This article was first published by QP Fashion & Lifestyle Magazine
Maui is the second biggest island in Hawaii. Its two large mountains are connected by a stunning valley, and a number of exotic beaches can be found along all sides of the coast. There are so many wonderful things to do in Maui and places to visit in Maui. The eastern side of the island is a popular area for most visitors, especially the area of Kaanapali—but more adventurous travelers will find the western portion of the island rugged and enchanting (if not a little harrowing to get to). This island paradise is also famous for whale-watching, and the colorful sea life living in its coral reefs.
When to Go to Maui
Spring and Fall are the best times to visit Maui. The weather is perfect and the flock of summer or winter tourists has thinned out. In particular, April, May, and September through November are the best parts of the year to step off a plane and have flowers draped around your neck.
Things to Discover in Maui
There’s no shortage of things to discover in Maui, “The Valley Isle.” From relaxing on the beach to driving along a roller-coaster road through the jungle, Maui offers something for every traveler.
1. Take a Full Day-Trip on the Road to Hana
Hana is a small town on the eastern side of the island, and the 64-mile road to get there is one of the most breathtaking drives in the United States. Taking hairpin turns high above the pounding surf below, you’ll drive over almost 60 bridges, some of which are one-lane only.
Right at the beginning of the journey you’ll pass through the town of Paia. The laid back, surfer hippie downtown is home to art galleries, restaurants, and shops. Along the way to Hana you can catch a glimpse of the colorful Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees; there’s an accessible grove of them by mile marker 7. If you need to step out of the car, check out the Waikamoi Ridge Trail, which offers incredible views along a walkable loop and one of the incredible things to discover in Maui.
Further down the road is another amazing place to stop, The Garden of Eden Arboretum, which you’ll find aptly named for the waterfalls, brightly colored foliage, and amazing views of the ocean. Toward the end of your journey, make sure to stop at Wailua Falls, an amazing 80-foot ribbon of fast-moving water that plummets into a small swimming hole (check local advisories to see if swimming is safe).
2. Relax on Wailea Beach
Though there are some high-end resorts in Wailea, the beach is open to the public and it’s well maintained with showers, parking, restrooms, and path. If you’re staying somewhere else on the island, don’t forget to visit. It’s calm waters are perfect for all types of low-key water play, whether you want to snorkel or swim. Some of the resorts will let you gain access to their pool if you buy a drink at the poolside bar. Adventurous beach-goers looking to ride the surf will probably have better luck up north in Kapalua or at Ho’okipa Beach. Maui’s most famous surf spot for big wave surfing is Peahi, also known as “Jaws.” But by and large, most travelers will enjoy the relaxing vibes of the Wailea first-rate beach.
3. Take a Snorkeling Tour Off of Kaanapali, Ulua Beach, or Honolua Bay
Any one of these locations, Kaanapali, Ulua Beach, or Honolua Bay, will offer you an incredible experience to discover Maui under the waters. Avoid the choppier waters of the midday by timing your tour in the morning or afternoon. While you can always splash into the water yourself, a guided tour help you get a look at some of the islands more memorable residents, like Green Sea Turtles, Yellow Tangs, Butterflyfish, and perhaps Hawaii’s state fish, the Humuhumu-nukunuku-apua’a (that’s not a typo). A tour can also help you dive into some difficult-to-reach places to visit in Maui, like Molokini Crater off the coast, which offers some of the most incredible snorkeling in the world.
4. Get Awed at Haleakala National Park
Hawaii is one of the only places where you can get up-close and personal with ancient volcanoes—after all, the islands are made from their cooled lava. Haleakala National Park is one of the things to discover in Maui. It offers amazing vistas of an enormous volcanic crater that’s almost seven miles wide (don’t worry, it’s not active). The barren landscape doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the island, but once you wind your way down to the black volcanic sounds of Kipahulu, you’ll feel like you’re back in Maui again. Haleakala is home to more endangered species than any other park in the United States. Also, because of its altitude, the park’s observatory provides an unparalleled place for astronomers to gaze at the stars.
5. Get your Swing on at one of Maui’s Amazing Golf Courses
If you or someone you’re traveling with loves golf, you probably know that you can’t take the golf course out of the golfer. Maui has some incredible golf courses so you won’t have to worry about that. The Wailea Resort Association has great greens like the Emerald, Gold, and Blue courses, all of which are in close proximity to the restaurants and hotels of the area. Though Kaanapali only has one course, it boasts 36 holes with scenic ocean views. The Plantation Course in Kapalua is one of the most highly-ranked places to golf in the world…which is fitting, because the Ritz-Carlton is right nearby. There are a few other courses in the valley that runs down the middle of the island, and though they don’t offer ocean views, they do offer some stunning mountain scenery.
6. Feast it Up at the Old Lahaina Luau
For those who haven’t experienced it, a luau is a fascinating cultural experience that is uniquely Hawaiian. Think barbecued pig…slow cooked underground all day. You’ll get to try some other traditional foods like poi and Pan-Asian selections like stir-fry vegetables. If you’re not a fan of roasted oink, there are plenty of other options at this friendly feast. As you eat, you’ll get to hear live Hawaiian music and see the graceful movement of the hula dancers, whose movements are a unique form of island storytelling. The best part for some is the open bar where you can grab tropical libations like a Lava Flow, Blue Hawaii, or Hawaiian Sunset. After the show, see if you can spell Aloha backwards while dancing the hula in a straight line…
7. Enjoy the Shade at Lahaina Banyan Court Park
Right in the heart of historic Lahaina is a park that looks like it’s full of trees, but it’s actually only one tree: a Banyan Tree. Banyan trees work their way underground and then pop out again, creating a network of multiple trunks. The one in Lahaina is the largest in the United States, with over 16 trunks. It’s 60 feet high and covers an incredible (almost) 2 acres—that’s roughly the size of a standard city block. The tree was planted way back in 1873, which now makes it almost a century and a half old and one of the amazing places to visit in Maui. It’s been cared for and tended to over the years by Lahaina’s own residents, who view it as a sort of symbol of the town. Don’t miss a chance to sit on a bench in the shade created by its network of branches.
Where to Eat in Maui
- Beer lovers and foodies alike will find common ground in the laid-back but clean ambiance of Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman, which is located in Wailea and in the Whaler’s Village Shopping Mall by the waters of Kaanapali. There’s live music multiple times a day, from 1:00 PM to 9:00 PM. This is a great venue for those who want to have some fun, but keep it relaxed and perhaps low key—it’s also family friendly.
Hawaii is a longtime place for Western and Eastern traditions to meet, and food is no exception.If you want to taste some of the best sushi outside of Japan, pull up a seat at Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar, which also has two locations—one just north of Wailea in the Kihei Town Center, and another in the dramatic headlands of Kapalua, down the street from the Ritz Carlton. Quality and freshness come together in exquisite presentation for those who love both raw and cooked treasures of the sea.
- If you’re looking for the oceanfront dining that’s supposed to be part of every vacation to the islands, look no further than Lahaina Fish Co. It’s been open for 25 years, serving fresh, organic food. This is also a great place to go if you’re vegan, vegetarian, or gluten free. If you want to try some Ahi, Mahi-Mahi, Monchong, or Opah, this is the place to catch it—freshly caught by local fishermen. If you dine between noon and 5:00 PM, you can catch some $6.50 Mai-Tais.
If you’re looking for something with a little more local flair, check out the Fish Market Maui, which is just down the street from a lot of the resorts in Kaanapali. Local fishermen bring in the raw materials for building an awesome menu of dine-in or takeout options. Sandwiches, chowders, tacos, fish burgers, and Poke (a unique raw fish salad) are just some of the offerings crafted from the bounty of the sea. They also make party and cocktail platters if you’re throwing a little shindig back at your hotel room. You won’t really get a good look at how your meal is prepared at some of the trendier restaurants on the island, so if you’re not averse to getting a little “behind-the-counter” peek, you can find it here… without having to put on a snorkel.
If you need something sweet to help you cool off, check out Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice. With over six locations on the island, there’s probably one near wherever you’re staying. This local chain was actually started as a family business by a couple who always enjoyed eating shaved ice. The shaved ice treat originated with Japanese plantation workers, who would literally shave off flakes from a solid block of ice and smother them in juice or syrup. They’ve improved upon the shaved iced menu at Ululani’s, which has expanded to include 45 flavors. Some of the more memorable ones are Wedding Cake, Pickled Mango, and Tiger’s Blood.
- With all these fantastic eateries, don’t forget to try out the local brews crafted by the Maui Brewing Company. In addition to their availability in most restaurants, you can also take a 45-minute tour of the brewery and try samples in the tasting room.
Maui is really the best of both worlds for visitors to Hawaii. While Kauai may be too rugged for some, and Oahu too popular for others, the island of Maui is the perfect meeting point between all sides of a vacation. There are so many wonderful things to discover in Maui for all types of travelers, from couples on a Honeymoon getaway to families with young kids. There are activities of every type, whether you want to swim, surf, snorkel, golf, shop, or dine. Above all, visitors to the island will enjoy an amazing sense of Aloha they can take back home with them…if they ever want to leave.
Have you ever visited Maui ? What were your favorites things to discover in Maui?
Which were your favorite places to visit in Maui? Comment Below!