From snorkeling to scenic drives to volcano sunrise, Maui welcomes its guests with such a warm embrace and a plethora of activities that saying goodbye to it at the end seems like the hardest thing you will ever do in life. Maui is blessed with tremendous beauty, with waterfalls, a volcano, sparkling beaches, and clear water lining its glorious expanse. Many dream of visiting the paradisaic land at least once in their life but don’t know where to start. Therefore, in this article, we will offer you the ultimate guide to a Maui vacation, where we will target all the aspects from the best time to visit Maui to the accommodations that you should opt for.
A Little Something About Maui – The Ultimate Guide to a Maui Vacation
The locals in Hawaii have a saying that goes “Lucky we live in Hawaii” and lucky they are indeed. Who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by the glistening waters, coconut palms, and sandy beaches, basking in the warm tropical climate as you savor the delightful sweetness of fresh fruits running down your throat? Among the gorgeous Hawaiian Islands, the one that stands out the most is Maui with its 120 miles of accessible beaches blanketed by black, white, and golden sand.
Maui is the second-largest island in Hawaii and harbors the third-largest population, almost about 144,000 people. Apart from housing the gorgeous Hawaiian people, creatures like the largest humpback whales also call Maui its vacation home and migrate every year from all over the world to stay in the island’s turquoise waters from mid-December to mid-April.
Those visiting Maui, are left awe-struck and gaping mouthed as their eyes first land on its paradisaic expanse. Lusher than the Big Island, more diverse than Kauai, and quieter than Oahu, the island of Maui offers its guests a taste of slow-paced island living. Maui is also a haven for adventure and thrill seekers because even though the island is known for its pristine beaches and misty green valleys which helped it bag the title of paradise, Maui is no stranger to thrill and has a strong sense of adventure that is deeply rooted within its core.
The Island of Maui also harbors a rich history and vibrant culture. It just takes a bit of an effort to explore the island’s vibrant culture and rich history. All in all, a Maui vacation is one that will suit the palate of all kinds of travelers, let it be nature lovers, environmentalists, thrill seekers, adventure-hungry, or history buffs.
Maui Geography – The Ultimate Guide to a Maui Vacation
When planning your Maui vacation, the first thing that you have to do is get a lay of the island as it will make your trip planning a whole lot easier. In Hawaii, Maui is the second largest island and harbors a unique shape. Similar to other Hawaiian Islands, Maui has two sides i.e. a leeward side and a windward side. the leeward side is the drier portion of the island, while the windward side is a lot wetter. The island is dotted with three distinct areas namely, West Maui, Central Mai, Easy Maui, and Upcountry Maui.
West Maui – The Ultimate Guide to a Maui Vacation
On West Maui, long stenches of beaches, snorkeling sports, and plenty of resorts and vacation rentals stand at the ready to welcome you as the warm weather of the island takes you in its embrace and the jaw-dropping sunsets present you with a show of vivid yellow, pink, orange, and purple hues. Unfortunately, West Maui suffered through the devastating Lahaina fire, that left in its wake nothing but ashes and destruction, and a shadow of what the beautiful town of Lahaina used to be.
The community and the area are still reeling from the loss of life and property and the town isn’t open to visitors yet. However, other areas of West Maui including the acclaimed Kaanapali resort area, the picturesque Napili Bay, and snorkeling spots like Kapalua Bay are taking in visitors. However, it is advised to visit the west side with the utmost care and extend a helping hand to the locals as they try to rebuild their beautiful land.
Popular Things to Do
- Spend the day lounging by the waters of Kaanapali Beach.
- From the western shoreline, glimpse Lanai and Molokai
- Take a stroll down the sleepy town of Lahaina (closed at the moment)
South Maui – The Ultimate Guide to a Maui Vacation
South Maui is a popular spot among visitors one that dials up luxury and comfort. In this part of the land, you will be welcomed by luxurious hotels, views of the Molokini Carter and Kahoolawe, as well as stunning beaches that will mesmerize you with their soft sand and twinkling turquoise waters. Popular spots harbored by South Maui include the resort community of Wailea, the expanse Makena Beach, the small town of Kihei, and plenty of tour boats that take tourists for snorkeling at Molokini Crater.
Popular Things to Do
- Visit Turtle Town to see the beautiful creatures.
- Take a hike in the family-friendly Makena State Park.
- Snorkel and swim among the amazing sea creatures at the Molokini Atoll.
Central Maui – The Ultimate Guide to a Maui Vacation
When on a Maui vacation, you will fly into central Maui you land at the main commercial airport on the island, the Kahului Airport (OGG). Once you leave the airport you will be met with dramatic mountain views, where great hiking opportunities await, and small restaurants and shops that you can stroll at your leisure.
When in Central Maui make sure to visit the scared Iao Valley, or head up to the north coast and take a stroll through the quaint town of Paia and treat yourself to the most famous restaurant in Hawaii, the Mama’s Fish House. Adventure and thrill seekers should make their way to Waihee Ridge Trail and take a hike to satiate their adventurous soul all the while taking in the glorious views that surround them.
Popular Things to Do
- When in Central Maui, make sure to check out the historic town of Wailuku.
- When visiting the small town of Paia, do some boutique shopping.
- Explore the Iao Valley State Monument.
Upcountry Maui – The Ultimate Guide to a Maui Vacation
Upcountry Maui, which is located inland houses rich volcanic farmland as well as the summit district of Haleakala National Park. Grab a sweater and make your way up the slop of Haleakala to the Upcountry Maui and glimpse beautiful views of the ocean below you as you make your way up. When in Upcountry you can take a visit to the cowboy town of Makawao. Also, make sure to visit the many farms that line its expanse and sample fresh tropical produce. Or you can just keep on heading to the top until you come across Haleakala National Park.
Popular Things to Do
- Visit the Haleakala National Park to witness the most beautiful sunrise and sunset of your life.
- Eat organic and fresh produce grown in the soil of Maui.
- Take a walk in the beautiful farms of Kula.
East Maui – The Ultimate Guide to a Maui Vacation
You can visit East Maui by taking the famous Road to Hana, a gorgeous drive that takes you over 50 bridges, and around 620 curves, all the while delivering views of the lush landscape, stunning coastline, and beautiful waterfalls. Easy Maui lies in the remote and rugged part of Windward Maui and is a great spot for adventures.
Popular Things to Do
- When in East Maui, explore Waianapanapa State Park, which is home to black sand beaches.
- Fill your belly by eating Hana Highway’s famous banana bread.
- Take a hike along the Pipiwai Trail.
Best Time for a Maui Vacation – The Ultimate Guide to a Maui Vacation
You might live in a place where you experience all four seasons, but Hawaii only goes through two seasons, summer or kau that runs from May to October, and winter or hooilo that lasts from November to April. If you are a person who adores warmth and sun, then lucky for you as Maui is war, and pleasant throughout the year. Therefore, there is truly no bad time to embark on a Maui vacation. However, the best months (in our opinion) to visit Maui are April/May and September/October. These months are ideal if you want to avoid the tourist surge and high prices, moreover, the weather is also great during these months.
When winter rolls around the weather gets slightly cooler and there is a little more rain. However, if you stay in West or South Maui, it will increase your chances of sunny days and pleasant temperatures. If you are a lover of water and want to jump in the ocean the second you land in Maui, then you will be happy to know that the ocean temperature fluctuates between 75 to 80 degrees year-round, which means that the water is comfortable enough for you to swim in January as well as in June.
How to Get to Maui? – The Ultimate Guide to a Maui Vacation
Maui is home to three airports namely Kahului Airport, Kapalua Airport, and Hana Airport. Among these, the Kahului Airport which is located in Central Maui is the main one and harbors the facilities to accommodate direct flights from the United States mainland and also serves inter-island and international flights. This is the place where you will land when visiting Maui. The airport lies 30 minutes away from Wailea and 45 minutes away from Kaanapali.
Getting Around Maui – The Ultimate Guide to a Maui Vacation
When in Maui, you can get around by taxi, tour bus, shuttle, or public transportation. However, in order to experience all that Maui has to offer it is better to rent a car in advance. Consider renting a car with Discount Hawaii Car Rental as they offer the most competitive rates. There are other local companies as well like Kihei Rent a Car, form where you can get a car at a good price.
The roads in Maui are not only well paved but are also easy to navigate, therefore getting around it is a piece of cake, if you are really not into driving then you can book a guided tour that will pick you up from your hotel and take you around various sights and attractions in the area. Two of the best-guided tour options in Maui are Haleakala Guided Sunrise Tour and Road to Hana Guided Tour.
Where to Stay, When on a Maui Vacation? – The Ultimate Guide to a Maui Vacation
When looking for accommodations, you will find that the island of Maui has a lot to offer from five-star resorts to outstanding vacation rentals as well as a range of options in between. If you have the money and are coveting a luxurious Maui vacation that comes with room service, and housekeeping, then go for hotels that offer the traditional repost experience complete with big pools, beaches, and restaurants. However, if a budget-friendly Maui vacation is in the cards, you should go for a vacation rental, as with it comes a kitchen where you can cook and a whole place to yourself where you can relax after a tiring day of sightseeing.
Best Hotels in Maui – The Ultimate Guide to a Maui Vacation
Kaanapali Beach Hotel
If you want to stay in a tropical paradise as you bask in the authenticity of Hawaiian accommodation and hospitality, look no further than the Kaanapali Beach Hotel. The Kaanapali Beach Hotel is a gorgeous accommodation that offers stunning views of the West Maui mountains as well as immediate access to the soft sand of the acclaimed Kaanapali Beach. The hotel, dubbed as Hawaii’s Most Hawaiian Hotel offers its guests a true taste of Hawaiian culture that it effortlessly preserved.
The guests get a taste of Hawaii via the national décor that dots the premises of the hotel, ukulele demonstration, olelo lessons, and much more. you can also enjoy a meal at its beachfront restaurant, Huihui which serves traditional cuisine with a modern flare. The hotel also harbors firepits overlooking the sea, where you can lunge with a. class of tropical cocktails, and glance at the setting sun and the dancing waves.
Wailea Beach Villas
Wailea Beach Villas is a luxurious accommodation that is located on a private section of Wailea Beach and consists of tropical-style two to five-bedroom villas that come with modern kitchens, flatscreen TVs as well and BBQ grills where the guests can grill their own BBQ. The place also comes with a plethora of pools that kids and adults and enjoy equally. On the property, you will find a family-friendly pool that features waterfalls as well as an adult-only infinity tool where the grownups can have some downtime with drinks.
If authentic island life experience is on your agenda, then you can’t go wrong with a stay at the Hana-Maui Resort. Lying in the secluded eastern tip of Hana, Hana-Maui Resort is an award-winning hotel that comes with spacious rustic-chic cottages that lie amid rolling grass fields, and towers cliffs dotted with palm trees. The hotel also lies at an ideal location, a few miles from Maui’s famous wonders like Wailua Falls and the seven sacred pools cascade of waterfalls. When staying at the hotel you can take up activities like bamboo pole fishing, horse riding and so much more.
Fairmont Kea Lani
If true elegance and luxury are what you desire, then you better stay at the Fairmont Kea Lani resort which proudly wears the title of being the only all-suite and villa luxury beachfront resort housed in Maui. Contrary to other hotels the island houses, the Kea Lani is very much design-focused as features spacious, family-friendly suites and two-bedroom villas that come equipped with full kitchens, private plunge pools as well as courtyards. The decor and design of the resort are all done in an understated Hawaiian aesthetic of earthy tones and muted whites. The Kea Lani harbors on its premises a 24-hour gym, a massive waterslide, and outdoor pools.
Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa
If you want to stay at a hotel that ticks all the boxes of luxury, comfort, and amenities then Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa is your best bet. The hotel offers an indulgent Hawaiian getaway that comes with expansive pools, immediate beach access, a palate-pleasing variety of eateries, and an onsite luau. Also, when staying here you will come across a surprise or two including resident penguins, a rooftop astronomy program, and a grotto bar that is set in a cave surrounded by gushing waterfalls.
Best Restaurants in Maui – The Ultimate Guide to a Maui Vacation
Hula Grill is a top-notch restaurant that lies in West Maui and features Maui-grown produce, meats, local fresh fish, and a raw bar in a scenic setting. Here guests can enjoy stunning views of the Pacific as well as the islands of Lanai and Molokai and they feast on scrumptious food.
Address – 2435 Ka’anapali Parkway, at Whalers Village, Lahaina, Hawaii 96761
Phone – (808) 667-6636
Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman
Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman is one of the many restaurants in Hawaii that come under the management of chef Peter Merriman. The restaurant treats its guests to local produce, fish, and meat that is creatively prepared and elegantly presented. Severed with lunch and dinner and has an extensive wine list, craft beers, and culinary cocktails.
Address – 2435 Ka’anapali Parkway, at Whalers Village, Lahaina, Hawaii 96761
Phone – (808) 878-6763
Tommy Bahama is a chic restaurant found at The Shops at Wailea and serves lunch and dinner as well as a special happy hour menu in their dining room. As you wait for your entrée to arrive, request for a plat of ahi tuna tacos or coconut shrimp with a specialty cocktail and much on these delicacies as you wait for the main feats to arrive.
Address – 3750 Alanui Drive, Kihei, Hawaii 96753
Phone – (808) 879-7828
Matteo’s Osteria is an award-winning restaurant that is located in the Wailea Town Centre and specializes in pasta, pizzette, and classic Italian dishes. Every dish at the restaurant is made with locally sourced ingredients and is cooled and plated to perfection. The dinner menu at the restaurant included lasagna and Bolognese which is made with Maui Cattle Company beef. Also served at the restaurant are traditional desserts that include tiramisu and affogato.
Address – 161 Wailea Ike Place, Wailea, Hawaii 96753
Phone – (808) 891-8466
Polli’s Mexican Restaurant
Polli’s Mexican Restaurant is set in the heart of Maui’s ranching country and serves its patrons a wide variety of Mexican dishes with an island touch. The menu includes dishes like guacamole made with Maui avocadoes, burritos, tacos, and public favorites like baby back ribs and Mexican dishes. You will also find tons of beverage options like beer, wine, and margaritas.
Address – 1202 Makawao Avenue, Makawao, Hawaii 96768
Phone – (808) 572-7808
How Many Days to Set Aside for a Maui Vacation? – The Ultimate Guide to a Maui Vacation
In January 2022, the Hawaii Tourism Authority stated that the average length of stay for a visitor to Maui was about 10 days. However, if 10 days is too much for you, opt for a seven-day trip to Maui as there is much to see and do and seven days give you enough time to balance relaxation and adventure.
Things to Do When on a Maui Vacation – The Ultimate Guide to a Maui Vacation
Haleakala National Park
When on a Maui vacation, a trip to Haleakala National Park is a must. The park features a wide array of ecosystems and landscapes. When visiting the national park you can hike up 30 miles of its trails, enjoy the beautiful sunrise or stunning sunset from the crater, visit at night to gaze at the shimmering stars in the night sky, or camp overnight in the park to have a truly immersive experience.
The Road to Hana
The road to Hana is one of the most beautiful drives you will experience in your entire life. Stretching 60 miles, the road features waterfalls, lush tropical landscapes, pools, and much more. Plan ahead for the drive and allow plenty of time to make pitch stops along the way in order to enjoy all that the road to Hana has to offer.
Maui Ocean Center
Visit Maui Ocean Center to learn about Hawaii’s marine life through exhibits such as the Living Coral Reef, and Open Ocean exhibited of sea turtles, sharks, eagle rays, tropical fish, and much more at this aquarium and oceanography center that lies on Maalaea Bay.
Molokini Crater is a tiny, crescent-shaped island that lies off Maui’s southwestern coast and offers spectacular scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities. This area of Hawaii is extremely rich in coral, green sea turtles, and tropical fish. The best way to reach the Molokini Crater is via a boat tour.
Visit Upcountry Maui
Maui’s rustic higher elevations offer much to see and explore. Visit Upcountry Mai and tour the Surfing Goat Dairy. There you can taste their cheese and even milk a goat or two if you wish for a unique experience. Tour the Maui Wine and taste their decedent pineapple wine that will leave you craving for more. nearly by lies the Kula Botanical Garden that you can visit to see their unique plants, waterfalls rock formations, aviary, and ki pond that it houses on its eight acres.
If you are visiting Maui between the months of December and May, you will be able to see the humpback whales that visit the island waters during these months. Take a boat trip and enjoy their antics, as they tear through the waves.
Iao Valley State Park
Iao Valley State Park is a 4,000-acre park that lies in Central Maui and is home to one of the island’s iconic and great landmarks, the 1,200-foot Iao Needle. The Lao Needle is a pinnacle that is covered in lush green and was an ideal spot to observe enemies in the olden days. There are paved pedestrian paths that provide views of the beautiful valley and hiking trails are also there that lead tourists to viewpoints. Iao Valley also harbors a historical significance as this is the site where King Kamehameha I defeated Maui’s army in a bloody battle.
To explore a different side of Maui, take the opportunity to embark on a farm tour. You can visit countless farms like pineapple farms, coconut farms, bee farms, and more, to experience a part of Maui, not many traverses.
Exploring the Beaches in Maui
Beaches in Maui are a true treasure, where soft sand, turquoise waters, and surf waves lie in wait for visitors. Moreover, Maui is also the best island for snorkeling, and if your ass in the stunning beaches of this paradisiac land to the mix you are in for a real treat. Some of the most popular beaches that Maui houses are:
Kapalua Bay – in 2018, Kapalua Bay was named the best beach by Dr. Beach. Kapalua Bay is known for its beautiful crescent shape and clear waters. The beach is partially protected from large waves throughout most of the year and is an ideal spot to have the perfect beach day and snorkeling fun.
Kahekili Beach Park – This Kaanapali beach is a true gem of nature and is less crowded as compared to other beaches in Kaanapali, offering you much space to relax and bask in the sun. The beach has a large free parking lot as well as a nice reef for snorkeling.
Wailea Beach – Wailea Beach is one of the most famous beaches in Maui harboring the biggest resorts on the island. It’s a vast and stunning body of water and is easily swimmable.
Best Places to Shop in Maui – The Ultimate Guide to a Maui Vacation
Maui is dotted with numerous shopping malls, marketplaces, and shopping centers, all of which offer a different experience that depends on what you are looking for. There are also tons of local businesses that pride themselves in their Made in Maui products. Therefore, when shopping in Maui be on the lookout for local shops carrying unique products and services. Given below are some of the popular places you can shop at when on a Maui vacation:
Whaler’s Village – This is one of Maui’s most popular and acclaimed shopping malls. Whaler’s Village is an outdoor mall that features a vast selection of restaurants and shops.
Maui Mall – This is another outdoor mall, albeit a bit small, and is great for families with small children.
The Shops at Wailea – If luxury and high-end shopping is what you can do, then a visit to The Shops at Wailea is a must.
Outlets of Maui – An ideal shopping location for those who love to shop at outlet malls.
Queen Kaahumanu Center – This is Maui’s largest shopping mall that is home to more than a hundred shops, entertainment attractions, and restaurants.
Rainbow Mall – The shops and eateries at the Rainbow Mall are locally owned and you will be able to find some top-notch products that you can take as a souvenir back home.
Maui Vacation Costs and Budgeting – The Ultimate Guide to a Maui Vacation
Maui is one of the most expensive Hawaiian Islands to visit. It is also deemed as one of the most expensive places in the United States. Transportation, dining, ticketing, and lodging are going to chomp a huge chunk of your budget. Given below are some of the costs that you will have to bear when on a Maui vacation.
Food in Hawaii is very expensive, especially food in Maui. If you plan on cooking a low-key breakfast for yourself, the eggs are going to cost you about $6, and the milk will cost $7 to $10. If you plan to eat out, you will have to set aside at least $20 per person per meal for a casual restaurant and these twenty dollars will not include drinks and cocktails. Dinner at a high-end restaurant with drinks is another story and will cost you a minimum of about $60.
To save some bucks on lodging during your Maui vacation you can opt for a rental that is located far from tourist hub spots. Even though resorts and hotels in Maui offer a great experience, if you are not ready to cough up thousands of dollars then you better steer clear of them. However, if a hotel stay is what to want then you should be ready to pay anywhere from $150 to thousands per night. To book a budget-friendly hotel, try to loom for the ones lying inland. Also, if you are visiting Maui during the off-season, the prices of
accommodation go down a lot and at a casual hotel, you will be able to get a room for $50 to $100 a night.
Ticketing and Airfare
Being one of the most expensive islands, airfare to Maui is of course the kind that will put a huge dent in your bank. However, if you opt for a Maui vacation during the off-season, you will be able to save some bucks on your tickets. Booking the tickets early also helps save some money. To save money, you should book a flight to Maui in the months of January, February, April, September, October, and November.
The great thing about Maui and other Hawaiian Islands is that once you have paid for the airfare, transportation, food, and lodgings, much of the entertainment that you will come across is free. Hitting the beautiful beaches of Maui is free, swimming in its turquoise waters is free, and lounging on the sand, basking in the sun is completely free. Although entrance fees might be associated with some locations, it isn’t much to put a dent in your budget. The approximate cost of the paid experiences that you might be interested in is given below, so plan your budget accordingly.
|$60 to $70
|$45 to $100
|Shark Cage Diving
|$100 to $200
|Haleakala National Park
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