Maui is undoubtedly one of our favorite getaway destinations and possibly our favorite out of the Hawaiian Islands themselves. Devin, growing up on the island, and myself living there for two years, has most likley made us a bit bias, however Maui is undeniably special. Being only a five hour flight away from the west coast of the US, this is an easily accessible paradise. One trip is never enough and Devin and I, being frequent flyers, love popping over for long weekend getaways. For those who have been to Maui before and want to discover new things or those who are looking to go for the first time, we are giving you a locals guide to the island! Essentials for packing:
This is a Bikini Destination for a reason, unless you are hiking a waterfall or dining by the ocean you will most likely be on the beach, so you will only need to pack light.
Walking shoes (if you plan to hike)
Flip Flops (you will not need high heels on Maui)
2-3 Beach cover ups/ dresses
Bikinis (there are some great places to buy them there too!)
One dressy dinner outfit
Shorts/ T-shirt for activities
Transport: Some people like to spend their trip in the resort enjoying the pool and local shops, but we really encourage you to explore the island. You can go to a hotel anywhere but you cannot always swim under waterfalls and hike volcanos; take advantage of this beautiful island and everything it has to offer. To do so you will definitely need a car. Rentals from the airport are reasonably priced and you will be free to explore everything we suggest at your own leisure. The local bus system can be slow and does not provide access to all the best areas so we don’t generally suggest it. In terms of flying, we always recommend Hawaiian Airlines, you will be feeling the “Aloha” spirit from the minute you step on the plane; it is always an enjoyable flight. Understanding the island: Just so you get the gist of where you are located, there are four main areas on the island: Lahaina/Napili on the west side of the island (most popular), Kihei/Wailea area on the south side, Paia/Haiku which is on the north side (more local), and Hana which is located on the East side of the island. Lahaina/Napili (the west side) is the tourist hot spot of the island. Staying on this side is a great option if you want guaranteed perfect weather throughout your stay. The main strip of hotels is located in an area called Ka’anapali which has an array of restaurants, shopping and all the hotels are located on the beautiful white sand Ka’anapali beach. There are tons of other beautiful beaches and snorkeling spots on the west side that generally all offer an endless amount of fun tourist activities you can partake in. Paia (the north side) is about a 40 mins drive from Lahaina and has more of a local vibe. This is where Devin grew up and even had her first job! Paia is known as “The World Capital of Windsurfing” because it’s home to famous windsurfing and surf spots Ho’okipa, Spreklesville and Pe’hai aka “Jaws.” If you decide to visit Maui during the winter, watching the surf at these famous spots is a MUST. The surf can get HUGE during the winter months and it’s a site you do not want to miss out on! Paia is also home to some of the most amazing restaurants, has fabulous boutique shopping and is only about a 15 minute drive to some of Maui’s most beautiful waterfalls. Not many tourists decide to stay in Paia because there are no big hotels only small boutique hotels, but trust us when we tell you to dedicate a few days to spend in Paia. Wailea/Kihei (the south side) is close to first when it comes to prime spots to stay on Maui. Some of the most beautiful hotels like, The Grand Wailea, The Four Seasons and The Andaz (just to name a few) are located here. Wailea is definitely more mellow than Lahaina and is best for those looking to have a relaxing and tranquil vacation. Note that the weather on the south side is usually perfection during the morning hours but the wind tends to pick up in the afternoon. Hana (the east side) is Maui’s secret gem. If you’re looking for a true depiction of untouched Hawaiian ground then you must make it out to Hana. A beautiful two hour drive around the back side of Haleakala brings you to Hana, a Hawaiian dreamland. The drive itself is unforgettable; long and windy but one of the most beautiful and definitely worth it. Lush jungle, raging waterfalls, black sand beaches, and plenty of Hawaiian culture are just a few of the magical things that Hana has to offer. Wake up early and make a full day out of experiencing Hana, you will LOVE it. Restaurants: We have decided to categorize the restaurants with the absolute must go’s starting at number 1, however these are all amazing. We highly suggest sticking to these, they are our absolute favs! 1. Mamas Fish House (Paia)- This may be Maui’s best restaurant, if you visit Maui and don’t plan a dinner at Mama’s you are missing out, it is quite pricey but well worth it! Our favorite dish would definitely have to be the Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi stuffed with lobster and crab! Also, don’t forget to try the beef polynesian or sashimi as an appetizer. YUM. 2. Flatbread (Paia)- Best flatbread pizza you will ever have! Devin and I often joke about jumping on a plane just so we can eat the, “Mopsy Pork” flatbread, my mouth is watering now! 3. Sansei’s (Kapalua or Napili)- If you love japanese food this may be your new favorite restaurant, and if you don’t like it then you will now! Make sure to book a reservation, it’s booked out every night. Be sure to order the Dynamite shrimp and Panko Crusted Ahi Sashimi Roll. Also, they have a fun karaoke night and 50% every Thursday night after 10pm. 4. Lahaina Grill (Lahaina)- Make your reservation way ahead of time, Lahaina Grill is the best of the best for fine dining in Maui, wonderful atmosphere and you absolutely cannot go wrong with anything on the menu. 5. Cafe Mambo (Paia)- Go here for lunch, get the Kalua pork fajitas, they are amazing (Devin’s favorite dish of all time). 6. Paia Fish Market (Paia)- Fish and chips at their finest and the best Ono burgers, this place is always packed around lunch time for a reason. Great for pick up to take to the beach next door! 7. Merriman’s (Lahaina)- We have never been able to decide what is more amazing at Merrimans, the jaw dropping sunsets or the fresh organic entrees. You will want to book ahead for this one, and it’s your chance to wear your more formal dinner dress. 8. Cafe Des Amis (Paia)- If you find yourself in Paia more than once for lunch this is a great spot for delicious sweet and savory french style crepes, they really are delicious. Make sure to order a strawberry/nutella crepe for desert! 9. Monkey Pod (Wailea)- Owned and recently opened by Merriman’s, Monkey Pod lives up to its sister restaurants reputations but has a more relaxed, local vibe. If you’re of age, the Monkey Pod Mai Tai topped with Lilikoi foam is delectable. 10. Pineapple Grill (Napili)- Great for any meal but my favorite here was always the breakfast! The restaurant is nestled in the hills of Kapalua, great scenery and service. 11. Hula Grill (Lahaina)- Of all the TS restaurants (Dukes, Leilanis, Kimos) Hula Grill has to be our favorite, they are all great and have a cool aloha vibe but the food at Hula Grill is our favorite! Sit in the “bare foot bar” and watch live music and hula dancing with Ka’anapali beach as your backdrop. Some of our favorite local snacks: Mochi Crunch, Li Hing Mui sour candy, Spam Musubi, Passion Orange Juice (POG), Maui Onion Chips, Shaved Ice. Nightlife Maui is not known for its nightlife but we know a few cool spots you should check out if you are looking for a little night out on the town. -Taco Tuesday at Fred’s Mexican Cafe in Kihei. -Ladies Night at Casanovas on Wednesday in Makawao. -Karaoke Night on Thursday at Sansei’s in Kihei or Napili. –“The Triangle” (a triangle of local bars) that is usually packed on Friday and Saturday nights in Kihei. –Fleetwoods on Front Street- Owned and designed by Mick Fleetwood himself! Great for a sunset cocktail, live entertainment or a late dinner and drinks! If you’re just looking for a relaxing happy hour spot you can hit up Tommy Bahamas, Flatbread, Milagros, Monkey Pod, Hula Grill or Leilani’s. Mostly all restaurants on Maui have a happy hour menu, these are just some of our favorites.
Activities Luaus- A traditional Hawaiian feast or dinner is called a Luau, this is about as traditional as it gets and is great fun for everyone. Bring your aloha spirit and make sure to have a few Mai Tai’s for us! We highly recommend The Old Lahaiana Luau! Surf/Sup lessons– Everyone should surf at least once in their life and we also suggest giving Stand Up Paddle Boarding a go! Head over to The Royal Hawaiian Surf Academy, the instructors are super cool and friendly and will make you feel at ease on the waves! Snorkeling- Grab a snorkeling set from your resort and head to any of the sweet snorkeling spots like Kapalua Bay or Black Rock in Ka’anapali, you can also head out on a day snorkeling cruise to one of the great locations like Molokini or Olowalu, visit Paragon Charters for our favorite tours! Sunset boat cruise- Head out on the water for a romantic sunset cruise, our favorite is also through Paragon Charters. If you’re on the island during the winter months you’re in luck because it’s whale watching season! Keep your eyes out! Water falls– Visiting a waterfall while visiting Maui is a must do. The easiest falls to visit are called “Twin Falls,” about a 1 1/2 hr drive from Lahaina or only 15 minutes from Paia, these falls are easy to access with parking and only have about a mild 20 minute hike to the falls. Hana day trip- The famous “Road to Hana” is windy and long, but what’s waiting at the end is well worth it. Hana is one of Maui’s most beautiful untouched beauties, with amazing waterfalls, red sand and black sand beaches and beautiful rain forests. Zip lining- If you are a bit of a dare devil, zip lining is for you, also be sure to take a swing on the giant zip line swing (my favorite). We love Kapalua Ziplines and we are sure you will too! Shopping– Check out Paia Town for some amazing boutique shopping with LOTS of cute bikinis! Haleakala sunrise- Watching the sunrise from the top of a volcano in Hawaii, need I say more? Book it here. Spa day at The Grand Wailea- For those who prefer pure relaxation we suggest a day at The Grand Wailea Spa.
Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort
Undoubtedly the coolest, most modern and newest resort on Maui, Andaz Maui in Wailea is the place to be. With it’s chic and modern design you really get a touch of new and refined Hawaii while staying here. Truly a beautiful property with a lovely and well accommodating staff; it’s definitely one of our favorites on the island.
Price range: $500-$2000 per night
An unsuspecting gem is hiding in the beautiful hills of Wailea and that’s Hotel Wailea. A tranquil and gorgeous property that had our jaws on the floor. Our room was equip with a full kitchen, giant bathtub and ocean front view for a prime sunset watching session on the patio. Just minutes away from the beach, this hideaway resort is perfect for ultimate relaxation.
Price range: $300-$600 per night
Located on Ka’anapali Beach on the west side of Maui, The Sheraton is in the best location as it sits directly in front of one of the best snorkeling spots on the island, Black Rock! Walking distance to Wailers Village shops you can’t ask for a better spot to be during your Maui vacation.
Price range: $300-$700 per night The Four Seasons
Now if you’re a long time follower of ours you’ll know that we stay at The Four Seasons Maui very often. The staff there is like family and they do a fantastic job at making their guests feel welcome and special. The property is gorgeous and the newly renovated rooms are just what the traditional Hawaii style resort needed. If you stay here make sure to lay out at the beautiful serenity pool and have a Mai Tai, it’s our favorite.
Price range: $500-$2000 per night
The Grand Wailea
Known throughout the world, The Grand Wailea is one of Maui’s top resorts. It is perfection in that it is great for all ages. The pool is every kids dream with slides, water elevators, waterfalls and basketball & volley ball nets! For adults, Spa Grande is one of the best in the world and a definite must if you stay here, or even if you don’t!
Price range: $500-$2000 + per night The Westin Ka’anapali
The Westin is located on beautiful Ka’anapali beach, the perfect location for a perfect Maui vacation. The sun sets directly in front of the resort so prep for some of the most beautiful sunsets you’ve ever seen. Walking distance to the shops at Wailers Village and some fantastic restaurants, you have everything you need at the tips of your fingers.
Price range: $300-$700 per night
Kapalua Bay Makena Beach or “Big Beach” Napili Bay Ka’anapali Beach Mama’s Fish House Beach, Paia Baldwin Beach, Paia Red Sand Beach, Hana
Travel Tips Traveling to Maui is pretty straight forward, the locals are friendly, everyone speaks English, and finding your way around is simple. If there is one tip we have it is to not to stay in your hotel your whole trip, explore and try new things, surf for the first time, do something that you usually wouldn’t, even if its a little bit scary, Hawaii is all about making memories that you will cherish forever!
Lingo Aloha- means Hello! Mahalo – means Thank you! Ohana – means Family Haole- white person/tourist Ono- means good
Weather One of the obvious perks of living in or traveling to Hawaii is that it is pretty much always summer, there are a few rainy days in the winter but it’s never cold and if it is, you can usually just drive to the other side of the island to find the sunshine!
Bon Voyage We can’t wait for you to experience Maui through our eyes. By following our tips, we know that your trip will be filled with all the great experiences and memories Maui has to offer! If you have any further questions feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to advise you! Aloha and Mahalo for reading! X