I visited Maui in 2018 the boujee way, and then took a recent trip for a family emergency where we took the more budget family route since we weren’t sure how long we would be there. Read on for all the things you need to know when visiting Maui, no matter your budget.
Things to Do in Maui – Places To Visit:
Road To Hana – Everyone will tell you that you have to do the road to Hana, and they are right! What they won’t tell you, is that it will literally be an all day trip – so be prepared! I was warned to take dramamine before the drive, because it’s pretty windy, and I get car sick. I was actually totally fine and didn’t need it. We didn’t go very fast the whole drive, so perhaps that’s why. But, if you get car sick, it wouldn’t hurt to come prepared. Better safe then sorry!
There are plenty of places to stop along the way, on the Road to Hana, so make sure to bring hiking shoes along. Our first stop was at Twin Falls, located at mile marker 2. (You don’t need tennis shoes for this walk.) There are two waterfalls you can go to, and they make for a pretty sweet photo-op spot. Just up the road, the Bamboo Forest is the perfect spot for a good hike. It gets pretty busy, so get there early to beat the rush. You may choose to just do that hike one day, and then continue up the Road to Hana another, because, like I said, the Road to Hana is an all day thing. Along the drive to the Road to Hana, there are plenty of other little waterfalls you can stop at. We stumbled about the stunning painted trees of Maui, and they are unreal! It really looks like someone painted them, or that they should feel like plastic, but they are just normal trees that reveal different colors, as the bark peels away.
There are few food stops along the Road to Hana, so you may want to bring along some snacks. There will be a stop for banana bread, though. And, if you get there before they sell out, you may be able to snag some authentic Hawaiian BBQ, alongside the road. (We got there just as they were selling out, so we shared a plate and it was delicious!) Don’t worry though, if they are all sold out, Hana is just a short drive from there, and they have a few restaurants to choose from.
Red Sand Beach – When you get to Hana, you must visit the Red Sand Beach! It was one of the prettiest sights I have ever seen! It’s tucked away in a little cove, so you have to take a short hike to it. To get there, park at the end of Uakea Rd. Hana Ball Park and Hana School will be on your left, and the community center will be straight ahead. There are yellow gates and a big grassy area to the right of the community center. Head that way til you find a trail opening, and then head left toward the ocean. Keep following the trail around until you get to the cove. The red sand beach is pictured below. This is really what it looks like! The sand is red and blackish, and the water looks as blue as kool-aid.
Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve – This lava field is located along the southwest coast, and goes for miles! It’s supposed to be a great spot for snorkeling, so bring your gear, if that’s your thing.
Haleakala National Park – The Haleakala crater is the tallest peak on the island. It’s a great place to check out the sunset or sunrise. When we went, it was very cloudy, so we didn’t get to see the detail, but I was told it is usually beautiful and majestic.
Nakalele Blow Hole – This is a site to see and mostly for the drive over to it. It’s absolutely breathtaking and the blow hole is fun to check out.
Honolua-Mokule’Ia Bay – Absolutely do this! It’s so beautiful! I’ve never snorkeled in the area, but it’s supposed to be great, but even if you don’t want to get in the water, at least stop off and walk through the area to the water. The vegetation is unreal and an absolute sight to see.
Wailuku Trail – I stumbled upon this hike and I am so glad I did! It’s 2.3 miles up and pretty steep, but well worth it to see the views. I didn’t go the whole way because I didn’t want to get muddy (it had just rained) but I don’t feel like I missed out at all. The views are something you have to see to believe. It reminded me a lot of Kauai!
Things to Do in Maui – Places To Stay:
Wailea Beach – This is definitely the resort side of the island and where to stay if you are looking for a beautiful beach-outside-your-door experience. There’s great snorkeling and plenty of restaurants. Specifically, we stayed in the Wailea Elua Villages. They are condos, available for vacation rentals. The condos are the perfect size for large families, and we loved staying there. Right next door, the Wailea Beach Marriott offers a super chic and modern vibe. If it were just Brandon and I, we probably would have stayed here. There are so many great options in Wailea, though. It’s really a great place to stay in!
Paia – This is the cutest little town! Lots of fun restaurants and shopping can be done here. It’s close to the entrance to the Road to Hana, so you may want to have breakfast here before you head out.
Lahaina – Lahaina is one of the bigger towns on the island. There is a harbor there, making it a big hub. There’s plenty of restaurants and shopping, if you want to spend some time there. Although, it’s probably a little too populated for my taste, in terms of places to stay. There is an incredible Banyan Tree, that sweeps an acre of ground in the town center, and they often hold music and arts fairs there.
*Budget Friendly* The Maui Beach Hotel by the airport side is a fine option. We stayed here and the rooms were dated but clean, the views of the garden/ocean were pretty and it would be a great place to lay your head at night if you plan on spending most of your days out exploring. It’s definitely a no-frills type of place, so don’t expect much, but like I said, a fine place to lay your head in Kahuli. The Maui Seaside Hotel is also nearby and appears to be recently renovated in a really cool way. You definitely won’t get the luxe resort experience on this side of the island, but you won’t pay the prices for that experience either. The reviews are very confusing for both and I was kind of scared by them, but I’m not really sure why there were such bad reviews for the place we stayed. like It did the job just fine (and I’m picky AF!).
Things to Do in Maui – Places To Eat:
We ate at many good restaurants, and you pretty much can’t go wrong with ordering fish on the island, but there were just a few that made my list of noteworthy mentions.
Mama’s Fish House – This fine dining experience is located just a short drive from the airport, on the North shore, outside of Paia. The grounds leading to the restaurant are absolutely stunning – the perfect place for a photo op! Although it’s considered fine dining, it’s still pretty casual in dress (remember, you’re on an island!). This place is pricey and you’re really paying mostly for the view IMO. It’s good, but not necessarily a “must” for me.
South Maui Fish Co – This was a complete gem of a find. It’s a little food truck located in Kihea. They catch fresh fish and poke everyday, and it’s out of this world delicious. We tried just about everything on the menu, and it was one of my favorites meals on the trip. *I went back a second time on our recent trip and it’s still just as amazing (if not better!) than I remember. The fish tacos are out of this world! Guy Fieri recently visited in March of 2021, so I imagine it’s going to blow up once his episode airs.*
Paia Coffee Bar – I LOVE this place for breakfast. Good fare and a dreamy laid back outside patio environment. It’s one I will keep coming back to for sure.
Tin Roof – This is located in a random strip mall near the airport and was only offering take-out when we went. (Rumor has it the owner was on Top Chef.) It was a great little meal if you’re in the area.
*Budget Friendly Options*
Sunday Market – This is a little flea market near the Maui Beach Hotel with tons of food trucks. We stumbled upon it since we didn’t have a car and had to walk to get food (thank God Whole Foods is near by!) I stopped at a Hawaiian BBQ truck and got an amazing chicken dish served over sauteed napa cabbage. It was a perfect meal if you ask me.
Grocery Store Poke – Do not sleep on grocery store poke! There is a small corner store in Wailuku we stumbled upon that had GREAT poke. They sold out daily. It was a gem of a find.
Also, stock up on breakfast items and pre-made foods from Whole Foods or Foodland. Stock the in your fridge and you’ll save a ton of money by not eating out two meals of the day.
We had such an amazing time during the 5 days we spent in Maui. After that, we headed over to Kauai for a few a days. I’ll be sharing that recap over on the blog next week, so be sure to check back then.
Have you ever been to this fantastic island? If so, what were some of your favorite memories or things to do in Maui?