Your Maui travel guide is here! Stephen and I visited Maui for the first time and we got to spend 5 days on this gorgeous island! I will say, I’ve traveled a fair amount (I mean I’ve been to almost 25 countries and Europe 3 times so I feel like I’ve seen my fair share), and there isn’t really anything like Hawaii. Even though it’s tropical, the landscape is just so different than any other tropical place I’ve been. You have the oceans, the countryside, the mountains, the forest, etc. Stephen described it best–the island is just wild/untamed. It’s really breathtaking.
Okay, so–where to stay, what to do, and where to eat! Plus a few other things to note 🙂
Where to Stay
We stayed at the Fairmont Kea Lani which is on the Southwest part of the island–it’s about 30 minutes from the airport. I’ve worked with Fairmont before so I am familiar with their properties and experience, and I’ve always been impressed. Their Maui location was no different! The property was absolutely gorgeous–there were multiple restaurants, a market place for snacks and lunches, several pools (one being an adult only), a fitness center, spa, beachfront access, and an adjoining golf course. There was also a 3 mile paved path that left from the Fairmont and went all along the coast and parallel hotels. We ran this one morning and even though I hate running, the view made up for it!
We ended up staying in one of their ocean-view suites and the views did not disappoint! Because of the time change (Hawaii is 6 hours behind EST) Stephen and I were wide awake at 6am each morning which meant we got to see the most beautiful sunrises. This meant we also went to breakfast before most people were awake which was kind of nice! There was something really peaceful about being up and about before everyone else.
The first day we were there the hotel arranged for us to hike King’s Trail (which I’ll talk about more in the what to do section), but it was only a 15 minute drive from the hotel. Afterwards, we spent the day by the pool at one of the hotel’s cabanas. If you rent a cabana you get a cooler full of water and juices, plus snacks. In my opinion, the cabana was definitely worth it! One of the other days we just grabbed chairs by the pool, and while they were really nice, the cabana guaranteed you shade if you wanted it. It made it easy to stay out there for most of the afternoon to just relax, read, tan, etc.
What to Do
-King’s Trail (also known as the Hoapili trail). This was the trail that was just down the road from our hotel. It’s a 3 mile trail that brings you all along the coast. You will see a ton of lava rocks and (green) mountains for part of it, and then you end up walking along the cliffs so you get an amazing view of the ocean!
-Paia: Little town with several cute shops! Didn’t spend a ton of time here but stopped here on our way to Ho’Okipa beach & Mama’s Fish House since both were close to here. Flatbread is also in this town, which is a really good pizza/flatbread spot.
-Ho’Okipa Beach: Watch the giant sea turtles & wind surfers! Only like 10 min from Paia, so we went here after walking around Paia (Mama’s Fish House is also close to this).
-Pipwai Trail & Waimoku Falls: This is a 4 mile hike (read: hike, not trail haha) that was about 2 hours away from the Fairmont. The road to get to this hike is the backpart of the famous Road to Hana. Instead of doing the entire Road to Hana which takes a while, we just did the back part. This way, we still got the experience but we were also able to do a really cool hike as well. This hike is mostly shaded and takes you through jungle-like and bamboo forests. At the end you come across this insane waterfall. Definitely recommend this hike but just wear sneakers that you don’t care about getting dirty, or hiking boots (I wore my ones from ECCO–they are a few years old but here is current pair they have which are very similar).
-Paved Path along the back of the Fairmont & other hotels: If you’re staying in this area, and looking for something active to do, this path is a great option! It’s 3 miles total, and you can either walk or run it. The views are beautiful!
-Whaler’s Village: Outdoor shopping center with lots of little cute shops. There is also a MonkeyPod location here which is a must!
-The Shops at Wailea: This was another outdoor shopping center just a few minutes from our hotel. Lots of luxury stores here (Gucci, Prada, LV, Tiffany’s). Also, a lot of the luxury stores are discounted in Hawaii and have lower taxes. Gucci was 20% less, LV was 10% less, etc. Sales tax was around 3-4%.
Other recs that my friend gave me (literally copied & pasted from her email 🙂 –thanks Ashley!):
-Bamboo Forest: Literally a bamboo forest with tons of hidden waterfalls throughout. The main entrance is “permanently closed”, but it’s HUGE and we just entered through a random spot. We just made sure to mark our path often on google maps so we knew our way out. Don’t go late in the afternoon because it gets dark and you will get lost.
-Lahaina Town: (not our fav) Shopping/restaurants. This place a lot of people may recommend, but it wasn’t our favorite because it was sooo touristy and crowded
Where to Eat:
-Mama’s Fish House: Didn’t eat dinner here because didn’t want to spend minimum $60 on an entree LOL (sadly lots of places in Maui are this expensive), but! A lot of you recommended it and I can definitely see going here for a special occasion. We just grabbed drinks here.
-Fairmont Restaurants: Ko (for dinner and happy hour), Kealani Restaurant (ate here 2x for breakfast. once ordered from their menu and other day did their buffet), Makana Market & Cafe (great for a quick breakfast, lunch, coffee, ice cream, etc).
-MonkeyPod: We went here THREE times it was so good! Definitely recommend going here for happy hour so you can try all the things. They have happy hour from like 3:30-5:30pm and all their apps are half off, drinks are $5 off, and pizzas are $10 off. Multiple locations–one in Whaler’s Village and one was like 5 minutes from the Fairmont.
-Whale’s Tale Juice & Sunset Hut: A cute little outdoor spot we came across when we were running the path that leaves from the Fairmont and passes all the other hotels. Great little spot for breakfast or lunch and reasonable prices (ie. $10-13 which is nearly impossible to find in Maui!)
-Merriman’s: The BEST view out of all the places we ate! Definitely a more expensive/nicer meal so we just got drinks and apps here and sat out on the patio. Definitely do dinner or drinks here. You won’t regret it!
-Kihei Caffe: A super popular local spot for breakfast (a ton of you DM’d me saying you ate here multiple times!) Huge menu and a pretty big outdoor (shaded) area for eating. The line was pretty long when we got there but moved quickly. Cash only! (ATM on site though).
-The Pint and Cork: Ate here on our way out of town. It’s a cute little pub/bar and grill location in the Shops of Wailea.
Other recs from Ashley again! (She clearly should have written this blog post!)
What: Local fav. Off the beaten path. Get the macadamia nut pancakes. You have to get there before they open bc it’s a tiny beach hut and there will be a line 2 hours long if you don’t get there 30 min at least before they open!
-Leilani’s on the Beach
Where: Whalers Village
What: Great lunch spot for sitting outside, having fish tacos and rosé. We love Whalers Village. Great outdoor shopping/food.
What: BOMB Thai/Asian fusion food. We sat at the bar and ate alllll the things.
-Miso Phat Sushi
What: Amazing sushi, low prices for Maui. Food Network did a spot on them a few years ago and it’s a local favorite
-Thai Me Up
Where: Near OGG Airport
What: The best Thai food and it’s with a bunch of other food trucks. So freaking good. We went twice because it was so good and not far from the main airport.
What: Poké – we never went but heard from multiple friends that’s its a must!
Alright, so those are all my main recs! Other things to note about Maui– it is obviously beautiful but probably don’t go there if you’re on a budget LOL (just being honest!) We were fortunate enough that I got to travel here for work with the Fairmont and so a lot of our main expenses were covered. In general though, it’s probably the most expensive place I’ve ever traveled to. Food wise–they have to import everything so you can imagine how that affects cost. Some things that we did to save money–we flew there in September which is more their off-season. Tickets were around $500 a piece vs. $1500 if you go during the summer. For food, we would have a larger breakfast and then just something small/snacks for lunch and then we would do a happy hour for dinner. A lot of places had great happy hours so it was a great option to try a bunch of food and not spend $120+ on a meal). And since we went to bed at 8pm because of the time change, happy hour was basically our dinner time anyway! Haha.
Aside from the cost of food, one of the great things about Maui is there are so many outdoor things to do that don’t cost anything. So rent a car (we got a jeep from Costco and it was only like $230 for 5 days), and go explore! Take advantage of all the hikes and cool outdoor spots. Also, definitely rent a car in general. So many of the food spots/villages/hikes we went to were like a 30-45 minute drive. No matter where you stay on the island definitely rent a car.
Okay I think that about sums up our trip!! Any other recs to add, or any other thoughts on Maui/Hawaii?! Share with us! xxC