Aloha! I am obviously back home in LA but my heart and mind are drifting back and forth between here and Maui…sigh. I had the best mini trip to Maui for my birthday and I got SO many DM’s about the island. It seems like you all want to know where to stay, what to do, what fitness is available, what to eat, all the hidden gems etc. SO I figured it was only fair to put up my Maui Travel Guide. You already have my Kauai + Oahu Guide, so here comes Maui…and the other islands will be next, I promise.
I will say…Kauai and Oahu are my favorite islands. Maui is my third favorite, and that is because I personally feel like there is less “adventure” available on Maui. Ben and I go to Maui when we are craving luxury, relaxation and an easy-going type of trip. I will say, I have only stayed on one side of island, so your experience may be different in many ways. BUT, we have done so many activities on the island after visiting 3 times already…so I feel like I have a very good grasp on MOST of what Maui has to offer.
Maui is more built up than Kauai. Less built up than Honolulu on Oahu. I always say that Maui feels more like the cool coastal beach town than other islands- that whole surfer dude vibe is alive and well once you get away from the lush golf courses and pristine resorts. Expect barefoot surfers walking around the local supermarket to get their poke bowl lunch (more on this later- MAJOR local tip coming at you!)
It is a pretty big island, so regardless of what side you stay on, you will have to rent a car to get around if you are going to see all the cool stuff. TRUST ME. RENT THE DAMN CAR YOU GUYS. We always drive around when we stay on Maui because unlike Kauai and Oahu, the adventure and fun times aren’t really at your doorstep. You will have to travel. Not far, but travel you will: like 20 min-5 hours type of thing (5 hours being is you’re wild and decide to do the road to Hana).
Ok, so as far as Where to Stay goes…
I have only stayed at one hotel on Maui, because it is basically heaven on earth and my perfect hotel search is over. It’s the Four Season Maui at Wailea. It’s expensive and super luxurious, as you would expect. I don’t splurge very much- I’m the type of person who looks for a deal no matter how much money I’m making, you know what I mean? That being said, hotels are usually something I splurge on. I like to stay at a nice place. I like to adventure all day, get muddy and have the most fun and then go back to my super luxe hotel for a cocktail. The FS Maui is worth it, in my opinion. The service, the location, the amenities…all of it is absolute perfection. There isn’t a high turnover rate of employees because they are all well taken care of and they REMEMBER the guests. For real, we hadn’t been to Maui in about 3 years and multiple hotel staff remembered us on a personal level- it’s the little thing you know?
As for the location- it is perfect. It is on an incredible beach in Wailea…possibly the best beach I have been to on the island. And it’s a public beach, as are most in Hawaii, so even if you aren’t staying at the FS, go to the beach and enjoy the stunning views.
I have friends who recently stayed at the Andaz Maui in Wailea- a short oceanside walk from the FS…where you will pass many other beautiful hotels and condos along the way. I love Wailea as a town to stay in- it is pristine, beautiful, close to super cool Kihei where you can take surf lessons (more on this in a sec) and a short drive from amazing local restaurants. So you really can’t go wrong with nice hotels in this area.
The other main area many chose to stay in is Kaanapali. There are many nice hotels on this side of the island, and it is near Lahaina, where there are a lot of interesting things to do! I can’t speak for any hotels over there, but do a little google research and you will be good to go.
Hiking and Active/Adventure Stuff
A lot of you wanted to know all about the best hikes and adventures to be had on Maui!
First things first, I have never done the whole Road to Hana. It’s just not for me. I thought it would be for me because there are SOO many amazing things to see, hikes to hike, waterfalls to swim in along the way…and if you know me, all of those things are so my jam. BUT the Road to Hana is long. All-day-trip type of long. It’s also very wind-y in a bad way. We started to do it on one of our trips and only made it about 25 minutes before needing to turn back- I started to get car sick the moment we started down the long road. The good thing is, you can still experience a part of the treasure that the the Road to Hana has to offer and you only have to endure a teensy bit of that drive. At mile marker 2, you can stop and park to visit the Twin Falls. Because it is so easy to get to, there are usually a good amount of other people there, but regardless, it’s still beautiful and you can swim in multiple waterfalls. BRING YOUR WATER SHOES!!! Unless you plan to get your sneakers wet, you need water shoes if you want to go anywhere near the falls or in them. The rocks are sharp and anyone who shows up with flip flops gets SUPER bummed. Also, load up on the bug spray…if you don’t you will be kicking yourself later. The mosquitoes in Hawaii yield huge welt-like bites on me…so I basically take a bath in bug spray before going toward any waterfalls (I’m exaggerating a smidge, but I spray that shit everywhere). Swimming in a waterfall is cold, but worth it. Do it!
One really unique thing we did last time we were in Maui was visiting Leilani Animal Sanctuary. We went here after attempting the Road to Hana, and we were SO glad we did. We had read a little bit about it and we are always down for hanging out with animals so we stopped by. On the day we went, there weren’t any “tours” going on but we met the owner who started the sanctuary and she was lovely enough to let us roam the grounds and give us a personal tour in exchange for some help with planting seedlings in the pig pen. Which we happily did. After about 30 minutes of dirty but fun work, she came back over holding two chickens as goats climbed the branches of a tree behind her. She was like the Cinderella of Maui- the animals loved her and followed her around. She let us hang out with animals, hold them and told us her story and why she spends all her days rescuing animals. It is heart warming and a must see if you love animals like we do!
If you were following my Stories from my recent trip, the hike we went on is called the Waihee Ridge Trail. We have done this hike before and love it every time. You can look up best times to go on the AllTrails app, which is linked right there, right above. And of course, always be mindful of rain. It is not safe to do steep hikes immediately after rainfall- so refer to the site and ask the local hotel concierge for their opinions on the trails to make sure you’ll be safe once you start. This hike is about 2-2.5 miles up (and the same amount back down) through a jungle like terrain where you will see STUNNING views of the island, waterfalls in the distance and lush greenery at every turn. As you make your way up, you will find yourself at cloud level! Walking through the clouds is insanely cool. Hopefully it will be a semi-clear day up there so that you can see the views from the tippy top. The last time we went had the BEST views up top, but sometimes you’ll just be standing inside of a cloud, unable to see anything other than what is 7 feet in front of you- either way its awesome. There’s a picnic bench up top too, so bring a snack and take a load off.
Another hike we love is the Iao Needle hike– but the off-roading one. The paved path hike is short and not even worthy of the name “hike” BUT if you break the rules (as half the people do) and walk over a little guard rail (not scary I swear) you will be on a well trampled path that will yield you insane views of Iao valley and the ocean. It’s a fun, muddy hike but totally worth the dirty shoes. Again, check AllTrails to make sure the conditions are good and for details about the hike.
One incredible thing I highly recommend anyone who is visiting Maui to do is Haleakala Crater at sunrise. This is sort of a tough one to convince people to do because it involves waking up at 2am on vacation. OR, if you’re a wild one, you may just never go to bed haha, do you. Anyway, you have this super early wake up because it is a DRIVE out to and up to the top of the crater. You can do this drive on your own in that rental car you decided to go for, but it’s super dark and a little scary to drive yourself, especially at that hour. We opted for a bus tour- the hotel set it up for us. The bus basically picks you up at the hotel and transfers you to a smaller bus at the base of the crater, which then takes you up to the top. The bus is comfortable and the driver keeps you awake with some really cool history and facts about the crater and the island in general. Then you get out with your jacket and hat (it’s COLD at the top- you must bring a jacket, gloves and a hat if you want to be comfortable) and you wait for the sun to rise. This was one of the most spectacular things I have ever seen. We lucked out and got a beautiful, clear day. Some people don’t get so lucky…but if you get lucky like we did, I know you will be wowed. After the main event, the bus takes you to a bunch of other view points before heading back down. The coolest part is that you are above cloud level up there! Watching the sunrise from above cloud level is stunning and unlike anything else- photo ops GALORE. Your instagram will be on fire. Some people chose the option to bike down from the top of the crater, which sounds fun…but also a little annoying to me personally. I know a few people who have done it and most of them said that after the first 20 minutes it gets old and you sort of wish you were just in a vehicle instead. But to each their own!
If surf lessons are your speed, but you’re totally a beginner like me, Maui Wave Riders is your perfect match. They have locations in Kihei and Lahaina, the instructors are super cool dudes, the boards are easy to surf with and the waves are just enough to be fun. There’s also a yummy fish taco truck at the Kihei location right next to their check in area for some post-surfing lunch.
I have already said that Wailea beach at the Four Seasons is my favorite beach, but second to that is Makena Beach. It is very much a local spot, offers shaded areas via beautiful trees and is a wide sandy beach surrounded by beautiful rock formations. If you’re feeling a little jazzy, walk toward that rock formation and climb up it (it’s not difficult) and cross the bluff to get down to Little Beach– a NUDE BEACH in it’s own little enclave. This wasn’t for me, BUT hey…it’s not too often you find a nude beach in the USA right? We actually didn’t know it was a nude beach until we trekked there and saw it haha- little bit of a surprise!
OK, so now onto FOOD
Local tip coming in hot: poke at Foodland. Any Foodland on the island. Don’t ask any questions, just trust me. I get a 1/4-1/2 lb of avocado tuna poke, solo, and eat it with my GG crackers or put it on top of a basic greens salad from the same super market, easy. Ben orders the full poke bowl with rice. Both are delicious and you can’t go wrong.
Monkey Pod is our favorite restaurant in Maui. They rely on locally sourced, organic ingredients and everything tastes amazing!! We usually go here multiple times every trip. I love the kale macadamia salad with chicken and their tacos are also a favorite.
Maui Brewing Company is such a fun local spot to go to for lunch or dinner. The brewery itself is doing so well and their beers are becoming a favorite at all the coolest bars nation wide- you can tour the brewery too if you’re into that type of thing. As for me, I ordered a cocktail because I’m not much of a beer gal. And the food…the food is INSANE. The root vegetable dish is one of the best veggie dishes I have ever had in my life, and I have had a lot of them. Ben’s burger was incredible, my chicken was perfect and the sriracha fries we shared…I can’t even talk about it. That’s how good they were. And everything is so reasonably priced, which of course I love.
Cafe OLei is a nice spot to go for dinner. Super casual, good fish dishes. Not the best meal you’ll ever have, especially if you have already visited Monkey Pod, but very solid- their sushi is my favorite and Ben’s short ribs were incredible.
The Feast at LeLe is a luau that is not to be missed. I mean, you’re in Hawaii…you should go to a luau at least once. This one is top notch. You have dinner and drinks oceanside while watching an incredible, traditional performance. It’s touristy, but in a good way.
Ferraro’s at The Four Seasons has the most incredible sunset you’ve ever seen. When here, Ben and I get drinks at the bar right before sunset every night. EVERY night. The bar tenders will watch our drinks and hold your spot as you go to the beach to capture the beauty of the sunset. They also have the BEST bar nuts I’ve ever had. I don’t know about you, but I am ALL ABOUT a bar snack, you know? We have had dinner here a couple of times and it is very good Italian food. It is expensive, but worth it for a nice romantic sunset dinner.
Sansei is good local sushi. They have a couple different locations and it is always very good and busy!
Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice is heaven in a cup. Skip every other shave ice place- don’t waste your time or money. Ululani’s is where it’s at. There’s a reason why there is always a line…and it is 100% worth it. I love coconut and mango, but to be honest every flavor I have tried is amazing. I once did a green apple/salted caramel combo sprinkle with coconut flakes and I still crave it to this day. Their ice is also so soft and fluffy, it feels like ice cream. Get the mochi on top.
Breakfast buffet at The Four Seasons is the best one I have ever had. They have things like probiotic coconut yogurt, organic omelets, locally sourced greens and their very own pancake mix (it is GOOD). It’s fancy, but in the best way possible. Treat yourself one morning.
So that about rounds it out! I still have a lot of Maui I want to explore so if you have any favorite places you love to go, drop them here or on my Instagram- I love getting your tips for my next trips!
Don’t forget, I also have my Kauai + Oahu Travel Guide here! Just in case you want to island hop- I highly suggest it.