We got back from Maui on Monday and were welcomed home to rainy, cold temperatures here in California (I say “cold” subjectively: 60 degrees 😂) which made leaving there even more difficult than normal! This was our second time back to Maui in the past year because we love it so much, so I wanted to share with you our “Travel Guide to Maui” in case you’re headed there in the future.
There are tons of things we’ve loved, and a few not so much, when it comes to food, activities, locations, time of year to visit, etc. so I included all of that today. (For me, hearing what people didn’t love it almost just as valuable as what they did, but please don’t just take our word for it if you have heard otherwise; try it!)
Activities & Sites to See:
- Makena Beach (aka “Big Beach”): It was raining a good portion of the time we were there this past week, so we spent lots of time just relaxing in the room and catching up on our Netflix shows (much needed!), but after a couple days we were going stir crazy and wanted to get out. I Googled “sunny places in Maui when it rains” (haha!) and Makena Beach came up. We drove there in the morning from where we were staying in Ka’anapali (it’s about an hour drive/near Wailea) and low and behold it was sunny and 80 degrees! We couldn’t believe it! [We shot all the looks in this post there!]
- Snorkeling: Okay, so I know it’s totally an oxymoron to love Hawaii as much as I do and not like snorkeling, but its true…I don’t like it. I don’t know if it’s the fish being so close to me, or just knowing that the fish are so close to me (😂). But, I have made myself do it multiple times and Daniel likes it, so as far as recommendations go
weDaniel has three: (1) Black Rock (this is near Kaanapali and can be accessed from the shoreline–one of Daniel’s favorites), (2) Kaanapali Beach, and (3) Molokini Crater. Daniel says hands down that Molokini Crater is the best snorkeling he’s ever done, but going requires booking an excursion. It’s about an hour (and a half?) boat ride from the Maui coastline to Molokini, but once you get there you get to snorkel most of the day! Our excursion served lunch on the boat as well.
- Road to Hana: Being the most talked about thing you have to do while on Maui, Daniel and I did this when we went the first time this year. It is just as beautiful as everyone describes it, and it’s not actually about getting to Hana at all; it’s all about the drive there. If you are going to do it on your own without a tour guide, make sure you download the app “Road to Hana GyPSy Driving Tour” before you go. [Once you get going, you will lose service but the app runs off GPS so it will continue to work!] It lets you know about all the stops along the way and gives you little bits of history along the drive. If you plan to go the entire way (and then around the back side) make sure you give yourself a minimum of 9-10 hours and you do it in a in a Jeep. We had friends get stuck on the backside because they didn’t have a four wheel drive car and the weather suddenly changed! Also, be sure to pack a lunch because there is no food (even in the little town of Hana), and Daniel and I ended up eating Lunchables from a gas station…haha! And just a tip: If you get about an hour and a half into it and you feel like, “This is really neat, but I’m kinda over it now,” turn around. There isn’t necessarily better sights the longer you drive, just more. In case you’re wondering, this was me 😂.
- Nakalele Blow Hole: This was a short drive up the coast from our hotel in Kaanapali and was really neat to see. You park along the highway and it’s about a 5 minute walk down rocks to get to it (not a hike, but make sure you wear athletic shoes and not flip flops).
- Front Street: This is a little strip along the beach in the town of Lahaina with tons of restaurants and little shops. Daniel and I love to head down here a little early and shop around before or after we eat dinner.
- Wailea: We have always stayed in Kaanapali (near Lahaina), and Wailea is the other spot on Maui where the majority of hotels are located. The two are about an hour apart, but we love to spend a day down here shopping and eating. The Shops at Wailea have fun stores (like Tiffany, Prada, and Louis Vuitton 😉) and one of our favorite restaurants is also there! It’s also fun to check out the historic Grand Wailea hotel which is next door and is all pink!
Food & Restaurants
Let me preface this entire section by saying both Daniel and I are extremely picky eaters and we both don’t like seafood…ha! So, I am going to include our favorites here, as well as others I have heard recommended. Also, I recommend making dinner reservations before you leave because during busier times of the year, it can be tough to find a table.
- Longhi’s: Daniel and I always eat breakfast here at least one morning of our trip (we typically go to the Front Street location), but we want to try it for dinner as well next time! It has such a pretty view of the ocean with tons of windows.
- Tommy Bahama Restaurant: Okay, we totally thought this restaurant was going to be tourist central (Rainforest Café, anyone?) and have not-so-great food when we first saw it, but we couldn’t have been more wrong! We went there for the first time for lunch on this last trip on the day we spent in Wailea shopping, and we had to go back on our way to the airport because we were both craving it! The Filet Mignon Salad is by far the best salad I’ve ever had!
- Hula Grill: This restaurant is located in Whalers Village in Lahaina (another little shopping area on the beach), and has two options as far as dining goes: you can either sit in the formal dining room (still open with a view of the beach), or sit in their “Barefoot Bar” area which is a little sand area with tables (not just a bar). We sat in the more casual area because we came for lunch. Daniel had a pepperoni pizza (#typical 😂), and I got the short rib tacos…so good!
- Leilani’s on the Beach: Located right next to Hula Grill, Leilani’s has the same type of formal/casual option as well. The upstairs is more formal and you can sit on the balcony and watch the sunset over the beach if you get a reservation and request that spot!
- Japengo: We also ate here twice this trip (can you say, creatures of habit?!) and will definitely be back! It is an Asian restaurant that also serves sushi, but you have to try their fried rice!
- Mama’s Fish House: When I asked on Instagram for restaurant recommendations, this was hands down the most recommended (by like 10x…haha!). We obviously didn’t eat here, but from what I hear you have to try it if you visit Maui (and like fish 😉).
- The Gazebo: Everyone says you have to have breakfast here! We haven’t tried it yet; we attempted to go this trip, but you have to show up really early you don’t want to wait (they open at 7:30), and we showed up at 7:20 to a huge line. It was raining, so we decided not to wait and went to Longhi’s instead, but when we go back we will definitely head there around 6:45/7 and probably on one of the first days of the trip while we still aren’t over jet lag.
- Ululani’s Shave Ice: If telling you we went here four times over the course of six days doesn’t prove how much Daniel liked this place, I’m not sure what would! Haha! They make all of their syrups with real cane sugar, and the tropical fruit ones are made primarily with real fruit purées. (This may be gross, but I totally prefer the “artificial” flavors to the real ones, but I am probably the only person to ever say that! Ululani’s all taste like real fruit versus the artificial flavors you’re used to in shave ice syrup…only a downside to me, an upside to everyone else in the world 😂).
- Fleetwood’s on Front St.: Probably one of the most recommended restaurants as well, and I hate to do this, but I have to say: we didn’t like it. The food was horrible (we got a chicken and a steak dish), but the atmosphere was fun! It’s on a rooftop on Front St., and I would recommend it for drinks and live music, but that’s about it.
Other Random Tips
- Time of Year: We’ve now been to Maui in April, June, and December/January and honestly the weather is never bad. It’s usually always between 70-80 degrees and mostly sunny. This last time we went (Dec/Jan) we happened to hit a super rainy week which put a little of a damper on our plans to lay by the pool and beach, but it was still warm! April was perfect, and June was even a little warmer. I would say our favorite time is April (less crowded, but good weather), and the busiest time was December!
- Rent a Jeep: Obviously this is even more of a must-do if you plan on doing the whole Road to Hana, but we rented one this time as well, even though we weren’t planning on doing it again. It is so fun to have on the island!
- Shopping: There really is not much shopping on the island when comparing it to Oahu/Waikiki. There are some grocery stores (Target, Whole Foods, and Costco) by the airport and ABC Stores (like little convenience stores) in all of the little towns, but that’s about it. As far as malls go, there really aren’t any true “malls” like we’re used to here (or like in Waikiki), but Hawaii is my absolute favorite place to buy designer bags! They are technically in the Asian market, versus the mainland market, and their prices are at least 10% lower! Can’t wait to show you guys the one I got this time! 😉
- Books: Bring a couple of good books to read by the pool and beach. I read Worth the Wait and It Ends with Us last week.
While we will probably head to another island on our next Hawaii trip, Maui is definitely one of our favorites and is the best getaway when you need time to relax! It was so perfect and needed after the crazy month of December we had this past year. We still want to take a ferry over to Lanai next time (it’s a pretty short ride) and rent ATV’s over there for a day trip!
Have you visited Maui before? What are some of your favorite things about the island and what would you recommend?