A Quick Guide to Maui, Hawaii’s best Island

As someone with a passion for chasing waterfalls, Hawaii is somewhere I have always wanted to check out! So during a massively discounted airline sale around a year ago I booked my flights and then had plenty of time to prepare and plan for my trip, so of course I left this to last minute.

Below are recommendations from friends, fellow travellers and Maui locals that made my trip such a delight that I just needed to pass them onto you.

First things first, I recommend hiring a car for a trip to Maui, the island is quite hard to get around without one, especially if you are after that carefree and relaxing holiday vibe! It also makes it easier to decide on a whim where you will take your daily adventures!

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Magnetic Peak, Haleakala National Park

Things to See

  • The Road to Hana: You will need to leave early for the Road to Hana day trip. With 3 hours and 52 miles of winding roads, stunning waterfalls are at almost all the 617 curves of this road that lead to the most isolated town on Maui and in Hawaii. Leave plenty of time for photo stops, there will be many, and to try out some of the worlds best ice cream at Coco Glens along the way, and maybe the way back! Before you leave Maui, don’t forget to pick up your ‘I survived the road to Hana’ t-shirt, because you deserve it.
  • Red Sand Beach: Hidden away in the heart of Hana is the Red Sand Beach. A little tricky to locate and require good footwear, you will need to be careful when attempting to locate this place. If you do choose to go, I would recommend good footwear and a level of fitness.
  • Wai’anapanapa Black Sand Beach: Located in Wai’anapanapa National Park just before you arrive in Hana, the Black Sand Beach is stunning with the contrast of the black sand, deep blue water and greenery surrounds. This is the more touristy option of Hana’s beaches due to accessibility plus there are caves to explore, national park to walk through and of course the beach to swim in.
  • Magnetic Peak, Haleakala National Park: If nature and hiking is something that you enjoy, then hiking into the volcano to Magnetic Peak following sunrise is an experience of a lifetime. The views here had a smile on my face the whole time, even when I looked at the steep hill I had to climb back to my car. The great thing about this is you can make the hike as long or short as you would like, just make sure you have appropriate footwear and drinks, as there isn’t anywhere to fill up the water bottle in a volcano.
  • Lahaina Old Town: Lahaina Old Town is a great place to explore, whether for a spot of souvenir shopping, for dinner or just gelato dessert time. It’s even nicer first thing in the morning when not as many people are around to take some snap shots of the stunning town centre including a stop at the Lahaina Banyan Tree which is the largest tree in the state and the canopy takes over the whole square in which it’s located.
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View from Lahaina Old Town at sunset

Activities

  • Whale Watching with Ultimate Whale Watch: During the northern hemisphere winter, wales will head down to Hawaii (now the Hawaiian Island Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary) to give birth and mate, making it prime whale watching season! The Ultimate Whale Watching crew have smaller boats which means a smaller group you are out on the water that allows for great photo opportunities and encounters with the whales.
  • Snorkling with turtles at Napili Bay: Pack your snorkel, you’re going to meet some turtles! Recommended by a local while at dinner, this turned out to be the best surprise of my trip. At Napili bay you can swim, sun bath and get up close to some local wildlife (just make sure you keep a little distant, these guys can be pretty heavy if they bump into you). If your accommodation doesn’t rent gear, make sure you pop into Water Works Sports and they’ll fit you out with some great gear!
  • Sunrise and a bike ride at Haleakala volcano: You will have to get up early for this one, but it will be worth it I promise. As the sun rises, you will be at the top of Haleakala overlooking the entire island of Maui, and on a clear day you may get views of neighbouring islands. Then after you grab all your insta worthy snaps you’ll cycle down the volcano, stunning!
  • Traditional Luau: There is nothing that says Hawaii quite like a Luau, and getting lei’d (insert wink face emoji)! Over a few hours you will experience traditional Hawaiian or Pacific food, music, dancing and entertainment – the perfect way to spend an evening on holiday.
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On top of the world at Haleakala Volcano

Places to Eat

  • Paia Fish Market: At Paia Fish market you will get the freshest Hawaiian fish of the day straight from the market, with your choice of market fresh fish will be cooked to your preference. Try the Ono, it means ‘delicious’.
  • Aloha Mixed Plate: Situated near the beach, this is the perfect place to unwind at the end of the day with a cocktail or two as the sun goes down, before tucking into some local dishes. Try the ALI’I Plate for the ultimate Hawaiian feast!
  • Coco Glen’s Ice Cream: If you do one thing on the Road to Hana, you must stop at Coco Glen’s Ice Cream to have a scoop or two of their incredible, award winning and totally delicious ice cream. Situated on a family run coconut farm, Coco Glen’s is made from coconut milk, so all you lactose’s can get stuck in! All the flavours are incredible, so you know you’ll be going back for thirds!!

 

Best Acai Bowls

Acai bowls are something that I just love, so going to Hawaii I knew I would be in for a treat, and boy did Maui deliver. To make sure that I got the most out of this tasting opportunity, I did try one per day, I mean, why not?!

  • Choice – Lahaina: Most definitely the best Acai bowl I had on my whole time on Maui, the guys at Choice take these seriously. With the perfect smoothie, granola and fruit proportions, ‘the o.g.’ is a definite menu winner!
  • Surf Ripper – Lahaina: A mom & pop owned acai stall by day and shaved ice stall by night, the guys that own this place are so lovely and up to chat about their product plus they deliver on the flavour. And once I heard their Acai bowls described as phat!, I had to sample the product.
  • Baya Bowls – Lahaina: Located in a parking lot on a side road, these guys could be hard to miss, but you definitely want to try a Baya bowl. I am almost drooling thinking about their incredible bowls.
  • Paia Bowls – Paia: Paia Bowls is located at the start of the Paia town centre, perfect to fill you up before a big day on the Road to Hana or a day of activities in the Hawaiian sun. While there you can take a stroll through the adorable town centre.

Best Poke Bowls

Poke Bowls are the latest Hawaiian dish to take the world by storm, this deconstructed sushi salad is so delicious and simple and a great cheap travel meal you can have on the go! Here are my local faves.

  • Kobe Japanese Steak House – Lahaina: At Kobe’s I recommend taking a seat up at the sushi bar, where you’ll see the chefs prepare the fresh sushi and poke bowls before your eyes. They are more than happy to talk about the produce and make recommendations.
  • Tamura’s Fine Wine & Liquor – Kahului, Lahaina & Kihei (also Oahu locations): You wouldn’t have thought that this liquor store would sell incredible poke, but Tamura’s have probably the best poke I enjoyed on my trip and was voted by Hawaii’s Magazine Readers Choice Awards as the Best Place for Poke in 2015.
  • Foodland (All over Maui): Foodland store are in all the major Maui towns, so you can pick up some poke to take in the car between activities or to enjoy while soaking up some rays on the beach.

 

If you are heading to Hawaii, let me know what you are most looking forward to and if you’ve been, share any tips in the comments.

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