When you tell anyone that you are heading to Hawaii, everyone that you talk to says “Go to Maui!” so go to Maui we did…
Can I be honest with you? Hawaii has never been on my must-see list – mostly because Hawaii is SO far (envious of you west coast folks who can just hop on a plane!) I mean it took a solid 14 hour day for us to get to Maui, and that was just ONE layover. But I will tell you, my trip changed my mind. Maui is year-round beautiful, feels super safe, and is nowhere near as expensive as everyone said it would be! The vibe and the people really make it too – the locals are friendly, the poke is fresh, and you are literally surrounded by beauty everywhere. For Maui being such a small island, there was just so much to see.
I want to give you some good ideas of what to do in Maui, what to skip, and affordable finds along the way!
Absolute Must Do’s
Eat the Local Fare. I never had a bad meal in Hawaii – did you know that the island is capable of growing EVERYTHING? Local poke was my favorite (and guess where the best place to get it was? the FOODLAND grocery store. $9.99 a pound. WOw it was phenomenal) But local things are cheaper than everything else; so indulge in the local poke (p.s. shellfish isn’t local if you see it on the menu!), fresh fruits/vegetables and local brews! Skip the expensive stuff that is imported (mushrooms, milk, cranberry juice are crazy expensive!). Here are our favorite places to eat:
Foodland Great for poke and grabbing beer for the beach
Lahaina Fish Company Great for dinner and the view is fantastic! Ask for a seat on the water.
Paia Fish Market Always fresh – just get the catch of the day! Good for lunch,
Down the Hatch (the breakfast was great, and so was happy hour!)
Monkeypod Kitchen in Ka’anapali has a great happy hour! Plus, if you spend the day at Black Rock, you can head there when you’re done – its right next to it!
The Road to Hana – by far my favorite part of the trip. It was the best 10 hour in a tour van that I have ever experienced. More on that in a future post…But we booked a tour company for this so someone else drove! But, if you do it on your own – here’s a great resource to plan your trip: http://www.mauiexplored.com/road_to_hana_guide.html
Whale Watch Cruise on a Small Boat (NOT a large charter). if you head to Hawaii late January to early March you will 100% see whales. Tons of them. This kind of once in a lifetime experience is best seen from a small boat – they can quickly maneuver to search for them or follow them. You will not get the same experience on a large boat with 150 people!! Here is the one we did and I can’t recommend it enough!
Explore. We stayed in Lahaina (hands down the best place to stay in Maui because everything is walking distance) and chock-full of restaurants, ports for boats, beaches, etc. However, we still took the opportunity to explore other parts of Maui – Kehani, Kihei, Wailea Bay, Hana, Kaanapali. And guess what? We took Ubers! Super easy and convenient and it was nice to not have to drive!
Make nice with the locals. My husband and my brother in law golfed for free through a musician they met at the bar. We saw a free PRIVATE Pitbull show on the freaking beach because we made friends with the locals. Had the best Mahi sandwich of my life thanks to chatting up a local. Made friends with the bartender to find out there was a local brewery to check out. Get what I’m saying? Pays to be friendly & talk to the locals!
Old Lahaina Luau – this might sound cheesy, but its anything but! Luaus have several price points but absolutely pay for the more expensive one – its worth it. The service, atmosphere, entertainment, and open bar was absolutely perfect. It’s a fun place to get dressed up, wear a lei, and enjoy some Mai Tais. Also the service was excellent! Definitely worth the money.
What to Skip in Maui…
Sunset Cruise – this was cheesy and the food was subpar. Plus, after riding a boat for a couple of other tours I was just over it at that point – plus with the open bar, things got sloppy after about an hour. Also, the crew is sparse – two bartenders that also serve as entertainment means that getting a drink can be difficult.
Haleakala – okay I am totally on the fence with this one. Traveling to the top of the mountain and seeing the sunrise was phenomenal; having people push you, standing outside in 20 degree windchill while getting whipped by 40 mph wind, and waking up at 2 AM to do all of this – not so much. It was a cool site but I would have been fine skipping it altogether.
Costco – this is laughable to me; we travel all this way just to go to Costco! Costco was perfect for alcohol (there was a group of 8 of us and handles of vodka are only $12.99) but it was uber crowded, and we ended up wasting tons of our food. We would have been completely fine buying local food at the grocery store that we could walk to. We didn’t need 5 pounds of broccoli and 10 pounds of ground beef if you want me to be honest.
Ways To Save
Rent an Airbnb – we rented a house and it was within walking distance to Lahaina (we didn’t need a car!!) This is a bonus because most rentals come with beach chairs, bikes, and snorkel gear!
Local Fare (go where locals go) – we always asked where the locals went to eat and avoided the uber crowded chain places; this is a no brainer but something we always keep in mind when travelling!
Beaches are FREE and gorgeous – all of the beaches that we went to were free and gorgeous. Great snorkeling, gorgeous sand, and some had free bathrooms/showers. Our favorite was definitely Black Rock Beach!
So what do you think? Are you going to head to Maui? I would absolutely love to go back!