Maui – Highlights for the Perfect Trip!


Maui is one of the eight main beautiful Hawaiian islands with everything from stunning beaches to incredible snorkeling, from volcanoes to jungles. Maui is an absolutely beautiful place and there is something for everyone!

The number one thing tourists need to consider before going to Maui is how to support the local community, and if it is a safe and reasonable time to visit the island. Native people of the Hawaiian islands are fighting for land rights, sovereign governance, and to keep their cultures and language alive. Their ancestors were the original Polynesians who sailed to Hawai’i. The US government illegally overthrew Hawai’i’s government in 1893, along with banning the use and teaching of the Hawaiian language in schools.

If you’re going to enjoy the beauty of the island, be sure to respect the people who call it home (Wander Wisdom).

Need to Know:

Currency: US Dollar

Language: English


OGG – Kahului Airport

Electrical Outlets: 120V supply voltage and 60Hz

Planning Your Trip

Accommodation – There are a few regions of the island to consider when you’re figuring out where to stay. The west is a popular area to stay with towns such as Lahaina, Kaanapali, and up to Kapalua filled with resorts and hotels by the main hotel chains. Kihei in the south is a calmer and slightly cheaper area to stay. It is less busy than the towns in the west region. I stayed at an Airbnb in Kihei and it was a great option! Just south of Kihei is Wailea, the luxury resort region of Maui. A couple less popular areas are the central region and the north shore. The central region is home to two great locally owned lodging options if you want to make sure your money is going back into the community – Iao Valley Inn and The Old Wailuku Inn. Finally, you can check out Paia with it’s chill, surfer-town vibe.

Food – There were a few restaurants we tried that stood out as favorites! We enjoyed Miso Phat Sushi (pictured below) but the best poke we had was actually just from a local grocery store – Tamura’s. We also loved the fish plates at the Paia Fish Market, both in Paia and in Lahaina. Make sure you enjoy all the fresh tropical fruit, maybe even blended with an acai bowl from Beach Street Maui. Another Maui favorite, is Shave Ice (NOT shaved ice). I didn’t get the chance to have one when I was there, but I’ve heard the most recommendations for Ululanis. I also highly recommend stopping by Maui Brewing Co for a local brew. You can also check out this blog for a list of locally owned restaurants to try!

Getting Around – My understanding is that you pretty much need a car to get around in Hawaii as there is not much public transportation and Ubers/Lyfts are very sparse. There has been a rental car shortage, so you can look into Turo to rent a car from a local.  If you’re not planning to do much exploring, or are doing organized tours, you can just get an airport transfer to your hotel. If you are renting a car, PLEASE be respectful of the local community by not parking illegally and driving with “aloha” (not aggressive or speeding).

Kihei airbnb
Miso Phat Sushi
Maui getting around

West Maui Highlights:

Snorkeling at the Molokini Crater:  This is by far the top snorkeling destination in Maui, but you do need to take a boat to access it so I recommend booking a tour. A couple locally recommend and sustainable tour companies to check out are Trilogy and Dive Maui

K’aanapali Beach: There is public access to this beach where you can hang out and soak up the sun. Most of the beach is sandy but there can be some sharp rocks and coral when you go in the water, so watch your toes! I didn’t see any great snorkeling spots on this beach.

Lahaina Front Street and Banyan Tree: This is the main hub of Lahaina, surrounded by restaurants and souvenir shops. The massive banyan tree lines the center court where you can relax in the shade. Grab a shave ice from Ululani’s and walk along the Lahaina Harbor. 

Nakalele Blowhole: If you have a car, drive north from Lahaina to this stunning natural phenomenon. The blowhole is a short hike down from the road to the rugged coastline – caution this is a rocky and slippery hike so wear proper shoes. Also check the tides and try to go at high tide so the blowhole is actually “blowing.” Be sure to stay back from the blowhole opening as it is very dangerous to get too close. 

Honolua Bay: Looking for a more secluded snorkeling spot? Park on the road and hike down the access road to Honolua Bay. The beach is all rocky, not sandy – and you have to swim a ways to get to the reefs, so make sure you’re a strong swimmer or have a floatation device! 

Champagne Sunset Sail: One of the highlights of our trip was this sunset sail with Scotch Mist Sailing Charters. For $84 per person, enjoy this slow cruise out of Lahaina with champagne, chocolate covered macadamia nuts, and beautiful sunset views of the island.

nakalele blowhole
Honolua Bay
Scotch Mist Sunset Sail

Kihei Coast Highlights:

Kayak or SUP from Keawakapu Beach: We rented from Surf Shack Maui and got a combination of kayaks and stand up paddle boards to take out for a couple hours. This was a great low-key activity and we even saw a couple turtles! 

Snorkel at Makena State Park Beach: This is one of the most popular snorkeling spots to see turtles. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any, but we enjoyed snorkeling here! There’s a little bit of sandy beach and then grassy areas on the side to hang out. 

Surfing: The best places to learn to surf in Kihei are Kalama Park and Cove Park. There are tons of rental shops just across the street where you can pick up a board and some water shoes. Check out Hi-Tech or Maui Waveriders for lessons or rentals.  

Acai Bowl
Kihei sunset

Haleakala Highlights:

Bike Down the Volcano:  The most popular way to experience this is heading up before sunset and riding down as the sun rises over the island. We opted for a slightly cheaper and later tour by riding down at 9AM. We cruised down the volcano, stopping at Kula Lodge, Maui Cookie Lady, and the Farmer’s Market. I highly recommend the Maui Sunriders, but I’ve also heard great things about Bike Maui.

Haleakala National Park:  Driving up to the park is quite the experience within itself. You’ll drive yourself above the clouds with breathtaking views on either side. At the top, you can enjoy the lookouts and hike the sliding sands trail. This is a difficult 11 mile trail, but we just hiked a couple miles out and back. 

Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm: Open from 10AM – 4PM, pay the small fee to wander around the lavender farm and enjoy the fresh smells and beautiful botanicals. Also stop by their gift shop and cafe to purchase handmade goodies! I bought an essential oil, as well as lavender honey and chocolate. 

Hang out in Paia: This smaller surf town has much to explore! At the base of Haleakala, you can enjoy Baldwin Beach Park, eat a meal at the Paia Fish Market, and explore the local shops. 

Haleakala national park
sliding sands trail
lavender farm

Road to Hana Highlights:

The Road to Hana is one of the iconic experiences on Maui. You’ll need to have a car to drive the road, but if you don’t have one, there are tours that will take you. Most people just drive to Hana, then turn around and come back. We drove the whole loop, and it gets a little treacherous past Hana, so make sure you have good clearance on the car and are comfortable driving on cliffs.

  1. Ho’okipa Lookout – Mile 9
  2. Garden of Eden – Mile 10
  3. Ke’anae Peninsula (get banana bread at  Aunty Sandy’s) – Mile 16
  4. Nahiku Coffee Shop – Mile 29
  5. Wai’anapana – Mile 32
  6. Hana Farms – Mile 34.5
  7. Wai’ānapanapa State Park – Black Sand Beach
  8. Kaihaulul Beach – in Hana
  9. Wailua Falls – past Hana
  10. Pools of Ohe’o – past Hana
Road to Hana maui
Road to Hana Cafe
Road to Hana

Had a great time in Hawaii and want to check out another water-centric destination? Check out my guides to the Amalfi Coast or Lake Tahoe!


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