Maui or the “Valley Isle” as it is also known, is the second-largest of the Hawaiian Islands. It has numerous microclimates, for example; it’s usually drier on the Kaanapali/Lahaina side of the island, it’s wetter in the I’ao Valley and on the Road to Hana, it’s generally a bit colder in Upcountry, and if you’re headed to Haleakala dress warmly and in layers because it can get incredibly cold up there. Just because it’s raining on one part of the island does not mean it’s raining everywhere on the island. If it’s raining in the I’ao Valley, head to the breathtaking Ka’anapali Beach. These diverse microclimates are just one reason Maui is my favorite island.
I’ve been calling Maui my second home since I was 1 year old, I’ve explored a decent chunk of the island, I’m always finding new things to do, coffee shops to try or a restaurant to check out. As much as I love finding new experiences on the island, there are some things I HAVE to do when I go home. This post will cover the places I always go to, the restaurants and coffee shops I can’t leave without visiting, and some must do experiences if you are visiting for the first time, or are coming back at a different time of year. Let’s get exploring!
PLACES WE ALWAYS GO
Is held every Saturday at the UH Maui College from 7am-1pm rain or shine. I can tell you from experience that the last statement is true, just because it starts raining doesn’t mean they pack up and call it a day, my family and I have been here when it’s started raining, everyone keeps on shopping and exploring everything this amazing swap meet has to offer. I’ve found some incredible stuff here, my personal favorite is visiting the produce stands and buying some of the biggest radishes I’ve ever seen.
Did you know you could visit a working winery on the island? I didn’t realize until a few years ago, and ever since I found out, Maui Wine is a must visit place. I’ve done the Diverse and Tropical wine tastings and have purchased my fair share of wine to ship home. There is still one tasting I’ve been dying to do, the Old Jail Tasting, but I’m saving that one for a girls trip to the island, not a family vacation.
When I’m on Maui it’s a family vacation, so we always stay at the Ka’anapali Alii which are premium condos located on, you guessed it, Ka’anapali Beach. Ka’anapali Beach is three miles of white sand and beautiful crystal clear water. You can do almost every water sport you can think of here, depending on the season or if you’re like me, just relax on the beach and people/whale watch.
Is an open-air shopping complex located on Ka’anapali Beach. If you’re staying at any of the resorts, you can use the beachside walkway and walk down every night. Whalers is home to almost all of my favorite shops and has a coffee shop I can’t live without. They also offer free hula shows and have movie nights as well.
Located in Lahaina, Front Street is home to numerous restaurants, shopping, and art galleries. We come here a few times during our stay. Some of our favorite restaurants, which I’ll talk about in the next section, are located here. Front Street is incredibly famous and can get crowded fast. It’s best to come during the day or earlier in the evening.
RESTAURANTS & COFFEE SHOPS I CAN’T LEAVE MAUI WITHOUT VISITING
Is my first and last night dinner destination. Located on Front Street, LPC has one of the best Mai Tai’s on the island. My go-to here is the fettuccine alfredo with a Caesar salad, which my sister and I usually split or we’ll get the pizza which is Chicago deep dish inspired, except in the right order (topping actually on top 😉 )
Is the only place my sister and I will get gelato on the island because it’s the best! They have 30 flavors available daily, they make their gelato with fresh local ingredients using traditional Italian techniques, and they are only steps away from LPC on Front Street. Maui Pie and the macnut are my favorites here. Try them together and thank me later.
Located off of the Honoapi’ilani Hwy., Leoda’s has kickass food, amazing house-made lemonade but the reason we always come here is the pie. That’s right Leoda makes the best pies EVER. I’ve tried the individual macnut chocolate praline and the coconut cream. The macnut is delicious and creamy, I couldn’t eat it all in one sitting. My favorite is the coconut cream, it’s not too sweet and can be quickly devoured in one sitting.
Paia FishMarket Restaurant
Has 3 locations, Paia, Kihei and Front Street. We go to the one on Front Street since it’s the closest location. The Front Street location is quite popular, so plan accordingly. My go to here is the fish and chips with a bikini blonde.
The Relish Burger Bistro
Is located in the Westin Maui. This is always our final breakfast on the island, it’s located right next door to Ka’anapali Alii which makes it convenient and I get to visit all my bird friends one last time before we leave. My go to here is the french toast, which is made with Maui sweet bread and comes with coconut syrup and I get the Westin Maui Mimosa, which is made with prosecco and guava juice.
Located in Whalers Village, Ashley (my sister), and I come here at least 3 or 4 times. The Island Latte is delicious hot or iced, but my absolute favorite here is the Coconut Kona Mocha, this blended drink is to die for! It’s so much better than any blended drink a specific big chain with a siren as a logo can make.
I didn’t make it here the last trip, but this is my other favorite coffee shop on the island. They offer 100% Maui coffees, locally roasted. The location I’ve been to is the cute little drive-thru in the Home Depot Parking Lot, their other location is a full cafe in Kihei. I’ve been wanting to go to the cafe for a while but time always runs out.
We don’t always come here, it’s not incredibly vegetarian-friendly for Ash, but when we do it’s because I need my Loco Moco fix. The views are incredible, the drinks are good, and the loco moco is fantastic! I also enjoy their furikake garlic fries. The parking lot is small and is set up weird, so get here early, it’s right next to the Old Lahaina Luau.
FUN EXPERIENCES FOR FIRST TIMERS/SEASONAL EXPERIENCES
If you’ve been to Maui a few times before you won’t necessarily go back to some of the main attractions. If this is your first time on Maui, these are things you definitely need to see.
Haleakalā National Park-If you go for sunrise, you need to make a reservation in advance. If you go during the day, enjoy the views and some of the trails. If a night visit is in your future, enjoy some of the best stargazing the island has to offer.
I’ao Valley-This historic state park has a lot of history to it, the main highlight here is the I’ao Needle. Not a lot to do here but I feel it’s worth the visit at least once.
Road to Hana-There is a lot to experience on the Road to Hana so plan your stops in advance. It’s important to get an early start with a full tank of gas. If you get car sick easily, take something for it before you go. There are 620 curves and 59 bridges on the Hana Highway, so take your time and be careful.
Whale Watching-If it’s “season” which is mid-December to mid-April, I highly recommend taking a whale watching excursion. I personally recommend using Pacific Whale Foundation for your tour, they use the money they make on these tours and from their retail store to continue research and conservation of whales, dolphins, and other marine life.
Take a Helicopter Tour-We did a tour on this last trip to Maui. We went with AirMaui and did the West Maui/Moloka’i tour, and it was awesome! It was a cloudy day, but it was still a great experience and a great way to see the islands.
Maui Ocean Center-Is a fun way to spend a rainy afternoon, or if you’re a land dweller, it’s an excellent way to see some marine life.
Submarine Tour-Is another fun way for land dwellers to see marine life in their natural habitat. Atlantis Submarines Tours has 48 passengers per tour.
Anything you could dream of doing, you can probably find it on Maui. The island is big enough to fill your vacation with adventure and still have time to relax on the beach. Maui doesn’t feel like it’s overpopulated or overbuilt which is why I love it, it still feels like the tropical paradise that it is. This post, of course, doesn’t cover everything there is to do or see on the island, but I thought 1,600 words was long enough for one post.
Have you been to Maui? Have you been to any of the places I mentioned? What are your favorite things to do on this incredibly beautiful island? Let me know in the comments below. Mahalo for Reading!