Swaying palm trees. White sand beaches. Warm banana bread. Maui has long held visitors entranced by its charm and beauty, but Hawai’i is so much more than a travel playground: its history and culture run deep. Learning about Hawai’ian culture, language, and history will deepen your respect and love for this beautiful island and its many stories.
On our first trip, although we only had 3 days in Maui, we fell head over heels for the entire island – and we didn’t even get to see half of it. We knew we’d return. And as soon as we were able to, we did – this time for 5 days!
Although we’re still just scratching the surface of Maui and Hawai’i, the time we’ve been able to spend visiting has created a deep sense of awe and respect. I think we could spend years exploring Hawai’i, learning about its culture and history, eating its delicious food, and swimming in its warm waters, and never get tired of it.
Our Maui itinerary and travel guide includes everything you’ll need to know for your trip. Let’s get to it!
Psst: Planning a trip to Hawai’i? We have a few other posts to help you prepare for your trip!
- The Ultimate Beach Vacation Packing List (for Curvy Girls)
- The 5 Best Swimsuits for Curves: Comfortable, Cute, & Field-Tested
- The Best Women’s Travel Shoes: 4 Tried & Tested Pairs
Things to Know About Visiting Maui
We had a lot of questions before our trip to Maui. Like, how much shave ice can a person eat before their brain is permanently frozen? (The limit does not exist.) And, can Jeremy pull off a puka shell necklace? (No.)
How long do you need to visit Maui?
We decided to take a 3 day trip for our first visit to Maui not because we didn’t want to stay longer, but because it’s SO much more affordable. With the new and inexpensive tickets to Hawai’i on Southwest Airlines, the 5-hour flight from Oakland to Maui is actually doable as a weekend trip, so we took full advantage.
But was our trip long enough? Well, here’s the thing: 3 days in Maui is enough to adjust to island time, fall in love with Maui, do a few must-see highlights, eat a bunch of yummy food, and then … oh, it’s time to go home already?? Really?!
3 days in Maui is like an appetizer. A teaser. It will absolutely make you want to go to Maui again. But it’s also a LOT less pricey than a full week! Maui is a fairly expensive destination, and it may end up being more doable to spend a few 3-day weekends in Maui over the course of a few years rather than a full week.
If you can spend a full week – 7 days, including two travel days and 5 days of activity – you’ll be able to see much more of the island!
Our verdict: 3 days in Maui is enough to hit the highlights and it’s a lot easier on the wallet, but the ideal trip length is at least 7 days!
Do you need a car in Maui?
Yes, you absolutely need a car in Maui! The island is quite spread out and rural – there’s no downtown to speak of, and it’s not walkable. Renting a car will not only help you see as much of the island as possible, but it will allow you to do one of our favorite activities in Maui, the Road to Hana!
That said, rental cars in Maui are PRICEY. We recommend using Kayak to compare deals across car rental companies (including Turo, which is a popular local car-share service and often the cheapest optoin. Take a look at Maui car rentals on Kayak.
What’s the best time of year to visit Maui?
The best times of the year to visit Maui are April through May and September through November. Although the weather in Maui is warm and wonderful all year long, during those months there are both fewer crowds and rain is less likely.
That said, we ignored that sage advice and visited Maui in June, and we have no complaints!
Is it Hawaii or Hawai’i?
This question dives right into the heart of the complex history of Hawai’i. Legally, the state is called “Hawaii,” but the actual name of the island is Hawai’i. It’s a perfect example of how the United States has treated Hawai’i over the years: the United States invaded the Hawai’ian Kingdom, overthrew its monarchy, exploited its land and people, and has maintained dominance with a military presence ever since – a wrong that has never been acknowledged by the USA government. Here is a brief history, and here is an interactive map showing the effects of colonization across Hawai’i.
As a visitor, it’s incredibly important to learn the proper names and pronunciation of Hawai’ian places. We made many mistakes on our first trip to Maui, mispronouncing and misspelling things right and left. We later realized that our ignorance or unwillingness to learn the correct pronunciation was disrespectful and insulting to Hawai’ian locals and residents.
What we’ve since learned is that in Hawai’ian culture, places have stories, and learning their names honors those stories and their importance. The survival of the Hawai’ian language (‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i,) despite laws banning the language from being taught in schools, is a testament to the strength and cultural legacy of the Hawai’ian people.
Once we learned how to pronounce Hawai’ian vowels and use the glottal stop, we practiced pronunciation on every word we could find during our stay. Here is a fantastic primer to learning the Hawai’ian language, and here is an audio guide to help you learn some of the most common words.
Remember, part of being responsible tourists is to respect the places you visit!
What foods (and drinks) do you need to try in Maui?
Y’all. Maui. Has. AMAZING. Food. Seriously, most of our trip was just driving to different spots and eating.
One thing to know before diving head-first into a bowl of poi is that there’s more than just “traditional” Hawai’ian food, which is Polynesian dishes made with native Hawai’ian ingredients like taro, coconuts, yams, and fish.
But the legacy of Hawai’ian colonization has introduced other dishes, born from a blend of the cultures of laborers who came to Hawai’i to work on the pineapple and sugarcane plantations. Today’s Hawai’ian cuisine has influences from China, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Portugal. For more details, read this overview of the history of Hawai’ian cuisine.
Here are a few absolute must-try foods in Maui:
- Shave Ice: Hawai’ian shave ice is made from shaving a block of ice and flavoring it with syrup. The best on the island is at Ululani’s! Try a bowl with a macadamia nut ice cream center and a “snow cap” top of sweet condensed milk.
- Moco Loco: A Hawai’ian breakfast specialty. The traditional loco moco is a pile of white rice topped with a hamburger patty, a fried egg, and brown gravy.
- Kalua Pork: The most succulent, delicious, pulled pork you will ever eat. Kalua Pork is rich and salty, but you can cut the saltiness with poi, a yummy condiment made from mashed taro. The best we had was at Poi by the Pound by the airport; make it your first stop in Maui and order a Hawaiian Plate to share.
- Poke: Fresh, sliced raw fish topped and mixed with seasonings, crunchy toppings, veggies, rice, sauces, and other yummy things – each bowl is different! Try a bowl at Eskimo Candy in Kihei or pick a bowl up to go from any Tamura’s Fine Wine & Liquors.
- Banana Bread: Fluffy, sweet banana goodness – the best you’ve ever had. Get it at Aunt Sandy’s on the Road to Hana or try a topped banana bread from Sugar Beach Bake Shop in Kihei.
- Malasadas: A donut-like ball of fried pastry rolled in sugar, inherited by Portuguese plantation workers and made Hawai’ian. You can find them filled with tropical fruit or sweet cream. Try one from Sugar Beach Bake Shop in Kihei but head over early: they stop selling them at 10am.
- Guava Chiffon Cake: We a chance to try this, but we’ve heard you can find them at just about any bakery. If anyone has any recommendations, please let us know!
What about Maui Gold Pineapples? They say that these are the world’s best pineapple, and we have to agree – they’re delicious. But like coffee, pineapples are non-native to Hawai’i. These invasive species were brought by colonizers and farmed en masse on massive, wealthy plantations, contributing to the exploitation of Hawai’i’s natural resources and local people. Today, Maui Gold Pineapples aren’t even grown in Maui.
Where to Stay in Maui
There are plenty of fantastic options for places to stay in Maui. We recommend basing yourself in Kihei, Lahaina, or Pā’ia.
Stay in Pā’ia
This charming little town dotted with street art is right along the beginning of the Road to Hana and close to Kahului airport on Maui’s northeastern coast. You’ll find lots of little shops selling handmade and locally crafted wares, as well as a few favorites like Ululani’s and the original location of Pā’ia Fish Market.
Although there’s no beach in town, you’ll find one close by. This is a great place to base yourself if you’d like to be away from the more touristy areas, closer to the Road to Hana and Mama’s, and don’t mind driving to some of the more touristy spots for tours.
Stay in Lahaina
Once the great capital of the Kingdom of Hawai’i and the home of King Kamehameha III, Lahaina was also the first spot to be populated by outsiders. You’ll find remnants that tell the story of Lahaina’s past all over town, such as the Banyan Court Park and the Old Lahaina Fort.
Today it is a cute, albeit touristy, town on the far western side of Maui in between the ocean and the towering green West Maui Mountains. The main advantage to basing yourself in Lahaina is that many tours leave from its docks, and the walkable streets (especially Front Street) are lined with good, if not traditional, restaurants with stunning ocean views. Plus – those gorgeous mountains!
If you plan to spend most of your time in and around this area and don’t mind the kitschy shops and crowds of tourists, it’s a great place to base yourself.
Stay in Kihei
Centrally located along the middle of Maui’s western coast and close to the road that cuts across the island, Kihei is centrally located – and you’ll find tons of hotels here for just that reason.
Kihei doesn’t have the cute walkable town areas of Lahaina or Pā’ia, but it is close to some of our favorite food on the island (like Eskimo Candy and the original Ululani’s) and stunning beaches with some of the best sunsets on the island!
If you find a hotel or vacation rental you like and don’t mind not having a cute, walkable area, base yourself here.
- This spacious oceanfront condo has stunning views of the ocean with nothing to obscure your view. Just you, a glass of wine, watching the waves roll in. Ahhh, paradise.
- This charming cottage is within walking distance to the beach, but with a little more privacy in a quiet neighborhood. The garden is filled with beautiful tropical plants and there is gorgeous Hawai’ian decor throughout the cottage.
Maui Travel Tip: To keep costs down, we recommend searching for hotel deals in Maui using Booking.com. For Vacation Rentals in Maui we recommend booking directly through VRBO because it has fewer fees and more flexible cancellation policies than Airbnb – also, we’re not fans of Airbnb’s unethical track record and lax security.
What to Pack for Maui
We’re not going to tell you exactly how many dresses or pairs of shorts to pack (we trust you can figure that out on your own) BUT we do have some suggestions for must-have Maui essentials. Throw these in your carry-on suitcase (this is our favorite!) and you’ll be all set.
Looking for more beachy packing tips? We’ve got a super detailed beach vacation packing list post!
- Reef-Safe Sunscreen: Going into the ocean? You need to wear reef-safe sunscreen. Unless you hate coral, fish, and also all of human life. Reef-safe sunscreen is designed to biodegrade and not harm ocean life. Regular sunscreen bleaches coral and ensures humanity’s swift death from climate change. So please, for the love of society’s inevitable collapse, wear reef-safe sunscreen if you’re going into the ocean! As a fun bonus incentive, it’s actually required by law in Hawai’i. Here’s a full-sized bottle and here’s a travel-sized version for carry-on luggage.
- Mineral Sunscreen: This is the least harmful type of sunscreen, according to science. It’s better both for your body and for the environment. I use this one for my body, and this one for my face.
- Rash Guard: Since you’ll be snorkeling and swimming and generally spending a lot of time with your bare back facing the harsh sun, I highly recommend bringing along a rash guard, which is specially designed for swimming in saltwater. There are even swim leggings made from swimwear material, which is perfect because my butt is always the first thing to burn when I’m snorkeling. This cuts down on the amount of sunscreen you need, which is a win/win since I hate wearing sunscreen and it’s not great for marine life!
- Travel Towel: There is absolutely no guarantee that the towels at your hotel are going to fit around your waist. Frankly, they rarely fit around my left thigh. So just to be safe, I always bring my own travel-friendly, lightweight, quick-drying travel towel!
- Travel Clothesline: Newsflash: your hotel’s moist, dark bathroom is the absolute WORST place to hang your clothing up to dry. Instead, hang this tiny travel clothesline up somewhere that gets plenty of airflow and sun-like on a curtain rod in front of the window! Your wet swimsuit and travel towel will be dry in no time.
- Dramamine: From windy car rides (Road to Hana, anyone?) to long boat rides, Dramamine is a lifesaver if you tend to get motion sick, like. Ido!
- Snorkel Stuff: Although the snorkel tour we suggest in this Maui itinerary provided us with excellent snorkel gear, there are a few spots in our itinerary where you might want to snorkel on your own! Plus, this snorkel mask is ridiculously amazing (even if it looks. a little ridiculous) and you won’t get this style of mask on any tour! Even if you don’t bring your own gear, it’s helpful to bring along a little bottle of anti-fog spray in your suitcase – I always seem to need it.
- Sand Repelling Beach Mat: I hate sand SO MUCH and this mat is made with magical sand-repelling qualities. If sand doesn’t make you want to go live in an igloo forever, you can always just use your towel as a mat instead!
- Cute Swimsuit Cover-Up: I live in swimsuit cover-ups on beach vacations. I know they’re supposed to go over your swimsuit or whatever, but you’ll catch me wearing them everywhere! This is my favorite cover-up thanks to the breezy, lightweight, cotton-y fabric (… and because there’s monstera leaf print). When I’m off the beach, I pair it with a dress or shorts and a tank top.
- Sun Hat: Who says sun protection isn’t cute? This comfortable hat protects your face, neck, and chest from the sun and goes with every outfit. The adjustable band around the rim guarantees that this hat will fit your head perfectly, and the neck cord means you can wear it even when it’s windy! This is my go-to everyday hat.
- Wear-Anywhere Sandals: In Maui, you need a pair of sandals that’s down for a day at the beach, a long hike, kayaking, scrambling on sharp lava rock, AND a romantic evening out. Luckily, my favorite pair of Tevas has been up to every challenge I’ve thrown at them for the past 10 years (er, to clarify: I’m on pair #4 of the same style, but still). They’re rugged, waterproof, leather, and cute as hell! (More details in my women’s travel shoe guide.)
- Swim Leggings: My butt is always the first thing to burn when I’m snorkeling, and I’m getting up close and personal with marine life which means I need to be extra cautious about sunscreen. Swim leggings let you move underwater without restriction while providing sun protection, and like a bathing suit, they dry quickly and stay comfortable once you’re out of the water. I love my swim leggings made by Waterlust, an ethical and sustainable conservation-focused apparel company. Their marine-life themed leggings are 100% chlorine, sun, saltwater and sunscreen resistant and made from recycled materials, and they have POCKETS! Sizes go up to 3XL.
- Cute Bathing Suit: I literally have this suit in 3 different colors. It’s amazing. It’s perfect. It’s a freakin’ steal! Pick one up in every color from Amazon! If it’s not your style, check out our guide. to swimsuits for curvy girls. I also recommend browsing Swimsuits For All, which sells adorable suits for sizes 10-34. Even just looking at their models makes me feel all curvy and beautiful. Here, take a look:
Maui 3-Day Itinerary
Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty. What are you actually going to be doing on your Maui itinerary? We’ve got all the details. Ready, set …
Day One: Snorkeling Day Trip
You’ll be spending your first day in Maui relaxing on a boat soaking up the sun and in the water admiring the stunning coral reefs surrounding Maui!
Note: Both breakfast and lunch are included in the tour we recommend, although if you struggle to operate a motor vehicle without caffeine like we do, it might be a good idea to bring along a box of our favorite boujie travel-friendly instant coffee.
Snorkel Day Trip to Molokini
First thing in the morning, head to Maalaea Harbour for a snorkel tour with Pacific Eco Adventures! We chose this tour company for a few reasons: first and foremost, they’re actually a non-profit organization. All the proceeds of your tour go towards marine research & conservation!
As part of their eco-friendly mission, their tours are also environmentally friendly and make an effort to reduce waste and educate tourists about their impact on marine life. We love supporting organizations that make a positive impact!
- Not a snorkeler? There are several other tour options with Pacific Eco Adventures, like their WhaleWatch Plus Tour – whale sightings are guaranteed or you get to go again!
Another reason we chose Pacific Eco Adventures is for their Wild Side Tour. Many of the snorkel tours you’ll find in Maui (especially the more inexpensive tours) are enormous groups on enormous, yacht-sized boats – you’ll be snorkeling in a crowd of over 100 people. That’s a recipe for chaos, long lines, overwhelm, and terrified, hiding wildlife, and we wanted to avoid it as much as possible.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Wild Side Tour is capped at 38, and you’ll be on a much smaller boat capable of navigating into some of the lesser-seen snorkel spots in Maui. Another difference between this tour and the bigger, more typical tours is that no two tours are the same, because each day your experienced guides will decide where to take you based on the weather and wind conditions. During our tour, our badass all-female crew took us into Molokini and around the back, and even we did a blue-water swim through the deepest, most pristinely blue water I’ve ever seen!
- Maui Travel Tip: Two important notes if you book this tour. Firstly: You will definitely need to book this tour in advance. Secondly: the Wild Side tour is intermediate, so if this is your first time snorkeling, we recommend you book the Honolua Bay Snorkel Sail trip or the Molokini & Turtle Arches tour instead. It’s more relaxed, you’ll probably see turtles and dolphins, and the Molokini tour is on a catamaran with a waterslide – heck yea!
Lunch is included on your snorkel tour, so after you arrive back on the island, spend some time relaxing and unwinding (read: napping) after a long day in the sun.
Dinner at Sansei
When you’re feeling rejuvenated, head to dinner at Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar. Maui has some of the best sushi outside of Japan, and Sansei is the spot to try it!
We recommend going for Happy Hour – you’ll still need a reservation, but it’s much less crowded and a little cheaper. Be sure to try the Foie-Gras Nigiri Sushi Roll. It’s as ridiculously indulgent as it sounds but SO GOOD!
Wait, hold up: before you keep reading, go NOW and make a reservation. Yes, even if your trip is 6 months in the future. You need to book your table HELLA in advance – honestly, that’s the case for most of the spots in this itinerary, so don’t sleep on those reservations!
Bonus: Dessert at Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop
Listen: just because you had dinner somewhere absolutely delicious doesn’t mean you can’t also save room for dessert somewhere else. Besides, you only have 3 days in Maui, which means EVERY MEAL COUNTS. And the pie at Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop is well worth the 30-minute drive to Lahaina!
We ate here an embarrassing number of times during our stay, so we can tell you with too much experience that Chocolate Macadamia Nut is insane (there’s SALTED CARAMEL in it) and so is Pineapple Macadamia Nut (there are BERRIES in it).
- Maui Travel Tip: If you’re on a tight budget or aren’t feeling a boujie dinner, Leoda’s has a fantastic menu for dinner, so this would be our pick for an alternate option to Sansei.
Day Two: Road to Hana
If you’re feeling tired from yesterday’s snorkeling adventure, good news! All you have to do today is sit in a car. Well, mostly. You’ll be spending the day driving the Road to Hana, which can be as adventurous or relaxed as you like!
- Note: Lots of people seem to think the Road to Hana is scary or dangerous. It is absolutely not, and I say this as someone who is constantly terrified in a car. It’s about the same level of excitement as Highway One in California – a very well-maintained, wide, neatly paved road with lots of curves and stunning views. Not scary at all!
The full Road to Hana is an epic adventure that will take all day long – and that’s with very few stops. Lots of folks recommend staying the night in Hana so you’re able to take your time and hit every stop you like.
But because our 3-day trip was so short, we couldn’t do that. We also know that we, as people, are both incapable of waking up early, and are terribly prone to anxiety when under pressure or in a hurry. So we made the decision to only drive half of the Road to Hana. And honestly, it was the PERFECT decision for us!
Because we knew we’d have plenty of time to turn around and drive back at our own leisure, we were able to take our time at every single stop along the way, which was fantastic. We left the second half of the drive for our next trip to Maui.
- Road to Hana Tip: If you’re an early riser or don’t mind driving back in the dark, you can absolutely do the full Road to Hana in one day! Our friends at A Passion and a Passport have a fantastic guide to the Road to Hana which we consulted before our trip.
- Road to Hana Tip #2: We’ve heard really good things about this app, which guides you through the Road to Hana with helpful, humorous, and informative audio navigation along the way, all tied to your GPS. It’s like having a guide in the car with you!
Here are the highlights and must-sees for the first half of the Road to Hana.
Road to Hana Half Day
Our first stop on the Road to Hana was Ho’okipa Beach Park in Paia. We dipped our toes in the ocean, looked for turtles, sipped a cold coconut on the beach, and bought a beautiful necklace made of carefully dried native seeds from a local artist selling out of the back of her van, which is more legit than it sounds.
If you’re wearing your bathing suit, this is the perfect place to dive in for a swim or snorkel! Keep an eye out for turtles – they’re often seen here.
Our next stop was Twin Falls, a beautiful farm known for – as the name suggests – two stunning waterfalls! There is both swimming and cliff jumping here, so be sure to bring your suit.
We also recommend trying a couple of treats from the food truck at the entrance of the farm (full disclosure: we literally ate or drank something at every single stop on the Road to Hana, and you should too). The banana and pineapple popsicle with a sugarcane popsicle stick was delicious and perfectly refreshing!
Our third stop was Huleo Lookout. We heard this little yellow shack is the best place on the Road to Hana to get Shave Ice, and it absolutely did not disappoint! There are also fresh Maui Gold pineapples for sale here – the perfect road trip snack on a road trip full of nothing but snacks.
We took our shave ice behind the shack to the lookout, where we found a picnic table with two snoozing cats and an absolutely stunning view.
- Road to Hana Tip: We asked an employee whether picnics are allowed here, and they confirmed that yes, anyone can roll up with a picnic lunch. So we recommend bringing your lunch and eating here! If you have a cooler handy, you can pick up incredible fresh poke at Tamura’s Fine Wine & Liquors. That said, we did so much snacking at the stops along the road that we didn’t have room for actual lunch. Popsicles and shave ice count, though, right??
We took a little detour for Aunt Sandy’s Banana Bread For $6.25 we got a beautiful little loaf served hot, right out of the oven. It was perfection. We almost ate the entire thing in one sitting!
- Road to Hana Tip: If you didn’t bring a picnic lunch to enjoy at Huleo Lookout, Aunt Sandy’s has a few menu offerings available for lunch.
This was our chosen halfway spot, so after we satisfied our Banana Bread cravings we turned around and headed back. If you get started around 9am and spend some time swimming in the ocean and at Twin Falls, you’ll be turning around in the mid-afternoon to head back the way you came.
Dinner at Mama’s Fish House
You’ll be passing right by Mama’s Fish House on the way back, which according to everyone who’s ever been to Maui is one of the best places to eat on the island. But because of its popularity, you’ll need a reservation in advance (this is a theme with Maui, we realized).
We made an attempt to roll up and get a walk-in table right when the restaurant was opening for dinner, but no luck: they were completely booked. So, don’t be like us: make a reservation NOW so you can enjoy a delicious, fresh fish dinner with a stunning sunset view!
Day Three: Volcano, Beach, & Luau
For your last day in Maui, you’ll start your day on a high note with an epic sunrise on top of a giant volcano (if you can wake up early, that is). Afterward (or instead of, no judgment) you’ll head into Kihei for breakfast and coffee, and then spend your day relaxing at the beach!
After a long beachy day, you’ll explore the adorable little towns of Kihei and Lahaina, and then enjoy an incredible feast and beautiful sunset while watching a Luau on the beach.
This may be the most Maui perfect day in Maui, like, ever.
Sunrise at Haleakalā
One of the most unique things to do in Maui is to watch the sunrise from above the clouds on Haleakalā. If you wake up before dawn and drive up to the top of the volcano, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most epic, amazing sunrises of your life!
… Or so we hear. We aren’t physically possible of waking up before sunrise, even with our favorite fancy instant coffee waiting for us in the kitchen. We’ve been trying for years and it’s literally never happened once. Not even the promise of a stunning sunrise on top of an epic mountain can lure us, drool-covered, out of our warm, cozy beds. We are terrible travel bloggers.
Thankfully, our friends at The Whimsy Soul have a fantastic and comprehensive guide with everything you need to know!
- Maui Travel Tip: As with every other popular destination on the entire island of Maui you’ll need to make a reservation before you visit. Luckily, it’s only $1! You can make a reservation here.
Breakfast & Coffee
Whether you managed to catch the sunrise or not, at some point after dawn, you’re gonna need breakfast, and the most important meal of the day: coffee! Stop by Akamai Coffee Co. in Kihei for an amazing third-wave cup of brew (coffee snob approved)!
For breakfast, hit up Kihei Cafe for a giant plate of Hawai’ian food, served diner style! It’s delicious and budget-friendly – and a great place to check Loco Moco off your must-eat list.
Pack your beach bag and head to Kihei (or nearby) to soak up the sun on one of the many stunning beaches! The best beaches in Kihei are said to be the Kama’ole Beach Parks, a stretch of three beaches all next to each other (Kam I, Kam II and Kam III).
If you head further south down the coast, you’ll drive past a TON of incredible beaches. Here’s a guide to several of them – basically, start driving south and just pull over wherever you like to scope out the beach!
We chose Palauea, a quiet little beach located right next to the Fairmont Hotel. It was absolutely stunning, the water was just right for swimming, and there were hardly any people there, which was absolutely perfect! (Note: there are also no amenities to speak of, and it’s a little hard to find.)
We ended up spending all day at Palauea, but we also wanted to visit Makena Beach as well. It’s located a bit further south and has plenty of space for beach-goers to spread out, plus picnic tables and even food trucks.
Lunch (& Dessert)
After a few glorious hours of swimming and beach-ing, you’ll have an appetite worked up for something cold and fresh. So head to Eskimo Candy for a mind-blowing bowl of poke! We also highly recommend ordering some Coconut Shrimp.
After lunch, head to Ululani’s to try Maui’s best Shave Ice! The main location is in Kihei, and there’s almost always a line (although it’s well worth it). If standing in line grinds your gears, pop over to Lahaina early and hit up the somewhat secret location Hyatt Regency Maui, near the pool.
Every flavor is amazing so you can’t go wrong, but the most popular combinations are the Sunset Beach (guava, mango, and passion orange), the Hawai’ian Rainbow (strawberry, pineapple, and vanilla), and the Coconut Lovers (coconut, tigers blood, pina colada, and fresh coconut). And definitely opt for the snowcap, a topping of creamy sweet condensed milk! Because your sugary treat definitely needs MORE SUGAR.
Luau in Lahaina
When you’re fed, dry, and rested (this is the perfect time for a nap!) hop back in the car and head to Lahaina. The little town is adorable and perfectly walkable, so find a spot to park & explore. You’ll want to spend at least an hour wandering before the evening’s real event: a Hawai’ian Luau!
There are several Luau options in Hawai’i, and after much research and deliberation, we chose the Feast at Lele. This Luau features both food and dancing from several different Polynesian cultures: Hawai’i, New Zealand, Samoa, and Tahiti.
Although we aren’t qualified to personally judge the authenticity of the food or dancing, our research suggested that the Feast at Lele is the most culturally accurate and respectful Luau – even though yes, it’s catered to tourists.
And speaking of catering, the FOOD THOUGH. There are FIVE complete courses of delicious food, and it’s SO good! There’s also an open bar all night long, which we took full advantage of (one benefit to staying in Lahaina: we were walking distance from the Luau). According to our copious research, the best drinks are the lava flow, strawberry pina colada, and banana madness.
We also loved the romantic ambiance of the Feast at Lele. It’s right on the beach and you’ll get to enjoy a stunning sunset as you watch the dancers and listen to live music. This is the perfect date night spot!
- Maui Travel Tip: if you’re looking for something a little more casual, the Old Lahaina Luau is also said to be one of the best Luaus in Maui. The food is served buffet-style, the open bar ends early, the dancing is more family-friendly, and the tickets are a little cheaper.
Maui Itinerary Summary
Ready to hop the plane and head to Maui? Or maybe you just skipped the last 3k words to jump down here and take a sneak peek? You sly duck, you! Either way, here is our complete Maui itinerary in bite-size summary form.
- Snorkel Tour with awesome non-profit foundation Pacific Eco Adventures. Reserve the Wild Side Tour for intermediate level snorkelers; beginners should book the Honolua Bay Snorkel Sail trip or the Molokini & Turtle Arches tour instead.
- Dinner at Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar. Make a reservation early!
- Dessert at Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop
- Drive the Road to Hana. Be sure to wear a swimsuit & start early if you plan to drive the whole road, or take your time and just go halfway. Download this app to help you along the way!
- Don’t miss Huleo Lookout and Aunt Sandy’s Banana Bread
- Dinner at Mama’s Fish House. Make a reservation early!
- Wake up early to watch the sunrise at Haleakalā. Book your spot early!
- Coffee at Akamai Coffee Co.
- Breakfast at Kihei Cafe
- Beach day at one of the amazing beaches near Kihei!
- Lunch at Eskimo Candy
- Shave Ice at Ululani’s
- Luau in Lahaina: the Feast at Lele. Get tickets in advance!
Are you packing up your beach bag? Um, can we come with you??
Here are a few more posts to help you plan your trip:
- The Ultimate Beach Vacation Packing List (for Curvy Girls)
- The Best Women’s Travel Shoes: 4 Tried & Tested Pairs
- The Ultimate Travel Beauty & Makeup Guide (for backpackers)
Considering visiting other islands? Our friends at The Family Voyage have a great guide to visiting Hawaii on a budget.
What questions can we answer for you about your upcoming trip to Maui? Drop us a comment below! Until next time, mahalo.