A little overdue but I’m finally sharing my Maui travel guide! I’ll be sharing Kauai in the next few weeks but it seems like most of you are headed to Maui this summer so here is where to stay, what to do, and what to eat while you’re in Maui, Hawaii!
Hawaii is one of those destinations everyone talks about. The comfort of still being in the United States and being able to speak English speaks to so many. I imagine this is why we saw so many people while we were there – especially families!
How to get to Maui, Hawaii.
I think this comes as no surprise but flights are the only way to Maui. At least, if you want to get there in a reasonable amount of time. From Chicago, nonstop flights are a little limited but from the West Coast they are much more common. If you’re flying nonstop from the Midwest or East Coast, note that there is no meal on this flight unless you’re flying Hawaiian Airlines. Even though this flight is as long (or longer!) than a flight to Europe which I found to be surprising. Snacks are available for purchase but you might also want to bring some.
I’m really excited that Southwest is starting to fly to Hawaii too! I remember when they first announced this! I always get excited when they launch new destinations because they are my favorite airline. They fly out of Midway here in Chicago which is a much smaller and easier airport to travel through. I also love that bags fly free. It makes traveling on long trips more affordable and first and second checked bags fly free (weight and size limits apply). My dream is to have the Southwest Companion Pass. I just have to start traveling more I guess to earn it!!
Where to stay in Maui, Hawaii.
We stayed in Wailea which is a very mellow area of Maui. Matt used his tips on how to find the best hotel and this is what we decided on! We stayed at the Andaz Maui which was a beautiful hotel. If you can find a really good deal, I’d recommend staying here. It was visually appealing but generally, we felt it was a bit overpriced for what we were getting. The food options were only okay – we tried every restaurant on the property and, outside of breakfast, only found the food mediocre. The facilities were nice but the rooms were average sized and it didn’t feel as luxurious as the price tag! Maybe all hotels in Hawaii are like this. Have you had any experiences?
In hindsight, I would probably stay in Lahaina because it’s much closer to a lot of the restaurants, night life, and activities. If you’re on your honeymoon, Wailea might be for you if you don’t want to be bothered and prefer luxury resorts. However, if you like being around people, Lahaina is probably a better choice.
Where to eat in Maui Hawaii.
I’m going to share some of the restaurants we got to try and some that were recommended to us! We weren’t able to try everything since we stayed in Wailea but the reviews online and the number of recommendations was overwhelming for these places!
- Mamas Fish House. It’s a little out of the way but probably the number one ranked spot and number one recommended on the island. We didn’t end up going because I don’t each fish and I heard it wasn’t very vegetarian friendly but if you eat fish, this place is a must.
- Paia Bowls. We stopped here on the Road to Hana and it was a great way to start the day. Simple but delicious.
- Brekkie Bowls or Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonade. If you’re looking for an acai bowl place closer to Wailea, try these two!
- Monkeypod Kitchen. There are a few locations for this restaurant (both in Lahaina and Wailea) so we did get to go to this one! The food was good but it was a little more casual than either of us were expecting. Definitely a family restaurant!
- Star Noodle. Another highly recommended spot for Asian cuisine!
- Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice. Shave ice in Hawaii is a must! Makes me feel like a kid again! There are multiple locations of this too.
- Duke’s Beach House. This is another chain restaurant and it’s fun for a lunch but it’s pretty casual and a little touristy.
- Spago. For something really fancy and a taste of LA!
If we had more nights, we would have tried the restaurants at Hotel Wailea and the Four Seasons! They looked really good. To be honest, we might try staying at one of them too if we were heading back to Wailea.
What to do in Maui, Hawaii.
I think everyone goes to Hawaii for one reason: relaxation. So grab your favorite bathing suit and plan to spend some time soaking up every ounce of vitamin D you can! Whether it’s at the pool hotel or the beach, you can’t go wrong. If you want a break though, what else can you do? See below!
Road to Hana.
Plan to spend a full day doing this. Leave first thing in the morning, like 6 AM if possible. The road is very tiny and traffic increases as it gets later in the day. The road was closed at a certain point when we went so you couldn’t make the full circle – you could only drive clockwise. If you do decide to make the full circle, read through your rental car agreement because the roads are unpaved in certain areas! I’ve heard tips saying to go counter-clockwise but just check the roads before you go! There are SO many signs along the way and an overwhelming amount of stops so do your research before you go on what you want to see. If you stop at all of them, you won’t hit everything in one day. I’m serious when I say this will take a full day! It was lightly raining when we went which added to the traffic both on the way up and the way back.
We ate breakfast at Paia Bowls (see above) before we started our journey for the day! Our first stop was Ho’Okipa Beach Park where we saw the hugest turtles ever! It was incredible to see them sitting in the sand. This stop wasn’t very crowded either since we got there before 8 AM!
Next, we went to Keanae Peninsula. We skipped the Twin Falls and the Garden of Eden Arboretum in order to beat the rush of traffic. There is a banana bread stand on the Keanae Peninsula that is a very popular place.
We stopped at Waianapanapa State Park and this was probably one of my favorite stops. I took the photo at the top of the post there! If you take the steps down to the left, you’ll find a black sand beach which is beautiful! There’s also a cave right to the left of the stairs at the bottom where we took this photo!
We exited the Road to Hana at Hana Bay Beach Park but didn’t even get out of the car because it didn’t look like it was worth stopping. Kaihalulu Beach is right on the other side which is a red sand beach but we had already stopped at the black sand beach which I thought was a little prettier and more unique. The trail down this beach has also been washed away in parts so it’s probably not recommended except for the experienced hiker. Hamoa Beach was cute though!
We got out of the car at Wailua Falls and did a mini hike up the trails. There are trails of all difficulties and lengths so make sure to bring some sneakers! We were in sandals so we just did one of the easy trails!
The Seven Sacred Pools at Ohe’o was probably my second favorite stop all day. We couldn’t go much further than this because the road was blocked off anyway! But the pools were amazing! There is also a bamboo hiking trail behind the parking lot which takes about 2 hours round trip to hike!
Sunrise at Haleakala National Park.
See if you can schedule a tour in advance for this! If you’re traveling with people who don’t mind getting up early, the view is spectacular!
Generally, helicopter tours in Hawaii are pretty common. If you have the budget, it’s worth it to do one! We saved our helicopter tour for Kauai but if you’re only headed to Maui, I’ve heard amazing things!
Ali’i Kula Lavender Field.
If the roads aren’t closed on the Road to Hana, stop here. I was planning to make the full circle but when the roads were closed, I had to give up on the dream of going here! We didn’t have time!
This is where the heart shaped rock is!
Warren & Annabelle’s Magic.
If you’re open to a different form of entertainment, this magic show is highly recommended. Fun cocktails and none of the tackiness!
Have you been to Maui? Is there anything I missed? Share your tips below for other readers!
*In partnership with Southwest Airlines.