Maui, one of my favorite places in the world! The Hawaiian islands hold some seriously special memories for me, as we’ve been vacationing in Hawaii since I was a little girl. It’s taken me some time to put together this Maui, Hawaii travel guide, but I wanted to do it right and make sure I included everything, so you can properly plan for your upcoming getaway!
From my hometown of Phoenix, getting to Hawaii is an absolute breeze – with non-stop flights or quick change overs in California before making the easy flight over to the islands. Now that I’m in Houston, it’s a bit more difficult to get to Hawaii. I guess that’s why so many Texans have told me they’ve yet to make it to the islands. The 8+ hour flight from Texas is no joke!
Regardless of where you’re traveling from, I highly recommend flying Hawaiian Airlines to the islands. I love Hawaiian because you already feel like you’re on the islands before you even leave the tarmac. The staff are super friendly and the amenities are also great. As an avid flier, I will happily pay for extra seat room or legroom, and the upgraded seats were 100% worth it on Hawaiian. The entertainment options are abundant, which I truly appreciate. We hopped on a non-stop from Phoenix to Oahu and then a quick commuter flight from Oahu to Maui, both via Hawaiian Airlines and wouldn’t do it any other way.
Maui has grown leaps and bounds since I first started visiting as a little girl, but still has kept its originality and beauty in the process. Unlike Oahu with larger freeways and an extremely touristy Honolulu beach, Maui still has two-lane roads and lower speed limits. Both the popular South and West sides of the island are still ‘beach towns’ just with quite a few resorts. There are no high-rise office buildings or large shopping malls. Definitely something to love about visiting Maui.
So without further fanfare, here is the Adored by Alex Maui, Hawaii travel guide. We’re hoping to head back towards the end of the year, so I’ll be sure to update this post when the time comes!
Places to stay
Marriott Maui Ocean Club (Lahaina Tower) // A timeshare property that also has inventory for the regular (non-timeshare member) consumer. What I love about staying in these properties is that you get a kitchen, plus a much larger space. As I mentioned above, you need to request the Lahaina Tower, as it’s a newer build. The property is huge, with large pools and multiple restaurants. It sits on Kaanapali Beach and there’s access to other restaurants and shopping at Whaler’s Village, all within walking distance.
Montage Kapalua Bay // One of the most luxurious hotels I’ve been to. The property is tucked back into Kapalua Bay and spread out nicely. My mom and I had lunch here at the hotel pool cafe and it was absolutely delicious, but expensive! The beach is in walking distance from the hotel, but a definite jaunt (especially with children). I’d also venture to say that the pools aren’t very large, and I could see myself getting annoyed with screaming children. However, the rooms are large and spacious and perfect for big families!
Ritz Carlton Kapalua // I loved this property. It feels quintessentially Hawaii right when you get out of the vehicle at valet. The hotel feels intimate, yet also spacious. A large number of rooms face the ocean as well. The one drawback to this hotel is the beach isn’t within walking distance of the hotel, instead you have to hop on a golf cart to get to it. However, the beach is beautiful and spacious. Right next to a golf course, this hotel offers something for everyone!
Sheraton Maui Resort // Although a bit of an older property, the Sheraton has done some nice updates to the grounds and rooms. My mom and I both agreed that this was a ‘great value’ hotel. It sits right on the ocean, next to an extremely popular swimming spot called Black Rock Beach. This snorkeling spot is known for sea turtles and colorful fish. Attached to the hotel is a luau spot that’s extremely popular with visitors, and definitely nice to not need to leave the property!
Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas // We stayed at this resort in the latter part of our trip. Another timeshare resort which offers inventory to non-timeshare members. It’s a huge property with multiple restaurant options and tons of pools. We loved the amenities at this property and the staff was friendly and knowledgeable. The Italian restaurant, Pulehu, was delicious!
Other notable hotels: Four Seasons Resort Maui; Grand Wailea; Hyatt Residence Club & Hyatt Regency
Where to eat
Fleetwood’s // In the heart of downtown Lahaina, request a table on the rooftop. Not only does it face the ocean, so the sunsets are absolutely stunning, but the fresh breeze makes your dining experience great.
Gerard’s // This French restaurant can be found in downtown Lahaina, in a historical inn. Fine French cuisine mixed with fresh and local Maui tropical fare, makes this restaurant especially unique.
Island Cream Co. // Homemade ice cream, sorbets and delicious shaved ice concoctions. Located in an unassuming shopping center, this spot is a must visit.
Lahaina Grill // Home to one of my favorite meals of our trip. Located in downtown Lahaina, this spot is popular amongst locals and tourists alike. The fresh fish was phenomenal and the drink options were unique and tasty.
Leilani’s on the beach // Inside of Whaler’s Village, this restaurant was a perfect spot for dinner. The recently renovated dining room is open air and spacious. If you come for one thing, come for the dessert. The Hula Pie is absolutely delicious.
Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop // A spot I have yet to visit, but at the top of my list when I make it back to Maui. Multiple locals told us about this delicious, family-owned spot. Located just off the highway, away from touristy areas. Apparently, the breakfast is delicious and the pies are out of this world.
Monkey Pod // Probably one of my favorite spots. We loved it so much we ate here twice. The Mai Tais were the best I’ve had, so fresh and tasty! Be sure to visit during happy hour for discounted prices and definitely order the fresh fish and dessert!
Pi Artisan Pizza // We really enjoyed this little pizzeria. On the edge of downtown Lahaina, the patio is the perfect spot to see a killer sunset during late spring and summer. Fresh ingredients from local farms, the pizza was truly delicious and cooked perfectly.
Snorkeling & Diving // A serious no-brainer activity when visiting the islands. There are endless opportunities to see vast amounts of beautiful fish and different sea creatures. Some of the most popular Maui snorkeling spots include: Black Rock; Honolua Bay; and Turtle Town Maui.
Surf lessons // While I didn’t get to take surf lessons this trip, surfing is one of my absolute favorite things to do in Hawaii. A few noteworthy surf schools include: Maui Surf Clinics; Maui Surfer Girls; Surf Club Maui
Luaus // One thing you must do at least once when you visit Hawaii is go to a traditional luau! There are a variety of options on the island including Old Lahaina Luau, Legends of Kaanapali Luau and Te Au Moana Luau.
The Road to Hana // Another one of those things you need to do at least once when visiting Maui. This spectacular road curves and cuts along the Maui coastline and gives way to some absolutely breathtaking vistas and photo spots. There are also a number of spots to hike and swim, too. To be honest, I’ve never done the entire road to Hana, we’ve probably done about 5-10 miles in, and I felt like I’d seen the perfect amount.
Whaler’s Village // If you’re wanting to get your shopping fix, check out this spot on the West side of the island. We visited quite a few times, and there are tons of well-known shops as well as local boutiques. A number of restaurants are here as well. My favorite local-to-Hawaii boutiques are Cinnamon Girl and Tori Richard.
Whale Watching // Whale season (November through May) is one of the most incredible things I’ve ever witnessed. The North Pacific Humpback Whale, the 5th largest whale species in the world, migrates to Hawaii in the winter to mate and birth their litters. Whether you head out on a whale watching cruise or just watch from the beach, you’ll most certainly see tons of the Pacific Humpback Whales breaching and splashing in the ocean.
A few helpful tips
Airport transfers // If your flight home stops in Oahu, be aware that the food & dining options aren’t the best. I was absolutely starving and opted for Burger King nuggets over a hot dog cart, because those were the only options. We did see two Starbucks on our lengthy walk between terminals, however the lines were extremely long. Such just be cautious, especially if you have a short layover, and perhaps pack snacks or ask your hotel to pack a boxed lunch for your trip home!
Maui on the Fly // We actually found out about this baby and beach gear rental from a man in the elevator at our hotel. We were curious how he had all the reliable beach equipment, plus one of the durable wagons to bring it to and from the room. He told us about Maui on the Fly, which might be one of the best inventions ever. Whether you have children or not, utilize this rental service for all your needs from cribs, baby toys, etc. along with beach chairs, umbrellas, tents and wagons. We will definitely be taking advantage of this service the next time we visit!