This Maui trip had highs and lows. But the highs made me forget about the shit luck I had on this vacation. The trip started with a 6 hour delay. Thanks American Airlines. So I basically lost my first day. Within 5 mins of being at the first beach I stepped on coral and sliced my foot. That one’s on me since one, I wasn’t wearing swim shoes (a must) and two, did not pack a first aid kit. So I wasted some time dealing with that and as a result, had to cancel my snorkeling excursion. Oh, and I was sick for the last half of the vacation. Now let’s talk about the highs. Maui is the most beautiful place I have seen in my almost 30 years of existence. I haven’t been to Bali or the beaches in the Caribbean, but I can’t imagine those being better than the ones in Maui. Kaanapali Beach, Wailea Beach, Koki Beach at Hamoa Village (My favorite), Baby Beach, or the Black Sand Beach at Waianapanapa State Park. Take your pick. All are insanely gorgeous. If you have time, you should visit them all like I did. And I was only in Maui for 3 full days so it’s definitely doable.
What to Eat & Drink:
The food here is incredible as well. I’m from New Orleans, who in my opinion has some of the best food in the world. But Maui can definitely go toe to toe. There are so many good choices. Poke Tacos at Hula Grill, Loco Moco at Aloha Mixed Plate (2 beef patties and sweet onions topped with 2 sunny side up eggs and brown gravy with rice and mac salad), poke bowls at the South Maui Fish Co. food truck, red snapper at Fleetwood’s on Front Street (best I’ve ever had, thanks for the recommendation Michelle Beadle!), and one of the best meals I’ve ever had at Mama’s Fish House, Mama’s Stuffed Fish, stuffed with lobster and crab, a side of wild boar, topped off with a James Bond Martini! For dessert stop at Ululani’s Hawaiian Shaved Ice (Sunset Beach flavor stuffed with ice cream) or Leoda’s Pie Shop for their banana cream pie. And if you’re looking for a good happy hour stop by Aloha Mixed Plate from 3-5pm for a Mai Tai or dragon fruit margarita.
What to Do:
Other than visiting the beaches I mentioned, if there is one must thing to do it’s the Road to Hana. The Road to Hana is a driving tour on the Hana Highway (Van tour or drive yourself, I drove myself) that goes through the eastern part of the island where you get to experience rainforests, gardens, water falls, beaches, and food stands at different mile markers. The road is 64 miles long with something to do or see at almost every mile marker so I recommend visiting this website and picking a few locations that look the most intriguing and take your time at each spot. FYI the mile markers are weird. They start over after #16. And after Hana Town they jump to #51 then go backwards. Download the GyPSy Guide Road to Hana app. It was a few bucks but it’s the perfect tour guide. As you’re driving it narrates the history of the Island and points out the sights at the mile markers. The best part is that the GPS on the app doesn’t require data, which is a life saver because you won’t be able to access Apple or Google Maps on most of the drive due to little or no cell signal. There will be tons of people on this road so start early. If you want to do it the Broke-Traveler way this is what I did. Gas up the night before or morning of and head towards the town of Paia for 7-8am. The last gas station before the start of the Road to Hana is in this town so you can also gas up here and grab some breakfast. Bring dramamine (over 600 turns), sunscreen, bottled water, towels, bug spray, swimsuit, cash, and a phone charger. You can bring snacks but there will be stands that sell smoothies, banana bread, and other food. I stopped at Twin Falls (Mile Marker #2), Halfway to Hana Stand (Mile Marker #17) for some delicious banana bread, the famous black sand beach and fresh water caves at Waianapanapa State Park (Mile Marker #32), Wailua Falls (Mile Marker #45), and my favorite, Koki Beach (Mile Marker #51). I don’t suggest swimming here because of the rip currents but it’s a great spot to relax on the beach and take in the beauty. I drove to Hana and back to Paia in 6-7 hours. I was rushing because you don’t want to be driving on that road at night. So I could’ve spent more time stopping at other mile markers but I’d rather be safe than sorry.
- Even though American Airlines had a delay, if you get their AAdvantage Platinum Select credit card & spend $6000 on it within the first 12 months you receive 50,000 bonus miles which are redeemable for a round trip ticket to Maui for free.
- Pack swim shoes.
- First aid kits are also pretty valuable.
- Buy a snorkel mask from Amazon.
- When you get your rental car, prepay for gas using the rental agency’s gas price. Would’ve saved me $1 per gallon. Every gas station on the island had $4+ gas.
- Use VRBO. A lot cheaper than hotels and a great value. If you’re looking to stay on the western side of the island, stay at Maui Kai Beach Resort.
What to Do Next Visit:
Learn to surf
Happy Hour at Monkey Pod Kitchen
FlatBread Company in Paia
Stay in Hana. Most beautiful and secluded beaches right down the road, including Hamoa Beach & Koki Beach. I stayed in Kaanapali on the western coast. Definitely some cool beaches on that side and walking down Front Street is a must. But to go anywhere else on the island required a lot of driving. So next time I visit I will stay in Hana for part of the trip since there are nearby beaches and then Paia, which is a cool little surfer’s town and a shorter drive to the Volcano.