Maui in a Nutshell

There is a saying here, ‘Maui No Ka Oi’ which means Maui is number one and I couldn’t agree more.  Known as the valley isle, Maui is the second largest Hawaiian Island.  With over 120 miles of coastline finding your own secluded world class beach won’t be a problem.

Maui is full of adventure on and off land.  Hike through a dormant volcano or test your driving skills as you plunge the road to Hana.  Prefer to set sail on your adventures?!?!  Take a snorkel tour to the neighboring island of Lana’i or try your luck at surfing.

Maui is adventure, luxury and relaxation all wrapped into one.  Make sure you allot some time to let yourself get pampered in paradise and to work on your tan.  I mean did you even vactation on Maui if you didn’t get a tan?

Lastly, uncovering Maui’s culture will only amplify her beauty.  Wear a helmet as you’ll begin to fall head over heels like I did.

Maui Facts

Population | 144,444

Language | Hawaiian | English | Pidgin

Currency | US dollar

Capital | Honolulu

Destinations in Maui

Know Before you Go

I moved to Maui about 10 years ago and have lived all over the island but I’ve spent most of my time in Lahaina.  I’ve had over a decade of beach bumming, mai tai tasting, trail blazing and waterfall chasing to be a expert in all the awesome and fun things to do on Maui.  Trust me adventure is on the horizon.

How big is Maui?  Maui is bigger than you expect.  Although it is possible to drive around the island in one day there’s so many places to visit in Maui and to see and do that a week won’t be enough.  If possible move around the island and stay multiple places so you get the real feel of this magical paradise.

Maui Travel Tips

Maui Travel Guide

Best Time to Visit Maui

When to go to Maui will depend on what you want to do and your budget.

December 15 to May 15 is official whale season with February & March being the most active months.

The busiest time in the islands is during the holidays, Christmas and New Years.

Winter brings heavier rains and bigger surf.

Summer time flights are cheaper and temperatures are hotter by 10 degrees especially in Lahaina.

FOR A DETAILED POST READ: 

The Best Time to Visit Maui

Incredible Places that Exist in Maui

HIGHLIGHTS

How long to visit Maui?

Maui Travel Guide

I would recommend visiting Maui for at least 10 days.  There is so much to do and explore on Maui that you still won’t be able to see and do everything that you want to.  10 days gives you enough time to go all around the island as each area has its own unique style. 

🤳 useful apps while traveling maui

GOOGLE MAPS: How did we ever survive without it.  Very helpful when you’re trying to navigate public transportation.

GYPSY GUIDE: This app is useful when driving the road to Hana or just reference my blog post.

UBER& LYFT: Yes we have that here.

DUOLINGO – Offers the Hawaiian Language.

MAUI WATCH – Useful for traffic updates.  A must have fon this Maui visitor guide

TIDE ALERT – Tells you when its high and low tide.

808 PICKUPS: Get food delivered straight to your door from all the hottest restaurants.  We also have Door Dash.

Average daily budget

Maui Travel Guide

Maui visitor guide budget- $200 and up depending on how frugal you are.  Thankfully there are a lot of activities that are free in Hawaii like sunsets and beaches but Hawaii is expensive there is no way around it.  And let’s be real, you don’t visit the Hawaiian Islands to skimp, you come to paradise to pamper yourself in luxury.  Still, it is possible to travel Maui on a budget.  Check out the budget Maui travel guides below.

🏖 

 

ACCOMMODATION

  • Hostel | $40 dollars and up.
  • Mid Range hotel | $140 and up.
  • Luxury | $300 and up.  There is a lot of luxury in Hawaii!

🥥 

 

FOOD

  • Happy Hours are how locals live $3-12 for drinks and pupus
  • Spam musabi | $2
  • Gallon of milk | $8
  • Gas | $5 per gallon

🚁 

 

TRANSPORTATION

  • Basic rental car | $45 per day
  • Flights between islands | $70
  • Bus fare | $2 one way
  • Helicopter Ride | Starts at $350

🏄‍♀️ 

 

ACTIVITIES

  • Whale watch | $60
  • Helicopter ride | $250-500
  • Private surf lesson | $120 & up
  • Parasailing | $90

Getting to Maui

There are several direct flights flying from the West coast of the United States including Las Angeles, San Fransisco, Seattle and Portland.  There are even direct flights from Dallas, Texas.  

If you’re not flying direct to Maui you’ll more than likely be connecting through Honolulu in Oahu which is only a 20 minute flight so its not that bad.  Usually if you’re looking for a cheaper flight to Maui you’ll connect through HNL.

Main airport codes for the Hawaiian Islands 

Oahu – Honolulu – HNL

The Big Island – Kona – KOA

Maui – Kahului – OGG

Kauai – Lihue – LIH

✈️  Flights to Maui

In order to travel as much as I can I usually try to book the cheapest flight.  There are a handful of websites that I search in order to find the cheapest ticket to Maui.  My go to site is Skyscanner.

I love Skyscanner for so many reasons.  If you’re flexible about the dates you travel and/or where your departure city is, this site makes it easy to search a broad area of time and space to find you best and cheapest flights.

Another site I frequent is Kayak.  Similar to Skyscanner, you can have a broad time frame, input your search and the search options will pop up all the flights for that time frame and show you the cheapest route, quickest route etc.  

Southwest Airlines recently started flying to the Hawaiian Islands and inner island.  You can usually find pretty good weekly deals (Tuesday-Thursday).

The only way to island hop between the Hawaiian Islands is to fly, unless you’re taking the ferry which runs from Maui to Lana’i daily.

Transportation around Maui

Maui is one of the few places that I’d recommend renting a car because there are so many beautiful places to explore that you can’t get to by public transportation.  And the public transportation system is limiting.

Rental Cars

Rental cars are your best option when exploring the islands.  One of the best things to do is explore the island by driving around.  You’ll want your own wheels to pull over and snap photos and to be on your own schedule.

By Bus

There are “city” buses that connect you to the major part of the islands.  This is the cheapest option but not the most time effective.  

I wouldn’t travel Maui without my own wheels or traveling with someone who has them.  The best parts of Maui are only accessed by having your own vehicle.

What to pack for Maui

Maui Travel Guide

Packing for Hawaii is essential, you’ll want to make sure you have key items like a sun hat, swim suits for every occasion, and sunglasses are always a must on any packing list.  I’ve been rocking the Oakley’s Holbrook for some time now.  They’re sporting yet can go with a hat, the perfect combo for traveling.  

If you plan on kicking it pool side for a couple days the perfect cover up and one piece is necessary.  If hiking is on the itinerary then a day pack with these key essentials.

Exploring the island will take you through different climates.  I’m always thankful for a rain jacket and warm socks on every hike and Hawaii is no exception.  

Electronics/Camera Gear

Where to stay in Maui

Maui Travel Guide

If you’re traveling all the way to Maui splurging on a resort is apart of the allure.  An average night in a resort/hotel is $300 a night.  To enjoy all of Maui and experience all of her wonders hop around the island and stay multiple places.  Maui travel housing guides to help you out. 

⭐️ Worth the Splurge: Travaasa Hana, HI

Top things to do in Maui

Maui Travel Guide

Watch sunrise atop Haleakala 🌅

Haleakala is the volcano on Maui and one of the best ways to experience it is by watching the sunrise atop of it.  At the summit of 10,023 feet you are above the clouds.  As day approaches the sun will peak from below the clouds.  Breathtaking.

In order to watch sunrise you must make a reservation ahead of time.  They let a certain amount of people in everyday for sunrise.  Spots fill up quickly and sometimes months in advance so planning ahead and it only costs $1 to reserve your spot.  You can make a reservation here.

If you’d rather add some adventure to this experience opt for a sunrise bike tour.  You’re taken to the summit of Haleakala to watch sunrise.  You then get to coast 26 miles down the volcano to the town of Paia. 

Drive the road to Hana 🚗

The road to Hana is 52 miles of winding road, hairpin turns and one lane bridges.  The drive takes you past countless waterfalls, sea scape views and lush rainforest.  Having your own vehicle will allow you to stop as frequently as you want and you’ll want to stop often.  

Driving the road to Hana is often the highlight of someone’s Maui vacation.  This also makes this a popular activity.  I’d recommend doing this activity on your own without a tour. Download the GyPSy Guide app and listen as it points out all the best stops along the way.  Your own personal Maui travel guide.

An alternative to this is Driving Around West Maui.

Explore exotic beaches 👙

A trip to Maui is never complete until you get to enjoy the world class beaches.  The beaches of Maui are pristine, elegant, and exotic.  You can’t get more exotic than Kaihalulu Beach, commonly known as Red Sand Beach.  Getting to the beach is half the adventure as you have to ‘scale’ a cliff to get there. 

Another stunning beach in the same area is Honokalani Beach.  A.k.a. the black sand beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park.  You can read all about these beaches and other adventures with these guides.

Go on a whale watch 🐳

One of the best tours on Maui most magical experiences you can have is to witness the humpback whales in action.  If this is a MUST experience for your Maui vacation then plan your visit for January to March, peak whale season.

Every year the humpback whales migrate from the icy waters of Alaska to the warm Hawaiian waters to give birth and teach their young.  A great way to experience the whales breaching is on a whale watch tour.  Learn all about the humpback whales and what these majestic animals ‘flop’ around. 

Learn to surf 🏄

Learning to surf is a great way to spend a few days of your time on Maui.  There are several beginner spots around the island that you can learn at.  It is a good idea to take a surf lesson before you attempt to surf on your own.  The instructor will give you valuable pointers about when to go, the lineup and who’s next, how to stand up etc.  An epic 2 hour lesson and you’ll be free to hone your skills.

Hike through a dormant volcano

For the ultimate caloric burn and exploration of the crater connect Sliding Sands Trail with Halemauu Trail towards Holua.  This will lead you out of the crater through a series of rocky, misty switchbacks.  You’ll need 2 cars to connect the trails.  The best way is to park at the “Hikers Parking Area” and hitch hike to the top to start Sliding Sands Trail.  This is common and there’s even a designated hitch hikers area.  Pina colada’s are well earned after conquering this hike!

Witness the beauty of Waimoku Falls

Waimoku Falls is a 400 foot waterfall that can be reached by hiking the Pipiwai Trail in the Kipahulu District inside Haleakala National Park.  The beautiful trail takes you past photogenic banyan trees, several waterfall loutlooks and  through a whispering bamboo forest. 

If you think the hike couldn’t get any better after 2 miles you’ll see the impressive falls.  Enjoy a snack on the rocks nearby as you take in the beauty of nature.

Set sail on the ocean ⛵️

Maui is an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  Therefore if you don’t spend time on the water, you’re missing out.  Personally I think the best way to do this is  to go on a snorkel tour.  Any day spent out on the water is a win in my book.

A FEW OF THE BEST TOURS ↓

Spend a day upcountry

Upcountry on Maui is referred to the agricultural land and ‘country’ towns on the slopes of Haleakala.  There’s lots of different ways to explore this area of the island.  If you enjoy distilleries take yourself on a DIY booze cruise. 

Sample island made spirits at the Ocean or Pau Distillery.  Then finish cleanse your pallet with goat cheese at the surfing goat dairy farm.  Ready for dessert?  Finish off the tour sampling pineapple wine at Maui’’s only winery.  Witness Maui’s beauty beyond the coastline.

⭐️ Must Experience: If you’re an early riser…even if you’re not, you must witness Halaeakala at sunrise.

Off-the-beaten path Maui

Maui Travel Guide

Drive the backside home from Hana

I was reluctant to include this because the rental company says “driving here voids rental contract” but driving the backside of Haleakala is one of my favorite drives on Maui.  The road is mostly paved and visible so driving it is not a problem just look at the fine print before attempting this adventure. 

You’ll pass by lots of farm life and a beautiful church on the hillside over looking the ocean.  You MUST stop at the local bee farm and sample local flavored honey.  I use the lavender honey in my coffee every morning. 

Island hop to Lanai 🐬

Lana’i is the island you can see when you are in cruising Lahaina town.  You can take a tour where you spend the morning snorkeling around at Manele Bay.

But I’d recommend day tripping to Lana’i on your own.  There is a ferry service that runs 5 times a day.  There are many things to do that are easily accessible after you’ve docked.  

Head straight to a cat sanctuary and spend hours petting the saved cats!  Head on back to Manele Bay where you can swim in the ocean and hike the short trail to Sweetheart Rock.  Finish with a boujee lunch at the Four Seasons before you head back to Lahaina.  

Food in Maui

Maui Must try foods

You can’t have a Maui travel guide and not talk about Maui food.  Hawaii has its own unique and traditional cuisine.  

Many traditional Hawaiian foods are originally brought over from the Polynesian islands, so there’s always a little flare mixed in with the local dishes.

These are a few local Hawaiian dishes that you can’t leave Maui without trying.

Ahi Poke

A traditional ahi tuna consist of a melody of fresh yellow fin ahi tuna caught from the Hawaiian Islands that’s seasoned and tossed with sesame oil, shoyu (what everybody here calls soy sauce), yellow onion, green onion, ginger and garlic. 

Every place has a different play and style based on the original dish.  I hope you enjoy raw fish because this dish will be on every menu and you’ll want to try them all!

Poi

I couldn’t list a must eat for Hawaii foods list without mentioning Poi.  Taro root (similar to a yam or potato) is a traditional staple in Hawaiian cuisine.   

Poi is a thick paste made from taro root that is either steamed or baked and pounded. You add water while pounding the taro and a sticky pudding like creation is made.

Poi has unique starchy, sour flavors from the fermentation process that may be an acquired taste.  I personally love it.  

Laulau

Loaloa is a traditional Hawaiian dish that consists of pork wrapped in taro leaves.  This dish usually has pork (with pork fat), wrapped in lua leaf, steamed to perfect served with rice and a scoop of mac salad.

You can find this at any local plate lunch spot like Eating local in Lahaina.

Spam Musubi

 These little guys are my absolute favorite.  Spam, a brush of furikake, rice wrapped in nori.  BOOM!  So basic but so absolutely delicious.  

You can find these at any gas station, general store or grocery store.  We like to call spam musubi’s the Hawaiian powerbar.  I’m not the best ‘eater’ when I’m busy and on the go, I devoir at least 3 spam musubi’s a week!

Lomi Lomi Salmon

The lomi lomi salmon is a classic Hawaiian side dish.  It consists of salted sashimi style salmon, tomatoes, white onions and green onions all chopped up in bite size pieces and mixed together.

Similar to ahi poke this dish is served chilled.  You will find this staple at a typical Hawaiian meal or luau.  Since it is a side dish, it’s best eaten with other traditional dishes like kalua pig or lau lau.  Don’t forget a splash of chili pepper water on top for the perfect meal.

Opakapaka

Opakapaka is a Hawaiian Pink Snapper that is native to the Hawaiian Islands.  So you can’t come to Maui without trying this fish. 

Opakapaka has a clear, light pink flesh that has a delicate flavor and firm texture.  It’s the best table snapper that you can get when your eating out in a restaurant.

This fish is prepared multiple different ways including baking, poaching, sautéing and steaming, often with the head on.  Opakapaka is also used to make sashimi and fish head soup.

Hawaiian Shave Ice

Hawaiian Shave Ice is a dessert made from a block of ice that gets shaved off into something that resembles snow.  It is then topped with a sweet condensed syrup.  There are several flavors to choose from, including lilikoi, guava and mango. 

If you didn’t think this dessert could get any better you comes with a scoop of ice cream in the bottom.  You must get the haupia flavored ice cream.  Haupia means coconut and its the hands down the BEST ice cream around.

Safety in Maui

Safety is an important factor in planning any trip.  Here are Maui travel guide safety tips.  Hawaii has always felt very safe to me.  I’ve never had a sketchy moment and I’ve lived here for almost 10 years.  There are a few things I’d be aware of though.

  • Don’t be suprised to see homeless people especially when you walk around at night.
  •  It’s not uncommon to be offered to buy pakalolo (weed) when you’re walking down the street.
  • Travel insurance is very important.  There is nothing worse than being caught in a situation where you’re not insured.  Protect yourself!  This is your best investment.

Maui travel guide tips

  • Happy hours are a fun and easy way to keep expenses down.
  •  Renting a car is always a good idea.  Driving around the islands and and being able to stop whenever is a must on the road to Hana.
  • Support local business as much as you can.  The world took a hit recently so every thing helps and pays back ten fold.
  • Stay on the trail and respect the aina (land).   Don’t wonder or hop fences where it is posted to private property.  Kapu means keep out.  
  • The ocean is powerful.  Abide the surf warnings.
  • Only wear reef safe sunscreen in the water.  It protects the reef and is required by law.
  • Read 10 Maui Insider Tips before you go.

Maui travel articles

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