:
For our family, a visit to Maui was the perfect synergy of a tropical beach vacation and a trip to the mountains. My husband is a mountain lover, while I am a beach gal through and through. Since Maui has such a diverse terrain it means that it also has a wide variety of activities to get into.
This was an activity that to be honest with you I wasn’t sure that I would enjoy doing. I am a bit of a chicken when it comes to doing activities on the ocean. As it turns out I loved the experience! I felt very safe and secure in the outrigger canoe. While we were out on the ocean several dolphins came up and swam very near to our canoes while we were out on the water.
Having never parasailed before, I figured that there was no time like a trip to Maui to try it out for the first time. The experience was like none other I have had before. Once I was up in the air, I experienced calm and quiet. Which is not what I was expecting at all. The parasailing guide told me before I went up that they tell people the experience lasts 9 minutes, or roughly the time it takes to listen to your favorite song 3 times.
Stand-Up Paddle Board
Stand-Up paddle boarding has come roaring on to the scene lately, and it doesn’t seem like it is going anywhere anytime soon. Stand-Up paddle boarding is a fantastic way to see the area in a way that you wouldn’t when you go for a traditional swim.
Chances are you’ve heard about jet skiing or perhaps even been on the back of a jet ski. There is nothing quite like doing it if you haven’t experienced it while you are out on the ocean.
Sunset Horse Ride
When my husband and I visited Hawaii on our honeymoon we took a sunset horseback ride and it was fantastic. The trail that we rode the horse on was at a high enough elevation that allowed us to look out over the ocean and see the neighboring islands all while the sunset provided a lovely backdrop.
Visit Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park is a huge attraction for so many visitors to the island. Haleakala’s claim to fame is that it is home to a dormant volcano, as you are hiking you will be dazzled with bamboo forests, waterfalls and lava flows. All of this can be seen while exploring this National Park with a rich heritage. In addition to hiking and exploring the park on your own, a bike ride down the volcano. Be warned the ride starts very early in the morning and is quite chilly at the top of the volcano, where you are dropped off by van to ride down with your group.
Drive the road to Hana
The road to Hana is not for the faint of heart. In fact, it may not be for you at all if you are a nervous passenger or driver for that matter! One mistake that I made when I did the road to Hana was that I was so nervous that I was in a big hurry to just ‘get it over with” so I didn’t look around or ask my husband to pull over and look at the sites.
There is something about slipping on a snorkel mask and checking out a side of an area that you can’t see unless you explore. We got up close with turtles, saw colorful schools of fish. If done right, just as fantastic as the snorkeling, is the boat ride to and from the snorkeling spot.
Whale Watching Trip
If you are visiting Maui during whale season, which runs January through March, be sure to book a whale watching excursion. There is, of course, the opportunity to see them other times than January – March but if seeing whales tops your list it would be wise to plan your visit during that time frame.
To be totally transparent with you, I really never had a desire to attend a luau. On my last trip to Maui, I had the opportunity to experience my very first luau and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed myself. I attended the Wailele Luau at the Westin Resort and Spa it was a fantastic experience, that I think was capped off by how amazing the MC was. He was able to bring the crowd out and really get them interacting back with him.
Best Places to Eat on Maui
Anytime that we travel, we love to seek out the local restaurants that are special to a specific place. Below you will find some of our favorite spots on Maui.
My husband and I ate here while we were on our honeymoon. We loved it so much we went back the next night. The cuisine is inventive and the sushi will change your life!
Leoda’s Kitchen And Pie Shop
If you love pie (let’s face it, who doesn’t love pie) then this stop must top your list. If you can dream up the flavor of pie, they likely have it. More surprisingly, for me, was that I loved my lunch just as much as I loved the pie.
Mama’s Fish House
If this stop is on your list, be sure to make a reservation! With some of the freshest seafood on the island, this upscale eatery is perfect for a splurge while you are on the island.
Leilani’s on the Beach
Leilani’s is an open-air restaurant located in Whaler’s Village. They serve fantastic meals but you would be remiss to visit and not order the Hula Pie. This ice cream cake concoction is mind-blowing!
If you have jumped on the ramen train, Star Noodle has out of this world ramen dishes and the garlic noodles are a can’t miss!
Cool Cat Cafe
If you have a hankering for a burger the Cool Cat Cafe is your place to go while you are in Maui. Imagine a 50’s diner with a Hawaiian twist.
If you are looking for a breakfast spot this is the place to go. The portions are huge and delicious. A word to the wise, because it is so good, be prepared to wait, or get there really early!
Lahaina Fish Co
If you like fish and chips. Make sure to make a stop at Lahaina Fish Company. My husband declared them the best he’s ever had!
Maui Grown Coffee Company
If you are a coffee lover, this is a stop that you have to put on your list. In fact that we love the coffee so much that on special occasions we actually order some for home.
No matter where you decide to stay, eat or visit while you are in Maui you are sure to love the island.
If you’ve visited before be sure to leave us a comment letting us know about your favorite spots on Maui.