Maui – just the word is enough to relax me. The warm tropical air, the swaying palm trees, the beautiful scenery, the blue soothing ocean and ‘island time’. After 15 years I finally made it back to Maui, and I’d love to share some of my experiences and also provide suggestions for things to do if you’re lucky enough to go there (plus it gives me a chance to re-live my trip). First and foremost, if you go to Maui make sure you give yourself time just to relax. Don’t be so intent on trying to do every activity that you don’t give yourself time for what Maui’s best known, getting away from it all and just relaxing. Set aside a few days with no particular plans, hang out at the beach and soak in the sun, take long walks and enjoy the beautiful sunsets. With that said, here’s Good Dinner Mom’s top ten things to do in Maui.
Top Ten Maui Activities from our Trip – in no particular order except #1
#1 – Go to a luau, just something you have to do once in your life. During my previous two trips to Maui my husband and I had no particular desire to go to a luau, but it was the first thing my son mentioned once he found out we were going. I’m glad he did because it was one of the highlights of our trip. Amazing food, a beautiful setting and a great show. If you go make sure it’s a good one. They can be a little pricey, but for all you get we thought it was well worth it. We stayed in Wailea and went to the Te Au Moana luau at the Wailea Marriot, which is the luau to attend if you’re on the southwest end of the island. The most famous and popular is the Old Lahaina luau, if you want go to this one you need to get your tickets several weeks in advance. Another is the Feast at Le-Le. You can find others online.
#2 – Get in plenty of beach and water time. Swim, snorkel, body surf, boogie board, paddle board, take surf lessons and relax on the beach. The water is clear and warm, and there’s nothing quite like the feeling of ocean water on your skin. If you’re into snorkeling there are lots of good spots, and most snorkel and dive shops will give you maps and helpful advice. We rented our snorkel gear from Snorkel Bob’s, they had great staff and gear. A few others are Maui Dive Shop and Boss Frog’s. Molikini is a great snorkel or snuba adventure also, you can find lots of charters online. Some even go to the other nearby islands.
#3 – Hike Iao Valley State Park and see the Iao Needle. The hike is easy and the valley is lush and green. Make sure to stop by the international garden park on the way there. The Tropical Plantation is a good place to stop on the way to or from Iao Valley.
#4 – Visit the Maui Ocean Center. A nice aquarium and lots of tropical fish.
#5 – Make sure to see Lahaina and visit Front Street. Lahaina is an old whaling town with lots of character, and seems like the place to go for nightlife if that’s your thing. While you’re there make sure to see Lahaina’s Banyan Tree, this 137 years old monster spreads across almost 1 acre.
#6 – Enjoy some famous fresh fish tacos at Coconuts Fish Cafe. Everything but the ketchup and fries is made fresh and is ta-a-sty and filling! We liked it so much we ended up eating there three times.
#7 – If you like Shaved Ice make sure to stop at Ululani’s. The syrup is made from fresh fruit, and if you want more added just let them know. Make sure to get the coconut ice cream on the bottom and snow cap topper. We were going to try some of the others but once we stopped here we were hooked.
#8 – Drive to the end of South Kihei road and see the old lava fields. On the way back stop at Makena’s Big Beach. Big Beach is BIG and a great place to hang with the locals for some boogie boarding and skim boarding. Depending on the season you can see some big waves too, so loud you can hear them from the parking lot.
#9 – Go ziplining. There are two locations on Maui and we went to the zipline on Haleakala. It was fun and the last line was a blast, but beware it’s very expensive for what you get – even by Maui standards.
Some other suggestions and pointers for your Maui adventure:
- See the sunrise at Haleakala. This would be a good activity the first few days of your trip while your body’s still on mainland time.
- Drive the Hana Highway. The drive is beautiful and I hear Hana is amazing (only made it half-way there on my one attempt), but be prepared – it seems like the only time the road straightens is for the one-way bridges.
- See the Bamboo Forest on the Hana Highway between Mile Marker 6 and 7, and the Painted Bark Eucalyptus Trees near Mile Marker 7.
- Take in the Astronomy Tour of the Stars at the Hyatt Regency in Kaanapali.
- Watch sunset cliff diving by the Sheraton at Kaanapali.
- Go online and find some good hikes.
- Guys – buy yourself a nice Hawaiian shirt! You can get a good one at a decent price, but make sure it’s one made on the islands.
- If you get a tiki carving make sure it’s made by a local, not made in China. There are a few good shops in Lahaina.
- If you’re a golfer set aside some time to hit the links at one of Maui’s beautiful courses.
- Book your activities online for the best value.
- Condos with kitchens are nice for fixing your own meal once in a while. You can find lots online, we loved our condo at Wailea Ekahi Village.
- If possible, try to get a flight that arrives in the afternoon instead of late at night so your body’s not telling you it’s 2:00 AM when you’re landing.
- Don’t let the rental car company talk you into additional, unnecessary insurance. Most credit cards cover rental cars but it’s probably good to check before you get there. Also don’t get the pre-paid gas unless you’re sure you’ll return the car running on fumes. You probably don’t need a GPS either since there are so few roads on the island.
- Driving in Maui is for the most part non-stressful. Don’t ruin it for everyone else by driving like you’re on your daily commute. Also, don’t honk! It ruins the Aloha spirit. The locals don’t do it and neither should you.
There you have it, my wonderful trip to Maui. Hope this helps if you’re planning to go, or inspires you if you haven’t been. I’ll leave you with the famous quote from Mark Twain that says it all: “I went to Maui to stay a week and remained five. I never spent so pleasant a month before, or bade any place goodbye so regretfully. I have not once thought of business, or care or human toil or trouble or sorrow or weariness, and the memory of it will remain with me always.”