Naturally, Adam and I sometimes have a bit more on our minds than just house renovations. And lately memories of our wedding and honeymoon have been on the brain. But how could it not be? BEST WEEK OF OUR LIVES. Honestly.
We went to Maui for a week, and we can’t wait to go back! Taking this trip also gave us the bug to travel more. There is so much to explore.
favorite view – Garden of Eden
So anyways, here are some tips and recommendations based on our time in Maui.
My first piece of advice is to do yourself a favor and buy the guidebook Maui Revealed. My tips below won’t even cut a dent in the book. The author, Andrew Doughty, lives in the Hawaiian Islands and created this book based on his and his team’s actual experiences. They continually update versions so all the latest happenings are covered. A large amount of what we did was based off this guidebook.
So this really comes down to preference. With any vacation of course, you have to prioritize what exactly you want to splurge on and what you want to skimp on, unless you’re just swimming in dolla dolla bills I suppose.
There are some really wonderful 4 star resorts in Maui that we read about. So if that’s up your alley then there are a few options for you. We knew up front we didn’t need a 4 star resort. Of course we wanted a nice, safe place to stay, preferably with beach access, but we didn’t require a spa, a gym, or three pools. Again, totally preference. Maybe next time we will lean more towards these features.
We used VRBO (Home Away) and booked a condo at Maui Kai. It has beach access, a pool (although we didn’t use it), and beautiful views. This condo was in West Maui and very close to Lahaina, which I highly recommend.
Unless all of your activities are in walking distance or you plan to take taxis and shuttle buses during your trip, you’re going to need a rental car. We found great prices through Alamo, which is located at the airport. They were significantly lower than some of the other big name rental car companies. We splurged a little here and went with a 2-Door 4WD Jeep Wrangler, which we loved, and it was perfect for the Road to Hana.
Things to Do and See:
Road to Hana
Our first day was spent on the “Road to Hana”. The Hana Highway is a 52 mile stretch that is not your average back road. It is full of one lane bridges and hairpin turns. The highway leads to the peaceful town of Hana.
A whole post could be devoted to this alone, and there are so many helpful guides and suggested itineraries out there. We researched heavily ahead of time and tried to choose some must stops, but also allowed ourselves flexibility in case we saw something interesting while driving. This was definitely one of our favorite activities of the trip! Along the way there are romantic spots, adventurous spots, and just plain beautiful scenery. We were in awe.
- Leave early! Like by 7:30 a.m. early. This gives more time for stops, but also allows you to beat the bulk of the crowds and not feel like you’re driving bumper to bumper a lot of the time. We were told traffic gets heavy on the road as the day goes on.
- Leave with a full tank of gas
- Don’t leave valuables in the car
- Be sure to bring:
- change of clothes (it will either be hot or you’ll get wet/muddy)
- bug spray
- camera, video camera
- bathing suit
- good footwear (depending on if you’re doing some of the difficult hikes, climbing rocks, etc.)
- Our very first stop was not even on our list. There was a little pull off on the side of the road and we saw a small trail through the trees. We were feeling adventurous and pulled over. We didn’t hike too far, but we walked through a lot of bamboo, crossed over a rushing river (okay it was probably only a creek, but that water was moving!) on a thin piece of wood laid across, and climbed on some slippery rocks. What we saw was lush, tropical, and just beautiful.
- Garden of Eden. Although you have to pay, this was a really interesting spot. There were some beautiful views, two waterfalls, and we learned a lot about the vegetation in the area as everything was labeled meticulously.
- Halfway to Hana. Their banana bread was SO good, and warm! They also had other snacks, sandwiches, and beverages.
- Wai’anapanapa Black Sand Beach. Having only seen traditional white sand beaches all our lives, this was really interesting. The volcanic black sand was formed from lava flowing into the sea, with fragments smashing together to form the sand.
- To the side of the beach there were freshwater caves. From our guidebook, we read these likely are remnants of lava tubes.
overlooking the black sand beach
- Hana Ranch Restaurant. We intended to eat earlier on our drive, but it sort of slipped our minds, so we stopped at the next place we came across. The restaurant had a cute outdoor area, but the rain arrived when we did, so we stayed inside. Nothing to rave about in regards to the food. We had decent burgers, better than a fast food chain.
- Haleakala National Park. There are several sights to see here. We really enjoyed this spot.
- First we took the trail that led down towards the Seven Sacred Pools. We read that swimming is allowed only on rare occasions. Because the pools were closed, we followed the various trails headed towards the ocean. The cliff side views were gorgeous. This is a great spot to just sit and take in everything around you.
- The other trail is the Pipiwai Trail. *get your bug spray for this one* This trail follows upstream and leads to two different waterfalls. We hiked up to the first waterfall overlook, Makahiku Falls. It was beautiful. Hankering for a beer, we turned around and made the trek back to the jeep.
After those stops, the remainder of our time was spent driving through southeast Maui. We made a couple of other stops just to take photos of the jaw-dropping scenery.
Snorkeling at the Molokini Crater was SO much fun! As first time snorkelers, we really had no idea what to expect. We chose to use Four Winds II and have no complaints. Sure, they give their spill about buying cameras, pictures, gear, etc. but that is just part of running a business. They provided some breakfast snacks, lunch, and drinks, all included in the price. They were very informative with instructions on how to use gear, and we were fairly comfortable before we got in the water. Snorkel belts, boogie boards, and noodles were also provided if needed.
We took pictures and video with our own GoPro, but they did have options on the boat to rent and use for the day. We ate our lunch not long after being in the water, which worked perfectly. By the time we were ready to get back in, mostly everyone else was beginning to eat, so it was just us, tropical fishies, and the beautiful coral reef for a period of time.
Overall this was such a fun experience for us!
Warren & Annabelle’s Magic
This show was one of our favorite activities. We actually crossed it off our list when booking things prior to our trip. One night when walking through Lahaina, Adam decided we should stop in just to check it out, and ended up buying us tickets for a couple of nights later! It was so worth it! We opted to not have dinner there; we arrived about 30 minutes prior to show time and had an appetizer and drinks instead. As honeymooners we were asked to sit on the front row, and it was a lot of fun!
Our magicians were John George and Dana Daniels. They were hilarious and the magic literally blew our minds.
The top recommendation for a luau (Old Lahaina Luau) was completely full when we started scheduling our activities (about three months in advance!). So we chose the Wailele Polynesian Luau at the Westin Resort.
The price included dinner and drinks. The mixed drinks prepared upon arrival weren’t great in our opinion, so we chose something else from the bar from the get go. The food, however, was great! It was a buffet style with several options.
We enjoyed the luau, more so when they asked all of the children to sit down instead of playing tag in front of the stage. (Several parts of this trip made us realize we aren’t yet ready for kiddos!) The luau reflected a journey to Polynesian culture through traditional dances, including fire-knife dancers.
Vendors were set up to the side for souvenirs. We purchased a tiki totem carving, symbolizing family, from a man whose family had been hand crafting totems for over four generations. Several vendors sell these throughout Lahaina, but we loved his story. He also engraved ours on the spot with tools used by his great great grandfather.
In Historic Lahaina, we enjoyed walking the streets, shopping for souvenirs, and checking out the art galleries. When we visited this area, day or night, it clearly was a popular place to be. If you’re looking for nightlife, you’re sure to find something to do here.
We played mini golf at Maui Golf & Sports Park when our zipline trip (with Flyin’ Hawaiian) was cancelled. A tropical storm barely missed Maui a few days before our zipline reservation, and while we had no rain, we did get high winds. We tried rescheduling for our last day in Maui, but high winds prevented the trip again. Something saved for next time!
And of course, we also spent a day in our room, it was our honeymoon after all!
Lahaina Pizza Company
Great views (ask for a seat overlooking the harbor), great service, and delicious pizza! Not overpriced. The relaxing vibe of this restaurant was just what we needed after our day on Hana Highway.
So this was just the coolest. With a griddle right in the middle of our table, we got a bottle of buttermilk pancake mix and went to town. Pancake Town! If you aren’t interested in making your own pancakes, there are several other menu options and seating selections.
Cheeseburger in Paradise
Right on Front Street in historic Lahaina we had a great view on the second floor by the window overlooking the ocean. The burgers tasted delicioius, and we loved the beach-y vibe!
This was our “splurge” restaurant. We made reservations here for our last night in Maui. It was very unique and elegant; beautiful artwork hung on the walls. It was a special place to commemorate what a great trip we had.
No matter what you do in Maui, it will not let you down as a well spent vacation! We hope to one day travel to the other Hawaiian islands and see how they compare. Have you ever been? Any recommendations we should give a try next time?
Now back to painting…
’til next time,