Maui truly has a special place in my heart as my family owns a timeshare there, and we’ve been going every year since I was 10. It feels like my home away from home every time I’m there. It’s the perfect Hawaiian island and the best in my opinion, because it’s an even mixture of town and nature. I’ve been to Oahu and Kauai as well, and they are both more extreme versions of town and nature respectively. Maui has been said to be the best family island, with lots of activities for all ages. Our timeshare is in Kaanapali, so I will be focusing mostly on that area and the town of Lahaina, with island excursion options as well, such as the volcano Haleakala, and the road to Hana.
1. Snorkel/snuba/scuba: The waters here have an absolutely amazing underwater world for you to enjoy. The best part is, you can do it for cheap. We usually rent snorkel gear from Boss Frogs for $6/day and you can snorkel right in front of all the Kaanapali resorts. Black Rock is a popular spot, and you can view people diving from the top, or try it yourself (it’s awesome!). There’s tons of tropical fish you’ll see including the state fish the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a. There’s also sea turtles that roam close to shore! If you’re interested in doing a day trip, try checking out Molokini, a volcanic crater, halfway submerged in the ocean. There’s lots of boat tours you can do that typically provide the gear, and lunch is served on the boat. I went with Pride of Maui, and it was awesome. They served a light breakfast, took us to Molokini AND Turtle Town, and provided BBQ lunch with an open bar. There’s also a slide on the boat! If you register online, it’s $99/adult, $68/kids.
2. Go to a Luau: Now this is something I definitely don’t do every year because they’re expensive, but if you’ve never been to Hawaii, it’s a must! Luaus will typically have a buffet dinner, followed by live Hawaiian entertainment, although this varies with different luaus. It is good to know that not all luaus will have the fire show, as this is technically a Polynesian tradition, not Hawaiian. The only luau that sticks to its Hawaiian roots is The Old Lahaina Luau. I’ve done this Luau a couple times and it’s really great. The food and service is amazing and there’s an open bar. But, this is also one of the most expensive luaus, with adults at $120/ticket, and kids $78/ticket. If you’re looking for a more affordable Luau, The Royal Lahaina Luau has tickets for $76 per adult, and for each adult ticket, you get a free children’s ticket.
3. The Road to Hana: This is another day trip. Plan to leave early so you don’t get stuck in traffic or behind tour buses later in the day. Hana is an isolated town located at the eastern side of Maui. To get there, you take Hana highway, a 52 mile winding road that takes you through green lush forests, along the cliffs of the ocean, and offers different stops to take hikes throughout your drive. I would suggest purchasing a guide to do this, whether it’s written or audio, as some of the stops are easy to miss. We bought a cd that told us what to look for at each mile marker which was very helpful, and I know there’s apps now too that can do this based off of GPS. Wear hiking or water shoes, as the trails can get muddy. Wear a bathing suit and bring a towel, as a lot of the stops are hikes to waterfalls and pools you can swim in. Don’t leave valuables in the car. The stops are an easy place for break ins and there’s signs there to remind you. Stop at some of the snack shacks and try the banana bread! It is sooo tasty. Lastly, fill your gas tank full! There are no gas stations from Paia to Hana.
4. Haleakala Volcano at Sunrise: This is another very popular tourist destination and for good reason. Being above the clouds and watching the sun rise is a spiritual experience. You have the option to drive yourself, or book a tour bus to pick you up at your hotel. We booked the tour so we wouldn’t have to drive half asleep as they pick you up around 3am. Our tour included breakfast after sunrise which was great. Bring a jacket and blankets! It is COLD up there even during the summer as it’s 10,000 feet above sea level.
5. Whale watching: If you are whale obsessed like me, then Maui is the perfect place to see them! Whale season in Maui is from November – May. I like booking with Pacific Whale Foundation as a portion of their proceeds go towards ocean and whale conservation. When I went, we saw a LOT of humpback whales. It was amazing!
6. Front Street in Lahaina: A short drive from Kaanapali, Lahaina has tons of restaurant and shopping options for clothing, fine jewelry, and souviniers. A few of my favorite restaurants here would have to be Jimmy Buffet’s Cheeseburger in Paradise, Cool Cat Cafe, and if you’re a Fleetwood Mac fan, Mick Fleetwood’s restaurant-Fleetwood’s on Front St. Don’t miss the huge banyan tree here as well!
A few of my other favorite restaurants:
- Aloha Mixed Plate: If you want an authentic Hawaiian plate lunch, this place is great! Lots of varieties of meats with mac salad and rice!
- Merrimans in Kapalua: This place has gorgeous views for lunch as you’re pretty much surrounded by ocean. A quick drive from Kaanapali.
- Duke’s: American food with an oceanfront view, can be a long wait for dinner.
- Hula Grill: Located in Whaler’s village, another oceanfront view with a variety of meal options. Don’t forget to try the hula pie!
There’s so much more to do in Maui, but some of the best days are just spent relaxing on the beach with a Mai Tai! Like I said, this travel guide focuses on staying in the Kaanapali area. In September, I will be mixing it up a bit and staying in Wailea for the first time for a friend’s wedding, can’t wait!