Day 1 - North Island - Lahaina, Kaanapali, Kapalua
Maui is a dream and we forgot time existed when we were there. I hope this guide helps you plan your dream vacation to one of my now favourite spots on Earth!
We started the day by getting some good coffee at Cafe Jai and heading to Black Rock Beach. Clear sand and blue water was just the start. This is a great beach to get your feet wet and hop on a SUP or a kayak.
Honokeana Bay, Napili Bay, Ka’anapali Beach, and Honolua Bay are all really amazing places to bring your own snorkel gear and jump into the water. The water is generally warm and shallow and you get to see quite a variety of fishes. The waters are generally safe as long as you are mindful of the corals.
We rented our snorkel gear from Snorkel Bob’s. The best thing about this was we were able to drop if off at a different location. The rental process was easy and we got snorkel gear and fins.
A short hike across the Pacific Ocean is truely refreshing. We walked around Kapalua Coastal Trail for a bit to take in the blue water and even bluer skies.
Just about 15 min from Honolua Bay, we spotted the Nakalele Blowhole (1.2mi hike). The blowhole is natural geyser that goes off every few seconds. Here you will also find a ton of banana bread stalls.
As we kept heading north, we came across Olivine Pools trailhead which was a great spot to see the Kahakuloa Head.
If you have time left in the day, I would also suggest doing the Waihee Ridge Trail which is a 4.5mi steep hike that is worth it. We were too drained to do this but it remains on my list of this to go back to Maui for.
Day 2 - Molokini Crater, ʻĪao Needle State Monument and Sunset at Haleakala National Park
Although just renting snorkeling gear from a store and jumping into the water is always a great idea, Molokini Creater offers some unique opportunities to swim among a wider variety of aquatic creatures.
Making a reservation with a trusted guide company helps a ton. We booked with Maui Magic as they offered vegetarian breakfast and lunch. We really enjoyed our experience with them and would recommend them to others.
The call time to reach the dock is around 6:00 am in the morning. The crew is very punctual and they knew what they were doing. They stopped at 2 spots and let us explore the waters. We got to swim with turtles and see so many dolphins!
ʻĪao Needle State Monument
People tend to skip or overlook Iao Needle but I felt most like I was in the Jurassic Park here.
It is a 0.5mi hike and entirely worth it. Its unique structure because of rock erosion over the years and historical significance (Battle of Kepaniwai took place here) makes it both a historic and a natural landmark.
Sunset at Haleakala National Park
Haleakala is a dormant volcanic mountain and the highest peak in Maui. You don’t expect it but Maui gets chilly at night. Especially when you are 10,000 feet above sea level. Make sure you are bundled up for both sunrise and sunset at the peak.
It takes about 2-3 hours to drive up to the peak so planning the trip so you make it in time is very important. Both sunrise and sunsets are beautiful from Haleakala and it is really upto you to make the call on when you would want to head up there.
If you plan a sunrise hike, I would suggest starting the drive at 3:00 am so you make it in time, park and hike the 1mi upto the summit. You need to purchase a sunrise parking reservation as there are a lot of people trying to get up there to catch the sunrise. There is a $30.00 entry to get into the part over the reservation ticket.
I personally prefer the sunset and this way I got the whole day to explore other parts of the island without being sleepy or tired. Beware of the drive as it can get quite foggy and you might have to go slower than usual.
Day 3 - Halfway to Hana
We didn’t have enough time on our trip to go all the way to ‘Ohe‘O Gulch but we dive upto “Halfway to Hana”. The drive is beautiful albeit a little windy. The weather in Hana also is quite different from the rest of the island. It was more overcast and there was quite a bit of rainfall. This is surely something we are keeping in reserve for our next trip to Maui.
The east coast of Maui has rough waters and is ideal for surfing. You will find beautiful vista points all along the Road to Hana. There are dozens of waterfalls along the road and each one has a charm of its own. We did get to stop at a few and they were all very serene.
Our first stop was at Twin Falls. There is a small entry fee to park your vehicle and a short hike to the falls. Here we spotted several cliff jumpers - of all ages. The water was very warm and ideal to jump into.
Next stop we made was at Haipua’ena Falls. Again a gorgeous waterfalls with very pleasant waters and several cliff jumpers.
Keanae Lookout is a short detour from the road but it is a great place for a quick stop. There are old black lava rocks along the peninsular right next to the quite rough waves. This was a hidden gem of a spot for us and very easy to miss. Keep your eye out for the signs pointing you to Keanae.
Since we didn’t go all the way down the Road to Hana, we found a hidden spot off the road which had a bamboo forest hidden in plain sight. I don’t have it mapped but if you keep your eyes peeled, you just might spot it too!
Other Places to check out on The Road to Hana:
- Pipiwai Trail/ ‘Ohe‘O Gulch
- Waioka Pond
- Waiʻānapanapa State Park (Need to make reservations 2 weeks in advance)
- Hanawi Falls
- Upper Waikani Falls
Day 4 - Explore Wilea-Makena
Wailea is known for their numerous high end resorts. Each resort has their private beaches which offer gorgeous sunset spots.
Wailea Beach is the most popular luxury beach and you can spot several families relaxing in the soft sands or in nearby cabanas. The beach has relatively warm water to swim or maybe take your boogie board in.
If you are in the mood to explore more of Wailea, there is the Makena Beach and Makena Cove. The beaches are not ideal for snorkelling but they do offer more privacy from other tourists. You can also drive further south to the Lava Fields for some short hikes.
Tips for Maui
- Keep an eye out for “Touch me Not” or Shameplants. They are very unique plants that fold inward when touched.
- Use coral safe sunscreen and use a LOT of it.
- Be respectful when driving down Road to Hana and don’t become the cause of a traffic jam. The roads are narrow and very windy.
- Don’t take rocks or sand from the island. It is considered to be bad luck and you don’t want that following you around. If you don’t believe in that sort of thing, then don’t do it to preserve the natural state of the island.
- Respect the animals and don’t go touching or feeding them.
- Keep an eye out for harmful corals in the ocean.
- As vegetarians, we didn’t see value in attending a Luau. You can catch glimpses of them happeneing in your resort/hotel.
Where to Eat?
I was surprised at the ease of getting vegetarian food in Maui. I loved all the local delicacies, the fruits and the amazing shaved ice! Here are some of my top recommendations.
When in Hawaii, you have got to stop at one of the local food carts along the street for some very fresh coconut water.
We stopped along Kahekili Highway on our way to Waihee Ridge Trail to get some delicious shaved ice from Lorraine Shave Ice stand. Lorraine is the sweetest lady and will make you a custom shaved ice that will melt you away.
Stop by Down to Earth Organic & Natural at Kahului for a selection of local fruits if you don’t spot any fruit stands along your drive.
I have been a huge fan of Maui Brewing Co. way before I even went to Maui and so a stop at their brewery was a must do for me. They have a variety of local beer on tap that I loved. It is also a really nice place to get dinner - they have both indoor seating and an outdoor area with string lights and live music.
When in Kihei, you have to go to Kihei Caffe. You should expect long lines but the food is totally worth it. There is a really cute coffee shop called Lava Java Coffee Roasters where you can get your morning cuppa as you wait to get brunch. There are also really nice local markets to purchase souvenirs to take back with you.
I also suggest trying out Kitoko Maui for Japanese food and Farmacy Health Bar for some nice Acai bowls.
Nalu’s South Shore Grill is another one of my favourites that offers a huge variety of food and some delicious mai tai’s.
One of the locals suggested we go to Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonade to get Acai Bowls. It was delicious, filling and refreshing at the same time.
When in Maui - you should also try local macadamia nut banana bread. You will find several stands selling them and if you have a sweet tooth, or even if you don’t, they are some of the most tasty treats I have eaten.
Other restaurants to try:
- Earth Aloha Eats (Vegan)
- Moku Roots (Vegan)
- Monkeypod (Mango Cream Pie and Mai Tai)
- Fleetwood’s on Front St (Good bar vibe)
- Bistro Molokini (Fancy Dinner)
- Joey’s Kitchen (Quick bite)
- Maui pie (Banana cream)
- Malasadas (Diamond donut)
Where to stay?
There are several great places to stay in Maui depending on what you prefer to do more. I would recommend staying on the west coast for the majority of your stay because there are more things to do around there. I also recommend looking at AirBnBs as they can be far less expensive than resorts.
I wish we had stayed for a day in Wailua so we could do the entire Road to Hana.
We stayed at the Aston Kaanapali Shores for our first few days. The hotel is very centrally located, has a great view of the ocean and has the nicest staff members.
For the rest of our trip, we stayed in Wailea. This is a little further away from the rest of the more touristy spots but is a great place for families.
I think this goes without saying but I would consider missing a sunset in Hawaii to be a cardinal sin. Each sunset here is so unique and beautiful.
My favourite was the sunset from Mt. Haleakala.
The sunset from any beach is breathtaking. We were swimming in the pool as the sun set and it was peaceful all around.
The waves get a little rough sometimes during sunset and the water also begins to cool down but dipping your feet into the pacific with a cold Mai Tai is an experience I cannot forget.
Hawaii is the kind of place you want to keep coming back to. The people, the beaches, the sunset, the food - it all takes your breath away. I was here for a short while but I cannot wait to be back on my next Hawaiian adventure!