apologise for not getting a Maui guide up sooner, these past few weeks have been quite hectic for me! I’m in the process of moving into a new house and getting everything ready has been (almost) a nightmare. I never imagined so much packing and cleaning, but hopefully I should have everything done very soon and I can’t wait to share it with you guys!
Last month I travelled around Hawaii and had two pit stops; Honolulu and Maui. If you missed my Honolulu travel guide, you can check it out here. Maui is very different to the island of O’ahu as it’s much more quiet with less people. We stayed in a town called Lahaina, about 30 mins from the city. I call it a ‘town’ because that’s exactly what it reminded me of! There was not a skyscraper in sight, and almost all businesses were locally owned with a very strong local feel. At night, the Lahaina town would be full of people as they shop and eat, but it’s not too noisy and certainly doesn’t have that party life that is attached to a more busy place like Honolulu.
For accommodation, because there weren’t many hotels around, we decided to book through Airbnb. I highly recommend this as the resorts can average 3x more than an Airbnb, and for a short stay, we decided to go with the Airbnb option more because Lahaina is quite local and we wanted to see how it felt like. Plus, there are lots of options you can choose from on Airbnb!
WHAT TO EAT
If you read my Honolulu guide, you would know that Hawaiians love their fish, so much so, that they pretty much serve it from the most local eateries to the upscale restaurants. In Lahaina, Paia Fish and Grill is famous for their freshly caught seafood and fried baskets. They have an array of options to choose from, and is located right in front of the beach for easy access if you want to stroll later on! Because Lahaina is very ‘town’ like, Paia Fish and Grill is a small establishment, but there is hardly ever a wait and plenty of seating. I had the shrimp basket which was fried to perfection, and there were about 10 sauces to choose from!
Aloha Mixed Plate
On the last day of this trip, we decided to try somewhere local and found that Aloha Mixed Plate had hundreds of 5 star ratings. Aloha Mixed Plate is an outdoor cafe, (conveniently also right next to the pier) with fairy lights and Hawaiian music all around. The menu features some of Hawaii’s most notable dishes (Like Poke bowls, Spam, and even Loco Moco), alongside fusion creations like Ahi Ahi Sashimi and Teriyaki Chicken. We ended up ordering a feast of ~5 dishes because we couldn’t decide what to get since everything sounded so delicious! It was very relaxing to be able to sit next to the pier, listen to the waves, and be in the moment without having the cafe being too loud.
Mama’s fish house
Possibly my most favourite meal in Maui of all time was at Mama’s fish house. It was the only fine dining restaurant we planned for our trip because everyone was raving on about it, and I couldn’t pass the opportunity up! Mama’s Fish House is literally, a house. It’s a gorgeous restaurant with an amazing resort style courtyard at the front with palm trees and it’s own entrance to a beach. It’s only for people who have a reservation there but when you’re waiting for your table, you can take a stroll in the area and even grab a few photos! The restaurant itself has a relaxed fine dining atmosphere, people were there in shorts and t-shirts, it’s not anything fancy and stays true to the Hawaiian lifestyle. The food is incredibly made and the creations are just awe inspiring even down to the butter on the bread (Seriously…) It is a bit pricey, but I would recommend everyone to go and experience local food made fine.
WHAT TO DO
Feast at Lele
One of my top to-do tips in Hawaii for everyone is to experience Luau’s. Luau’s are a traditional Hawaiian dinner accompanied with live music and performances. I’ve been to one the both times I visited Hawaii and it’s always different every time! Usually it’s done via a buffet, where meals are lined up for audiences to grab. However, the one I visited was a sit-down service with an open bar (Yep, free Pina coladas), meaning I didn’t have to leave my seat and could continue watching the dancers! Luau’s usually go through every Polynesian island, showcasing their traditional dances and cultural celebrations. From the hula, to Tahitian dancing, to fire dancing, it’ll make you feel inspired by the island and the ties it has with its culture. At the Feast at Lele, we were given a taste of every island and their foods, accompanied by their respective dances and the meanings behind it. Definitely made me appreciate their heritage even more and I encourage everyone to go because it is a super touristy attraction 😉
Road to Hana
This recommendation is for the thrill seekers like me. If you love waterfalls, amazing views and winding rows, Road to Hana will be perfect for you. Road to Hana is a stretch of road that starts near the city centre of Kaluhui, and takes about 5-6 hours non-stop driving to reach the end. The road is very windy, a little dangerous and often just one-way (for two directions of cars), but a lot of tourists drive the road for the tens of pit stops that exist on the highway. We only went out to the halfway point, but had the chance to stop at 3 locations. One of my favourites was the Black Sand Beach that rests just below Waianapanapa. Black sand beaches form due to rock erosion from a surrounding volcano, and it is perfectly safe to explore the area (just the work of Mother Nature!) Being from Sydney, it was certainly an experience since I’m so used to normal, yellow sand. We also heard of the Red Sand beach, but unfortunately didn’t have time to visit!
Another favourite was the Upper Waikani falls. Waterfalls are plotted along every stretch of the highway (There are about 20 or so), so it’s very common to pass one and see a pit stop area where you can enjoy the view and take photos. However, what the signs don’t tell you is that you can actually hike down to the waterfalls and take a dip in them! Of course it isn’t advertised, as the hikes are often very dangerous and involve rock climbing down steep slopes to get to the falls, but you can find information on where to climb over on sites like Trip Advisor. We hiked down to Upper Waikani falls, where the view was unforgettable. The water was cold but not cold enough for a little swim, but being surrounded by nothing but nature itself was very calming and was definitely one of my highlights during the trip. If you ever take the Road to Hana, take a chance and climb down, you’ll never know what you find!
The last time I went to Hawaii I didn’t get to snorkel, so I made sure that this time I would book a trip in. I’ve always loved swimming as a kid so I was super excited to go out and snorkel with Trilogy Dive. They are known as one of the best so I knew I was in good hands! We first went out to Molokini Crater which is a famous place for crystal clear waters and an abundance of coral and fish life. You are given snorkelling gear as well as a float and the crew drop you off to explore on your own! Warning, the water is very cold, I was swimming for minutes trying to warm myself up! Once you get the hang of snorkelling, it’s very fun, especially when you find fish. It gives a different perspective as you’re swimming in the ocean as opposed to the beach, and it surprised me a little just how deep the ocean was. I had a little fright when I looked down with my goggles because I could just imagine falling! Some trips are lucky and some are not with their discoveries. Our trip was super lucky as we got to see turtles, stingrays AND two whales!
If you’re in Maui, one thing that everyone does is to visit the Haleakala Summit and watch the sunrise or sunset. We chose to watch the Sunrise, which is only open via registration on the Summit website. The summit is 13,000ft high, with a long and very dangerous windy road up the mountain, and cars are allowed in from 3am. The drive itself wasn’t the best as there are a lot of times where both the driver and passengers have to be alert so as not to drive on the wrong side or worse, off the mountain! But once you arrive at the peak, you’re greeted with beautiful views of the other valleys you drove on + the clouds which you are now above. The sunrise is usually at 6am, which means a 3 hour wait if you want to have a good view without anyone blocking you, but it is worth it for a picturesque moment. If you’re planning to visit the Haleakala Summit, DRESS WARM. I had on two jackets, a dress, tights, socks, sneakers, and two blankets, yet I was still cold when I reached the peak. We watched the temperature drop around 10 degrees from the drive alone, so rug up and get ready for the trek!
Whilst Honolulu offered a glimpse into city life, Maui was the perfect place for quiet tranquility and exploration. We had just enough time to explore both the mountains and the oceans, as well as get to eat yummy food all over again! My favourite thing about Maui was that there was so much to cover and a different thing around every corner. If I would go back, I’d definitely take a more relaxing vacation. I hope this helps you if you’re planning a trip to Maui soon, and definitely do take some time to explore all these places I’ve recommended!