Maui, also known as the “Valley Isle,” is one of the most popular Hawaiian Islands for travelers from all over the world. From its stunning beaches and clear waters to its lush greenery and volcanic landscapes, Maui has plenty to offer.
If you’re planning a trip to Maui, here’s a guide to help you make the most of your time there:
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Ultimate guide to visiting Maui
How to get to Maui
The nice thing about Maui is that it is not far from the mainland USA. If you were to fly out of LAX, direct flights are under six hours.
There are many flights daily leaving the mainland, over 20+ cities offer this.
What you want to make sure of is that you are flying into the right place.
If you are visiting Wailea, you will want to fly into Kahului Airport (OGG) and if you are visiting Kaanapali and Lahaina, you will want to fly into Kapalua Airport (JHM). Kapalua is a commuter airport, so you will likely transfer at Honolulu to get your connecting flight here.
Alternatively, you can fly into OGG and rent a car or get a taxi/uber/private driver to take you to West Maui.
Tips for visiting Maui
Maui is a popular tourist destination, so it’s important to plan your trip ahead of time, especially during peak season. Book your accommodations, rental car, and activities in advance to avoid any last-minute surprises.
Because Maui has good weather most of the year, the island does stay busy.
Maui uses the US Dollar, but credit cards are widely accepted.
I cannot think of a time I couldn’t use a credit card, but it is always safe to keep some cash on you for when you may need it.
Maui’s climate can be hot and humid, so it’s important to stay hydrated, especially if you’re spending time outdoors. Bring a reusable water bottle and refill it as needed.
The sun in Maui can be strong, so make sure to wear sunscreen with a high SPF, and reapply frequently. This will help prevent sunburn and skin damage.
Please wear a reef safe sunscreen. This helps protect the marine life and coral.
Respect the Environment:
Maui’s natural beauty is a big part of what makes it special, so it’s important to respect the environment. Don’t litter, stay on designated trails, and don’t disturb the wildlife.
Rent a Car:
Renting a car is the easiest way to get around Maui, as public transportation can be limited. Make sure to reserve your car ahead of time, and be prepared for narrow roads and steep hills.
Alternatively, taxis, Uber and Lyft are available. You will find no shortage of these in the popular resort regions of West Maui and Wailea.
Learn about the Culture:
Hawaiian culture is an important part of Maui’s history and identity. Take the time to learn about the culture, traditions, and history of the island, and respect the local customs.
Leave No Trace:
When exploring Maui’s natural beauty, make sure to leave no trace. Pack out any trash, and avoid disturbing the environment.
Be Prepared for the Weather:
Maui’s weather can be unpredictable, so it’s important to be prepared for any conditions. Bring a rain jacket, insect repellent, and comfortable shoes for hiking.
Due to its tropical climate, you can often see an afternoon sprinkle, even in the dry season. But don’t let this dampen your plans. It comes and goes, and sometimes you can even find a rainbow!
Take it Slow:
Maui is a place to slow down, relax, and enjoy the beauty around you. Take the time to savor the moment while visiting the island.
Oahu on the other hand is packed with cities and activities to keep you busy around the clock. Maui definitely is a more relaxed, go with the flow style.
Try Local Foods:
Maui has a unique culinary scene that’s worth exploring. Try local dishes like poke, spam musubi, and plate lunches to get a taste of the island’s culture.
While Maui is generally a safe place to visit, it’s always important to take precautions to ensure your safety. Be aware of your surroundings, don’t leave valuables unattended, and avoid swimming in areas with strong currents or waves.
When to visit Maui:
Maui is a popular tourist destination year-round, but the best time to visit is between April and May or September and November. During these months, the weather is warm and dry, and there are fewer crowds compared to peak tourist season.
Personally, I love visiting in October. The weather has always been perfect, lower crowds and good prices. Also, kids are back in school, so less families are traveling.
One thing that I find interesting is that the rainy season is also part of the holiday busy season. It rains, if even for a moment, nearly everyday in December, and yet the holiday season (Christmas and New Years) and peak prime for pricing and travelers.
Reason being – the weather is still better than the continental USA.
So, if you are considering escaping during the holiday season, just know, you need to book in advance and prices will match the demand.
June-August is peak season. This is the winter but the weather is amazing. You see little to no rain and everyone visits during this period when school is out.
Things to do in Maui
Arguably, there is something for everyone in Maui. Whether you want to explore the beaches, sit poolside, chase waterfalls, explore the island hiking, or get out and under the water, this island is magic.
If you’re planning a trip to Maui, here are some must-do activities to add to your Maui bucket list:
Drive the Road to Hana
The Road to Hana is one of the most scenic drives in the world, and it’s a must-do activity for anyone visiting Maui.
The road winds its way through lush rainforests, past waterfalls and streams, and along the rugged coastline. The journey takes you through small towns and past scenic lookout points, and you can stop along the way to hike to waterfalls or go for a swim in the ocean.
Full disclosure – it is a crazy drive. There is over 50+ one-way bridges, a large portion of the drive is through mountain switchbacks where the speed limit can often be 15 MPH and the drive takes a very long time. It took me over three hours one way.
All that being said – If you aren’t up for the drive, and I don’t blame you, take a tour and sit back and enjoy it!
Here are some of the best Road to Hana tours:
- Road to Hana Adventure with breakfast and lunch
- Small group Road to Hana tour
- Private all-inclusive Road to Hana tour
- Road to Hana waterfalls tour with lunch
If the drive just isn’t your thing but you still want to experience the magic, take a helicopter with a waterfall tour and landing. You can still enjoy the Road to Hana from above!
Watch the Sunrise from Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park is home to the world’s largest dormant volcano, and watching the sunrise from the summit of Haleakala is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
You’ll need to wake up early to make the drive up to the summit, but the view is worth it. The sky turns from shades of pink and orange to deep blue as the sun rises over the crater.
I highly recommend taking a tour because they will pick you up extremely in early in the morning from your hotel and drive up. You can sleep on the ride and then enjoy the sunrise. The tour will also bring you back. Bonus of taking a tour: you don’t have to find parking, you don’t have to drive, you just show up and enjoy the sunrise.
Snorkel at Molokini Crater
Molokini Crater is a partially submerged volcanic crater located off the coast of Maui.
The crystal-clear waters around the crater are home to a diverse array of marine life, making it one of the best places to go snorkeling on Maui. You can take a snorkeling tour to the crater, where you’ll see colorful fish, sea turtles, and even the occasional shark.
Tours to snorkel at Molokini:
- Afternoon snorkel at Molokini
- Molokini and Turtle Town snorkel with lunch
- Molokini snorkel and performance sail with lunch
- Molokini volcanic crater snorkel cruise
- Eco friendly Molokini and Turtle Town Snorkel
Lahaina is a historic town on the west coast of Maui, and it’s one of the island’s top tourist destinations.
The town is home to art galleries, boutique shops, and a variety of restaurants and bars. You can also learn about the town’s history at the Lahaina Historical Museum or take a sunset sail from the Lahaina Harbor.
Things to do in Lahaina:
- Catamaran sunset sail with appetizers
- e-bike rental
- Ku’ia Estates guided chocolate tasting
- Haunted walking tour
- Surfing lesson
- Private sunset sailing trip
- 2 hour whale watching cruise
Go Whale Watching
Maui is one of the best places in the world to go whale watching, and from December to May, humpback whales migrate to the warm waters around Maui to breed and give birth.
You can take a whale watching tour to see these majestic creatures up close, and you might even see them breaching or slapping their tails on the water.
Whale watching tours:
- Lahaina two hour whale watching cruise
- From Ma’alaea Harbor – whale watching tour
- Whale watch kayaking and snorkel tour from Kihei
- Eco friendly whale watching tour from Lahaina
- Catamaran whale cruise from Lahaina or Ma’alaea Harbor
- Lahaina humpback whale day tour
- Kaanapali whale watching cruise with open bar
Tip – make sure when you book your tour it is in the area you will be at. If you are in Hana and book a tour in Kaanapali, it will take a very long time to get there.
Take a Helicopter Tour
Maui’s natural beauty is best appreciated from the air, and a helicopter tour is the perfect way to see the island’s dramatic landscapes from a different perspective.
You’ll fly over the lush rainforests, volcanic craters, and stunning coastline, and you’ll see parts of the island that are inaccessible by car.
Best helicopter tours in Maui:
- Road to Hana helicopter and waterfall tour with landing
- Two island scenic tour – see both Maui and Molokai
- Circle island flight with Road to Hana
Go Surfing or Stand-Up Paddleboarding
Maui is a surfer’s paradise, and if you’ve ever wanted to learn how to surf or stand-up paddleboard, this is the place to do it.
There are plenty of surf schools and rental shops around the island, and the waves are perfect for beginners and experienced surfers alike.
Visit the beaches:
Maui is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, such as Kaanapali Beach, Napili Beach, and Wailea Beach.
Did you know Maui has a famous black sand beach? Plan to visit on your drive on the Road to Hana. The beach is called “Honokalani.”
Maui also has a red sand beach in Hana called “Kaihalulu” that should not be missed if you are in the area.
See a Luau:
A luau is a traditional Hawaiian feast that features music, dancing, and a cultural show. It’s a great way to experience the local culture and cuisine.
There are not many places that offer a luau on the island, so book in advance to guarantee you can experience one.
Where to stay in Maui:
There are many accommodation options on Maui, ranging from luxury resorts to budget-friendly hotels and vacation rentals. The most popular areas to stay on the island are Lahaina, Kaanapali, Kihei, and Wailea.
I have two personal favorite resorts that I LOVE. Grand Wailea and Four Seasons Maui.
While both properties are fantastic, I think Four Seasons Maui was the best and one of my favorite Four Seasons Hotels I have ever stayed in.
Four Seasons Maui
The Four Seasons Maui is a world-renowned luxury hotel located on the breathtaking island of Maui in Hawaii. The hotel is known for its outstanding service, world-class amenities, and stunning oceanfront location.
Here is a closer look at what the Four Seasons Maui has to offer:
The resort features 380 spacious guest rooms and suites, each with a private balcony or lanai that offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean or the resort’s lush gardens.
The rooms are elegantly designed and feature luxurious amenities such as marble bathrooms, plush bedding, and state-of-the-art technology.
The Four Seasons Maui offers an exceptional dining experience, with a variety of options to suit every taste.
DUO Steak and Seafood is the hotel’s signature restaurant, featuring premium cuts of meat and fresh seafood, while Ferraro’s Bar e Ristorante offers Italian cuisine with oceanfront views.
The Lobby Lounge is the perfect spot for a casual drink or light snack, while the Serenity Pool Bar offers refreshing cocktails and light bites by the pool.
My personal favorite restaurant on site is Spago! The restaurant offers a fusion of Hawaiian and California cuisine and should not be missed.
My personal favorite dish here is the Kaluga Caviar – it comes with standard accompaniments and taro hash browns. This dish is an 11/10.
The hotel offers a range of activities to suit every interest, including water sports such as paddleboarding and snorkeling, as well as cultural experiences like hula lessons and lei making.
The hotel also features three swimming pools, including an adult-only Serenity pool and a family-friendly pool with a waterslide.
Guests can also enjoy a round of golf at the nearby Wailea Golf Club, or relax and rejuvenate at the hotel’s award-winning spa.
The Four Seasons Maui is renowned for its exceptional service, with a team of dedicated staff that is committed to making every guest’s stay unforgettable.
The hotel offers a range of personalized services, including a 24-hour concierge, in-room dining, and a dedicated beach ambassador who can arrange everything from beach chairs to snorkeling gear.
The hotel is located in the exclusive Wailea resort area, which is known for its stunning beaches, world-class dining, and championship golf courses.
The hotel is just steps away from Wailea Beach, one of Maui’s most beautiful and secluded beaches, and is a longer drive from other popular attractions such as the Road to Hana and Haleakala National Park.
The Grand Wailea is a luxurious hotel located on the island of Maui in Hawaii. Situated on 40 acres of stunning beachfront property in the upscale Wailea resort area, the Grand Wailea is known for its exceptional service, world-class amenities, and breathtaking surroundings.
Here is a closer look at what the Grand Wailea has to offer:
The Grand Wailea features 780 guest rooms and suites, each designed with Hawaiian decor and featuring a private balcony or lanai.
The rooms are spacious and luxurious, with plush bedding, marble bathrooms, and state-of-the-art technology.
Guests can choose from a range of room types, from standard rooms to lavish suites with ocean views and private hot tubs.
The hotel offers a variety of dining options to suit every taste, from fine dining to casual fare.
Humuhumunukunukuapua’a is the hotel’s signature restaurant, featuring Pacific Rim cuisine and an open-air setting overlooking a lagoon filled with tropical fish.
Bistro Molokini offers casual Mediterranean-inspired fare, while Cafe Kula serves up gourmet coffee and light bites. The hotel also features a poolside bar and grill, as well as a sushi bar and a cigar bar.
The Grand Wailea offers an abundance of activities to keep guests entertained, from water sports such as snorkeling and paddleboarding to land-based activities like golf and tennis.
The hotel features a 2,000-foot-long lazy river, as well as nine swimming pools, including an adults-only pool and a kid-friendly pool with a water slide.
The hotel’s award-winning spa offers a range of treatments, including Hawaiian-inspired massages and body wraps.
The Grand Wailea is known for its exceptional service, with a team of dedicated staff that is committed to making every guest’s stay unforgettable. The hotel offers a range of personalized services, including a concierge, in-room dining, and a dedicated beach ambassador who can arrange everything from beach chairs to snorkeling gear.
Overall, the Grand Wailea is an exceptional hotel that offers the perfect combination of luxury, comfort, and natural beauty. Whether you’re looking to relax and unwind or to explore all that Maui has to offer, this hotel is the perfect choice for an unforgettable Hawaiian getaway.
Where to eat in Maui
Maui is known for its delicious food, and there are many outstanding restaurants to choose from.
I can’t stress enough, make reservations as soon as you can. Things can and do book up, some restaurants have wait times so far in the future.
Here are some of the best restaurants in Maui:
Mama’s Fish House:
Located in Paia, Mama’s Fish House is one of Maui’s most iconic restaurants, offering fresh seafood dishes in a beautiful beachfront setting.
It is painfully hard to get a reservation here. My suggestion is to book as far in advance as possible. If there is nothing available, set up notifications in the Open Table app to let you know when someone cancels.
Please know – there are a lot of people on this list getting these updates and you have to be lightening fast to get it.
Alternatively if you aren’t having any luck, keep checking the Open Table app as sometimes things just randomly become available day of.
Also – if you are an American Express Platinum card holder, you can call in and see if they can get you a table.
This award-winning restaurant in Lahaina features contemporary Hawaiian cuisine with a farm-to-table approach, using locally sourced ingredients to create delicious dishes.
With locations in Kapalua and Wailea, Merriman’s is a farm-to-table restaurant that emphasizes sustainability and uses locally sourced ingredients to create innovative dishes.
Chef Roy Yamaguchi’s signature Hawaiian fusion cuisine can be enjoyed at several locations on Maui, including Kaanapali and Kihei. The restaurant features fresh seafood, local produce, and a creative cocktail menu.
Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop:
This casual eatery in Lahaina is famous for its homemade pies and sandwiches made with locally sourced ingredients. The pies are a must-try, with flavors ranging from macadamia nut chocolate to coconut cream.
This lively restaurant in Wailea serves up a menu of contemporary American cuisine with a Hawaiian twist, along with craft beers and creative cocktails. The wood-fired pizzas are particularly popular.
The Mill House:
This farm-to-table restaurant in Waikapu features a menu of seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, along with stunning views of the Maui Tropical Plantation.
Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar:
With locations in Kapalua and Kihei, Sansei is known for its creative sushi rolls and fresh seafood dishes. The restaurant also offers a daily happy hour and live music.
Koiso Sushi Bar:
This small, unassuming sushi bar in Kihei is a hidden gem, serving some of the freshest and most delicious sushi on the island. Reservations are a must.
This casual eatery in Kula is known for its delicious homemade pies, sandwiches, and pizzas made with local ingredients. The outdoor seating area offers beautiful views of the surrounding countryside.
These are just a few of the many outstanding restaurants in Maui. Whether you’re looking for fine dining, casual eats, or delicious seafood, you’re sure to find something to suit your taste buds in Maui.
Maui packing list
Here are some items you may want to include on your Maui packing list:
Swimsuit and cover-up:
Maui is known for its beautiful beaches, so be sure to pack at least one swimsuit and a cover-up or sarong.
With so much sun and outdoor activities, sunscreen is a must-have. Bring a high SPF and reapply throughout the day.
Again, I highly recommend a reef safe sunscreen for when you are in the ocean to help protect marine life and coral.
When I am not planning to get in the ocean, I use this high SPF and reapply every 60-90 minutes depending on how much I am in the sun. I always have this sunscreen on my face.
Hat and sunglasses:
Protect your face and eyes from the sun. Maui is a beach destination, and the sun is strong.
Light, comfortable clothing:
Maui’s climate is warm and tropical, so pack light and comfortable clothing such as shorts, sundresses, and tank tops.
Hiking shoes or sneakers:
If you plan to do any hiking, bring comfortable shoes or sneakers with good traction.
Water shoes or sandals:
The beaches in Maui can have rocky or uneven terrain, so water shoes or sandals can be helpful.
I always travel with these water shoes! They are cheap, durable and I have been using them for years! Pro tip – leave them on your balcony to dry so they don’t stay wet and stink.
Reusable water bottle:
Stay hydrated by bringing a reusable water bottle. I always have one on me when I travel and pro tip – you can usually fill them up for free in hotel gyms!
Some areas of Maui can have mosquitoes or other bugs, so bring insect repellent to protect yourself.
Maui is known for its natural beauty, so bring a camera or smartphone to capture memories.
My personal favorites: for underwater and above water.
This is also my favorite drone!
If you are checking luggage, please put an air tag in your luggage so you can track it!
Lightweight backpack or tote bag:
A lightweight backpack or tote bag can be useful for carrying sunscreen, water, snacks, and other essentials while exploring the island.
Remember to pack appropriately for the activities you have planned and consider the time of year you’ll be visiting as weather can vary.
Don’t forget your travel documents, including your passport or ID, and any necessary medications.
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