Maui: an itinerary

If you follow me on Instagram you know that I went to Maui for my birthday. While, it might not have been the smartest idea due to COVID-19 (I followed most of the steps I laid out here), I am glad I took that break as it helped me recuperate from 2020.

So here is my research of things to do, places to see, things to eat.

*Note: Things I researched but didn’t end up doing are denoted with a `` (asterisk)**

General advice

  • Make reservations for all activities and restaurants far in advance due to COVID capacity restrictions
  • Get the Shaka Guide to give you an audio tour as you are driving around. It uses your phone’s GPS to tell you about the spots you are driving past.
  • Keep your schedule flexible to allow you to stop along the way at the various view points and beaches!

Accommodation

I ended up staying at the Sheraton Maui in Ka’anapali. While the hotel was beautiful, I wouldn’t recommend it for the simple reasons of location. Ka’anapali is on the western end of the island, which means I had an hour long commute if I ever had to travel east (which I did nearly everyday). Instead, I would recommend staying somewhere in Kihei or Wailea which has a lot more to do and is more accessible for the more touristy activities you would want to do.

Activities

Water

  • Planned Snorkeling: I went snorkeling off Molokini crater with Maui Snorkel Charters and I can’t recommend them enough! They had retrofitted their boat with dividers to create space between the different parties that had booked their service and were very well informed about the different types of fishes we saw. We also got a chance to see whales and dolphins as we were commuting between different spots.
  • Beach snorkeling: Grab a snorkel and head to your nearest beach to snorkel! I would recommend Ka’anapali and Baby Beaches for snorkeling as the water was relatively calm.
  • Stand up paddle boarding*: While I had booked this activity, it was cancelled due to bad weather. However, it is an activity that I have wanted to do for a while.
  • Kayaking*: I didn’t kayak as I had done that multiple times before and would be covering similar ground if I went stand up paddle boarding, however, I do regret not doing it now. I would specifically recommend trying out an outrigger canoe!
  • Hang out by your hotel pool.
  • Paddle around in a waterfall on the Road to Hana (see below).

  • Anti recommendations:
    • A separate whale watching tour: There is a good chance you will spot whales (given the season) on your snorkel tour, so need to book this separately!

Land

  • Hiking: Yes I voluntarily went on not one, but two hikes in Maui! I would recommend trying the following:
    • Iao Valley Secret trail. It was raining the day I did this hike, which made it slightly more challenging, otherwise this is a short 2.5 mile hike that shows you the beauty of the Iao Tableland. On your way back make sure to take a dip and cool off in the river.
    • Pipiwai trail*: This trail sounded wonderful as it covered waterfalls and banyan trees and looked relatively moderate in the strength required!
    • Sliding Sands trail: This is a LONG uncovered hike, so I would recommend starting early and wearing light layers as it might be cold when you start and it will get quite hot on your way back up
  • Road to Hana
    • Ho’okipa beach park: There is potential to see Hawaiian sea turtles on the beach here.
    • Garden of Eden Arboretum: Jurassic Park was shot here! Also the sheer variety of different plants up for offer make it worth the stop!
    • Secret Lagoon off Hana Highway: A great place to swim in the waterfall since the walk up to the waterfall is relatively short.
    • Keanea Peninsula: make a detour to this stunning peninsula for some incredible photo opps and the best banana bread on the island – Aunty Sandys!
    • Upper Waikani falls*
    • Coconut Glen’s Vegan Coconut ice Cream*): I didn’t stop here as I was tired of all the sweet things I had consumed by then!
    • Wai’anapanapa state park: The black sand beach (Honokalani beach) here was beautiful!
    • Hana town: Super cute town to explore. If you are here for lunch check out Pranee Thai! Also a good chance to refuel (your car and you!)!
    • Wailua Falls*
    • Hamoa Beach: A black sand beach, and a great place to watch surfers!
    • Seven sacred pools / pools at Ohe’o*: I didn’t visit this as it was closed!
  • Banyan tree in Lahaina*: This is apparently the oldest banyan tree in the US and looks beautiful in pictures, I just had a lapse in judgement and didn’t visit it even though I was in the area multiple times!
  • Ziplining*: Rain forests and ziplines seem to belong together, so why not? If you are an adventure head I think, Maui and the views it has to offer make it the best candidate for ziplining!
  • Luau*: This is the one thing I am sad to have missed out on! A luau is a large part of Hawaiian culture and I am sad to not have experienced this. However, in my research the following two places are the ones to go to if you want to experience a luau in the most authentic way:
    • Old Lahaina Luau
    • Feast at Lele: I was most excited about this as it not only incoporates Hawaiian culture but that of the wider Polynesia as well!
  • Watch the sunrise/sunset at Haleakala National Park Summit. Note that tickets need to be booked 7 days in advance to watch the sunrise. Please note that it is really cold at the summit viewing point so where plenty of layers. I felt incredibly cold in my Puffer jacket! While you’re there why not do a hike as well?

Air

  • Helicopter tour*: I love the idea of seeing something by air, and Maui is definitely a great candidate for a helicopter tour. However, I didn’t do this due to the expense involved. I do hope to do so next time!

Food

  • Vegetarian:
    • Moku Roots: It’s a zero waste vegan restaurant! I would recommend their tacos!
    • Veg Out*: Voted consistently one of the best vegetarian restaurants in Maui!
  • Dessert:
    • Ululanis Hawaiian Shave Ice: The finest milled shave ice, I have ever had! A must try!
    • Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop*: A great place to get pies (both savoury and sweet)! I did try to visit this place, however, it was closed. 🙁
    • Maui Pineapple Store* While I had the pleasure to have all the great fruit and especially pineapple that Maui has to offer, I didn’t buy any to bring back as my luggage was already overweight. Don’t worry you can get the infamous Maui Gold pineapple shipped to you though!
    • Sugar beach bake shop* A local bakery owned by Ululanis Hawaiian Shave Ice, you can try all sorts of Hawaiian deserts here such as malasadas (stuffed doughnuts)!
  • Hawaiian:
    • Wow wow Hawaiian Lemonade* Fresh lemonade! Given the heat I was excited to get some lemonade, however they were out when I visited during lunch time. So visit early!
    • Paia bowls While the acai was good, it was not at all comparable to the fresh acai I had in Brazil, since it was made with frozen acai berries. While, it is a good stop on the way to Road to Hana, I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to get this.
    • Aunty Sandy’s Banana bread: A famous place to get banana bread! I froze mine to bring it home! And just had some, it’s delicious and has a tender crumb – I would definitely recommend trying it!
    • Hana Farms A great place to stop for lunch! It has something for everyone! Vegetarians, carnivores! I would recommend getting their Taco plate (their turmeric rice was VERY good) and trying their banana bread! It looked incredibly good with different flavours of banana bread, which Aunty Sandy’s didnt’!
      Thai food:
    • Thai Chef Restaurant: This place was close to my hotel and I was missing thai food, so I am glad I visited! It was above average thai food, but a great place to visit for some warm food.
    • Tiki Tiki Thai Cuisine: I loved it here, the tables had shields between them and they had… drumroll … Khao Soi! I would definitely recommend this!
    • Thai Food By Pranee Hana*
    • Ae’s thai kitchen (food truck)*
      Seafood:
    • Mama’s Fish House*: The menu here changes daily based on what the fishermen catch! So I would definitely make a reservation in advance!
    • Nuka*: I tried to visit this place, because I have heard great things about their sushi! However, they too were closed when I was in the area.
    • Ono Tacos Lahaina Maui*: Fish tacos! Fish tacos!
    • South Maui Fish Co. food truck This place has great poke, however, I would recommend going to a grocery store instead due to the price and the LONG line!
  • Fine dining:
  • Grocery stores to visit:

    • Komoda Store and Bakery*: A great visit for dessert lovers, I am sorry to have missed this due to lack of planning on my part! You can also try Malasadas here!
    • Foodland: I would recommend getting yourself some cheap yet delicious poke here! Also grab some of their adorable tote bags and Maika’i branded items. I bought so many snacks and have only opened a few so far. I would definitely highly recommend the Milk chocolate covered marshmallow Honus (turtles)!
  • Anti recommendations:
    • Fabiani’s Bakery: Wouldn’t recommend this, I got their red velvet cake which is supposed to be amazing. However, I was disappointed.
    • Lineage Maui: I was excited to go to a Top Chef owned restaurant, however since the Executive Chef has changed the menu has as well. The place doesn’t serve Hawaiian food now and has instead transitioned to an Asian menu.

Drinks

  • Olowalu Juice Stand: A fresh juice stand on your way out from Lahaina – I would recommend trying both the fresh pineapple juice and their coconut water. You can also buy fresh fruit from here.
  • Maui Brewing Company: The beer here is brewed locally and they have great snacks as well! I would recommend the Coconut Hiwa and the Pineapple Mana!
  • Maui Wine: Where else can you get pineapple wine!? Nowhere! (I am sure you can!) I would definitely recommend making the trip over to try the flight of their pineapple wines!

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