Hawaii is one of my favorite places in the US and a place I have probably visited back most times in all my travels! So far I have been to Hawaii 8 times and have now visited all the 4 main islands of Maui, Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island. All the islands are so easy to get to from the US mainland and are well connected with many airlines. Being in California, its especially easy – just a 5 hour direct flight and we are already in paradise! Each island is so unique and beautiful in its own way, you really can’t go wrong with any of them. If you are looking for travel guides for the other islands check out my ones for the Big Island, Oahu and Kauai in the linked posts.
We had visited Maui 7 years ago on our honeymoon for the first time and instantly fell in love with it – its hard not to! Since then we have always been wanting to make a trip back and finally did! It was as breathtaking and magical as we had imagined and more. This time we went to celebrate a family event so it was a short 3 day trip, but we still got to do a ton! In this travel guide Ill be rounding up the best things to do in Maui from our experiences going the last 2 times to Maui.
WHERE TO STAY ON MAUI?
Most tourists stay in the south or north west side of the island, which is where a bunch of the resorts are also located. We stayed at a resort last time and at a vacation rental via Air BNB this time and loved both our experiences. It totally depends on what you are looking for. Here are some of my fave resorts around Maui (ones that we have stayed at or visited in the past) :
1 ) South Maui – The Four Seasons Maui is undoubtedly one of the best resorts on the island and pretty much in all of Hawaii! The sprawling gorgeous property is conveniently located right on Wailea Beach.
Ps – my gorgeous floral crown is from Maui Palmtree Floral. I absolutely loved how it turned out – the crowns I ordered were also adjustable which was great and lasted me for the entire 3 day trip. Highly recommend her or any special occasion in Maui or even just to feel like an island princess!
Golden hour at Four Seasons Maui
2 ) Northwest Maui – For our honeymoon we stayed the Westin Maui Resort and Spa in the Kaanapali region and absolutely loved it!
3 ) East Maui – If you are looking for a different intimate experience you can also consider staying a night in the lush Hana region (on the east side of Maui). My favorite resort here is Hyatt Hana Maui ; we were supposed to stay here a few years ago (back when it was Travaasa Hana) but that trip fell through. This time around we got to visit a part of their property and it is beyond stunning.
GETTING AROUND IN MAUI :
Unless you plan to just stay and relax in your resort, then having a car is a must in Maui. If you plan to go off roading or to some difficult terrain locations you will need a 4 wheel drive, something to keep in mind when you are booking a car.
THINGS TO DO IN MAUI :
Since we were there this time only for 3 days I am listing out things to do from what we did both this and last time in Maui. Ideally I think 4-6 days is a good time period to spend on the island. Here are some of my recommendations on things to do in Maui :
1 ) DRIVE THE ROAD TO HANA :
Listing this out first as it is undoubtedly the number 1 thing to do in Maui! The Hana Highway is a 64.4-mile-long stretch of Hawaii Routes 36 and 360 which connects Kahului to the town of Hana in east Maui. It is a picturesque, windy road with 617 curves, 52 miles and 56 one way bridges! Last time we did a tour of it with a company but this time we drove it. I thoroughly enjoyed driving it way more than doing it via a tour as we could plan our own schedule and stop whenever we wanted to. If you do plan to drive it on your own a few tips I would give are to start early, do your research on what stops you want to hit along the way (its impossible to hit them all!) and to be respectful of the rules while driving (most one lane bridges have yield signs to oncoming traffic to make it easier). We started at Paia town around 730am and went all the way to Hana and then turned around and came back the same way. I also encourage you to make random stops along the way at spots you stumble upon – for instance, some of my favorite waterfalls we saw were not the popular must do stops everyone recommended but rather the random ones we found along the side of the road!
Here are a few of the stops that you could do along the Road to Hana. ** means we didn’t do it this time around but did it when we went last time on the tour.
- Ho’okipa beach park (right outside Paia town) ** – you are bound to see Hawaiian sea turtles on the beach here.
- Twin Falls (mile marker 2) – to be honest I would skip this, as there are tons of other waterfalls along the way much better and less crowded that this.
- Garden of Eden Arboretum ** (mile marker 10)
- Keanea peninsula (mile marker 17) – make a detour to this stunning peninsula for some incredible photo opps and the best banana bread on the island – Aunty Sandys!
- Upper Waikani falls (mile marker 19) **
- Coconut Glen’s Vegan Coconut ice Cream (mile marker 27.5) – best coco ice cream ever! Loved the Lilikoi flavor.
- Wai’anapanapa state park (mile marker 32) – love the black sand beach (Honokalani beach) here!
- Hana town (mile marker 34) – super cute town to explore. If you are here for lunch check out Pranee Thai.
- Wailua Falls ( mile marker 45) **
- Hamoa Beach (mile marker 50) – one of my fave beaches on the east side.
- Seven sacred pools / pools at Ohe’o (about 12 miles South after Hana town)
Here is a photo recap of our Road To Hana trip :
In and around Keanea peninsula
Views for days!
Coconut Glens vegan Ice cream
Honokalani beach at Waianapanapa state park
Stopping at random waterfalls along the way
2 ) BEST BEACHES IN MAUI :
Maui has some of the best beaches in all of Hawaii. My personal fave are all the beaches in the South! Here are some of my favorite beaches in Maui :
- Makena Beach / Big Beach (south) – the biggest beach in Maui with over 1.5 miles of a vast sandy beach to walk on! But keep in mind that this beach isn’t very swimmable due to its strong current and shorebreak. If you visit also make sure to go to the far right side of the beach and climb the hill to get a birds eye view of the entire beach (see 3rd pic below).
Perfect day on one of our fave beaches on the island.
View from above Makena Beach – so stunning!
- Secret Cove Makena (south) – a little slice of paradise right by Makena beach. Head here early to beat the crowds as the cove is small and intimate.
Gorgeous Secret cove in Makena
Suit : c/o Melissa Odabash
- Wailea beach (south) – fave beach to catch the sunsets! All the beaches on the west offer the best sunset views.
- Other south beaches in Kihei – Kamaole beach 3, Ulua and Mokapu beach
Kamaole Beach park 3
- West side beaches – Kaanapali Beach, Kapalua Bay, Napili Bay
- North shore beaches – Baldwin beach, Ho’okipa beach park
- East beaches – Honokalani black sand beach , Hamoa beach, Koki red sand beach
Honokalani beach at Waianapanapa state park
3 ) HALEAKALA NATIONAL PARK :
A must do in Maui is to visit the dormant volcano Haleakala! We did this last time around and it was like stepping on another planet. Best seen at sunrise or sunset. If you are headed here for sunrise – reservations are required in advance.
4 ) IAO VALLEY STATE PARK :
We did Iao Valley last time too and loved it! This lush 4000-acre valley offers hiking, sightseeing, a nature center & views of the Iao Needle.
5 ) TOWNS OF MAUI :
Maui has tons of charming towns to visit and spend some time at like Lahaina, Paia (my fave!) and Makawao. Each town has its own vibe, cute cafes, boutiques and eats to explore.
6 ) HELICOPTER RIDE :
A must do in Hawaii is to take a helicopter ride. We did this Kauai and it was phenomenal! My dad and sister did it here in Maui and said it was an amazing experience. I recommend doing it with Blue Hawaiian helicopters.
My sister took these on her helicopter ride! How stunning is Maui from above wow!
7 ) SNORKELING OR SUNSET CRUISES :
Take a cruise of your choice in Maui. If you are a water baby and love snorkeling and diving definitely consider doing a day trip to the Molokini crater! Another option is to take a relaxed sunset cruise from Lahaina Harbor to enjoy the spectacular sunsets of Maui.
8 ) DAYTRIP TO LANAI :
If you have the time you can also consider doing a day trip to the island of Lanai. Expeditions Lanai is the ferry that operates between the two islands and has several ones throughout the day. It is a short 45-50 min ferry ride. Once there you can rent a car and explore the island. Do not miss out on the Lanai Cat Sanctuary, Polihua beach and Garden of the Gods.
FAVE EATS IN MAUI :
1 ) ULULANIS SHAVE ICE :
Best shave ice on the planet period! Listing this out as no 1 as we went here ever single day! They have locations in Lahaina, Kihei and Paia.
Tees c/o Chaser Brand
2 ) WOW WOW HAWAIIAN LEMONADE (KIHEI) :
Delicious handcrafted island lemonades and acai bowls.
3 ) PAIA BOWLS :
Best acai bowls in Maui! Great place to fuel up before starting Road to Hana.
Dress c/o Tiare Hawaii
4 ) MONKEYPOD KITCHEN :
Farm to table food, they have a few locations around Maui. We went to the one in Kihei.
5 ) MAMAS FISH HOUSE, PAIA :
Handsdown our best meal of the trip! Great for a special occasion too. I mean with 4.5 stars and 7000 yelp reviews, you cant go wrong. If you love seafood this place is an absolute must; reservations are needed way in advance. Also the location is superb – get here just before sunset to have dinner while watching the magical sunset sky.
Incredible location and incredible Italian food! We went here for dinner on one of the nights and every single dish was beyond amazing. Highly recommend it!
For the Yummy fish tacos!
7 ) EATS ALONG ROAD TO HANA :
**See above in Road to Hana details.
8 ) KIHEI CAFFE :
Cute old school diner; try the Brunch here!
9 ) MERRIMANS KAPALUA :
Located at one of my fave bays in the island, great for a special dinner.
10 ) STAR NOODLE and 11) FRIDA’S MEXICAN KITCHEN :
Both highly rated that we wanted to check out but didn’t have the time to.
Hope this guide helps you if you are ever planning a trip to Maui.
Thanks for stopping by! xoxo