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Maui

Sep 26, 2021 | Travel Guides

To celebrate turning 30 I really wanted to travel somewhere incredible. Originally I was going to go to Bali for a once in a lifetime expereince, but COVID clearly had other plans. Instead of heading somewhere international I decided to stay state side to get my tropical fix. And what better place to go than beautiful Hawaii. Having already visited Oahu in 2012 I knew traveling to Hawaii wouldn’t disappoint and a friend of my recommended that I go to Maui for a whole new adventure, and I did!

Maui, Hawaii has some of the most the most incredible beaches, nearly perfect weather and kind hearted locals. It’s no wonder people make this their yearly getaway destination! Maui is home to some of the most breathtakingly beautiful natural wonders. It’s the perfect place no matter what kind of vacationer you are. The beaches are pristine, there’s hiking, horse-back riding, almost anything you can think to do, Maui has it.

I was truly blessed to explore this gorgeous island which filled me with such awe that I felt like the world was my oyster, and I want to make you feel the same way. In this Maui Hawaii travel guide, I’ll provide you with everything you need to know so you can plan an unforgettable where every moment if filled with magic.

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General Info + Tips

Temperature: Maui’s weather is beautiful year round. During my visit in mid-September the weather easily reached 85-90 F with very little rain. Even in the winter months (November-February) the coldest it gets is 70 F. Maui has two incredible mountain peaks which make it home to a few different sub climates so be aware that temperatures can vary in those areas.

Language: In Maui Hawaii majority of locals speak Hawaiian as well as English.

Currency: Hawaii accepts U.S. Dollars. A note with COVID that some places do not accept cash so be sure to have a card handy.

 

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Traveling to the Maui & Getting Around Maui

Entering Maui: Due to COVID be sure to prepare for your travels to Hawaii with the State of Hawaii’s Safe Travels Program requirements. I am vaccinated so for me it was as simple as uploading my vaccine card into the Safe Travels online system and answering their health questionnaire the day before flying. For a complete guide on current Hawaii entry requirements, click here.

Flying to Maui: There are a few airline options to take you to Hawaii. Unfortunately if you’re flying out of the east coast or Midwest there is no direct flight option to Maui but many airlines offer trips with only one stop. I personally flew threw American Airlines with a short layover in Los Angeles. The total flight time from the Midwest is just under 10 hours. Other options include: Delta, United, Alaskan and if you’re closer direct flights through Hawaiian Airlines.

Car Rental: Maui does have buses but I find renting a car gives you a lot more flexibility to travel how you want. While you might see a lot of people with Jeeps in their IG photos, the truth is in Hawaii you will be just fine with a regular car. There are quite a few car rental options in Maui. I went through Dollar and got an amazing deal on a convertible for under $400 for the week! Even after some rain on the Road to Hana the car tackled every terrain I encountered with no issue. A little secret for getting an amazing rate was actually calling and speaking to a representative. When I initially made my reservation online my economy car was going to cost $1000 but due to a delay I had to change my reservation and the customer service rep gave me a much better rate than I was quoted online.

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Where to Stay in Maui

When traveling to a tropical destination like Hawaii it’s probably safe to assume you want to stay by the beach. In Maui there’s no shortage of amazing beach front stays for almost every budget!

Location: One thing to keep in mind as you’re choosing your accommodations is what you plan to do. Maui has a lot of one lane roads and the speed limit is usually no more than 45mph so if you plan to explore a lot you might want to consider lodging in a central location like Kihei. Wailea has a resort vibe with tons of hotels, a few higher end food spots making it a great option if you want more privacy. Lahaina is another area that’s highly trafficked because it’s a popular stop for cruises and a lot of the boats leave from this harbor. There’s lots to do but I will say it can feel a bit touristy. 

Hotels vs Air BnBs/Condos: While Air BnB can seem like a great option it’s coming to light that it’s been causing a housing crisis in local communities all over the globe. It’s important that if you do choose this route that you do some research and rent from a local rather than a business. To skip this hassle altogether I recommend staying at a hotel. They offer a lot more flexibility if something pops up and you need to change or cancel your reservation unlike Air BnB. I personally rely on booking.com when looking for hotels, I always find hidden gems within my price range.

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What to do in maui

  • Hiking- Maui has tons of trails that are great no matter your skill level. Iao Valley is a short half mile hike that’s very popular. I personally hiked the Waihee Ridge Trail which is 2 miles uphill to an amazing panaramic view. I won’t lie I questioned my life decisions after the first mile but once I reached the top just as the clouds subsided that view made it worth my calves being on fire. 
  • Snorkeling- One thing I love about Maui is there are so many beaches with calm water and perfect conditions for snorkeling. If  your accommodations didn’t provide snorkeling gear you can go through a professional service. Since I’m certified to dive I had everything I needed. I recommend heading to Maluaka Beach a.k.a. Turtle Town. The weather is perfect and the water is warm and clear. There was so much to see right along the rocks including sea turles, I even saw a spotted eel trying to catch some lunch!
  • Body Boarding or Surfing-If surfing feels like too much energy, I recommend body boarding! It totally brought out my inner kid and was a great way to spend an afternoon at the beach.
  • Sunset Cruise- One of the highlights of the trip was the Deluxe Kaanapali Sunset cruise with Trilogy. With locally sourced food and bottomless drinks it was an incredibly memorable way to watch the sunset.
  • Unique experiences
    • Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm-Between the panaramic views and the calming aroma this was another one of my favorite stops. I recommend grabbing a lavendar scone and latte to enjoy as you walk around the incredible garden. Just a note they are only open Friday-Monday so plan accordingly.
    • Maui Dragon Fruit Farm-Another fun experience if you get the time is going to the dragon fruit farm. They grow all kinds of fruit and you get a complimentary fresh fruit platter at the end of the tour.
    • Paragliding– For the more daring, you can go paragliding off of Haleakala.
    • Helicopter Rides– A cool, albiet expensive way, to see some of the sites is by air. If hiking isn’t your thing this might be worth it to see some of the wonders Maui has to offer.
    • Submarine Rides– One uniqe option is to go on a submarine tour of the ocean. A bonus is that this can be combined to include a luau experience.
pipiwai trail
  • Haleakala Crater- To see the iconic sunrise you’ll need to get a reservation which can be made 30 days in advance. They sell out quick but don’t worry they also release some extra tickets 2 days out as well. Because it takes almost 3 hours to drive up the summit you’ll have to get up at 3AM. Personally that is not my idea of a vacation activity, if you feel the same way then I recommend going midday as it’s still an incredible experience.
  • Road to Hana- More on that Below
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Driving the Road to Hana: What to Know Before You Go

There is a reason every travel guide to Maui includes the Road to Hana and honestly no amount of pictures or words can do it justice. With over 600 turns within 60 miles the drive is just part of the adventure. The breathetaking views as you climb into the mountains with luscious trees and plants growing to gigantic proportions is only part of the road’s beauty. With plenty of places to explore honestly one day truly isn’t enough. If you can I recommend trying to find a place to stay either in Paia or along the road so you can explore it more fully.

Before You Go:

  • Download the GyPSy Hana Guide. It’s $10 but was incredibly helpful with guides on where to stop plus some background on the road itself as well as Maui’s history. His tour provides a lot of information and helps pass the time on the long drive.
  • Expect to lose cell phone service at some point.
  • Be prepared for a long day. If you leave early around 6AM and plan to stay out until sunset that’s a 12 hour day.
  • The road to Hana experiences tons of rain but don’t let that deter you. While it does make the road slick, I was able to navigate a Camero up the tight turns with no problem.
  • Waianapanapa State Park, where the black sand beach is located, now requires reservations. You won’t be able to get tickets the day before so plan to buy a week or two in advance. I did 7-10AM slot. Leaving a little after 6AM from Kihei and stopping a few times I made it there just before 9AM.
  • Twin Falls, which is on private property, does not open until 7AM and now charges $10 for parking. If you leave early like most guides suggest then I recommend stopping here on the way back. It will be less crowded.
  • If you leave early many of the food stops will be closed. Also with COVID some popular stops have closed as well. Some fruit stands allow you to leave cash and take fruit so bring plenty of water and snacks.

 

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Where to Stop on the Road to Hana if You Have one day

Thanks to the GyPSy app, there were a couple of stops that I would have skipped otherewise. While one day really isn’t enough here’s where I recommend stopping:

On the drive to Hana

  • Koki Beach- This is actually a side road off the road to Hana but totally worth it. It’s a beatiful beach that’s practically empty. And on the weekends there’s a stand that serves up some delicious Huli Huli chicken!
  • Hana Farms-A great place to stop for food and of course banana bread. Their regular banana bread was so moist and flavorful, I recommend getting two loafs!
  • Wai’anapanapa State Park- depending on your time slot plan to give yourself at least an hour here. The sand is gorgeous and while the water is a little rougher it’s a great way to cool off after a couple hours in the car. You can also explore the blowholes beyond the beach or the cave located right near the stairs.
  • Wailua Falls- You can’t miss this one as tons of people will be on the bridge taking photos. You can actually get down to go into the water below if you take the path on the right hand side (if you’re the waterfall) of the bridge. Be careful because it will likely be wet but take you’re time and you’ll have the falls pretty much to yourself!
  • Ohea Gulch & Pipiwai Bamboo Trail- 45 minutes past Hana this is a stop worth visiting plan for about 3 hours here if you plan to take pictures. The 7 Sacred Pools are closed fairly often so don’t expect to swim in them but you can easily view them with a short walk. The Bamboo trail is absolutely worth the hike. This will take the bulk of your time. While you could hike fast, I really recommend taking your time and enjoy the breeze as it blows through the bamboo to create a meditative natural wind chime.

On the drive Back:

  • Twin Falls-This fall, open from 7AM-6PM, is popular because it’s easily accessible. Literally it takes 5 minutes to walk down to the lower falls. Stopping here around 5PM there was just one other family enjoying the falls so it was worth stopping on the way out.
  • Ho’okipa Beach-A lot of surfers come here but the real attraction is the sea turtles. Don’t park in the top lot, go down to find parking below if possible. Just past the bathrooms towards the cliffs there’s an overlook where you can watch the turtles swim up to the beach. You can also walk down on the beach but the top view is the best in my opinion. Get here just before 6PM for the best views.

 

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What to Eat & Where to Eat in Maui

To me one of the best parts about traveling is the food! As of writing this Maui currently only allows restaurants to operate at 50% capacity and only fully vaccinated people to dine indoors. So make reservations well in advance. Don’t worry though there’s plenty of options both indoors and out that are worth stoppin at:

Coffee/Bakeries:

  • Akamai Coffee- With 3 diferent locations, unique latte flavors and IG worthy interior this is a must stop for your morning coffee fix!
  • Sugar Beach Bake Shop-A great place to get pastries, be sure to try their Malasadas and a cinnamon roll!
  • T Komoda Bakery– This place is crazy popular and highly recommended for their Malasadas, sadly as of writing this they are on vacation until October 5th 2021.
  • Donut Dynamite-This place has some unique donuts be warned though it’s open only Saturday’s and is strictly pre-order! She opens orders on Monday the week of.
  • Maui Pie- Locally owned these, pies were amazing! She also makes muffins, scones and cookies too!

Carry-Out/Food Trucks:

  • Geste’s Shrimp- Also a popular stop and I know why their food is incredible! It’s literally right next to the airport so you can grab some after you land or before you go!
  • Bang Um Out Grindz- Has delicious pineapple boats and sells out early. It’s by the airport too so plan to grab lunch from here after hiking!
  • Piko Cafe/Da Kitchen– This is a great place to try local plates! Da Kitchen is highly recommended and their menu is available after 4PM.
  • Poi by the Pound- Locally owned this is another delicouns option to get some local favorites!

Sit Down Restaurants

  • Mama’s Fish House- Offers both indoor and outdoor seating and is insanely popular. Sadly I didn’t get to eat here because it stays booked especially with the limited seating. They use OpenTable which I hate but through the app you can set an alarm for the dates you want. Be warned they get snapped up quick, I kept getting server issues and was never able to snag an opening.
  • The Plantation House-Technically it is indoors but because of their large open windows it also qualifies as outdoor. The food here was incredible. Honestly I made my reservation based off the dessert menu and it didn’t disappoint. I recommend the pineapple upside down cake, it was so decadent!

 

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What to Pack for Hawaii in September

With pretty clear skies expect to be in the sun a lot. With that here’s some essentials I suggest packing:

  • Reef Safe SPF
  • Swimsuits
  • Long sleeve cover ups
  • Wide Brim Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Hiking Clothes & Sandals
  • Evening Wear & Cute Cardigan or Arm Warmer
  • Poncho

Shop Swim

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Shop Resort Wear

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And that’s it! My complete guide on traveling to Maui. Make sure you save this post so you can reference it when you plan your trip. If you’ve ever been to Maui before I’d love it if you shared your recommendations in the comments below!

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