e komo mai / Welcome
Paradise is Calling
There is a rich culture, kind spirit and fierce pride to be discovered while you explore Hawaii. Though we are Big Island residents, We have gathered some of our favorite Maui activities to help guide your adventures to Valley Isle to help elevate your visit. This isn't an official guide book or even every single thing there is to see and do here! Simply a few island favorites from some Hawaii locals. Mahalo!
This little town is just a 10-minute drive from Wailea and 25 minute drive from Kahalui and it is worth a visit if you aren’t already staying there and there are beaches everywhere! It also happens to be one of the sunniest places on the island (hardly any rain!) and you’ll find it to be a bit more budget friendly than Kaanapali.
I recommend exploring on foot, finding a yummy hole-in-the-wall place to eat and taking your food over to the beach to enjoy by the water. We like to get up early, grab an iced coffee and walk the empty beaches at sunrise before hopping in for a swim. On a clear day you can see Lanai and West Maui across the water!
The thing about Maui is there are beautiful beaches everywhere! I recommend hopping in your car and going for a drive and an adventure. You’ll probably stumble onto a few new beaches all on your own!
Just in case you want a bit more direction, our favorite beach is Big Beach down in Makena - an absolutely massive white sand beach perfect for a day of swimming and sunbathing. In Kahalui, we love going over to Kanaha Beach Park, both to sunbath and watch all of the kite surfers! Kanaha is right next to the airport, so it’s a great stop if you have a little time on either end of your trip!
Located in what is known as “upcountry Maui”, the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm sits on the slopes of Haleakala and should be a must-stop for your Maui visit. Once you’ve had enough of the beaches, take an afternoon drive to explore the gardens, have the most delicious lavender coffee and scones all while getting “zen” from the scent of the fresh lavender fields. What’s not to love?!
They offer full farm tours and a huge variety of lavender products as well as amazing views and a great opportunity to check out a side of Maui radically different than the well-known beaches and golf courses!
This is a bit of a splurge activity but after one helicopter ride, I am now a true believer that the islands are meant to be seen from the sky! Even as someone who was born and raised here, I never appreciated my home more than when I saw it by air. Plus, did you know that over 90% of the state of Hawaii is accessible only by helicopter? There are a number of reputable Helicopter tour companies (Blue Hawaiian is our favorite) but no matter who you tour with, you will have an amazing experience.
Forget hours of research on the “perfect” Road to Hana itinerary, the best way to do it is to simply enjoy the drive. Forget the guide books, download the GyPSy app for the road to Hana. It costs a few dollars and the app ties into the GPS on your phone and narrates the whole drive as you go. This is especially helpful when you lose cell service and the narrator will give you both island history and tips on where to stop and what to see along the drive. Most people get to Hana and turn back but we recommend staying a night. Hana might be Matt’s most favorite place in all of Hawaii. Some might find it boring, but we really love how peaceful the town is and always appreciate the extra relaxation time.
Lahaina is a former whaling village on the west side of Maui and from 1820 - 1845 it was the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Lahaina itself is a very walkable town with a nice collection of shops and restaurants by the harbor. Check out the huge Banyan tree in the middle of the downtown!
Its seems like nearly every big hotel on Maui offers a luau. but trusth me - save your time and money and go straight to the Old Lahaina Luau. This is by far the best and most authentic luau on Maui, in an amazing location with a beautiful show and fabulous traditional food. Be sure to get reservations early, as they sell out quickly.
Every winter, over 10,000 North Pacific Humpback Whales make the journey from Alaska to the warm, shallow waters of Maui to breed and give birth to their calves. From December through April, you can see these majestic creatures just off shore, in the channel between Maui, Moloka‘i, and Lana‘i.
But for a real show, go out on a whale watching boat (the small boats are the best!) where you can see mama whales teaching their babies to swim and breech right in front of you. It is truly and unforgettable experience.
Haleakala National Park is s sacred location for Native Hawaiians and visiting the summit of Haleakala to greet the sun is an amazing experience. Because of tremendous increased popularity the National Park Service has started requiring pre-registration and permits for everyone who goes up to the summit at sunrise. The process isn’t difficult (you can do it online) but you do need to register well in advance (likely months in advance for busy season.) Oh and bring some warm clothes because it is coooold up there!
And while you're here, you might as well try all of the local favorites you just can't get back on the mainland. Be adventurous and get out there to try some new things!
Tin Roof is a lunch only spot in Kahului, minutes from the airport. Let’s put it this way - I’ve never gone to Maui and not stopped here. Definitely on our list of our favorite food spots in the whole world - this tiny restaurant is owned and operated by Sheldon Simeon, a Top Chef contestant and Hawaii local boy! Get the Mochiko Chicken or the Pork Belly Kau Kau Tin!
With three locations in Maui, Paia Fish Market is a great spot to grab lunch in Paia, Lahaina or Kihei. You can get just about any preparation of a fresh catch you can imagine or if you prefer something non-seafoody (we understand not everyone loves fish as much as we do!) their burgers are pretty great too!
Located in the Andaz hotel, Ka’ana Kitchen offers farm to table dining with super fresh Hawaii-sourced ingredients and an amazing wine list! Every dish was better than the one before and the wait staff was so wonderfully attentive and helpful. If it’s just the two of you, order the Chef’s Table Tasting then sit back and enjoy perfectly paired wine and amazing food. Perfect for date night, reservations recommended.
This brewpub in Kihei is AMAZING. It’s huge, often offers live music, has a massive tap list and the food is wonderful. Perfect for a more relaxed meal with a group. Order a beer flight to sample all of their different brews - you won’t be disappointed! Definitely worth checking out for a more laid back evening in Maui.
When was the last time you had a piece of pie with your breakfast? Well, you’re on vacation so you might as well get that slice of amazing pie! If you are driving to and from Lahaina, Leoda’s Kitchen is a must-stop destination. As you might imagine, their specialty is pies, but my husband absolutely loved his Ahi benedict the last time we visited.
Ask just about anyone who has been to Maui where you should eat and they’ll say Merrimans, and for a good reason! This is the special occasion dinner spot you've been looking for. I have never eaten anything at this restaurant that I didn't fall madly in love with. If you have a group of 4+, they have a delicious tasting menu that covers most of the menu at a great price! Reservations recommended.
The Mill House is worth a visit for the property alone. It sits on the grounds of an old sugar mill and you can dine with a view of Waikapu Valley. The Mill House is a medium to higher end restaurant with nice local ingredients and a great atmosphere! Go on a weeknight for a less crowded dining experience.
This food was by far the best we had on our recent Maui trip. If we had been staying another night we would have gone back again. If you are a sushi and fresh fish lover, this spot is a no brainer. We loved absolutely everything we ordered. Yum!
It is the kuleana, or responsibility, of all of us, both resident and visitor alike, to care for these islands while we are here. To preserve their beauty for all to enjoy. It's easy to slip into 'vacation mode' and stop considering this place as someone else's home. But it is home to many who love and cherish it. Please respect and care for our island.
Hawaii is facing a huge sand crisis. Centuries of tourists taking sand back home coupled with natural sand erosion means that by 2050 Hawaiian beaches may be nearly gone. Do not take sand with you. Hawaiian legend says that any visitor who takes rock or sand away from the Hawaii islands will suffer bad luck until the native Hawaiian elements are returned. It's better to leave our islands just as you found them for others to enjoy and take back your photos and happy times memories.
I love swimming in bright blue water and seeing all of the bright, vibrant coral reefs but that might soon disappear. Our coral reefs are dying but there is a simple thing you can do to help! A scientific studies are showing oxybenzone - the ingredient found in mainstream sunscreen brands - are killing coral reefs. There are two bills being looked at by Hawaii legislators to ban reef-bleaching sunscreens, but we've got a ways to go. By purchasing reef-safe sunscreen, you're helping ensure our reefs are here for everyone to enjoy for years to come!
Once during a session I spotted a beach-goer trying to pick up a resting sea turtle. When I yelled out to him to stop he said "the turtle is sick, he needs to be put back it the water." Though they are sitting very still, I promise you the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles are perfectly fine and should NEVER (never ever!) be touched or bothered. It is illegal to get within 25 feet of these beautiful endangered animals. See these guidelines for keeping appropriate distances. Also, feel free to be the wildlife police and stop people from crowding too close or trying to pick up a sea turtle. Give them some space and enjoy them from afar.
Did you know that I find trash on the beach at every session? It seems obvious to say but please don't leave your trash behind on the beaches, hikes, parks or anywhere besides the bin for that matter. No one wants to sit on a beach with cigarette butts and empty soda cans. Sadly, one of the dirtiest beaches in the world is right here on Hawaii Island. In order to keep our beaches clean, it is important that you take your trash with you back to your hotel or vacation rental. And if you can, please bring extra trash back too!
Mainlanders seem to sometimes have little patience for our 55 mph speed limits on the main roads. Please please please leave your fast-driving ways at home and just take it easy on our roads. Passing slower vehicles to get one or two cars up won’t give you more vacation time and it is downright dangerous. I've seen countless almost-accidents by people trying to pass other cars on the main road. Many of the island's fatal accidents are head-on collisions caused by cars trying to pass. It is really not worth it. Roll down the windows, let the Hawaiian vibes take over and just relax. You'll get there!
Trust me, I love a good Target run just as much as the next girl - but being a small-business owner in Hawaii I have a new appreciation for how challenging it is to make a living here on these beautiful islands. Why not buy a beautiful new dress from cute local boutique? Or grab some delicious Maui lavender as gifts for friends back home? If you come across a great local shop that you love, the best way to support them is to give them your business.