Welcome to paradise. From flawless beaches to the lush tropical rainforests, the natural beauty of Hawaii is beyond words — and you’ve probably already seen the pics to prove it! You know this is one of the greatest destinations on the globe, but the real question is where to go and when. Hawaii leaves us completely spoiled for choice. If you are still debating which islands to hit, check out Which Hawaiian Island Should You Travel To? for a rundown. Maui is a family-friendly spot with an incredible mix of outdoor activities, resort experiences, and charming seaside towns.
What to Expect in Maui
Language: Hawaii is actually the only US state to have two official languages: Hawaiian and English. On top of these, you’ll also hear a unique pidgin that blends the two languages. If you’re into language, take the opportunity to learn about the endangered Hawaiian language, which locals have been working to revitalize.
Currency: U.S Dollars. As the most expensive state in the US, they say that 1 USD on the mainland is worth only 84 cents in Hawaii. In other words, expect prices to be about 15% higher than you’re used to seeing.
Credit Cards and Bank: Just grab your card and go. Other than the odd farmer’s market or flea market, you’ll find everyone accepts cards. Do carry a bit of cash just in case you run into a minimum purchase or are off the beaten path.
Climate: Hawaii has a tropical climate with two seasons. There’s the hot season (called kau in Hawaiian) when the mercury rises to 90 degrees F on sunny afternoons. During winter (AKA ho’oilo) the temps stick in the mid-70s during the day and drop occasionally into the 50s.
Best Time to Visit: If you can swing it, visit just before or after summer. April to May then again in September to October will give you the perfect weather. The winter months, from November to March, tend to be rainy while June to November is the heart of hurricane season.
Safety: From falling coconuts to angry jellyfish, do be aware of natural dangers. Otherwise, it’s a safe state where you’ll just want to stick to your basic travel precautions like keeping an eye on your stuff.
Getting Around on Maui
Renting a car in Maui will make it easier to get around. There are plenty of options and it’s an easy place to drive so consider getting your own set of wheels. The best destinations are a bit far-flung so you’ll want to plan on some travel time to see it all.
Lahaina: 45 minutes from Kahului Airport, you’ll find those former fishing villages turned into international hotspots. Filled with art galleries, cool little boutiques, and foodie hotspots, Lahaina’s Front Street was actually named one of the top ten best streets in the US. It’s a perfect little spot to soak in the culture and it’s also a prime whale-watching location.
Paia: Known for the stunning Ho’okipa Beach Park, this is a perfect place for surfing, windsurfing, or just chilling with a picnic and admiring the view from the beautiful North Shore. Paia is filled with hidden gems!
Hana: This place is actually best known for the beautiful journey there. Travel the Hana Highway and make an afternoon of it. Stop along the way and take a hike out to admire the view. Stop at the red and black sand beaches. If you visit during the winter or spring, go to Hana Beach County Park to try to spot a passing humpback whale.
Kihei: On the southwest shore, this town is one of the sunniest and driest spots in Maui so it’s a good rainy day spot for beach lovers. Be sure to check out Kihei’s Kalama Beach Park, with its endless beaches, and primo outdoor activities. With a skate park, baseball field, basketball and tennis courts, a rollerskating rink, beach volleyball courts, and more, this is a dream spot to get active and enjoy the great outdoors.
Makawao: This old Hawaiian cowboy (yes, this is a thing—and you can still catch a Hawaiian rodeo) area is known now for its thriving art scene. Wander the eclectic shops and galleries to find your new favorite local artist.
Wailuku: Ten minutes west of Kahului Airport, you’ll find the commercial and government center of Maui. Explore the mom-and-pop shops of Market Street, and take part in the Wailuku First Friday if you happen to be here at the start of the month. This little community street party is a great chance to mingle with locals.
Read all about why you should be traveling with reef-safe sunscreen here!
Read all about why you should be traveling with reef-safe sunscreen here!
Where to Stay on Maui
In general, Hawaii is home to many luxury resorts and can be quite expensive, depending on your style of travel. However, there are many hidden gems in the form of boutique hotels, B&Bs, guesthouses, and hostels too. If you’re interested in vacation rentals and boutique properties, check out my round-up of The Coolest Airbnbs in Hawaii. I’ve also compiled some of the best hotels to stay at on Maui!
This luxury oceanfront Waldorf Astoria Resort resort offers nine pools, a lazy river, spa, and top-notch dining. Set on 40 acres of tropical gardens beside the beach, this is the kind of place you could linger all day every day.
You’ll find this place along the Road to Hana. Choose one of the 74 accommodation options spread across 66 tropical acres. In addition to the standard suites, you’ll find residences with kitchens and oceanfront bungalows.
This chic spot between Kaanapali Golf Course Resort South and the Whalers Village mall has a dream location with everything you’d expect from a four-star resort.
In the much-loved Kaanapali Beach Resort District, this place was made for romantic escapes.
This trendy boutique hotel in the center of Paia is the perfect base for exploring the North Shore. They have all the essential bear gear waiting for you and THAT coffee!
On a three-mile-long stretch of white sand beach in a trendy surfing destination, this boutique hotel is the perfect base for exploring Maui.
Where to Eat on Maui
Maui, like all of Hawaii, has the best farm-to-table offerings. While you’re on the island, be sure to try the authentic Hawaiian dishes as well as the local produce and seafood. Here are the top cafes and restaurants to try on Maui!
Cafe O-Lei at The Mill HouseHawaiian
This popular spot is located on the Maui Tropical Plantation and serves elevated Hawaiian cuisine. This eatery is farm-to-table and has stunning views of the Waikapu Valley.
This zero-waste vegan restaurant focuses on locally grown organic options. They have so many yummy options!
Kihei CaffeCafe, Breakfast
When it comes to breakfast, there is no better place to be. Grab a cinnamon roll for the role or pull up a chair and sample one of their amazing omelets.
Love coffee? You’ve come to the right place. Hawaii is the only state that actually grows its own beans so be sure to sample local brews daily as you explore. The Kona Coffee variety is much-loved by coffee aficionados and it grows exclusively exploding on two unique mountains on the island.
Flatbread Pizza CompanyPizza
Located in Paia, you will find flatbread pizza that will knock your flip-flops off. This a great stop if you’re looking for lunch or a light dinner!
Hali'imaile General StoreHawaiian, Fine Dining
This award-winning Farm-to-Table restaurant was made for special dinners out. If you want to take a deep dive into Hawaiian cuisine, look no further.
Mama’s Fish HouseSeafood
Fishermen on Maui’s North Shore are bringing in fresh haul daily and Mama’s is serving it up fresh!
Leoda's Kitchen and Pie ShopDessert
Known for its farm-fresh comfort food, this is the kind of place where you’ve got to come hungry and most definitely save room for pie.
Ono Tacos Food TruckMexican, Food Truck
On Honoapiilani Highway and Papalaua Street, you’ll find this place serving up authentic Mexican grub on the cheap. If you’re headed to Koholā Brewery, this is an essential pitstop.
What to Do on Maui
Maui is a go-to destination for a relaxing beach escape, and you can’t go wrong with all the slices of paradise across the island. That said, as much as I adore the hotspots of Lahaina, it’s just one of many spots that are well worth exploring. In addition to the top things to do in Maui below, I’ve also created a guide to 10 Places to Visit in Maui (That Aren’t Lahaina). Be sure to plan out your must-dos before you go!
You can easily spend two days taking the long journey down this iconic stretch of highway. One of the world’s most scenic drives, you’ll want to start the drive down this winding stretch of road early in the day and pack your camera.
Hawaii is famous for its one-of-a-kind landscape which plays a huge part in their local produce, flora, and ultimately, cuisine. A Gourmet Lunch & Farm Tour will give you a deeper appreciation for the land (and, omg, the food!).
Spend the afternoon at Ka’anapali Beach and Black Rock or out parasailing then stick around for the nightlife in local hotspots like Maui Brewing Company, South Shore Tiki Lounge, The Sly Mongoose, and Monkey Pod Kitchen.
Trust me, you could have an epic vacation in Hawaii without ever setting foot on dry land. If you have time, be sure to cross the bay to Lanai and explore the Cathedral lava tubes.
From November to May, you can witness thousands of North Pacific Humpback packing up for winter break.
The 23-mile bike ride down the Haleakala Crater trails is an unforgettable adventure.
Looking for something a bit more chill? Drive up Haleakala for a jaw-droppingly beautiful sunrise.
This seawater geyser near the Instagram-ready Maui Heart Shaped Rock is an essential visit. Try to visit in the morning if you can when the sun hits at just the right angle to create a rainbow in the mist.
There is some seriously stiff competition for the best beauty of Maui, but this sparkling beach holds its own amongst the greatest shorelines on the planet.
Of course! Everybody has their own recommendation for the best of best so ask a local for a tip. Sure, it’s a bit touristy but everybody has been to at least one.
This cool area on the northern coast is a must.
Elevate your Maui experience (any heli tour company out there is welcome to steal this pun!). It is seriously worth it.
Look up pics of a pineapple farm right now, and tell me you’re not dying to go. Fun fact: Dole has the world’s biggest pineapple plantation, which also happens to be the largest maze on the planet.
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While wearing sunscreen is extremely important for your health, did you know that it can be extremely damaging to our planet’s reefs?Read More >